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Thailand: Petition for freedom of speech; Interview with Giles Ji Ungpakorn on the use of `lese majeste' laws

Please sign the petition (below the videos) and ask others to sign.

Part 2

Please sign this open letter and ask others to sign. For more information, click HERE.

มีจดหมายภาษาไทย แนบมาเป็นไฟล์ที่สอง

* * *

Stop the use of lese majeste laws in Thailand. Defend freedom of speech

We, the undersigned, oppose the use of lese majeste in Thailand in order to prevent freedom of speech and academic freedom. We demand that the government cease all proceedings in lese majeste cases.

The September 19, 2006 military coup in Thailand claimed "Royal legitimacy" in order to hide the authoritarian intentions of the military junta. Lese majeste charges have not been used to protect "Thai Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy" as claimed. The charges are used against people who criticised the coup and disagree with the present destruction of democracy. They are used to create a climate of fear and censorship.

One obvious case is that of associate professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, from the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He is facing lese majeste charges for writing a book A Coup for the Rich, which criticised the 2006 military coup. (Read the book at http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/). Others who have been accused of lese majeste are former government minister Jakrapop Penkae, who asked a question at the Foreign Correspondent's Club in Bangkok, about exactly what kind of monarchy we have in Thailand. There is also the case of Chotisak Oonsung, a young student who failed to stand for the King's anthem in the cinema. Apart from this there are the cases of Da Topedo and Boonyeun Prasertying.

In addition to those who opposed the coup, the BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, an Australian writer names Harry Nicolaides and social critic Sulak Sivaraksa are also facing charges.

The latest person to be thrown into jail and refused bail is Suwicha Takor, who is charged with lese majeste for surfing the internet.

Thailand's minister of justice has called for a blanket ban on reporting these cases in the Thai media. The mainstream Thai media are obliging. Thus we are seeing a medieval style witchhunt taking place in Thailand with "secret" trials in the courts. The Justice Ministry is also refusing to publish figures of lese majeste cases.

We call for the abolition of les majeste laws in Thailand and the defence of freedom and democracy.

Please send your full name to: Giles.LesseMajeste@gmail.com, ji.ungpakorn@gmail.com

* * *

เรา พลเมืองที่รักประชาธิปไตยและสิทธิเสรีภาพ ขอคัดค้านการใช้กฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพเพื่อทำลายเสรีภาพในการแสดงความเห็น เสรีภาพทางวิชาการ และเสรีภาพทางความคิด เราเรียกร้องให้รัฐบาลยุติคดีต่างๆ ที่เกิดกับกลุ่มคนที่คัดค้านรัฐประหาร 19 กันยา

รัฐประหาร 19 กันยา ได้แอบอ้างความชอบธรรมจากสถาบันเบื้องสูง เพื่อปิดบังเจตนาเผด็จการของฝ่าย คมช. พร้อมทั้งใช้กฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพเพิ่มขึ้นในลักษณะที่คุกคามประชาธิปไตยและสิทธิเสรีภาพของประชาชน วัตถุประสงค์ของการใช้กฎหมายนี้ไม่ใช่เพื่อปกป้องสถาบันกษัตริย์ในระบบรัฐธรรมนูญประชาธิปไตย แต่เป็นการพยายามหวังทำลายคนที่ไม่เห็นด้วยกับการทำรัฐประหาร โดยมุ่งสร้างบรรยากาศแห่งความหวาดกลัวแก่ผู้ที่ต้องการแสดงออกตามหลักประชาธิปไตยสากลเยี่ยงอารยประเทศ

ตัวอย่างที่เห็นได้ชัดคือการขัดขวางสิทธิเสรีภาพทางวิชาการของ รศ. ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ ผ่านการตั้งข้อกล่าวหาว่าหนังสือวิชาการของเขาเรื่อง รัฐประหาร 19 กันยา (Coup for the Rich) "หมิ่นสถาบัน"  ตัวอย่างอื่นๆ  ของคนที่ถูกโจมตีเพราะไม่ยอมรับรัฐประหาร 19 กันยา มีอีกหลายคน เช่น  กรณี จักรภพ เพ็ญแข ที่ถูกกล่าวหาในคดีคล้ายกัน เพื่อกดดันให้เขาลาออกจากตำแหน่งในรัฐบาล เพียงเพราะตั้งคำถามว่าพระมหากษัตริย์ในระบบประชาธิปไตยไทยควรจะเป็นอย่างไร หรือกรณี โชติศักดิ์  อ่อนสูง ที่สงวนสิทธิ์ตามความเชื่อของตนเองอย่างสันติ และมีกรณี ดา ตอปิโด และบุญยืน  ประเสริฐยิ่ง นอกจากนี้มีคดีของ นักข่าวบีบีซี Jonathan Head นักเขียนชาวออสเตรเลีย Harry Nicolaides อาจารย์สุลักษณ์ ศิวรักษ์ และ สุวิชา ท่าค้อ เป็นต้น

