Updated: Challenging arbitrary lese majeste

25 10 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They have encouraged attacks on Akechai and his house.

This is royalist Thailand.

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

On the longest known lese majeste sentence

18 06 2015

Most readers will have seen a long article at Prachatai that is based on an interview with the wife of TS or Yai Daengduad who was convicted and sentenced to a massive 50 years. Because of a guilty plea, this was reduced to 25 years. PPT won’t go into the details of the article because it is long, tragic and must be read as a whole.

We do, however, want to point to one other item in the report that is, we think, new to us. In relation to this sentence, the report states: “This is believed to be the longest sentence ever handed down for defamation of the monarchy, exceeding previous records of 34 years for a former head of the Office of the Chief of Staff for the Crown Prince (no details available), and 30 years for a musician (reduced to 15 years)…”.

We are interested to know if any reader has information on the case with no details? Is it a previously unknown case or is it one of the massive number of cases associated with ditching Srirami? Email us at: politicalprisonersinthailand@hushmail.com


Preposterous prison sentence for criticizing royal family

2 04 2015

Amnesty International has issued a statement about the recent lese majeste sentencing of Yai Daengduad. PPT agrees that the sentencing is preposterous.

All the more so because it was not a 25 year sentence but a 50 year sentence, only reduced to 25 years by Yai’s guilty plea.

As regular readers will know, there is huge pressure on those accused of lese majeste to accept a guilty plea. It is no coincidence that, since the military coup in May 2014, almost every lese majeste case has produced a guilty plea.

Here is AI’s statement:

The conviction and sentencing this morning of a Thai businessman to 25 years in prison for posting messages allegedly critical of the royal family on Facebook is preposterous and shows the urgent need for Thailand to amend its outdated lèse majesté law, said Amnesty International.

A Thai military court found Theinsutham Suthijittaseranee, 58, guilty on all five counts of posting messages deemed to be defamatory of Thailand’s royal family between July and November of 2014.

The sentence comes the same day that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a request to Thailand’s King to allow the lifting of martial law. The interim constitution gives the Prime Minister unchallenged authority to replace martial law with new legislation he claims is necessary for maintaining national security.

Since martial law came into force in Thailand on 20 May 2014, hundreds of people have been arbitrarily detained and dozens dragged before military courts for peacefully exercising their rights to assembly and expression.

“The lifting of martial law will not improve the human rights situation in Thailand if it is replaced with another repressive law. Instead, Thailand should reinstate the rule of law and constitutional protections for human rights which the 2014 coup steamrolled over,” said Rupert Abbott, Deputy Director for the Asia Pacific Programme at Amnesty International.

“The sentence against Theinsutham Suthijittaseranee is one of the harshest we have seen in a long time, which sends worrying signs that the Thai authorities are tightening the vice on anyone they do not agree with.

“It is appalling that in the 21st century people are being imprisoned for decades for criticizing the monarchy. Peacefully expressing an opinion is not a crime. Theinsutham must be released immediately and the lèse majesté law should be scrapped or amended so it complies with Thailand’s human rights obligations.”

The military court sentenced Theinsutham Suthijittaseranee to 50 years imprisonment but halved it in recognition of his guilty plea. He has no right to appeal.

The businessman was detained without charge by the military under martial law powers and during the five days he was held arbitrarily military officers interrogated him until he confessed to the alleged crimes. He was not allowed to see a lawyer or members of his family.

On 22 December 2014, Theinsutham was officially charged with five counts of violating Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code (the provision for lèse majesté) and taken to Bangkok Remand Prison. Subsequent bail requests were denied.

50 years for red shirt

31 03 2015

In yet another lese majeste report, Prachatai tells us that a 58 year-old man it calls TS and known as “Yai Daengduad” (ใหญ่ แดงเดือด) has been sentenced by a military court sentenced to 50 years in jail for his alleged offenses.

Such a lengthy sentence is almost unheard of, even in the ridiculous realms of royalist Thailand and its notorious lese majeste law.

Tried in secret, the red-shirt businessman – TS has seen his name in the Thai-language media, but has requested that his name not be used. The yellow-shirted social media has had him all over their pages – was “accused of posting content defaming the monarchy on Facebook…”. His ludicrous sentence was halved to a still massive 25 years because he pleaded guilty. All those now charged with lese majeste know that they are likely to be found guilty by military courts, so a guilty plea is required in order to reduce the sentence.

The secret military trial found him guilty on five counts and gave him 10 years on each count.

The court claimed the trial needed to be secret “because the case is related to the revered [sic.] Thai monarchy and might affect public morale…”. We are entirely baffled by the latter claim. Probably the court fears that accounts that are critical of the monarchy will be confusing to a citizenry considered gullible.

While the sentence is one of the harshest ever, the military court stated: “The defendant insulted the beloved and revered Thai monarchy…. The sentence handed down by the court is already light…”.

TS was accused of posts between July and November 2014, that criticized the sufficiency economy idea often attributed to the king, compared the Bhutanese monarchy to Thailand’s, linked the coup leadership to the king, alleged “an important wealthy family involved with illegal opium business,” and discussed the king’s health.

We have the impression that, like The Dictator, his military courts would prefer execution for those who think differently.

Another Facebook lese majeste case

25 12 2014

Police and military have cooperated to arrest and charge “a businessman for posting lese majeste messages on Facebook account.”

Prachatai reports that, allegedly using two Facebook accounts under the name “Yai Daengduad” (ใหญ่ แดงเดือด), the “man, whose name begins with T and surname begins with S,” was “accused of  posting three messages deemed defaming the King…”. A businessman and university graduate, TS is said to be 58, and lives in Bangkok.

In the posts deemed to be his, one on “25 July, mainly criticized the King’s sufficiency economy. It also compares Bhutan monarchy to Thailand’s.” A second post is said to have provided a behind-the-scenes account of the 2014 coup, posted on 13 September. A third post in early November is alleged to have been about the “fate of ‘Uncle Somchai’…”. Uncle Somchai is a fictional character who police now say is the king. The report quotes them:  “The use of Uncle Somchai is widely known among Internet users and red shirts that it means His Majesty the King.” Therefore, the police and other royalists consider that defaming Uncle Somchai is an act of lese majeste.

The military arrested the man and his wife on 18 December and detained TS and interrogated him at a Bangkok military base for five days before handing him over to police. His wife was detained for one night. The military states that, under interrogation, “the man confessed and was forced to provide passwords to email and social network accounts.”

On 25 December, the police “submitted the custody petition to the military court. The family of the suspect also submitted 400,000 baht bail request.” Prachatai reports: “as expected, [the military court] denied the bail request, saying that the charges carry high penalty and that the suspect might flee.”

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