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12 April 2007

Lèse majesté in Thailand: why drunk or sober people don't like kings

If you pull this crap on the Thai King's image on YouTube, the Thai military junta pulls the plug on YouTube. Maybe this will get Blogspot.com blacked out in Thailand. Maybe PKblogs can sneak it in anyway.

This Swiss gentleman got a bit betronken and used real spray paint on a real poster in Thailand.

I love this crime!
Lèse majesté! (See Wikipedia wiki below.) Whenever I wonder why we Colonials bothered to throw that tea into Boston harbor and overthrow our King, I'll re-read this story.

In honor of Herr Jufer's release from prison, and the King of Thailand's kindness and mercy, Vleeptron makes a toast:

Hey King Bhumibol Adulyadej!
Bite Me! You suck!
Your Junta sucks too!

==============

The Associated Press (wire USA)
Thursday 12 April 2007

Thailand's kind king
pardons, deports Swiss man
for defacing image of
Thailand's kind king


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) -- The Thai king has pardoned a Swiss man who was given a 10-year sentence for spray-painting over images of the revered monarch, but the longtime Thailand resident has been ordered to leave the country, police said Thursday.

Oliver Rudolf Jufer, who last month became the first foreigner convicted in at least a decade under strict Thai laws protecting the monarchy, was expected to be deported back to Switzerland later in the day, said police Col. Sangob Sanudon, the chief of Chiang Mai's immigration office.

Police and prison officials in the northern city of Chiang Mai confirmed Jufer had been transferred Wednesday to a police station in Chiang Mai ahead of his deportation. They said he was expected to fly to Bangkok and then onto Switzerland.

"The king in his kindness has granted him a pardon and he has been transferred from prison and is in the process of being deported from the country," Chiang Mai police Col. Prachuab Wongsuk told The Associated Press.

A spokesman for the Swiss Embassy could not be immediately reached for comment.

Jufer was caught by surveillance cameras on December 5 spray-painting black paint over five outdoor posters of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Chiang Mai, where he lived.

Bhumibol, who is greatly loved by Thais and regarded by some as semi-divine, is protected from reproach by strict laws that forbid any criticism of the monarchy.

Jufer, who lived in Thailand for 10 years, pleaded guilty in March to five counts of
lèse majesté, or insulting the monarchy. He had faced a maximum of 75 years in prison.

According to court testimony, Jufer had been out drinking with a friend and drove his motorcycle home to pick up a can of spray-paint, which he had bought to paint his dog house. He drove up to a municipal office where a large poster of the king was hung outside, and climbed a ladder to spray paint over the image. He then defaced four other posters near his home, according to the testimony.

The vandalism coincided with Bhumibol's 79th birthday, which was celebrated across Thailand with fireworks and prayers.

Millions of portraits of the king, who is the world's longest serving monarch, were hung late last year around the country to honor his birthday. Many Thais wear bright yellow shirts every Monday, the color that in Buddhist tradition represents the day of the week on which Bhumibol was born.

His case cast a rare spotlight on Thailand's strict lese majeste laws, which have remained virtually unchanged since the creation of the country's first criminal code in 1908, despite the overthrow of an absolute monarchy in 1932.

- 30 -

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

===============

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Lèse majesté

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Lèse majesté (French expression, from the Latin Laesa maiestas or Laesae maiestatis (crimen), (crime of) injury to the Majesty; in English, also lese majesty or leze majesty) is the crime of violating majesty, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state.

This behaviour was first classified as a criminal offense against the dignity of the Roman republic in Ancient Rome. In time, as the Emperor became identified with the Roman state (the empire never formally became a monarchy), it was essentially applied to offenses against his person.[1] Though legally the princeps civitatis (his official title, roughly 'first citizen') could never become a sovereign, as the republic was never abolished, emperors were to be deified as divus, first posthumously but ultimately while reigning, and thus enjoyed the legal protection provided for the divinities of the pagan state cult; by the time it was exchanged for Christianity, the monarchical tradition in all but name was well established (an example of the way the Roman religion was made to serve the political elite).

