Updated: Blind 112 complaint

11 06 2021

Longtime readers of PPT might remember a lese majeste case from 2016, where Nurhayati Masoh, a then 23 year-old unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala who was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail.

At the time, we commented that, under the military dictatorship, lese majeste cases had become increasing bizarre and cruel. Students, journalists, academics, workers, red shirts and many more have been charged and sentenced. In recent months this purge has included juveniles and the aged. 112 logo

Nurhayati ‘s case marked another sad milestone in that she is blind. Worse still, she had been reported by Pipathanachai Srakawee, President of the Thailand Association of the Blind and a fervent royalist. Not only did he lodge his complaint, but he repeatedly and obsessively pursued senior officials, police and prosecutors to ensure that she was charged, tried and convicted. She was eventually sentenced to one year in jail for violating the Computer Crime Act.

As Prachatai reports, Pipathanachai (now Phatanachai) and still President of the Association is back, “protecting” the monarchy. In this case, the king’s fourth wife Queen Suthida.

Phatanachai told the Thungmahamek Police in Bangkok to report “an allegedly lèse majesté comment posted by someone older who also has a visibility impairment.” Prachatai reports:

Khumklao Songsomboon of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the lawyer in the new case, said on 9 June that the police summons had been delayed until 25 June because the notice was too short and the suspect was a blind person in another province.

Khumklao said that he could not reveal any details without the permission of the suspect. Prachatai is trying to reach the person for more detail.

All Khumklao could say was that TLHR received a request for help from a blind person. And apart delaying the police summons, he was preparing a bail request in case of detention.

The evil Phatanachai “told Prachatai that the suspect was his senior when he was studying in a school in Surat Thani.” He claimed to have been motivated to snitch “because in 2020 the suspect shared a comment critical of Queen Suthida in a post by Nipit Intarasombat, a former MP of the Democrat Party.”

Remarkably this royalist snitch went on to “explain” his perspective on Article 112:

He thought that criticism of the monarchy, including calls for monarchy reform, was okay, but it should also have boundaries. He agreed that 3-15 years in jail was long, but the jail term should be reduced in proportion to the criticism of the monarchy – that is it should be based on reasons, facts, and politeness.

Making the regime’s and palace’s point for them, he added that 112 “has no effect to people who keep quiet…”.

Presumably he also thinks that snitching and vigilantism is rewarded.

Update: Prachatai has a lengthy article that reflects more on Phatanachai’s perculiar perspective on lese majeste. In it he claims “he is not keeping track of this complaint” as he did in the previous case he instigated. He also compares prison for the blind as being “just the same as boarding school…”.

Lese majeste vindictiveness

16 05 2018

Nurhayati  Masoh, a blind woman who was convinced by the authorities to plead guilty to lese majeste, was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail. A couple of weeks later she was mysteriously released on bail. The lawyer and her family confirmed that they did not know the identity of the bail guarantor or how much bail was posted. The charges and conviction were later overturned on appeal.

Prachatai reports that less than two months after that bail out, she was again arrested, charged with computer crimes, convinced to plead guilty and sentenced again. The report states:

… on 5 March, the public prosecutor indicted Nuruhayati on the cybercrime charge for posting on Facebook a link to a radio programme hosted by red-shirt activists on 10 October 2016. The prosecutor claimed that her action caused public panic and threats to national security. The court sentenced her to two years in prison but halved the sentence because she pleaded guilty.

It was only a month after her lese majeste acquittal that she was jailed for computer crimes. The vindictiveness of lese majeste policing and prosecution is terrifying.

Updates on two lese majeste cases

26 01 2018

Prachatai has reported on two lese majeste cases.

The first involves singer Tom Dundee or Thanat Thanawatcharanon.

A red shirt singer, Tom was sentenced in June 2016 in two lese majeste cases to a total of 20 years, reduced to 10 years and 10 months after he finally agreed to plead guilty to end cases that were dragging on interminably because he had refused to plead guilty. This has become the junta style in lese majeste cases and amounts to a travesty of justice and an infringement of basic legal rights. His cases were heard in secret, in closed courts.

