The king and lese majeste

12 11 2014

Whenever there are debates over the lese majeste law – and they can’t be held in Thailand today – there are those who will suggest that the king is not in favor of the law. This usually involves citing the famous speech where the king made remarks attacking then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in the context of disingenuously claiming that the king could be criticized.

PPT has never bought this blarney, where we point to the fact that he or his minions could intervene and make his “position” known. In fact, we think he does do that, but his position is to support the aggressive use of the draconian law, most especially when he feels that the monarchy is under pressure.

Khaosod reports a case that has been going on for a very long time, and this is the first time PPT has seen a reference to the case for a considerable period.

In the first week of November 2010, Sqn Ldr Chanin Khlaikhlung became the first casualty of Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwon warning that the military needed to weed out anti-monarchists in its ranks. He allegedly posted lese majeste messages on Facebook.

Khaosod reports that the King “has rescinded the royal decorations of a Redshirt activist facing charges of insulting the royal family.”

This is the first time we have heard that Chanin is claimed to be a red shirt.

The Office of Prime Minister has announced that Chanin “has been stripped of the Order of the White Elephant and the Order of the Crown of Thailand, two decorations he earned for his ‘extraordinary’ service as a flight technician in the military.” The reports continues:

According to the statement, the decorations were rescinded because Sqn.Ldr. Chanin “violated the disciplines of the armed forces with his serious, evil behaviour, and insulted, defamed, and displayed vengeful expression toward His Majesty the King.”

We learn that the “military expelled Chanin from the Air Force on 26 May 2014, four days after Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power from the elected government in a military coup.”

Chanin is now reported to be a “staunch supporter of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the political groups allied to him, is considered to be one of the few outspoken Redshirt activists in the armed forces.”

Chanin is said to have “regularly expressed support for the shadowy militants who launched gun and grenade attacks on anti-government protesters during their campaign against the administration led by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, in 2013-2014.” This is since he was charged with lese majeste.

The report states that “Chanin has claimed on Facebook that he is now living in exile in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Thaksin also lives in self-imposed exile…”.

Chanin states: “I am still proud of my actions and attempt to defend freedom and democracy,” Chanin wrote. “You may be a general, I may be a civilian, but you and I are no different in the land that has true freedom, and, ultimately, in the land of heaven or hell.”





Lese majeste updates

1 12 2012

Prachatai has published some useful updates on a series of lese majeste cases. PPT will summarize here and will 112.jpgupdate our specific pages on each case as well:

  1. In its first story, Prachatai refers to the truly bizarre case of two of the Royal Health Rumor 4. Back in October 2009 there were rumors that the king was seriously ill or had died. This caused a huge sell-off on the stock exchange, and the ridiculous Abhisit Vejjajiva-led coalition government began a witch hunt for those responsible for the rumors. Many observers considered the whole case so silly that it had been quietly brushed under the carpet. Not so. The Criminal Court is said to be “likely to deliver its ruling by the end of this year on a case” involving Katha Pajajiriyapong, then an employee in the trading a securities trading firm KT Zmico Securities (the firm sacked him). Katha is said to have posted comments on Same Sky or Fah Diew Kan web board. Apparently there is another charge against him from April 2009. He is charged under the 2007 Computer-Related Crimes Act. He has been on bail since his arrest in 1 November 2009. He is expected to get a verdict on 19 December 2012.
  2. Also one of the Royal Health Rumor 4, Thiranan Vipuchanun, a former director of a finance and securities trading firm, is “accused of posting on the Prachatai webboard her translation of a Bloomberg news article which reported the slump of the Thai stock market on 14 Aug 2009 due to the widespread rumours about the King’s health. Her case is now pending a decision by the prosecution.”
  3. Somyos Prueksakasemsuk is also scheduled to re-appear in court on 19 December 2012, and it seems that he may get a verdict then, having been held in prison since 30 April 2011 on lese majeste charges.
  4. Akechai Hongkangwarn who was arrested on 11 March 2011 and charged under Article 112 – lese majeste – for being in possession of illegal VCDs of an Australian television documentary that presented an accurate picture of the state of the Thai monarchy and 10 Wikileaks documents. He is expected to appear in court on 22 February 2013.
  5. One of the Bangkok 19 who were accused by the Army and its boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Yoswaris Chuklom or Jeng Dokchik, “a comedian turned red-shirt activist and politician, will appear in court for witness hearings on 11-12 Dec [2012]. He is being prosecuted for alleged lèse majesté comments in his public speech during a red-shirt rally at Phan Fa on 29 March 2010.”
  6. In the first week of November 2010, Sqn Ldr Chanin Khlaikhlung became the first casualty of then Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan’s warning that the military needed to weed out anti-monarchists in its ranks. This was also a part of the Abhisit regime’s royalist witch hunt. He will likely appear in a military court (closed to the public) in February 2013, facing lese majeste and computer crimes charges related to 24 comments on his Facebook page.
  7. Finally, Prachatai mentions a case PPT has not previously heard of when it lists Aswin (family name withheld) as likely to appear in Chiang Mai Court in February 2013 “to face accusations by an acquaintance of making lèse majesté remarks.”
  8. In its second story, Prachatai mentions another case previously unknown to PPT. The case goes back to the days of high alert on lese majeste by the royalist regime under Abhisit and refers to an unnamed Malay Muslim man whose case is outlined at the iLaw database. The Pattani resident is accused of “hanging banners with the picture of HM the Queen on a pedestrian bridge in the town” also allegedly “containing messages about violent incidents in the south and other parts of Thailand, together with a picture of HM the Queen, on 12 Aug 2009, the Queen’s birthday…”. It seems that this may be another case pursued by the military who are also accused of beating and torturing the man to get a confession on a crime he was not even aware of (standard military practice). He has been on bail. It seems this case has been kept secret.
  9. A third story refers to well-known Thammasat historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul who is said to be “pessimistic” and “both surprised and appalled by the decision of police to forward his lese majeste police complaint case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).” He is due to appear before the prosecutor sometime this month.

