‘Socially sanction’ royal critics, Thais urged
> Fresh videos emerge of mob justice
BANGKOK: Thais should “socially sanction” those who defame the monarchy following King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, the junta’s justice minister said yesterday, as fresh videos emerged of mob justice against people accused of insulting the institution.
The death of the world’s longest reigning monarch on Thursday has left the nation bereft of its key pillar of unity and seen remarkable mass outpourings of grief from black-clad Thais.
But it has also unleashed small but vocal ultra-monarchist forces, including mobs and online crusaders scouring the web and bent on punishing anyone perceived to have insulted the monarchy.
“There is no better way to punish these people than to socially sanction them,” Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya told reporters yesterday, as he vowed to “pursue those people who violate the law”.
His message comes amid a growing number of cases of vigilantism by royalist Thais against people accused of insulting the monarchy.
At 10.30am a video was broadcast live on Facebook showing a mob beating a man and forcing him to prostrate in apology for allegedly insulting the monarchy.
During the beating, which appeared to take place in Chonburi east of Bangkok, the man cried out: “I didn’t mean to do it, I love the king! It’s my fault.”
Another video widely shared on social media showed an elderly woman on a Bangkok bus being berated by fellow commuters in the presence of police.
As she exits the bus, the woman is slapped in the face by another woman dressed in black. It is not clear when the incident took place but the video was uploaded on Monday evening.
Thailand’s monarchy is protected by a draconian lese majeste law that outlaws criticism with punishments of up to 15 years in jail for each insult uttered.
Prosecutions have surged under junta rule with record-breaking sentences handed down in some cases. – AFP
A Thai art student paints a portrait of King Bhumibol at the Silpakorn University in Bangkok on Monday.