Target: Deputy Prime Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya
Goal: Drop charges against woman who has been charged for her response to a Facebook message.
Thai courts have charged a women with insulting the monarchy for her response to an allegedly unlawful Facebook message. Patnaree Chankij, the mother of a pro democracy student activist, has been charged for her neutral response to a Facebook message from a friend of her son. In the message, her son’s friend allegedly made comments critical of the Thai monarchy, a violation of Thai law. The charges against Mrs. Chankij stem from her alleged failure to criticize the comments. While she was initially denied bail, she was later released on bail. She will still be tried in military court. If she is convicted she could face up to 15 years in prison.
Mrs. Chankij is being charged under Thailand’s lese majeste laws, which protect the Thai monarchy from criticism. However, critics of the laws say that the laws are vague, and result in disproportionate sentences. Further, critics claim that the laws have been used to silence dissent, and quash critics of the military regime. Since the 2014 military coup, Thailand’s military leaders have pursued 57 cases under these laws and of these 44 were for comments made online. Furthermore, the military regime has been responsible for harsher sentences than previous, civilian regimes handing down sentences as long as 60 years. This latest lese majeste case is a transparent attempt to silence pro-democracy activists by targeting their families. Sign our petition and demand that Patnaree Chankij be released and all charges against her dropped.
Dear General Paiboon Koomchaya,
I was alarmed to hear of the arrest and imprisonment of Patnaree Chankij for allegedly failing to criticize Facebook messages critical of the monarchy. While I recognize that Thailand’s leaders have made enforcing the lese majeste laws a priority, the facts of this case do not indicate any intent on the part of Mrs. Chankij to criticize the monarchy. Thus, pursuing this case only undermines these laws and, by extension, Thailand’s international reputation.
While I applaud the reversal of the initial refusal to release Mrs. Chankij on bail, I urge you to ensure that all charges against Mrs. Chankij are dropped. Given the facts of the case, the charges against her can only be interpreted as an attempt to silence her son, Sirawith Seritiwat. Targeting family members of protesters is both unconscionable and against international law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Barnelbe