Child still detained on 112

30 04 2023

Thanalop has been detained for a further 15 days. She is the 15 year-old who was 14 when accused of lese majeste during a rally in October 2022 at Bangkok City Hall that called for the release of political detainees and for the abolition of Article 112.

According to the Post:

Under the Juvenile and Family Court Procedure Act, a minor must be released from detention if the prosecutor does not file charges or request a postponement within 30 days. In Thanalop’s case, the prosecution on Thursday of this week requested that she be detained for an additional 15 days and the court agreed.

The law allows for as many as four 15-day postponements in cases where the offence carries a prison sentence of more than five years, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Thanalop was arrested on 28 March 2023.

Human Rights Watch has called for the charges to be dropped and the girl released. It referred to the case as “unjust.” Elaine Pearson, Asia director at HRW, added: “By arresting a 15-year-old girl, the Thai government is sending the spine-chilling message that even children aren’t safe from being harshly punished for expressing their opinions.” HRW also observed that the “Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Thailand, states that the arrest, detention, or imprisonment of a child ‘shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time’…”.

The ultra-royalist fear

20 04 2023

We are pretty sure that the recent uptick in reports of ultra-royalist activity and threats is related to two things. First, they fear another Shinwatra party election victory. And, related, they are preparing the ground for activism to unseat such a regime should it gain power.

There are three stories on this that are worth considering.

First, at Prachatai, ultra-royalist threats of violence. The thug doing the threatening is Anon Klinkaew, self-appointed leader of the ultra-royalist vigilante group the so-called People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy. He was the person responsible for the police complaint under Article 112 that resulted in the arrest and later detention of Thanalop (last name withheld), also known as Yok. He has now threatened to kill the now 15-year-old “because she refused to take part in the judicial process: associated with the 112 charge.

By some counts, the People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy is responsible for at least 16 lese majeste complaints. The few who claim allegiance to it are thugs and bullies, apparently feeling threatened by children and free speech.

To get a feeling for Anon’s mental disarray, read about his rant against a child:

In a 10 April live broadcast on his Facebook page, Anon said he will continue to file charges against critics of the monarchy, including 15-year-old activist Thanalop. He also said he was told that Thanalop and an activist known as “Comrade Sleepless” is the same person, and that he will kill her if this is true.

“Don’t you fucking hope that I’ll stop. I won’t stop no matter what happens,” Anon said. “That fucker Yok or Comrade Sleepless, if they’re the same person, they’re dead. Just wait and see.”

Anon also threatened to beat up Thanalop and kill her if she doesn’t agree to participate in the judicial process. “I will fucking kill you. Don’t tell the police, then,” he said on the broadcast. “I will beat you up, don’t you fucking complain.”

Second, also at Prachatai, the very same “Centre” has gone ballistic over a foreigner in France: “ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy has filed a royal defamation complaint against French TikToker Yan Marchal over his latest online video.” This relates to the video clip at his Facebook page posted on 12 April. It is also at Facebook:

The third story is at the Bangkok Post and refers to the wealthy “songs for life” hypocrite Ad Carabao and his new song “Prachathipatung” which “revives the myth of vote-buying and ignorance in rural society.” It is an article well worth reading as it is reprising this claim just in time for the 2023 election, allowing an opposition victory to be denigrated and opposed.

As we said, there’s a fear sweeping the conservatives. It will deepen and the efforts to swing voters will become increasingly fiendish.

The political dissidents still incarcerated

17 04 2023

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has a post (in Thai) regarding the remaining political prisoners.

It notes that at the time of the new year holiday, there were at least 15 political inmates still in prison, with seven of them seemingly being refused bail on a never-ending basis. Of these, there is one child and another whose alleged offence occurred when a child. Eight of the prisoners are serving sentences, including Anchan, who is serving the longest term for lese majeste, stretching to more than four decades.

Two of those held without bail are being held on lese majeste charges.


A dangerous 15 year-old

15 04 2023

Clipped from Prachatai

Readers will recall that late on 28 March the 15 year-old girl named only as Thanalop and also known as Yok was arrested on lese majeste allegations. For more on the charge against a then 14 year-old, read here and here.

With Thanalop refusing to acknowledge the Article 112 charge, the Central Juvenile and Family Court ordered that she be immediately detained at the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Girls in Nakhon Pathom for 30 days. Since then, Thanalop has been denied her legal rights.

Prachatai reports on the ongoing effort to deny the girl her legal entitlements while the state pursues what PPT has previously identified as lese majeste torture.

We won’t go through all the details of the reporting. Rather, PPT wants to emphasize that Thanalop, by denouncing “the judicial process as being unfair and unlawful, and refused to take part in it,” to the extent that she had to be carried into the courtroom and she sat with her back to the judge.

This makes Thanalop dangerous. Yes, a 15 year-old poses a threat to national institutions and the ruling class. By rejecting the legal facade that envelopes lese majeste, this young woman is challenging not just the law, but the ideology that surrounds it. She is challenging the status quo and destabilizing it. By challenging lese majeste, she also raises the specter of the monarchy being undermined.

State officials have a visceral understanding of this threat and they understand that higher ups expect them to re-establish the balance. This is why courts and other parts of the judicial system manipulate the law, even making stuff up. They are prepared to mentally torture young protesters including a child.

Fault line politics

13 04 2023

It was only a few days ago that PPT posted that while it is the ultra-royalists who are quickest to bemoan any “politicization” of the monarch and monarchy, it is ultra-royalist parties that regularly use the monarchy as a political piece. That post was about the inaptly named United Thai Nation Party.

Earlier we had a post on the Chart Thai Pattana Party, owned by the Silpa-archa family, set one of its conditions for joining the next coalition government as a “promise not to touch the lese majesty law.”

This has become the refrain of military-backed and a gaggle of splinter parties seeking to benefit from elections while backing the incarceration of children for lese majeste.

In recent days, Thailand’s so-called health minister and prime ganja promoter Anutin Charnvirakul of Newin Chidchob’s Bhum Jai Thai Party has declared he is “open to working with any party and would be prepared to be prime minister if the opportunity arose.” But this claim of willingness to be sucked into any coalition turns out to be an untruth. He reportedly “explained” that as a “staunch monarchist [he] draws the line at any suggestion of amending a lese majeste law.” Apparently, “for Anutin the monarchy is sacrosanct” and this includes Article 112. He solemnly declared: “Protecting the monarchy is an inspiration for the party…”.

So Anutin is either prepared to only work with rightists – a good fit for himself and his party – or he thinks he can get Puea Thai to leave Article 112 untouched.

Likewise, Palang Pracharath leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has also been talking about allies after an election where his party is looking like failing. He said his military party “could form a government with any other party, including Pheu Thai, provided they share similar policies, in particular being opposed to amending the lese majeste law.”

This is recognition of Puea Thai’s likely election and the losers are drawing a line in the coalition sand. Clearly, the lese majeste ball is now in Puea Thai’s court. Can they be clear on 112??

Sainam acquitted on 112 and other charges

8 04 2023

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on Facebook that on 30 March 2023, the Central Juvenile and Family Court acquitted Sainam (family name withheld) on criminal charges under Article 112, Article 217 (arson), Article 358 (destruction of property), and under the Emergency Decree. He denied all charges.

This is reasonably good news as Sainam’s case was the first “case in which a child (at the time of the offense) who was charged under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law and refused to confess to the crime was acquitted by the Court. In the first 2 children’s cases in November and December 2022, both against ‘Petch’, the Court found ‘Petch’ guilty of lèse-majesté. Both cases are on appeal.”

Sainam’s case “arose from a pro-democracy protest on 18 July 2021 called ‘Take Back Our Country, Chase Away Parasites’, where the protesters marched from the Democracy Monument to the Government House.” Then 17 years-old, Sainam was “accused of pasting 2 papers with messages ‘CANCEL LAW 112’ and ‘Give me back time in my life’ on a portrait of the King. He was also accused of spraying profanity over the phrase ‘Long Live The King’ on the portrait. Finally, the prosecutor accused him of setting fire to the decorative cloth below the portrait as well as the portrait itself.”

Sainam’s lawyers argued that he “was not the person who vandalized and set fire to the portrait. They also insisted that statements pasted on the portrait do not constitute a criminal offense.”