In the (mainly Christian) states emerging after the fall of Rome the style of Majesty and the notion of offenses against it were exclusively related to offenses against the crown. In feudal Europe, various real crimes were classified as lèse majesté even though not intentionally directed against the crown, such as counterfeiting because coins bear the monarch's effigy and/or coat of arms.

However, since the disappearance of absolute monarchy, this is viewed as less of a crime, although similar, more malicious acts, could be considered treason. By analogy, as modern times saw republics emerging as great powers, a similar crime may be constituted, though not under this name, by any offense against the highest representatives of any state ( e.g. all heads of state, regardless of their title, as in Belgium).

Current lèse majesté laws

Few countries still prosecute lèse majesté. One exception is Thailand, where social activists like Sulak Sivaraksa were charged with the crime in the 1980s and '90s because they allegedly criticized the King[2]although the King in his 2005 birthday speech said he would not take lèse majesté charges seriously any more. Several high-profile cases were dropped. In September 2006, the leaders of a military coup accused prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of lèse majesté; the Thai military is thought to be highly loyal to the king.[3] Although the King is held in great respect by many Thais, he is also protected by lèse majesté laws which allow critics to be jailed for three to 15 years. Politician Veera Musikapong was jailed and banned from politics for lèse majesté, despite the palace's opinion that the remarks were harmless. Frenchman Lech Tomacz Kisielwicz who in 1995 committed lèse majesté by making a derogatory remark about a Thai princess while on board a Thai Airways flight in international airspace was taken into custody upon landing in Bangkok and charged with offending the monarchy. He was detained for two weeks, released on bail, and acquitted after writing a letter of apology to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Deposed Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his political opponent Sondhi Limthongkul both filed charges of lèse majesté against each other during the 2005-2006 political crisis. Thaksin's alleged lèse majesté was one of the stated reasons for the Thai military's 2006 coup.[4][5][6][7] In March 2007 Swiss national Oliver Jufer was convicted of lèse majesté and sentenced to 10 years for spray-painting on several portraits of the king while drunk in Chiang Mai, Thailand[8]; however Mr Jufer was pardoned by the King on 12 April 2007[9].

Brunei is another country which will still prosecutes lèse majesté.

In the United States and most western democracies, except for Poland, the right of free speech protects verbal attacks on public officials, as long as they are not accompanied by threats of violence.

See also: Freedom of speech#Poland

Sondhi may face arrest over lèse majesté allegations

In Poland, it is illegal to publicly insult foreign heads of state present on Polish territory. On 5 January 2005, Jerzy Urban was sentenced to a fine of 20,000 z?oty (about 5000 euros) for having insulted Pope John Paul II, a visiting head of state.[10] During January 26-January 27, 2005, about 30 human rights activists were temporarily detained by the police, allegedly for insulting Vladimir Putin, a visiting head of state. The activists were released after about 30 hours and only one was actually charged with insulting a foreign head of state.[11]

References

1. ^ "Lese majesty", TheFreeDictionary.com, Columbia Encyclopedia, retrieved 22 September 2006.
2. ^ "A Critic May Now Look at a King", Macan-Markar, Marwaan, The Asian Eye, 18 May 2005.
3. ^ "Thailand's Ousted Prime Minister Is No Longer Democratizer", TNR Online, 20 January 2006.
4. ^ Asiaweek, A Protective Law, 3 December 1999 vol.45 no.28
5. ^ Colum Murphy, "A Tug of War for Thailand’s Soul", Far Eastern Economic Review, September 2006
6. ^ AFP, Thai coup leader says new PM within two weeks, 19 September 2006
7. ^ Time, World Notes Thailand: Not Fit for a King, 15 September 1986
8. ^ BBC News, Sensitive heads of state, 29 March 2007
9. ^ BBC News, Thailand's king pardons Swiss man, 12 April 2007
10. ^ "Criminal Defamation Laws Hamper Free Expression", IFEX.org, retrieved 22 September 2006.
11. ^ "28 Detained for insulting Putin?", Independent Media Center, 27 January 2005.

Swiss man jailed for Thai insult BBC News article


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

a typical coment from a u.s.a. citizen....a country that has no respect for any country...i could go on...but why drop myself to the same level of ignorance as you
brian (briagc@gmail.com)

Thai News said...

