4 long years

30 04 2015

112It is now four very long years since Somyos Prueksakasemsuk was arrested on 30 April 2011 and charged with lese majeste.

Kept in jail until his trial, often in chains and cages when he made court appearances, on 23 January 2013, Somyos was sentenced to 5 years on each of two lese majeste charges, with an extra year added from a previous suspended sentence for insulting the despicable General Saprang Kalayanamit, a leader of the 2006 royalist coup.somyos

During his trial, shackled and caged, Somyos was dragged around the country for court appearances in several provinces where, in one case, no witness even showed up, causing the court appearance to be cancelled. This and the repeated refusal of bail represented a form of torture.

Essentially, the royalist elite has chosen to punish Somyos for being an activist.

To acknowledge this tragedy, PPT links to a two-part interview (here and here) with Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk, who has campaigned hard and long, seeking justice for her husband.

Somyos has never seen a fair trial. He is a political prisoner.





Somyos applies for bail for the 16th time

21 11 2014

The Bangkok Post reports that Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, convicted of lese majeste and held in jail since his initial arrest on 30 April 2011, has sought bail for the 16th time.

somyosHis wife, Sukunya “put up 1 million baht in cash on Tuesday as surety for his temporary release pending the Supreme Court’s decision [on his appeal], expected to take 2-3 years.”

Somyos was convicted in January 2013 and has been treated inhumanely throughout his more than three years in custody.





Further updated: The junta and lese majeste

25 05 2014

At first it was some former lese majeste prisoners who were called in by the junta. These former prisoners were mostly those who had campaigned against the law but others were brought in.

Then it was those who the junta leadership considered potential threats to the monarchy and the lese majeste law who were called in and rounded up. Several academics and activists have fled.

After that is was Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri detained by the junta at the international airport. Charnvit is a gentle academic who has campaigned for elections, democracy and human rights. This sees him identified as an enemy. [Update 1: News is that Charnvit is safe, but other academics have gone underground, accused under Article 112.]

And then they came for the families of lese majeste prisoners. According to Prachatai:

Around 3.30 p.m, the army searched the house of Somyot Phueksakasemsuk, an editor of pro-red magazine and now sentenced to 11 years in prison for lese majeste. The army will take Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk, Somyot’s wife who has been campaigning for political prisoners, and his son Panitan Phrueksakasemsuk, 4th year Law student from Thammasat University, also a student activist, to the Army Club. According to Sukanya, the army also collected their two computer laptops.

Finally and threateningly, The Nation reports that “crimes against the monarchy” will be handled by military courts:

The National Council for Peace and Order issued a latest order Sunday, saying violators of lese majesty law and coup orders as well as those threatening internal will face court martial.

The 37th order was announced on TV at 4:25 pm.

The order said those who committed crimes against the King, the Queen, the heir to the throne and the regent or those who violate Articles 107 to 112 of the Criminal Code must face court martial instead of being tried in the Criminal Court.

Those who commit crimes against the national security or those who violate Articles 113 to 118 of the Criminal Code would also face court martial.

The order said those who violate the NPCO’s orders will also face court martial.

We at PPT, looking at General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s forays into lese majeste in the past, expect that a bleak period where these kangaroo courts will be locking opponents up is upon us.

Update 2: From FIHD:

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk, wife of Mr. Somyot Phueksakasemsuk, the editor of a magazine who is now serving 11 years for lese majeste, who has been campaigning for the right of political prisoners, and her son Panitan Phrueksakasemsuk, a student activist.

According to the information received, on May 25, 2014, at around 3.30 p.m, Thai army soldiers searched the house of Mr. Somyot Phueksakasemsuk. The soldiers arrested Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and her son, Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase, and detained them at an undisclosed location. The army also seized Ms. Sukanya’s two computer laptops.

Since their arrest, Ms. Sukanya and Mr. Panitan have been held incommunicado in an unknown location. Soldiers failed to inform them of the reasons for their arrest. The two have not had access to their lawyer.

Ms. Sukanya and Mr. Panitan are among the about 200 people who have been detained by Thailand’s military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), since it seized power on May 22, 2014. Among those detained are human rights defenders, journalists, academics, political activists, politicians, and anti-coup peaceful protesters.

