Thailand: Actors prosecuted for political play

23 February 2015


On 23 February 2015, two members of a now-defunct theatre group Prakai Fai (‘Sparking Fire’) have been sentenced to two and half years in prison under the draconian Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code.

Pornthip Mankong aka Golf, 26, and Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, performed in a political play called Jao Sao Maa Paa (‘Wolf’s bride’). The play was staged at Bangkok’s Thammasat University on 13 October 2013 and was part of the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 14 October 1973 student uprising against the military dictatorship of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn.

The play, which centered on a fictional monarchy, was deemed to have insulted Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej. No further explanation of the details of Golf and Bank’s alleged offense can be made. This is because the inflexible application of Article 112 makes a recounting of lèse-majesté allegations a violation of Article 112 as well. Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code imposes jail terms for those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Those who are found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years.

Golf and Bank have already pled guilty to the lèse-majesté charges. This should not to be construed as an acknowledgment of criminal responsibility. Unfortunately, the guilty plea is a strategic decision that, in most cases, earns lèse-majesté violators a significant reduction in their jail sentence.

» Political Prisoners in Thailand:
Patiwat Saraiyaem
Pornthip Munkhong

» The Telegraph – 23 February 2015:
Thailand jails two students for insulting monarchy in college play
Dozens protests sentencing under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste law, which makes it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the royal family

» FIDH – 21 February 2015:
While Hollywood celebrates creative achievements, Thailand punishes artistic freedom

» Bangkok Post – 21 February 2015:
Without free speech, artistic creativity will wither

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