Human Right Watch has demanded that:
Thai authorities [the military junta] should immediately release a prominent pro-democracy activist charged for a Facebook posting under laws intended to protect Thailand’s monarchy, Human Rights Watch said today. Jatupat (Pai) Boonphatthararaksa faces up to 15 years in prison for lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) charges initiated by the military.
Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director states:
The charges against Jatupat show the Thai junta’s misuse of lese majeste laws to persecute dissenters against military rule…. Thailand’s military rulers have aggressively clamped down on any speech they find objectionable, including what they arbitrarily deem is critical of the monarchy.
HRW point out that:
Jatupat, who is a 25-year-old student activist affiliated with the Dao Din Movement and the New Democracy Movement (NDM), was arrested on December 3. Although more than 2,800 people had “shared” the article on the internet at the time of Jatupat’s arrest, he was the only person Thai authorities charged with lese majeste.
The case against him “was triggered by a complaint filed by an army officer from the 23rd Military Circle in Khon Kaen Province.” Clearly, that officer acted to “rid” the Army of an “irritant” and to “warn” other activists that they can also be subject to the junta’s arbitrary “laws” and subject to arrest and jailing.
That military unit in Khon Kaen “has arrested him many times for holding public protests and other peaceful activities to oppose the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta and demand a transition to democratic civilian rule.”
… the Khon Kaen provincial court revoked his bail, ruling that he had made other Facebook comments satirizing the authorities, and failed to delete his original post of the king’s profile. The court has since repeatedly denied Jatupat’s bail requests.
HRW quotes some international law to the junta but knows that the military dictatorship thumbs its nose at such legal notions, preferring to make up “law” to suit itself.
HRW also suggests modifications to the lese majeste law, but this is whistling in the wind. In any case, modifying a political law is pointless; just get rid of it.
They are right to say:
The glaring injustice of Jatupat’s lese majeste case has been made even worse by his prolonged pre-trial detention…. Instead of punishing him before trial, the charges against him should be dropped immediately.