Chatwadee Rose Amornpat is a Thai activist living abroad who has been accused and charged with lese majeste. She has sent the following article to PPT and we reproduce it as received, with a couple of links added:
With all the turmoil which is being waged in Thailand now, it is interesting to observe that one so-called “revered” institution, namely, the monarch and/or the monarchy, has not come out to stop the chaos and the daily arrests of unarmed and peaceful democracy activists and alleged lese majeste violators.
Thai royalists and the royal household often surreptitiously inform the local and foreign media that the king has no political power to do anything, but a quick glance at the current constitution reveals the opposite results.
Though the junta chief. Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha stated last May 22, 2014 after he successfully seized power from a democratically-elected government, that the constitution was then abrogated except “all the constitutional articles relating to the monarch and lese majeste law.” That is to say, the laws concerning the power of the king, his welfare and his protection through the barbaric and unjust lese majeste law would be left intact and enforceable.
It is very odd indeed. To me, now we do not have just one dictator but two dictators in the same country!
This is symbiotic relationships between the monarchy and the military, which have been going on for the past six decades, while the poor people of Thailand continue to suffer and their quality of life worsen. One can still see many poor children of Thailand selling garlands to drivers of cars on the busy and smoggy streets in Bangkok every morning. Such poor children should have been in school, not selling garlands or flowers to help their family! It pains me to see such a sight.
Symbiotic relationships, according to “thefreedictionary.com,” are a special type of interaction between species. Sometimes beneficial, sometimes harmful, these relationships are essential to many organisms and ecosystems, and they provide a balance that can only be achieved by working together.
Indeed I compare the Thai monarchy and military to low-class animals which are the lowest of the lows as they have done nothing good for the Thai people. The monarchy has always stayed intact while the general changes every 5 or 10 years during the past 19 coup d’ tates. Because of this fact, one can only see that with all the troubles happening in Thailand, we can only blame it at the top, the monarchy. This is the main character which never changes.
Here’s a look at the current laws relating to the monarchy which Gen. Prayuth left intact, though he abrogated the constitution when he seized power from the former PM Yingluck Sinawatra.
Section 3 of the Thai constitution states:
The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.
The above Section is not known to Westerners or even most Thais. It is like saying the car belongs to the people but only the king can drive the car. Or, the people own the gun but only the
king can pull the trigger. In both cases, the people have to do the maintenance and upkeep of the car and gun.
Section 8 of the Thai constitution states:
The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.
This section means the Thai King is like God and no one can sue the King even if he commits robbery, blatant lies, mayhem or murders. Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code states:
No one can criticize the king and any member of his family, even if such criticisms are based on the truth.
This is called “lese majeste” and it carries a jail term of 3 to 15 years for each offense.
Section 10 states:
The King holds the position of Supreme Commander of the Thai Armed Forces.
Section 11 is:
The King has the prerogative to create titles and confer decorations.
Last Friday, June 19, 2015, Thai police arrested 14 students who had been protesting against the ruling junta, in defiance of a ban on public gatherings. These are young university students who are brave and full of democratic spirit. They just want nothing except the rights to express themselves freely on issues effecting their lives and future. They are now confined to a filthy and crowded Thai jail in Bangkok.
I urge the leaders of the civilized world and all the human rights organizations to put pressures on the Thai junta to release these students unconditionally.
The students took part in peaceful rallies calling for an end to military rule under the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The army commander-in-chief, Gen. Udomdej Seetabutr, publicly accused the 14 student activists of being backed by anti-government groups and claimed their actions could lead to disturbances and violence.
Additionally, Gen. Udomdej Seetabutr, who was hand-picked by the top royals to head the Army’s top brass, has indicated that a charge of lese majeste may be leveled on them, because these students may have gotten supports from anti-monarchy elements as well.
It is against the international norm that the Thai Army is designed to protect only the monarchy as opposed to protecting the country!
I can’t help but to draw the attention to another group of students who were arrested and charged with lese majeste law violations in 2014. These brave young people are university students with bright future but cut short by the military and the monarchy. Two were arrested and sentenced in jail while the rest of them had to leave their university study and are now in hiding or flee the country.
Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Pornthip Munkong, 26, involved in producing a play called “The Wolf Bride” about a fictional monarch and his adviser. It was performed at the prestigeous Thammasat University in 2013 to mark the anniversary of a successful 1973 anti-dictatorship uprising led by students.
Their bail requests were repeatedly turned down by a Bangkok court. Both had pleaded guilty, a common practice in lese majeste cases in December 2014. Because failure to do so only means a 100% guilty verdict and a long jail term.
In announcing the verdict, a Bangkok Criminal Court judge said the play contained content that insulted and defamed the monarchy and was shown in front of a large number of spectators.
