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Stop the use of lèse majesté in Thailand. Defend freedom of speech
27 Jan 2009
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

We, the undersigned, oppose the use of lese majeste in Thailand in order to prevent freedom of speech and academic freedom. We demand that the government cease all proceedings in lese majeste cases.

The 19th September 2006 military coup in Thailand claimed ‘royal legitimacy’ in order to hide the authoritarian intentions of the military junta. Lese Majeste charges have not been used to protect ‘Thai Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy’ as claimed. The charges are used against people who criticised the coup and disagree with the present destruction of democracy. They are used to create a climate of fear and censorship.

One obvious case is that of Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, from the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He is facing Lese Majeste charges for writing a book ‘A Coup for the Rich’, which criticised the 2006 military coup. (Read the book at http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/). Others who have been accused of lèse majesté are former government minister Jakrapop Penkae, who asked a question at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Bangkok, about exactly what kind of Monarchy we have in Thailand. There is also the case of Chotisak Oonsung, a young student who failed to stand for the King’s anthem in the cinema. Apart from this there are the cases of Da Topedo and Boonyeun Prasertying. In addition to those who opposed the coup, the BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, an Australian writer names Harry Nicolaides, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa are also facing charges. The latest person to be thrown into jail and refused bail is Suwicha Takor, who is charged with lèse majesté for surfing the internet. The Thai Minister of Justice has called for a blanket ban on reporting these cases in the Thai media. The mainstream Thai media are obliging. Thus we are seeing a medieval style witch hunt taking place in Thailand with ‘secret’ trials in the courts. The Justice Ministry is also refusing to publish figures of lèse majesté cases.

We call for the abolition of les majeste laws in Thailand and the defence of freedom and democracy.

Leave your name and location in the comments below and they will be forwarded to Giles Ji Ungpakorn and his campaign. Thank you. Alternatively, forward your details to [email protected]

18 responses to “Stop the use of lèse majesté in Thailand. Defend freedom of speech”

  1. Dr Tim Jarvis says:

    A reak righteous Buddhist would give all their wealth away! Who or what is sovereign in Thailand?
    Military? Market? Magic and superstition? There is neither God nor soul in Buddhism so why do Thais worship an ordinary man? Power to the people

  2. ThaiLoveDemocracy says:

    I am a Thai living in the US. I wish that more people in the modern society paying more attention against this medieval law. It has been used by the rulers in the country to withhold the advance of democracy in Thailand. The king has played a big role in Thai politics behind the scenes. The law prevents the opposite voice to speak out, and prevent the movement that upholds the highest of constitution, instead of the king.
    This is the reason why Thai government is so corrupt, because they have the idea that they serve the king, not people.

    I don’t mean to get rid of the king, but seeing this law prevent advancement of Thai society.

  3. Dr Peter Carey says:

    Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a former Oxford colleague and friend of many years whose arrest disturbs me greatly. As a respected political scientist he has a right and a duty to speak truth to power and make his views of recent political events in Thailand public without fear or favour. The lese-majeste law is a relic of Thailand’s medieval past. It has no place in a modern democracy.

  4. Jennifer Hunter says:

    Tyranny is the death of democracy. Let us hope that enough voices raised around the world will get the message across to the current government in Thailand that censorship on this level is unacceptable and unjust.

  5. David Brown says:

    David Brown
    Trinood Brown

    we support abolishing the lese majeste laws

    there are sufficient protections in other laws that may be used if necessary to restrain untrue or unfair comment

    lack of transparency and the use of contempt to restrain fair comment on justice proceedings is the most significant issue for Thailand now

  6. Giuseppe Ceglia says:

    Giuseppe Ceglia
    Avellino, Italy

  7. Julian Fountain

    This has got to be more widely challenged than a mere petition on a website

  8. Oliver Morton
    Greenwich, UK

  9. Leonardo Martins says:

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  10. Jason Woerner says:

    I hope I don’t get deported for signing this. It’s about time people start speaking up about this backwards system.

    Jason Woerner, Bangkok, Thailand

  11. mozzly says:

    Kings and Queens are just people underneath it all…what gives them the right to be above criticism? In many cases criticism helps to prooke change for the better and all concerned including kings and queens…..

  12. Andrew Kendle says:

    As Sulak Sivaraska says in the title of his autobiography, ªLoyalty Demands Dissentª.

  13. Ita O'Driscoll says:

    Freedom to write and declare your opinions is a basic human right. Good luck with your campaign,

  14. Larris Magpie says:

    Oslo, Norway

  15. Paul Adams, Edinburgh

  16. admin says:

    Padraig Reidy
    News Editor
    Index on Censorship

  17. DavidMWW says:

    Where do I sign?

  18. […] sign the petition against Thailand’s lèse majesté prosecutions here Years ago when this writer was a mass communication student at a Bangkok university, a senior […]