Lese Majeste Charge Filed Against Activists' Mock Banknotes

(4 July) A pro-royal group has filed lese majeste – insult of the Royal Family – charge
against a student activist group for distributing mock banknotes with portraits of historic figures
involved in 1932 Revolution which ended the Absolute Monarchy and paved way for democratic regime in

The anknotes were in fact postcards
sold to participants of the rally marking the 81st anniversary of the Revolution in Bangkok′s Royal
Plaza on 24 June 2013. The postcards were published and sold by League of Liberal Thammasart for
Democracy (LTTD), a student group based in Thammasart University.

postcards came in 4 different versions. In one, it featured Pridi Banomyong, the leader of the
civilian wing of the People′s Party which toppled the Siamese Absolute Monarchy in 24 June 1932. The
others display portraits of Luang Pibul Songkram and Phraya Pahol Polpayuhasena, the 2 key military
commanders of the People′s Party, and Kularb Saipradit, a progressive writer who was greatly
influenced by the events in 1932.

They were considered to be
offensive enough by the group calling itself The
Royal Monarch Alert Protection Network (RMAPN) which filed the lese majeste charge based on Chapter
112 of the Criminal Codes at Dusit police station.

Mr. Udorn
Saeng-arun, representative of the group, said the LTTD has greatly offended the feeling of Thai
people by distributing the mock banknotes since only the faces of His Majesty the King are allowed
to appear on Thai banknotes.

The news was first reported by Prachatai
news website.

The LTTD has written on its Facebook
account that the postcards-banknotes were tribute to the date of 24 June which the group sees as
important day for Thai democracy. 24 June was once so important that the Thai state declared it as
National Day, until it was changed to His Majesty the King′s Birthday, 5 December, under the
military dictatorship regime years later.

The LTTD argues the said
anknotes would help remind Thais of the long-lost significance of 24 June 1932.

Actions deemed as insult toward the Royal Family are punishable up to 15 years
in jail according to Thai laws. Anyone can file the charge against any individual. The number of
lese majeste charges have risen dramatically in the past 6-7 years, corresponding to the
increasingly confrontational politics in the kingdom.

Many civil
rights activists and academics have voiced support for amendment or abolition of lese majeste laws,
calling it an obstacle to development of free speech in Thailand.