[FACT comments: We wouldn’t blame Joe Gordon for turning his back on Thailand. Unlike other foreign lèse majesté convicts, Thai govt has always treated Joe as Thai and therefore cannot deport him. We’d really like him to stay and campaign against censorship and injustice.]

Political Prisoners in Thailand: July 11, 2012



Earlier PPT posted that Twitter, Facebook and emails are flying about suggesting that lese majeste convict Joe Gordon has been released. More details were promised.

Here’s a list of stories that have appeared. In reading them, it needs to be remembered that Joe was essentially forced to plead guilty to lese majeste but never admitted the offense as charged. Even if he had, translating a legal book in the U.S. was not illegal. In essence, the Thai government made a legal act in another country illegal in Thailand. One journalist reports that the pardon was related to a fear that the case would be raised at an ASEAN meeting:

Thai pardon for US citizen jailed for royal insult

AFP – Joe Wichai Commart Gordon, a car salesman from Colorado, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in December under the kingdom’s strict lese majeste laws, which rights campaigners say are used to stifle freedom of expression.

US Man Jailed for Lese Majeste Freed

The Irrawaddy News Magazine ‎- Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is revered in Thailand and is widely seen as a stabilizing force. But Thailand’s lese majeste laws are the harshest in the world.

US citizen freed after jail time for insulting Thai monarchy

Reuters India ‎- The case highlighted Thailand’s extensive use of the world’s most draconian lese-majeste laws to stamp out even the faintest criticism of 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

Thai king pardons American convicted of insulting monarchy

The Guardian – The Thai government would be keen to avoid attention being drawn to Gordon, who was first detained in May 2011, and others who have fallen foul of lèse majesté laws.

Royal pardon for US man who posted about Thai king

The Australian – ‎There was no immediate word on Gordon’s whereabouts or whether he would return to the US. Bhumibol, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, is revered in Thailand and is widely seen as a stabilizing force [repeating the usual nonsense].

Thai-American jailed on lese majeste charges gets pardon

Asian Correspondent – Bangkok Pundit blogged on the Thai-born naturalized American citizen Joe Gordon who was arrested in May 2011 on lese majeste charges, then later blogged when the US expressed disappointment when he was actually charged in …

Thai king pardons US man jailed for royal insult

BBC News – Strict Thai laws against defaming the monarchy allow for sentences of up to 15 years in prison. No reason was given for the pardon….

U.S. Man Jailed Over Book Critical of Thai King Granted Pardon

Bloomberg – ‎ A Thai group submitted a bill to Parliament in May to amend the law with 30000 signatures from members of the public, reflecting growing opposition to the statute even as political parties decline to endorse changes.

Thai-American jailed for insulting monarchy receives royal pardon

CNN International – The charge of writing and posting articles insulting the monarchy under the Southeast Asian country’s lese majeste laws can yield a sentence as high as 20 years in prison in the Buddhist country….

US Citizen Jailed for Insulting Thai King Freed by Royal Pardon

Voice of America – “We urge Thai authorities on a regular basis, both privately and publicly, here in Bangkok and also in Washington to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with international obligations.”

Thailand frees US man jailed over banned book

Aljazeera.com – He was detained in May last year during a visit to Thailand, where he had returned for medical treatement. After being repeatedly denied bail, Gordon pleaded guilty in October in hopes of obtaining a lenient sentence.

Thai king pardons jailed US citizen over royal ‘insults’

Deutsche Welle – In the book, author Paul M. Handley alleges that the king has hindered progress towards democracy in Thailand by the consolidation of royal power. Under the country’s “lese majeste” laws, anybody found guilty of insulting key figures in the royal family….

Prachatai: July 10, 2012


Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60VfL5zC7aE

Prachatai interviewed members of the Network of Family Members and People Affected by the Lese Majeste Law during their public launch at the 14 Oct Memorial on 7 July.  Interviewees include Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, Keechiang Thaweewarodomkul, Pranee Danwattananusorn and Rosmalin Tangnoppakul.



Which plot?

Political Prisoners in Thailand: July 8, 2012



PPT seldom cites anything much from Voranai Vanijaka at the Bangkok Post. This Sunday’s column, though, deserves some attention. It begins with this:

If you ever get into a haggling match with somebody, you should accuse that person of plotting to overthrow the monarchy. Street vendor try to pull one over on you? That’s a plot to overthrow the monarchy. A police officer tries to write you a ticket? Plot to overthrow the monarchy. Girl won’t give you her phone number? A plot to overthrow the monarchy. This is the surest way to get things to go your way….

That may seem true, but it is only relatively recently that the charge has had political traction. Yes, there was a time when the palace was in decline after 1932, and then there was a palace fear that the communists would consign the monarchy to history’s dumpster,  but not much in the way of an anti-monarchy plot ever surfaced. For an example of one alleged plot that came to nothing, see LM_5 Feb 1993.

Oddly enough the frantic claims of “plot” emerged soon after the moment when the monarchy was at its seeming strongest. That the meddling lot in the palace then screwed things up for themselves by very real plotting and implementing a coup with their military acolytes is well known.

Suddenly, with the recognition that the king in his dotage and the future looking bleak under Rama X, the ruling class is using the “plot” to gain time in their struggle to find a means to maintain their control when the monarchy’s symbolism collapses.

Voranai continues:

On June 1, the Constitution Court ordered parliament to suspend the third reading of the reconciliation legislation [it was actually a bill on how charter change should proceed] after accepting petitions arguing the charter amendment bill may constitute an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

And he adds, appropriately enough:

But in the two-day hearings last week, no one came close to proving any plot to overthrow the monarchy. Why? Because there’s no such plot.

Of course there isn’t. Later Voranai explains that:

This then brings us back to the pending decision by the Constitutional Court. The wrangling over what the law says matters little. It’s for show. Written words in the constitution can be twisted, misinterpreted and distorted any which way we like.

That’s not quite accurate, for the Constitutional Court essentially only decides cases in favor of the royalist elite. That bunch of corrupt judges do as they are told. So there is no “we” involved; the court decides for the ruling class.

Voranai adds that there’s no plot against the monarchy, just a plot “to return Thaksin Shinawatra to power in Thailand and get back his confiscated wealth.” That’s not quite accurate either. Yes, there is a stated intention on the part of the current government to bring Thaksin back. It even ran an election that promises to do just this, and they won handsomely. So that doesn’t constitute a plot in the same sense as plotting the 2006 coup.

