On November 10, a panel of judges from Thailand’s Constitutional Court ruled that calling for monarchy reform is an act of treason. The court equated three activists’ speeches as seeking to overthrow the country’s constitutional monarch system.
The decision sent shockwaves throughout the country and many are puzzled at the ruling.
Thai Enquirer spoke to the activists lawyer, Krisadang Nutcharut, to get a sense of what this means for the country.
“In summary the ruling yesterday said that the monarchy reform calls are equals to the overthrow of the democratic government with the King of head of state,” Krisadang told Thai Enquirer.
Krisadang fears that the language used in the ruling could be widely interpreted. He believes others may be targeted, including academics, activists, or anyone who may have similar views as the three activists, Anon Numpa, Panupong Jadnok, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul
“It’s not too much to say that it [the death penalty] might happen,” Krisadang noted. Though there was no criminal charge on Wednesday’s ruling, it does pave the way for more prosecution.
In a joint statement, student organisations at major universities condemned the court’s ruling.
But some believe this may be just the first step in a long process of criminalizing anyone who “threatens” the state. Rights groups are concerned that this new ruling might lead to the further suppression of rights.
It’s only been two days since the ruling, and Krisadang’s team of lawyers are already seeing attempts by the government to accuse supporters and allies of reform ofbreaking the law. Krisadang said that the state has already taken steps to dissolve the Move Forward Party in the aftermath of the ruling.
“They can interpret the word ‘network’ as meaning academics, activists, or political parties.”
However, Move Forward Party leaders still feel confident that they will survive.
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, warned demonstrators on Thursday to be cautious when pursuing future demonstrations.
“They must be more careful in future rallies,” Wissanu told a group of journalists. He hinted that protesters will risk facing more criminal charges if they still hold rallies in response to the ruling.
Various anti-government groups are calling for a demonstration on Sunday to protest the controversial ruling.