About 35 democratic groups in Thailand and abroad have aggregated to set up Democracy Networks (DNs) to launch campaigns and activities to call for the cancellation of Article 112 and the freeing of 220 Thai prisoners who have been charged under the lèse majestè law. A seminar and operational plan meeting was organized on April 3, 2011 to exchange knowledge and information about Article 112 and brainstorm to formulate an action plan.
The meeting received considerable interest from representatives of red shirts in many provinces across Thailand (e.g., Satun, Patthalung, Ratchaburi, Singburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pathumthani, Bangkok, Samutsakorn, Samutsongkhram, Samutprakan, Chonburi, Trat, Lopburi, Nakhonratchasima, Ubonratchathani, Udonthani, Nakhonsawan, Phayao, Lampang, Chiangrai) and various groups (e.g., the 24 Mituna Prachatippatai, Red Siam, Eastern Red, Social Moves, Cha-am Red Power, Palung Ying, Red Comrade, the representatives from labor union, lawyers, teachers, artists, monks, Student Confederation of Thailand, LA Ally, and Red Liberal German).
In the morning session, two invited speakers, Assistant Professor Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Associate Professor Dr. Pichit Likitkijsomboon, discussed about Article 112 (details cannot be described here). The afternoon session was moderated by Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Dr. Sunai Julapongsathorn, and Dr.Pongsak Phusitsakul. Participants exchanged views and expressed their opinions about Article 112 and reached strong agreement to conduct several activities in parallel with heavy campaigns to cancel Article 112.
As part of the action plan, the DNs will provide more information to people in Thai society to have the right perception and understanding about Article 112 and its severe enforcement and the use of punishment as an efficient tool of the dictatorship. Information about Article 112 will be prepared and distributed to the public through seminars, stage speeches, street-rally campaigns, articles published in various media, such as CD-ROMs, leaflets, posters, brochures, etc.
One of the planned activities is to expand the anti-112 network to local areas across Thailand to seek more allies to cooperate and jointly sign the petition for the cancellation of the article. According to the current Thai Constitution, people can submit a petition with at least 10,000 signatures for a specific purpose/demand through the parliamentary system for consideration.
The second topic discussed in the afternoon session was to help Surachai Danwattananusorn (the Red Siam leader) and 220 prisoners who have been charged under the lèse majestè law.
Surachai’s wife told the meeting that her husband's mental condition was good, but his physical condition was not good because of his age and the environment in the prison. Surachai’s latest petition asking for bail has been rejected, and now he feels that he will probably never be released. His wife said that her husband had written a will and given it to her in case he died in prison.
'Liberate the people, Abolish Article 112'
The DNs seriously discussed about what the networks could do to help Surachai and other prisoners facing similar charges.
In conclusion, three activities will be conducted, including 1) writing to the international human rights organizations to ask for help to free all Thai prisoners who are charged with lèse majestè; 2) writing to Surachai to give him moral supports and organizing a campaign to invite the public to write to Surachai at Red Shirt demonstrations and other relevant events; and 3) writing articles to provide information about Article 113 to the public.
For the upcoming May 19 this year, the DNs plans to organize stage speeches about Article 112 and run a campaign to free lèse majestè prisoners. The action plan will be discussed in detail among representatives of all groups under the network.