ความจริงถูกพิสูจน์ซ้ำแล้วซ้ำอีกว่ากฎหมายนี้ถูกนำมารังแกคนที่คิดต่างเท่านั้น ถึงเวลาแล้วที่ผู้รักความเป็นธรรม และต้องการรักษาประชาธิปไตยของไทยไว้ จะร่วมกันรณรงค์อย่างจริงจังเพื่อหยุดยั้ง "การบังคับใช้กฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ"           

เราผู้มีรายนามท้ายประกาศฉบับนี้ขอเรียกร้องให้มีการยกเลิกกฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ เพื่อไม่ให้เป็นเครื่องมือของเผด็จการและผู้หวังทำลายระบบประชาธิปไตยอีกต่อไป

ปล. ถ้าเห็นด้วยกรุณาส่งชื่อจริงและนามสกุลจริงมาที่ : giles.lessemajeste@gmail.com

รายชื่อ

128 Academics, intellectuals and members of parliament from around the world call for charges against Giles Ji Ungpakorn to be dropped

128 academics from U.K, Canada, France, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, South Korea, Greece and the USA., including those from Oxford University and SOAS London University, have signed an open letter calling for charges of lese majeste, made against Giles Ji Ungpakorn, to be dropped. Among those signing are also famous writers such as Susan George and China Miéville. The list also includes members of parliament from New Zealand and Britain.

* * *

We wish to express our deep concern at the decision of the Thai Police Special Branch to prosecute Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, of the Political Science Faculty at Chulalongkorn University, with lèse majesté – that is, with insulting King Bhumibol. Mr Ungpakorn is a well-known commentator on Thai politics, widely quoted in the international media. The charge arises from his book A Coup for the Rich, published in 2007. In that book he criticized the coup of 19 September 2006, in which the military seized political power in Thailand. Mr Ungpakorn argued that the army, along with the rest of the Thai establishment, used the monarchy to legitimize its political interventions. This is the kind of analysis that political scientists make as a matter of course, but various bookshops withdrew A Coup for the Rich from circulation, forcing Mr Ungpakorn to make it available on the Internet.

Now his academic freedom and basic citizenship rights have come under much more serious attack with this prosecution. Lèse majesté has fallen into disuse in most of the world as a relic of the pre-democratic past. Thailand is an exception. The Economist commented on 14 August 2008: 'The king said in 2005 that he could be criticised and was not afraid of this. But those posing as his majesty's protectors conveniently forget his words. So, despite their democratic institutions, Thais are not free to debate matters regarding their head of state, including appropriate limits on criticizing him.'

Lèse majesté carries a maximum sentence of 15 years, and MPs from the government party headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva, which came to office thanks to the connivance of the army, want to increase this to 25 years. The prosecution of Mr Ungpakorn therefore represents the most fundamental attack on freedom of speech. We demand that the charges against him are unconditionally withdrawn.

