Submitted on Wed, 24 Jan 2018 - 06:43 PM
A royalist academic said he had no other choice but to petition the King to encourage the junta to end a prosecution against him for lèse majesté.
After a military prosecutor dropped a royal defamation charge against Sulak Sivaraksa, the renowned social critic and historian posted on 24 January on his Facebook page an article entitled “Lessons from the latest political lawsuit of S. Sivarak.”
“I had no other choice so I petitioned His Majesty the King, who by His royal grace advised the government to end the lawsuit,” stated Sulak in his article.
The historian explained that he was accused of lèse majesté for questioning the accuracy of an ancient story about a Thai king’s elephant battle. The accusation spurred human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to urge the ruling junta to drop the charges.
In the face of the junta’s rejection of these pleas, Sulak had no choice but to ask Rama X for help. Sulak explained that under constitutional monarchies, the King, as head of state, can advise the government on issues related to royal affairs.
Sulak argued further that Thailand’s lèse majesté law, or Article 112 of the Criminal Code, should not be used to prosecute those who criticise past kings. Such prosecutions prevent Thai people from discussing their own history.
Sulak urged the junta to release those convicted under Article 112 during the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign.
Sulak, a self-proclaimed moderate royalist, has always said that he wishes to see Thailand’s monarchy prosper alongside democratic values. He has repeatedly called for the abolition of the lèse majesté law, reasoning that the law harms the royal institution, rather than protecting it.
On the day he was acquitted, Sulak told media that, “I believe the barami (glory) of the King protected me. The King did so many things behind the scenes. In my case, if not for [the King’s] barami, I would not be freed, because the Prime Minister is a jerk and is someone who never thinks of doing anything courageous. He is scared. If not for royal barami, my case would never end.”