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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2424

84-year-old Sulak Sivaraksa faces lese-majeste charges

Bangkok, 08 December, (Asiantribune.com):

Bangkok Military Court on Thursday delayed a decision on whether to prosecute a prominent historian and social critic 84-year-old Sulak Sivaraksa who suggested that a famed duel on elephant-back won by a Thai king against a Burmese prince 500 years ago may not actually have happened.

Sulak Sivaraksa was charged by police last October under the country's draconian lese majeste law that protects the monarchy from libel and defamation.

Sulak Sivaraksa has been charged for comments he made on October 5, 2014, at Thammasat University in Bangkok, questioning the historical account of a 16th-century elephant battle between the Thai King Naresuan and the Burmese Crown Prince Mingyi Swa. If found guilty he could face up to 15 years’ imprisonment

Following the decision yesterday by the Bangkok Military Court to postpone a decision on whether to indict Sulak Sivaraksa, on charges of lèse majesté for comments he made about a battle in 1593, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

“To prosecute a scholar for comments he made about a battle that took place more than four centuries ago would be patently absurd. This case is an ugly reminder of the Thai authorities’ increasing use of the lèse majesté law as a tool of suppression.

“Aside from being an outrageous attack on freedom of expression and academic freedom, Sulak Sivaraksa’s case appears to be based on a wilful misinterpretation of the existing repressive law on lèse majesté. While it should doubtless be abandoned in its entirety, the law as it currently stands does not apply to historical members of the monarchy.

“The Thai authorities must end their gross misuse of this law and immediately drop these ridiculous charges.”

- Asian Tribune -

 Sulak Sivaraksa -A prominent historian and social critic  from Thailand
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