Much ado about nothing, both of you guys...

Bob Merkin said...

hiya brian

lots of countries -- i've visited more than a few -- have monarchies. what thailand under the military junta is doing is enforcing respect for the king with long prison sentences and with Internet censorship. that's the fastest and most certain way i know to destroy popular support for the monarchy. story after story says the king is a "revered" figure. nobody who demands respect with the threat of prison, and maintains his image with censorship, stays "revered." his name becomes synonymous with cruelty. increasingly, people want to get rid of a monarchy like that.

Streckfuss cites numerous instances in which Thai juntas have used the lese majeste law not to protect the king, but for political purposes to secure their own hold on political power. the king becomes a figurehead used to protect politicians and dictators from popular criticism and opposition. Lese majeste is less and less about respecting the king, and more and more about an excuse to exercise totalitarian power.

The British royal family has almost no legal protection or insulation from insult and public criticism; every month they "get it" in the face with noisy tabloid attacks. Yet the British monarchy is respected and strong. Those calling for its end are a marginalized tiny few. One of the primary reasons for the monarchy's stability and acceptance is that the government hasn't used prison and censorship to "protect" its royals for centuries. Those who revere the Queen and her family do so willingly and by choice, not out of fear that they may be punished for criticizing the monarchy.

The Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" was the rudest public insult at the Queen you could have imagined. That you could hear it on UK radio stations and buy it in UK music stores was obvious proof that the monarchy was strong, confident and popular. They didn't have to ban or imprison rude musicians, and they knew it. The Sex Pistols are long gone. Queen Elizabeth and her family are still around.

Never mind who or what I like or dislike. If this were just a bet about the survival of the Thai monarchy, the more lese majeste and censorship are used to "protect" the king, the shorter the monarchy will last. when the Thai people have had it with the junta and take them down, they'll take a hard and angry look at how intimate and cooperative the monarchy was with the junta.

when monarchies end, they're replaced with more democratic structures. not the other way around -- there's never been a democracy whose people got tired of it and brought back a monarchy.

patfromch said...

oh so cool one of my countrymen in the news. the story has made some waves in the local tabloid, but since I dont read that crap i cannot tell you more.
btw god Save the Queen was banned by the BBC andime. his reg himself who installed t Brian is a Pinhead because it was the King himself who installed this regime

Anonymous said...

"the more lese majeste and censorship are used to "protect" the king, the shorter the monarchy will last."


hey, are you sure what you're talking about? Are you sure you know what Thai people think? The monarchy has lasted for several centuries without having anything to do with lese majeste.

People feel offended by the act of that Swiss man because they love their king. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's the same feeling when someone spit on your father's face...same thing.

The west just can't stand it because you look at it through your western point of view...and monarchy in Thailand is just something you would probably never understand. That's ok. We don't expect anything from you anyway.

Bob Merkin said...

Okay, welcome to Vleeptron, here's the rule: No Anonymous Driveby Comments. I say who I am, you say who you are.

In all these posts about Thailand's King, I haven't said anything about the King, or the love of the Thai people for the King.

I'm talking about the Thai government's use of the lese majeste law. Very likely without the King's active participation in charging people with violating lese majeste.

This thing began when the Junta unplugged YouTube from Thailand because of a graffiti video of the King. So suddenly it's not about the monarchy -- it's about the Junta's right to censor speech and artistic expression.

And the Junta has no rights. The Junta used armed force to seize control of the government. So Thailand's government is now like Myanmar's/Burma's government. It rules by force, and doesn't reflect the wishes of the Thai people.

How long will the Thai monarchy last? I don't know. But Nepal's king was just stripped of all his powers, and the government now runs by democratic institutions. I'll bet a year ago, the King of Nepal thought his absolute monarchy would last forever.

It's not about the King or what the Thai people feel about the King. It's about a crappy law which the Junta uses to enforce its hold on power.

Anonymous said...

ใครจะว่าจะทำอะไรก็ทำไป ในฐานะที่ดิฉันเกิดเป็นคนไทย พูดภาษาไทย เติบโตมาในผื่นแผ่นดินไทย คนที่ฉันเทิดทูนที่สุดก็คือ ในหลวงของเรา

Vleeptron Dude said...

