Lese majeste lies, nonsense and repression

7 02 2016

The lese majeste conviction train has been traveling at a speed that makes everything else the military junta does seem like extra-slow motion. We use this post to catch up on some recent lese majeste stories.

At Prachatai: lese majeste lunacy is reported, yet it is unclear who is suffering mental illness. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights “the military Judge Advocate General’s office has scheduled a hearing on 20 April 2016, when military prosecutors will decide whether to indict Sao (surname withheld due to privacy concerns) under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.

Sao, “who claims that he has telepathic powers to communicate with Thaksin Shinawatra,” was assessed by psychiatrists from the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute and they concluded that” Sao is fit to stand on trial in a military court…”.

It is bizarre that trained psychiatrists would come to such conclusions. Perhaps they suffer some kind of royalist psychosis.

In another story of lese majeste oddities, we note that Pavin Chachavalpongpun has a remarkable ability to get under the skin of the royalists who currently rule over Thailand. Almost everything he writes gets a high-level response and royalists are sometimes showing up when he speaks to provide usually crude responses to his views, if they don’t get to shout him down.

Usually for op-eds in foreign newspapers, Thailand’s ambassadors are tasked with responding with cliched royalisms, usually bending and breaking the truth. However, in responding to a recent Japan Times op-ed by Pavin, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs does him the honor of having Sek Wannamethee, Director-General of its Department of Information respond.

Sek says he wants “to clarify some points” but actually muddies and muddles the royal waters.

His first attempt to alter history is to assert that “the monarchy has been and always remains above politics.” By now, almost everyone with even a smidgen of interest in Thailand knows this is a steaming pile of horse manure.

His second to alter history is to assert that “the main purpose of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [he means the junta] to take control of national administration were to provide a cooling-off period for all sides, and to prevent further violence, restore stability, as well as to put the country back on track toward full democracy.”

This is clearly nonsense and a lie that the junta and its flunkies trot out to in the face of facts that say something quite different.

To assert that there is no “association between the monarchy and the operation of the [junta] is completely misleading and totally out of context,” is to deny the junta’s own claims about its raison d’etre. It proclaims its loyalty, it capacity to “protect” the monarchy and Prem Tinsulanonda supports the junta for its loyalty. It is clear that the military is hoping to manage succession.

His next claim, that “the lese majeste law is part of Thailand’s Criminal Code, giving protection to the rights or reputations of the king, the queen, the heir apparent, or the regent in a similar way libel law does for commoners” is one repeatedly made. It is repeatedly denied by academics and activists. For a start, the law has been applied far more widely than the persons mentioned. That’s a fact. When was the last time that libel saw a person sentenced to 60 years in jail?

To argues that the law “is not aimed at curbing people’s rights to freedom of expression nor the legitimate exercise of academic freedom, including debates about the monarchy as an institution” is simply a lie.

In another lie, when he denies that “the current government has tightened up its measures against lese majeste charges as the cases become more politicized is an overstatement of the current situation.” Again, its a fact. Mammoth jail sentences, scores of cases and military courts say Sek’s a propagandist.

Some international bodies do recognize the arbitrariness and politicized nature of lese majeste. A Prachatai report tells us that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention “has requested that Thailand immediately release lèse-majesté detainee Pornthip Munkong aka Golf and award her compensation for the arbitrary detention she has been subjected to…”. Apparently, this opinion was adopted on 2 December 2015, arguing that Pornthip’s

… detention is arbitrary because it contravenes Articles 9 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 9(3) and 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Thailand is a state party to the ICCPR. The referenced provisions guarantee the fundamental right to liberty, the right to a fair trial, and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

PPT suggests that almost all lese majeste incarcerations fall into this category.

Dare we say it, but military prosecutors have shown some sense on lese majeste. For the first time, “have dismissed lèse majesté charges against three suspects accused of defaming the Thai monarchy on Facebook.”