1. Dr. Geoff Abbott, Newcastle University

2. Professor Gilbert Achcar, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

3. Dr Talat Ahmed, Goldsmiths, University of London

4. Dr Kieran Allen, University Collhe Dublin

5. Dr Sam Ashman, University of East London

6. Dr Miryam Aouragh, University of Oxford/University of Amsterdam

7. Hans Baer, University of Melbourne
8. Professor Abigail Bakan, Queen's University, Canada

9. Chris Bambery, Editor, Socialist Worker

10. Colin Barker, Manchester Metropolitan University (Emeritus)

11. Dr John Baxter, Open University

12. Dr Tom Behan, University of Kent

13. Professor Jacques Bidet, University of Paris 10 – Nanterre (Emeritus)

14. Dr Sue Blackwell, University of Birmingham

15. Professor Luc Boltanski, École des hautes études en sciences sociales

16. Professor Patrick Bond, University of KwaZulu-Natal

17. Helen Bowman, Manchester Metropolitan University

18. Pat Brady, Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards

19. Professor Dennis Brutus, University of KwaZulu-Natal

20. Professor Alex Callinicos, King's College London

21. Dr David Camfield, University of Manitoba

22. Mark Campbell, London Metropolitan University, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

23. Dr Steve Cannon, University of Sunderland

24. Joe Carolan, Editor, Socialist Aotearoa, New Zealand

25. Agger Carsten, Denmark

26. Jim Casey, Vice President, Fire Brigade Employees Union, New South Wales

27. Dr. John Charlton

30. Professor Simon Clarke, University of Warwick

31. Paul Coates, President, University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association

32. Dr Alejandro Colas, Birkbeck College University of London

33. Petros Constantinou,,Campaign GENOA 2001 Greece

34. Adrian Cousins, UNITE rep, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

35. James Cussens, University of York

36. Bernice Daly, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

37. Neil Davidson, University of Strathclyde

38. Dr Jonathan Davies, University of Warwick

40. Dr Andy Durgan, Barcelona University

41. James Eaden, Chesterfield College, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

42. Manfred Ecker, Vienna

43. Professor James Fairhead, University of Sussex
44. Dr Sue Ferguson, Wilfrid Laurier University

45. John Fernandes

46. George Galloway MP

47. Panos Garganas, National Technical University of Athens

48. Susan George

49. Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition (pc)

50. Professor Mike Gonzalez, University of Glasgow (Emeritus)

51. Dr Peter Goodwin, University of Westminster

52. Sarah Gregson, Vice President Academic, National Tertiary Education Union, University of New South Wales

53. Dr Phil Griffiths, University of Southern Queensland

54. Sylvia Hale, Member of Parliament, New South Wales

55. Professor Nigel Harris, University College London (Emeritus)

56. Professor Barbara Harriss-White, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford

57. Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow

58. Tom Hickey, University of Brighton, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

59. Brian Ingham, Richmond-upon-Thames College, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

60. Feyzi Ismail, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

61. Nick James, University of Leicester and UCU NEC

62. Professor Seongjin Jeong, Gyeongsang National University, South Korea

63. John Kaye, Member of Parliament, New South Wales

64. Paul Kellogg, Trent University, Peterborough, Canada

65. Dr Anna Laerke, Open University

66. Jens Laerke, United Nations, Nairobi

67. Councillor Michael Lavalette, Liverpool Hope University

68. Maeve Landman, National Executive Committee, Universities and College UnionMelanie

69. Lazarow, Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union, University of Melbourne

70. Dr Elizabeth Lawrence, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

71. Professor Michael Lebowitz, San Francisco University

72. Craig Lewis, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

73. Dr Nancy Lindisfarne, School of Oriental and African Studies, London (Emeritus)

74. Professor Domenico Losurdo, University of Urbino

75. Dr Steve Ludlam, University of Sheffield

76. Alan Maass, SocialistWorker.org, USA

77. Professor David McNally, York University, Toronto

78. Judith McVey, Coursework Education Officer, University of Melbourne Graduate
Student Association

79. Georges Menahem, University of Paris-13/Dalhousie University, Canada

80. China Miéville

81. Laura Miles, Bradford College

82. Dr Sally Mitchison, Consultant Psychiatrist

83. Professor Colin Mooers, Ryerson University

84. Dr Carlo Morelli, University of Dundee

85. Dr Tim Morris

86. Pablo Mukherjee, University of Warwick

87. Antony Nanson, Bath Spa University

88. Dr Jonathan Neale, Bath Spa University

89. Jakob Nerup, National Board, Red-Green Alliance, Canada

90. Professor Alan Norrie, King's College London

91. Allison O'Toole, Joint Queer Officer, University of Melbourne Graduate
Student Association

92. Dr George Paizis, University College London

93. Jamie Parker, Mayor of Leichhardt, New South Wales

94. Dr John Parrington, Worcester College Oxford

95. Dr Diana Paton, University of Newcastle

96. David Pejoski, Joint Queer Officer, University of Melbourne Graduate Student
Association

97. Professor Malcolm Povey, University of Leeds, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

98. Dr Nat Queen, University of Birmingham

99. Maloti Ray, Research officer, University of Melbourne Graduate Student
Association

100. Lee Rhiannon, Member of Parliament, New South Wales

101. Dr. Elaheh Rostami-Povey, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

102. Professor Alfredo Saad Filho, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

103. Dr Alison Sealey, University of Birmingham

104. Dr Alan Sears, Ryerson University, Toronto

105. Dr Claude Serfat, Université de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines

106. Anwar Shah, International Student Officer, University of Melbourne Graduate
Student Association

107. Yiannis Sifakakis, Stop the War Coalition Greece

108. Sasha Simic, USDAW Shop Steward, Central Books (pc)

109. Professor Beverley Skeggs, Goldsmiths, University of London

110. Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)