Like several other young activists, Sainam has engaged in interesting tactics:

Before the Court delivered the judgment, Sainam submitted a request to the Court, asking the Court to allow third parties to enter the courtroom to listen to the judgment. The Court initially denied this request, explaining that the Court had been fair throughout the trial and no one had power over the Court. Even if third parties were granted permission to enter the courtroom, the Court noted, their presence would not have any impact on the judgment.
In response, Sainam insisted that the Court permit third parties to enter the courtroom. He engaged in an act of civil disobedience by sitting down in the middle of the courtroom, his back facing the judges. He informed the Court that he would continue to turn his back to the judges as they read the judgment if they do not grant him his request.
After consulting a panel of judges, the Court granted Sainam his request. However, because the courtroom is small, the court did not allow every third party to enter the courtroom. Use of mobile phones in the courtroom was strictly prohibited.

The judgment delivered by the court “stated that the prosecution failed to prove that the perpetrator who vandalized and set fire to the King’s portrait was Sainam.” It observed that the photos produced “did not show the face of the person therein. Furthermore, the Court noted that the police did not question the author of the post in the Facebook group, casting doubts on the credibility of these photos. The police also did not compare the fingerprints on the papers pasted on the King’s portrait and the spray can with those of Sainam.”

Interestingly, used to full support from royalist courts, “the prosecution did not produce a single eyewitness to testify in court that Sainam did the acts of which he was accused.”

The court did  convict Sainam under the Emergency Decree for participating in a protest. He was fined 6,000 baht, reduced to 4,000.

112 and the injustice of the ruling class

5 04 2023

Prachatai continues to lead the way in drawing attention to Article 112 injustice. Its two most recent posts deserve serious reading because both show how conservatives seek to enforce a draconian law to protect not just a feeble institution, but to bolster the entire ruling class and its feudal ideology. The mainstream media – long a servant to the ruling class – continues to tip-toe around 112.

The first story is of publisher Samanchon Books being directed to remove anti-112 posters “which they displayed in their stall at the annual National Book Fair, due to ‘concerns’ from the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, where the fair is taking place.”

Clipped from Prachatai. Photo by Vachira Buason

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights photos showed “a group of men surrounding the stall, and said that they were plainclothes officers of unknown affiliation who came to check the Samanchon Books stall and removed the posters.” Later, a witness said “a group of men came to take down the posters during the night of 29 March, when no one was at the stall, and that employees arriving at the fair the next morning found the posters underneath a table in the stall.”

Later, Samanchon Books “replaced the removed posters with new ones showing the number ‘123’ with a strike through it.” It is reported that a police “officer told the publisher that the posters were not illegal, but not to publish pictures of them.” Posters with 112 on it are also not illegal; rather, they are threatening for the ruling class ideology and thee class’s minions must act to prevent dissent.

There were further reports of “plainclothes officers … seen around Samanchon Books’ stall the next day (30 March), which was the first day of the fair. An employee saw them taking photos of the stall, and that the men hid their mobile phone after an employee went to see what they were photographing.” More “[p]lainclothes officers were … seen at stalls run by Same Sky Books and the Progressive Movement, a non-profit formed by leaders of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.

The second story comes with some breathtaking photographs by Ginger Cat. The story is of a group of activists who “staged a protest in Bangkok’s Siam shopping district to demand the release of 15-year-old Thanalop, who has been held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge for the past week.”

The photos show activist Anna Annanon who “staged a protest at the Siam walking street in Bangkok’s downtown shopping district. Wearing a school uniform and with tape over her mouth, Anna sat inside a cage and pour red paint over herself, while other activists handed out pamphlets with information about Thanalop and [Article 112]…”. Her fellow activists “scattered the pamphlets from the second floor of the nearby Siam Square One shopping mall.”

Clipped from Prachatai. Photo by Ginger Cat.

Meanwhile, Thanalop’s detention continues to be illegal: “Although Thanalop was allowed visitors on 31 March, the Juvenile Centre refused to let lawyers see her on Monday (3 April). An officer at the Centre said that its Director prohibited visitors from seeing Thanalop, claiming that now that someone has spoken to her about her school applications there is nothing else to discuss with her. They also said that lawyers will not be able to see her even if she appointed one as her legal counsellor.”

