Activist gets suspended jail term for lese-majeste

Activist gets suspended jail term for lese-majeste

‘Mind’ still faces two more charges of violating Section 112

Activist gets suspended jail term for lese-majeste
Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon addresses the crowd at a pro-democracy rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok on March 24, 2021. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court on Wednesday found political activist Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon guilty of lese-majeste in connection with a speech she made at a protest in March 2021.

Patsaravalee was initially sentenced to three years for violating Section 112, but the sentence was reduced to two years as the defendant gave useful testimony, and suspended for three years.

The court said it decided to suspend her imprisonment because she was young and lacked awareness of the consequences of her actions.

Prosecutors had indicted the activist in connection with a speech she delivered at a rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok. The protest was organised by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration.

Patsaravalee faces two more lese-majeste charges related to protests at Parliament in September 2020 and the German Embassy in October 2020.

She was acquitted on Wednesday of violating the emergency decree that prohibited gatherings that could have caused the spread of Covid-19 at the time. The court said there was no evidence that she organised the protest.

According to data from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)  to Dec 31 last year, 1,938 people have been prosecuted for political participation and expression since the beginning of the Free Youth protests in July 2020. At least 262 are facing lese-majeste charges under Section 112 and 138 have been charged with sedition under Section 116. Nine cases under Section 116 came before the courts in December and all were dismissed.

In a related development, outspoken activist Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom has been on a hunger strike since Jan 27 to protest against her detention after her bail was revoked.

The court ruled last week that she violated her bail conditions by participating in a protest at the Ministry of Culture on Aug 6, 2023.

TLHR said the court cited witness testimony that Netiporn sprayed paint onto a flag of Her Majesty the Queen. This violated the condition of the bail she was granted on an earlier royal defamation charge, specifically that she must not repeat her offence.

Netiporn is currently being detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution.

Her lawyer said on Tuesday that prison officials informed him that Netiporn was very sick and did not want any visitors. However, activists from the Talu Wang group said they did not believe their colleague would have made such a request.