The last story also refers to there being “currently at least seven people detained under the law with hundreds more in the process of possibly being charged or having received police complaints made against them.” PPT knows of eight currently detained, although we assume there are more we don’t know about. We are not aware that there are “hundreds more in the process of possibly being charged or having received police complaints made against them.” That said, there are two cases above we had never heard of before, suggesting that the case load and backlog that is inestimable. The opacity associated with this most political of charges lends itself to both under-reporting and exaggeration.

In late 2010, based on data related to charges laid, prosecuted and known conviction rates, we had guesstimated that there may have been some 350 jailed following lese majeste convictions or related computer crimes charges. We have no idea how many accusations there are or how many cases are winding there way through the system. In any serious judicial system, this law would be declared unconstitutional and scrapped. Until that happens, Thailand can never be a truly democratic country.





Timetable for lese majeste court cases

15 10 2011

In the Prachatai report mentioned here and here in earlier posts, there is a useful timetable of upcoming court appearances by the victims of lese majeste repression. It seems this monarchy needs more “protection” than ever before:

17 Oct 2011 Daranee Charncherngsilpakul Hearing on Constitutional Court ruling on whether trial in secret was constitutional
9 Nov 2011 Joe Gordon Verdict
23 Nov 2011 Amphon Tangnoppakul Verdict
6 Dec 2011 Sqn Ldr Chanin Klaiklueng (Military Court) Hearing of prosecution witness
14-16 Feb 2012 Chiranuch Premchaiporn Hearings of defence witnesses
17-20 July 2012 Akechai Hongkangwan (seller of ABC documentary CDs) Hearings of prosecution and defence witnesses
21 Nov 2011–4 May 2012 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution and defence witnesses
 21 Nov 11 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution witnesses (Sa Kaew province)
 19 Dec 11 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution witnesses (Phetchabun province)
 16 Jan 12 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution witnesses (Nakhon Sawan province)
 13 Feb 12 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution witnesses (Songkhla province)
 18-20, 24-26 Apr 12 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution witnesses (Bangkok)
 1-4 May 12 Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk Hearings of prosecution witnesses (Bangkok)
5-8, 12-15 Jun 2012 Surachai Danwattananusorn Hearings of prosecution and defence witnesses

All hearings will take place at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Rd at 9.00 am, except where stated otherwise.





Closed door military trial for lese majeste accused

14 07 2011

The Bangkok Post says the “trial of the first military officer to ever be charged with lese majeste, Squadron Leader Chanin Klaiklung, began in the military court on Thursday morning.”

Interestingly, this is the longest Bangkok Post report regarding lese majeste that PPT can recall. We wonder why this is? Has the election result emboldened the media? Somehow we doubt it.

Sqn Ldr Chanin, of the directorate of  aeronautical engineering, was charged on 4 November 2010 with alleged crimes under the Computer Crimes Act and Article 112. As the Post puts it, he is “accused of behaviour deemed dangerous to national security.” His trial is behind closed doors. The Post states that usually “a military court case could also open to public attendance. But his was ordered secret undertakings.”

Chanin stated “I would like the hearing being open to the public otherwise the people will not know that they us[e] four different posts to accuse me.” A this point, Chanin is alleging that he has been set up: he told the Bangkok Post “that it was beyond his imagination that charges this serious were filed against him  based on cut-and-pasted messages from his Facebook pages.” He claims to have been referring to a “dictatorial father” in a television show, not any other dictatorial father.

Chanin’s retired policeman father agreed and said he and his wife were worried: “It might probably be easier if it was just a murder case since this is more serious. If the whole thing is not true, it’s very indecent to make such a story up…”. Lese majeste is more serious than murder in Thailand.

His next hearing is scheduled for 14 September. It seems he has been granted bail.

Of course, as the Post points out, the other lese majeste trial conducted in secret was that of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul. Her trial was ruled the a mistrial by the Constitutional Court in February, but she still languishes in jail.

Is this a case of torture by the state?

 





The lese majeste within

17 11 2010

The Bangkok Post reports: “A senior air force officer accused of posting a text message on Facebook deemed offensive to the monarchy surrendered to Don Mueang police on Wednesday. Squadron Leader Chanin Klaiklueng, chief of the air force’s engineering department, surrendered after officers from the Judge Advocate General’s Department filed a complaint against him with Don Mueang police.

The air force was informed of the alleged offence by two navy officers who said the officer posted the lese majeste text on Facebook on Nov 4. Sqd Ldr Chanin denied the charges, saying he was being persecuted and would fight the case in court.

Pol Maj-Gen Amnuay Nimmano, deputy metropolitan police chief, said Sqd Ldr Chanin was charged with lese majeste and violating the Computer Crimes Act. He said police had also issue warrants for two women who raised a placard with a message deemed be lese majeste during the rally by the red-shirts at the Democracy Monument on Oct 10.”








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