More on Akechai’s lese majeste conviction

Prachatai has a longer report on the court’s decision to send Akechai Hongkangwarn to jail for lese majeste.

Akechai was sentenced to five years in prison (reduced for “cooperation”) and a fine of 100,000 baht for selling documentary CDs of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary program on the monarchy and for having copies of Wikileaks documents that the court deemed were defaming to the queen and the crown prince.

Details of the “Foreign Correspondent” documentary and a link to the now well-known birthday party video are here. The Wikileaks cables are from 2008, indicating “the Queen supported the 2006 coup” and from 2010 about “opinions about royal succession from Privy Council Chair Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, Privy Council member ACM Siddhi Savetsila, and former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun.” These can be found here, here and here. The court essentially refused to allow any of these big shots to be called to give evidence.Akechai

The report states that the judges “deemed the content of the materials misleading and defamatory for the monarchy.” It is a royalist fabrication that the materials are misleading. In fact, they use material directly from the palace and from the mouths of royalist flunkies to paint an accurate picture of the monarchy. That these insider accounts may be defamatory says more about the palace than of anything else.

But the propaganda-defending courts noted that:

The country’s constitution and criminal code stipulated that His Majesty the King is the head of state and highly revered. No one shall violate or use rights and liberties for any adverse effects. The state and its people have duties to uphold the monarchy system forever….  Any defaming speech causing irritation to … His Majesty shall not be acceptable,” the judge read out the verdict.

As usual, the royalist courts manipulate the constitution’s words in order to lock up someone considered guilty of telling the truth. Akechai is reported as being “upset by the court’s decision as his intention was merely to spread neutral and objective information produced by foreign media outlet to the public.” The court’s ruling is a reminder that truth shall not be spoken.

Sulak Sivaraksa commented that “the punishment for lese majeste is too severe. The monarchy should also be for open for criticism as it is important for democracy…”.

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