Updated: Challenging arbitrary lese majeste

25 10 2017

Prachatai reports that the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has concluded that lese majeste victims Sasiwimon S. and Tiensutham or Yai Daengduad are detained arbitrarily.

The UN has concluded that the detention and sentencing of the two was done arbitrarily. Each received sentences that amount to decades in jail.

In other words, “the detention of the two was against the international conventions in which Thailand is a state party of such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Some time ago the same U.N. body also “concluded that the detention of four lèse majesté convicts were arbitrary. The four are: Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Pornthip Munkong, Patiwat Saraiyaem, Phongsak S.”

The military dictatorship will more or less ignore this U.N. declaration as the use of the lese majeste law is critical for its suppression of opponents of the junta and the monarchy.

When it does reply to the U.N. it lies. Last time, in June 2017, the junta lied that “the state protects and values freedom of expressions as it is the foundation of democratic society…”. This is buffalo manure and no one anywhere believes it.

The regime added that freedom and democracy were only possible when they do not impact “social order and harmony.” Like fascist and authoritarian governments everywhere, they mean that freedom and democracy are not permitted in Thailand.

The regime also claims that lese majeste “is necessary to protect the … [m]onarchy as the monarchy is one of the main pillars of Thai society…”.

That’s why the regime sent Sasiwimol, a 31-year-old single mother of two to 56 years in jail for allegedly posting seven Facebook messages considered lese majeste. How she threatened to undermine the monarchy is unclear.

Yai Daengduad, who is 60 years old was sentenced to 50 years in a junta prison for lese majeste.

Neither could appeal as they were dragged before one of the dictatorship’s military courts.

Meanwhile, Khaosod reports that the iconoclastic former lese majeste convict, Akechai Hongkangwarn has been confronted by a squad of uniformed military thugs for saying that he’d wear red for the dead king’s funeral. The thugs demanded he “choose between spending a few days at what they described as a resort in Kanchanaburi province or a military base at an unspecified location…”.

Of course, in royalist and neo-feudal Thailand, saying one would refuse to wear black is considered unacceptable. Akechai has been subject to a barrage of threats and hate mail and posts declaring him “unThai.”

Akechai “said it was not about disrespecting the [dead] king but exercising his rights.”

Royalists cannot accept that anyone has rights when it comes to the monarchy; there are only (enforced) duties.

They have encouraged attacks on Akechai and his house.

This is royalist Thailand.

Update: An AP report states that Akechai has been arrested: “A lawyer for Ekachai Hongkangwan said soldiers arrested Ekachai at his Bangkok home on Tuesday morning and indicated they would detain him outside the city, in Kanchanaburi province.”

The weight of lese majeste

18 06 2017

In a report for From Our Correspondents, the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports from Chiang Mai on the “weight of Thailand’s lese majeste law, which protects the country’s royal family from insult – and meets a family who found themselves on the wrong side of it. Yet he also hears from some of the many Thais who passionately defend their monarchy on any and every media platform.”

The ultra-royalists who hunt down and report those who they think insult the monarchy show no remorse for, in this case, having a mother who knew little about the way she was railroaded through the “justice” system jailed for years and years.

Protecting the monarchy is a savage business.

Sasiwimol’s 56 year sentence

20 08 2015

The headline in Prachatai states that Sasiwimol was sentenced to 28 years for lese majeste, but, the fact is that she had a 56 year sentence reduced by half for the now almost mandatory guilty plea.

In this context, Prachatai has done its readers a great service in producing an account of Sasiwimol’s case by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

We urge our readers to read and understand the pressure to plead guilty.

Mother gets 56 years for lese majeste

8 08 2015

The inhumane acts of the military courts continue. “Inhumane” is a polite terms for yet another case of a mammoth sentence for lese majeste. Prachatai reports that another person has been sentenced to decades in jail for allegedly “insulting” the monarchy. In Thailand, a Facebook post is now a far more serious “crime” than murder, human smuggling and myriad other real crimes.

The report states that “in northern Thailand sentenced a hotel employee with two children to 28 years behind bars for posting messages alleged as defamation to the Thai monarchy on facebook.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights state that the “military court of the northern province of Chiang Mai on Friday afternoon, 7 August 2015, sentenced Sasiwimol (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a 29-year-old employee of a hotel in the province, to 56 years in jail for allegedly posting seven lese majeste messages under the Facebook identity ‘Rungnapha Kampichai’.”

The military court handed out 8 years for each of the seven lese majeste counts. The royal loonies on the military bench then declared that “since the defendant pleaded guilty as charged,” the sentence was halved to 28 years.

Sasiwimol had initially pleaded not guilty, which always incurs the wrath of the royalist military, courts and prosecutors, but yesterday she retracted her pretrial statements and pleaded guilty. The military court then set about its punishment in the name of the king, ignoring her plea:

Prior to the ruling, Sasiwimol submitted a letter to the court, requesting the judges to reduce the jail sentence because she has never committed any crime and is a mother of two daughters aged seven and five. The military court judges dismissed the request and reasoned that the jail sentence is already light since case is severe because it is related to the revered Thai monarchy and gravely affected public sentiment of Thai people.

Sasiwimol  was, in September 2014, a victim of the royalist vigilante Facebook group Facebook Chiang Mai, which filed the lese majeste complaint that eventually led to the charges against her.

Shortly after, an individual whose real identity is Rungnapha Kampichai contacted the group, saying that the Facebook account under her name does not belong to her.

Since 13 February 2015, she has been held in custody with bail refused at least four times.

More lese majeste secrecy

10 06 2015

112PPT believes that a new case of lese majeste has been reported at Prachatai. We do not think we have heard of the Facebook-related case of  Sasiwimol previously.

As with all lese majeste cases, this is a political charge and trial.

In Chiang Mai, back in September 2014, a vigilante Facebook group known as “Facebook Chiang Mai” filed a lese majeste complaint against a Facebook user “Rungnapha Kampichai” at a local police station. Shortly after that, “an individual whose real identity is Rungnapha Kampichai contacted the group, saying that the facebook account under her name does not belong to her.” Police then searched Sasiwimol’s house in Chiang Mai and seized her mobile phone and computer.

On 13 February 2015, Sasiwimol was accused “of posting six messages allegedly defaming the Thai monarchy on facebook. Sasiwimol was then brought to military court and Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institute for detention. She remained under custody since.”

On 9 June 2015, the 29 year-old mother of two and hotel employee appeared before a military court ion the lese majeste charge.

Sasiwimol’s case is “normal” in the bizarre world of Thailand’s lese majeste law not only because she was denied bail but because the military court conducted its hearing in secret. According to the court, this was because “the case is related to the revered [sic.] Thai monarchy and might cause instability and affect public morale.”

This is only a slight twist in the lese majeste story, which usually cites some weird notion of “national security,” and suggests that all lese majeste cases should be tried in secret courts because, by definition, they involve the monarchy.

All cases of lese majeste should also impact public morale because the public should be dismayed that the courts act for a feudal institution, implementing a law that is feudal and cruel and imposing restrictions, conditions and sentences that amount to torture.

Sasiwimol refused to plead guilty, stating that “she has never participated in any political demonstration and that she is not interested in politics.” Bail was denied because of the alleged “severity of the case.”

The next hearing will be on 8 July 2015.

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