Rose on the lawless country with the king as head of state

30 06 2015

Chatwadee Rose Amornpat is a Thai activist living abroad who has been accused and charged with lese majeste. She has sent the following article to PPT and we reproduce it as received, with a couple of links added:

RoseWith all the turmoil which is being waged in Thailand now, it is interesting to observe that one so-called “revered” institution, namely, the monarch and/or the monarchy, has not come out to stop the chaos and the daily arrests of unarmed and peaceful democracy activists and alleged lese majeste violators.

Thai royalists and the royal household often surreptitiously inform the local and foreign media that the king has no political power to do anything, but a quick glance at the current constitution reveals the opposite results.

Though the junta chief. Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha stated last May 22, 2014 after he successfully seized power from a democratically-elected government, that the constitution was then abrogated except “all the constitutional articles relating to the monarch and lese majeste law.” That is to say, the laws concerning the power of the king, his welfare and his protection through the barbaric and unjust lese majeste law would be left intact and enforceable.

It is very odd indeed. To me, now we do not have just one dictator but two dictators in the same country!

This is symbiotic relationships between the monarchy and the military, which have been going on for the past six decades, while the poor people of Thailand continue to suffer and their quality of life worsen. One can still see many poor children of Thailand selling garlands to drivers of cars on the busy and smoggy streets in Bangkok every morning. Such poor children should have been in school, not selling garlands or flowers to help their family! It pains me to see such a sight.

Symbiotic relationships, according to “thefreedictionary.com,” are a special type of interaction between species. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, these relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.

Indeed I compare the Thai monarchy and military to low-class animals which are the lowest of the lows as they have done nothing good for the Thai people. The monarchy has always stayed intact while the general changes every 5 or 10 years during the past 19 coup d’ tates. Because of this fact, one can only see that with all the troubles happening in Thailand, we can only blame it at the top, the monarchy. This is the main character which never changes.

Here’s a look at the current laws relating to the monarchy which Gen. Prayuth left intact, though he abrogated the constitution when he seized power from the former PM Yingluck Sinawatra.

Section 3 of the Thai constitution states:
The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
The above Section is not known to Westerners or even most Thais. It is like saying the car belongs to the people but only the king can drive the car. Or, the people own the gun but only the
king can pull the trigger. In both cases, the people have to do the maintenance and upkeep of the car and gun.

Section 8 of the Thai constitution states:
The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.
This section means the Thai King is like God and no one can sue the King even if he commits robbery, blatant lies, mayhem or murders. Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code states:
No one can criticize the king and any member of his family, even if such criticisms are based on the truth.
This is called “lese majeste” and it carries a jail term of 3 to 15 years for each offense.

Section 10 states:
The King holds the position of Supreme Commander of the Thai Armed Forces.

Section 11 is:
The King has the prerogative to create titles and confer decorations.
Last Friday, June 19, 2015, Thai police arrested 14 students who had been protesting against the ruling junta, in defiance of a ban on public gatherings. These are young university students who are brave and full of democratic spirit. They just want nothing except the rights to express themselves freely on issues effecting their lives and future. They are now confined to a filthy and crowded Thai jail in Bangkok.

I urge the leaders of the civilized world and all the human rights organizations to put pressures on the Thai junta to release these students unconditionally.

The students took part in peaceful rallies calling for an end to military rule under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The army commander-in-chief, Gen. Udomdej Seetabutr, publicly accused the 14 student activists of being backed by anti-government groups and claimed their actions could lead to disturbances and violence.

Additionally, Gen. Udomdej Seetabutr, who was hand-picked by the top royals to head the Army’s top brass, has indicated that a charge of lese majeste may be leveled on them, because these students may have gotten supports from anti-monarchy elements as well.

It is against the international norm that the Thai Army is designed to protect only the monarchy as opposed to protecting the country!

I can’t help but to draw the attention to another group of students who were arrested and charged with lese majeste law violations in 2014. These brave young people are university students with bright future but cut short by the military and the monarchy. Two were arrested and sentenced in jail while the rest of them had to leave their university study and are now in hiding or flee the country.

Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Pornthip Munkong, 26, involved in producing a play called “The Wolf Bride” about a fictional monarch and his adviser. It was performed at the prestigeous Thammasat University in 2013 to mark the anniversary of a successful 1973 anti-dictatorship uprising led by students.

