Thai labour rights activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was arrested on 30 April 2011 following publication of two articles in his magazine which the authorities claim offended the country’s ruling monarch.
Somyot has been accused of lèse majesté, the crime of insulting the king that carries up to 30 years of imprisonment. Lèse majesté has been widely used to silence labour and pro-democracy groups in Thailand.
After 21 months in arbitrary detention and being refused bail on ten separate applications, on 23 January 2013, Somyot was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. He was convicted by the Bangkok Criminal Court under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law), the crime of insulting the monarchy.
BACKGROUND TO THE CASE
Somyot is founder of the Center for Labour and International Solidarity Thailand (CLIST) and has worked with the Clean Clothes Campaign on numerous campaigns and Urgent Appeals. He worked as a project coordinator for the International Chemical, Engineering and Mining Union Federation (ICEM) before devoting his time more exclusively to journalism and human-rights activism.
In 2010 Somyot was arrested and detained for three weeks for holding a news conference where he and others called for the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva following the bloody repression of a 3 month long anti-government “red-shirt” protest during which 90 people were killed and 2000 injured.
Somyot was arrested again in April 2011 on charges of lèse majesté and has been charged with the “publication and dissemination” of two articles in the journal Voice of Thaksin, of which he was the acting editor.
The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is calling upon the Thai authorities to honour its numerous commitments to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to drop all charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all other human rights defenders detained under lèse majesté.
We also ask, more generally that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions, including judicial harassment.
For more information and regular updates from the trial, please go to: www.freesomyot.wordpress.com