An activist has been charged with royal defamation over a speech given during a protest on 14 July at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), which took place following attempts to disqualify Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and block his bid to become the next Prime Minister.
Tanruthai Thanrut giving a speech during the 14 July protest
Activist Tanruthai Thanrut reported to Pathumwan Police Station today (7 August) after a royal defamation charge was filed against her by Anon Klinkaew, leader of the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy, over a speech she gave during the 14 July protest.
The protest was called after Pita lost the first round of voting on 13 July. Activists gathered at the courtyard in front of the BACC and gave speeches. They handed out flyers calling for the abolition of the Senate, while a large piece of cloth was laid out for people to write messages, many of which condemned the Senate’s actions for disrespecting the people and disregarding election results by not approving a Prime Minister candidate nominated by the winning party.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that the complaint against Tanruthai was filed because she gave a speech saying that no institution is above the people and demanding that the Senate and House of Representatives respect the result of the election.
TLHR noted that Tanruthai asked the police to amend the record to say that Anon has previously threatened her on social media and that the complaint against her was filed because of differences in political ideology.
Tanruthai said that she did not mean to do damage to the country, but gave her speech because she wants to improve it. She said she is not concerned about being charged, but is confused about the legal proceedings because she was told that the process involving a royal defamation charge is different from the normal process.
Tanruthai said that she has been harassed after the complaint against her was filed. People have tried to dox her on social media, while others made comments attacking her. Someone also called her mother and told her that Tanruthai could be going to jail.
The harassment has not yet interfered with her personal life, Tanruthai said, and she doesn’t care if people attack her online. However, she will consider pressing charges if the harassment worsens.