[Marxism] Thai Man May Go to Prison for Insulting King’s Dog
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 15 17:11:28 MST 2015
NY Times, Dec. 15 2015
Thai Man May Go to Prison for Insulting King’s Dog
By THOMAS FULLER
BANGKOK — Thailand’s strict laws making it a crime to insult the
monarchy entered new territory on Monday when a factory worker was
charged with disparaging the king’s dog.
In a case brought in a Thai military court, the worker, Thanakorn
Siripaiboon, was charged with making a “sarcastic” Internet post related
to the king’s pet. He also faces separate charges of sedition and
insulting the king.
Mr. Thanakorn could face a total of 37 years in prison for his social
media posts, highlighting what has become a feverish campaign to protect
the monarchy and rebuff critics of the country’s military rulers.
The precise insult toward the royal dog was not divulged by the
military, according to the suspect’s lawyer, Anon Numpa.
Mr. Anon said the boundaries of what has been considered lèse-majesté,
as royal insults are known, had expanded drastically in recent years.
Last year, a prominent scholar was accused of insulting a king who died
400 years ago. The list of people who have been investigated now
includes the American ambassador to Thailand.
The law applies to anyone who specifically defames the king, the queen,
the heir apparent or the regent, but Mr. Anon said he was incredulous
that it could be broadened to include a household pet.
“I never imagined they would use the law for the royal dog,” he said.
The next legal step, the lawyer said, would be his client’s indictment,
but he added that no time frame had been set by the authorities.
Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws make it a crime to insult the
monarchy, an offense that includes a surprising number of activities.
Mr. Thanakorn was arrested at his home in a Bangkok suburb last week and
had not been seen until his arraignment on Monday. Among other charges,
he is accused of sharing on Facebook allegations of corruption in the
military’s construction of a monument to previous kings.
The royal dog in question is Tongdaeng, or Copper, who is widely loved
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88, who is also beloved and is ailing in a
Bangkok hospital, rescued the mongrel from an alley; in 2002 he wrote a
best-selling book about her. The Thai news media use the polite
honorific “khun” to describe the dog, a term that roughly translates to
The book describes Tongdaeng as a “respectful dog, with proper manners.”
The king appeared to intend it as an allegory about the importance of
respect and etiquette in changing times.
Tongdaeng “is humble and knows protocol,” the book’s preface says. “She
would always sit lower than the king.”
Despite the unusual nature of the charges against Mr. Thanakorn, there
was relatively little discussion about the case on Monday on social
media, perhaps because of fears that those who highlighted it might also
In the case of the American ambassador, Glyn T. Davies, the Thai police
said last week that he was under investigation after he gave a speech to
foreign correspondents praising the king but criticizing the “lengthy
and unprecedented prison sentences” handed down by Thai military courts
on lèse-majesté charges.
The Thai military seized power in a coup last year and has relentlessly
cracked down on challenges to its power, detaining journalists,
academics, politicians and students for “attitude adjustment” sessions
at military camps. Dissidents are made to sign pledges that allow for
financial penalties if they take part in “political activity.”
Criticism by human rights groups and United Nations bodies has been
shrugged off by the military government.
In August, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights cited the increase in convictions for
insulting the king and the increasingly long prison sentences for the
charges, reaching several decades.
“We are appalled by the shockingly disproportionate prison terms,” she said.
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