Updated: Smash 112, free all political prisoners

23 01 2023

Brave advocates for the end of Article 112 began protesting “in front of the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road in conjunction with a hunger strike by two detained female activists who are neither eating nor drinking water with tonight (Jan. 21) being the third night but they have been taken to the Correctional Department’s hospital…”.

Calling themselves the Independent People’s Group, the protesters had these demands:

  • Reform the judicial process taking into account human rights principles and freedom of expression and not interfere with litigation;
  • Stop prosecuting people for exercising their freedom of expression, assembling and  voicing their political views:
  • All political parties propose a policy to guarantee rights, liberties and political participation by cancelling Section 112, also known as the lese majeste law, and Section 116 of the Criminal Code.

Yesterday, members of Thalufah “peacefully stood in a row on a sidewalk outside the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre at Pathumwan intersection in protest of the sustained detainment of the 21 political detainees, nine of whom have been faced with the draconian lese majeste charges, better known as Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and others on sedition charges.” They planned a 112 hour protest calling for “Free Political Prisoners” and “Stop Violation of Human Rights”, among other demands.

These protesters are also calling “for the unconditional and immediate release of the 21 political detainees,” and supporting “Tantawan Tuatulanond and Orawan Pupong, currently held at the Central Women Correctional Institution.”

Now, “Tantawan and Orawan who have not only denied meals but drinking water provided at the prison have resolutely insisted that all the political detainees be freed, the country’s judicial systems be amended and the lese majeste law be abolished.”

Update: Prachatai updates on the protests, which have expanded beyond Bangkok, including Khon Kaen and Chiang Mai (scroll down the story about halfway for the update on protests).





What rights?

15 01 2023

Human Rights Watch has released its World Report 2023. Read the Thailand in 2022 report here. It begins ominously and predictably:

The government of Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha continued to restrict fundamental rights, particularly freedom of expression and assembly, and prosecuted human rights and democracy activists, community advocates, environmental defenders, and critics of the monarchy. Government promises to fulfill Thailand’s human rights obligations and end impunity for abuses remained largely unfulfilled.

On lese majeste:

In November 2020, Prime Minister Prayut ordered authorities to use all laws against democracy protesters, bringing back lèse-majesté (insulting the monarchy) prosecution under article 112 of the penal code after a three-year hiatus. Authorities have since charged at least 215 people under Article 112 in relation to various activities undertaken at democracy protests or comments made on social media. In addition, making critical or offensive comments about the monarchy is also a serious criminal offense under the Computer-Related Crime Act. Authorities have also charged some political activists with sedition under Article 116 of the penal code….

Judicial interpretation of lèse-majesté offenses seems to vary according to interpretations by different courts, making convictions arbitrary and sometimes going beyond what is stipulated in the law.





The monarchy and “sedition”

7 10 2022

Readers will recall the “good news” from late last month, when a court in Khon Kaen rejected a lese majeste case against Tiwagorn Withiton. The bad news is that Prachatai has reported that on 4 October, the Lampang Provincial Court found Tiwagorn “guilty of sedition [Article 116] for inviting netizens to cast votes in a campaign asking whether the Thai people wanted to have a referendum about having a monarch as head of the state.”

The Court found Tiwagorn guilty “for his campaign message on 28 June 2021 on Change.org, a website known as an online space for starting social advocacy campaigns” where he asked “people if they agreed to a referendum on whether Thailand should have a monarch as head of state.” His call added: “We dream of a republican/federal state system that needs no monarch.”

The complaint by ultra-royalist Thawi Intha from the Network to Guard, Defend and Protect the Monarchy in Lampang. Tiwagorn lives in Khon Kaen and was forced to travel to Lampang for the trial.

