Tag Archives: thailand

My friend in Thailand, may you be free

‘Prachatai’ means “free people” in Thai. Prachatai calls itself an online newspaper, with Thai and English versions. You can see the English version here. Prachatai in the Thai internet universe is a bit like this website, Kafila, only a lot more popular. Prachatai’s webmaster, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, is facing trial for comments posted on the site that allegedly violated Thailand’s lese majeste (insulting the monarch) laws. While the lese majeste charges against the person who wrote that comment have been dropped, Chiranuch is still being charged under lese majeste and other laws, including ‘intermediary liability’ laws. Intermediary liability laws in relation to internet freedom mean that if you post a comment on my site that violates the law, I too will be charged as having abetted the crime. India’s cyber crime laws were amended some time ago to remove the intermediary clause, not because the Government of India was concerned about free speech, but because of Ebay India, whose head was charged and arrested when a user uploaded a pornographic ‘MMS’ on Ebay India that featured minors.

I first met Chiranuch at an social media workshop in Thailand, and then again last September in Budapest, Hungary, at a Google conference on internet freedom across the world. It is curcuial to note that upon her return from Budapest, she was arrested, given bail for a very high bail amount, and fresh new charges – and a lot of them – were added against her – clearly, they don’t like her talking about internet freedom. If convicted, she faces up to 50 years in jail! See here an article in The Economist. The trial began today, 4 February, a few hours ago.

Chiranuch could easily have escaped Thailand and taken asylum elsewhere by now. She hasn’t done that because she is consciously fighting a battle for freedom of expression in Thailand. She didn’t want to run away because it would have discouraged, rather than encouraged, that crucial fight.

One expresses solidarity with her, one hopes she is free, and that her case becomes the turning point in the fight from democracy and democratic rights in Thailand. Above all, one salutes her courage. For those who are interested in the details, given below are notes from the Thai Netizen Network.

Continue reading My friend in Thailand, may you be free

Building, dead bodies and the emergency decree in Thailand

This is a guest post with photographs by ANON.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Activists and people in the red shirt movement organized the event Building, dead bodies and the emergency decree at the memorial “14 October 1973”, a memorial built to remember those who died fighting against the dictator on that date.  This event was organized to raise funds to help the victims and their families, affected by the Thai government crack down during the pro-democracy Red Shirt Political protests in April 2010 and May 2010. Continue reading Building, dead bodies and the emergency decree in Thailand

Thailand – Two Elites and a Proletariat: Satya Sagar

A guest post by SATYA SAGAR

The two month long street protests in Bangkok by thousands of ‘red shirt’ opponents of the Abhisit Vejajiva government demanding fresh elections and the violence that followed has been described as the worst conflict Thailand has ever faced in its modern history. It left in its wake at least 88 dead, hundreds injured and close to US$2 billion worth of property destroyed, the toll being much worse in all aspects than previous political violence of October 1976 and May 1992.

Much of the loss of life and damage came in mid-May when the army brutally cracked down on the protestors using trained snipers and war weapons to take on street protestors armed mostly with slingshots, burning tyres and Molotov cocktails. Angry, retreating protestors in turn set fire to over two dozen buildings in Bangkok including Central World, the second largest shopping mall in South East Asia.

Continue reading Thailand – Two Elites and a Proletariat: Satya Sagar

The use of “Lese majeste” in Thailand against freedom of speech

Lese majeste literally means an offense or crime committed against the ruler or supreme power of a state – or, in other words, the crime of dissent. In Thailand, this provision is routinely used to silence any form of criticism of the government.

A recent case that has been brought to our attention is that of Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, from the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He is facing Lese Majeste charges for writing a book A Coup for the Rich, which criticised the 2006 military coup. He also wrote an article on the coup for Asia Sentinel. Others who have been accused of Lese Majeste are former government minister Jakrapop Penkae, who asked a question at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Bangkok, about exactly what kind of Monarchy they have in Thailand. There is also the case of Chotisak Oonsung, a young student who failed to stand for the King’s anthem in the cinema. Apart from this there are the cases of Da Topedo and Boonyeun Prasertying. In addition to those who opposed the coup, the BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, an Australian writer names Harry Nicolaides and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa are also facing charges. The latest person to be thrown into jail and refused bail is Suwicha Takor, who is charged with Lese Majeste for surfing the internet. The Thai Minister of Justice has called for a blanket ban on reporting these cases in the Thai media. The mainstream Thai media are obliging. Thus there is a medieval style witch hunt taking place in Thailand with secret trials in the courts.

A petition of protest in support of Giles is available here.