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In het land dat voor veel Europese toeristen een paradijs is, is er geen vrije menigsuiting voor de bewoners van het land zelf. In dit interview legt de sociale wetenschapper Giles ji Ungpakorn uit hoe hij bedreigd wordt door het leger en door de conservatieve krachten in Thailand dat allesbehalve een democratie is. Giles ji Ungpakorn kijkt tegen een gevangenistraf van 15 jaar aan voor zogezegde belediging van de koning.
In LINKS Journal for Socialist renewal had hij enkele kritieken geschreven op het koningshuis en dat werd hem niet in dank afgenomen. We geven hieronder een verklaring van Ji Ungpakorn weer waarin hij steun vraagt van alle vrije burgers in de Wereld. Een van de dingen die je kan doen is een brief schrijven naar de Thailandse Ambassade om te protesteren tegen de schending van de mensenrechten in Thailand. Je kan ook Amnesty International inschakelen, want hij wordt om politieke redenen vervolgd. Lees meer bijzonderheden in zijn verklaring hieronder in het Engels.
The country that seems a paradise for many European tourists is far from being a democracy. In this interview Professor Giles ji Ungpakorn explains that he is treatened and risks 15 years of emprisonment for having insulted the king. We print a stament from him down here.
[Begin Statement ]
Press statement by Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn regarding lèse-majesté charges
January 13, 2009 — As you know, I have been summonsed to Pathumwan police station for questioning at 10.00 am on Tuesday 20th January 2009. I have been accused of lèse-majesté. The charge arises from my book A Coup for the Rich, published in 2007. Those found guilty of lèse-majesté face a heavy prison sentence.
1. The lèse-majesté Law in Thailand does not allow the for the proper functioning of a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy, since it restricts freedom of speech and expression and does not allow for public accountability and transparency of the institution of the Monarchy. The Thai population are encouraged to believe that we live under an “ancient system of Monarchy”, a cross between a Sakdina, Absolute and Constitutional Monarchy system.
2. The use of the lèse-majesté Law in Thailand is an attempt to prevent any discussion about one of the most important institutions. It attempts to prevent critical thought and encourage a system of “learning by rote” among the population. For example, once the Monarch has given his blessing to the “Sufficiency Economy”, we are all supposed to accept it and praise it without question. Luckily, this type of brain-washing does not work very well in Thai society, for a society which cannot openly discuss economic and political policies will remain backward and under-developed.
3. The Military often claim that they are the “defenders of the Constitutional Monarchy”, yet the Thai Military has a long history of making un-constitutional coups. These are often “legitimised” by claiming to protect the Monarchy. The 19th September 2006 coup is a good example. Rather than defending the Monarchy as such, the military sought to legitimise themselves by referring to the Monarch. The lèse-majesté Law is thus used as a tool by the military, and other authoritarian elites, in order to protect their interests instead of preserving the Constitutional Monarchy. The promotion of an image that the Monarchy is all powerful (an unconstitutional image), is part of this self-legitimisation by the military and other forces.
4. Constitutional Monarchs in most democratic countries enjoy stability while being subjected to public scrutiny. Therefore we must conclude that the Thai lèse-majesté laws are not in place in order to bring stability to the institution, but serve another purpose.
5. Those who charge me with lèse-majesté are doing so because I have shown a principled and unyielding opposition to military coups and dictatorships. Many other activists are facing similar charges for the same reason. We must not forget their plight. We must wage an international and national political campaign to defend democratic rights in Thailand and for the abolition of the Lese Majeste law.
My book A Coup for the Rich
I wrote and published this book a few months after the 19th September 2006 military coup. The book was an attempt to write an academic analysis of the Thai political crisis from a pro-democracy point of view. While constantly criticising the Thaksin government’s gross abuses of human rights, I argued that the coup was totally unjustified. I argued that those who supported the coup: the military, the PAD, disgruntled businessmen, neo-liberals and conservative civil servants, were united in their contempt for the poor. They have no faith in democracy because they believe that the poor do not deserve the right to vote. They also hate Thaksin’s party because it could win elections, while they could not.
Another important theme in my book is the questioning of the perceived “fact” that the crisis was a result of a dispute between the Monarchy and Thaksin. It is this argument of mine that may have enraged the military most of all, since they wished to use Royal legitimacy for their coup. I also attempted to stimulate a discussion about whether a Constitutional Monarchy should defend the Constitution and Democracy. In another section of the book I tried to paint an historical account of the Monarchy and to argue that it is now a modern institution, not a feudal one.
I have now sold all 1000 copies of A Coup for the Rich, but it is available to download from my blog http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/ and from the International Socialist Tendency website in the UK. Just after publication, the book was withdrawn from sale by Chulalongkorn University bookshop and later by Thammasart University bookshop.
I reject totally the accusation that I have committed any crime by writing and publishing this book. I am prepared to fight any lèse-majesté charges in order to defend academic freedom, the freedom of expression and democracy in Thailand.
Since this accusation was filed by a Special Branch officer, the present Democrat Party government should be questioned about its role in this and many other cases. The new prime minister has stated that he wants to see a firm crackdown on les majesty and many recent cases have been filed by the police.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn
January 13, 2009
What you can do
1. Write a letter of protest/concern to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Government House, Bangkok, Thailand. Fax number +66 (0) 29727751
2. Write a letter of protest/concern to the Ambassador, The Royal Thai Embassy, in your country.
3. Demand that Amnesty International take up all lèse-majesté cases in Thailand.
4. Demand the abolition of the lèse-majesté law.
Zie ook/ See Also
Monks, generals and karma (New Statesman)
Ji Ungpakorn (Wikipedia)