Tiwagorn admitted that he posted the campaign message but claimed a constitutional right. Indeed, one of his witnesses argued “that questioning the form of government is a regular activity and that bringing this issue to the Court can be deemed as manoeuvring the monarchy down into a political debate. He also referred to a Facebook post of royalist MC Chulcherm Yugala which asked whether Thailand should be a “democracy” or “monarchy”. He saw this question as more radical than Tiwagorn’s.”

To no avail, and Tiwagorn “was sentenced to 3 years in jail, but was later paroled. Tiwagorn told TLHR, that he wanted to appeal as he finds that the ruling contradicts the Constitutional right to freedom of expression when it comes to monarchy issues. He believes that the ruling will be harmful to a democratic regime.”

The court’s ruling was reported this way:

The Court declared that Sections 1, 2, and 3 of the 2017 Constitution state that Thailand is a unified and inseparable Kingdom, governed under a democratic regime with the King as head of state. Despite freedom of expression being a constitutional right and freedom, it would have to be limited for the sake of the security of the state and the form of government.

Besides security restrictions, the Court mentioned that rights and freedoms can also be limited in order to protect the freedoms and rights of others and public morality. Moreover, it is a constitutional duty for Thais to protect the nation, religions, and monarchy.

Thus, Tiwagorn’s action went against the will of the Constitution and he was found guilty, but as multiple charges were filed over one offence, the Court found him guilty only of the charge with the heaviest punishment, and sentenced him to 3 years’ imprisonment for sedition.





Tiwagorn’s 112 good news

30 09 2022

Some relatively good 112 news. According to media reports, the “Khon Kaen Provincial Court has dropped a lèse majesté case filed against Tiwagorn Withiton, whose picture wearing a shirt printed with “I lost faith in the monarchy” went viral in 2020.”

The lese majeste charge against Tiwagorn resulted from his “I have lost faith in the monarchy” t-shirt and his Facebook posts about it. His first appeared in the shirt on 16 June 2020 and wore it to the market and on the farm.

The ruling given on 29 September 2022, with the Court finding “that the evidence did not prove that the defendant intended to defame or express hostility to the monarch.”

After the ruling, Tiwagorn is reported as saying: “I’m also surprised because I really thought I would get it. This is beyond my expectation. Is this mercy?”

Tiwagorn was prosecuted for lese majeste, sedition, and computer crimes on 26 or 27 May 2021. His t-shirt statement caused a stir as he was not defaming or criticizing the monarchy, but declaring his own loss of faith.

This act initially confused the state’s monarchy police who tried to convince him to give up the t-shirt and not advertise his lost faith. When he refused, his mother was told lies by officials, and he was arrested, dragged from his home, and forcibly admitted to Khon Kaen’s Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital. Officials seemed to believe that anyone who had no faith in the monarchy was mad. In fact, though, they were concerned to prevent a social media blitz of other announcing this loss of faith in the corrupt institution.

He was discharged from the hospital following a public campaign demanding his release.

At the time, the police announced that they would submit the case to the Bureau of the Royal Household for their decision on further action.

Tiwagorn was re-arrested on 4 March 2021 and taken to Tha Phra Police Station in Khon Kaen on charges under Article 112, Section 116, and the Computer Crimes Act because of Facebook posts he made on 11 and 18 February 2021.

On 26 May 2021, he was informed that the public prosecutor had decided to proceed with the case. The Khon Kaen Provincial Court accepted a lese majeste case filed against Tiwagorn. He was granted bail using a security of 150,000 baht.

The court’s decision may still be appealed by prosecutors.





The legal blitzkrieg

21 07 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has provided its June update for the blitzkrieg of charges and arrests that the regime uses to repress political and monarchy reform activists.

TLHR’s documentation of cases (which may not be complete), between 18 July 2020 and 30 June 2022, “at least 1,832 individuals in a total of 1,095 cases have been prosecuted due to their expression and participation in demonstrations. This includes 282 individuals under the age of 18.”

It totals “at least 3,641 prosecutions based on political activism, with many of the accused being prosecuted in multiple cases.”