The Observatory is concerned by the arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase, and calls upon the authorities in Thailand to immediately disclose their whereabouts and put an end to any kind of harassment against them as it seems to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

Background information:

Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a labour rights activist, was among the first activists in Thailand trying to unionise workers, providing them with legal training, and organising camp activities and public demonstrations. In his magazine “Voice of Thaksin” Somyot Prueksakasemsuk denounced human rights abuses and gave a voice to the voiceless. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is also a free speech advocate, calling for the revision of the lèse-majesté law. In April 2011, he was arrested five days after launching a petition campaign to secure a review of this legislation. Held in pre-trial detention for 17 months, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted for allowing, as an editor, the publication of two satirical articles that were deemed to be “insulting the monarchy”. In January 2013, he was arbitrarily sentenced to 10 years in prison [1].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i.Immediately disclose the whereabouts of and release immediately and unconditionally Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase;

ii.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase as well as all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iv.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Chief of the Armed Forces, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, 127 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Admiral Narong Pipathanasai, Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong, Royal Thai Air Force Commander-in-Chief, Phahon Yothin Road., Don Mueang, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, Royal Thai Police Commissioner-General, Royal Thai Police, 1 Building, Floor 7, Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok, THAILAND 10330, Tel: +66 (0)-2251-6831 Fax: +66 (0)-2205-3738

Secretary-General of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Udomdet Sitabut, Royal Thai Army Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

Spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, Royal Thai Army Spokesman, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 422 Phya Thai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10300, THAILAND, Fax: +622 219 2940

Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Lukmuang Building, Nahuppei Road, Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, THAILAND, Fax: +662 224 0162 / 1448 / 221 0858, ag@ago.go.th; oag@ago.go.th

Commissioner General, Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, THAILAND, Fax: +662 251 5956 / 205 3738 / 255 1975-8; feedback@police.go.th

Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640.68.10; Fax: + 32 2 .648.30.66. Email : thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country





Coronation Day and lese majeste

5 05 2014

It is difficult finding a header for this story. The newspapers have headline stories about the king and Coronation Day, but we can’t find anything much of significance in them, unless one is skilled in reading silences and gaps. It was the international media that made the day interesting.

In the local media, some may draw significance from The Nation’s comment on the crown prince: “His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over the celebration of the Royal Umbrella and the Crown Jewels on behalf of the King after His Majesty left the ceremony.”

Perhaps the Bangkok Post’s statement is a nugget for others: “The King arrived at the pavilion at 10.30am, but he did not deliver his traditional address … and did not get up on his wheelchair. The ceremony ended about 11am…. Her Majesty the Queen, 81, was not present during the ceremony.”

The rest of the local news is non-news: “His Majesty waved to the people while his car moved along the way to the Rajapracha Samakhom Pavilion in the Klai Kangwon Palace…” or that some well-wishers shouted “Long live the king.”

A couple of international reports did manage to make some more interesting news, not least Australia’s ABC/Radio Australia, which managed, after a poor introduction to the audio story, makes Coronation Day about lese majeste, interviewing Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and his wife Sukunya before interviewing the ultra-royalist fascist Rientong Nan-nah. The latter is reported as comparing free speech that he sees as offensive to the monarchy as “like terrorism, and the capitalists are behind it.” The Crown Property Bureau, as Thailand’s largest capitalist conglomerate, better watch out!

Also making Coronation Day about lese majeste, Britain’s Channel 4 News blog has a post that begins with Rose Amornpat, quoted as being:

a harsh critic of the Thai Monarchy. She wants the institution abolished and replaced with a democratically-elected head of state. “We need to the change the system in Thailand to become a full democracy. We need to cut the power of the Thai monarch down.”

 Discussing lese majeste in Thailand, the report states: “There’s nowhere else on earth quite like it – you’d have to go back 300 years to find anyone in Britain prosecuted for a similar offence.”

Rienthong gets a mention in this report too: “He wants the London hairdresser [Rose] extradited to Thailand – but if that’s not possible, he wants the British government to find a way to shut her up…. “(What she says) is beyond freedom, beyond democracy. You can have opinions but what she has done is beyond freedom of expression.”

 





Lese majeste aired in Geneva

12 09 2013

There are two reports regarding Thailand’s lese majeste law and the meeting of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council that deserve attention.

The first is from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and details growing concerns raised at the HRC about Southeast Asian governments and:

… the use of national security, anti-terrorist and defamation laws to limit freedom of expression on the Internet, a coalition of international and local NGOs and activists from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia urged governments to stop using vague legislation based on ill-defined concepts such as “national security”, “sovereignty” or “lèse-majesté” to intimidate, harass and imprison independent voices. Speaking at an event in Geneva, which coincides with the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council, FIDH, IFEX, Article 19 and PEN International united to call for the urgent revision of these laws to bring them into line with international human rights standards.

