Monthly Archives: November 2016

Letters to help Human Rights Lawyer Sirikan (June) Chareonsiri, who was charged with sedition for defending her clients in the New Democracy Movement

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Below is my letter. To learn how you can send a letter for Khun June, click through to Amnesty International’s URGENT ACTION appeal for Sirikan (June) Chareonsiri.

Dear Ambassador,

สวัสดีค่ะ I am Ann Norman with the Thai Alliance for Human Rights ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน. We are an American-based Thai Human Rights group consisting mostly of Thai-Americans. We are very concerned about Sirikan (June) Charoensiri, the Human Rights Lawyer who has been charged with sedition for actions taken in the process of defending the New Democracy Movement activists. It appears that Khun June was just doing her job and has broken no laws. First she refused a warrant-less search and then she complained about it. One would expect she had a legal right to do both things. To charge her with sedition requires that one twist and stretch the law. The charge of sedition seems totally baseless. She was just working with a nonprofit, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, to defend her clients.

As Amnesty International was taking up the case, our organization was also being asked to do something for Khun June. We heard from people who know her. They are quite distressed that their friend Khun June, a lovely woman who was only trying to do good in the world now faces a trial for sedition and the possibility of 15 years imprisonment. This seems completely contrary to all fairness and common sense. She was defending her clients against an injustice, and now Khun June becomes yet another victim of that same injustice.

We are also unhappy with the repression of peaceful dissent in Thailand. We call on authorities to end the repression and to respect the human rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. We are unhappy that Sirikan (June) Charoensiri is being tried in a military court. Any trial should take place in a civilian court.

We hope you can do something to reverse this terrible mistake that may send poor Khun June to jail for 15 years. Please drop the charges immediately.

Thank you so much,

Ann Norman
แอน นอร์มาน
Executive Director, Thai Alliance for Human Rights
ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน

Where is ex-Princess Srirasmi? Show Us She is Alive and Well!!

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This is a follow-up to my previous article. Two different sources indicate that my statement on the fate of ex-Princess Srirasmi, the recently divorced third wife of Prince and soon-to-be-King Vajiralongkorn, is seriously incomplete. I said that she had been exiled to the countryside. One source insists that she is very likely dead, and that this happened at a temple in Chiang Rai! And that, in any case, she is definitely disappeared—that is, she not where she is said to be, and cannot be located despite determined efforts to find her. Meanwhile, reporter Andrew MacGregor Marshall has, on the record, posted conflicting, but somewhat similar, information for which he claims multiple sources—that she is being “tormented” or abused at her house in Ratchaburi on orders of the Prince. Everyone seems to agree that her son, Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, has been taken from her. My first source also fears for other members of Srirasami’s family who were thrown in jail around the same time. They are not in the jail where they are supposed to be, and they also cannot be located.

I am understandably reluctant to go out on a limb and be the first one shouting that a famous Princess is missing and possibly dead, and that her whole family is missing as well. But the story is credible in the context of everything else I have seen unfold in the short time I have been following events in Thailand. Yes, I am an outsider and can barely pronounce her name. But as an outsider, I am also one of the few people in the world who can shout about things without fear of the brutal lese majesty law.

Here is the backstory, which I gathered from an Internet search: Srirasmi Suwadee, 44, formerly Princess Srirasmi, entered the service of the Crown Prince at the age of 22 and married him when she was 29. He is about 20 years older that her. They have one son, Dipangkorn, who is now 11. Princess Srirasmi was married to the prince for thirteen years from 2001 to 2014. Google her name to see many beautiful pictures of her standing beside the Prince and caring for their son. She started a “Love and care from mothers to children” breastfeeding campaign. She is the princess who stars in the infamous “naked birthday party with the dog” video. Notably, in that video, the Prince has her perform a degrading act– aside from being the only person naked at that party. At one point in the video, she lays on the ground and eats cake with the dog.

In 2014, Vajiralongkorn very suddenly, and shockingly, dumped Srirasmi: On November 30, of that year, I posted this on facebook:

“So can anyone figure out what is going on in Thailand, and if they can, do they dare say it out loud? So over the weekend the crown prince and heir to the thrown asked that his wife be stripped of her royal title after several of her relatives were arrested on corruption charges. The Thai news could report that the relatives were arrested, but no one dared point out the royal connection until just now when the crown prince made this move to distance his wife.”
In total 22 were arrested, and 17 of those were charged with lese majesty. It seems they had been involved in a smuggling ring, in which they used their royal connection to justify their demands (thus committing lese majesty by misusing the royal name). It is almost inconceivable that 22 of Vajiralongkorn’s friends and family were involved without his knowledge. It appears he threw his wife and her whole family overboard to distance himself from an operation he had participated in and benefited from.

Most alarming for those of us concerned about the fate of Princess Srirasmi, a year later there was a second round of arrests of Vajiralongkon’s close associates, and this time three of the people accused of lese majesty died in custody—two supposedly committed suicide and another mysteriously died of a blood infection. The deaths followed so quickly on each other that I was screaming foul as soon as I read the news stories. Here are those posts:

October 26, 2015: Sorry for the constant stream of lese majesty bad news, but one of the suspects brought into a military detention facility accused of lese majesty after the new “all-out blitz on lese majesty” allegedly commited suicide while in detention. The Thai rights group calls for the shutdown of the military jail as it is obviously not able to handle the detention correctly (if “correctly” were even a word that could be used in relation to this despicable law.)

November 9, 2015: No, you haven’t already heard this story. It just happened today! A SECOND suspect in the Thai Dictator’s “all out lese majesty blitz” dies in military custody, this time of ‘Blood infection’, as the article says. The last victim “committed suicide” (If you want to talk over the heads of this junta, just use scare quotes. Sadly, it’s that easy.) So . . . use your DoubleThink to realize you better not commit lese majesty or you will be disappeared AND to assure yourself that their deaths were unrelated to their detention.

Several published articles now count these deaths as outright murders. Given all this, we must demand to know: What has happened to Princess Srirasmi?! Please prove to us that she and her family and associates are all alive and well! We would all LOVE to learn that I am screaming about nothing.