Thai junta to diplomats: lèse majesté is 'cultural offense'

Khaosod English:  A spokesperson for Thailand's military junta explained to a group of foreign dignitaries today that the Kingdom's lese majeste law is needed to protect the "feelings" of the Thai people.

Thailand’s lese majeste law, the strictest of its kind in the world, criminalizes criticism of the monarchy with up to 15 years in prison. Since seizing power in a coup d'etat on 22 May 2014, the ruling junta has rigorously enforced the law to crackdown on perceived "anti-monarchists," granting martial courts jurisdiction over lese majeste cases. Human rights groups say the law is abused to silence critics and political enemies.
 
Wednesday, a spokesperson for the junta told a conference of foreign military attaches from 25 countries that lese majeste violations "affect the hearts of many Thai people." He insisted that prosecuting lese majeste offenders does not constitute a violation of human rights.
 
"They attempt to destroy the identity, tradition, and culture of Thailand," Col Winthai Suvaree said. "Therefore, we have to give priority to solving these problems."