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Human Rights Watch calls on Thailand to release activists detained on lèse majesté charges

Tanutam Thawan

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Facebook_เพนกวิน - พริษฐ์ ชิวารักษ์_Parit_Chiwarak

The Human Rights Watch is calling on Thai authorities to release pro-democracy activists who are detained on lèse majesté charges which carry an up to 15 year prison sentence for insulting the Thai Monarchy. HRW says the charges should be dropped because the activists’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly have been violated.

2 of the detained activists, both students at Thammasat University, have been on a hunger strike as a form of protest against their pre-trial detention. Parit Chiwarak has been on a hunger strike for 35 days and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul has been on the strike for 21 days. HRW says the 2 activists should be released and transferred to a hospital for medical supervision.

HRW Asia director Brad Adams says Thai authorities should immediately drop the cases against Parit, Panusaya as well as others who were “unjustly charged for their peaceful pro-democracy protests, but at a minimum, they should be released on bail.”

“Holding activists in detention prior to trial and conviction, which could be years away, seems aimed to unfairly punish them rather than fulfill a legitimate state interest.”

Back in February, Parit along with 3 other prominent activists Arnon Nampha, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem, were ordered to pre-trial detention for charges related to their actions in the pro-democracy movement. Last month, Panusaya and 2 other democracy activists, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, and Panupong Jadnok, were ordered by the Bangkok Criminal Court into pre-trial detention for lèse majesté charges relating to speeches demanding monarchy reform at a September rally.

Under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, insulting or defaming the Thai Monarchy carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison. The activists were also charged with sedition under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, which carries a punishment of up to 7 years in prison.

The activists have been denied bail and the HRW says they could end up being detained for years until their trial is concluded. HRW says holding the activists in pre-trial detention on lèse majesté charges violates their rights under international human rights law.

With the rise of the student-led pro-democracy movement, the number of lèse majesté charges has increased over the past year. For nearly 3 years prior, lèse majesté prosecutions never made it to court. Over the past year, 82 people have faced lèse majesté charges for actions at rallies or on social media related to the pro-democracy movement. Adams calls it a “witch hunt.”

“The Thai government should stop this witch hunt against peaceful dissenters and demonstrate respect for human rights by permitting all viewpoints… The government should engage with United Nations experts and others about amending the lèse majesté law to bring it into compliance with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations.”

SOURCE: Human Rights Watch

 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    Looks like he’s getting three meals a day by the look of his waistline………some people have all the luck

  2. Avatar

    sam

    Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    Human Rights Watch is rather bias against some powerful nations,but always go around the world attacking other countries on their laws.Each country has its own laws and the United Nations cannot interfere. However,some arrogant and powerful nations will impose counter-productive sanctions that will aggravate the situation than resolve it.

  3. Avatar

    Wayno

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:41 am

    JM-Looks like he has just been finger printed in the photo, so i presume that is a library photo from one of his arrests before he started his hunger strike protest.
    ANY pressure from ANYONE regarding the crazy 112 law should be welcomed from anyone that considers themselves civilised.
    Well done HRW

  4. Avatar

    Jonathan

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 6:09 am

    Americans interfering again with internal affairs of another countries? Should make a stop to them. Let this piggy lose some weight there 🙂 he deserved it for making unrest in this peaceful country.

  5. Avatar

    Slugger

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Really? HRW are they really relevant these days? Are there any criminals guilty in their eyes?

  6. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Very commendable, but what good do Human Rights Watch do?
    True belly aching about human rights abuses will do a little good, but the people who commit human rights abuses may take the attitude, sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.
    I doubt the PM Prayut even bothers to read HRW objections.
    Journalism can alert the world to human rights abuses just as well. Why is there a need for this organisation to be paid to do so?
    John Wayne said in Legend of the lost: “Do gooders usually do themselves a bit of good too.”
    In 2020 Human rights watch had an annual budget of $86.000.000
    $9.285.543 of it was spent on management and general.
    HRW has 275 staff members around the world. Does that mean $33765 is spent on each member of staff? I doubt it in places like China, Burma, Malaysia.
    Where does the money go? to the executives?
    Just what Asia Director Brad Adams is paid is buried in the accounts and unobtainable.
    Human rights watch have net assets of $205.522.881.
    Instead of bleating: “tut tut, Naughty naughty, you should not do that, please don’t do that.” There should arm the Karens, Kachins Shans Arakan Army in Burma to drive murderous dictators out.
    But they will not because they do not like to spend money on anything, apart from maintaining their useless, lame, feeble, ineffectual organisation.
    IMHO

  7. Avatar

    Ian

    Friday, April 23, 2021 at 2:27 am

    Jonathan it’s people like you that make me so angry your a fool in a land run by fools you want these people to be quiet while the military dictatorship ruins this beautiful country the youth of thailand want change remember your just a guest and always will be on a 90 day report

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