Prachatai – Eine Gruppe von Unterstützern der inhaftierten Rothemden und politischen Gefangenen, angeführt von Jittra Kotchadet, übergab dem UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki-moon am 16. November ein Schreiben in dem sie die sofortige Freilassung auf Kaution, aller Beschuldigten der Majestätsbeleidigung und der politischen Gefangenen forderten. Die Gruppe organisierte zu diesem Zweck eine kleine Protestaktion vor dem Regierungshaus.
Die Gruppe, die sich selbst Social Activists Network for Democracy ( SAND ) nennt, organisierte den Protest am selben Tag als Gerüchte aufkamen, wonach der vom Militär gestürzte ehemalige Ministerpräsident, Thaksin Shinawatra, eine königliche Amnestie erhalten soll.
Es ist noch nicht klar, ob die gewöhnlichen inhaftierten und verfolgten Rothemden, die der Puea-Thai Partei an die Macht geholfen haben, ebenfalls begnadigt werden.
Die Gruppe von Aktivisten übergaben US-Außenministerin Hillary Clinton den selben Brief.
Bangkok, 16 November 2011
The Honorable Ban Ki-moon,
As you may be aware, in October 2011 in Geneva, Switzerland Thailand was the subject of a Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
A number of recommendations flowed from this review, not least from Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. He urged Thailand to hold broad-based public consultations to amend section 112 of the penal code (Thailand’s infamous and draconian lese majeste law that imprisons people for up to 15 years for “defaming the monarchy”) and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, with the objective to bring the country in compliance with its international human rights obligations.
Mr La Rue said –
“The threat of a long prison sentence and vagueness of what kinds of expression constitute defamation, insult, or threat to the monarchy, encourage self-censorship and stifle important debates on matters of public interest, thus putting in jeopardy the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This is exacerbated by the fact that the charges can be brought by private individuals and trials are often closed to the public.”
In addition to Mr. La Rue’s comments, the UK-based Freedom of Expression advocates, ARTICLE 19 had this to say –
“ARTICLE 19 would like to see the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and countries with close links to Thailand raise serious concerns with the Thai government on the misuse of the Lese Majeste law and the 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA) which has been used as a default lese majeste legislation. The Thai government must open up dialogue with local civil society actors on the provisions of the lese majeste law and CCA and their use, and the government must amend these laws in accordance with Thailand’s obligations under its Constitution and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.”
Following the review several countries backed the call for the 112 law to be reformed, including Brazil, Indonesia and Canada, while other nations such as the UK, France and Norway asked for a space to be opened up in Thai public discourse where the future of the law could be discussed.
At present it is impossible to make an accurate verification of the numbers of persons who are incarcerated in Thailand as a result of the application of the 112 law.
However, several people are awaiting trial and sentencing for charges relating to alleged breaches of 112. In 2010 alone, it was reported that the courts accepted 478 new cases of lese majeste, almost three times the record set the year before. Experts believe that the number of persons in custody for alleged violations of 112 is now in the hundreds.
These persons include
1) Mr. Amphon Tungnopphakul (61), a beloved grandfather of 5 who is being held on remand in inhumane and degrading conditions at the Bangkok Remand Prison. Mr. Tungnopphakul allegedly sent SMS messages that defamed the monarch to Somkriet Krongwattanasuk, a private secretary of former Prime Minister and leader of the Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva. The matter was reported to the police by Mr. Krongwattanasuk. Since his arrest Mr. Tungnopphakul was released for a short period on bail but the prosecutor demanded he be returned to prison and his bail be revoked. Mr. Tungnopphakul is also suffering from mouth cancer and we believe his release is of the utmost urgency on medical grounds alone.
2) Ms. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul (48) aka Da Torpedo who is accused of lese majeste in connection with speeches she made at a political rally in 2008. Her original trial was held in camera and she was unable to properly contest the evidence against her. At this trial she received an 18year prison sentence. She then appealed against this verdict on the basis that her in camera trial breached her constitutional rights. The Appeal Court revoked the original verdict of the lower court and returned her petition to the Constitutional Court. While the Constitutional Court believed that the closed trial of Ms. Charnchoengsilpakul did not breach the constitution at present the original revocation by the Appeal Court stands. Daranee will be facing a retrial on the 15th December after her case was inexplicably postponed from October 17th. This postponement has also destroyed Ms. Charnchoengsilpakul’s chances of asking for a reduction of penalty, something which is usual at the time of the King’s birthday on 5th December. Furthermore, we consider the denial of bail for Ms. Charnchoengsilpakul to be evidence of unusual and special punishment as it is ordinary for Thai citizens who have had their original conviction overturned by the Appeal Court to be freed on bail. Ms. Charnchoengsilpakul has been in prison since July 22nd 2008. For most of this time she has also had to endure a very painful jaw infection for which she has not been given adequate medical care. At least one witness has reported that Ms. Charnchoengsilpakul has had to remove her own teeth in order to be able to eat. We call for the immediate release of Ms. Charnchoengsilpakul and the provision of and proper medical care to be afforded her.
3) Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk (50) is a trade union activist and the editor of the “Voice of Taksin” magazine. He is accused of lese majeste after publishing two articles in this magazine which were deemed to be of offence to the monarchy. Mr. Pruksakasemsuk has been denied bail because the court stated he was a threat to “national security.” He is being kept in inhumane and degrading conditions at the Sa Kaeo Prison. However, because the charges leveled against Mr. Pruksakasemsuk were made in four different places in Thailand he is being continually transported, chained and shackled, around the country in a small caged prison truck on journeys that can take up to 15hours. We believe this constitutes unusual and special punishment of Mr. Pruksakasemsuk and ask that he be released on bail and be allowed to make his own arrangements to face the charges as is normal practice in Thailand.
4) Mr. Joe Gordon (55) is a naturalised US citizen of Thai descent who was arrested on 24th May 2011. He is currently being held in inhumane and degrading conditions at the Bangkok Remand Prison awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in a Bangkok court on 10th October 2011 to the charge of lese majeste. Before his guilty plea Mr. Gordon asserted his innocence on numerous occasions yet, after being repeatedly denied bail even though he had a painful medical condition for which proper treatment was denied, he changed his plea to guilty. We are concerned with the safety of Mr. Gordon’s conviction and believe he was subject to special and unusual punishment in order to evince a confession. Furthermore, the charge of lese majeste also relates to activity committed by Mr. Gordon while he was resident in the USA. Therefore the universal jurisdiction of Thailand’s lese majeste law has trumped Mr. Gordon’s constitutional rights as a US citizen. This is a deeply worrying development which has been further compounded by the lack of proper protest by Mr. Gordon’s US government representatives at the US Embassy in Bangkok.
As representatives of the Social Activists Network for Democracy (SAND) we would request that you thoroughly investigate the prison conditions of the four persons named above and make sure they are treated in an appropriate fashion and with full recourse to adequate medical care and to proper justice.
We would like to request that you call for the immediate release on bail of all lese majeste prisoners.
We would like to request you ask the Thai authorities to reveal the full number of lese majeste prisoners and those who have been accused of lese majeste.
We would also request that you read the full advice of Mr La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, regarding Thailand’s use of both lese majeste and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and act accordingly.
Social Activists Network for Democracy ( SAND )