In another twist in Thailand’s injustice system, it is reported that a” prosecutor in Ratchaburi has indicted a red-shirt country singer for lèse majesté, without giving prior notice to the suspect and his lawyer.” On 25 January 2018, Tom was “accused of making a speech deemed defamatory to the monarchy during a protest of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship — the redshirts.”

Apparently, this is an old case that Tom and his lawyers thought it had been dropped. As we have said before, lese majeste cases are seldom announced as dropped, but are held in abeyance and can be reactivated at any time.

With little notice, it seems the court urgently summoned Tom to appear. As a result, his “lawyer could not present at the court during the indictment.” Meanwhile Tom is held at Ratchaburi Prison.

In lese majeste cases, the injustice system never worries about things like rights under the law.

The second case involves Nurhayati  Masoh, a blind woman arrested some time in November 2016, accused of lese majeste. The 23 year-old unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail after she agreed to plead guilty.

In a bizarre twist to the case, it is reported that on 23 January, Nuruhayati’s relatives were told by an officer from Yala Provincial Court “that the convict was released on bail. The lawyer and her family confirmed that they did not know who is the bail guarantor or how much the bail cost.”

That her lawyers knew nothing of the bail application suggests something odd is going on and that someone very high up is involved.

For royalists, “protection” is paramount

11 01 2018

Prachatai has an interview with Pipathanachai Srakawee, President of the Thailand Association of the Blind.

It was Pipathanachai who filed the lese majeste complaint against Nurhayati Masoh that resulted in her conviction. She is also blind.

Pipathanachai claims to have filed the case to protect not just the monarchy, but to”protect” all blind people. By “protect” he means that blind Thais need to be seen as “loyal.”

In seeking to “protect,” Pipathanachai was driven to file his “complaint against her at Chokchai Police Station in Bangkok.” Later, he says, he “sent a copy of my complaint to Yala Governor, who assigned a representative to file a complaint against her.” Even this was not sufficient for “protection.” He explains:

I don’t want this case to be shelved. I kept pushing for progress. At that time, there was the Police Taskforce for the Southern Border Provinces, I called the then-deputy commander, who was assigned to oversee the case. Initially, the police considered not to prosecute her. I told them that she only losses her slight; apart from that, she is similar to a sighted person. The fact that she is blind should not prevent the police from prosecuting her.

I think the police should proceed with the case. I have contacted and requested many high-level officials and figures to prosecute this case. They thought it is a crucial matter. Finally, the public prosecutor ordered a prosecution. I want to see this case being prosecuted. I do not want to file a complaint with the police, only to hear that the case is shelved.

For a man who claims he did not know the woman involved, this mania for “protection” becomes a cruel and driven psychological mania. In the interview he shows no sympathy for Nurhayati as he spouts royalist ideology. Likewise, this President of the Thailand Association of the Blind shows no sympathy for blind and disabled persons who are jailed.

Following the sentencing, his view is that the court has been “too lenient.”

The interview is revealing of the motivations of those royalists who patrol lese majeste.

Further updated: Another cruel lese majeste “conviction”

4 01 2018

Under the military dictatorship lese majeste cases have become increasing bizarre and cruel. Students, journalists, academics, workers, red shirts and many more have been charged and sentenced. In recent months this purge has included juveniles and the aged.

Khaosod reports that Yala’s provincial court “sentenced a blind woman to one and a half years in prison for posting content which it found violated royal defamation laws.” On 4 January 2018, Nurhayati Masoh (rendered as Murhyatee in some reports), 23, an unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala, was convicted after “agreeing” to plead guilty after being held in prison since November 2016.* She received three years, halved for the guilty plea.

In October 2016 using “a voice-assisted application which reads text out loud to post material from Ji Ungpakorn’s blog.

According to the report, “The court said they are sympathetic to her [because she’s blind] but said the law is the law…”.

Update 1: A Reuters report states that she’s been jailed since November 2017, when the case was filed against her. This information is confused in various reports. The event giving rise to the post on her Facebook page appears to have been the death of the king in October 2016.

A Prachatai report states that the court refused to suspend her sentence because of her impairment, pointing to the “severity of the charge.”

Update 2: Soon after conviction, the Muslim Attorney Center in Yala said it was planning to appeal the verdict on behalf of the convicted woman’s family. The foundation hoped to have the jail time suspended and also planned to seek a royal pardon.

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