Activist indicted on royal defamation charge for monarchy reform speech

Student activist Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon has been indicted on a royal defamation charge related to a speech she gave at a protest on 24 March 2021, in which she said that the monarchy must reform itself in order to survive. 

Patsaravalee giving her speech at the 24 March 2021 protest

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said on Thursday (30 September) that the public prosecutor at the Southern Bangkok Department of Criminal Litigation has decided to indict Patsaravalee for royal defamation under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law, and a violation of the Emergency Decree charge resulting from her participation in the 24 March 2021 protest at the Ratchaprasong Intersection.

During the protest, Patsaravalee gave a speech calling for the King to conduct himself in a manner that befits the head of the state. She also said that the King’s expansion of power will endanger the institution of the monarchy, and that even though an absolute monarchy can be created, it can also fall in the next reign.

She made 3 demands to develop the institution of the monarchy: having a single, inseparable armed force, ending intervention in any political groups by the monarchy, and quickly returning public assets which have been transferred to the King’s personal ownership.

The public prosecutor’s indictment claims that Patsaravalee’s speech falsely accused the King of trying to expand his power and creating an absolute monarchy, that he transferred the army to himself, used his power to interfere with politics, and took national treasures for his own, accusations which damage his reputation and cause hate against him.

The South Bangkok Criminal Court granted Patsaravalee bail of 200,000 baht, with the conditions that she must not participate in activities which damage the monarchy and must not leave the country.

Other speakers participated in the protest, including activists Thatchapong Kaedam, Shinawat Chankrajang, Athapol Buapat, Thanaporn Wichan from the Labour Network for People’s Rights, Benja Apan from the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), Chumaporn Taengkliang from the Feminist’s Liberation Front Thailand, volunteer medic Nattatida Meewangpla, Khanaphot Yaemsanguansak from Free Student, and iLaw manager Yingcheep Atchanont.

All of the speakers have been summoned by police from Lumpini Police Station on a violation of the Emergency Decree charge. They went to hear the charges on 8 April 2021.

Of the speakers at the 24 March 2021 protest, Patsaravalee is the only one facing a royal defamation charge in addition to the Emergency Decree charge, after a complaint was filed against her by members of a royalist group. She is currently facing a total of 3 royal defamation charges.

According to TLHR, since November 202, 144 people are currently facing charges under Section 112 for their participation in the pro-democracy movement, 12 of whom are under 18 years of age. Several activists are also facing numerous counts, such as Parit Chiwarak, who is facing 20 counts, Anon Nampa, who is facing 14 counts, Panupong Jadnok, who is facing 9 counts, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, who is facing 8 counts.

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