Independent and dissenting voices, including bloggers and netizens, journalists, activists and human rights defenders, have increasingly been subjected to repression in Southeast Asia.Polit prisoners

On Thailand, the report states:

The Thai authorities have mostly been using the lèse-majesté law (Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which punishes any word or deed which “defames, insults or threatens the King […]”) and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act to lock up journalists and critics. The most notorious case is that of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for authorizing the publication, as editor, of two articles that were considered insulting to the royal family. Ironically, Somyot was arrested just a few days after launching an online petition calling for a review of Article 112. “In its commitment to cooperate with the UN, Thailand needs to go beyond words, immediately release Somyot and protect the right to freedom of expression of all citizens”, said Somyot’s wife, Sukanya.

The second is related and is from the Clean Clothes Campaign. This group has joined with the Free Somyot Campaign and the Thai Labour Campaign, and adds more pressure regarding Somyos, with his wife in Geneva and campaigning for bail for her husband. The report states:

Somyot is a prisoner of conscience…. The verdict [against him] undermines the right to freedom of expression and press freedom. It is a violation of international human rights law, in particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified. In August 2012, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Somyot’s detention to be in violation of international human rights law. The EU and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have also issued strong statements against the verdict.

Despite the efforts both by his family and the ongoing international campaigns which call for Somyot’ release, Somyot’s 15th bail application has been denied.

Sukunya says:

“If Thailand is to be in compliance with its binding international legal obligations to respect and protect basic rights, this unjust verdict against Somyot should be promptly overturned on appeal. Additionally, while the appeal is being considered, his constitutional right to provisional release should be upheld so that he could reunite with me, his family. This will also better his medical conditions and at home he can adequately prepare for his defense. Every political prisoner is one too many.

The Clean Clothes Campaign called on Thailand to:

free Somyot and all other persons detained on politically-motivated charges and end all forms of harassment against them to ensure that no one would be criminalised for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.





News on Somyos and Surachai

23 07 2013

In the all too depressing lese majeste cases of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Surachai Danwattananusorn, The Nation reports on some developments, neither likely to reduce the gloom.

Somyos is about to apply for bail again on Wednesday. This is his 15th application.

His wife Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk says that this time his application is supported “by signatures of members of the public who support the request along with an increased bond to guarantee that her husband will not run away.” The family is now putting up 3.7 million baht, being all the property they own.

In Surachai’s case, the situation is especially bleak. At 71, Surachai is not in great health, and has been awaiting a royal pardon.

However, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has now said “they were waiting to press another lese majeste charge against him.” His wife reports that:

… Surachai, leader of Red Siam faction of the red shirts, was very upset and felt betrayed by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, whom he had supported. The possible charge relates to a speech by Surachai in Chiang Mai province in February 2011.

In these cases it is impossible to discern why it is that these two men – along with Darunee Charnchoensilpakul – have been selected for especially harsh punishment on lese majeste charges. PPT suspects it is because, as radical leaders, they are singled out as examples of the punishment that awaits political activists who challenge the monarchy and its role anchoring elite rule in Thailand.





Another bail request

16 07 2013

The Bangkok Post reports that the “family and lawyer of lese majeste prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk will file a 15th bail request for him on Friday.” Yes, folks, you read that right! Fifteen applications for bail before the royalist courts!

As PPT has stated many times previously, the continued refusal of bail amounts to torture. And it isn’t just PPT saying this. In late August 2012, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was asked to provide an opinion on the detention of Somyos without bail. In mid-October it issued an Opinion, stating that:

The deprivation of liberty of Mr Prueksakasemsuk, being in contravention of Articles 19 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and 19 (2) of the ICCPR [International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights], is arbitrary, and falls in categories II of the categories applicable to the cases submitted to the Working Group.

As a result of the Opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Prueksaksemsuk and bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the ICCPR.

The Working Group believes that, taking into account all circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr Prueksakasemsuk and accord him and enforceable right to compensation pursuant to Article 9(5) of the ICCPR.

The full Opinion is available here as a PDF.

Sentenced to 11 years jail for being an editor of a magazine that published pieces considered lese majeste, Somyos has now been in jail since 30 April 2011.