Is there a plot to give Thaksin his loot back? We don’t know. We are sure that he’d like it back.

In the end, the real plotters seem to be royalists, their capitalist backers and the military. But that’s how it’s been for a long time. And they are the ones who are desperate to protect their economic privilege and political power by means that don’t include winning elections.

Thai monarchist tried on royal insult charges

Agence France-Presse: July 11, 2012



A Thai media mogul who founded the royalist Yellow Shirt protest movement appeared in court on Tuesday accused of insulting the revered monarchy by quoting a member of the rival Red Shirts.

Sondhi Limthongkul, one of Thailand’s most controversial political figures, faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty on charges relating to excerpts of a protest speech by Daranee Charnchoengsilapakul that he repeated in 2008.

Daranee — known as Da Torpido — was herself jailed for 15 years under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws for the comments, which she made during political rallies four years ago.

Defence lawyer Suwat Apipak told the court on Tuesday that Sondhi had aimed to highlight Daranee’s comments in the hope that police would take legal action against her.

“He did not repeat all the words said by Da,” Suwat told the court. Sondhi is expected to testify in August.

The royal family is a highly sensitive topic in politically turbulent Thailand. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is revered as a demi-god by many Thais, has been hospitalised since September 2009.

Observers say prosecutions under lese majeste legislation — which bans criticism of the king, queen, heir or regent — surged following a coup that removed fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Sondhi’s Yellow Shirts have proved a powerful force in Thailand’s colour coded politics, helping to spur the 2006 coup, which spawned the rise of the pro-Thaksin Reds.

Thailand has seen a series of rival street protests in recent years by the monarchist Yellows, who are backed by the Bangkok-based elite, and the mainly poor and working-class Red Shirts, whose 2010 rallies in the Thai capital ended in a bloody crackdown.

In February, the Criminal Court sentenced Sondhi to 20 years in prison for corporate fraud in a case dating back to the mid-1990s.

At the time, Suwat said the tycoon was appealing the verdict and had been released on bail of 10 million baht ($330,000).

[FACT comments: Frankly, we don’t have much truck with Jakrapob or his boss. They ain’t phrai, you know what I’m saying? But freedom of expression applies equally to all.]

Prachatai: July 17, 2012




Jakrapob Penkair, former minister under the Thaksin government and a red-shirt leader, has fled Thailand and been in exile after the Abhisit government’s first crackdown on the red-shirt movement in April 2009.  He was interviewed by Prachatai’s special reporter on 31 May this year.

Is the lese majeste crime a tool to silence the opposition?

I think LM in Thailand has been put there as a custom of Thailand. It is not only a law but a norm and even more, it is now the main part of the culture. In that sense, LM is an off-limit issue that everyone should be aware of. This notion has grown out of his time and that is why it is so hard to campaign against it because it is like hitting yourself against a brick wall of culture.

What is the trend you see in the use of 2007 Computer Crimes Act and Article 112 of the Criminal Code (lese majeste)?

While in the past it was only applied to the famous ones or to the ones who should be seen as examples of others, arrests are now made on regular citizens showing that the application of LM is now crippling from setting an example to real prosecution. I think it is a trend that already happens in a partial way and will continue to grow. The LM framework covers not only the King but also the Queen and the successor and the regent.

I don’t think these laws would be amended or cancelled. To struggle against Article 112 and CCA has been the last indirect warfare between classes of people in Thailand. Without the struggle through these laws, the struggle might be more direct. And no one would know where it would lead. Actually, it is a good chance for the power to rethink what they have done with these laws.

What was your reaction when Somyot
revealed that you were the author of the articles he is incarcerated for?

First, let me say that this case is an extreme injustice and I will support anything that would help to get him out of jail. And I feel fine that Somyot mentioned me under this principle to do anything I could do to help for I don’t think that the justice system in Thailand will really provide justice when it comes to lese-majeste. So, it does not matter what happens. If this would become an allegation against myself, when I return to the country, I would be delighted to fight it. No problem. I’d like Somyot and other detainees of lese-majeste to be out, including Surachai, including Da Torpedo and even the rest of them. There are plenty more.

Are you criticizing the King in these 2 articles?

I am not in the liberty to say whether or not I am writing about the monarchy in these articles. My main points are always the same: I like people to be empowered, and whether or not people know how to use this power properly… it’s up to them.

People would then learn from these right and wrong deeds and then they’ll start the debate. That’s the only way you constitute a country, a society, which is worthy of people to live. I do not believe in a society where there is an elitist supervising. I would be willing to let society make mistakes than to tell people what to do. My articles are along that line, always.

What do you risk if you go back?

I think they know now that the biggest enemies for them are thinkers. They have more money than us, they have more weapons than us, they have more personnel than us, they have more even scholars at the university than us, they have more journalists and media – I mean Thai-style – than us, they have more properties than us, there is nothing they could fear from us except the change of ideas and the change of thinking. So I think that a person like me has been considered a thinker – that’s how the security forces turned me in – presented to be having dangerous view. Even Abhisit himself, the opposition leader, accused me of “having a dangerous attitude” after my speech at FCCT. That has been used as a platform of many more activities against me eventually. In fact, I am discharged of this allegation so I think that the trend is that the LM is trying to hold people prisoners of conscience, even though they could not prove them to be guilty.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) is delighted to announce that Prudence Margaret Leith, OBE, CBE has honoured us by becoming FACT’s Royal patron.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)…now Under Royal  Patronage, ในพระอุปถัมภ์ฯ in Thai.

 Li-Da, Rayne, Prue, Daniel

Prue Leith is a remarkable woman. We came to know her as the widow of the author of Thailand’s most famous banned book.

The Devil’s Discus by Prue’s husband, Rayne Kruger, was published in the UK in 1964. Not only was the book immediately officially banned in Thailand but it is rumoured that Thai govt bought, and burned, as many remaining copies it could acquire. First editions remain exceedingly scarce and costly.

A Thai translation, กงจักรปีศาจ (Kongjat Bisat), was published in 1977, credited to the Students’ History Club at Thammasat University. It was translated by Chalit Chaisitthiwet, the brother of the officer named as King Ananda’s killer.

It is rumoured but unsubstantiated in Rayne Kruger’s obituary in The Times that the Thai printing house was burned to the ground for this affront. In any case, the Thai translation was not banned until 2007 when it came to the attention of authorities…30 years after its original publication.

