THAILAND: The Nation’s Twilight Zone

ELIZABETH NAAI WRITES – Thailand looks eerily like a Twilight Zone episode or George Orwell’s 1984. On April 17, parents of 34-year old Chatwadee ‘Rose’ Amornpat accused their daughter of violating lèse majesté. They turned in seven clips as evidence to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD).

Chatwadee ‘Rose’ Amornpat

Derived from the Latin phrase for the “injured majesty,” lèse majesté is anything that defames, insults, or threatens the royal family. Article 112 of the criminal code punishes these violations with up to 15 years in jail. But the code does not clearly define what qualifies as an injury against the royal family. This is dangerous because the law can be manipulated to manufacture a guilty verdict and punish political dissent.

Boasting 100,000 daily Facebook views, and viral YouTube clips, Rose has become a house-hold name among Thais— home and abroad. London is her residence, but Thailand is her battleground; she is determined to see a democratic and free Thai people. Rose condemns taxpayer dollars supporting the royal family, yellow-shirts who blindly support royalism, and lèse majesté. If lèse majesté is erased, she believes the monarchy will no longer be “untouchable.”

Raised in Bangkok, Rose’s parents are yellow-shirt supporters. After the violent military crackdown in 2010, she joined the red-shirt cause. To end harassment from Thai loyalists, Surapong and Somchintra Amornpat reported their daughter to prove their loyalty to the yellow-shirt party.

Rose’s British citizenship shields her from the Thai government’s punishment, but it hasn’t stopped loyalists in the U.K. from taking “justice” into their own hands. Despite the harassment, Rose refuses to be silenced by her critics, taking full advantage of her U.K. rights — “when I express different views here, they do not use violence [against me].”

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