111. Professor Colin Sparks, University of Westminster

112. Maria Styllou, editor, Socialism from Below (Greece)

113. Dr. Viren Swami, University of Westminster

114. J.G. Taylor, Leeds Metropolitan University

115. Jennifer Toomey, University of Newcastle

116. Dr Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths, University of London

117. Charles-André Udry, Editions Page deux, Switzerland

118. Universities and College Union, Branch Committee, University of Dundee

119. Turkan Uzun, Antikapitalist, Turkey

120. Professor Kees van der Pijl, University of Sussex

121. Vegard Velle, member of national executive committee, Red Party, Norway

122. Sean Vernell, City & Islington College, National Executive Committee, Universities and College Union

123. Christine Vié, Manchester Metropolitan University

124. Dr. Max Wallis, Cardiff University

125. Dr Vron Ware, Open University

126. Tony Williams, Activities Officer, University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association

127. Dr Jim Wolfreys, King's College London

128. David Streckfuss, Khon Kaen University, Thailand

Comments

New website: Political Prisoners in Thailand (PPT)

http://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/

About PPT

Political Prisoners in Thailand (PPT) is dedicated to those who are held in Thailand’s prisons, charged with political crimes. It also seeks to raise the cases of those who are accused of political crimes. Our focus is the contemporary period where political cases revolve around the use of Thailand’s lèse majesté law.

The authors of this blog are friends of Thailand who oppose the jailing of opponents for political reasons and who support free speech. Because this blog will include material that would be banned in Thailand, we choose to remain anonymous.

While the blog does not function with comments, we welcome serious additions to Political Prisoners in Thailand. This can only be done by emailing thaipoliticalprisoners@gmail.com and including your comments. Comments sent to us may be used on the blog. They will be moderated and may be edited prior to posting.

Background

Thailand has had a checkered political history since its first steps towards democratic forms of government in 1932, when the absolute monarchy was overthrown. Since that time, there have been numerous cases of politically motivated arrests, jailings and murders.

Today, as Thailand’s politics has become more vigorous and divided, arrests and imprisoning through accusations of lèse majesté have become increasingly common. Lèse majesté is used by governments and political figures to denounce opponents. We are deepening concerned and alarmed regarding the political uses of lèse majesté in Thailand.

Specifically, we are deeply troubled by the vigorous pursuit of lèse majesté cases by the recently constituted Democrat Party-led coalition government. While the lèse majesté law has been criticized for many years as “draconian,” the Democrat Party proposes to further strengthen the law and accelerate on-going investigations and prosecutions of those accused of lèse majesté. In recent weeks, the Democrat-led government has indeed expanded its vigilance, blocked thousands of web pages it considers offensive to the monarchy and presided over new charges and arrests. Currently, the police claim that there are 17 active cases, dozens more accusations and, sadly, at least four persons remain in jail following lèse majesté charges or convictions.

The persons involved – accused, charged and sentenced – are journalists, bloggers, academics, authors and political and social activists, both Thai and foreign. Some of those charged have been denied bail and remain in prison for several months.

It is troubling that the current government, while pronouncing that it favors a free press, political reconciliation and liberalism, appears determined to crack down on those it considers are, in its terms, threatening national security by criticizing the monarchy.

Various Thai governments make the point that the monarchy should be untouchable as it is universally admired and revered by all Thais. Clearly, given the need to expand vigilance regarding lèse majesté and the Democrats own view that there are now 10,000 offending web pages and that they are expanding exponentially, this claim of universal reverence cannot carry weight. Recent political events and comments on Thai-language blogs appear to confirm this.

For us, the actions of the Democrat-led government suggest a further politicization of the lèse majesté law. In this context, we wish to shine an international light on the political use of lèse majesté by the government in Thailand. International scrutiny of these cases is urgently required to ensure the protection of human rights and freedom of expression.

 

Petition

Please add my name to the petition.

Dr Scott Uzelman, Queen's University

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