Every known copy of the two printings of The Devil’s Discus in Thai are found to have the first 16 pages excised. Of course, this only deepens the mystery. What was on those missing pages which was considered too risky to distribute to the public…even more risky than the banned book itself?

It was this inaccessible work of fine investigative reporting which led to my vendetta against censorship and the founding of Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) in 2006. It was King Ananda who drew me to the censorship issue.

In 2007, Prue generously assigned the international rights to The Devil’s Discus to FACT. Since then, new editions have been published in German, Japanese, and English; a Chinese translation is in process.  Not one but two new editions of กงจักรปีศาจ reached print in 2011 in Thailand. They are still quite illegal to distribute (though not to possess) and are sold quietly but openly, passed from hand to hand.

It is testament to the enduring scholarship of The Devil’s Discus for publishers and distributors to risk their freedom to get this book into the hands of readers.

Buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Relish-My-Life-Many-Courses/dp/0857384031/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339576682&sr=1-1&keywords=Leith%2BRelish

Prudence Leith is a remarkable woman whose varied iterations she chronicled just this year in her autobiography, Relish: My Life in Many Courses.

Prue was born in South Africa before emigrating to England with her husband Rayne. The couple was an obvious inspiration to their children: Danny became a journalist and Li-Da a filmmaker.

Prue became a professional caterer (Leith’s Good Food, 1961); a celebrity chef in her own Michelin-starred London restaurant (Leith’s, 1969); and founder of Leith’s School of Food and Wine (1975) to train global chefs. Prue has had cookery columns in four major British daily newspapers for which she received the Corning Award Food Journalist of the Year (1979) and the Glenfiddich Trade Journalist of the Year award (1983). Six of Prue’s own cooking show series have appeared on British television.

Prue has been received eleven honourary degrees and fellowships and serves several charities. She founded the British Food Trust, is a trustee of Slow Food UK and chairs the School Food Trust which she considers her most important work so far. She still serves on the board of the Orient-Express. Prue is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and an Honourary Fellow of the Council of City and Guilds of London Institute (FCGI). In her spare time, Prue has authored 21 cookbooks from 1979 to 1999 and six novels in the new millennium.

She was Royally-appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1989, named Veuve Clicquot’s 1990 Business Woman of the Year and received the Royal appointment Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2010 as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday honours.

Considering Thailand’s current political imbroglio over govt’s profligate use of the lèse majesté laws, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) is pleased to buck this trend…under Royal patronage.

Deepest thanks and affection for our patron, and friend, Prudence Leith OBE, CBE.

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)


The Devil’s Discus in English is available for download here: http://www.scribd.com/collections/2496420/The-Devil-s-Discus

and จักรปีศาจ here: http://www.scribd.com/collections/2801432/หนังสือหายาก, and here: http://www.scribd.com/collections/2690652/หนังสือหายาก.

The Devil’s Discus in English may be purchased here: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&vci=1330729&an=&tn=devil%27s+discus&kn=&isbn=&x=0&y=0

and in German here:  König Ananda Des Teufels Diskus http://www.epubli.de/shop/buch/König-Ananda-Mark-Teufel-9783869311265/2141

Works by Prudence Leith


Non fiction

Cooking for Friends (1979)

Leith’s Cookery Course (1979)

Dinner Parties (1984)

The Cook’s Handbook (1984)

Entertaining with Style (1985) (with Polly Tyrer)

Leith’s Cookery School (1990)

Leith’s Cookery Bible (1991)

Sunday Times Slim Plan: The 21-day Diet for Slimming Safely (1992)

Leith’s Complete Christmas (1992)

Leith’s Baking (1993)

Leith’s Vegetarian Cookery (1993)

Chicken Dishes (1993)

Fruit: Confident Cooking (1993)

Quick and Easy: Confident Cooking (1993)

Salads: Confident Cooking (1993)

Soups and Starters: Confident Cooking (1993)

Vegetarian: Confident Cooking (1993)

Leith’s Step-by-step Cookery (1993)

Leith’s Contemporary Cooking (1994)

Leith’s Guide to Wine (1995)

Leith’s Easy Dinners (1999)

Relish: My Life in Many Courses (2012)


Leaving Patrick (1999)

Sisters (2001)

A Lovesome Thing (2004)

The Gardener (2007)

The Choral Society (2009)

A Serving of Scandal (2010)

Prachatai: July 8, 2012


เปิดตัวเครือข่ายญาติและผู้ประสบภัยจากมาตรา 112 คนเข้าร่วมคึกคัก ส. ศิวรักษ์ เสนอขออภัยโทษคดีหมิ่นฯ ทั้งหมดในวันแม่นี้ จอน อึ๊งภากรณ์ เผยอีก 2 สัปดาห์ผลการศึกษาเกี่ยวกับคดี 112 ของกรรมการสิทธิฯ ใกล้เสร็จ เตรียมประชาพิจารณ์ 3 กลุ่ม หวังเป็นรายงานฉบับกลางทุกฝ่ายรับพิจารณา

7 ก.ค. 55 – เวลา 13.00 น. ณ อนุสรณ์สถาน 14 ตุลา ถ.ราชดำเนิน มีการแถลงข่าวเปิดตัว “เครือข่ายญาติและผู้ประสบภัยจากมาตรา 112″ นำโดยญาติของผู้ต้องขังและผู้ต้องหาในคดีกฎหมายอาญามาตรา 112 ซึ่งมีจุดประสงค์เพื่อรณรงค์ให้มีการปล่อยตัวผู้ต้องขังในคดีหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพโดยเร็วที่สุด รวมถึงเรื่องสิทธิขั้นพื้นฐานต่างๆ ที่ผู้ต้องขังควรได้รับ อาทิ สิทธิในการประกันตัว สิทธิในการรักษาพยาบาล และให้ความช่วยเหลือด้านการเยียวยาสภาพจิตใจผู้ประสบภัย เป็นต้น

สุกัญญา พฤกษาเกษมสุข ภรรยาของสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข ผู้ต้องหาคดีหมิ่นฯ กล่าวถึงจุดประสงค์ของการตั้งเครือข่ายว่า เป็นไปเพื่อให้ความช่วยเหลือแก่ผู้ต้องขังในคดีม. 112 เนื่องจากผู้ถูกจับกุมส่วนใหญ่จะได้รับโทษสูง ไม่ได้รับการประกันตัวและไม่สามารถต่อสู้คดีด้วยตนเองได้อย่างเต็มที่ เหล่าครอบครัวและญาติจึงเห็นความจำเป็นของการรวมกลุ่มกันเพื่อเรียกร้องความเป็นธรรมให้แก่ผู้ต้องขัง