Their bail requests were repeatedly turned down by a Bangkok court. Both had pleaded guilty, a common practice in lese majeste cases in December 2014. Because failure to do so only means a 100% guilty verdict and a long jail term.

In announcing the verdict, a Bangkok Criminal Court judge said the play contained content that insulted and defamed the monarchy and was shown in front of a large number of spectators.

Keep in mind all Thai judges are approved and appointed by the king. Thus there is no chance of acquittal in any lese majeste case. Now all the lese majeste cases are being handled by the military court.

Now not even people who are suffering from mental illness are spared from lese majeste charge.

A man was sentenced to more than three years in jail last week under lese majeste law, a controversial royal defamation law, despite having a history of mental illness. Tanet Nonthakot, 45, from northeastern Phetchabun province, is the second person in the last few months suffering from mental health condition to be convicted under this barbaric law.

Not even a very friendly and mild-mannered editor of the prestigious on-line newspaper, Thai E-News, Somsak Pakdeedej, 36, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison for allowing an article deemed lese majeste to be published three years ago.

Since the coup on May 22, 2014, in addition to the hundreds and hundreds of intellectuals and democracy activists who are now serving long jail term, scores of free spirited academics have fled the country and are now living in exile in neighboring Laos and Cambodia. Thanks to the Internet, they are now waging a daily and weekly war in cyberspace against the military junta as well as the monarchy who is alleged to be the mastermind of all the messes including the 10 coups in Thailand.

Three distinguished individuals with whom I greatly admire and who have sacrificed all their life for equality, justice and democracy for Thailand:

Suda Rangkupan, in her 40’s, a Fullbright scholar and holder of a doctorate degree and university professor, chose to flee the country when she received a call from the military junta to report to their central command for the so-called “attitude adjustment.”

Dr. Rangkupan is a very courageous woman who has cared for the poor much more than herself. She has a long history of fighting for justice and equality. She is a champion for the poor. A woman with her impressive credentials, she could have easily enjoyed her life as a university professor, just as the rest of the complacent academics in universities throughout Thailand now.

Because of her democracy activism, after 13 years as a professor at Chulalornkorn University, she was forced to resign or fired by her department chief. Soon after that, a call from the junta, she informed me that she chose to flee the country and continues with her noble struggle for justice. She had been at the forefront of Thailand’s democracy movements. She is now waging a cyber war against the military junta and the monarchy. Her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sudarang ) receives thousands of views from her supporters, Thai and foreigners alike, from all over the world each day. Here’s Dr. Suda Rangkupan’s impressive resume.

Surachai Dangwathananusorn, aka, Surachai Sae Dang, in his mid 70’s. Surachai is considered a legendary democracy activist since the era of student uprising at Thammasart university in 1973 during the era of Gen. Thanom Kitikachon. He spent a total of 22 years in Thai jail for the alleged “encouraging uprisings against the military regimes.” He, too, chose to flee the country, because the military junta filed a lese majeste charge on him after the coup by Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha. He is considered the Nelson Mandela of Thailand. His weekly broadcast in YouTube is heard by his supporters all over the world.

Phisanu Phomsorn, aks “Anti” who was charged with lese majeste law violation for giving several speeches at Red Shirt’s political events. He, too, fled the country and is now living in exile at the border around Vietnam and Cambodia. His weekly program on Thai royalty and politics has been very popular among Thai audience in Northeast Thailand.

It is now becoming clearer and clearer that Thailand is being raped and governed by 2 types of thieves-in-uniforms which share a symbiotic relationship.

Under the so-called “Article 44” which gives unlimited power to the junta, they can just about do anything they so please from search anyone house or body without a warrant or jailing anyone on any minor charges. Now many lower ranking soldiers are behaving like hooligans extorting money from street vendors and retailers in up-country and big cities in open daylight with impunity.

The first type of thieves-in-uniform is the monarchy with the king dubbed as head of state who often wears decorative pins and trappings and occasionally wears uniforms similar to characters in ancient, Ramayana play, with head gears ancient hat for religious ceremonies. This type is only concerned about their stability and their vast wealth under the control of his investment arms, “Crown Property Bureau.” They tend to prolong their continued status qua and privileges and entitlement for generations to come.

