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Open Letter on the Third Anniversary of the Imprisonment of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

On the Occasion of the International Thai Studies Conference, Sydney, Australia, 24 April 2014

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender in Thailand. Since 2007, he has been the editor of Voice of Taksin magazine. He was arrested and taken into custody on 30 April 2011, and shortly thereafter charged with two violations of Article 112, which states that “whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”  In Somyot’s case, the charges were for allegedly allowing two articles with anti-monarchy content to be published in Voice of Taksin magazine.  Somyot was held for six months of pre-trial detention, and after beginning in 12 November 2011, the hearings in his trial continued until 3 May 2012. On January 23, 2012, the Criminal Court in Bangkok found Somyot guilty on both charges, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison in this case, as well as to one year in prison in relation to a prior case. At present, Somyot is appealing his verdict. Since he was first arrested and placed behind bars, like the majority of detainees under Article 112, Somyot has been consistently denied bail, despite 15 bail applications being submitted. On 30 April 2014, the third anniversary of his life behind bars, Somyot’s family and supporters will submit a sixteenth application for bail on his behalf.

As Thai and international scholars, journalists, activists and other observers attending gathered in Sydney for the 12th International Thai Studies Conference, we would like to take the opportunity to call attention to the third anniversary of Somyot’s imprisonment and call on the Thai Government to do the following:

1. Grant Somyot Prueksakasemsuk bail while he appeals his case;

2. Grant bail to all prisoners awaiting trial, awaiting decisions, or appealing under Article 112; and

3. Abolish Article 112.

 

Signed:

  1. Andrew Brown, University of New England
  2. Anusorn Unno, Thammasat University
  3. Bencharat Sae Chua, Mahidol University
  4. Bo Kyeong Seo, Australian National University
  5. Chalita Bundhuwong, Kasetsart University
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Craig Reynolds, Australian National University
  8. David Streckfuss, Independent Scholar
  9. Eugenie Merieau, National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) Paris
  10. Ian Baird, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  11. Jakkrit Sangkhamanee, Chulalongkorn University
  12. James L. Taylor, University of Adelaide
  13. Karin Zackari, Lund University
  14. Katsuyuki Takahashi, Waseda University  
  15. Nick Cheesman, Australian National University
  16. Noah Viernes, Akita International University
  17. Peter Jackson, Australian National University
  18. Peter Vandergeest, York University
  19. Philip Hirsch, University of Sydney
  20. Pinkaew Laungaramsri, Chiang Mai University
  21. Pongphisoot Busbarat, University of Sydney
  22. Preedee Hongsaton, Australian National University
  23. Rachel Harrison, School of Oriental and African Studies
  24. Samak Kosem, Chiang Mai University
  25. Simon Creak, Kyoto University
  26. Sirijit Sunanta, Mahidol University
  27. Thanavi Chotpradit
  28. Thongchai Winichakul, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  29. Thorn Pitidol, Thammasat University
  30. Tyrell Haberkorn, Australian National University
  31. Vanessa Lamb, York University
  32. Viengrat Nethipo, Chulalongkorn University
  33. Wanrug Suwanwattana, Thammasat University
  34. Wanwiphang Manachotphong, Thammasat University
  35. Yukti Mukdawijitra, Thammasat University