Submitted on Sun, 28 Jan 2018 - 05:48 PM
An anti-junta activist has decided to flee Thailand after learning that she faces up to 15 years in prison for sharing a profile of the Thai King written by the BBC. She is the second person charged under the notorious lèse majesté law for sharing the story.
Chanoknan ‘Cartoon’ Ruamsap, an anti-junta activist and member of the New Democracy Group, has revealed on her Facebook page and to Prachatai that the police sent her a summons to hear a charge under Article 112, the lèse majesté law, for sharing an article by BBC Thai profiling King Vajiralongkorn.
Left: Chanoknan Ruamsap; right: the summons
Chanoknan said she received the summons on 16 Jan to report to Khan Na Yao Police Station, Bangkok, on 18 Jan. A military officer, Lt. Sombat Tangtha, filed a lèse majesté complaint against her, she said.
The activist said she was first confused as to why the police summoned her only in January when she had shared the story in December 2016 -- around the same time that Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa, a fellow anti-junta activist, shared the story and was almost immediately charged. On August 15, 2017, the court sentenced him to five years in prison but halved it due to his confession, for a total of two years and six months. During the trial, the court repeatedly denied his bail requests.
Chanoknan observed that the delay was due to an internal management problem of Khan Na Yao Police Station.
Chanoknan said she decided within 30 minutes after learning about the charge to flee Thailand to an Asian country. She asked Prachatai not to reveal the country where she is seeking refuge.
“After learning about this, almost everyone told me to leave. But in the end, it’s me who made the decision. The time I spent to decide was so short and quick. I had less than 30 minutes to decide whether to stay or to leave. What is difficult is the fact that I won’t return after this journey. Then I went to say goodbye to my father and mother. Everyone was shocked but agreed. No one wanted me to be in jail for five years merely for sharing a BBC news story,” Chanoknan writes on her Facebook page.
"On the first day I arrived here, I just cried because I saw no way out. Everything seems puzzling and confusing. I didn't know how to deal with things. I kept asking myself a question whether I made the right decision to flee or I should go back to jail and then afterwards I could meet family and friends like before. But I got the answer that I couldn't backtrack now."