Oh no! Aw, come on Anonymous ... I don't speak Thai!!!!

Are you saying

( ) Hello!

( ) Eat My Shorts

( ) Visit Beautiful Thailand

( ) I [heart] the Junta

( ) You have committed the unpardonable crime of Lese Majeste and our Junta Police will now throw you in our stinking prison for two years

Somebody PLEASE translate this Thai for us!!! (Or give us the URL of a Thai-English English-Thai translator robot)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
ใครจะว่าจะทำอะไรก็ทำไป ในฐานะที่ดิฉันเกิดเป็นคนไทย พูดภาษาไทย เติบโตมาในผื่นแผ่นดินไทย คนที่ฉันเทิดทูนที่สุดก็คือ ในหลวงของเรา

Friday, 08 June, 2007

-----------

Translation:

Do and say whatever you(whoever) want to. I was born in this country, the King is the best and most respected person for me.


[meaning: whatever people say doesn't affect her thought and belief towards the King at all because she knows what he has been doing for his people - rich and poor, metropolitan and regional alike.]

Vleeptron Dude said...

Too late! I already got it translated!!!

Okay, for the 19th time ...

I have nothing against the King Of Thailand, and I am happy to accept all the good things you say about him.

But I am opposed to protecting the King with the bogus Lese Majeste law. And I am opposed to protecting the King by censoring and blacking out the Internet.

Because I don't believe such things are really meant to protect or respect the King.

I think these are just ways for the Junta to stay in power and to use as easy weapons against Thai people who oppose the Junta.

In other posts I wrote about the nasty, insulting punk song "God Save The Queen" which the Sex Pistols wrote against Queen Elizabeth II of the UK.

The Queen got through that, and all other insults, just fine. She's still around, and probably more admired than she ever was. The Sex Pistols (those that are still alive) are dim memories. This week you can go to a museum in London and see an exhibit all about the Punk movement.

If you really love the King, get rid of the Junta. The Junta is the problem. And as long as the Junta stays in power with force and lawlessness, more and more Thai people will love their King less and less. Eventually, when they topple the Junta, they won't mind if the monarchy ends at the same time.

Abuzayaf said...

You meant that if your mother and your sister have been raped, you will accept that it's just a ordinary incident that can be happened and not to worry to avoid the incident before it happen to your loving person, aren't you?

It's a common sense, you should have to protect the one you loved. All Thais love their king so they accept these laws. You can ask all Thais, they like these laws and they will protect the king who beloved by revenging those mean people deservedly and uncompromisingly.

Please be noted that these rules are appropiate for Thais and in the Kingdom of Thailand only, but there is an international common rule that you have to study the laws belonging to the country you will visit. "When in Rome, do as the Roman do". Unless you don't need to step in their country, the owner of the land not welcome such a dirty person. Those guys are just a little flaw of the mankind. If they don't willing to come to the land, so what?

Although these penalties are very strong (but Thais want it even more stronger), but his majesty is very kind and so mercy to release a stupid ant that bite his heel to be free just to keep a long peaceful relationship between nations.
Such an above case is a serious criminal case that cannot be compromised by the law (and Thais won't let it be compromised) but his majesty don't want to, thus, no one will not offend his speak.
Why you never rethink that who is the guilty.
We don't care if you are a fools who don't like our king. But don't let us know who and where you are, we quite sured that you coward enought to hide yourself.

The last thing to wake you up is...
.. It's not a big deal when ideas are varied, but use more realisation when yours is the only idea which different.

We love the king!! - Pensiri said...

Dear Mr. Merkin,

It's not a problem that you don't agree with the law. All you have to do is not visit Thailand and don't move here. I am a Thai citizen who latter became a US citizen... regardless of some US rules and laws I don't agree with, when I decided to move to the US, I know that I have to respect and follow that rules and law.

This law has been preexisting for around 100 years. Thailand has history of kings formore than 700 years (Since Sukhothai, Ayuttaya, Thonburi and then Bangkok as the capital). Kig Bhumipol is special. He's a reserve power of Thailand of its people. We call him Phra Chao Yoo Hao means The lord above our heads. We don't call him this because we have to... but we call him this because we feel that he deserves the title through the accumulation of his acts. We absolutely love our kings and we protect him the way we know how.

