Activist arrested, charged with royal defamation for Chakri Day speech

An activist was arrested yesterday (10 May) and charged with royal defamation for a speech given at the Chakri Memorial Day protest on 6 April 2022.

Joseph speaking at the Chakri Memorial Day protest

Joseph (pseudonym) was arrested around 10.00 today (10 May) while leaving his house to join the activists submitting a petition to the US Embassy calling for the release of detained activists and the repeal of the royal defamation law. The police officers who arrested him presented an arrest warrant on a royal defamation charge resulting from a speech he gave at the protest at the King Taksin the Great Monument at Wongwian Yai on Chakri Memorial Day (6 April).

During his speech, Joseph talked about the history of how the ruling class in Southeast Asia come to power, especially in the ancient kingdoms located in the area currently known as Thailand, and how the Chakri dynasty came to rule Siam.

Activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk from the activist network Citizens for the Abolition of 112 said that Joseph was a member of the network and that he came up with the idea that the network should petition embassies to demand the release of political prisoners. 

Somyot said that Joseph’s speech was about the history of Chakri Memorial Day, noting that previous court rulings stated that speaking about history does not constitute an offense under the royal defamation law, leading him to speculate that Joseph was arrested to prevent yesterday’s protest at the US Embassy.

“We’ll keep going, and we will let the world know about this, especially the US, which is a country from which we will campaign the use of social sanctions against the judges, the police, or anyone related to the justice system,” Somyot said.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that after his arrest, Joseph was taken to the Police Club on Vibhavadi Road, even though the charge against him is under the jurisdiction of Buppharam Police Station in Thonburi. He was then taken to the Thonburi Criminal Court for a temporary detention request and was later granted bail on a 200,000-baht security.

The Court also set the conditions that he must not participate in activities which damage the monarchy or cause public disorder, and must not leave the country.

Joseph was previously charged with royal defamation and sedition for reading out a statement during the 26 October 2020 protest in front of the German Embassy.

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