“วัตถุประสงค์หลักๆ ที่ทางกลุ่มจะช่วยกันเองคือในเรื่องของการรณรงค์ให้มีการปล่อยตัวนักโทษ ซึ่งก็คือญาติของเราโดยเร็วที่สุด แต่ทีนี้แต่ละกรณีจะแตกต่างกันออกไป เช่น กรณีที่ยังอยู่ในการพิจารณาของศาล ยังไม่สิ้นสุด เราคงรณรงค์ให้มีการประกันตัวหรือติดต่อประสานงานกับหน่วยงานต่างๆ เพื่อเขียนคำร้องขอประกันตัว” สุกัญญากล่าว

“ส่วนอีกลักษณะหนึ่งผู้ต้องหาที่คดีสิ้นสุดแล้ว ก็จะมีการประสานงานให้ได้รับอำนวยความสะดวกในการขอพระราชทานอภัยโทษ ให้กระบวนการสิ้นสุดเร็วที่สุดเพื่อให้นักโทษได้รับการปล่อยตัว เราต้องการให้ญาติของเรากลับบ้านมาอยู่ร่วมกันเป็นครอบครัวอีกครั้ง” เธอกล่าวว่า จะมีการตั้งกองทุนเพื่อดำเนินการดังกล่าวด้วย

ในงานเปิดตัวดังกล่าว ได้มีญาติของผู้ต้องขังม. 112 มาร่วมแถลงด้วย อาทิ รสมาลิน ตั้งนพกุล ภรรยาของนายอำพล ตั้งนพกุล หรือ “อากง เอ็สเอมเอ็ส” ที่เสียชีวิตในเรือนจำหลังจากถูกจำคุกด้วยม. 112 นายชีเกียง ทวีวโรดมกุล บิดาของธันย์ฐวุฒิ ทวีวโรดมกุล หรือ “หนุ่ม เรดนนท์” ซึ่งถูกตัดสินจำคุก 20 ปี ปราณี ด่านวัฒนานุสรณ์ ภรรยาของสุรชัย ด่านวัฒนานุสรณ์ แกนนำกลุ่มแดงสยาม ซึ่งถูกตัดสินจำคุกรวมทุกคดีเป็นจำนวน 12 ปีครึ่ง

“เราเห็นว่าองค์กรต่างๆ มาช่วยเรา ถ้าเราไม่ออกมาร่วมด้วยมันจะยังไง มีองค์กรมีเพื่อนๆ ออกมาทำกันเยอะแยะเลย ขนาดเขาไม่ได้เป็นอะไรเขายังมาช่วยเรา แล้วเราเป็นหนึ่งที่ได้รับผลกระทบในนั้นก็ต้องออกมาช่วย ก็ไม่กลัวตายแล้ว อายุมากแล้ว จะเอาไปต้มยำทำแกงก็เอาไป” ชีเกียงกล่าว เมื่อผู้สื่อข่าวถามถึงความเป็นมาของการเข้าร่วมเครือข่าย

ด้านรสมาลิน ภรรยา “อากง” กล่าวว่าสาเหตุที่เข้าร่วม เพราะต้องการให้กำลังใจญาติผู้ต้องหาที่ประสบชะตากรรมคล้ายกัน

“มันเป็นเหตุการณ์และเรื่องเดียวกับที่เกิดขึ้นกับอากง ฉะนั้น เราก็รู้สึกว่าคนที่ยังไม่ได้ออก เรารู้สึกเป็นห่วงพวกเขา อยากให้วันเวลามันกระชับขึ้นมา อยากให้พวกเขาได้รับอิสรภาพโดยเร็วพร้อมกับลมหายใจ” รสมาลินกล่าว

ส่วนกิจกรรมที่ทางกลุ่มวางแผนจะดำเนินการ ปราณี ด่านวัฒนานุสรณ์ ให้สัมภาษณ์ว่า ทางกลุ่มวางแผนจะเดินทางไปยื่นหนังสือเรียกร้องต่อหน่วยงานของรัฐที่เกี่ยวข้อง เช่น ให้กรมคุ้มครองสิทธิและเสรีภาพช่วยเหลือเบื้องต้นในการประกันตัว หรือรัฐบาลที่สามารถออกพ.ร.ก. นิรโทษกรรมเพื่อให้ปล่อยตัวนักโทษการเมืองโดยไม่ผ่านสภา นอกจากนี้ จะเรียกร้องความเป็นธรรมผ่านทางการถวายฎีการ้องทุกข์เพื่อขอความเมตตาจากพระมหากษัตริย์เกี่ยวกับความเดือดร้อนที่ได้รับด้วย

นอกจากนี้ สุกัญญากล่าวว่า ทางเครือข่ายได้รับความสนใจจากองค์กรระหว่างประเทศด้วย เช่น สหประชาชาติ ซึ่งได้นัดหมายตัวแทนญาติผู้ได้รับผลกระทบจากม. 112 เพื่อเข้าไปหารือและให้ข้อมูลที่เกี่ยวข้อง รวมทั้งสถานทูตต่างๆ ที่ให้ความสนใจในกรณีม. 112


สุลักษณ์ ศิวรักษ์ ปัญญาชนสยามและอดีตผู้ต้องหาคดีม. 112 ให้ข้อเสนอแนะต่อเครือข่ายว่า การให้ความเข้าใจต่อสาธารณะเป็นเรื่องที่จำเป็นมาก โดยเฉพาะผ่านทางสื่อมวลชนกระแสหลัก ซึ่งต้องให้สังคมเข้าใจถึงสภาพความเป็นอยู่ของคนในเรือนจำและปัญหาอื่นๆ ของม. 112 นอกจากนี้ เขายังเสนอด้วยว่า ในวโรกาสเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษา สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ วันที่ 12 สิงหาที่จะถึงนี้ ควรเสนอขอพระราชทานอภัยโทษแก่นักโทษในคดีหมิ่นฯ ทั้งหมด เพื่อเป็นพระมหากรุณาธิคุณ