The main prosecutions can be categorised as follows:

Modern Thailand has never before seen such a crop of Article 112 charges.

The report adds that of the 1,095 cases, just 197 have reached a verdict. The regime is tying people up in legal cases, keeping some locked up, and generally extending political repression in ways that might be considered lawfare.





Journalism, “national security,” and lese majeste

14 07 2022

Back when PPT was on a break, there were two significant lese majeste arrests reported. The report stated:

Worawet (last name withheld), who runs the Facebook page Free Our Friends, and Nui (pseudonym), who runs the YouTube channel “Sakdina Sua Daeng,” reported to Pathumwan Police Station yesterday (22 March) after receiving a summons on royal defamation and sedition charges under Sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code.

In addition to the two charges, they were also charged with resisting officials and refusing to comply with an officer’s order.

These charges resulted from reporting the “activist group Thaluwang’s royal motorcade poll at Siam Paragon on 8 February.” Police considered they “participated” in the event:

The inquiry officer said they were live broadcasting the event, and that participants in the poll were trying to push through a police blockade near Sa Prathum Palace. Nui was also accused of shouting profanities at police officers trying to take hold of a female activist and charged with insulting an official on duty.

The police “did not say how their actions constitute an offense under Sections 112 and 116.”

They were “granted them bail on a security of 200,000 baht each and set the conditions that they do not repeat their offense in a manner that could damage the monarchy, join activities which can cause public disorder, or post on social media invitations to people to join protests. They must also wear electronic monitoring bracelets.”

Photo by Ginger Cat. Clipped from Prachatai

The reason we were reminded of this case was because Prachatai reports a leaked list of activists and reporters who are being “monitored” by the police. This includes a Prachatai journalist. “Monitoring” means police follow those on the list, contact their families, visit their homes, and generally make life as difficult as possible.

That report includes a claim that “at least 6 citizen journalists are now facing charges for livestreaming protests,” and that includes the two mentioned above, facing Article 112 and sedition charges.

The authoritarian shadow is long and dark.





Intimidate, repress, and control II

30 01 2022

The repression of heavy suppression of protesters and activists has been intense. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights recently published a report that states “at least 1,747 people in 980 cases have been prosecuted due to political protests and expression since the Free Youth Rally on 18 July 2020 until 25 December 2021.”

Only 150 of these cases have been concluded, meaning that hundreds of people are tied up in various legal procedures or are being held without bail. This reflects the regime’s use of lawfare.

In 2021 alone, “1,513 new people in 835 cases have been politically accused, accounting for an almost 7-fold increase compared to the number in the second half of 2020.”

Notably, there was a sharp rise in arrests and prosecutions “during the three-month period between August to October. The period coincided with a heightened political tension as a result of car mob events in various provinces, almost daily protests by various groups in Bangkok, and series of “Talu-Gas” protests at Din Daeng Intersection and the surrounding areas.”

Lese majeste charges were filed against at least 127 “new” people in 104 cases, while sedition charges were filed against at least 55 “new” people in 16 cases. As for the “key political leaders accused between 18 July 2020 and 25 December 2021 …[TLHR] found that:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak has 43 cases.

Panupong “Mike” Jadnok has 30 cases.

Anon Nampa has 24 cases.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has 24 cases.

Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa has 19 cases.

Benja Apan has 19 cases.

Another TLHR report states that “at least 291 activists and citizens, 39 of whom concerned youths under 18 years old, received house visits or were summoned for talks by authorities. These numbers do not include cases where authorities went to deliver summon warrants or make an arrest as part of a prosecution.” Most of this surveillance was in the northeast.

The repression continues and deepens.





Precious courts I

21 12 2021

Prachatai has a report on the judiciary that is worth considering.

Joseph (not his real name) protested the denial of bail for detained activists – some of them held for more than 4 months now. He cut his arm in front of the judge on 11 October 2021 to protest the denial of bail for activists Arnon Nampa and Benja Apan. They are held on lese majeste and other charges.

