BANGKOK — A celebrity actress who organized donation drives for the pro-democracy rallies said Wednesday she was charged with royal defamation, a harsh law that could land her in prison for 15 years.
Intira “Sai” Charoenpura announced the news on her Facebook, where she posted a police summons accusing her of breaching Article 112 of the Criminal Codes, also known as lese majeste. She was the latest person to be ensnared in the widening crackdown that saw over 20 people charged under the same offense in recent days.
“OK number one!” the 39-year-old actress wrote in the caption, using a protest lingo.
It is unclear why lese majeste was brought against Intira. She has been donating food, mobile toilets, and other equipment to the anti-government protests since July, as well as fundraising donations on behalf of the activists, but Intira never made any speeches onstage.
The warrant did not specify the nature of her alleged crimes, but simply instructed her to report to Bang Khen Police Station on Dec. 21.
At least 25 people involved in the protest movement have been charged over the past month under the lese majeste law, though details of those cases grow increasingly vague each day.
Just yesterday, news broke that police filed lese majeste against a woman for donning a traditional Thai silk dress at a parody fashion show held by pro-democracy activists in October.
Sombat Thongyoi, one of the volunteers who provided security at the protests, also said on Monday that police have pressed royal defamation against him – without informing him why.
“This is the harshest legal case that any democracy fighter can face. No one wants it,” Sombat wrote online upon learning the news. “But Article 112 has made its way to me anyway. I never expected it. I’ve been sitting here and wondering what I could have done to deserve it.”
Article 112 of the Criminal Codes outlaws any remarks that threaten or insult key members of the Royal Family, though in practice the offense is routinely interpreted to include any gesture deemed critical of the monarchy.
The offense has been on a hiatus for several years – PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said in June that His Majesty the King had requested the authorities not to use it – but made an abrupt return in November.
Abolishing Article 112 is one of the demands put forth by the ongoing protests. The activists insisted on their goal during a rally in front of the United Nations office in Bangkok on Dec. 10, which coincides with International Human Rights Day.
“Article 112 is an outdated law that no other countries have endorsed,” campaigner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk said at the rally. “It prevents people from expressing their opinion freely and the government has used it to destroy its opponents.”