จอน อึ๊งภากรณ์ สมาชิกคณะอนุกรรมการศึกษากฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ คณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ (กสม.) กล่าวในวงเสวนาว่า ตนเห็นว่ากฎหมายหมิ่นฯ ทำให้เกิดปัญหาการละเมิดสิทธิของประชาชนอย่างร้ายแรง ทั้งนี้ จะพยายามผลักดันให้กสม. ต้องออกมาพูดเรื่องนี้และให้ข้อเสนอแนะแก้รัฐบาล เนื่องจากหากมีองค์กรของรัฐออกมาเสนอแนะรัฐบาลอาจให้ความสนใจมากขึ้นกว่าที่เป็นอยู่

จอนกล่าวด้วยว่า ในขณะนี้ทางคณะอนุกรรมการฯ อยู่ในระหว่างการเก็บข้อมูลและศึกษาปัญหาดังกล่าว โดยรายงานฉบับร่างเบื้องต้นจะเสร็จในเวลาอีกสองสัปดาห์ หลังจากนั้นจะผ่านการทำเวทีประชาพิจารณ์จากทุกฝ่ายที่เกี่ยวข้อง 3 เวที และพร้อมเผยแพร่ต่อสาธารณะไม่เกินภายในปีนี้ หากผ่านการรับรองจากคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ

“ผมมีความหวังว่ารายงานของเรา ถ้าได้รับการพิจารณาจากทุกฝ่ายแล้ว ผมเชื่อว่าในสังคมไทย แม้แต่คนที่บอกว่าไม่อยากจะแก้ไข ลึกๆ มีคนจำนวนมากที่มองเห็นว่ามันมีปัญหาอยู่ แม้อาจจะไม่ใช่ความเห็นว่ายกเลิกเลย แต่ความเห็นว่ามันต้องปรับปรุงแก้ไขเพื่อไม่ให้เกิดการถูกใช้เป็นเครื่องมือทางการเมือง และความเห็นว่าโทษมันหนักอย่างแน่นอน” จอนระบุ

“คณะกรรมการสิทธิสุดท้ายจะรับหรือไม่รับรายงานนี้ เราจะใช้กระบวนการที่ให้ได้รับการเผยแพร่อย่างกว้างขวางทั้งในเวทีประชาพิจารณ์และและการเผยแพร่ต่อไป ผมเชื่อว่ารายงานนี้จะเป็นเอกสารที่สังคมไทยสามารถนำมาพิจารณาได้”

แนะต้องจัดนักโทษม. 112 เป็นนักโทษมโนธรรมสำนึก

ศราวุธ ประทุมราช จากสถาบันหลักนิติธรรมและสิทธิมนุษยชน กล่าวว่า สิทธิในการแสดงความคิดเห็นของประชาชนเป็นสิทธิขั้นพื้นฐาน ซึ่งรัฐสามารถแทรกแซงสิทธินี้ได้อย่างจำกัด โดยเขามองว่ากฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพมีปัญหา เพราะปัจจุบันถูกบรรจุอยู่ในหมวดความมั่นคงของรัฐ ทั้งๆ ที่การวิพากษ์วิจารณ์สถาบันกษัตริย์ควรทำได้โดยเป็นไปอย่างสุจริต เนื่องจากถือว่าเป็นการวิจารณ์บุคคลสาธารณะ

ศราวุธเสนอว่า ควรนำกฎหมายอาญาม. 112 ออกจากหมวดความมั่นคงของรัฐ และผลักดันให้นักโทษในคดีดังกล่าว เป็นนักโทษทางการเมือง และถือว่าเป็นนักโทษมโนธรรมสำนึก (prisoners of conscience) ตามคำนิยามขององค์กรแอมเนสตี้ อินเตอร์เนชั่นแนล เพื่อให้เกิดการรณรงค์ในระดับสากลมากยิ่งขึ้น

ด้านทนายความสิทธิ เสาวลักษณ์ โพธิ์งาม ตั้งข้อสังเกตว่า กฎหมายหมิ่นถูกนำมาใช้เล่นงานคนระดับล่างมากขึ้น โดยแต่ก่อนอาจจะเป็นเครื่องมือของนักการเมืองโจมตีนักการเมืองหรือปัญญาชน แต่ตอนนี้กม. หมิ่นฯ ถูกนำมาใช้กล่าวหาคนธรรมดา เช่นคนขัดรองเท้า คนขับรถ เป็นต้น ทำให้คนที่ถูกฟ้องไม่ได้รับการดำเนินคดีอย่างยุติธรรม เนื่องจากบางคนไม่มีเงินจ้างทนายความ ทำให้จำเป็นต้องยอมรับสารภาพในชั้นสอบสวน และเมื่อมาให้การปฏิเสธในชั้นศาล ก็ทำให้การต่อสู้คดีไม่มีน้ำหนัก

ประวิตร โรจนพฤกษ์ ผู้สื่อข่าวนสพ. เดอะ เนชั่น หนึ่งในผู้ที่ถูกกล่าวโทษด้วยม. 112 กล่าวว่า ตนคงไม่เข้าร่วมเครือข่ายดังกล่าว แต่ยินดีที่จะให้ข้อเสนอแนะตามจำเป็น ทั้งนี้ ประวิตรมองว่าประเด็นเรื่องกฎหมายหมิ่นและนักโทษการเมืองยังคงถูกละเลยจากสื่อกระแสหลัก ทางเครือข่ายจึงจำเป็นจะต้องทำให้สาธารณะและประชาคมนานาชาติทราบถึงปัญหาของผู้ต้องขัง โดยเฉพาะเรื่องการใช้แรงงานนักโทษ การซ้อมทรมาน และการล่วงละเมิดทางเพศ ที่มีรายงานว่าผู้ต้องขังม. 112 ต้องเผชิญ

เขาให้สัมภาษณ์ว่า หลังจากที่ตนเองถูกร้องทุกข์กล่าวโทษด้วยม. 112 ก็ได้รับผลกระทบทั้งในทางส่วนตัวและการทำงาน โดยได้รับการขอร้องจากที่ทำงาน คือ นสพ. เดอะ เนชั่น ขอให้ลดการเขียนบทความเรื่องกฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ ซึ่งเขากล่าวคงจะลดลงไปซักระยะ นอกจากนี้ ยังได้รับข้อความด่าทอต่างๆ จากอินเทอร์เน็ตด้วย