The Judge Advocate General’s Office “decided not indict Jaruwan E., 26, Anon, 22, and Chat, 20, accused of using a Facebook page under the name of Jaruwan to defame the King.” Police had charged them with lese majeste  and computer crimes in mid-November 2014. They were imprisoned for almost three months.

Jaruwan denied all charges and claimed an unhappy suitor was responsible for the Facebook account. It seems the prosecutors have finally agreed.





Lese majeste case dismissed

10 02 2015

Amongst the banal and mad lese majeste cases that have resulted in charges and even jailing, one of the most ridiculous we have seen in recent months was that brought against Jaruwan E. and others.

So bizarre was this case, that PPT didn’t even put it up on our Pending Cases page. We could not see how any judge could take it seriously, even if some military dolts did.

In earlier posts, back in November 2014, Prachatai reported that 26 year-old Jaruwan was accused of posts at Facebook that infringed the draconian lese majeste law.

Lt Col Burin Thongprapai, a staff of the military Judge Advocate General’s Department and certainly no rocket scientist accused Jaruwan of lese majeste defaming her as a person who “should not be born Thai.”

The problem with the case and Burin’s ridiculous statement was that Jaruwan seemed to have no access to the Facebook page and she claimed it has been hijacked in “a ploy to cause her trouble by her boyfriend’s friend.”

Not long after, we stated that it was reported at Prachatai that a lese majeste and computer crimes Facebook case against Jaruwan E. resulted in “two more people fac[ing] the same charges.” They are males named Anon and Chat. All three have denied all charges.

Jaruwan is a factory worker, Chat is a fisherman and Anon a welder. Police say they have not finished collecting evidence. None has any possibility of raising funds to seek bail.

Prachatai now reports that Tuesday saw the release of all three. Jaruwan had been detained for almost three months.  It states that “[t]his is the first time that the military staff judge advocate let 112 suspects to be freed.”





Recent lese majeste case updates

30 11 2014

The lese majeste avalanche continues under the military dictatorship, and it is Prachatai that is maintaining a watch on these cases. Here is a listing of recent lese majeste news:

1. The sensational use of lese majeste by Crown Prince Vajirlongkorn and the police, with military junta support, has been widely reported, here, here, here and here.

2. Prachatai reports that amilitary court “made the unprecedented decision to grant bail to a lèse majesté suspect” when it bailed Bundith Arniya, “a 73-year-old writer and translator, who was arrested on Wednesday for making a comment during a seminar that allegedly defamed the King.” Bundith, a writer, was previously released on a suspended lese majeste charge, suffering “psychosis, [and who] has only one kidney and has to carry a urine drainage bag with him all the time.” His most recent case involves “allegedly lèse majesté comment that he made on Wednesday [that] pointed out the general opinion of Thais toward the monarchy.”

3. Prachatai reports that a lese majeste and computer crimes Facebook case against Jaruwan E. has resulted in “two more people fac[ing] the same charges.” They are males named Anon and Chat. All three have denied all charges. Jaruwan is a factory worker, Chat is a fisherman and Anon a welder. Police say they have not finished collecting evidence. None has any possibility of raising funds to seek bail.

 

 





Guilty and condemned

17 11 2014

At Prachatai it is reported that a 26 year-old woman stands accused of posts at Facebook that infringe the draconian lese majeste law. The problem is that she seems to have no access to the page and claims it has been hijacked in “a ploy to cause her trouble by her boyfriend’s friend.”

Despite this, “Lt Col Burin Thongprapai, a staff of the military Judge Advocate General’s Department accused Jaruwan E. of defaming the King on her Facebook account and submitted three pieces of content posted under the public Facebook page with the name Jaruwan E. (full name and surname in Thai).”

Seemingly an ultra-royalist dolt, Burin proceeded to tell the media: “I think she did too much — defaming the revered institution of the Thai people. This kind of person should not be born Thai.”

Other posts say “she sells sex, … insult her female friend, whose boyfriend is a police[man].” She says she has not seen the alleged lese majeste posts.

Still the technological dinosaurs at the police and in the military are detaining her.

No charges have yet been laid.

Yet Burin has found her guilty.