Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lese Majeste and Facebook

The Bangkok Post reports that the trial of the first military officer to ever be charged with lese majeste began in a military court on Thursday morning in Thailand. Lese majeste is the crime of violating majesty, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.   Squadron Leader Chanin Klaiklung is accused of behaviour deemed dangerous to national security.  It is not exactly clear what he is alleged to have done, but it has something to do with postings he made on Facebook, the social media site.  The journalist spoke with the accused after the closed door hearing to get some details.  The article quotes Chanin as saying that it was beyond his imagination that charges this serious were filed against him based on cut-and-pasted messages from his Facebook pages.  According to the article, "The messages referred to in the charges included some various chunks posted in September and October 2010 commenting on the then-on-air soap opera in TV channel 5 Ching Chang (Disgusting hatred) and the song-for-life Thang Thome (Swooping Strike)."  "I was referring to the dictatorial father in the drama that led to problems in the family. The 'Thang Thome' song was also a song that has been heard everywhere in the market place, but they said I was referring to something else, which is ridiculous," said Chanin. The last paragraph of the article reads: "A number of lawsuits involving alleged insults against the Thai monarchy and breaches of the country's 2007 Computer Crimes Act have being filed in the past few years, dropping Thailand's ranking in the Reporters without Borders press freedom index from 107 in 2005, the year before the coup, to 153 last year."