“ผมก็ไม่ได้เกลียดอะไรนะ วันนั้นผมบอกตำรวจว่า ให้ดำเนินคดีไปตามเนื้อ ทางอ.สุลักษณ์เคยมาเสนอว่าจะให้วิ่งเต้นอะไรหรือเปล่าแต่เราก็ปฏิเสธ ขอบคุณแต่ก็ปฏิเสธไป เราฝากตำรวจไปว่าเราไม่ได้เกลียดชังอะไรไอแพดเขาเลย และเราก็ไม่ได้โกรธ คิดว่านี่คือการสู้กันทางอุดมการณ์ที่ความแตกต่าง…ผมไม่ได้มองว่าเป็นเรื่องส่วนตัว” ประวิตรกล่าว


ญาติผู้ประสบภัยม. 112 เดินหน้ารณรงค์ปล่อยตัวนักโทษ-ผู้ต้องหาคดีหมิ่น

Agence France-Presse: July 6, 2012



The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva passed its first resolution on Internet freedom on Thursday with a call for all states to support individuals’ rights online as much as offline.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva passed its first resolution on Internet freedom on Thursday with a call for all states to support individuals’ rights online as much as offline.

Despite opposition on the issue from countries including China, Russia and India, countries promoting the resolution hailed the support of dozens of nations ahead of its adoption.

“This outcome is momentous for the Human Rights Council,” US ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters.

“It’s the first UN resolution that confirms that human rights in the Internet realm must be protected with the same commitment as in the real world.”

The text had the support of 85 co-sponsors, 30 of whom are members of the HRC, Donahoe added.

Of the states that supported the initiative, Tunisia’s ambassador Moncef Baati said it was particularly important for his country because of the role accredited to social networking websites in ousting president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

“The most important result of the Tunisian revolution is this right to freedom of expression…(this) is very important at the moment (in Tunisia) and it is for this reason that there is a strong commitment in Tunisia to consolidate Internet rights.

“Our link with all media networks during the revolution doubles the importance of this commitment to freedom of expression on the Internet which remains a major tool for economic development.”

Other countries that backed the resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet included Brazil, Nigeria, Sweden and Turkey.


[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: In general, we’ve liked the maverick style of Ron Paul, even if his son Rand is a wingnut over such issues as abortion. The Pauls are a good example of why citizens can’t trust any politician, ever. And now the Pauls seem not to have a basic understanding of our Internet. It ain't all about America. Netizens have painfully discovered that we cannot trust anybody's govts to protect our freedoms. Hillary Clinton, for example, epitomises talking about Internet freedom and no more. It's up to us to defend the Internet, not any politicians, including the Pauls.]

Our Internet does not require regulation. The Declaration of Internet Freedom to which FACT is founding signatory keeps it simple and keeps govt out of it.

In contrast, the Pauls’ proposals are complex and involve far too much govt, something they claim to oppose! Frankly, they don’t get the whole concept.

The Internet = individual liberty = public space. Let’s keep it that way and keep govts out of it.]

Ron Paul Takes Up Internet Freedom With New ‘Technology Revolution’ Manifesto

Erik Kain

Forbes Magazine: July 5, 2012


An image of the U.S. flag is reflected in the lens of a supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, at a rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2012. (Daylife)

Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray has an interesting story on the new direction the Ron Paul Revolution appears to be taking, moving away from the archaic finance-driven End-the-Fed campaign and toward something more pressing and applicable to the lives of today’s young people: Internet freedom.

A new Paul manifesto from both Ron and Rand Paul called “The Technology Revolution” will serve as the backbone for this new front in the Paul-founded Campaign For Liberty.

Young people have been a driving force in the Paul campaign, and the focus on internet freedom should only bolster that support.

Following in the wake of numerous attempts by the government to regulate various aspects of the internet – from SOPA to ACTA and any number of other bills and trade agreements – the document lays out a digital laissez-faire approach to internet freedom.

“The revolution is occurring around the world,” the document reads. “It is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. It is occurring despite wrongheaded attempts by governments to micromanage markets through disastrous industrial policy. And it is driven by the Internet, the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets.”

Warning of “internet collectivists” out to appropriate the language of freedom, the new Manifesto argues that further regulation of the internet will lead to less freedom online rather than more. They argue that any attempt by the government to increase its regulatory power is ludicrous, noting the hypocrisy in advocating that ”private sector data collection practices must be scrutinized and tightly regulated inthe name of ‘protecting consumers,’ at the same time as government’s warrantless surveillance and collection of private citizens’ Internet data has dramatically increased.”

The new document serves as something of a counterpoint to the recently released Declaration of Internet Freedom, an online petition put together by Free Press which urges an end to censorship but also the promotion of universal access to the internet.

“Internet collectivists are clever,” the manifesto reads. “They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously pushfor more centralized control. ‘Openness’ means government control of privately owned infrastructure.’Net neutrality’ means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be ‘neutral’.”

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ron Paul, even though he’s far more conservative and far more libertarian than I am. I have a soft spot for internet freedom as well, and have written about the various threats to that freedom at one time or another.

But I’m a little irked by some of the language of this document, truth be told, even though I’m always happy to see more people up in arms about things like internet censorship.

I’ve argued before that what this country really needs is a Civil Liberties Caucus in congress – not a right-leaning or left-leaning one, either. We need people like Ron Wyden on the left and Ron Paul on the right, even though they may not agree on everything, who are willing to go up against civil-liberty-quashing laws and attempts at censorship. I want people to start voting with this as a priority, regardless of ideological labels (a task that is, truthfully, much harder than it sounds.)

In other words, the last thing we need is one group of civil liberties advocates calling the other group “internet collectivists.” The stakes are too high. The number of elected officials who even care about blocking a bill like SOPA is frighteningly small to begin with. It’s all too People’s Front of Judea for me.

Of course, there really are very real philosophical differences between small government advocates like Ron Paul and his civil libertarian colleagues on the left.

Someone like me would happily sign on to the Declaration of Internet Freedom, for instance, and would gladly support government efforts to get more people online.

Is the internet a human right? I’m not sure it matters, honestly. Internet Access is an important piece of our human and societal and economic infrastructure. Investing public dollars to get more people online (especially rural people and the poor) just makes sense, especially when you dispense with the largely fruitless “rights” language that has become a crutch more than anything in political discussion lately. I believe in human rights, but more often than not both the right and the left appropriate rights language and freedom-speak to score political points.

So here’s a question for both members of the right and the left (and libertarians!) who care about internet freedom: is it worth setting aside your differences just a little bit and working against a common enemy? Is ideological purity more important than results? Where does principle leave off and pragmatism begin?

