Article 110 trial to begin

15 11 2022

On 14 October 2020 during #14OctMob of “Khana Ratsadorn” rally, a group of protesters found themselves close to an unannounced royal motorcade, with a car carrying Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. The car appeared to drive through the protesters, who shouted anti-royal slogans.

Several of the protesters were charged under the almost never used Article 110, which states:

Whoever commits an act of violence against the Queen or Her liberty, the Heir-apparent or His liberty, or the Regent or his/her liberty, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of sixteen to twenty years. Whoever attempts to commit such offence shall be liable to the same punishment.

If such act is likely to endanger the life of the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, the offender, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.

Whoever makes preparations for committing an act of violence against the Queen or Her liberty, the Heir-apparent or His liberty, or the Regent or his/her liberty, or does any act to assist in keeping secret any intention to commit such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of twelve to twenty years.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports that the “Criminal Court starts the witness examination of Black case number Aor.778/2564 on November 16, 2022. Five defendants are charged under Section 110 of Thailand’s Criminal Code on the ground of ‘violating the liberty of the Queen’.”

The five defendants include Akechai Hongkangwarn, Bunkueanun Paothong, Suranath Paenprasert
“and two other civilians who were indicted by the public prosecutor…”.

Of course, none of them violated the queen’s person or safety, but this is royalist Thailand.

All five defendants have denied all charges.

With the case now about to begin, there “are 51 prosecution witnesses and 11 defendant witnesses.” The trial is scheduled to run through the end of January 2023.

As TLHR explain:

This case is considered one of the most important case in Thailand’s political sphere as the penalty of this case is severe that the defendants could face 16 to 20 years, life time imprisonment or even death penalty for allegedly violating the Queen’s liberty and her well-being.

Another FB lese majeste conviction

11 11 2022

Sutthithep. Photo by iLaw, clipped from Prachatai

Sutthithep (last name withheld), 23, was charged with lese majeste and computer crimes for a post he made in a public Facebook group called “Free People” on 14 October 2020.  He was arrested on 9 April 2021 and the Criminal Court found him guilty on 8 November 2022.

He was sentenced him to 3 years in prison, reduced to 1 year and 6 months following the required “confession.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights state that he posted: “If insulting royalty or criticizing royalty sends me to hell, then fine. I’ll go to hell,” and followed up with a “message criticising the monarchy.”

The public prosecutor alleged that the post defamed the monarchy and damaged national security. That’s the prosecutor’s mantra in these cases.

It is reported that the complaint to police was made by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, one of 11 such complaints.

Following the complaint, “Sutthithep was arrested on 9 April 2021 at a shopping mall in Bangkok’s Raminthra area on an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court.” He was then transferred “to the Technology Crime Suppression Division headquarters and was detained at Thung Song Hong Police Station overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request the next day. He was then released on bail using a 90,000-baht security with the condition that he must not use social media to defame anyone.”

The Criminal Court “did not suspend his sentence due to a report from the probation officer that Sutthithep posted criticism of the monarchy on social media after one of his friends was injured in a clash between officers and protesters gathering on the route of a royal motorcade.” This was seen by the court as an action “intending to cause a misunderstanding about the King, damage his reputation, and cause the people to lose faith in him.”

Sutthithep is to appeal and was granted bail “with an additional security of 10,000 baht, bringing his bail security to 100,000 baht. His security was covered by the Will of the People Fund, a bail fund for people prosecuted for participating in the pro-democracy movement.”

It was in September 2022 that Sutthithep “decided to confess to the charges. He said that he was ready to face his sentence because he lives alone and has no family…”.

He was a member of “the activist group Nonthaburi New Generation Network and has been helping the group gather signatures for a petition to repeal the royal defamation [Article 112] law.”

Depths of 112 repression

27 10 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has an accounting of lese majeste charges from 24 November 2020  to 20 June 2022.

In summary, at least 215 people have been charged in a total of 234 lawsuits.

These cases have increasingly been filed after “complaints” by vigilante “citizens” – at least 108 cases. Another 11 complaints were from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, 9 from a committee of the Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, one complaint was from administrative officer, and the rest filed by police.

At least 17 minors have been charged in 20 lawsuits.

The listing of cases is revealing of the depths of repression.

A recent history of lese majeste

20 10 2022

Readers may be interested in an article by Sulakshana Lamubol of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights for the Southeast Asia Globe. The article is something of a history of recent Article 112 cases.

It observes that “Thailand has the harshest royal defamation laws in the world, which punishes offenders with three to 15 years imprisonment.” Add to this the fact that an individual may face several charges and the result is sometimes mammoth sentences.

The recent use of Article 112 has become ever more politicized: “Since the military coup in 2006, lèse-majesté has become a perfect political tool for the authorities, as well as ultraconservative citizens, to silence those who criticise the government, the role of the monarchy, or even this law itself.”

The result is that, since 2020, “at least 215 individuals – including 17 minors – in 234 cases, have been charged and/or prosecuted with the law.” 10 individuals have been found guilty of this political crime since 2020.