Lese majeste and the ruling class has tied Thailand in political knots that make the justice system cruel, apply laws with double standards, and even break the law with impunity. No election can fix this, although it may, depending on the result, begin a process of reform that will have to dismantle and rebuild the existing (in)justice system that locks up children.

Without Prachatai and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the disaster of the justice system could not be understood.

15 year-old’s 112 arrest

1 04 2023

Prachatai reports that a now 15 year-old girl named as only Thanalop (last name withheld), and also known as Yok, “was arrested on Tuesday (28 March) when she went to the Royal Palace Police Station after an activist was arrested for spray-painting graffiti calling for the repeal…” of Article 112.

When just 14, in February 2023, Thanalop “received a summons from Samranrat Police Station after she was accused of royal defamation by royalist activist Anon Klinkaew, head of the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy, due to an incident that occurred around the Giant Swing in Bangkok’s old town on 13 October 2022.”

For more on the charge, read here and here.

Following this most recent detention, a video shows “Thanalop being dragged into a room inside the police station by a group of police officers.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights “said that the police initially claimed she was an accomplice in the incident at the Grand Palace and arrested her when she came to the police station. However, TLHR noted that, because she is a minor, the police can detain her only in the case of a flagrant offence or if they have an arrest warrant.”

Worse in terms of her legal rights, when “Thanalop was detained at the Royal Palace Police Station, lawyers were not allowed to see her until around 20.20. They were then told by the police that she was arrested for royal defamation on a warrant issued on 28 February.”

Thanalop claims “she was sexually harassed by the arresting officers. The policemen sat on her and reached into her clothes, touching her legs and her chest to search her and confiscated her iPad, which she kept inside her shirt.” She “asked her lawyer to file charges against the 8 arresting officers for theft, using violence to force her to do something against her will, and assault.”

A later Prachatai report provides details of Amnesty International’s call for rights for children:

“This development is yet another unsettling reminder that Thai authorities continue to target children as they use the law on lèse-majesté to suppress peaceful dissent. In addition, March alone saw convictions of at least four protesters as well as several new charges and indictments under this law.

“Recent cases demonstrate the dramatic shrinking of civic space for millions of people in Thailand, as authorities increasingly refuse to tolerate peaceful dissent. Since late last year, peaceful protesters have been found guilty of lèse-majesté for merely exercising their right to freedom of expression in online posts, participating in mock fashion shows, and most recently, selling calendars online with drawings of yellow ducks, a symbol of the protest movement.

“Thai authorities must drop all charges against individuals under laws inconsistent with international human rights law and standards. They must also refrain from arresting and holding peaceful protesters in pre-trial detention.”

It is also reported that “Thanalop refused to participate in the process because she sees her arrest as unlawful and unfair.” She has also been “charged with refusing to follow an officer’s order, because she refused to be fingerprinted.” Kind of contradicting the material in the previous report, “TLHR said that Thanalop refused to appoint a lawyer, sign any document, or request bail. She was also carried into the courtroom by around 7 women police officers, and while inside the courtroom, she sat with her back to the judge as an act of protest.”

The result was that the “Central Juvenile and Family Court then ordered her to be immediately detained at the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Girls in Nakhon Pathom for 30 days, making her the youngest person to be charged and held in pre-trial detention…” on a 112 charge.

A TLHR lawyer “will be visiting Thanalop even though the 15-year-old did not appoint her as her lawyer, but that it remains to be seen whether she would be allowed to see Thanalop or whether Thanalop would continue refuse to appoint a lawyer.” Thai “law requires a lawyer to be appointed when a minor is facing a criminal charge, and that if a lawyer is not appointed, the trial would be unlawful. Thanalop therefore has to appoint a lawyer for the trial to proceed.”

The child charged under 112

15 02 2023

Prachatai provides more information on the case of the 14 year-old girl summoned by police on a lese majeste complaint. For earlier posts, see here and here.

Prachatai reports:

Thanalop (last name withheld), 14, was summoned by Samranrat Police Station to report on 15 February after she was accused of royal defamation [lese majeste] by royalist activist Anon Klinkaew, head of the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy.

The summons does not say why Thanalop is charged, but states that the cause of the complaint was an incident that occurred around the Giant Swing in Bangkok’s old town on 13 October 2022.

