Govt official files royal defamation complaint over Harry Potter protest speech

Apiwat Kantong, vice minister of the Office of the Prime Minister, filed a complaint today (5 August) against human rights lawyer Anon Nampa accusing him of defaming the monarchy in his speech at the Harry Potter-themed protest on Monday (3 August), during which he called for monarchy reform and open criticism of the crown.

Anon Numpa during his speech at the rally on Monday (3 August). 
(Source: The Isaander)

Apiwat filed his complaint today at the Samranrat Police Station against Anon, bringing to the police documents, audio clips, and video clips of the protest as evidence. He accused Anon and other unnamed supporters of the protest of violating the Emergency Decree and other criminal laws, defaming the monarchy in his rally speech, and of intending to damage the monarchy and create division in the country. 

During his speech at the rally on Monday, Anon spoke directly about the need to reform the monarchy, and called for open criticism of the crown. He pointed out that many legislative changes meant that the monarchy now has power beyond what is allowed in a constitutional monarchy, and that this is an issue that must be discussed seriously, publicly, and respectfully, so that a solution can be reached.

“Talking like this is not overthrowing the monarchy, but it is for the monarchy to exist in Thai society with legitimacy in accordance with the democratic system of government with the monarch as head of state,” Anon said during his speech.

Under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, or Article 112 of the Criminal Codes, criticizing the monarchy is punishable with a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

Anon posted on his Facebook today that “It is important and necessary to talk about the expansion of the power of the monarchy because so that the society can ask questions and find solutions to the country’s problems together, because the country does not belong to just one person but to all of us.

“If this political fight is successful and resulted in the monarchy being truly above politics and under the constitution, the benefits of the fight will be for every Thai citizens, including this group of people who is filing charges against me.”

Pol Col Ittipol Pongthorn, superintendent of the Samranrat Police Station, said that they will be investigating the evidence submitted to them and will be forwarding the cast to the Chana Songkhram Police Station, since the protest took place under the Chana Songkhram Police’s jurisdiction.