The second thieves-in-uniform is the military, the generals, who benefit from their collusion with the monarchy for decades. Each top general has benefited from the yearly military budget and the allocation for purchases of arms. Each year, the budget gets increased by 10-20 percents even though Thailand has no wars or conflicts with her neighbors.

The top brass stands to benefit millions and millions of dollars or bahts in terms of commission.
This is a known fact among officials in the Thai Armed Forces.

Unless Thai people unite and demand the reorganization of the two institutions from the group floor and up, the chance of realizing a true democracy is probably next to nothing.

Last but not least, I hope that world leaders from the United States, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Germany and all the civilized nations which have commercial contacts or educational exchanges with Thailand continue to put pressures and bring about the human rights issue and the need to abolish their despicable lese majeste law once and for all.





Letting the dogs out

15 01 2015

Lese majeste cases continue to pile up under the military dictatorship. At the end of 2014, PPT canvassed some reasons for the frantic use of lese majeste. At the time we wrote of the monarchist military dictatorship’s lese majeste war.

In understanding why and why now, PPT has mentioned the necessity of preparing for succession. We also pointed to the need to shore up a political, economic and social order that the elite of rich royalists, stupendously wealthy Sino-Thai tycoons (including the king’s palace), and numerous hangers-on, like the military brass, think has been under threat. We have also mentioned succession house cleaning.

The spike in lese majeste cases is a result of the military dictatorship declaring lese majeste war. It has actively sought out cases, some of which are trivial in all respects, others being political vendettas, and it has begun sifting through old cases to prosecute them more stringently. And, the military dictatorship has encouraged a lese majeste frenzy amongst royalist, resulting in vigilantism. They have let the lese majeste dogs out.

This is seen in yet another attack on lese majeste victim Surachai Danwattananusorn, reported at Prachatai.SurachaiSurachai has been subject to repeated lese majeste allegations, charges and convictions since 2008.

In the past few days, the odious Major-Generl Rientong Nan-nah, the leader of the ultra-royalist vigilante group known as the Rubbish Collection Organization, has filed lese majeste complaint against Surachai. He has asked that the whole royalist book of charges be thrown at the now aged Surachai: he is accused “of producing online programs attacking and defaming the revered Thai monarchy breaking Article 112 and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act for importing illegal contents to computer system.” He is also accused of rebellion and instigating rebellion.

More broadly, the military dictatorship yet again assert a broad anti-monarchy conspiracy and plot. According to Prachatai, the super snoop sleuths have “arrested a man for posting lese majeste on Facebook and said he was part of a movement to discredit the Thai monarchy on the Internet.”

The Technology Crime Suppression police arrested Jamroen S., “a middle age man accused of using the Facebook profile titled ‘Uncha Unyo’ to post and share [allegedly] lese majeste” materials.

Jamroen is alleged to have “admitted that he was the one who shared the alleged lese majeste contents online and cited that he had been doing it for a year.” The flatfoots assert that Jamroen “is connected to Pongsak S., another … suspect arrested earlier for posting lese majeste contents on … Facebook…”.

The police accuse Jamroen of compiling “lese majeste content before sending them to Pongsak through Facebook chat. Pongsak would then [allegedly] modified the content for publicizing on Facebook.”

The police believe these two are “part of a movement to undermining the monarchy on the Internet.” The plods are in search of others.





More on the dictatorship’s repression

3 06 2014

The junta’s repression is expanding far and wide across Thai society. Over the weekend there have been a plethora of stories, posts and pleas about this. PPT tries to collect some of them below:

More people called in: The Asian Human Rights Commission has again condemned the coup, expressing concern over additional summons to report, and calls on the junta to cease its campaign of fear. The junta has demanded that 38 more persons report to the Army. According to the AHRC , the:

list includes a number of human rights defenders, activists, academics, and journalists. Jittra Kotchadet is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender. Tewarit Maneechay is a human rights defender and journalist for the independent media site Prachatai. Suthachai Yimprasert, a historian at Chulalongkorn University, and Kengkij Kitirianglarp, a political scientist at Chiang Mai University, are two academics who have consistently acted in support of human rights. Pranee Danwattananusorn is the wife of Surachai Danwattananusorn, a former [lese majeste] political prisoner, and she has worked to support and defend the rights of political prisoners and human rights defenders. Karom Phonpornklang is a lawyer who has defended numerous political prisoners.