The king is in our heart and while we are known as the land of smile and welcome our visitors... we ask that any visitors to Thailand, follow and observe Thai rules. Just as we will follow and observe your rules when we visit your country.

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hi hi hello Pensiri!

Thanks for your very interesting and very polite comment to my Planet Vleeptron!

Not all the comments on Vleeptron's Lese-Majeste posts have been polite. In fact the Lese-Majeste Law in Thailand posts have probably caused the most controversy and genuine anger of anything I've ever blogged about.

(But some Thai people have left comments that make me suspect they don't like the Lese-Majeste Law, or the way the Junta uses it, either.)

Let me try to make my end of it as clear as I possibly can.

I like your King. Everything I've read about him suggests he is devoted to Thailand and the Thai people, and has earned their nearly universal reverence. I wish him long life and happiness.

What I don't like is the police and government using this strange, ancient law to censor the Internet and censor and forbid free, open and vigorous political dialogue.

A Thai who says negative or even insulting things about the King should be booed and shunned by his neighbors, and made to feel ashamed.

But he should not be handcuffed and thrown into prison by the police, the Junta, or the government.

For the Junta to black out YouTube because a Thai expat made and posted a disrespectful video -- this is a classic example of a repressive government which rules not by the willing support of its people, but rules by force, censorship, violence, police and prisons.

A government which decides it does not want people to read or see politically controversial things is a government that fears its own people, and treats them the way that an overbearing parent treats disobedient or annoying little children.

The Lese-Majeste Law (originally a French invention) does not truly protect the King of Thailand. Such laws, and their abuse, only generate and accumulate anger and resentment against the King himself.

It is the modern history of the world that kings are overthrown and deposed, that monarchies end. Once a monarchy is toppled, it never comes back again. (Nepal is the most recent example.)

Where monarchies endure and even prosper and thrive -- the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden are very good examples -- the royal families have learned to endure insults and disrespectful words and images and unflattering photographs.

And the insults and disrespectful gestures just make the people sympathize with the royal family, and just make the people love them more.

I am an amateur prophet -- a k-Mart Nostradamus -- and when I look into the future, I see the British and Dutch royal families surviving for centuries.

But my crystal ball does not see a long future for the Thai monarchy, as long as it depends on this very bad police law to "protect" it from insulting words and rude grafitti.

Eventually a Thai PM or Junta will abuse Lese-Majeste so egregiously that the Thai people and the Thai political establishment will rebel in anger and end the monarchy.

And once ended, monarchies almost never return. The South of France is filled with the villas of deposed kings from around the world, waiting for the phone call from home urging them to fly back and be king again.

But the phone never rings.

Thanks again!

Bob / Massachusetts USA

P.S. When I visit other countries -- as I did just this week -- I always obey the local laws.

Unless they're Bad Laws, or Stupid Laws.

And unless I think I'm sneaky enough so the cops won't catch me.

Jared said...

why would you break a law just because you see it as a stupid law. Who gave you the right to decide what is a stupid or non-stupid law. What makes a law that does not allow you to disrespect someone stupid? We are not allowed to deface money in the US whats the difference.

Vleeptron Dude said...

uhhh that's an easy one ... i don't like stupid laws.

okay, here's an example from just next door (to Thailand). This week, the government of Myanmar/Burma threw the country's most popular comedian in prison for 45 years ... for telling jokes that the Junta didn't think were funny.

If you were in Myanmar, would you believe you were obligated to obey that law: No Telling Jokes The Junta Doesn't Like?

Does every government have the right to make laws that keep the government in power forever, with the threat of prison or torture and death?

Jared ... are you in Thailand?

STOP YELLING AT ME ABOUT THE SILLY LESE MAJESTE LAW!

PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THAILAND AND BANGKOK THIS WEEK! THERE'S RIOTING IN THE STREETS! TELL US WHAT'S GOING ON!!!

I'm in the USA, where Barack Obama was just elected president. Do you want me to tell you that it snowed here last night?

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