Somyos, lese majeste and bail: a discussion

7 07 2013

For those in Bangkok:

ขอเชิญร่วมงานแถลงข่าวความคืบหน้าการดำเนินคดีมาตรา112 ต่อนายสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข และ เวทีเสวนา “อดีต ปัจจุบัน และอนาคตของมาตรา112 กับสิทธิการประกันตัว”

วันที่ 14 กรกฎาคม 2556 เวลา 13.00 – 16.30 น. ณ ห้องจันทาพร ชั้น 1 โรงแรมกานต์มณีพาเลซ ถ.ประดิพัทธ์ กรุงเทพฯ

13.30 – 14.00 แถลงข่าวผลการพิจารณาคำร้องขอประกันตัวนายสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุขทั้ง 14 ครั้ง และการดำเนินการขอประกันตัว ชั่วคราวครั้งต่อไป โดย นางสุกัญญา พฤกษาเกษมสุข ภรรยา นายวสันต์ พานิช ทนายความ

14.00-14.15 ถาม-ตอบ

14.15 – 16.00 เวทีเสวนา “อดีต ปัจจุบัน และอนาคตของมาตรา 112 กับสิทธิการประกันตัว”

โดย นายวสันต์ พานิช ผู้อำนวยการสถาบันพัฒนานักกฎหมายและสิทธิมนุษยชน

ศ.ดร.ธงชัย วินิจจะกูล นักประวัติศาสตร์และอดีตนักโทษทางการเมือง

ตัวแทนคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ*

ดำเนินรายการ โดย ผศ.ดร.นฤมล ทับจุมพล คณะรัฐศาสตร์ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย

16.00 – 16.30 ถาม-ตอบ

****************************

*อยู่ระหว่างการประสานงาน สอบถามรายเอียดเพิ่มเติม ติดต่อ

คุณสุวรรณา ตาลเหล็ก โทร.089 5007232

____________________________________________________

PRESS CONFERENCE: “The Next Step of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk’s Trial and PANEL DISCUSSION: “Past, Present and Future of Lese Majeste Law and the Right to Bail”

14 July 2013, 13.30 – 16.30 hrs.

Jantaporn Room, 1st Floor, Karnmanee Palace Hotel, Pradiphat Road, Bangkok

PROGRAMME

13.30 – 14.00 Press Conference “The Latest Development of Somyot’s Trial, the Rejections of Bail Requests, and the Next Step.”

by  Mrs. Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, Wife and Mr.Vasant Panich, Lawyer

14.00 – 14.15 Questions and Answers

14.15 – 16.00 Panel Discussion: “Past, Present and Future of Lese Majeste Law and the Right to Bail”

Panelists:

Mr. Vasant Panich, Executive Director, Institute for Jurists and Human Rights Development – JUSTRIGHTS

Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, Historian and former political prisoner

A Representative from National Human Rights Commission of Thailand* TBC

Moderator:

Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

16.00 – 16.30 Questions and Answers

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The event will be conducted in Thai, if you require English translation please contact:

Sukanya Tel: 081 8475132 or Panitan Tel: 086 660 0270





Visiting Somyos

30 06 2013

At Prachatai,  Sukunya, wife of lese majeste convict Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, writes of her recent and brief visit to see her husband in jail. PPT won’t reproduce it all here, yet the report deserves to be read in full.somyos

She writes of her love and the urgency she feels in making each of these 20 minute visits to Somyos mean as much as possible. She explains:

Life is so short and I can’t afford to lose any opportunity to show how much I care about him. I don’t want to be in the same situation as Pa-Ueh (Rosmarin) who did not even say good bye to her husband, Ah-Kong (Amphon [Tangnopakul]), before his last breath.





Lese majeste and the law

7 04 2013

A reader has drawn our attention to a blog out of Korea – Another World Is Possible – that has a couple of recent posts regarding lese majeste in Thailand. The most recent is an interview with Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk.sukunya

Speaking of Somyos and his charging and sentencing under the draconian and feudal lese majeste law, she states:

“Everyone said I should stop fighting and Somyot should plead guilty and wait royal pardon” said Sukunya. She admitted the fight the case of lèse majesté, which is often categorized as a matter of national security in Thailand, is not an easy task at all.

On the law used to convict Somyos, Sukunya states:

“It’s like there is no law proper to charge Somyot, when it comes to editor’s role. If there’s no law, then you cannot charge anyone. This is guaranteed by our Constitution” said Sukunya.

On his sentencing and his continuing struggle, she says:

“It would be even more bitter if he gives up, because he is a person who has committed to democracy and human rights for his whole life. He has a strong spirit. No matter how long he may have to stay in prison… 11 years or 15 years or…, it’s neither acceptable for him to give up, nor impossible”

The last phrase might be a little mixed up, but the meaning is clear: Somyos continues his fight.