🚨 Three Women Activists Indicted for Royal Defamation ahead of the Elections
On April 18, 2023, Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul, Benja Apan, and Niraporn ‘Bee’ Ornkaw were indicted for allegedly violating Article 112, or Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, and Computer Crime Act in relations to their involvement in managing the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) Facebook page, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
In addition to their admin roles, the activists were also accused for a post from August 2021 criticizing King Vajiralongkorn’s influence over the decisions made by the judiciary to invoke bail of pro-democracy activists. Citing this post, the prosecution order explains the activists portrayed the King as being in favor of an undemocratic ruling.
Rung, Benja, and Bee have all been granted bail on the conditions that they must not repeat the same offense or participate in any activities that defame the King.
What is alarming about this indictment is that the complaint was made by an ultra-royalist group in March 2022, but the Office of the Attorney General is only issuing an indictment now, when the general election is less than a month away.
🖋 It is clear that the establishment is set on stirring fear among the pro-democracy activists, creating a chilling effect ahead of the elections, and thus discouraging UFTD and other activist groups from speaking out against the authoritarian regime.
✊ Manushya Foundation vehemently condemns the abuse of lèse-majesté law, and Computer Crime Act. We call on the Thai government to respect its international human rights obligations on the right to freedom of expression and information, laid down in Article 19 of the UDHR and ICCPR. It must also comply with the UPR recommendations on freedom of expression, including the revision of section 112, which it received during its 3rd UPR cycle.
TLHR, The prosecutor indicted “Rung-Bee-Benja” for Article 112 charges, accusing them of being admins of the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration and criticizing King Rama 10 for his role in the removal of activists’ bail, stating that it causes harm to his dignity, (18 April 2023), available at: https://tlhr2014.com/archives/55257
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