Renowned royalist Sulak accused of lèse majesté

A Thai military officer has filed a lèse majesté complaint against Sulak Sivaraksa, a renowned royalist and political science scholar known for his firm stand against the lèse majesté law, for allegedly criticising Thai monarchs of the early 20th century, King Rama V and Rama VII.  

On Friday, 21 August 2015, police from Pak Khlong Rangsit Police Station issued a summons for Thongchai Romyenpensuk, president of the Suzuki labour union, for questioning over a seminar entitled ‘83 Years of Thailand’s Development after the 1932 Revolution of Siam’, which he attended with four other colleagues.

The seminar on post-absolute monarchy Thailand was held at Rangsit University in Pathum Thani Province on 22 June 2015. Participants were Sulak Sivaraksa, a well-known critic of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, Olarn Chaiprawat, former advisor to ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, a human rights activist known for her work with Bangkok’s slum dwellers, and other high profile academics.

The summons called Thongchai for questioning on 28 August 2015. He said that a colleague of his who attended the same seminar also received a summons. Thongchai added that there were about 40-50 people at the seminar on 22 June and that the university must have given the police the list of all participants in the discussion.

According to the summons, Sulak is accused by a military officer who attended the seminar of offenses under the lèse majesté law.

Pravit Rojanaphruk, a journalist from the Nation, who was a host of the seminar, was also summoned for questioning on 23 July 2015.

He said that the police told him that the accuser in the case is a military officer who recorded the content of the seminar and sent it to the police before filing the lèse majesté complaint against Sulak.

The journalist mentioned that the questioning took about two hours and he was asked whether criticisms of Rama V and VII made at the seminar are against Article 112; he told the police that the law does not cover former monarchs.  

Pravit added that there were constant phone calls from military officers to the investigating officers during the questioning and that there were also military personnel at the police station.

On 1 July, Prateep, a human rights defender who attended the event, also received a similar summons over the seminar, ordering her to report to Pak Khlong Rangsit Police Station on 9 July. The summons mentioned that the seminar content involved references to the Thai Kings, but did not mention the name of the accused.

Last year, Sulak was accused of defaming King Naresuan, an ancient king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom who reigned about 400 years ago, at a seminar on Thai history where he raised doubts about the historical battle between the ancient Thai king and a Burmese general.

Sulak told Prachatai in a video interview that Article 112 only protects the present monarch, the Queen and the Crown Prince.

The notorious lèse majesté law states "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, Heir-apparent or Regent shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years."


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