Thanalop, who calls herself “Comrade Sleepless” (สหายนอนน้อย), said that she initially received a summons dated 23 January, but certain details in it were wrong, so the family sent it back to the police for correction. She then received another summons last Tuesday (7 February).

Before the summons, it is reported that:

She … was harassed by police officers three times before she received an official summons. On 20 October 2022, an officer visited her house and told her family that she should be taken to see a psychiatrist.

Another officer came to visit the family again on 7 November 2022. Thanalop said that the officer spoke to her father, telling him that charges would be pressed against her. She also said that the officer spoke badly to her father, telling him that it would be better to commit suicide than to have a child like her.

On the same day, an officer tried to visit her at school, but Thanalop said the school refused to let them see her.

Thanalop explained that:

she is not concerned about being charged, but is more worried about her education, so she will ask the police to postpone her meeting. She said that her family is worried, but is going to let her decide what to do for herself.

She also explained her opposition to Article 112:

She calls on political parties to back the repeal of the royal defamation [lese majeste] law rather than proposing amendments to it. She said she is concerned that, if the law is not repealed, it can later be amended again and the penalty may become more severe, and said that it would be most benefit to the people to repeal it.

Thanalop called on political parties to be clear on repealing the law.

She also backed the hunger strikers and their call for the release of political prisoners and judicial reform.

Listen to hunger strikers, amend the lese-majeste law

11 02 2023

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights have issued an important statement:

JAKARTA – Parliamentarians from all over Southeast Asia are urging the Thai government to listen to the demands of two young activists on hunger strike, and do everything they can to save their lives. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) also would like o invite Members of the Thai Parliament and relevant authorities to open a debate on amending the draconian lèse-majesté Law, with which both activists have been charged.

Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phupong, 21 and 23 years old respectively, started their hunger strike on 18 January to demand reforms in the Thai justice system, the release of political prisoners and the abolition, or reform, of some of the laws used against dissidents, including the lèse-majesté law. According to media reports, the two activists are extremely weak, and there is concern for their lives.

The two activists face charges of lèse-majeste for publicly holding a sign asking whether the motorcades of members of the royal family, that often entail road closures in Bangkok, create inconveniences for the public. Tantawan also faces a second charge for the contents of a livestream she conducted on Facebook.

“It is tragic that these two young women feel that they have to put their lives at risk to fight for their beliefs. Whatever one may think of their ideas, they should be allowed to express them freely, as it would happen in a truly democratic country, and not amidst a climate of repression that leads to such extreme ways to voice dissent. Right now, the first priority should be to save their lives, but it is also crucial to initiate a candid debate on their demands,” said Kasit Piromya, former Thai Foreign Minister, and APHR Board Member.

Article 112 of Thailand’s Penal Code states that, “whoever defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The Thai law of lèse-majesté, designed to defend and protect the revered monarchy, is one of the strictest in the world. It is often interpreted in a very loose manner and has been used widely in recent years as a weapon against political rivals. The main reason for this is that any Thai citizen can bring charges against anybody for allegedly violating Article 112.

A series of student protests broke the taboo on the monarchy in Thailand in 2020, demanding reforms on the institution, but they largely faded out in 2021, when the authorities began to crack down on protestors with accusations of lèse-majeste, as well as other offenses.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 215 people in 234 cases were prosecuted under Article 112 between November 2020 and June 2022, including 17 minors. Of these lawsuits, at least 108 were filed by regular citizens, while the rest were filed by different Thai state institutions.

“There must be a law that protects the honor and safety of the Head of State, but it should comply with human rights standards. Article 112 prescribes an excessive punishment, and has been used all too often in a malicious way as a political weapon. Lawmakers in Thailand should look to reform the law. The penalties should be reduced, without a minimum sentence, and ordinary Thais should not be able to bring such charges; that only fosters witch-hunts. Only the Bureau of the Royal Household and the Public Prosecutor should be entitled to bring charges against those deemed to have defamed the king. A thorough revision of the lèse-majesté law will help to democratize Thailand, but will also benefit the monarchy itself, as an open debate of its role in modern Thailand is more necessary than ever,” said Kasit Piromya.

Kasit has certainly changed his political tune since his term in government (see here and here).

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