I am writing to you on Martin Luther King Day in the US, to appeal to your government on behalf of Jutapat Boompattararaksa (Pai Daodin ไผ่ ดาวดิน), a peaceful protester who has been locked up for nothing. It should not be a crime to share an ordinary BBC news article, which is what he did. If the Thai government thinks the BBC news article reported something falsely, the Thai government is free to demonstrate how and where the BBC reporters are wrong. The Thai government has no right to lock up people who read and share the news. To the world, Pai Doadin looks like American civil rights activist, Rosa Parks, who was taken off to jail when she refused to give up her seat on the bus for white people. Both Rosa Parks and Pai Daodin broke a rule that should never have been a rule. Laws should apply to all people equally. There should not be a law that favors white people over black people. Similarly, there should not be a law (lese majesty) that causes hundreds to go to jail to protect a few members of the royal family. According to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression is an international human right that cannot be taken away, not even by an anti-blasphemy law such as Thailand’s Article 112. Furthermore, Pai Daodin did not even say anything negative about the king, he only shared a news article that thousands of other people also shared. It is obvious that he was singled out for prosecution because he is a political dissident.
The world does not forget that Pai Daodin went on a hunger strike and became very sick the last time he went to jail for nothing. On that occasion he was imprisoned for recommending “Vote No” on the junta’s draft constitution. In this case also, Pai Daodin looks exactly like Rosa Parks, ignoring laws that make absolutely no sense and violate human rights. Like Rosa Parks, Khun Pai also used nonviolent means to draw attention to the injustice being done to himself and other Thais.
Khun Pai is not a dangerous criminal and should be allowed bail. He is a law student who needs to be out of jail so he can take his exams and have a chance to graduate. While in jail, he has been subjected to frequent body cavity checks which are a further violation of his person.
Thailand wants the people of the United States and the world to respect its kings, but going forward, this will be impossible unless the Thai King makes an effort to rectify the horrible injustices being perpetuated in his name. In fact our group has petitioned King Vajiralongkorn to release ALL the lese majesty subjects and to call for an end to lese majesty. King Vajiralongkorn has the power to right the wrong that is the Thai lese majesty law and thereby instantly improve the welfare of all Thais and restore the reputation that Thailand once had as a leader in democracy and human rights in the region.
We applaud the recent release from jail of Red Shirt leader Jatupon Prompan for medical reasons. Perhaps something similar can be worked out for Pai Daodin, so that he can take his exams. But, ultimately, we want all the charges against this young man dropped.
Pai Daodin is my immediate concern today. But our group is also worried about Thanat Thanawatcharanon (Tom Dundee), who was sentenced to over 10 years in jail for supposed insults to the monarchy. The Center for Inquiry has noticed that this case is very similar to the horrific case of Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for supposed insults to Islam.
And we can’t forget prisoner of conscience Somyot Prueksakasamesuk, the editor who is charged with lese majesty for merely publishing 2 articles written by others, who has served more than 5 years in jail, and can’t seek a pardon from the King because he will not plead guilty to the charge of lese majesty. His actions also remind us of celebrated US civil rights leaders.
Thank you for consideration of our requests.
Executive Director of the
Thai Alliance for Human Rights