Thai Woman Faces Imprisonment for Being Critical of Monarchy


Recently, Thailand witnessed one of the most jarring news when a 65-year-old woman was sentenced to be imprisoned for more than 43 years.

The violation of Section 112 of the criminal code owes to this sentence. The fault on the woman’s part was that she posted certain content which was recognized as notorious against the form of government in Thailand.

This verdict came out amidst the time of massive youth-led demonstrations in the country against the same article popularly known as lèse-majesté law.

The judgement is symbolic of the blood-curdling signal that the monarchy would not tolerate any criticism. Furthermore, if any such critical opinion turns up, the opinion-bearer would be subjected to severe punishment for doing the same.


Government of Thailand

Previously known as the Royal Thai Government, the Government of Thailand is the unitary government of the country, formerly known as Siam.

The country had a history of absolute monarchy which was switched with constitutional monarchy owing to the Siamese Revolution of 1932. In this revolution, a coup was executed in June 1932.

The series of events constituting the revolution was launched by Khana Ratsadon, Thai’s first political party along with military under the leadership of Pridi Banomyong and Plaek Phibunsongkhramand a small group of civilians.

The reason for this movement was a response to the stimulus generated by the domestic issues and global political currents as well. In addition to this, this revolution has a positive point of being a complete bloodless movement i.e., with no casualties recorded.

Though the Thai government has experienced a huge transition due to the Revolution of 1932, the King of the country still exercises supreme power through the three subsidiaries of government: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary.

The King is also the leader of the armed forces and also of the House of Chakri which is Thailand’s ruling house. Presently, King Vajiralongkorn is the head of the dynasty, exercising limited rule since December 1st, 2016.

In addition to this, the Prime Minister is also appointed by the King. Moreover, there are numerous articles in the constitution, which has been updated around seventeen times, that safeguards the Royal family and the King. Section 112, popular with the name of lèse-majesté law is one of such kind.


Lèse-Majesté Law

The literal meaning of the word ‘lèse-majesté’ which is a part of the French lexicon, is to do wrong to the majesty or the King. This is a crime according to Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code.

Currently, any defamation, insult or threatening of the King and the members of the Royal family, subjects the originator to a prison sentence of about three to fifteen years for each count.

Coup makers have many-a-times held the increased alleged lèse-majesté charges as a reason of deposing the elected governments, as evident in the coup of 2006 and 2014.

On drawing conclusions from the statistics, the law violators are on an average mostly the civilians who were given prison sentence as a punishment for breaching this law. Human rights group characterized this law as a political tool which acts as a constraint of people’s freedom.

In Thailand, the practice of this law is described as the world’s harshest and strictestlèse-majesté law. However, the justification given to its enforcement is that this law is in the interest of palace i.e., the Royal family.

However, broadly the interpretation of this law under Section 112, is the monarch exercising complete control of the State. More or less, executing a form of absolute monarchy under the cover of constitutional monarchy.

The only concession given is the reduction of sentence by half of its initial value, however, even then an appreciable part of the offender’s life-span is consumed in this process.


Background of the Recent Case

The woman who has been sentenced for about 43 years, for violating the above law under Section 112, had been subjected to such consequence for merely uploading 29 videos in which she was critical of the Royal power of in Thailand.

The videos were posted in the year 2015 on social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.After uploading, the woman was detained and was kept in a temporary detention centre for about 3 years.

From there, she was sent out on bail in 2018. Formerly, she was sentenced to 87 years of internment.But after, she expressed her guilt, there was a reduction in sentence from 87 to 43 years.

In all, the case for that matter the lèse-majesté law under the Section 112, when seen from a broader perspective, is truly a symbol of the modern absolutism or ‘neo-absolutism’ which only acts as an instrument to hinder the expression of free speech by the people.

No matter how many justifications or sugar-coated arguments are released in the favor of the same, the execution of this law only hampers the path to sheer democracy.


Written by - Khushboo Dhuliya

Edited by - Christeena George

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