Opinion: Constitutional Court verdict a dark chapter in Thai history

The Constitutional Court’s verdict on Wednesday was a dark chapter in Thailand’s democratic history.

The court ruled that student protesters asking for a reformation of the royal institution is comparable to an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy system.

And the chapter could get darker still.

The ruling fed into the propaganda that all pro-democracy protesters want the abolishment of the royal institution – which is certainly untrue.

If you carefully listen, what they are asking for is the modernization of the royal institution so that it can continue to peacefully exist along with the development of a democratic system.

Progress ensures survival and peaceful coexistence with the hopes and dreams of a democratic nation.

Many steps have been taken during this administration that has regressed our democratic development.

This ruling could lead to an unprecedented crisis as well since it could open up more room for abuse by the current ruling class. It now empowers them to keep using outdated and vague laws to silence political oppositions and dissidents. This, in turn, will lead to more social conflict.

The Real Treason

Asking for the amendment of the lese-majeste law is not treasonous in any way. Overthrowing an elected government by a military coup like what General Prayut Chan-ocha and his friends did in 2014 was.

Jailing and persecuting elected parliamentarians is treasonous.

Arresting, cracking down, violently using force against unarmed protesters is treasonous.

Shutting down public debate, installing an unelected senate, using the judiciary to go after dissidents is treasonous.

Abducting and murdering political activists is treasonous.

The verdict was almost like the final nail in the coffin of space for fair discussions in our society. And it was perpetrated by the same court system that has done nothing for the last six years but carry out the junta’s whim and reinforce the junta’s rule.

More protest ahead?

More people will take to the streets now to express their opinion and vent their anger towards the injustice that is being done to their friends.

“They said that I want to overthrow the governing system even though I only asked for reformation,” wrote Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul after she heard of the verdict. She is a bright young lady who wants to implement what she thinks will make the country better. Now her voice is silenced because old judges are afraid of young voices.

What is worrisome is that the ruling could support the multiple seditions and lese-majeste charges against her and other protest leaders and some of them, including her, Arnon Nampa and Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, are already facing a possibility of more than a century in jail if found guilty of all charges.

Another concern is that the court also ordered that any organization that looks to promote the amendment of the lese-majeste law must cease all related activities.

That is a sweeping judgment. And it will do nothing to close the growing political divide already tearing this country apart.

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