The South Bangkok Criminal Court ruled yesterday that a student activist charged with lèse majesté who was barred from studying abroad in Germany earlier this month will now be allowed to study there. The activist, Rawisara Eksakul, nicknamed “Dear”, won a prestigious scholarship for a Master of Management in Non-Profit Organisations. The court was told that Ms Rawisara holds a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, which she will lose if she fails to begin her classes by April 4.
“Lèse-majesté (“to do wrong to majesty”) in Thailand is a crime according to Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. It is illegal to defame, insult, or threaten the monarch of Thailand (the king, queen, heir-apparent, heir-presumptive or regent). Modern Thai lèse-majesté law has been on the statute books since 1908. Thailand is the only constitutional monarchy to have strengthened its lèse-majesté law since World War II.”
Dear was charged with lèse majesté when she read a statement in German in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok in 2020 during the protests that year. When Dear first applied to leave the country for a prestigious scholarship program, the court rejected the application. The court claimed Dear might try to evade trial, and it couldn’t be sure she would comply with proposed conditions in Germany. The court also said it would be hard for Dear’s parents and guarantor to ‘control’ her.
Yesterday’s ruling followed Dear’s 7th appeal to be allowed to leave Thailand to pursue her studies. The ruling took over four hours of deliberation. She is allowed to travel to Germany on the condition that she does not engage in any further activities that would affect the monarchy, whether in Thailand or Germany.
She intends to study in Germany until 2024. Dear’s scholarship is from the German Academic Exchange Service, under a program for postgraduate courses. One German ambassador told Dear her scholarship was a big accomplishment.
“This is a big achievement to be proud of – only promising and excellent university students qualify for a long time scholarship”.
The organisation Thai Lawyers for Human Rights claims that at least 127 people were facing lese majeste charges as of the end of 2021.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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