Prachatai notes that its “journalist Tewarit Maneechay is included. Before joining Thai-language Prachatai in 2012, Tewarit was very active as a political activist and labour unionist at Try Arm.”

Of course, the latter is also associated with Jitra. And Jitra has given support to those accused of lese majeste.

3 fingersArrests at anti-coup protests: Prachatai reports that at least four persons were arrested “on Sunday at the anti-coup protests which were met by a large number of army and police forces around Bangkok.”  In other reports, police and undercover agents arrest an old woman for protesting. One of those arresting her wears fake press credentials. Another video showed military officers wearing red crosses arresting protesters.

Red shirts: The Financial Times had a useful report a couple of days ago on what’s happening upcountry. It says red shirts are “lying low for now,”  and writes of frustration and “stifled anger”: “We can’t fight the army with guns. But we can fight them with elections.” It reports that: “Red shirt leaders have been raided, rounded up and ‘re-educated’ by the military, sparking dismay among supporters…”.

Monarchical repression: Of course, the monarchy is a staple of military propaganda, and the current dictators think it will work again. In addition to lese majeste repression, they pour out the usual drivel that marks these cock-eyed efforts. As the dutiful state news agency reports, in the Northeast, “police will hold seminars on the importance for all Thais to show their loyalty and love for the King of Thailand, and to follow in the footsteps of His Majesty’s philosophy of Sufficiency Economy.” These fools don’t know it is 2014 and not 2006 or 1966.

These dolts will “hold seminars for the province’s local high school students to promote the importance of the Thai monarchy” and bore them to tears, but the message is: don’t fool with the royalist dictatorship. Participants will have to “be shown the great importance of Thailand’s monarch and the contribution [the king]… has done for the country.”

The seminars suggest that there is a need for the royalist dummies and cult of personality promoters “to instill into students the sense of love for their own monarch, and the responsibility each person has toward the society as a whole.” How very North Korean!

Happiness propaganda and instilling fear: Khaosod reports that, like good fascists everywhere, the junta is blathering about an effort to “return happiness.” The military dictators are  “organizing road cleanups, army-band concerts, and free haircuts for the people.” If they could get the troops off the trains and the protesters off the streets, they could probably get the trains running on time too.

But this “happiness” is enmeshed in a reign of fear, with protesters being hauled off and into a silence that is meant to instil fear in all those who think of opposing the dictatorship.

More of this nonsense, with a statist Buddhist bent, is also reported at The Nation, as if anyone believes that such Cold War propaganda is going to win the coup. The repression might be nastier this time, but the propaganda is decidedly 2006-8, the last time the dinosaur dictators grabbed power.





With a major update: Remembering the 6 October 1976 attack

6 10 2013

The Bangkok Post reports:

A ceremony to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the October 6, 1976 bloodshed was held at the historic park at Thammasat University on Sunday morning.

Assoc Prof Udom Rathamarit, deputy rector of Thammasat University, presided over the opening of the ceremony which was attended by relatives of those who died in the incident and some leading political figures who were part of the then student movement for democracy.

Thai Rath Newspaper

Thai Rath Newspaper

A statement was read out in memory of the “heroes” who sacrificed both in the October 6 event and the October 14 student uprising which took place earlier in 1973.

To be honest, that seems a pretty scant report for one of modern Thailand’s most significant royalist-monarchy massacres of democracy protesters. Perhaps the royalist nature of the killing and burning of protesters at Thammasat is the reason for so much silence. Should any reader think the king and palace were anything other than rightists bent on pushing extremists for murderous action, read this post from a few months ago.

The murders of 1976 were in the monarchy’s name and supported by the palace. The most dramatic and horrible event was the royalist-inspired attack on people – mostly students – damned as “disloyal.” Just days after the bloodshed, the crown prince distributed awards to paramilitary personnel involved. The massacre at Thammasat University has never seen any state investigation. Impunity was the rule because the state’s troops and rightist gangs were doing the work of the royalist state. The main perpetrators of the massacre are claimed to be the Border Patrol Police who trained many of the rightist gangs in the name of the monarchy and with considerable U.S. funding. The BPP was (and remains) close to the royal family.

