Thailand Continues Massive Crackdown of Online Speech

In Thailand, details of the most recent victim of lèse majesté laws emerged this week, adding to a long year of crackdowns on free speech in the country. Alongside the news coverage, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) published new analyses demonstrating the magnitude of measures the Southeast Asian state has taken to block websites it deems politically offensive.On Tuesday, Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a historian and prominent critic of the Thai monarchy, posted updates on a university student who made comments on Facebook in March and April of 2010. According to Political Prisoners in Thailand, royalists attacked the then-18-year-old student, Natthakarn Sakuldarachat, on the Internet for criticizing the King and accused her of lèse majesté, resulting in the university that she had planned to attend subsequently revoking her acceptance because of “her lack of loyalty to the monarchy.” For fear of being harassed, Natthakarn did not show up to exams to apply for another university. While she ultimately was accepted to a school a year later, royalists had in the meantime gone to the police to lodge a complaint for her comments. In October 2011, she was charged under lèse majesté laws. Her first appearance in court is scheduled for February 11th, 2012.

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