Lese majeste updates

6 02 2013

Prachatai has two updates on lese majeste cases.

First, following his sentencing to 11 years imprisonment for lese majeste and “lese militare,” Somyos Prueksakasemsuk applied for bail. For the thirteenth time, his application was refused:

The Appeals Court said in its dismissal that, consideration of the nature of the offences and evidence presented to the Court of First Instance showed that the case ‘was serious and affected the feelings and good morals of the public’, and also that the defendant might flee if granted a temporary release, considering the fact that the Court of First Instance had sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

This is nonsense, of course, and cynics might observe that someone has decided that Somyos must be punished again, again and again. It looks like a vicious vendetta.

We posted on the dehumanization of Somyos a day or  so ago.

A second story reports that lese majeste convict Sathian Rattanawong was released on 2 February. Sathian was reportedly arrested on 19 March 2011 for selling video CDs considered “offensive to the monarchy.” On 4 July 2011, the Criminal Court sentenced him to 6 years in jail and fined him 100,000 baht. For pleading guilty, sentence was  were halved.

After sentencing, he applied for a royal pardon, but his petition “did not succeed.”

His release was due in April but a couple of the usual reductions granted each year has him out a little earlier.

Free them!

23 03 2012

Prachatai provides brief details of a letter by eight lese majeste convicts to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra “to help seek a royal pardon to ‘free them from suffering’.”

Those seeking a pardon are: Surachai Danwatthananusorn (serving 7.5 years in prison), Suchart Nakbangsai (3 years), Joe Gordon (2 .5 years), Suriyan Kokpuey (3 years and 15 days), Nat Sattayapornpisut (4.5 years), Sathian Rattanawong (3 years), Wanchai Saetan (15 years) and Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul (15 years)

Apparently in a first-ever joint appeal for pardon, they have written:

Now all of us feel guilty and are very sorry for what we have done wrong. So we have decided not to fight our cases, and have pleaded guilty so that the court would decide on our punishment to end court proceedings, and we could exercise our right to petition for a royal pardon….

Under the Criminal Procedure Code, these people can “seek a royal pardon through the Minister of Justice, or the Minister or Cabinet can, on their own initiative, propose to HM the King a royal pardon for convicts.”

The Nation in an article by Avudh Panananda says that the Yingluck government is in a “a dilemma over whether to act on granting the royal pardon for eight lese majeste convicts who happen to be its red allies.” The Nation report spends a large amount of space discussing the novelty of the joint appeal:

Yet the eight have chosen to go through the long and uncharted route for their pardon. Furthermore, they want the government to intervene on their behalf. They specifically called attention to their letter two weeks after the government remained silent on the matter.

Avudh claims that:

After the vetting of petitions by relevant authorities, His Majesty the King would grant pardon to every case. Thai and alien offenders often walked out of prison within a month.

PPT isn’t sure that this is a true statement. It sounds more like royal posterior polishing in the public domain. Reader knowledge on this would be appreciated. One reason we wonder about this is that the report then states:

Even if the government agrees to intervene and issue a pardon decree, the process will take months, perhaps even a year to complete.

Months, years? So what is it?

The report states that none of the government leaders “want the political hot potato dumped in their lap. PM Yingluck appears clueless that the letter was addressed and sent to her.”

In another statement that is made but isn’t justified, Avudh states:

The eight see themselves as political prisoners, hence their demand for the government’s intervention to resolve their legal predicament. But the government is duty-bound to look beyond personal and political ties. Under domestic and international laws, the eight are convicts who can not be classified and treated as political prisoners.

We think Avudh is making this up. As far as we can tell, the Thai laws on political prisoners are non-existent and the only criteria that were developed were those of January this year. Internationally, political prisoners tend to be defined as those who are jailed because they have opposed or criticized their government. That would include criticizing a monarch or a political system. This is the approach PPT has taken.

Amnesty International talks of prisoners of conscience, and this refinement is reserved for those who act peacefully in their politics. None of these prisoners in Thailand appear to fall outside that definition, although AI in Thailand is hopeless and doesn’t apply its own definition.

Equally, though, there are political prisoners, recognized by the U.N., as having taken up arms in freedom struggles. Those supporting Palestinians and Burmese seeking freedom have used a broader definition than AI. The Council of Europe has been debating the term for several years. If any reader knows more, let us know.

In the end, it seems Avudh is making this claim up for political gain. You see this again in the final paragraph of the story:

Abandoning the eight is tantamount to political suicide as the red shirts will condemn the government as ungrateful. But rescuing them will create a dangerous precedent and make it pointless to enforce the lese majeste law.

As much as we wished that the lese majeste law would become pointless by granting a pardon, we think Avudh is again being politicized in approach.

The bottom line is: these political prisoners should be freed.

Free the political prisoners!

6 03 2012

At Prachatai, there is a report that political jailed activist Surachai Danwattananusorn is about to “petition the government to seek a royal pardon for all political prisoners including those jailed for lèse majesté offences.”

Surachai is to write to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to have Minister of Justice Pracha Phromnok to seek the royal pardon.

The letter is planned to be “signed by eight lèse majesté convicts and defendants including Surachai himself. The others are Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, Joe Gordon, Sathian Rattanawong, Wanchai Saetan, Nat Sattayapornpisut, Suchart Nakbangsai and Darunee Charnchoensilpakul.

PPT believes that such a move will bring much needed pressure on the government and the palace to consider the plight of Thailand’s political prisoners, many of who are victims of the draconian political crime that is lese majeste. PPT doubts the palace is in any mood to respond positively, as it harbors a deep fear that it is under threat from republicanism.


Further updated: Lese majeste arrest at red shirt rally

21 03 2011

Ji Ungpakorn’s blog reports on yet another lese majeste arrest, this time on 19 March 2011. This is what he says:

Satien Rattanawong, aged 50, was arrested near the Democracy Monument on 19th March while selling CDs to Red Shirt protesters. He has been charged with lese majeste. The Rajprasong legal team accuse the police of breaking the law in preventing Satien from seeing a lawyer.

PPT will update shortly, with more details.

Update 1: From Ji’s site, roughly translated and slightly shortened – Police have arrested Mr. Sathian Rattanawong, a 50 year-old from Sa Kaew Province in front of a commercial school at Rajadamnoen Road near the Democracy Monument and the red shirt rally on 19 March. Following investigation and interrogation he is charged with lese majeste. He has not been permitted to see lawyers. The police did not find any evidence of illegal items but are holding Sathian for further investigation. The Ratsadornprasong legal office report that after Sathian was arrested lawyers and red shirt supporters went to the police station but were not permitted to see the arrested man. The lawyers argue that he is being prevented from accessing his legal rights.

Update 2: Prachatai have a short story on this case.

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