3 years and counting, Thai activist Somyot remains in jail following charges of lese majesty

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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.

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.

 

Free Somyot

WHO IS SOMYOT PRUKSAKASEMSUK?

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.

OUR DEMAND
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.

Read Somyot’s letter from prison here

For more information and regular updates from the trial, please go to: www.freesomyot.wordpress.com

ACT NOW

Sign and send your own letter to the Thai Prime Minister below calling for the immediate release of Somyot and all other human rights defenders detained under the lèse majesté laws.

[emailpetition id=”1″]

Conviction of Thai activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk greeted with international condemnation.

somyot image-by-Karnt ThassanaphakImage by Karnt Thassanaphak

 

On January 22nd 2013 the Bangkok Criminal Court convicted Somyot Prueksakasemsuk on 2 counts of Article 112 of the Criminal Code (the lèse-majesté law*) and sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment.

Clean Clothes Campaign, together with the Free Somyot Campaign and the Thai Labour Campaign strongly deplores the conviction of human rights defender and magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.

Somyot is a prisoner of conscience. He was convicted solely for the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to participate in public life. He has been in detention since April 2011 for the publication of two articles deemed insulting to the monarch. Today’s verdict is a serious blow to the rule of law in Thailand and will further contribute to self-censorship.

The verdict is a violation of international human rights law, in particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified. Currently, Thailand is running for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. CCC recalls that the UN Charter urges the General Assembly, where the election takes place, to consider candidates’ contribution “to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization,” (article 23.1 on criteria of membership of UNSC) including “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms” (article 1.3 of the UN Charter).

If Thailand is to be in compliance with its binding international legal obligations to respect and protect basic rights, this unjust verdict against Somyot should be promptly overturned on appeal. Additionally, while the appeal is being considered, his constitutional right to provisional release should be upheld so that he could reunite with his family, better attend to his medical conditions, and adequately prepare for his defense.

One political prisoner is one too many. CCC calls on Thailand to free Somyot and all other persons detained on politically-motivated charges and end all forms of harassment against them.

*Thailand’s lèse-majesté law prohibits any word or act, which “defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent”.
This law places the country in contravention of its international legal obligations to uphold international standards of freedom of expression.