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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs            2  September 2011

Academics urge lese majeste overhaul

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More than 100 internationally renowned scholars are calling on the Yingluck Shinawatra government to review the lese majeste law and reconsider cases against those accused of defaming the monarchy.

The 112 academics led by Kevin Hewison of North Carolina University, Michael Connors of La Trobe University and Tyrell Haberkorn of the Australian National University, also called on the government to grant bail to all lese majeste suspects.

The scholars from 15 countries highlighted the cases of Chiranuch Premchaiyaporn, editor of Prachatai online newspaper, Somyos Preuksakasemsuk, unionist and editor of Voice of Thaksin magazine and naturalised American Joe Gordon in their petition to the government.

Ms. Chiranuch, 42, was charged on March 6, 2009 under Section 15 of the Computer Crime Act for allowing comments deemed as lese majeste to remain on the web board for more than the period set by police. She is now on trial in Bangkok.

Mr Somyos, 50, was arrested on April 30 after launching a campaign to abolish the lese majeste law five days before. He was charged with publishing two articles deemed as containing lese majeste comments about a year earlier.

Mr Gordon was born Lerpong Wichaikampart in Nakhon Ratchasima. He was arrested in his hometown on May 24 for his translation of a book banned in Thailand for allegedly carrying lese majeste content.

The academics said they were also concerned about the arrest earlier this year of Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an associate professor in liberal arts at Thammasat University, also on a lese majeste charge. They said the charge could affect academic freedom.

Cabinet members including Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung and ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap have said they would continue enforcing the lese majeste law despite repeated calls by red shirt supporters to repeal the law which has landed many of their comrades in jail on what they say are politically trumped-up charges.

Meanwhile, the trial of Ms. Chiranuch resumed at the Ratchada Criminal Court yesterday. The presiding judge, the third since the court began the trial late last year, told lawyers from both sides to speed up the process by avoiding examining witnesses over trivial issues.


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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