Extraordinary circumstances got a Thai citizen jailed on Tuesday. Tiensutham Suttijitseranee, a 58-year-old businessman, had allegedly made Facebook posts that insulted the royal family and has been sentenced to 25 years in jail.
Why was Suttijitseranee ordered to be locked away for so long? Thai law has been extra strict ever since Bhumibol Adulyadej took control following a coup last May. Residents caught even saying anything against the Thai monarchy are subject to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s vow to stop such talk.
Chan-ocha has made it so that anyone speaking ill of his staunchly defended monarchy faces up to 15 years in jail for each count. Thailand’s lese-majeste law is the world’s harshest, making it a crime to defame, insult, or threaten any member of the Royal Family.
Suttijitseranee’s lawyer, Sasinan Thamnithinan, explained it to the press, according to MSN News.
“The court decided that because he posted five pictures with captions last year that the court deemed defamatory, he would be sentenced to a total of 50 years; ten years for each picture posted, reduced by half to 25 years.”
This is yet another example of how Facebook posts can get you in trouble, and Tiensutham Suttijitseranee is only the latest and most extreme case.
There was another Thai citizen jailed for a similar reason, though in his case it was for allegedly leaving inflammatory graffiti in a shopping mall toilet last October. Ophas Chansuksei, an elderly pin-badge vendor, received a year and a half in jail for his shenanigans.
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This new law is so harsh that there have been 20 new cases since last May, says deputy national police chief Jaktip Chaijinda. The lese-majeste law came at a troubling time for Thailand, when King Bhumibol Adulyadej began falling ill. There is a heightened anxiety over what his royal successor might bring to Thai law.
Prime Minister Chan-ocha has asked the King’s permission to lift the martial law that has resulted in more than one Thai citizen jailed for their alleged insults. Until tensions settle, the Thai people are urged by this harsh law to only speak kindly of the monarchy.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]