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.
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