An example to other activists

A Prachatai story on the continuing refusal of bail to activist student Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa begins:

While the government was humiliated at the UN’s ICCPR meeting in Geneva for serious human right violations, at home a Thai court has again refused to release a student activist who has become a posterchild of the pro-democracy movement.

He’s also a “posterchild” for the junta; an example of what can happen to anyone who opposes the junta’s regime.

Of course, there are plenty of others who deserve to have their lese majeste and sedition and computer crimes and anti-junta charges and jailing protested and given a political stage, not least those who are from classes other than those represented by student activists.

Jatuphat’s case is highlighted because he’s a university student of the middle class but also because it is clear that lese majeste is a tool being used by the military dictatorship to repress its political opponents. Joined at the hip to an unpopular king, the junta’s legitimacy and longevity is tied to that of the new monarch. Jatuphat’s jailing is a constant reminder to others of the middle class and other students that they should shut up and accept authoritarian royalism.

On 13 March 2017, for a seventh time, Khon Kaen’s Provincial Court “rejected a 700,000 baht bail bid by Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).”

The court remains miffed that “the activist had mocked the authority of the state without fear of the law” and added that he “faces other charges for violating the Public Referendum Act and the junta’s political gathering ban in connection with his previous political activities.”

He is an example to others: don’t mess with the military junta!

As a reminder, the story adds these details:

Jatuphat is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He is the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King.

Shortly after he was arrested for lèse majesté on 3 December 2016, the court released him on bail. However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking the authorities on his Facebook account. The message read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”

Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.

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