Ultra-royalists rally at US Embassy to support lese majeste law

An ultra-royalist organisation and a pro-coup monk have organised rallies in front of the US embassy in Bangkok, calling the US and human rights groups not to criticise the lese majeste law and to send back people allegedly defaming the Thai monarchy believed to be in the US.  

At 1 pm on Thursday, 1 October 2015, Rienthong Nan-na, the leader of Rubbish Collection Organisation, an ultra-royalist group, and Buddha Issara, a pro-coup monk who is one of the key leaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the anti-election protesters, came to the US Embassy in central Bangkok to submit statements to the US government.

Around 40-50 royalists came to support both ultra-royalist figures in front of the embassy. The crowd put up portraits of the Thai Royal Couple and banners with messages to support the use of lese majeste and sedition law, which have been used increasingly after the 2014 coup d’état.    

In the statement of the Rubbish Collection Organisation addressing to the US president, Rienthong asked the US to repatriate Manu Chaichana, Chatwadee Amornpat, aka ‘Rose’, Sanae Tinsan, and others who are accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Crime Code, lese majeste law, back to the country.

Out of the three, however, Chatwadee Amornpat is residing in London, UK, not the US.

Ultra-royalists gathered in front of the US Embassy in Bangkok on 1 October to support the use of the lese majeste law while calling the US and Human Rights Watch not to criticise the law and intervene in Thai politics (courtesy of Voice TV21)

In addition to the repatriation request, the ultra-royalist organisation states that people who defamed the revered Thai monarchy violated ‘human rights’ of Thailand’s Royal Family and are destroying the stability of the nation.

“There are continuing efforts to publicise information aimed at destroying the Thai monarchy. If the US government upholds human rights principles, then they should think of human rights of the Thai Royal Family as well,” wrote the statement.

The group added “the lese majeste law is necessary for protecting human rights of the Thai monarchy because the monarchy is a pillar of Thai society.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the group posted a statement on their facebook page against Sunai Phasuk, a well known researcher of Human Rights Watch (HRW), an international human rights advocacy, saying that he is a ‘fake’ human rights defender for he fail to protect human rights of the Thai monarchy.       

At around the same time on Thursday, the pro-coup monk, Buddha Issara also submitted a similar statement to the embassy.

In details, the monk mentioned in the statement that the US and HRW should stop intervening in Thai politics and calling on the Thai junta to amend ‘Articles 112 and 116’ of ‘the Constitution’. He referred to Article 112 as the law to protect the revered Thai monarchy from defamation and insults.

In fact, the Interim Constitution implemented after the 2014 coup only has 48 articles and Articles 112 and 116 of the previous 2007 Constitution have nothing to do with the Thai monarchy, but concern the election process of members of parliament and the prohibition against senators holding other political posts. Therefore, it is likely that the monk is referring to Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste and sedition laws, which have been widely used against political dissidents since the coup.

In the message which Buddha Issara posted on his facebook page on Monday to call on his supporters to march to the US Embassy at 1 pm on 1 October, he also claimed that he would only go to the embassy, but not the HRW’s office, which he said is in the UN Headquarter in Bangkok, because HRW was established by the US government.

In fact, Human Rights Watch has no office in Bangkok and is an independent civil society organisation, which monitors human rights situations worldwide.

The protesters holding banners in front of the US Embassy read “HRW is biased and misinformed” and “stop undermining Thai monarchy” (courtesy of iLaw)

Buddha Issara is one of the most popular faces of the PDRC, who in early 2014 led the PDRC protesters to camp out and occupy the government complex in the outskirts of Bangkok. The monk was then well known for his daily negotiations with heads of various governmental units, who came to ask him to authorize permission to reclaim their buildings.

The 58-year-old monk stunned the public in February 2014 when he led a group of protesters to SC Park Hotel, owned by the Shinawatra family, and requested the management to pay a “loss of time” fee to the tune of 120,000 baht after the hotel manager refused to let the group stay at the hotel.