Speaking to the FCCT via Skype 2009, Professor Tongchai Winichakul and Professor Andrew Walker announced a petition - signed by dozens of leading global figures in human rights, civil liberties and academia, to then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, citing Thailand's Article 112 and urging the government to consider the following:
Please stop seeking more suppressive measures against individuals, web sites, and the peaceful expressions of ideas.
Please consider suggestions to reform the lese majeste law to prevent further abuses and to prevent the possibility of further damage to the international reputation of Thailand and the monarch.
Please consider taking action to withdraw the current lese majeste charges, and working to secure the release of those already convicted under the lese majeste law. They are charged for expressing their ideas. This should not be a crime.
The letter argued that "frequent abuse of the lese majeste law against political opponents undermines democratic processes" and generates "heightened criticism of the monarchy and Thailand itself, both inside and outside the country."
Three years later, the law remains the same, but debate over 112 has only deepened and widened. The number of cases has shot up. There seems to be no appetite for amendment of the law despite several petitions and much criticism both within and outside Thailand. Yet the law is increasingly an emotional and politically explosive fault line.
Three years on, Andrew Walker and Thongchai Winichakul will speak at the FCCT again via video conference, to review what has transpired since, and assess what may lie in store in the future.
Responding from the FCCT itself and joining the discussion, will be
Dr Chaichana Inkawat, professor of the Faculty of Political Science at Ramkhamhaeng University. A graduate of Thammasat University and a Fulbright Scholar to Cornell University, Dr Chaichana has been faculty at Ramkamheng University for almost four decades. He is also a regular political contributor to independent and state-owned current affairs programmes in Thailand.
Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director, Prachatai.com, found guilty with a suspended sentence recently, under the Computer Crimes Act for not removing allegedly lese majeste comments from the website quickly enough. Ms Chiranuch is the winner of the International Women's Media foundation's 2011 Courage in Journalism award.
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