TLHR explains “that the court’s judgments establish dangerous precedents for the country’s freedom of speech and assembly amidst heavy calls from the people demanding historic political changes.”

Sulakshana concludes: “The more the Thai state uses royal defamation to suppress the people’s freedom of speech to maintain ‘reverence,’ the result will be the opposite. Respect and faith of one’s public institution must be earned from the people — not forced.”

283 minors charged

17 09 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights maintains a database on political charges. In a recent report compiled from the database is about juveniles/minors prosecuted since 2020.

It calculates “at least 283 youths from 211 cases have been prosecuted for political expression and protest.”

From August 2021 to the end of October 2021, in the Din Daeng area, “[a]t least 210 youth from 104 cases were charged…”.

There are 17 in 20 cases charged under Article 112 with lese majeste. The majority of these have been indicted.

TLHR provides a month-by-month account of this effort to shut down young rebellion.

Rebellious 12 year-old

16 09 2022

Update: This is a post we actually wrote some time ago, and then neglected to publish it. But, this story is so remarkably awful and illustrative of the great fear among royalists that it deserves mention.

Thai Lawyers for Human Right published a long account – well worth reading – on Eia: A 12-year-old child who is a favorite among protestors and who faces up to four years in prison on charges after being arrested at a protest, “merely because he cycled from his home to observe it.” The report states:

A 12-year-old boy was arrested and charged with violating the Emergency Decree due to passing the #13September21Protest in Din Daeng while cycling home. And on 5 May 2022, he went to hear another accusation brought against him in a second political expression case after only half a month had passed since his 13th birthday.

A possible maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment is the gift given by the Thai state to this youth on his 13th birthday.

…“Eia,” a sassy kid with likes to stir people up, especially the police. Previously, he proudly proclaimed that “I love Uncle Tu.” However, being arrested with his beloved bicycle, being prosecuted for the first time due to observing the Din Daeng mob, and seeing the officers respond to Thalugas with excessive violence, he started to comprehend politics anew. He sat down to listen at protests again and again in the hopes of understanding what is happening.

Now,age 13, Eia, agrees with the movement’s demands for the prime minister to resign and the monarchy to be reformed.

After his  arrest, Eia’s

…hands and wrists were bound with cable ties and he was taken to Phahon Yothin Police Station.The police tried to prevent his parents from meeting him. He refused to sign any documents.

In the end, the police officer instead had to take a photo while handing them a copy of the arrest document copy along with video and audio recordings during the interrogation. The boy was charged with violation of the Emergency Decree….

On 23 April 2022, three days after Eia’s thirteenth birthday party, police officers from the Nang Loeng police station notified him of charges for participating in a protest and physically assaulting the police at the protest. This is the second case he is facing.

As a 12, then 13 year old, Eia is the youngest to be arrested in a political case.

The 13 year-old “threat” to national security

17 08 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has a story about “Pink,” who is “one of the young activists who has been subjected to excessive surveillance and harassment by the authorities. Pink has been … followed. The authorities followed her everywhere including her house and school.”

Read all of it. Here’s a sample:

Clipped from TLHR

Pink found out that she is the only one that is being placed under excessive surveillance. “Strangely, many of my friends that went to greet the king, none of them had to be under surveillance like me. Nowadays, I have to share my locations to my friends wherever I go. I am paranoid to go somewhere alone.”

The consequence of her activism made her name appear on the list of persons of interest. The youngest person ever to be considered a threat to national security.

When children become threats to national security – the monarchy – then you know that the regime, its ruling class, and its royalist ideology are crumbling. The problem is that those who control the wealth and the arms will fight long and hard to protect their wealth and power.

Port Faiyen slapped with 9 years on 112

15 08 2022

Thai PBS reports that on 15 August 2022, the royalist Criminal Court has sentenced Parinya Cheewinpatomkul aka Port Faiyen, to 9 years in prison for breaching Article 112 and computer crimes in three Facebook posts.

Port, aged 37, is a former member of the Faiyen band. Following the 2014 military coup, the Faiyen band fled to Laos and eventually received asylum in France. Port’s illness convinced him not to travel to France and he returned to Thailand for medical treatment. For a time, to protect him, there was an illusion created that he was in France. When he returned to Thailand, he deactivated his Facebook account, and it took the authorities some time to track him down. He was arrested sometime in early March 2021 and charged with lese majeste.

He has now been found guilty for critical posts on social media, which according to Thai PBS were “about the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt.” The report seems unwilling to say more about the other posts (see below) but states that there were “three Facebook posts he made in 2016” that led to the charges.

We assume that this was when he was in Laos.

Port was given a three-year sentence for each post. This was commuted “to six years for his useful testimony.”

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, and roughly translated by PPT (see the originals here for an accurate rendering in Thai), the three messages were:

Message No. 1, 27 April 2016:

The monarchy (with lèse majesté laws with severe penalties to protect it) is one ignorant thing. Anyone who claims to be against superstitions but informs on people who disagree with Article 112, that person is a liar and a cruel person.

