Letter: I experienced Thailand’s ‘lèse majesté’ at first hand

Thailand’s lèse majesté law does not provide protection for the king as libel law does for commoners, as Pisanu Suvanajata, the ambassador of Thailand to the UK claimed (Letters, September 7).

I was charged under the lèse majesté law in 2011 for using my position as a radio commentator to ask the king to intervene to stop military killings of civilians. I fled to Cambodia, and the Philippines, and ultimately to France, to avoid arrest but could have faced 15 years in prison.

The lèse majesté law enables people to have others arrested for criticising the monarchy — regardless of whether the statements are true.

Many countries have laws to protect their monarchy but in most countries the law does not result in citizens being imprisoned for 15 years. Most monarchies in other countries do not deny the human rights of their people and make them suffer in prison — but this occurs in Thailand because of the lèse majesté law.

The Thai government has now realised that the law is making the king unpopular in the wider world, and is therefore using computer crime legislation to punish those who criticise the king online instead.

There is no freedom of expression and respect for human rights in Thailand. Recently they arrested a man only for wearing a T-shirt that said he had lost faith in the monarchy, and he was admitted to a mental hospital.

The Thai government only wants people to express that “we love the king”.

Chupong Theethuan
Paris, France

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