The regime that was put in place following the massacre and a coup was headed by a palace favorite. Thanin Kraivixien remains a Privy Counselor even today, considered “respected” because of that. Yet the fact is that his administration was one of the most right-wing, repressive and brutal regimes in Thailand’s modern history.

In other words, the massacre at Thammasat University was intimately linked to palace political machinations.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a longer article about one of the remembrances of 6 October. PPT was aware that there was a split between “Octobrists” with some now red shirt activists with another group having continued to support the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its political progeny. The Nation reports that the 14 October Foundation is now “seen as part of the yellow shirts, as it is under Dr Wichai Chokwiwat.”  The latter is quoted as complaining that “capitalists have played a bigger role in Thai politics.” He explains his perspective:

Since the … [14 October 1976] uprising, people have become more aware of their rights. They fought [for] elections. But elections…are not the answer … as the representatives do not aim to solve the country’s problems, [they aim] to maintain their power and benefits. This is…not a real democracy…”.

The yellow shirt disdain for elected representation is clear.

At the Bangkok Post, the red shirt-related group is discussed. It is led by human rights activist and red shirt Jaran Ditapichai, who proclaimed that the “protests [of 1973-76] had paved the way for greater freedom of speech and assembly.”

Two recently released lese majeste convicts attended. Surachai Danwattananusorn was only released from prison last Friday but attended. Also there was Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, released a couple of months ago. He praised the October Generation: “Without the courage and contributions of the October Generation, nobody else would have fought for democracy in subsequent years…”.

Writer Watt Wallayangkoon observed that “the victories earned by the … “October Generation” were short-lived and were counteracted by ultra-royalist elements and a fear of communism within wider society.” He added that  “The red-shirt struggle [for democracy] is not yet finished…”.





Media reports on lese majeste

4 10 2013

A useful account of the cases below and the pardon for Surachai Danwattananusorn, considering the continued use of the political lese majeste law is:

The Guardian: Thai monarchy laws need reviewing, say critics pointing to recent cases

The stories we could find about the 5-year sentence for Noppawan Tangudomsuk or Bento and her release on 1 million baht bail:

International Business Times: Touchy Royals: Anti-Monarchy Comment Gets Thai Woman 5 Years in Jail PPT thought this comment worth repeating: “Never take your king literally, particularly when he says he is open to criticism.”King

Firstpost: Thai woman jailed for 5 years for anti-royal web post, using the Reuters story.

Radio Australia: Thai woman jailed for five years over royal insult, using an AFP report.

The Irish Independent: Thai woman jailed for five years over web insults to monarchy

Bangkok Post: Woman gets 5 years for lese majeste

P.M. News Nigeria Thailand: Woman jailed for five years for insulting royals

There are more stories on the ironic case that led to the lighter sentencing of royalist loudmouth Sondhi Limthongkul and his release on a lesser bail:

The Tribune: Thailand’s royalist media firebrand found guilty for repeating anti-monarchy insult, with an AP report.

The Independent: Founder of Thailand’s royalist Yellow Shirt movement jailed for defaming monarchy using some of an AP report.

Bangkok Post: Sondhi gets 2 years for lese majeste

Voice of America: Thai Activist Jailed for ‘Insulting King’

Asian Correspondent: Ex-yellow shirt leader Sondhi found guilty of insulting Thai monarchy, with the most detailed report.

Irish Times: Thai Royalist Politician Sondhi Limthongkul Jailed for Repeating Insult to Monarchy

Global Times: Thai ex-Yellow Shirt leader sentenced to two years in jail for lese majeste

The West Australian: Thai ‘Yellow Shirts’ founder convicted of royal slur, with the AFP report.

Washington Post: Thailand’s royalist media firebrand found guilty for repeating anti-monarchy insult, with the AP report.

Jakarta Globe: Thai ‘Yellow Shirts’ Founder Convicted of Defaming the Monarchy





Updated: Surachai gets pardon

3 10 2013
Surachai

Surachai

PPT has received one email and seen one story reporting that Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Sae Dan, has received a pardon from the palace and that he was due to be released. The report we found stated:

A political activist who was convicted of defaming Thailand’s monarchy received a royal pardon from the king on Thursday and will be freed from jail.

