Lèse majesté returns as an activist summoned, 11 more expected to follow

Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, a student activist who has been advocating monarchy reform, has received a police summons for violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crime Act. A list from a police source shows charges against 11 more activists are expected to follow.

Parit Chiwarak

Parit posted a photo of the summons which he received at his home on 24 November. The issue date is 23 November 2020 and the name of the plaintiff is Sudhep Silpa-ngam. The offence is not specified. The summons orders Parit to hear the charge at the Technology Crime Suppression Division on 1 December 2020.

As of 25 November, Parit has recieved 2 more summons from his speech at the protests on 19-20 September and 14 November. The former protest charge is to be heard at the police station and the latter one is the sedition law violation.

Parit’s Facebook post shows that he is not worried.

“To whoever is the mastermind in enforcing this Section. I want to tell you here that I am not in the least afraid.

“The ceiling has broken. There will be nothing able to cover us anymore.”

According to Matichon, Royal Thai Police Headquarters report that investigation officers in many areas have issued summonses to 12 leading figures of the current pro-democracy protesters for violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code:

  1. Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak
  2. Panussaya ‘Rung’ Sitthijirawattanakul
  3. Panupong ‘Mike’ Jadnok
  4. Anon Nampa
  5. Patsaravalee ‘Mind’ Tanakitvibulpon
  6. Chanin Wongsri
  7. Jutatip ‘Ua’ Sirikhan
  8. Piyarat ‘Toto’ Chongthep
  9. Tattep ‘Ford’ Ruangprapaikitseree
  10. Atthapol ‘Khru Yai’ Buapat
  11. Chukiat Saengwong
  12. Sombat Thongyoi

The reactivation of the lèse majesté law came after Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha  announced that every law would be used against the pro-democracy protesters after the protest in front of the Royal Thai Police HQ on 18 November.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the lèse majesté law has not been brought to the court since 2018. Lèse majesté charges have been replaced with charges for sedition (Section 116) and under the Computer Crime Act.  This comes after new procedures were introduced requiring the lèse majesté charges to receive prior vetting, unlike in the past where effectively anyone could file a complaint.

The lèse majesté law carries prison terms of 3-15 years for those found guilty of defaming, insulting, or threatening the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent.

The charges have been brought as the protesters planned to protest again on 25 November at the Crown Property Bureau (CPB). The area around the CPB was later reinforced with razor wire and surrounding roads were blocked by shipping containers. Around 6,000 police officers were deployed to secure the area.

Despite a coup denial from Gen Narongpan Jitkaewthae, the Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief, there have been reports that military forces are being mobilized in a suspicious way in connection with the CPB protest.

On 24 November, Khaosod English livestream found people sitting around the perimeter of the CPB in private clothes but with military or police haircuts. They refused to be interviewed at all. At 22.00 on the same day, 4 military vehicles were spotted at Mahanakhon intersection, carrying people in private clothes and with police/military haircuts.

The protesters then announced a change of the protest site to the Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) main office at Ratchayothin. SCB's main stakeholder is King Vajiralongkorn. The stocks were transferred from the CPB, the organization that controlled royal assets on behalf of monarchy, to His Majesty’s personal property along with many other assets in 2018 due to the changes enacted in the Crown Property Act.

Source: 
prachatai.com/journal/2020/11/90561

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