112 The Series

 
112 The Series 
 
Translated by Tyrell Haberkorn
 
This is a series of stories about people who are prosecuted under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law, from a perspective rarely seen by society. The stories weave together narratives about the personal lives of those prosecuted under Article 112. These truths are often omitted in media reports, which tend to only offer legal accounts of the cases. 
 
The purpose of this series is to give expression to the diversity of perspectives of those who are prosecuted in Article 112 cases: the perspective of singular, ordinary people.  We also aim to provide facts about the effects of being prosecuted on the lives of those prosecuted. These effects exceed the loss of freedom while behind bars. We write without any view to discovering whether or not those about whom we write truly violated the law.
 
The authors of this series are iLaw staff and volunteers. We observe cases and provide humanitarian assistance to those prosecuted for exercising their freedom of expression.
 
As far as the names of those to whom these stories belong, we will make public only the names of those who are willing to let them be known to society. For those who wish to withhold their names, we will give them a pseudonym and place it in quotation marks.
 

 

“Salman”: A Judgment and a Farewell

I met “Salman” for the first time in September 2013 in the visitor room at the Bangkok Remand Prison. “Salman” had just entered prison after the Appeal Court upheld the judgment against him for violating Article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act by posting inauspicious rumors on the web board of a securities company. “Salman” was suffering from allergies and wearing a mask and I could not see his face clearly. All I knew was that he was tall and his skin was tan. The hair on his head was shaved short like other prisoners.
 
“Salman” was not usually interested in politics. He never joined political demonstrations, no matter the group. However, when inauspicious rumors were circulated in the online world at the end of 2010, rumors that were serious enough to make the stock market fall more than 10% in a single day, “Salman” checked the news every day. As an investor who was nearly bankrupt, he anxiously checked the news from foreign websites, including Wikileaks, because he was worried about investing erroneously. 
 
His wife told me that she felt like it was a bad joke that “Salman,” who was always loyal to the institution, was prosecuted for defaming the institution. Before he was charged, “Salman” had brought his wife and small child from their home in the north to Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok to leave well wishes for the king. “Salman” had also sent postcards wishing the king well on his birthday. His wife offered the observation that there were not even very many Thai people with such determination to offer respect that they make the trek to do so, particularly those who live far away.
 
 

 

Pornthip: A Theater Group, A Dream

“Golf went to high school and became an activist in Phitsanulok. Her activism continued when she came to study at Ramkhamhaeng University. Before she was active politically, she did activities about youth development. Golf liked to go teach children in impoverished villages in the provinces, such as Mukdahan, the three southern provinces, and Khlong Toey. She liked to teach children who did have the opportunity for extracurricular study. She taught them how to draw and how to speak English. Sometimes she joined existing networks and sometimes she created new areas. But Golf came into the fore working on politics.”
 
“Golf likes to draw a lot and has artistic gifts. When she was in secondary school, she won a watercolor competition. Golf’s dream is to be an art teacher for children who live on the mountain. Her dream is to open a school for children in which their natural environment will be the basis of learning. She will teach them without compelling them to believe in religion. But her mother does not agree with the dream, because she thinks that if she becomes a teacher, she may be impoverished.” 
 
An activist friend who has known Golf for many years talked about Golf’s way of being, and about her beautiful dream that will not have an opportunity to come to fruition for at least another 2 years and 6 months.
 
 

 

Sasiwimol: Mother’s Day Without Mother

Sasiwimol, or Oe, is 29 years old and worked as a drink server in a hotel in Chiang Mai. She married young and had two daughters with her husband before they separated. The older daughter is 10 years old and in Grade 4. The younger daughter is 7 years old and in Grade 2.

At present, the two daughters are being looked after by their grandmother.  She has chronic illness and works as a cleaner in the same hotel where Oe worked. The entire family lives from hand to mouth.

Oe had no previous conception for what happened to her. She had never even participated in a political demonstration. At the end of September 2014, plainclothes officers searched her rented house and took her computer and mobile phone for inspection. The officers who took her to be interrogated at the police station accused her of making Facebook posts in violation of Article 112 under the name “Rungnapa Khamphichai.” 

Sasivimol later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison by the military court

"For Mother’s Day this year, and many years to come, Big Mommy will be without a daughter to look after the family. And the two little girls will be without their mother."

For more details of Sasiwimol's case, click here.

 


 

Yutthasak: A taxi driver and the pricey fare paid for a conversation

A taxi driver’s working conditions compel him to sit alone in a narrow, confined space for the entire day. Many taxi drivers strike up conversation with their passengers to relieve their loneliness. The conversations are often about ordinary issues, such as the weather, sports, jobs, and politics. There is usually nothing special or memorable about the conversations. Once the taxi has reached its destination, and the passenger has paid the fare, the conversation is forgotten. Yutthasak himself perhaps hoped that the conversation he had with a passenger about politics would be forgotten. Instead, what happened is that Yutthasak is serving a sentence under Article 112 for a conversation that grew too lively.

For more details of Yutthasal's case, click here


 

Opas: An old man and his love

Uncle Opas’s language talents also aided in his pursuit of music, which is what he loves the most … Twenty years ago, the Narai Hotel on Silom Road was one of the places where Uncle Opas played international music as a lead guitarist along with leading Thai musicians of the time, such as Laem Morrison,   Cho An Na Bang Chang, Charas Fuengarom, Surasee Eittikul, etc. Uncle Opas was also a music teacher as a young man.
 
Uncle Opas was addicted to political news – listened to community radio – watched television news – became tense – had to find a release – grew frustrated with the condition of not being able to express his ideas … until he relieved his tension by writing on a bathroom wall. 
 
 

 

Siraphop: The Hunted Poet

Siraphop was charged with disseminating three messages in violation of Article 112. If convicted, this could result in a potential sentence of up to forty-five years. Siraphop confessed that the pen name “Rungsila” belonged to him. He confessed that he was involved with the Facebook account and the website where the messages were posted. But he maintained that the poems he wrote were about ordinary political issues. He talked about unjust power in Thai society, but did not mean the king. Siraphop put up 400,000 baht as a bail request, but the military court denied it given the severity of the charge.

For more details on Siraphop's case, click here

 


 

Thenet: Whispers in My Ears

The Article 112 case of Thanet (pseudonym) is not a high-profile political case. Thanet is a person at the edge of society who does possesses neither secure economic or social standing, nor a fully sound mind.
 
At dawn on 2 July 2014, soldiers and police raided Thanet’s house and arrested him. He was accused of sending an email that contained a link to content in violation of Article 112 in 2010.
 
Thanet was quietly arrested without the knowledge of anyone other than his family. His family was unfamiliar with the law and did not know the details of his case, and so did not know to whom they should turn for help. When Thanet was sent to the Bangkok Remand Prison, others being held in relation to Article 112 passed the details of his story on to people outside the prison who were able to provide assistance. 

 

Find more details on Thanet's case, click here.

 

 
Article type: