Sunday, June 3, 2018

The (Not so) FAMOUS LAST WORDS of Thai political prisoner Prawet Prapanukul

The (Not so) FAMOUS LAST WORDS of Thai political prisoner Prawet Prapanukul
I got very annoyed today when I found an international news story saying that "it is not known" what the lawyer and long-time opponent of the lese majesty law Prawet Prapanukul said or wrote in his Facebook posts leading to his 10 lese majesty charges. While this may be technically true (we don't know which of his many interesting posts led to the 10 frivolous charges, each carrying a possible 15 year sentence, adding up to 150 years), it is a simple matter to go read everything he wrote and shared during the very active period two weeks leading to his arrest. His Facebook page is still sitting there as he left it. Below, I have translated what looks to be his last post before he was arrested. It will give you the flavor of his posts right before his arrest:
April 28, 2017:
จุดสู้คดี 112...ผมเคยพูดแล้ว The point at which to fight the lese majesty case, I've already told [you]: ศาลเป็นคนตัดสินคดี แต่...ศาล เป็นศาลชองใคร The court is the person that judges the case . . . but the court is whose court? เมื่อก่อนยังมีหลบๆบ้าง ในพระปรมาภิไธยพระมหากษัตริย์ อยูแค่บนหัวหมายศาล It used to be there was some evasiveness in the Great King's signature แต่ทุกวันนี้...ตั้งโต๊ะหมู่บูชาพร้อมรูปอย่างใญ่ หน้าศาล But these days . . . they set up an altar with the king's picture in front of the court ในแง่นี้ มันเป็นการประกาศตัวยิ่งกว่าชัดว่า ศาลคือศาลของกษัตริย์ From this perspective, it's an announcement, which is more than clear, that the court is the court of the king. กับข้อหา 112 เป็นข้อหาหมิ่นกษัตริย์ With the 112 charge, it's an allegation of insulting the King หมิ่นกษัตริย์ ก็หมายความว่า...กษัตริย์เป็นผู้เสียหาย "Insulting the king" means that . . . the king is the injured person ย้อนกลับไปตอนต้น....ศาลเป็นศาลของกษัตริย์ Going back to the beginning . . . the court is a court of the king. นั่นหมายความว่า ศาลของกษัตริย์ ซึ่งเป็นผู้เสียหาย เป็นคนตัดสินคดีหมิ่นกษัตริย์ That means that the court of the king, the injured person, is the person deciding the case of insulting the king. นั่นคือ...... That is . . . คนของกษัตริย์ตัดสินคดีหมิ่นกษัตริย์ A person of the King decides a case of insulting the king. นั่นคือ...... That is. . . ศาลของกษัตริย์ตัดสินคดีหมิ่นกษัตริย์ The court of the king decides the case of insulting the king ศาลจึงไม่มีอำนาจ ไม่มีสิทธิพิจารณาคดีหมิ่นกษัตริย์ 112 The court shouldn't have the power and doesn't have the right to try the 112 case of insulting the King ศาลที่ตัดสินคดี 112 ทุกคดี มันคือ...ลูกน้องกษัตริย์ผู้เสียหาย ตัดสินคดีหมิ่นลูกพี่ศาล The court that decides each 112 case. That is . . . an underling of the king (the injured person), decides the case of insulting the overseer of the court. คำถามที่ไม่ต้องตอบ The question that we don't need to answer: ศาลเป็นกลางในคดี 112?? Is the court neutral in the case of 112?? ศ่าลมีสิทธิตัดสินคดี 112?? Does the court have the right to decide the 112 case? สุดท้าย ศาลไทย ยังคงเป็นศาล เป็นศาลตามหลักสากล หรือเป็น...ศาลพระภูมิ And finally, is the Thai court still a court, a court that follows international principles? Or is it . . . a spirit house?
Prawet has long advised lese majesty victims to use this legal argument: that the whole system for judging the lese majesty case is illegitimate. While true, this is obviously not a winning strategy. Indeed, Prawet has refused to participate in his own court case, pleading neither innocent nor guilty, because he does not recognize the legitimacy of the court in this matter. At a hearing on May 8, he argued heatedly with two judges for 30 minutes, saying so they should just try him "in absentia" (even though he was standing right there) and give him the maximum sentence. Prawet Prapanakul may yet win this case if the court decides they want to avoid the international scandal of yet another famously innocent lese majesty victim on the order of a Somyot Prueksakasamesuk or Pai Dao Din. Indeed the other 5 people arrested the same day as Prawet were quietly let go after (according to rumors) agreeing to swear an oath before a picture of King Vajiralongkorn. Perhaps Prawet will change his strategy and negotiate the best deal he can get in this no-win situation. I hope he does. But the outcome that looks most likely now is that Prawet Prapanukul trades his own freedom, possibly for the rest of his life, for the opportunity to draw attention to the evils of this lese majesty law. But even this limited goal will fail, and Prawet's life will be wasted, if the international community can't do the easy work of translating and reporting on this story.
I will continue to publish translated Facebook posts of Prawet Prapanukul, so you can see that he is an innocent man simply expressing his opinions on some important topics, which is his right according to international principles.

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