Stop the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand – Defend freedom of speech

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John Moore from the Workers Party, who has lived and worked in Thailand, gives details of an international campaign to stop the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand.

The Thai government is currently cracking down on dissent, and is using laws to ‘protect’ the monarchy to squash critical voices in Thai society. Such laws are known as lèse-majesté and frame criticism or insulting of a monarch as treason. Thai Marxist and academic Giles Ji Ungpakorn is facing lèse-majesté charges for the writing of his book A Coup for the Rich. A pdf version of this book can be found here.

A petition/open letter has been initiated by Thai activists calling for the scrapping of lèse-majesté laws and that the Thai government drop all proceedings in lèse-majesté cases.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn has been a ceaseless critic of the military’s intervention into politics in Thailand. He has accused the current government of gaining power through a coup. The elected Peoples Power Party government was recently deposed through a court order. The current Democratic Party led government was put together with the aid of the head of the military, and has full military backing.

Giles has been a consistent critic of authoritarian measures used by Thai state forces. He has championed the cause of workers and the rural poor in Thailand. He has also campaigned against the brutal military intervention against ethnic Malay insurgents in the South of Thailand.

The Workers Party is happy to play a part in offering solidarity to Giles and to help with the international campaign against the use of lèse-majesté in Thailand.

Below is the open letter/petition which Giles Ungpakorn is asking people to sign:

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Thailand – a second coup for the rich

Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn writes about the struggles in his country and the attacks on democratic rights

Today the Constitutional Courts dissolved the democratically elected governing party in Thailand for the second time, forcing the Government to resign. This follows the refusal of the Armed Forces and the Police to follow government instructions to clear the two international airports blocked by armed PAD Fascists. The Royalist alliance against the government are made up of the Fascist PAD, the Military, the Police, the Judiciary, the mainstream Media, the “Democrat Party”, most middle class academics and The Queen. They are all behind this judicial coup. A leading “Democrat Party” MP is one of the leaders of the illegal blockade of the two airports. The Yellow-shirted PAD have “armed guards” which have repeatedly shot at opponents. They constantly use violence and now demand “joint patrols” with the Police. The PAD have constantly broken the law, and yet they are “untouchable”. On the rare occasion when PAD leaders are forced to attend court, they are given bail and allowed to go back and commit the same crimes over and over again.

The majority of the Thai population, who are poor, face a Double Whammy. First, the elite Royalist are doing everything possible to take away their basic democratic rights. Secondly, mass job-losses are occurring among workers in the tourist industry as a result of the airport blockade. Jobs in agriculture and electronics are also affected and of course we are faced with the serious World Economic Crisis. The elites do not care if the Thai economy is trashed and Thailand returns to a poor Third World nation. In such nations the elites continue to live the same lives as the rich in the Developed World. The PAD protestors are middle-class extremists who do not have to go to work, hence their prolonged protests.

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Crisis in Thailand – a Marxist view

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Thailand is currently in crisis, with a deformed expression of class struggle occurring between one side that wears yellow shirts and another that wears red. How can we make sense of this situation, and what is the way forward for those of us interested in the interests of the poor and working class? John Moore, formerly a resident in Thailand, and now a Workers Party activist, argues that the Thai working class is a mass force that has yet to roar, but that the small radical element amongst them shouldn’t ‘give up the bullet for the ballot’ to reform Thai society through the Thai capitalist state.

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