[Marxism] Thai Man May Go to Prison for Insulting King’s Dog

Louis Proyect 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. 
“It’s nonsense.”

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 
in Thailand.

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 
ma’am.

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 
face charges.

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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