[From the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand]
Fault Line: A panel discussion on Thailand’s Article 112
Tuesday, June 19, 8pm
Speaking to the FCCT via Skype 2009, Professor Tongchai Winichakul and Professor Andrew Walker announced a petition – signed by dozens of leading global figures in human rights, civil liberties and academia, to then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, citing Thailand’s Article 112 and urging the government to consider the following:
- Please stop seeking more suppressive measures against individuals, web sites, and the peaceful expressions of ideas.
- Please consider suggestions to reform the lese majeste law to prevent further abuses and to prevent the possibility of further damage to the international reputation ofThailand and the monarch.
- Please consider taking action to withdraw the current lese majeste charges, and working to secure the release of those already convicted under the lese majeste law. They are charged for expressing their ideas. This should not be a crime.
The letter argued that “frequent abuse of the lese majeste law against political opponents undermines democratic processes” and generates “heightened criticism of the monarchy andThailand itself, both inside and outside the country.”
Three years later, the law remains the same, but debate over 112 has only deepened and widened. Political turmoil reached a peak in 2010. The number of lese majeste cases has shot up. There seems to be no appetite for amendment of the law despite several petitions and much criticism both within and outsideThailand. Yet the law is increasingly an emotional and politically explosive fault line.
Continuing its long running series of debates on this issue, three years on the FCCT revisits one of the earliest petitions regarding Article 112.
Dr Andrew Walker, from the Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University; and Dr Thongchai Winichakul, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, will speak at the FCCT again via video conference, to review what has transpired since, and assess what may lie in store in the future.
Responding from the floor of the FCCT and joining the discussion, will be
- Dr Chaichana Inkawat, Professor of the Faculty of Political Science at Ramkhamhaeng University. A graduate ofThammasatUniversity and a Fulbright Scholar atCornellUniversity, Dr Chaichana has been faculty at Ramkhamhaeng for almost four decades. He is also a regular contributor to political and current affairs discussions on independent and state-run TV inThailand.
- Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Director, Prachatai.com. Recently found guilty with a suspended sentence under Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act for not removing allegedly lese majeste comments from the website quickly enough, Ms Chiranuch is the winner of the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2011 Courage in Journalism award.