Now Joseph “has been sentenced to 2 months in prison on a contempt of court charge…”.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) report that Joseph was sentenced by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 17 December. Because he “confessed and said to the court that his action was symbolic and that he has no intention of hurting anyone, the court reduced his sentence to 1 month in prison and a 250-baht fine. His sentence is also suspended for 6 months.”

Clipped from Prachatai

TLHR calculates “that 26 people have been charged with contempt of court in 16 cases since July 2020. Of these cases, 14 resulted from protests demanding the right to bail for detained activists.”

Joseph is also reportedly:

one of the 13 protesters facing royal defamation and sedition charges under Section 112 [lese majeste] and 116 [sedition] of the Thai Criminal Code, as well as using a sound amplifier without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act for either reading a statement or giving speeches during the protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020, in which they submitted a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany. Joseph is facing charges for reading out a statement in English.





More 112 charges urged I

8 12 2021

It is usually mad monarchists who urge the authorities to use Article 112 more aggressively. Now, however, it is national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk. As a junta loyalist, we assume he fits the mad monarchist category.

The Bangkok Post reports that Pol Gen Suwat has urged “[p]olice superintendents in Bangkok … to pay more attention to and improve their understanding of law enforcement in security cases involving Section 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code…”.

He explained that this would be necessary to “to deal with political protests…”.

The national police chief was lecturing 143 police superintendents of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.” Speaking of a task that always involves hundreds, even thousands, of police every time a pampered, expensive royal ventures out, he “explained” that “[e]nsuring security for a royal motorcade is not just a tradition but protecting national security…”.

For several years the regime has made “protecting” the monarchy is a matter of “national security.” It’s buffalo manure, but the mad monarchists in and around the regime seem to believe it.





“Down with feudalism” 112 charge/s

26 11 2021

Via Prachatai, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has “reported that Supakorn Khunchit, a student from the Faculty of Economics, Prince of Songkla University, was arrested by a group of plainclothes police officers in the parking lot in front of the Songklanagarind Hospital’s sport complex after he went to receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.”

The arrest was made by plainclothes police acting like thugs on 23 November 2021:

Supakorn said that, at first, a man called out to him in the parking lot. He thought the man wanted to ask for some information, so he walked over, but was then surrounded by 3 – 4 other men who said they were police officers and presented a warrant issued by the Phatthalung Provincial Court … under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, a sedition charge under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, and a charge of entering into a computer system data which is an offense relating to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.

It is claimed that another “7 – 8 more plainclothes officers then came out of a vehicle and surrounded him.”

He was permitted to contact a lawyer but the police thugs took him off to a police station and recorded the arrest before the lawyer had arrived.

Supakorn stated that “he had never received a summons…”.

He was held overnight at Muang Phatthalung Police Station, without access to visitors or a lawyer. A TLHR lawyer and “Suthichai Ngamchuensuwan, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prince of Songkla University, went to meet him on Wednesday morning (24 November).”

Supakorn is charged for allegedly being part of a “group of people who took pictures of various locations in Phatthalung and posted them on the Facebook pages ‘Free Phatthalung’ and ‘Democracy of Southern Thailand’ along with messages which the police claimed were insulting towards the King and the Queen and aimed to incite unrest among the people.”

Among the messages were: “‘1 2 3 4 5 fuck you,’ ‘Down with feudalism. Long live the ducks,’ ‘The people own the country’,” which TLHR disputed as messages corresponding to the charges.

Supakorn was “granted bail using Suthichai’s academic position as security.”

Supakorn pointed out some of the absurdities of his arrest, observing that “he had just reported to the police on charges relating to another protest but did not receive an arrest warrant for this case.”

TLHR stated that “an arrest warrant has also been issued for 2 other student activists on charges relating to the same incident, and that they would be reporting to the police on Friday (26 November).”








%d bloggers like this: