Activists protest against Somyot's conviction

Dozens of anti-Article 112 activists on Friday burned mock law textbooks in front of the Criminal Court in protest against the prison sentence given to Somyot Prueksakasensuk, former editor of Voice of Taksin magazine.

A separate group went to visit Somyot at the Bangkok Remand Prison, where he had been detained since April 30, 2011 on the lese majeste charges and repeatedly denied bail.

The former labour activist and magazine editor was convicted on two counts of lese majeste on Wednesday and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Photo by Achara Ashayagachat

The burning of mock textbooks, mainly relating to the rights of the innocent, bail and free speech, began at noon in front of a large crowd of local and international media.

Police and court officials also filmed the hour-long protest.

Progressive Society Assembly member Saowalux Pho-ngam said the court has ignored defendants' right to bail, especially in the case of those caught up in lese majeste lawsuits.

Kwanravee Wangudom, of the Mahidol University's Institute for Human Rights and Peace Studies, read out a statement by the Friends of Somyot group before the symbolic burning.

Ms Kwanravee said the activity was organised with a free spirit by people of various walks of life who felt that Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which deals with lese majeste, was authoritarian and the sentences were unjust in many cases.

The statement cited the previous case of Daranee Charncherngsilapakul, saying she was given an unconstitutional  secret trial and then sentenced to 15 years in prison,  and also Thantawut Taveevarodom, who was sentenced to 13 years, and Ampon Tangnoppakul, or Uncle SMS, who was sent to prison for 20 years and died not long after in a prison hospital in May last year.

At the Bangkok Remand Prison, about 15 people visited Somoyot, including Suda Rangkuphan, from the Street Justice Council, and Somsak Jeamteerasakul.

Meanwhile, 18 organisations have staged protest against the 10-year sentence for Somyot, in front of the Thai embassy in Seoul, South Korea.

A large number of Thai non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also issued a statement on Friday pleading for a softer sentence and tolerance of different thinking in Thai society.

On Wednesday, the Criminal Court sentenced Somyot to five years for each of the two lese majeste charges against him, and cancelled the suspension of a previous one-year-jail term imposed on Somyot from a defamation case, raising his sentence to 11 years in prison in total.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk raised his hand in a victory sign before the Criminal Court convicted him on two counts of lese majeste on Wednesday. (Photo by Surapol Promsaka na Sakolnakorn)

Related search: lese majeste, Somyot Prueksakasensuk

About the author

Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Senior Reporter