John Moore from the Workers Party, who has lived and worked in Thailand, gives details of an international campaign to stop the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand.
The Thai government is currently cracking down on dissent, and is using laws to ‘protect’ the monarchy to squash critical voices in Thai society. Such laws are known as lèse-majesté and frame criticism or insulting of a monarch as treason. Thai Marxist and academic Giles Ji Ungpakorn is facing lèse-majesté charges for the writing of his book A Coup for the Rich. A pdf version of this book can be found here.
A petition/open letter has been initiated by Thai activists calling for the scrapping of lèse-majesté laws and that the Thai government drop all proceedings in lèse-majesté cases.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn has been a ceaseless critic of the military’s intervention into politics in Thailand. He has accused the current government of gaining power through a coup. The elected Peoples Power Party government was recently deposed through a court order. The current Democratic Party led government was put together with the aid of the head of the military, and has full military backing.
Giles has been a consistent critic of authoritarian measures used by Thai state forces. He has championed the cause of workers and the rural poor in Thailand. He has also campaigned against the brutal military intervention against ethnic Malay insurgents in the South of Thailand.
The Workers Party is happy to play a part in offering solidarity to Giles and to help with the international campaign against the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand.
Below is the open letter/petition which Giles Ungpakorn is asking people to sign:
Please sign this open letter
Stop the use of “lese majesty” in Thailand. Defend freedom of speech
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 Lese Majeste 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 Australia 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 Lese Majeste 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 lese majeste cases.
We call for the abolition of les majeste laws in Thailand and the defence of freedom and democracy.
Please send your full name to: Giles.LesseMajeste@gmail.com , firstname.lastname@example.org