The Bangkok Post reports on the recent surge in “lese majeste charges following the May 22 coup has raised concerns that more lawsuits will only undermine political reconciliation sought by the junta…”.
Well, yes, there has been a surge, but reconciliation. Surely this is nothing more than buying into the propaganda of the military dictatorship! “Reconciliation” doesn’t come from repression and censorship.
According to the report, “[a]t least 13 people have been arrested or charged with lese majeste under the Criminal Code’s Section 112 since the coup took place.” In years gone by, that would be the total over 2-3 years, not in a few weeks. The report mentions these cases:
… former Pheu Thai Party MP Prasit Chaisrisa, cyber activist Kathawut Bunpitak; 24-year-old engineering student Akaradet Eiamsuwan; Red Sunday group leader Sombat Boonngam-anong; freelance writer Siraphop, aka Rung Sila; and Thanat Thanawatcharanont, aka Tom Dundee.
Other high-profile people facing lese majeste charges who have had arrest warrants issued for them but have failed to report in include a hairdresser based in England, Chatrawadee Amornphat; former PM’s Office minister in exile Jakrapob Penkair; and Thammasat University historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul.
Readers might note that PPT does not have some of these cases listed. We are having trouble keeping up with the rash of charges.
Niran Pitakwatchara, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said: “The more arrests and charges are made, the more the revered institution will be politicised…”.
That is a false line that has been used by many as a means to make the proponents of the law feel somehow shamed because they bring the monarchy into disrepute. PPT finds this naive and politically daft, for those using the charge use it to repress these very persons and the palace supports the law in times when they feel threatened, as they surely do at present.
Update: It is worth adding two pieces of related news here. The first is about academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who has had his passport cancelled for failing to show up when the military dictatorship demanded it. The hopeless ThaiPBS has reported it this way:
Singapore-based Thai academic’s passport revoked
The Foreign Ministry has revoked the passport of Singapore-based Thai academic Pawin Chatchavalpongphan who is facing criminal charges in Thailand and has defied the order to report to the National Council for Peace and Order.
The decision to have Pawin’s passport revoked was based on the recommendation of the National Police Office.
Foreign permanent secretary Sihasak Puangkatekaew explained that the Foreign Ministry simply acted in accordance with procedure after it was recommended by the police.
Pawin who is a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore has vigorously campaigned for the amendment of lese majeste law in Thailand or Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He is also the man who initiated the “Ah Kong’s Palm” sign – a symbol of defiance against the lese majeste law.
There’s a couple of things to note here. First, the emphasis on lese majeste is politically significant in the current context. Second, ThaiPBS and the junta seem to think that Pavin is in Singapore. He moved many, many months ago, and this is no secret.
The second piece of news is kind of good news but based on the bizarre. Prachatai reports that the dopey police have released Chaowanat Musikabhumi without charge. She was arrested for her “Long Live USA Day” placard considered potential lese majeste for parodying the propagandistic “Long live the king” slogan. She isnow banned from political activity.
She was released on Friday 11am. Similar to other detainees, she was forced to sign an agreement that she will stop all political activities.