Surachai Danwattananusorn was sentenced last year to 7 1/2 years in prison for making speeches judged to have insulted the monarchy three times in 2010.

He was a communist insurgent in Thailand in the 1970s and was imprisoned in the 1980s. More recently, Surachai led a faction of the Red Shirt political movement, whose members took to the streets and clashed with the military in 2010.

Surachai, 70, was expected to be released from a prison on Bangkok’s northern outskirts on Thursday after being pardoned by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Red Shirt chairwoman Thida Thavornseth said.

Surachai filed a request for the pardon last year, she said….

Update: AP has now reported Surachai’s pardon.





The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

1 09 2013

As usual, the Asian Legal Resource Centre gets it right and PPT can do no better than post their statement. Our only question is the number of known cases in jail (convicted or awaiting trial). Our count is six. In addition, we do not know what has happened in the case of Thitinant Kaewchantanont, who was held in a mental hospital. Nor do we know how many cases there are that remain secret or unreported:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2013
ALRC-CWS-24-02-2013

Language(s): English only

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Twenty-fourth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

THAILAND: The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise concerns about the normalization of the violation of human rights in the name of protecting the monarchy in Thailand with the Human Rights Council. This statement is the seventh on this topic that the ALRC has submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in the legal and unofficial use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27). During the nineteenth session in February 2012, the ALRC detailed some of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55). During the twentieth session in June 2012, the ALRC raised concerns about the weak evidentiary basis of convictions made under Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/37) and the concerning conditions surrounding the death in prison custody of Amphon Tangnoppakul on 8 May 2012, then serving a 20-year sentence for four alleged violations of Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/38). During the twenty-second session in March 2013, the ALRC highlighted the January 2013 conviction under Article 112 of human rights defender and labour rights activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (A/HRC/22/NGO/44). During the twenty-third session in June 2013, the ALRC emphasized the regularization of the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand, and noted that constriction of speech had become constitutive of political and social life in Thailand (A/HRC/23/NGO/42).

2. Over the course of the prior six statements, the ALRC first noted with surprise the active use of measures to constrict speech, then tracked the expansion of this use, and finally, the entrenchment of the foreclosure of freedom of speech. The ALRC is again raising the issue of freedom of expression with the Council in order to ensure that the regularization of this threat to human rights does not lead to it being normalized or forgotten. In the statement submitted to the Council in June 2013, the ALRC cautioned that current conditions threatened to normalize the routine denial of bail to individuals awaiting trial and appeal, the provision of substandard medical care in prisons, and the use of secrecy to restrict the openness of trials and public information about ongoing cases. In this statement, the ALRC wishes to alert the Human Rights Council to ongoing developments that lend weight to these concerns and underscore the urgency of addressing the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand.

3. Article 112 criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The 2007 CCA, which was promulgated as part of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, has been used to target web editors and websites identified as critical of the monarchy or dissident in other ways. The CCA provides for penalties of up to five years per count in cases which are judged to have involved the dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a key part. While Article 112 has been part of the Criminal Code since the last major revision in 1957, available statistics suggest that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed since the 19 September 2006 coup; how often these complaints become formal charges and lead to prosecutions is information that the Government of Thailand has continuously failed to provide up to the present. The CCA has often been used in combination with Article 112 in the four years since its promulgation; similar to the use of Article 112, complete usage information has not been made available by the Government of Thailand. This failure to provide information creates fear and diminishes the space for freedom of expression through the use of secrecy and creation of uncertainty.

