FACTorial: Grandpa’s death penalty for lèse majesté; 761,416 URLs blocked…Happy Father’s Day

December 4, 2011

December 5 marks Father’s Day in Thailand, the King’s 84th birthday. In the brave, new Thailand, politicians, bureaucrats, the military and even judges are using the monarchy for political gain.

Is Thailand the new Burma? Any human rights and civil liberties, even those guaranteed in Thailand’s Constitution, are matters of convenience for government and mere window dressing. Only pariah states in totalitarian regimes lock up their citizens for freedom of expression. The Thai smile has been censored.

Judge Chanatip Mueanpawong convicted a 61-year old on November 23 for four SMS messages on the basis of circumstantial and inconclusive evidence after an investigation riddled with irregularities and then sentenced him to death in Bangkok’s Criminal Court . We wonder how old this learned judge is, whether his own grandfather is still alive, how well he sleeps at night. Does he really think he has protected Thai society from a dangerous criminal?

Known affectionately by his family as Akong, Grandpa in the southern China Teochew dialect of generations of Chinese economic migrants to Thailand, Ampon Tangnoppakul has become known as Uncle SMS in the Thai press. Sounds warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it, as if Thai people still really cared about each other. But this is what they’re calling a frail old man in poor health who will die in Thai prison…Amnesty International’s latest Thai political prisoner.

King Bhumipol and Uncle Ampon have much in common. Both are grandfathers, both are elderly, weakened and ailing after a lifetime of honest work. Akong even visited Sirirat Hospital to offer his sympathy to the king. Our king may be loved by his subjects but certainly no more than Akong is loved by his family.

Held without bail since his arrest in August 2010, Akong joins hundreds of victims of Thailand’s lèse majesté laws. Many such victims have sworn never again to use a computer. After Uncle SMS, we’d all better give up mobile phones, too.

The Computer Crimes Act 2007, the first law passed by the legislative assembly appointed by the military coup government, applies to a wide range of so-called computer crimes. However, in five years this law has only been used to censor free speech.

Internet censorship is rampant. Thailand’s former prime minister announced plans in 2005 to block 800,000 “websites” [sic]. A military coup d’etat and several successive changes of government have nearly accomplished that dark goal.

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) has monitored and analysed Thailand’s censorship from many sources since 2006.

Using leaked secret government blocklists, court orders and internal memos, personal communication with Thai ISPs, government media announcements, research by such international NGOs as Harvard University’s OpenNet Initiative, the University of Toronto’s CitizenLab, Herdict and Psiphon projects, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Committee to Protect Journalists, Electronic Frontier Foundation and others, FACT has estimated the extent of Internet censorship today.

Of particular help has been the academic research conducted by the iLaw Foundation during the period of Thailand’s so-called “emergency” for eight months in 2010 when normal rule of law was suspended and military agencies were created which primary purpose was to block the Internet with no oversight or transparency. ILaw’s research indicated that, by December 2010, at least 690 new webpages were being blocked every day.

Extrapolating from these sources indicates 578,476 URLs were blocked by Thai government as of July 31. Sunai Pasuk, Thailand director of Human Rights Watch reported on November 25 that ICT minister Anudith Nakornthap stated that his ministry requested rubberstamp court orders to block 26,000 Facebook pages in August and September and 60,000 more in October and November. On November 23,the minister announced a further 10,000 Facebook pages had been blocked for alleged lèse majesté; conflicting reports state the minister has requested Facebook delete the supposedly offensive pages. (Good luck with that…)

At least one Thai politician, former news anchor and assistant to the ICT minister, Mallika Boonmetrakul, has proposed Thailand block all social networking sites, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter over lèse majesté. She’s the opposition’s deputy spokespersonfor Thailand’d oldest political party, the Democrats—we must presume she speaks for her party, one of the largest political forces in Thailand.

This Father’s Day, 761,416 webpages are blocked in Thailand. And Akong will be spending just another day in prison. Happy Father’s Day.

Thai government is clearly out of control. Give us the gift that keeps on giving: FREE SPEECH!

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

4 Responses to “FACTorial: Grandpa’s death penalty for lèse majesté; 761,416 URLs blocked…Happy Father’s Day”

  1. ‘Fuck democracy’… is not going to get it. A lot of tourists would agree… fuck democracy… for sex on the beach.

    I think ‘Keep your ass out of jail… fuck Thailand’ is more likely to prick up their ears. The Puea Thai Regime, snug in the pouches of the Kangaroos on the Thai Kourts as they are, have just made this a candidate slogan for the TAT, as it’s now quite possible to be jailed in Thailand for something done quite legally at home before boarding the plane for sex on the beach. Ask Joe Gordon. And there is NO BAIL in Thailand once they’ve blazed ‘LM’ on your forehead. It takes years in prison even to get to your show trial.

    Self-preservation, saving your own ass, rather than concerning yourself with the conditions under which your unfortunate sex partners have to live is more realistically a concern to the average Thai tourist.

    Keep your ass out of jail… fuck Thailand.

  2. […] Against Censorship Thailand or FACT reports that 761,416 webpages are blocked in Thailand. Most of the websites, including Facebook pages, had been blocked because […]

  3. […] οργάνωση Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) αναφέρει ότι 761.416 ιστοσελίδες μπλοκάρονται στην Ταϊλάνδη. Οι περισσότερες, […]

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