Possible Thai intrusion into American Constitutional Rights

Prachatai has been informed that in response to the Thai Ministry of Information and Communications Technology request to Facebook to remove 10,000 pages or URLs that are deemed by the Ministry to be offensive, an American citizen has formally written and delivered a request for investigation of the Thai request against the background of the Freedom of Information Act, the Speech Act of 2010, US constitutional safeguards and other laws relevant to free expression in a democratic society, to the US Department of Justice and foreign relations committees of both houses of Congress.

The delivered letter reads,

Carmen L. Mallon
Chief of Staff, Office of Information Policy
Department of Justice
Suite 11050, 1425 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
USA

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
446 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6225

Committee on Foreign Affairs
Contact the Committee on Foreign Affairs Republicans
2170 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
USA

Reference: Possible Thai intrusion into American Constitutional Rights

Dear DOJ, Honorable members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs:

In accordance with the FOIA, various anti-terrorism (including foreign libel claims) statutes, general and specific provisions of the Constitution of the United States of America, the Speech Act of 2010, and other state, federal and local legislation, I respectfully request urgent review and detailed investigation of an alleged request by Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap, Thailand’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, made directly to Facebook to delete 10,000 URLs or pages allegedly containing “pictures and messages offensive to the monarchy.” (Online reference to this submittal to Facebook is reported at http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/2913).

A long-time resident of Thailand, fluent in the language and familiar with its culture, I have witnessed, as have many thousands of others, an increasing and frightening abuse of Thailand’s Article 112 of the Criminal Code to stifle legitimate freedom of speech and expression. The latest request to Facebook appears to be a direct violation of my rights as an American citizen, and violation of the rights of all others to express offensive-to-some opinions on Facebook. To this end I write to you to ask for review of the Thai request, and to help ensure the safeguarding of constitutional protections that Facebook and its users are entitled to under the laws of the United States of America.

This is also to request that the United States government respectfully contact the government of the Kingdom of Thailand, through the Department of State or higher, for an explanation of the request, and to inform Thai authorities that as willing to cooperate in matters of mutual interest as Americans are, we value our right to express opinions, and to express the opinions of others, as a right that we will not relinquish domestically or to foreign powers.

Over the last decade, as is well documented at home and abroad, Thailand has enacted severe legislation, and increasingly enforced older legislation, that is officially claimed to ostensibly protect the country’s monarchy but which is most often implemented to prohibit meaningful discussion of issues vital to people living in a democratic society. Extending that domestic legislation into the heart of the American homeland and indeed, toward the very essence of our Bill of Rights, should not and can not be tolerated. Essentially it is an attack on our way of life, our national security, and our basic freedoms that have come increasingly under fire both domestically and abroad.

If such a request came from North Korea, or China, or Cuba, or Iran, we would dismiss it immediately. The fact that it comes from an ally with whom we have huge economic ties is hopefully not a deciding factor in this worrisome development.

I look forward to your kind investigation of this reported request from the Thai government, and assurances that the rights of Americans, our guests and our immigrants, as a free people will not be so easily squandered by demands from abroad.

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