Three Years On: “Amnesty is the Only Way” (Da Torpedo)

Today marks the third anniversary of the incarceration of Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, alias ‘Da Torpedo’, on charges of lèse majesté. In 2008, Ms. Daranee was charged with making several remarks deemed to be lèse majesté in speeches on the stage of UDD rallies. She was convicted on three counts of insulting the King and Queen and given a six-year sentence on each count – in total, an 18 year sentence. The court did not allow for a suspension of her jail term.

Prachatai conducted this short interview with her in the lead-up to the anniversary. Given both the minimum allowed time period for interviews, so too the difficulty in hearing Daranee speak through the prison sound system, we publish this interview as close to Daranee’s meaning as possible; and thus omit direct quotation marks.

In recent weeks, there has been a change of government in Thailand. Do you think this will have any implications for political prisoners?

I'm calling for an amnesty for all political prisoners. We're fed up with the justice system, where there is no justice for political prisoners. Therefore, an amnesty is the only way. The new government brings new hope, but I'm not really part of the 'Thaksin-Yingluck' fan-club. Now that the UDD are in government, they have a responsibility to bring about real democracy. They must return to the people what they promised them - a real, democratic society that is open for all.

During the period of your incarceration, have your views on Thai politics changed?

During these three years, I have not reformed my views. I've held views on politics since I was a teenager… These have not changed.

But when I am released, however, I'll change my means of fighting. If I can be released and still have this strong vision, as I have had in the past, then I hope to open an 'ideas' institute, where people can discuss history, culture and political science more freely - in an open market of ideas.

Do you think of yourself as a revolutionary?

Yes, but a revolutionary in the sense that I call only for real democracy in Thailand.

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