Visiting a lese majeste prisoner

16 09 2013

This is a post we should have had up earlier but PPT was waylaid by several other events.

Khaosod reported last week on a group of about 100 red shirts visiting Papatchanan Ching-in who is imprisoned in Nakorn Ratchasima for lese majeste. The group was reportedly “led by Mr. Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, aka Noom Red Nont, who had been imprisoned for lese majeste and released earlier this year.” Tanthawut stated “that he planned many more activities to raise awareness about individuals who are serving jail term for lese majeste, which he views as a political, rather than a criminal, offence.”

The group reportedly “gathered in front of the prison. Dozens of police officers and plainclothes agents stood nearby to observe the event.”

One thing that surprised PPT in the short report was this: “Ms. Sudsawat Sansern, commander of the prison, said prison regulation exempts Ms. Paphachanan from wearing the manacles at her ankles because she is over 60 years old.” We were surprised because we had not imagined that women were subject to these medieval rules.

 





Hopeless on 112

30 08 2013

Readers are probably used to hearing of bizarre and politicized decisions in lese majeste cases that seem detached from legal reality.

This latest ruling, this time from the Supreme Court in Nakhon Ratchasima appears even more problematic, if that were possible. Khaosod has reported the upholding of the lese majeste conviction of Papatchanan Ching-in.

The court “has sentenced a local Redshirt leader to 3 years in jail for burning a coffin bearing the name of His Majesty the King′s Privy Councillor” General Prem Tinsulanonda.

The report states that she “had been found guilty under Section 112 of the Criminal Codes, which criminalises making insults or threats against His Majesty the King, His Majesty the Queen, and the Royal Heir.”

Of course, none of this has anything to do with Prem, a commoner and not included in Article 112, anywhere.

She was originally charged on 24 April 2009, after a group staged a protest against Privy Council President Prem , the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. The group burned a mock coffin at the  Tao Suranari statue, reportedly with an attached message referring to Prem by a royal prefix “Pra Ong Than,” meant to mock Prem and PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul who first used the term (see here). The coffin carried images of Prem and Abhisit.

Police said that charges had been filed by a military officer, Colonel Weerapattarapol Bunchiaw, attached to Army Region 2 and by PAD members, claiming “lèse majesté, violations of national security under Criminal Code Articles 113, 114 and 115, and defamation under Article 326.” Papatchanan  denied the charges and was released on bail. She was convicted under Article 112 by lower courts despite the fact that Prem is not covered by the law.

The lower courts “argued that such [a] display amounts to threatening … the King, as the title is only reserved for the King…. The Supreme Court has sided with the previous rulings…”. It is this warped legal (il)logic that lands this woman in jail.

It must be noted that no legal action has ever been considered for Sondhi who also used the term.

Such decisions indicate that the lese majeste law is a bizarre statute that allows judges to make essentially illegal and unconstitutional decisions.





Lese majeste conviction in Korat

17 12 2010

Prachatai reports that Papatchanan Ching-in on 16 December 2010 was found guilty of lese majeste. Papatchanan or Daeng, has been on PPT’s list of pending cases on lese majeste since April 2009. Unfortunately, her case is now moved to be added to the list of those convicted.

Her case is related to her involvement with a red shirt protest that attacked General Prem Tinsulanonda, president of the Privy Council in Nakhon Ratchasima, where Prem maintains a residence. She was said to be one of the leaders of the protest group that also attacked the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the government by burning a mock coffin at the  Tao Suranari statue on 7 April 2009. The coffin reportedly included an attached message referring to Prem by a royal prefix meant to mock Prem and PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul. The coffin also carried images of Prem and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

It is reported that “Col Weerapattarapol Bunchiaw, a military officer attached to Army Region 2 at the province, filed charges with the police on 9 Apr 2009. On 10 Apr 2009, PAD members in the province also filed charges for lèse majesté and violations of national security under Criminal Code Articles 113, 114 and 115, and defamation under Article 326.” Papatchanan denied the charges at the time and was released on bail.

Prachatai now reports that the Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Court has sentenced Papatchanan to three years in jail: “According to the court, during a protest on 7 April 2009, Papatchanan and other red shirts brought a mock coffin with a message which read ‘Phra Ong Than’ in the top line, and ‘Gen Prem…’ and ‘Died 8 April 2009’ in the following lines. Papatchanan poured gasoline on the coffin and burned it. The court said that the word ‘Phra Ong Than’ referred to HM the King who is most revered by the people. The defendant, therefore, was found guilty under Sections 83 and 112 of the Criminal Code for conspiring with others to commit the crime of lèse majesté.”

