The lese majeste abyss

Yesterday we posted on lese majeste exile Jaran Ditapichai‘s view that Thailand’s already dismal human rights situation is likely to get worse. Jaran takes the view that the “special circumstances surrounding the succession” mean human rights abuses will grow.

How right he is.

Prachatai reports that that most corrupt of Thailand’s organizations, know as the “Royal Thai Police” have announced that they have now “documented 194 alleged violations of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law.” The police say they have arrested 10 and are hunting 17 more “suspects.”

The officer added that 10 persons have already been arrested while the authorities are now trying to arrest 17 more.

That is not a human rights situation getting worse. It is an avalanche of human rights violations dragging Thailand into an abyss of abuse from where it will be difficult to recover. We are likely to be talking decades (or a violent and sudden overthrow of the military regime). Liberals in Thailand have no place to exist.

As a footnote, pointing to the belligerent General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the “uneducate” junta leader and self-appointed prime minister, the article claims that he “has ordered the authorities to speed up the arrest of lèse majesté suspects who fled abroad, adding that Thailand has extradition agreements with 16 nations.”

Thick as a brick” we hear you say. Maybe. Yet there is a lot of posing by the military junta, cementing its position as a wall of royalist bricks. They believe that they must protect the monarchy in order to make themselves the silverback gorillas in a post-Bhumibol Thailand.

A second footnote is our own. This announcement of the large number of lese majeste cases being investigated suggests both that the legal definition of the “crime” has been reduced to the lowest possible level so that anyone saying anything about the monarchy, past, present and future. At the same time, it suggests that disdain for the monarchy is far more widespread than the junta and royalist propaganda suggest.

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