Debating lese majeste

13 12 2020

Clipped from France24

While the anti-regime demonstrators are taking a break until the new year, it is appropriate that their last 2020 rallies targeted Article 112 on lese majeste. After all more than two dozen of their members now face lese majeste charges.

The Bangkok Post reports that speakers at the rally “vowed to drum up public support for their call for the revocation of … the lese majeste law.” It is reported that:

In a joint statement read at the 14 October 1973 Memorial [where there had earlier been an explosion], one of the anti-government movement’s three rally sites in Bangkok on Thursday, eight protest leaders facing lese majeste charges insisted they would not settle for anything less than the law being repealed.

The speakers said that this law is “a hindrance to freedom of expression, carries a hefty penalty and is often exploited as a political tool to suppress political opponents.”

As PPT has been posting since 2009, all of this is true.

Parit Chiwarak called for all of the existing 112 cases to “be dropped and amnesty be granted to all suspects and those already punished compensated, for the sake of democracy and for Thailand to be able to move forward and reduce political conflicts in society…”.

Prachatai reports that another action, this led by the 24 June Democracy Group, representatives had been “to the United Nations (UN) office in Bangkok …[on] 10 December … to petition the UN Human Rights Council to pressure the Thai government to repeal Section 112, Thailand’s lèse majesté law.”

Their petition observes that “pro-democracy protests have been met with state persecution and crackdowns, despite peaceful protest being a right under the Thai constitution and international human rights principles.” Hundreds of protesters are facing charges, including lese majeste.

Somyos Prueksakasemsuk said “Section 112 is an outdated law which restricts people’s rights and freedom of expression, which is one of the fundamental freedoms, and has been used against the political opposition.” He added that:

since the head of state receives income from taxpayers and is in this position according to the constitution, criticism of the head of state should be permitted in order to resolve the public’s questions about the monarchy. If Section 112 is repealed, the head of state will be able to come to an understanding with the people, which would be beneficial to the monarchy itself and to Thai politics….

He said that using Section 112 against protesters will lead to confrontation between the monarchy and the people. He asked whether the judicial process, where the courts represent the monarch as judgements are made in his name, will be just, because if people are denied bail or if an arrest warrant is immediately issued, it will be a reflection of injustice, which would not be beneficial to the government and the monarchy.

The chicken farmer

Those who want Article 112 to be maintained and used more also rallied, led by chicken farmer and Palang Pracharath Party reactionary Pareena Kraikupt and former senior bureaucrat and now appointed Senator Chadej Insawang, “in his capacity as deputy chairman of a committee on the protection of the royal institution [monarchy].”

They claimed “[t]here are laws similar to Section 112 in all countries including the UK…”, a claim also made by former Democrat Party MP Warong Dechgitvigrom, who leads the ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee mob of grey hairs. We should point out that these dopes never do any research about such laws and prefer to make stuff up, and even when corrected carry on with their fake claims.

Making false claims has become a yellow shirt trademark. Those who went with Pareena carried signs that read “Stop threatening the life of the King.”





An open letter to judges/จดหมายเปิดผนึกถึงผู้พิพากษาและตุลาการ

20 03 2013

The Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112, The 24th of June for Democracy, Saeng Samnuk Writer Club, Poets for People, Patinya Na San and Nitirat have issued an open letter to Thai judges arguing for significant constitutional change.

Download them in English and ไทย here.

If we have time, we’ll come back to these with some commentary.





Challenging DSI

27 05 2011

A short report in The Nation is worth quoting in full, with PPT correcting some poor editing:

The June 24 Democracy Group on Thursday led some 300 anti-coup activists and red shirts to rally demanding a purge at the Department of Special Investigation. Protesters wanted DSI director general Tharit Pengdit to step down and the department freed from … political domina[tion]. Rally organiser Songchai Wimolpatranont circulated an open letter addressing to the next government in calling for the restructure of DSI. Sonchai said Tharit was [not] impartial in his job and that the DSI had been used as the tool for intimidation by gagging the government’s opponents with false charge for lese majeste[.] Next week the DSI is scheduled to summon 17 red-shirt leaders for formal indictments on offending the monarchy and sedition.