Keep in mind all Thai judges are approved and appointed by the king. Thus there is no chance of acquittal in any lese majeste case. Now all the lese majeste cases are being handled by the military court.
Now not even people who are suffering from mental illness are spared from lese majeste charge.
A man was sentenced to more than three years in jail last week under lese majeste law, a controversial royal defamation law, despite having a history of mental illness. Tanet Nonthakot, 45, from northeastern Phetchabun province, is the second person in the last few months suffering from mental health condition to be convicted under this barbaric law.
Not even a very friendly and mild-mannered editor of the prestigious on-line newspaper, Thai E-News, Somsak Pakdeedej, 36, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison for allowing an article deemed lese majeste to be published three years ago.
Since the coup on May 22, 2014, in addition to the hundreds and hundreds of intellectuals and democracy activists who are now serving long jail term, scores of free spirited academics have fled the country and are now living in exile in neighboring Laos and Cambodia. Thanks to the Internet, they are now waging a daily and weekly war in cyberspace against the military junta as well as the monarchy who is alleged to be the mastermind of all the messes including the 10 coups in Thailand.
Three distinguished individuals with whom I greatly admire and who have sacrificed all their life for equality, justice and democracy for Thailand:
Suda Rangkupan, in her 40’s, a Fullbright scholar and holder of a doctorate degree and university professor, chose to flee the country when she received a call from the military junta to report to their central command for the so-called “attitude adjustment.”
Dr. Rangkupan is a very courageous woman who has cared for the poor much more than herself. She has a long history of fighting for justice and equality. She is a champion for the poor. A woman with her impressive credentials, she could have easily enjoyed her life as a university professor, just as the rest of the complacent academics in universities throughout Thailand now.
Because of her democracy activism, after 13 years as a professor at Chulalornkorn University, she was forced to resign or fired by her department chief. Soon after that, a call from the junta, she informed me that she chose to flee the country and continues with her noble struggle for justice. She had been at the forefront of Thailand’s democracy movements. She is now waging a cyber war against the military junta and the monarchy. Her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/sudarang ) receives thousands of views from her supporters, Thai and foreigners alike, from all over the world each day. Here’s Dr. Suda Rangkupan’s impressive resume.
Surachai Dangwathananusorn, aka, Surachai Sae Dang, in his mid 70’s. Surachai is considered a legendary democracy activist since the era of student uprising at Thammasart university in 1973 during the era of Gen. Thanom Kitikachon. He spent a total of 22 years in Thai jail for the alleged “encouraging uprisings against the military regimes.” He, too, chose to flee the country, because the military junta filed a lese majeste charge on him after the coup by Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha. He is considered the Nelson Mandela of Thailand. His weekly broadcast in YouTube is heard by his supporters all over the world.
Phisanu Phomsorn, aks “Anti” who was charged with lese majeste law violation for giving several speeches at Red Shirt’s political events. He, too, fled the country and is now living in exile at the border around Vietnam and Cambodia. His weekly program on Thai royalty and politics has been very popular among Thai audience in Northeast Thailand.
It is now becoming clearer and clearer that Thailand is being raped and governed by 2 types of thieves-in-uniforms which share a symbiotic relationship.
Under the so-called “Article 44” which gives unlimited power to the junta, they can just about do anything they so please from search anyone house or body without a warrant or jailing anyone on any minor charges. Now many lower ranking soldiers are behaving like hooligans extorting money from street vendors and retailers in up-country and big cities in open daylight with impunity.
The first type of thieves-in-uniform is the monarchy with the king dubbed as head of state who often wears decorative pins and trappings and occasionally wears uniforms similar to characters in ancient, Ramayana play, with head gears ancient hat for religious ceremonies. This type is only concerned about their stability and their vast wealth under the control of his investment arms, “Crown Property Bureau.” They tend to prolong their continued status qua and privileges and entitlement for generations to come.
The second thieves-in-uniform is the military, the generals, who benefit from their collusion with the monarchy for decades. Each top general has benefited from the yearly military budget and the allocation for purchases of arms. Each year, the budget gets increased by 10-20 percents even though Thailand has no wars or conflicts with her neighbors.
The top brass stands to benefit millions and millions of dollars or bahts in terms of commission.
This is a known fact among officials in the Thai Armed Forces.
Unless Thai people unite and demand the reorganization of the two institutions from the group floor and up, the chance of realizing a true democracy is probably next to nothing.
Last but not least, I hope that world leaders from the United States, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Germany and all the civilized nations which have commercial contacts or educational exchanges with Thailand continue to put pressures and bring about the human rights issue and the need to abolish their despicable lese majeste law once and for all.