Activist now facing 20 lèse majesté charges

Student activist Parit Chiwarak is now facing 20 counts under the lèse majesté law, after complaints were filed against him for Facebook posts he made about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, and the use of Sanam Luang for funerals.

Parit reported to the TCSD on 15 June to hear his charges (Picture from Parit's Facebook page)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Parit went to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday (15 June) to hear the charges, after complaints were filed against him by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens, claiming in one post that they have filed complaints with the TCSD against 90 people for posts made on Queen Suthida’s birthday which they see as insulting against the Queen.

The complaints against Parit were filed on 11 January 2021 and are related to two Facebook posts he made in December 2020. The first was on 8 December 2020 about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, who now lives in the United States in exile with her four sons. 

He also called for Princess Sirivannavari, the King's younger daughter, not to use taxpayer’s money to promote her fashion brand, and included in the post a link to a voice clip rumoured to be that of the king saying “I know I’m bad.”

The second post was on 31 December 2020 and mentioned how funerals are allowed to be held at Sanam Luang but people are not allowed to sell shrimp, referring to the shrimp sale organized by the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer on 31 December 2020 which was dispersed by police.

Since the reign of King Rama I, which began in 1782, the area now known as Sanam Luang has been used as cremation sites for the funerals of kings, queens, and high-ranking members of the royal family.

Parit faces charges under the lèse majesté law, or Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, and the Computer Crimes Act. He denied all charges and requested that Sujarinee and her sons be brought in as witnesses and to have them testify on why they had to leave the country, who is involved in their exile, and whether they wish to return to Thailand.

This is Parit’s 20th count under the lèse majesté law. According to TLHR, at least 100 people are now facing lèse majesté charges since November 2020, 8 of whom are less than 18 years old.

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