Rally chiefs want repeal of lese majeste law

Rally chiefs want repeal of lese majeste law

Anti-government protesters rally at the 14 October 1973 Memorial on Thursday to support a move to end the lese majeste law. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Anti-government protesters rally at the 14 October 1973 Memorial on Thursday to support a move to end the lese majeste law. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Anti-government protest leaders, who are facing charges for allegedly offending the monarchy, on Thursday vowed to drum up public support for their call for the revocation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.

In a joint statement read at the 14 October 1973 Memorial, one of the anti-government movement's three rally sites in Bangkok on Thursday, eight protest leaders facing lese majeste charges insisted they would not settle for anything less than the law being repealed.

The protest leaders said they would use every possible channel to achieve their goal as they believe Section 112 presents a legal obstacle to many issues.

They likened Section 112 to "the first stone that needs to be removed".

Among the eight protest leaders charged with the lese majeste law are Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak and Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul.

The protest leaders said in their statement they believe Section 112 is a hindrance to freedom of expression, carries a hefty penalty and is often exploited as a political tool to suppress political opponents.

"Today is Constitution Day and International Human Rights Day. We, students and pro-democracy people, who are being barred by Section 112, are gathering here to call for the revocation of this law," said Mr Parit.

"Current legal prosecutions [in all lese majeste cases] should be dropped and amnesty be granted to all suspects and those already punished compensated, for the sake of democracy and for Thailand to be able to move forward and reduce political conflicts in society," he said.

A website dedicated to campaigning against the lese majeste law was also launched yesterday.

Self-exiled Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is working as a university lecturer in Japan and is wanted on lese majeste charges, addressed the protesters via a video clip.

He said he believed the protesters would eventually win the fight against the government and succeed in pushing for the lese majeste law to be scrapped.

Outside the United Nations Conference Centre on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, a separate group of protesters submitted an open letter to the United Nations calling on the international community to pressure the government to revoke Section 112.

The other protest site yesterday was at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

Meanwhile, former Democrat Party MP Warong Dechgitvigrom, who now leads the pro-monarchy Thai Pakdee (Loyal Thais) group, questioned the motive behind the move to get rid of Section 112.

"Do you really think defaming, insulting and threatening someone is something you should do? "If you didn't intend to do anything wrong, why are you afraid [of the lese majeste law]?" he said.

Many countries have enacted laws designed to protect the head of state including Japan and the US, he said.

Also yesterday, Pol Col Worasak Phisitbannakon, chief of Chana Songkhram police station, said police were investigating an explosion that went off about 3am yesterday at the 14 October 1973 Memorial.

It went off hours before the rally there was scheduled to take place. The blast partially damaged a granite staircase and flowerpots, he said.

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