TikTok user charged with royal defamation over video clip

A TikTok user faces charges under the lèse majesté law and the Computer Crimes Act for a video clip criticizing the Thai government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lalita Meesuk (right) arriving at the Nang Loeng Police Station

Lalita Meesuk, a TikTok user from Kalasin, reported to Nang Loeng Police Station today (20 May), in response to a police summons two weeks ago on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. She was informed today that she also faces a charge under the Computer Crimes Act.

The complaint against Lalita was filed by Apiwat Kantong, a lawyer for the Office of the Prime Minister, after she posted a short video clip on the popular social media platform TikTok criticising the Thai government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apiwat previously filed a Section 112 charge against Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for a Facebook live session on 18 January 2021, during which he questioned the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Lalita explained that the platform allows users to reply to comments with short video clips, and that she was replying to a pro-government user who sent her the message “Right, because you bitch have done so much.” She posted a video clip in reply in which she said “It’s not as much a favour as a person who takes the people’s money and gives it back to the people. But why do we need to show appreciation for royal grace?”

Lalita insisted that there was nothing to do with the monarchy in her video clips and that she was only criticising the government, but said that it was possible that her wording was misinterpreted.

After spending two hours in the inquiry process, Lalita was released and not taken into temporary detention. She denied all charges and has to report to the public prosecutor on 13 July.

“What I’m feeling today is mostly anger that he used the law as a weapon to hurt me, even though he is also a lawyer. He shouldn’t be acting like this. What I said was nothing wrong. I said it because I want things to get better,” Lalita told reporters after leaving the police station.

She said that she sees the use of Section 112 as weaponizing the law, but that she is not worried about having to face charges, as she believes that she did nothing wrong but that her intention was misunderstood.

“The country is being ruined not because of what I said. It’s being ruined because they themselves are using it and ruining it. The ones ruining it are not us but them. In the end, the things that are issued, like court orders and summonses, they have almost no meaning,” Lalita said. “What they are doing, how long have they been doing it? And has anything got better? 5 years ago, 10 years ago, how many people did this happen to? So today, has the number got any smaller? It’s increasing instead, so is what they are doing going the right way?

“They should take what we are talking about to fix things, and not look what we say as a problem, and write it down as a problem and then throw it in the garbage. The problem is not what is said. They are not doing it right. They won’t succeed if they keep acting like this.”

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