Bangkok, Thailand – Thailand’s Supreme Court has raised concerns that activists could be charged with sedition after nearly 18 months of anti-government protests, which have called for a new constitution and a new constitution.
Thailand’s highest court has ruled in favor of three activists who have been charged with felony criminal mischief.
A panel of judges ruled Wednesday that what the rights activists want to change is not just rude.
The court ruled that their comments were aimed at “overthrowing the monarchy” while Judge Wiroon Sangtian ruled that any change in the monarchy would “make the monarchy less honorable and bring disgrace among the people.”
Defendant’s lawyer, Krisadang Nutcharut, told Al Jazeera that the verdict was a dark day.
“It is not difficult to say [the death penalty] can be handed down, “said Krisadang. [lese majeste] but now they have argued that in order to overthrow the government, it is a crime of sedition which is punishable by life imprisonment or death. ”
The ruling follows months of protests that began in July 2020, with protesters calling on the government not only to relinquish power but also to transform a powerful and prosperous state in the country. Unprecedented demands have intensified public feuds around the palace, violating a long history of public criticism of the palace.
The three defendants in the case are Arnon Nampa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, who are already serving more than 100 years in prison if convicted.
Third, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, known as “Rung”, is the protagonist who read out the 10 protesters in August last year, including calling for transparency on the king’s finances and for the state to pay taxes. While on bail, he is again charged with trespassing and will face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The judges’ announcements show to motivate people of the three protesting leaders is tantamount to seeking to overthrow the country’s politics while the monarch is the head of state.
Security guards were banned
Krisadang, and many local civil rights groups, fear that remote language could be used to confuse some dissidents.
“When the court ordered ‘internet organizations’ not to do so, no one understood the significance of the law,” said Yingcheep Atchanont, a legal expert and manager of iLaw, a group that promotes free speech.
“There is no old law to understand how a court case should be followed and by whom,” he said.
He added that the court did not allow human rights activists to call witnesses to their testimony or to review the allegations against them, saying that this made it impossible for them to defend their case fairly.
All three – two inmates – walked out of court feeling they had not been given a chance to plead guilty, their lawyers said.
Krisadang added that the government has already taken steps to dissolve the Move Forward Party, which is doing well in the country after the ruling.
The opposition party, which attracted the attention of the public as Future Forward in the 2019 general election, he publicly called for the abolition of the monarchy to be abolished earlier this year. If the ruling is followed, then the party can legally be regarded as a threat to the monarchy which may agree to dissolve it.
Panusaya, 23, was disappointed that the judge refused to allow witnesses to protect them.
“Authority is for the people,” the young man wrote on Twitter on Wednesday shortly after listening. “When the courts of justice do not seem to be responding in the same way, injustice will arise,” he wrote in another tweet.
Amnesty International says the ruling sends a “shocking” message about the human rights situation in Thailand, and it appears to have strengthened the protests.
“If the decision seeks to intimidate the public and prevent them from discussing such issues, then it is a step backwards,” said Emerlynne Gil, Executive Director of Amnesty International for Research, in a statement Friday.
“We are seeing an increase in hashtags, tweets and other media outlets as soon as the ruling comes out. More than 200,000 Thais have signed a recent petition to repeal Article 112, the Thai Criminal Code.
The ruling came on the same day as the history of human rights in Thailand was reviewed at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Amnesty says it was a signal to the international community that Thailand does not intend to meet international standards for free speech.
More demonstrations were organized
Thailand has been a legitimate monarch for almost 90 years, but it was also frequently identified with military terrorists, most recently in 2014.
Tyrell Haberkorn, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a specialist in Thai politics, told Al Jazeera that the election could provoke widespread controversy on the streets and on the Internet.
“The fall of the Constitutional Court falls on change and revolt to do the same is a matter of concern,” he said.
“In the long run, can Thai politics be compatible with peaceful disunity and rebellion? The Constitutional Court has ruled that their decision was based on the preservation of democracy under the emperor and head of state. peacefully, it is regarded as an attempt to overthrow the government. ”
Two days after the ruling, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, a state law expert, warned protesters not to take to the streets.
“He should be very careful at future meetings,” Wissanu said. He seems to be suggesting that protesters be prosecuted more if they protest in line with the ruling.
There are concerns that the ruling could lead to violence.
Several anti-government groups have called for a major demonstration in Bangkok on Sunday, following one of the great demonstrations months last week.
“History in Thailand shows that when the authorities see that they are losing their power, when they can no longer use the courts or the law, when they can no longer use the media to control the people, then they are arrested, prosecuted, and then.
“It sounds like what we saw 45 years ago,” said Krisadang, referring to the Thammasat massacre, in which several students were killed after a military strike at a university demonstration, an event known as one of the most difficult days. History of Thailand.
Despite concerns, Krisadang says the three fighters remain positive and unstoppable.
“I think he is still determined to fight for politics,” he said.