UCA News

Thai regime 'making mockery a criminal offense'

Critics poking fun at military govt face arrest ahead of third anniversary of coup
Thai regime 'making mockery a criminal offense'

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has threatened to take legal action against anyone mocking him on social media. (Photo by Wally Santana/AFP)

Published: April 19, 2017 05:35 AM GMT
Updated: April 19, 2017 05:46 AM GMT

Thailand's military junta is targeting a range of peaceful critics for prosecution prior to the third anniversary of the military coup, Human Rights Watch said April 18.

Charges were recently brought against Veera Somkwamkid, 59, a prominent anti-corruption activist, for mocking Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Facebook.

The ruling National Council for Peace and Order has frequently harassed and prosecuted peaceful critics, including those who have poked fun of the junta, since taking power in a May 2014 coup, Human Rights Watch said.

"The junta can't even take some mockery on Facebook without throwing someone in jail," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"This intolerance of political criticism and dissenting opinions is an embrace of dictatorial rule, not a transition to democracy."

An arrest warrant was filed against Veera on March 9, under the Computer-Related Crime Act. The charges against him relate to a satirical questionnaire on his Facebook page asking which of the promises in the junta's theme song Returning Happiness to Thailand, composed by Prayut, had been fulfilled. Most of the 123 participants who answered Veera's questions responded that "None" of the junta's pledges had been met.

The Police Technology Crime Suppression Division accused Veera of misleading the public by reporting false information.

Last April, Prayut said that he ordered officials to take legal action against anyone mocking him on social media: "I will prosecute them all. They can't make fun of me," he said.

Soon after, on April 27, 2016, Thai authorities arrested eight people for being involved in the making and dissemination of commentary on the parody Facebook page "We Love General Prayut." They have been charged with sedition under article 116 of the Penal Code.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia