As has been widely reported, a student and a theater activist have been convicted of lese majeste. As usual, they decided to plead guilty in order to move the case along more quickly.
Patiwat Saraiyaem, a 23 year-old student in Khon Kaen, and Pornthip Mankong, a theater activist aged 26, were given sentences of two years and six months in prison for their roles in “The Wolf Bride,” a play about a fictional kingdom that royalist judges considered “insulted” the non-fictional monarchy. Their sentences were reduced from 5 years because of the guilty pleas.
The pair were arrested in August 2014 after the play had been performed almost a year earlier at Thammasat University. The play was to commemorate the anniversaries of the pro-democracy student uprising in October 1973 and the bloody royalist massacre of students at the university in October 1976.
The royalist judges stated that: “performing the play … was an act of defamation and insult in front of numerous people…. Moreover, it was disseminated on many websites, causing damage to the monarchy, which is revered by all Thais [sic.]. Such action is a grave crime that warrants no suspension of the punishment.”
A lawyer said the two defendants were unlikely to appeal the verdict. In fact, experience shows that an appeal results in further punishment and even torture-like legal processes meant to punish the appellants who are almost always refused bail.
Police are reportedly searching for another six people involved in the play, and it is believed that several of them have fled royalist Thailand under the military dictatorship.