Because, quite frankly, I don’t care if you’re a collectivist or if you’re John Galt.

If you want to stop censorship and rein in an increasingly intrusive anti-piracy regime, that’s all I care about. That and the results.

I’ve reached out to the Campaign For Liberty about the new manifesto and its implications, and will publish something more detailed on the matter soon.

You can read the manifesto here.

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Read my Forbes blog here.######

The Technology Revolution Final Rev 629

The Technology Revolution

A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto

This is what a technology revolution looks like:

New innovators create vast new markets where none existed previously;

Individual genius enabled by the truly free market the Internet represents routes around obsolete and ineffective government attempts at control;

The arrogant attempts of governments to centralize, intervene, subsidize, micromanage and regulate innovation is scoffed at and ignored.

The revolution is occurring around the world.

It is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. [FACT calls bullshit!]

It is occurring despite wrongheaded attempts by governments to micromanage markets through disastrous industrial policy.

And it is driven by the Internet, the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets.

The true technology revolutionaries have little need for big government and never have.

Microsoft ignored the government for years and changed the world by leading the PC revolution.

Today, companies like Apple — which has created several completely new markets out of  whole cloth (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, and iPod) — are changing the world again, successfully adopting visionary new revenue models for movies, songs and games, and launching an economy responsible for creating almost half a million jobs in the United States since the iPhone was introduced.

All in less than 5 years, and all without government permission, partnerships, subsidies, or regulations!

Technology revolutionaries succeeded not because of some collectivist vision that seeks to regulate “fairness”, “neutrality”, “privacy” or competition” through coercive state actions or that views the Internet and technology as a vast commons that must be freely available to all, but rather because of the same belief as America’s Founders who understood that private property is the foundation of prosperity and freedom itself. [FACT finds this ‘private property’ a red herring argument to no point.]

Technology revolutionaries succeed because of the decentralized nature of the Internet, which defies government control.

As a consequence, decentralization has unlocked individual self-empowerment, entrepreneurialism, creativity, innovation and the creation of new markets in ways never before imagined in human history.

But, ironically, just as decentralization has unleashed the potential for free markets and individual freedom on a global scale, collectivist special interests and governments worldwide are now tirelessly pushing for more centralized control of the Internet and technology.

Here at home they are aided and abetted both by an Administration that wholeheartedly believes in the wisdom of government to manage markets and some in the technology industry that cynically use the cudgel of government control and regulation to hamstring competitors, the Apple’s and Microsoft’s of tomorrow.

Internet collectivism takes many forms, all of them pernicious.

Among the most insidious are government attempts to control and regulate competition, infrastructure, privacy and intellectual property. According to them;

Successful companies in brand new frontier industries that didn’t even exist as recently as five years ago should be penalized and intimidated with antitrust actions in the name of “fairness” and “competition.

Privately owned broadband high-speed infrastructure must be subject to collective rule via public ownership and government regulations that require “sharing” with other competitors.

Internet infrastructure must be treated as a commons subject to centralized government control through a variety of foolish “public interest” and “fairness” regulations.

Wireless, the lifeblood of the mobile Internet revolution, must be micromanaged as a government-controlled commons, with limited exclusive property rights.

Private property rights on the Internet should exist in limited fashion or not at all, and what is considered to be in the public domain should be greatly expanded.

Private sector data collection practices must be scrutinized and tightly regulated in the name of “protecting consumers”, at the same time as government’s warrantless surveillance and collection of private citizens’ Internet data has dramatically increased.

Internet collectivists are clever.

They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control.

“Openness” means government control of privately owned infrastructure.

“Net neutrality” means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be “neutral”.

“Internet freedom” means the destruction of property rights.

“Competition” means managed competition, with the government acting as judge and jury on what constitutes competition and what does not.

Our “right to privacy” only applies to the data collection activities of the private sector, rarely to government.

The eminent economist Ludwig von Mises wrote that when government seeks to solve one problem, it creates two more.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of Internet collectivists and the centralized control of the Internet they seek.

The body of incremental communications law and regulation that has emerged since the days of Alexander Graham Bell are entirely unsuited to the dynamic and ever-changing Internet for one simple reason:

Technology is evolving faster than government’s ability to regulate it.

Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from

extinction.” But in the Internet era, true Internet freedom can be lost in far less than one generation.

Around the world, the real threat to Internet freedom comes not from bad people or

inefficient markets — we can and will always route around them — but from

governments’ foolish attempts to manage and control innovation.

And it is not just the tyrannies we must fear. The road away from freedom is paved with good intentions.

Today, the road to tyranny is being paved by a collectivist-Industrial complex — a dangerous brew of wealthy, international NGO’s, progressive do-gooders, corporate cronies and sympathetic political elites.

Their goals are clear: The collectivist-industrial complex seeks to undermine free markets and property rights, replacing them with “benevolent” government control and a vision of “free” that quickly evolves from “free speech” to “free stuff.”

We know where this path leads. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

A benevolent monopoly for “the public interest” is nothing more than a means for the old guard to reassert their power. The role of the government on the Internet is to protect us from force and fraud, not to decide our interests.

But while the Internet has produced a revolution, it has not, in fact, “changed everything”.


Rebecca MacKinnon

Global Voices: June 14, 2012



Throughout this week’s edition we highlight examples of government intervention to limit free speech online, ostensibly “for the greater good”. In Kuwait, a Shi’ite man has been sentenced to prison for ten years for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammad and Sunni Muslims via Twitter. Pleading innocent, Hamad Al-Naqi said the posts were written by someone who had hacked his Twitter account.

Kuwait Human Rights Watch reported that the conviction was based on Article 15 of Kuwait’s National Security Law, which punishes citizens for “intentionally broadcasting news, statements, or false or malicious rumors… that harm the national interests of the state”. The court also found Al-Naqi guilty of violating Article 111 of the Kuwaiti Penal Code, which bans mocking religion.

Human rights and free speech groups believe Al-Naqi’s conviction represents a shift toward a more restricted civil society in Kuwait, highlighting political tensions between the country’s opposition Islamists and moderates. In May nearly all members of Parliament endorsed a bill to issue the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammad for Muslims, with non-Muslims facing a lower ten-year prison sentence. Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah rejected the bill on June 6, but the veto could be overruled by a two-thirds majority vote by Kuwait’s Parliament and Cabinet Ministers. For more information on the situation in Kuwait and other challenges netizens in the country are facing, read Mona Kareem’s article on Global Voices Advocacy.

