You Can Help!!
Thanat Thanawatcharanon, also known as Tom Dundee ทอม ดันดี, 58, was a celebrity in Thailand for over a decade as a singer in the band Zu Zu. His music was playful and flirtatious. In 2010, he gave up doing concerts to become a leader of the Red Shirts (or United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship), giving speeches at rallies. During this time, he was denounced by royalist watchdogs (the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook) for insulting the monarchy in some of these speeches.
The Thai constitution states that “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.” Section 112 of Thai Criminal Code states: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” We do not actually know what Tom Dundee or Thanat Thanawatcharanon said to cause the lese majesty accusation, because the alleged insults cannot be repeated.
Thanat’s case dragged out until after the May 2014 coup led by Prayut Chan-ocha. Sentences for royal insults have become increasingly harsh under the junta, which justifies itself as protector of the monarchy. Thanat Thanawatcharanon at first he denied he was guilty of lese majesty, but after 11 months he confessed, as most lese majesty prisoners do in hope of receiving a pardon or a lenient sentence. So all were shocked when, on June 1, 2016, he was given a sentence of 7.5 years. In addition, the royalist judge added that after he is released, he must compose a song promoting national reconciliation and plant trees in honor of the king.
On July 11, 2016, he was punished again for the same statements, when he was sentenced to several additional years under the Computer Crimes Act, which came into play because his speeches had been posted online. This brings the total time he will be imprisoned to 10 years, 10 months.
Former editor, and fellow lese majesty political prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, calls Tom Dundee Thailand’s true Songs for Life artist.
Thanat Thanawatcharanon, or Tom Dundee, remains in jail separated from his wife and family. He can be pardoned by the King. You can help by sending snail mail to the Thai Embassy in Washington DC.
Royal Thai Embassy Embassy
2300 Kalorama Rd NW, Washington,
Or go to this link and sending a quick email to (self-appointed) Prine Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and to Minister of Justice: