PPT has said several times that it has little to offer on the standard reporting on the military state’s siege of Wat Dhammakaya.
That said, we were staggered to read the Bangkok Post and learn that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has filed complaints – essentially a charge – of sedition against Phra Sanitwong of the temple. Other charges against him include under the draconian computer crimes law for posting “false information” online.
Sedition means, in the Wikipedia view, “overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent (or resistance) to lawful authority.”
In Thailand under the the military junta, the definition is simpler: “opposing the military dictatorship.”
If convicted, sedition “is punishable by up to seven years in jail” while “the false information charge is punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht…”.
The idea that a monk who is not an ultra-nationalist nor a fascist could be accused of sedition for protecting his temple (whether he is right to do this or not) is quite mad.
The DSI has “also warned Phra Maha Tossaporn, a monk who appears to have taken over in recent days from Phra Sanitwong as the temple’s spokesman, that he could face the same sedition charge if he was not careful.”
What we don’t know is exactly what it is that Phra Sanitwong said. What, exactly, was his seditious claim? We are not told. We assume his crime is disagreeing with the military dolts who claim to run Thailand.
Update: The Bangkok Post reports that the king “has stripped the monastic rank of former Phra Dhammachayo” of Wat Dhammakaya. The move was proposed by the junta.
As we know nothing of religious affairs, we are confused by this. It seems unusual for the king to do this. In doing so, he is taking a political position and supporting the military dictatorship.
The Post describes the king’s action as a “symbolic step of removing the monastic rank came after he refused to appear to answer legal charges, following a two-week siege by thousands of military and police personnel.”
Symbolic and political.