FACT Halloween special: Emilio Estéban, “Behind every right is a fear.”

October 31, 2010

FACT Halloween special: The man behind Thailand’s YouTube block talks to FACT about lèse majesté and what makes him tick.

October 31, 2010

Emilio Estéban is hardly a household name, even in arch-Royalist circles. However, he has some notoriety in Thailand, where most Royalists try to pin a fantastic anti-monarchy movement around him.

Emilio created the YouTube channel StopLeseMajeste and StopLeseMajesteTV, though he claims this was not the deciding factor in Thailand’s military coup govt blocking YouTube for seven months in 2007. At one point, more than 125 anti-monarchy(?) video links appeared on MICT’s blocklists. Parent company, Google, eventually capitulated to the first country to block YouTube wholesale, created geolocational blocking and taught the Thais how to use it.

This glimpse into the life of Emilio Estéban doesn’t really do him justice. My few questions were simply to start a conversation we hope will continue. He’s decided he’s a Red—los camisas rojas.

We’d like to know more about what makes him tick. Is what makes him tick a roadside bomb, a driveby shooting or a suicide vest? You don’t need to agree with Emilio but you do need to agree to his right to free expression without censorship.

Regardless of the bad taste of the YouTube videos, you must ask yourself: If you love the King, is a YouTube video really going to change your mind?

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

1) Tell us a bit about your background.

The DSI can give you more information about my background than I can. They’ll probably make it sound more interesting too.

2) When did you first visit Thailand and what were your experiences?

At this precise moment I can’t remember the exact date, and I’m certainly not going to describe my “experiences”.

3) Why did you become interested in Thailand’s monarchy?

I’m not in the least bit interested in Thailand’s monarchy, but I started doing research on the subject because Thai royalists encouraged me to.

4) What did you discover about the monarchy?

Are you serious?! One is a lesbian, the other a drunk, there’s a playboy, a porn star… want me to go on?

5) What led you to create content against the monarchy’s excesses?

I did it because the anti-free speech royalist lobby were arguing that the monarchy was “revered” just to justify lese majeste law. Now I know the real reason why Thai people don’t criticise their monarchy. It is because they are terrified of going to prison for 15 years.

6) Are you aware of other efforts against the monarchy?

I’m not fighting against the monarchy, I’m arguing against lese majeste law. But the monarchy’s worst enemy is the present regime. Not to mention royalists who advocate arresting people for trivial lese majeste “crimes”. I also understand that the present army chief is doing an excellent job dragging the monarchy into the political arena.

7) Are you part of any organised group or affiliated with anyone else?

NO, I’m not part of any “organised” group. But I’m a Red shirt sympathiser and I belong to the Paddidda movement. I greatly admire Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Da Torpedo and Robert Amsterdam [FACT: We can’t really get behind this one. Amsterdam is a fatcat wannabe profiting off tinpot dictators, including Thaksin.]. My heroes are “DieDieChakri” from Youtube, Sulak Sivaraksa, because apart from myself and Giles he is the only other person openly calling for the abolition of lese majeste. I also respect the guys at Norporchor USA who provide me with lots of smut on the royals.

8) The heart of the matter: We assume that you created content or distributed content on YouTube which led to Thailand’s total ban on Youtube for seven months in 2007. Comments on that?

False. I joined the Paddidda movement in September 2007, by which time Youtube had already been blocked. But I did re-upload copies of those original videos and made many of my own. I also uploaded these early videos to my StopLeseMajeste blog.

9) You were anonymous for a long time following the StopLeseMajeste videos posted to YouTube. When and how did the Thai govt find your name and nationality.

False. I always included my first name “Emilio” in my Youtube StopLeseMajeste channel. But the Thai junta discovered my full identity with the help of Spanish police who traced me to an internet cafe using SITEL. They photocopied my passport and secretly sent my e-mail details to Thailand. Some days later, the DSI arrested my friend Nat Sattayapornphisut. They also discovered the letters Suwicha Thakor had written to me.

10) Certainly your videos were the explosion that began unprecedented discussions on Thailand’s monarchy. Is that a good thing?

I’m glad you think that. Thailand’s junta refuse to acknowledge our contribution to the debate on the monarchy. Instead they say that it was only the 2006 coup which stated the ball rolling on this issue, but anti-censorship organisations like FACT know it was the Paddidda movement on Youtube which started it all. BTW, we continue to be at the forefront on the issue of political prisoners and lese majeste, which is why the PAD want the regime to squash us. We’re still making / uploading videos to Youtube and we have our own publication called The Daily Skipper.

11) Do you have any opinions on monarchs elsewhere? 

Yes. But as long as these monarchs respect human rights and don’t send innocent people to prison for lese majeste, I will keep my opinions to myself.

12) What hopes do you have for Thailand in future? Do any of Thailand’s political movements give you hope, and why? Or is Thailand completely hopeless in the foreseeable future?

Thailand’s meddling monarchy is damaging the nation, both at home and abroad. Thai people need to overcome their “anti-royalist” complex and democratically challenge both the monarchy and lese majeste law, in a non-violent way. Such action could provoke a virulent backlash from sections of the army and fanatical royalists, but ordinary Thai people cannot lose if they use only peaceful means. The world’s media loves stories of “injustice” and despotic tyrants who do not know the meaning of the word “righteousnes”.

There’s a gentleman in Thailand who loves quotations, well here’s one for Thai people: Behind every fear is a right.

4 Responses to “FACT Halloween special: Emilio Estéban, “Behind every right is a fear.””

  1. […] push the censorship envelope C.J. Hinke at Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) are pushing the censorship envelope a lot today, with an interview with Emilio Esteban, the […]

  2. Thai people need to overcome their “anti-royalist” complex and democratically challenge both the monarchy and lese majeste law, in a non-violent way. Such action could provoke a virulent backlash from sections of the army and fanatical royalists, but ordinary Thai people cannot lose if they use only peaceful means. The world’s media loves stories of “injustice” and despotic tyrants who do not know the meaning of the word “righteousness”.

  3. The above sounds right to me… it slipped through my fingers somehow. I’d like to add that the ‘despotic tyrants who do not know the meaning of the word “righteousness” ‘ are the ‘army and the fanatical royalists ‘. Of course.

  4. The Thai royal family has lost all respect from the outside world,and a large portion of Thailand.Because of the truth.Nobody should be restricted in telling the truth.Only lies can damage.

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