This article was originally released in Russian [May 23] by analytical commentary blog Mikaprok
In general, freedom of speech in Southeast Asia has also been a tense subject.
Take the newly crowned Thailand. There, on the one hand, there are warm and many wild monkeys (if you know what I mean), and on the other hand – the understanding of the Middle Ages. Almost like in Eastern Europe. :-(
No one is particularly embarrassed by the international opinion and Amnesty International, all people are adults and have lived in the jungle.
There is a wonderful organization called Dao Din. It is mostly a student association, advocating for democracy and free elections. Its activities distantly remind of those of the Anti-Corruption Foundations (ACF). They are also in favor of preventing illegal land transfers, income inequality and, of course, corruption.
They’re not really doing much. They organize rallies, road blocks and other visual reinforcement of their ideas.
In total, there are 15 such ACFs in the 69-million country. Some of them try to bluff and scare the current monarch, while others the military junta.
Dao Din did not fully understand, and at the time of the next coup in Bangkok on December 1st, 2016, they decided to speak with one voice, telling the truth about the “king” who had stepped in.
They did this in a very original way, by reposting a publicly available BBC article.
As a result, it was shared about 3000 times, after which it was permanently from public access.
Nothing sensational, just these photos with some corresponding comments.
A criminal case was brought to the first person for disrespecting the status of a monarch by the local version of a Federal Protective Service officer.
Respect looks only like this:
Next 9 months in the pretrial detention center + 2 years in prison. Officially, for the repost of openly available information from one of the top 5 news agencies in the world. That’s how the legal system in Thailand works.
In May, he was released under the amnesty of the benevolent “Tsar.”
Two people from Dao Din, who fought for his rights over the last 29 months, suddenly drove off somewhere and nobody saw them again.
Another 20 activists are being judged in a sluggish process on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the throne from 2015 onwards.
And they helped in the social media agitation.
There is a Computer Crimes Act that restricts freedom of speech, both in the future and retrospectively in the past. Prior to its adoption.
To sum up – for everything that Dao Din did, it’s 40 years in prison for an activist.
Nobody can overpampe.
Like in the UK.
UPDATE: Some additional details regarding this case are below.
Citizen Truth also provided some insight in the issue of Thailand’s prosecution of freedom of speech.
On May 10th, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa was released after serving 29 months in prison in Thailand after sharing a Facebook post.
“Pai shared a short biography about the king from BBC’s Thai service on Facebook. The day after, the police arrested Pai for defaming the monarchy by sharing the article, an alleged violation of the country’s lèse majesté law and the Computer Crimes Act. Pai’s legal saga had begun.”
“The country that doesn’t have democracy is really tough for people, especially new generations who want to live a life in their own style,” Pai told Citizen Truth. “There’s no freedom to do anything.”
Pai was released not because he served his sentence, but because the benevolent King pardoned 50,000 prisoners following his recent coronation ceremony.
“The general pardon, issued on May 3rd, said that whoever is serving a penalty with less than a year left shall be released,” said Yingcheep Atchanont, program manager at the Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw).
That doesn’t mean Pai’s troubles have passed:
“Pai has also faced charges in five separate cases related to his activism: one case for violating the junta’s ban on political assemblies, for distributing fliers in opposition to a constitutional referendum. If Pai had been found guilty on all charges against him, he could face up to 40 years in prison. Some charges remain outstanding.”
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