Number of Royal Defamation Suspects Rises to 37

Protest in front of Bang Khen Police Station on Dec. 21, 2020.

BANGKOK — At least 37 people have been charged with insulting the monarchy in just one month alone, an attorney at the Thai Lawyer for Human Rights said Thursday.

Most of the suspects are key members of the pro-democracy movement like Arnon Nampa and Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, who have been slapped with multiple counts of the draconian law – eight for Arnon eight, while Parit faces as many as 12.

“The lese majeste law has been intensely used as a tool to suppress the political movement,” lawyer Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen said by phone Thursday. “If the protest continues next year, more will likely be charged.”

Read: Activists Urge UN To Help Repeal Royal Defamation Laws

The youngest person to be charged with royal defamation, or lese majeste, this month is a 16-year-old boy who stands accused of mocking His Majesty the King.

Article 112 of the Criminal Codes bans any remark deemed as insulting or threatening toward the King, Queen, Regent and Heir Apparent. Violators face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The activists remain defiant in face of the harsh legal consequences. Two banners denouncing lese majeste were unveiled on Thursday; one was hung at Democracy Monument, another at a traffic sign close to Hua Lamphong Railway Station. They were soon taken down by the police.

Arnon told the crowd during a rally on Monday in front of Bang Khen Police Station that it’s “inevitable” that those criticizing the monarchy would be accused of lese majeste, and urged his supporters to keep up the fight.

Reforming the monarchy is among the core demands put forth by the pro-democracy rallies, which have been taking place since July.