Expat says he was almost deported over Facebook posts

PHOTO: Facebook: Yan Marchal

With the ongoing pro-democracy protests, some have raised question: What could happen to foreigners who get involved or speak out against Thai politics? Or post their thoughts on social media? Well, they could possibly get deported.

Expat Yan Marchal says he almost got kicked out of the country for posts he made on Facebook. Many of Yan’s recent Facebook posts are commentary relating to Thailand’s recent protests, although he has priors.

Yan says he was on a visa under his Board of Investment, or BOI, company, valid until next March. He went by immigration to transfer his stamp into a new passport, but was told that his visa had been revoked and was now on overstay, Yan wrote on Facebook.

“He told me that I would be deported. The reason given was my Facebook activity. I could see that he has a file with a detailed report on my posts, although he did not let me read the details.”

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Yan says he contacted Khaosod English. The news outlet got him in contact with the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. With the help of journalists and a lawyer, Yan met with another immigration inspector who told him that his visa was not cancelled, he will not be deported and the process for getting a new stamp in his passport would take a few days.

“The message that I felt the inspector was willing to deliver, although he would not own it, was that I had to be less opinionated on Facebook if I wanted to stay in Thailand. I was specifically asked to delete two posts, which I did.”

It’s not the first time his content caused trouble. Last year, he was visited by police after a video he made poking fun at the military junta – the National Council for Peace and Order. Yan made a public apology and the video was removed.

Thailand has been known to enforce online content that is considered critical of the monarchy or could incite unrest. In recent months, some activists have faced sedition charges for social media content that allegedly violates the Computer Crime Act.

Should Yan be deported? Was he wrong to post critical comments about Thailand? And the government?

SOURCES: Facebook | Coconuts Bangkok

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Caitlin Ashworth

Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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