Mixed reaction over Somyot sentence
- Published: 31/01/2013 at 06:17 PM
- Online news:
Thai society is split over the reaction that has emerged from the jail sentence of 10 years handed down to the editor of a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra magazine.
A group of about 50 people has voiced their discontent at the European Union's statement of "deep concern" over the lengthy sentence given to Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.
The group said some European countries had constitutional monarchies and therefore they might not fully understand the importance of the monarchy to Thailand.
The King was the Thai army marshal and had done a lot for the country. Anyone posting remarks instigating hatred against or defaming the highest institution should be punished, said the "Monarchy Protection Network".
The group noted that lese majeste laws were common in some countries such as the Netherlands where royal defamation brings three to five years imprisonment.
Some protesters have even said if the EU interferes in Thai domestic affairs, they might mobilise people to boycott EU products.
But a group of non-red-shirt activists have also prepared letters of concern to heads of the executive, legislative and judicial branches over the harsh sentence given to the former editor of the "Voice of Taksin" magazine.
Health and consumer protection rights advocates and FTA Watch activists are behind the letters to be sent Friday to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Parliament Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranand, and Supreme Court president Phairoj Vayuparb, as well as the chair of the National Human Rights Commission, to seek basic rights for Somyot who has been denied bail 12 times.
The petition follows a milder one issued by senior editors and writers, including Suchart Sawasdsri.
The writers' statement said though the "Voice of Taksin" magazine might not be wholeheartedly considered "the media", the sentence through the problematic lese majeste law was a bad signal to free thinking and free speech in the country.
The statement differed from that made by Thai Journalists Association president Chavarong Limpattamapanee who has said the court's ruling in Somyos's case should not be linked with the issue of freedom of expression since the constitution has ensured Thai people's freedom of expression, but not without limit or exception.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has also joined widespread criticism of the ruling.
The verdict has drawn sharp condemnation from around the world, including by the European Union and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"The reactions to the ruling reflect the strength of feeling against the court's decision which has the potential to damage severely the country's standing," said IFJ president Jim Boumelha. "The sentence handed down by the court speaks more to curtailing critical reporting in Thailand than to protecting the monarch."
About the author
- Writer: Achara Ashayagachat