National policy

In another example of the trend highlighted above, the Malaysian Minister of Information, Communications and Culture Dr. Rais Yatim has declared his support for regulating content online. Rais expressed agreement with former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, who has called for regulations to block “filth” and punish those who corrupt the minds of others online.

China has proposed changes to expand the scope of Internet law to include forums, blogs, and microblogs. Additionally, Reuters reports that the changes will also require microblog operators to obtain an administrative license to run a service.

According to IT News Africa, South Sudan has been invited to connect to Kenya’s broadband.

Speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum on 11 June, United States (US) Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) proposed the idea of a Digital Bill of Rights to be enshrined in the US Constitution. A draft version of the bill is available for comment on Rep. Issa’s personal site KeepTheWebOpen.com.


Protests over a South African ‘secrecy bill’ have led the ruling African National Congress to offer amendments to the legislation to include protection for government whistleblowers and journalists if the information uncovers criminal activity. However, the nation’s State Security Agency opposes the amendments to the proposed legislation, which could mandate up to 25 years in prison for those found in the possession of classified government documents, without any defense of acting in the public interest.


The Guardian reported four journalists were killed during the month of May in Pakistan, where reporters lack protection from violence and intimidation by armed groups or government officials. The Balochistan Union of Journalists recently held protests to call on their government to provide protection to media persons and arrest the killers of a local Balochi reporter who was murdered a few days ago.

The Azerbaijani Supreme Court released activist Bakhtiar Hajiyev on parole, who has been imprisoned since March 2011 after his arrest for promoting peaceful demonstrations via social media. The court sentenced Hajiyev in May 2011 for evading required military service and sentenced him to prison for two years.

Reporters Without Borders is condemning a wave of arrests of bloggers in Oman. Al Jazeera has collected more information on the story through the social media curation website, Storify.

Internet governance

In a speech to the International Conference on Cyber Conflict, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves declared that the Internet has forced countries with different political realities into “almost inevitable conflict” and a “cold peace”. At stake, he argued, is the “liberal-democratic model of an open society, and of market economies that are transparent and rule-bound”.

As we reported in last week’s edition, a new document leak website, WCIT Leaks, was recently launched to increase transparency in the lead-up to the 12th World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), organized by the International Telecommunications Union. Some of the leaked documents reveal proposals that do not seek to change the role of the multi-stakeholder Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), but which could have a dramatic on other areas of Internet governance including Internet routing. One proposal by European network operators would include a global Internet tax targeting the largest web content providers that could limit their ability to reach users in developing nations.

For more information and analysis see the Center for Democracy and Technology’s ITU resource page, the Internet Society’s information page and news page, and a three part “Threat Analysis of WCIT” by Milton Mueller at Syracuse University (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

The African Internet Governance Forum will be held in Cairo in October.

Tunisia signed an agreement with the ITU to launch the Arab region’s first open source software support center.

The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will announce the applicants of more than 300 new domain names on Wednesday, such as .group and .college, culminating the non-profit’s six year process to create new Internet real estate. An appeals process for companies to control a domain name could follow the announcement.

Internet activism

Tunisian journalist Ramzi Bettibi suspended his hunger strike to promote transparency in the trial of ousted leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali after the Constituent Assembly pledged to take up his cause. Bettibi began his strike on May 28, in response to officials confiscating his cameras during filming of Ben-Ali’s trial. An initiative from the Tunisian presidency returned Bettibi’s cameras a few days after he and several other activists began refusing food.

While switching planes in the United States en route to Canada last week, CryptoCat developer Nadim Kobeissi tweeted he was detained by US authorities and questioned about the encryption used in his open source private chat room application.

Members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have targeted Indian web censorship, staging protests in 16 cities around the country. While organizers anticipated more than 2,000 people would participate in a protest in Mumbai against the government’s ban on the websites Vimeo and Pirate Bay, no more than 100 supporters and media showed up. Reasons suggested by Tech2 include protester apathy, lack of leadership and government restriction of the demonstration space. Anonymous also claimed responsibility for taking down the website of an Indian telecom operator as part of its online censorship protest called “Operation India”.

Sovereigns of cyberspace

Facebook has launched an app center for the distribution of third-party applications for the social network. Like the Apple iTunes store, Facebook will take a 30 percent cut of sales. Facebook increased its lead as the world’s most popular social network, recently exceeding Orkut as the most popular social network in Brazil.

Major television networks in the US will apply content maturity ratings systems to full-length shows broadcast online.


Facebook closed a week-long vote on its proposed privacy policy changes on June 8. Ars Technica reports only 342,632 votes were cast, significantly short of the 270 million votes needed for the procedure to be binding.

Advertisers protested Microsoft’s implementation of a Do Not Track feature by default on the next version of its browser, IE10, claiming it would threaten their business model to have the program automatically refuse cookies. A compromise proposal draft is being written by a multi-stakeholder partnership, which would make Do Not Track opt-in.


Elected officials in Australia are raising concerns over Australia’s participation in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement between the US and eight other nations which could offer priorities to foreign investors. US Senators have also raised concerns about the relative secrecy of the negotiations around the deal.

The United States Supreme Court will soon examine a case that will determine whether a person can re-sell their mobile device or computer without having to obtain permission from dozens of “copyright holders”.


Poor security for professional social network LinkedIn led to the theft of six million customer passwords by hackers.

The Stuxnet virus and the Flame malware were created by the same developers, announced Russian tech security firm Kapersky Labs on Monday. Unnamed officials from the United States and Israel recently confirmed their nations created the Stuxnet virus to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Most of this report was researched, written, and edited by Tom Risen, Hibah Hussain, Weiping Li, James Losey, and Sarah Myers.

Publications and studies

• Samuel A. Greene, Center for the Study of New Media & Society: Twitter and the Russian Street: Memes, Networks & Mobilization

• Peter Swire, Ohio State University: From Real-Time Intercepts to Stored Records: Why Encryption Drives the Government to Seek Access to the Cloud

• Ann Nelson, Center for International Media Assistance: The Medium Versus the Message: US Government Funding for Media in an Age of Disruption 

• Cory Doctorow, Technology Review: “The Curious Case of Internet Privacy”

For upcoming events related to the future of citizen rights in the digital age, see the Global Voices Events Calendar.

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