17-year-old activist indicted on lèse majesté charge

A 17-year-old activist became the first person under the age of 18 to be indicted under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, after he was charged for a speech given at a protest on 6 December 2020.

Thanakorn (Picture from TLHR)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Thanakorn (last name withheld) reported to the Central Juvenile and Family Court on Monday (24 May), and was informed that the public prosecutor has already filed a case against him on 9 April 2021.

According to TLHR, he is facing charges for a speech given at the 6 December 2020 protest at Wong Wian Yai, in which he said that Thailand is not a democracy but an absolute monarchy. He also spoke about the role of the monarchy in military coups and called for national reform. The public prosecutor stated that the content of the speech was an accusation against the King, is not factual, and is insulting to the King.

Thanakorn currently faces 5 charges for his involvement in pro-democracy protests, which include 2 Section 112 charges, two sedition charges under Section 116, and 2 charges for violation of the Emergency Decree. According to TLHR, he is the first minor to be indicted under Section 112 since the law started to be used against pro-democracy activists in November 2020. 

Activists Chukiat Sangwong and Wanwalee Thammasattaya also face charges for their involvement in the same protest. Chukiat is currently detained pending trial on another Section 112 charge, and has been in prison since 23 March. Wanwalee was detained pending trial on 27 April 2021, but was granted bail on 7 May 2021.

At least 92 people are facing charges under Section 112 for expressing their political opinions, at least 7 of whom are minors. Several protest leaders are also facing several counts on this charge, such as Parit Chiwarak, who is facing 20 counts, Anon Nampa, who is facing 13 counts, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, who is facing 9 counts, and Panupong Jadnok, who is facing 8 counts.

Anon and Panupong are currently detained pending trial on a Section 112 charge for their involvement in the 19 September 2020 protest at Sanam Luang. Anon has been in prison since 9 February 2021, while Panupong has been in prison since 8 March 2021.

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