Refugee status for political activist charged under 112

13 11 2018

Khaosod reports that 25 year-old political activist Chanoknan Ruamsap “has become the first Thai political refugee in South Korea.” She was previously charged with lese majeste.

Now in Gwangju in South Korea, Chanoknan said “she was surprised by the speed of Friday’s decision to grant her status, coming as it did 10 months after she fled Thailand.” That’s good news.

Chanoknan fled Thailand “in mid-January after learning she was wanted for insulting the monarchy.” Her charge related to sharing on Facebook a BBC Thai story on then new King Vajiralongkorn. That sharing saw student activist Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa charged, convicted and sentenced to 2.5 years in jail in Khon Kaen.

We can now wait to see how the slitherers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs respond.





Escaping the junta and rabid royalism

8 06 2018

Korean journalist Lee Jae-ho has written a poignant account of the plight of those hunted by the junta on lese majeste charges. It is a long story that deserves to be read in full.

After the coup, dissidents sought by the military junta and accused of various charges but including especially lese majeste, flooded across borders to Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Laos and Cambodia may have seemed safe for a time, but seem less so now as the junta does deals with regimes there. The relationship between the military in Myanmar and in Thailand makes it less safe.

Some well-connected political refugees went to France, New Zealand, the U.S., Sweden, U.K. and elsewhere, but those in Asia have been living an often precarious life.

Lee’s story is of Chanoknan Ruamsap who arrived in South Korea in January this year.

She arrived in Seoul as a “tourist.” But she had a contact who took her to Gwangju.

She had been accused of lese majeste for sharing the now famous and widely known and widely shared BBC Thai article on new King Vajiralongkorn. It included truthful comments on his past and alleged “philandering, gambling, his extravagant lifestyle and his involvement in illegal businesses.”

It was that story that has Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa in jail. Chanoknan’s summons came two years after she shared the article, but she was targeted as a political activist with the New Democracy Movement that the junta wanted to silence.

She’s from a well-to-do family, so she may be better off than other refugees. She’s in South Korea, because UNHCR has a presence there and with a 90 day visa it gave her time to deal with international officialdom, hoping to end up in Europe.

In Gwangju, an extensive set of human rights groups helped her. The May 18 Memorial Foundation covered “her living expenses until she gained approval as a refugee.” That Foundation has a history of involvement on lese majeste cases.

Now she waits….





From exile

30 01 2018

Readers should take a look at the translation of Chanoknan Ruamsap’s account of the day she received her lese majeste summons for sharing a BBC Thai profile of King Vajiralongkorn, her decision-making and her flight into exile. Some of it has been available in previous reports, but this narrative is her statement to friends:

When people ask me how I am, my answer is not quite right. A multitude of emotions. Irritated. Angry. Irate. Regretful. Resentful. Frustrated. Disappointed, very disappointed with many people and many things that have taken place. But I am hopeful about the new things entering my life as well.

The junta will not let exiles alone. It usually seeks to bring pressure on them via their friends and family. It is a cruel regime. Cruel in the name of the monarchy.





Vajiralongkorn, lese majeste and the repression of political activists

28 01 2018

Readers will know that out of the thousands who shared BBC Thai’s accurate profile of the new King Vajiralongkorn only Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, also known as Pai, was the only one arrested, charged with lese majeste and eventually sentenced to 5 years jail on 15 August 2017.

It might have been forgotten that, at the time, one other activist was accused of the same “crime.” Chanoknan Ruamsap, an New Democracy Movement activist, also shared the profile on her Facebook page on 3 December 2016.

Also known as Cartoon or Toon, she was also one of six key members of the NDM who were arrested in late 2015 for organizing a field trip to Rajabhakti Park (or the military’s Corruption Park). She was also arrested on 24 June 2016 for commemorating the first efforts at democracy in Thailand when the absolute monarchy was removed.

More than a year after he Facebook share, she “received the summon on 16 Jan to meet the police at Khan Na Yao Police Station, Bangkok, on 18 Jan. A military officer named Sombat Dangtha filed a lese majeste complain against her…”. She believes the long delay was due to the “inefficiencies” of the police, but come for her they did.

As Chanoknan explains, realizing that she faced years in jail, “she decided within 30 minutes after learning about the charge to flee Thailand to an Asian country.”

She is the second person of the almost 3000 who shared the profile to be charged with lese majeste. And it is no accident that both are anti-junta activists.








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