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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1977

Thailand: Lèse-majesté verdict must be quashed

Bangkok, 15 August, (Asiantribune.com):

Pro-democracy activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (“Pai Dao Din”), was today sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, for violating Thailand’s lèse-majesté law after sharing a BBC article on Facebook.

Reacting to the guilty verdict against pro-democracy activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (“Pai Dao Din”), Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

“This verdict shows the extremes to which the authorities are prepared to go in using repressive laws to silence peaceful debate, including on Facebook. It is outrageous that Pai Dao Din is now facing more than two years behind bars just for sharing a news article.

“Pai Dao Din should never have had to face trial in the first place. His guilty plea should not be considered as an admission of criminal responsibility as the courts regularly halve sentences for defendants who have pleaded guilty in such cases. Pai Dao Din must be released immediately and unconditionally.

“Thailand needs to stop using the courts to harass and imprison peaceful activists, and take its international legal obligation to respect freedom of expression seriously.”

The trial of a recent law school graduate for sharing a biography deemed to defame King Rama X began Thursday in a provincial court in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen.

Held without bail since December, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa was arrested for sharing a BBC Thai article on Facebook about the then-new king that contained biographical details that have become unmentionable in the domestic press.

Jatupat was indicted Feb. 10 on counts of lese majeste and violating the Computer Crime Act, to which he pleaded not guilty. He has remained behind bars and repeatedly denied release on bail and the courts proceedings are being conducted in secret.

A fourth-year law student at Khon Kaen University at the time of his arrest, Jatupat risked losing out on the opportunity to graduate but was eventually allowed to sit for the necessary exams.

His fellow activists say Jatupat, who belongs to a community rights group called Dao Din, was singled out for his campaigning against the military regime, and they have staged many rallies calling for his freedom in Khon Kaen and Bangkok.

Four of his classmates calling for his release were charged with contempt of court in March.

- Asian Tribune –

Pro-democracy activist Jatupat 'Pai' Boonpattararaksa with his parents in a 2016 file photo.
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