14-year-old summoned on royal defamation charge

A 14-year-old girl became the youngest person to be charged with royal defamation after she received a police summons following a complaint filed against her by a royalist activist.

A portrait of Thanalop by the artist Kaimaew

Thanalop (last name withheld), 14, was summoned by Samranrat Police Station to report on 15 February after she was accused of royal defamation by royalist activist Anon Klinkaew, head of the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy.

The summons does not say why Thanalop is charged, but states that the cause of the complaint was an incident that occurred around the Giant Swing in Bangkok’s old town on 13 October 2022.

Thanalop, who calls herself “Comrade Sleepless” (สหายนอนน้อย), said that she initially received a summons dated 23 January, but certain details in it were wrong, so the family sent it back to the police for correction. She then received another summons last Tuesday (7 February).

The 14-year-old said that she is not concerned about being charged, but is more worried about her education, so she will ask the police to postpone her meeting. She said that her family is worried, but is going to let her decide what to do for herself.

She also said that she was harassed by police officers three times before she received an official summons. On 20 October 2022, an officer visited her house and told her family that she should be taken to see a psychiatrist.

Another officer came to visit the family again on 7 November 2022. Thanalop said that the officer spoke to her father, telling him that charges would be pressed against her. She also said that the officer spoke badly to her father, telling him that it would be better to commit suicide than to have a child like her.

On the same day, an officer tried to visit her at school, but Thanalop said the school refused to let them see her.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 18 people under the age of 18 have been charged with royal defamation since 2020.

Thanalop said that, for her, the royal defamation law is problematic in that it carries a disproportionately severe penalty, while anyone can file a complaint against anyone else. She sees it as a law to silence people and violate people’s freedom.

She calls on political parties to back the repeal of the royal defamation law rather than proposing amendments to it. She said she is concerned that, if the law is not repealed, it can later be amended again and the penalty may become more severe, and said that it would be most benefit to the people to repeal it.

“Amending [the royal defamation law] is not the best for the people, but repealing it would be best for the people. If any political party gets elected to parliament, I want the parties to be clear about repealing Section 112,” she said.

The 14-year-old also said that she would like to back the call for the release of political prisoners and the demands for judicial reform issued by monarchy reform activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong and the activist group Thaluwang. She said that there is not enough attention paid to the issue after members of parliament spoke about it during a parliamentary debate and wanted to call attention to it.

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