How best to fight for lese majeste prisoners?-New Mandala

February 27, 2009

Nicolaides, NM and LM
Nicholas Farrelly
New Mandala: February 26, 2009

http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala/2009/02/26/nicolaides-nm-and-l/comment-page-1/#comment-618510

Harry Nicolaides is home and free.  It is, I suppose, as good a time as any to start taking stock of what happened in his particularly high profile lèse majesté case.  Of course, others remain behind bars and sadly they are not garnering the same sort of attention.  Let’s hope that changes soon.

In the meantime, those who have been following the Nicolaides case may find this post-release analysis eye-opening.  It describes how our essay, since published here as “Lèse majesté and Harry Nicolaides”, was commissioned and then, at the last minute, withdrawn by Eureka Street.  Their Assistant Editor, Tim Kroenert, provides insights into what happened at their end.

He and his colleagues are to be commended for their excellent work at the time.  We certainly didn’t mind getting bounced on that unusually hectic evening.  We are just happy, after all is said and done, that Harry and his family are back together.

But the episode raises some possible issues for the future.

The number of lèse majesté accusations currently working their way through the Thai legal system means that questions remain about the best strategies that individuals, families, journalists, academics, politicians, diplomats and others can take to help facilitate a speedy release if, heaven forbid, more people start getting locked up.

There is, it seems, no silver bullet.  Is less coverage preferable to more?  What role should local lawyers play?  Can the Thai media be used to help get out a call for compassion? 

How important is the content and tone of early statements to the foreign media?  Does Internet coverage help or hinder an early release?  What sorts of (public…or not so public) noises should be made?  What role can academics play?  How much does it matter who is being charged (Nicolaides compared to Darunee, etc)?  How much about these cases remains shrouded in secrecy?  Does anyone really have the answers?

I am sure you have your own questions to add.  Thoughts from New Mandala readers are, as always, very welcome here.  Of course, I should point out that few, if any, of us know what happened behind the scenes in the Nicolaides case (or, frankly, in any of the other cases).  Perhaps somebody with better information will feel free to fill in some of the blanks.

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