Message No. 2, 16 July 2016:

There is no king to sign a coup d’etat #Turkey #Turkish coup {he posted a news story]

 Message No. 3, 30 July 2016:

The song of the monarchy institution, monarchy institution, monarchy institution, monarchy institution. It’s a fucked-up institution. What institution hits people’s heads, ordered people killed? Support the coup, what institutions do not criticize? It uses dictatorship to dominate society. It works through the courts, soldiers, police, damn it. Monarchy institution, monarchy institution, monarchy institution. Fucked institution. What institutions monopolize good deeds, takes tax money, trampling on the poor? What institution is the richest? Cheating and robbery. Teaching people to be self-sufficient. It’s never enough, greedy, obsessed with power, you bastard dog.

The melody and the hook have been written for months. but just finished composing the whole song a few days ago The guitar part has been recorded. If you’re lucky within this year, you might be able to hear it. (Unfortunately, within the next year) P.S. I don’t know what institution. There are many institutions. It can be interpreted broadly, haha.

Parinya had denied all the charges against him during the investigation and trial.

TLHR reports that his lawyers will appeal and Port was released on bail with a 300,000 surety.

Taem indicted on 112 charge

5 08 2022

Taem is the pseudonym of a “mentally ill former military conscript [who] was indicted on a lèse majesté charge on Wednesday for allegedly destroying pictures of … the King, in Trakan Phuet Phon district of the north-eastern province of Ubon Ratchathani on November 6th last year…”. He was also indicted for causing damage to state property  – i.e., destroying the royal portraits.

Thai PBS, using Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reporting, states that the 32 year-old “has denied the charge.”

Under police questioning, “Taem claimed that he did not intend to destroy the King’s pictures, but he did so because he heard a voice form ‘high above’ ordering him to do it, not knowing that they were the King’s pictures.” He said that “he started hearing voices after he was hospitalised for being hit hard in the head by a higher-ranked army officer.”

The police knew Taem had been receiving treatment for mental illness.

At first, the investigating police did not charge Taem under Article 112, “but this move was rejected by superiors at the Region 3 Provincial Police Bureau, who argued that destroying the King’s pictures was highly inappropriate and amounts to offending the monarchy.”

When first arrested, Taem was accused of damaging a portrait of the king in front of the Trakan Phuetphon district high school. He was detained while standing in front of a portrait of the king at a bus station, and later confessed to damaging three portraits of the king at various locations around the district.

He had to sign an arrest record before he was able to consult with a lawyer. He was released without bail on 8 November.

After this indictment, Taem was released on 90,000 baht bail and has been ordered to appear before the court for a hearing on 19 September 2022.

TLHR reports that “at least 10 people with histories of mental illness have been indicted on lèse majesté charges since the May 2014 coup and six of them have received prison sentences.”

Kanlaya gets 6 years on lese majeste

5 08 2022

Narathiwat Provincial Court has been busy with Article 112 cases. Like other royalist courts, it has been jailing people. Just a few days ago we posted on the sentencing of Udom (pseudonym), a 34-year-old factory worker, to 6 years in prison using Article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act. In that post, we also linked to the pending case of Kanlaya, a 27-year-old employee of a company in Nonthaburi, facing lese majeste and computer crimes charges following a complaint by ultra-royalist vigilante Pasit Chanhuaton. The odious Pasit had also complained about Udom.

Kanlaya’s now been sentenced.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports that Kanlaya was found guilty under Article 112 and computer crimes. She was sentenced her to 6 years in prison.

Kanlaya denied the charges.

The complaint against Kanlaya concerned a number of Facebook posts and comments about the King and the 2020 – 2021 pro-democracy protests. iLaw reported that one of the comments was made on a Facebook post about the film The Treacherous, a Korean period drama film about a tyrannical king, which caused another Facebook user to accuse Kanlaya of insulting King Vajiralongkorn, so her friends argued with the person to defend her. She speculated that the user was not happy with what happened and started collecting information from her Facebook page before filing charges against her.

Another post was a picture Kanlaya took during a protest at Wongwian Yai on 17 October 2020 of a message sprayed-painted onto the road. She was also charged for sharing posts made by exiled academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul and activist Tanawat Wongchai and adding comments to them.

The “evidence” against her “included made up screenshots without a URL or a date and time of the posts, so they could have been edited, while each post could be interpreted widely if read separately and mentioned no one by name.”

But the royalist court was unconvinced and went to work concocting its conviction:

… the Court ruled that she was guilty because she testified during the police inquiry process that her former partner used to be able to access her Facebook account, but she changed the password after they broke up in December 2020, so it is believable that she was the one using the account.

The Court also ruled that the messages combined with the movement for monarchy reform can be interpreted to be referring to King Vajiralongkorn, and that they are intended to cause hatred against the King, affecting national security.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights says ultra-mad royalist Pasit has now filed 112 “complaints with the police in Sungai Kolok against at least 20 people, none of whom lives in Narathiwat.”

Kanlaya was granted bail in order to appeal.  She was bailed.

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