Thailand has arrested this weekend, the mother of a controversial student activist because she answer “Ya” (Yes) to an FB message considered by the authority as defamatory against the royal family.
Patnaree Chankij, 40 years old, who works as a maid has been charged with a crime of lese majeste and of « computer crime » because she said Ya, a Thai expression, the equivalent of Yes for accusing the reception of a message. She replied to acknowledge the reception of the message and did not expressed any agreement with the content of the message but it led officials to accuse her of accepting and approving what the message said.
The message was coming from Burin, who was arrested on April 27 for posting Facebook comments that were deemed to be offensive to the monarchy. Burin is a friend of Patnaree Chankij’s son: Sirawit Seritiwat, one of the leaders of the an anti-juta students’ group. Thailand has a strict law that protects the king and high-ranking members of his family from defamation, insult or threat. Each offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
At a news conference on Saturday, Colonel Olar advised the public to be carefull with communications online. “If you share or like on FB an offending information, you must take responsibility for your act,” he said. Simply clicking “Like” on Facebook could be considered an offense, he said. He also warned the journalist for reporting on Ms. Patnaree’s arrest. “Right now, it is under investigation,” he said. “Therefore, I would like you to be careful in publishing information. Publishing false informations can be considered an offense.”
Human Rights Watch protest and said Saturday that the military junta in Thailand had “arbitrarily and aggressively” used the Lese Majesté laws to prosecute people for any speech deemed critical of the monarchy.
Since the coup two years ago, the authorities have brought 57 cases under the law, 44 of them involving online commentary.