Former MP faces sedition charge against Thai government
A former Pheu Thai Party MP faces criminal charges of sedition after a complaint was made to police saying he is whipping up hate against the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha government for suggesting the political climate in Thailand is similar to that of Sri Lanka and the UK.
In a highly-charged week in global politics, anarchy broke out on the streets of Sri Lanka, due to food and fuel shortages, forcing the nation’s president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to flee for his life. Meanwhile, in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s turbulent tenure came to an end after a revolt within his ruling Conservative Party forced him to stand down.
And in Thailand, Sonthiya Sawasdee, a former adviser to the House committee on law, justice, and human rights, filed a complaint of sedition against former Pheu Thai MP Tossaporn Srirak.
Sonthiya urged police to launch an investigation into Tossaporn because he believes his Facebook post “Do you want it like the UK or Sri Lanka?” could be interpreted as a call for unlawful insurrection against PM Prayut and his government.
As if anarchy wasn’t enough, a new charge of royal defamation was filed against an anti-monarchist.
Picture of Weha Saenchonchanasuek courtesy of Ginger Cat.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that Weha Saenchonchanasuek visited the police’s cybercrime division this week to acknowledge and contest his third charge of royal defamation after more complaints were lodged to police by a group of hardline royalists.
The 37 year old was released after questioning without having to post any bail. Previous Section 112 charges, or lèse majesté, against the activist, saw him imprisoned for about 100 days earlier this year before the court granted him bail release in June.
Royal defamation, or lèse majesté, is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Weha’s latest royal defamation charge is because he posted sarcastic remarks about a court verdict in March that sentenced a man named Narin to three years in jail for placing a sticker on a public portrait of King Vajiralongkorn.
The court jailed Narin because his actions showed disrespect toward the monarch. Weha also posted a photo of himself standing next to the empty frame of a King Vajiralongkorn portrait, prompting the charge.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights revealed that over 200 people have been charged under lèse majesté since the authorities came down hard on street protests calling for reforms to the monarchy laws in November 2020.
A group of Thai activists on Wednesday petitioned the United Nations office in Bangkok to urge its human rights commissioner to look into the widespread jailing of people under the lèse majesté laws.
One of the petitioners, Pakkavadee Veerapaspong, reported that 23 people are currently in Thailand jails because of the royal defamation laws.
Pakkavadee called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to remind the Thai government of its obligation to international treaties on rights to fair trial and freedom of expression.
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