Phatanachai Sakawi, President of the Blind Society Association of Thailand, has gone to Thungmahamek Police Station in Bangkok to report an allegedly lèse majesté comment posted by someone older who also has a visibility impairment. This is the second time that he has accused another blind person of an alleged lèse majesté offence.
Thungmahamek Police Station
The first time, a blind Muslim woman was sentenced to 1 year in jail for violating the Computer Crime Act.
Khumklao Songsomboon of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the lawyer in the new case, said on 9 June that the police summons had been delayed until 25 June because the notice was too short and the suspect was a blind person in another province.
Khumklao said that he could not reveal any details without the permission of the suspect. Prachatai is trying to reach the person for more detail.
All Khumklao could say was that TLHR received a request for help from a blind person. And apart delaying the police summons, he was preparing a bail request in case of detention.
“In case of disabled people, the consideration of security should take into consideration their status and their disability,” said Khumklao. “The right to bail is everyone’s right and the chance that a person who is disabled will flee is more limited that people who are physically capable.”
Phatanachai Sakawi, who reported the case to police, told Prachatai that the suspect was his senior when he was studying in a school in Surat Thani.
Phatanachai said he acted because in 2020 the suspect shared a comment critical of Queen Suthida in a post by Nipit Intarasombat, a former MP of the Democrat Party. With the help of an electronic text-reader, he heard the comment in full while in the jurisdiction of Thungmahamek Police Station.
He thought that criticism of the monarchy, including calls for monarchy reform, was okay, but it should also have boundaries. He agreed that 3-15 years in jail was long, but the jail term should be reduced in proportion to the criticism of the monarchy – that is it should be based on reasons, facts, and politeness.
“It has no effect to people who keep quiet,” said Phatanachai.
Not long after King Bhumibol passed away in 2016, Phatanachai, then named Phiphatanachai, filed a charge against Nurhayati Masoh, a Muslim woman who shared content critical of monarchy. She was 23 years old at the time.
On 4 January 2018, she was sentenced to 1 year and 6 months in jail for violating the lèse majesté law. Three weeks later, Nurhayati was released on bail while considering an appeal. Neither Nurhayati nor her lawyer knew who bailed her out. She was re-arrested in March 2018. This time she was sentenced to 1 year in jail for violating the Computer Crime Act, starting from the date of her detention.