Papatchanan reportedly “appealed the case and her bail request was granted by the court.”

Police have still not been able to find or arrest any of the other red shirts allegedly involved in the protest.

Her crime appears to have involved referring to General Prem by the same royal prefix in a way that mocked “what was believed to be PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul’s slip of the tongue when he routinely appeared on his ASTV programme on 3 Apr 2009, saying, ‘…the yellow shirts come out to protect Gen Prem, as Phra Ong Than is President of the Privy Council’.” See this clip:

Interestingly, this conviction occurs in the middle of the scandal associated with the comments of Prem and other senior royalists that deride the heir to the throne, Vajiralongkorn.





Frank Anderson on lèse majesté

10 05 2009

Frank G. Anderson at UPI Asia.com (8 May 2009: “Respecting the Thai king – and others too”) continues to point to the broader human rights issues associated with lèse majesté. He notes that, “Although many agencies and nongovernmental organizations have already been active in documenting individual human rights cases, two major failings have persisted.”

The first is that “there is little to no protection from continued human rights abuses up to and including kidnapping, political harassment and murder. Secondly, the process for “closure” is too prolonged, with cases generally going on for years before they are concluded, if ever. At the heart of this process is the very institution that protects the Thai monarchy, the Royal Thai Police.”

Referring to LM watch, which PPT posted on a few days ago, Anderson says that, “Finally someone has begun a detailed compilation of lèse majesté.” While PPT is supportive of every move to highlight these cases, this observation is not entirely accurate. LM watch does list more than 30 cases, but the majority of these are yet to include much information. As the site builds, it will become an invaluable resource.

At PPT, we now have information on 14 pending cases and 3 recently concluded cases. The police have said that there are currently 32 active cases. LM watch lists 33, but this includes some old cases, so not all of the current cases being investigated seem to be listed anywhere yet. PPT is keen to know of more cases, and if readers email us with details that can be verified by at least one published source, we will post the details (email us at: thaipoliticalprisoners@gmail.com).

Anderson points to the most recent case of Papatchanan Ching-in and notes: “The crux of the matter in Chingin’s case is whether the Thai courts will view parody and mimicry as legitimate methods of expression when combined with the king’s unique title. She will have a chance to find out, since two days after the coffin burning a group of Yellow Shirts and Thai military, upset with the demonstration, dropped by police headquarters and filed lèse majesté charges against her. Currently out on bail after using a relative’s government position as guarantee, Chingin has denied all charges and insisted that ‘I was not the first’ to use ‘his majesty’ to describe [Privy Council President] General Prem [Tinsulanond].”

Anderson concludes with comments on the Democrat Party-led government’s “public relations campaign, both locally and internationally, to help rectify its image and prevent further deterioration of its credibility.” He says that overseas, the government is disseminating its version of “the truth” about the country so that “foreign diplomats and commercial partners ‘understand’ Thailand’s situation. Internally, the state machinery, comprising the army and a special Protect the King committee, police, Privy Council, government, hard-line traditionalists and a few well-meaning but ineffectual democracy activists, are clamping down on ‘undesirable’ dissent and ‘potentially damaging’ media reports.”





Another lèse majesté charge in Korat

26 04 2009

Prachatai (26 April 2009: “Red-shirts in Khorat charged with lèse majesté for burning coffin in protest against Prem”) reports yet another politically-motivated lèse majesté charge in the northeastern gateway province of Nakorn Ratchasima.

On 24 April, Papatchanan Ching-in, a red shirt and leader of a group that staged a protest against Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanond, PAD and the government by burning a mock coffin at the  Tao Suranari statue, reported to police after arrest warrant had been issued for her by the provincial court.

She and her friends were charged with lèse majesté following their 7 April demonstration where the coffin reportedly included an attached message referring to Prem by a royal prefix meant to mock Prem and PAD leader Sondhi Limthongkul. Prachatai includes a clip of the statement by Sondhi, trying to avoid lèse majesté charges against Prachatai. The Korat Post includes this: “The text on the front of the coffin read, “His Majesty…General Prem…The PAD…Government of Crooks…born….died 8 April 2009.” See Bangkok Pundit on the earlier story on Prem and Sondhi.

Police said that charges had been filed by a military officer attached to Army Region 2 and by PAD members, claiming “lèse majesté, violations of national security under Criminal Code Articles 113, 114 and 115, and defamation under Article 326.” Papatchanan has denied the charges and was released on bail. She must report to court on 6 May.

No charges have been laid against Papatchanan’s friends, who have yet to be identified by the police.

Papatchanan (or Daeng) is a controversial figure in Korat and has previously accused others of lèse majesté (see here for one account).








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