4. At present, there are 4 persons known to be serving prison terms for alleged violations of Article 112 and/or the CCA and 1 person behind bars while undergoing trial.

a. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to 55 minutes of speech and sentenced to 18 years in prison on 28 August 2009. Following examination of her case by the Constitutional Court, her sentenced was reduced to 15 years in December 2011. The Appeal Court upheld her conviction and sentence in May 2013.

b. Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) was convicted of a series of violations of Article 112 related to political speeches he made and sentenced to a total of 12.5 years in prison in a series of cases in 2012. He has submitted a request for a royal pardon and is awaiting the outcome.

c. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to his work in editing and publishing Voice of Taksin magazine, which was deemed to include two anti-monarchy articles (written by someone else) and sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison on 23 January 2013 (10 years on Article 112-related charges and 1 year related to a prior case). He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

d. Ekachai Hongkangwan was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to selling VCDs of an ABC Australia documentary and copies of WikiLeaks material and sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison on 28 March 2013. He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

e. Yutthapoom (last name withheld) has been held in the Bangkok Remand Prison since 19 September 2012 on charges of violating Article 112 following a complaint submitted by his older brother related to a conversation they had while watching television at home. The witness hearings in his case began on 20 August 2013, after he endured 333 days of pre-trial detention.

6. Common to these 5 cases is that the individuals involved have repeatedly been denied bail, always on the grounds that their crimes are too grave a threat to national security to permit even temporary release, despite full cooperation of all parties in investigation and prosecution. Although some individuals were granted bail while awaiting trial, upon conviction they were all denied bail, despite ongoing processes of appeal. This is in contravention to Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party, which specifies: “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.”

7. To raise one notable example of the denial of bail, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (5c above), submitted his 15th request for bail on 24 July 2013. Along with the application, approximately 152,000 USD of property deeds were submitted as security with the request. On 26 July 2013, the Appeal Court denied the request. The justification offered was that as Somyot had been sentenced to a prison term greater than 10 years, if he was released, there was a danger that he might flee. The Appeal Court further noted that, “The actions of the defendant impacted public order and the feelings of the people,” and so his release on bail was not warranted.

8. Bail is routinely granted during trials and after conviction while awaiting appeal in cases of committing violent crimes in Thailand, but routinely denied for cases involving freedom of speech. To offer one example, on 30 July 2012, in Black Case No. 3252/2552, 3466/2552, the Criminal Court found five police officers guilty of brutally murdering Kiettisak Thitboonkrong, age 17, in 2004 as part of the so-called “War on Drugs,” in which close to 3000 people were extrajudicially killed across Thailand. Three of the police offers were found guilty of premeditated murder and hiding a corpse and sentenced to death. One police officer was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. One police officer was found guilty of abusing his authority to aid in protecting his subordinates from criminal prosecution and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. All five police officers were granted bail while they appeal their conviction. In all but one of these instances, the police were sentenced to longer prison terms than Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, yet they were granted bail. Given the explanation by the Appeal Court when they denied Somyot’s request that the length of his sentence meant that he might flee and that his crime impacted public order, granting the police officers bail seems strange. In the absence of an explanation from the Court, this collection of actions suggests that constricting dissident speech and protecting the monarchy are more important to the Thai state than ensuring accountability for extrajudicial violence committed against citizens by state actors.

9. The ALRC is gravely concerned about the effects of the ongoing entrenchment of the constriction of freedom of expression on human rights, justice, and the rule of law in Thailand. The frequency of the exercise of the draconian Article 112 and CCA risks the naturalization and normalization of violations of rights and the constriction of speech and political freedom. The ALRC would like to remind the Government of Thailand that under Article 19 of the ICCPR, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are only permissible under two circumstances: “for respect of the rights or reputations of others” and “for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.” While measure 112 is classified as a crime against national security within the Criminal Code of Thailand, and this, along with the need to protect the monarchy, is frequently cited by the Government of Thailand when faced with the criticism that the measure is in tension with the ICCPR, a precise explanation of the logic for categorizing the measure as such has not been provided to date. Until this explanation is provided, the constriction of freedom of expression is arbitrary.

10. In view of the above, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on the UN Human Rights Council to:

  1. Call on the Government of Thailand to release all those convicted or facing charges under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. At a minimum, those currently being held should immediately be granted bail while their cases are in the Criminal or Appeal Courts.
  2. Demand that the Government of Thailand revoke Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.
  3. Urge the Government of Thailand to allow and support the full exercise of freedom of expression and political freedom, consistent with the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party.
  4. Request the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to continue ongoing monitoring and research about the brought situation of constriction of rights and individual cases in Thailand; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to continue to monitor and report on those cases of persons arbitrarily detained under Article 112.

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About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Read this online from AHRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

Read this online from ALRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC

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