PPT has long stated that DSI is nothing more than a political police in the worst traditions of authoritarian states. Tharit was appointed to direct this politicization. It is a failure at everything except using lese majeste against political opponents of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.





With 2 updates: More and more censorship

10 09 2010

PPT is not surprised to see the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime continuing its determined bid to repress as much red shirt media as possible. The latest case involves the recently relaunched Red Power magazine, put out by Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, a red-shirt activist with the 24 June Democracy group.

In a throwback to the times of military despotism, the Nonthaburi Provincial Governor seems to have personally “led police to seize copies of  and halt the printing presses of a company hired to print the magazine.”

Prachatai reports that the story hit the ASTV-Manager, which says that on 9 September, “police used a search warrant from the Nonthaburi Provincial Court to conduct a search of the Golden Power Printing Co at Soi Ngamwongwan 27 in Nonthaburi, which had been hired to print Red Power magazine. The police seized printed materials related to the magazine, and ordered the stoppage of 11 printing machines, which could not be moved but could be used to print other publications. Copies of some books were also seized. The police said that the company ran the printing business without permission, violating the Factory Act.”

It seems that the previous day, Governor Wichean Phutthiwinyu, using the authority provided to him by the “Emergency Decree, led a team of police and officials to search the company, and seized a quantity of unusable printed pages of Red Power magazine, employee records and other documents. Some employees were investigated, and the company was ordered to stop printing the magazine.”

Emergency decree used to stop printers

It is worth noting that Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban had earlier specifically mentioned Red Power as a potential target for closure. On 1 September he stated that, “This [threat] is not media intimidation. The CRES [Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations] has discussed print media which claims to be mass media. But its content is not normal information. It incites hatred and anger among people, and aims to cause rifts. So the CRES has considered this and ordered legal action against it. I understand that it’s called Red Power or something.”

The fear of red shirt media is great amongst the elite backing Abhisit and his government. They do not want “sensitive” topics discussed at all – monarchy, corruption, military venality – so like the dictators of the past, they attack media and even printers.

Update 1: Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation also comments on this state raid on opposition media. He says there are now “at least four [red shirt] publications now available in some parts of Bangkok and beyond. However, the government appears determined to suppress them, or at least stifle the most vocal ones.”

Following the raid led by the Nonthaburi Governor, Pravit says that  Somyos has gone into hiding after learning that “some 10 plainclothes police officers keeping an eye out for him.” CRES warned “the publishers of Red Power might be guilty of defaming the royal institution, though no evidence has been produced so far.” But it’s always the bottom line for the royalist regime.

Mahaprachachon (from 2Bangkok.com)

Pravit refers to other red shirt publications: People’s Channel weekly, launched in August, and the recent  Mahaprachachon Sudsapda (The Great Mass of People Weekender), with Veera Musigapong as its adviser, and seemingly a”reincarnation of the Truth Today weekly magazine, now trumpeting ‘peace and non-violence’ in order to thwart possible censorship.”

Apparently, many “bookshops and newsagents are refusing to carry red-shirt titles either out of fear of upsetting the authorities or because of their anti-red stance.” Pravit then makes an interesting point:  “As a clear sign of the great political divide between the rich and poor, most of these red-shirt publications are found in the periphery or the poorer parts of the capital. There is only one bookshop in the Siam Square area known to this writer that dares carry these magazines and newspapers.”

He refers to a “culture of censorship” in much of the mainstream media and adds: “Thailand is steadily becoming ‘a censored society’ where some trains of thought can be illegal, or even a crime, making speaking about certain taboo topics an exercise in political courage. Censorship is prevalent in societies that cannot deal with differences openly and peacefully. If those in power can’t accept your views, they try to shut you up. If you refuse to shut up, then you end up in jail either over charges of violating the emergency decree, the lese majeste law or the computer crime law. In extreme cases, you can die just like the red-shirt protesters did earlier this year. Killing can be a form of censorship too, you know.”

Well said Khun Pravit.

Update 2: 2Bangkok.com has more recent red shirt publications here.








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