Have you ever been in the cinema when the Thai national anthem plays and you’ve seen someone not stand up? I have, a couple of times — and it was Thai people, not foreigners. I’ve also seen people not stop in the street or at the BTS station when the anthem has played.
There are some things that we’re not supposed to talk about, but notthenation.com did a good job of satirizing the whole situation.
Thailand’s lese majeste laws are strict and carry sentences of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. However, in the past six months, I’ve seen increasing talk on the Internet, as well as stories in the news, that are putting these laws under the spotlight.
The case of rights activist Chotisak Onsoong is interesting because, one again, media outlets around the world have picked up on the story.
Chotisak is alleged to have refused to stand for the national anthem while at a cinema in September last year.
You’ll recall the case of Swiss national Oliver Jufer, who in March last year was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for defacing an image of HMtK. After intense global media pressure, Oliver was given a royal pardon.
Chotisak is actively challenging Thailand’s lese majeste laws, whereas Oliver was just being a drunken fool. What makes this case unique is that Chotisak doesn’t have a political agenda. Charges of lese majeste are dished out by politicians attempting to damage the reputations of other politics. This case is really a challenge to the whole regime.
It could be the first of many such cases.
I in no way condone the actions of Chotisak Onsoong and I recommend everyone in Thailand stands for the national anthem.