The hashtag #saveธนาธร (save Thanathorn) was trending on Thai Twitter Thursday as netizens protestsed lese-majeste charges against former leader of the now-disbanded Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
Many outraged netizens were using the hashtag to stand in solidarity with the banned opposition politician, as well as to raise awareness more generally of the government’s use of the Thai criminal code to crack down on dissidents and limit freedom of speech in Thailand.
“Whether we agree with Thanathorn or not. We should be grateful to live in a free society that allows people who disagree sharply to coexist. #saveธนาธร” one user wrote.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has been charged with lese-majeste and computer crimes, according to an official memo sent to Reuters and local media on Wednesday by Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.
The ministry gave no details of the alleged crime. But the move comes after Thanathorn on Monday questioned the government’s strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the Crown Property Bureau.
Under Section 112 (ม. 112), lese-majeste is defined as anything that might defame, insult or threaten the crown, the monarch or the monarchy, and carries a penalty of three to 15 years in prison.