Another ludicrous and vindictive lese majeste trial has begun. On 16 June 2017, testimony began to be heard in the lese majeste case against Patnaree Chankij.
The case is ludicrous for several reasons. For one thing, it is an attempt to silence Patnaree’s son, anti-junta activist Sirawith Seritiwat. Second, the charge appears to relate to one word in a Facebook conversation about the monarchy: “ja.”
While the report linked here says that the word is initially translated as “yeah,” this is a misinterpretation that the military regime knows will be the court’s understanding. In fact, “ja” is a word used for all kinds of responses to statements by others and does not always imply agreement with anything at all.
Yet ludicrous lese majeste charges are “normal” for the military dictatorship as it seeks to manage Thailand as a royalist anti-democracy.
Patnaree is a single mother and a domestic worker and for her “ja” now stands “accused of insulting the monarchy, a crime known as lese majeste for which she could serve three to 15 years in prison.” She also faces charges under the Computer Crimes Act, another “law” that represses free speech in Thailand.
So far, Patnaree has maintained that she innocent on all the junta’s charges. She has “denied she had any intention to join in or endorse criticism of the monarchy in the conversation.” She adds: “I am fighting this charge to prove my innocence… My intention, my thought and the text that I wrote have already shown that I had no such idea (to defame the monarchy).”
The report states that the only “witness” heard on Friday was “an army officer who filed the complaint against her, laid out the details of the prosecution’s case.” The case is, like so many other lese majeste cases, a political persecution.