Mum in­dicted over one-word ‘royal slur’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THE mother of a prominent stu­dent ac­tivist has been charged by a Thai mil­i­tary court with royal defama­tion over a one-word Face­book mes­sage in what rights groups have de­scribed as a new low for the junta’s crack­down on dis­sent.

Patna­ree Chankij, 40, was ini­tially ar­rested in May by Thai po­lice for vi­o­lat­ing Thai­land’s se­vere royal defama­tion law, which bans dis­parag­ing the monar­chy with up to 15 years in prison on each count.

Her lawyers say the charge stems from writ­ing “ja” – the Thai equiv­a­lent of “yeah” – in re­sponse to a pri­vate Face­book mes­sage from some­one else that al­legedly in­sulted the royal fam­ily.

The case has been seized upon by ac­tivists as a terrifying ex­am­ple of how the mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties have broad­ened their in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the crime to in­clude even vague ref­er­ences to the monar­chy.

Po­lice even­tu­ally dropped the charges after an out­cry but they for­warded the case to pros­e­cu­tors from the mil­i­tary who have pressed ahead with it.

“A mil­i­tary court to­day ac­cepted the case filed by the mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor,” lawyer Anon Nampa said on Au­gust 1, adding that his client was granted bail.

Use of both the lese ma­jeste law and mil­i­tary courts has sky­rock­eted since

for­mer army chief turned Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-O-Cha seized power in May 2014 spark­ing in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion, in­clud­ing from the United Na­tions.

Record-break­ing 25- and 30-year sen­tences have since been handed down for peo­ple over Face­book posts while a man even found him­self ar­rested for mak­ing sar­cas­tic com­ments about the king’s late dog. –

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