(8 April) The legal representative of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has condemned the allegation put forth by the Lawyers Council of Thailand that he has insulted the Thai monarchy.
According to the statement issued yesterday, the Lawyers Council of Thailand Under the Royal Patronage argued that Mr. Robert Amsterdam had “defamed” the monarchy and insulted the Thai judicial system during his Skype call to a pro-government Redshirts rally on 6 April in Nakhon Prathom province.
In the Skype call, Mr. Amsterdam urged the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Codes, widely known as the “lese majeste” law, which prohibits any remarks deemed critical of the monarchy.
He made no direct mention of the Thai Royal Family, but the Lawyers Council considers it a sufficient cause of insult for the monarchy, calling for the police to press charges of violating 112 Article against Mr. Amsterdam.
“It is the duty of the Royal Thai Police, the General Attorney, and the Ministry of Interior Affairs to proceed with this legal case,” the statement insisted.
An anti-government activist, Mr. Thaworn Senniam, also filed a separate lese majeste complaint to the police against Mr. Amsterdam yesterday for his Skype remarks.
Critics of Ms. Yingluck are mostly conservative royalists who view the Shinawatra family and their supporters as corrupt republicans with anti-monarchy agenda, although Ms. Yingluck and her close aides have repeatedly denied the allegations.
Speaking in a phone interview today, Mr. Amsterdam expressed outrage at the Lawyers Council of Thailand’s statement accusing him of lese majeste, stating that there is absolutely no basis for the lese majeste allegation in what he told the Redshirt demonstrators.
The lobbyist vowed to respond “aggressively” to the Lawyers Council, and added that he is deeply disappointed that its members made no effort to contact him before they issued the statement, despite the fact that he knew some of them personally as colleagues.
“I have never seen so unfair a conduct. This Council should be ashamed of themselves, because they have the duty to fight for human rights,” Mr. Amsterdam said from Los Angeles. “They should remember that they are lawyers … yet they have violated due process and fairness.”
Asked to comment on the lese majeste charge filed by Mr. Thaworn, Mr. Amsterdam indicated that he was not aware of the incident, and said he does not wish to take seriously the people who refuse to debate him openly on the subject.
Mr. Amsterdam also insisted on the point he made in the Skype call, stating that Article 112 should be amended, and he felt even more strongly towards the issue following the statement by the Lawyers Council of Thailand.
“[Lese majeste] is one of the most overused, misunderstood statutes in the world,” Mr. Amsterdam told Khaosod. “It does not in any way serve the purpose it was designed. People in Thailand are afraid to talk about it – and I understand why – but I am not afraid to talk about it.”
He added that he is not deterred by the threats of legal actions against him, and that he will visit Thailand again in the near future.