Pub­lic sham­ing for royal in­sults

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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 on Oc­to­ber 13 of the world’s long­est reign­ing monarch has left the na­tion bereft of its key pil­lar of unity and seen 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 said 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.

A video broad­cast live on Face­book yes­ter­day showed a mob kick­ing and beat­ing a man and forc­ing him to pros­trate him­self in apol­ogy for al­legedly in­sult­ing the monar­chy.

Prose­cu­tions over royal slurs have surged un­der the mil­i­tary which seized power two years ago, and record-break­ing sen­tences have been handed in some cases.

The lese ma­jeste law makes de­tailed dis­cus­sion about the monar­chy’s role – and its fu­ture af­ter King Bhu­mi­bol’s 70-year reign – all but im­pos­si­ble.

The at­mos­phere in Bangkok has been over­whelm­ingly som­bre and calm since the death of the king.

But there has been an uptick of an­gry so­cial me­dia calls by hard­line roy­al­ists for vig­i­lante ac­tion against al­leged trans­gres­sors of “112” – the criminal code that cov­ers the feared lese ma­jeste law.

A wo­man on Sa­mui is­land was forced by po­lice to kneel be­low a por­trait of King Bhu­mi­bol in front of a bay­ing mob af­ter she al­legedly posted an in­sult­ing com­ment about the monar­chy on Face­book. She has since been charged with lese ma­jeste.

Other so­cial me­dia users have be­rated those deemed not to be mourn­ing suf­fi­ciently deeply or fail­ing to wear black clothes.

But the lat­ter phe­nom­e­non, dubbed “black-sham­ing”, has been con­demned by the junta.

Its leader Prayut Chan-o-cha did not ad­dress the mob vi­o­lence when he briefed re­porters yes­ter­day, though he urged Thais not to make in­flam­ma­tory com­ments.

“I ask for co­op­er­a­tion from the pub­lic not to broad­cast or send such mes­sages as it hurts the feel­ings of Thai peo­ple and is il­le­gal,” he said.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Pai­boon said the junta would re­new ex­tra­di­tion re­quests for Thais abroad – some­thing that is un­likely to sway gov­ern­ments in coun­tries where lese ma­jeste is not a crime. –

Photo: EPA

Pai­boon Koom­chaya has is­sued a stern warn­ing.

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