This accusation can lead to a maximum of 15 years in prison and is criticised for being used to silence political opponents and human-rights activists, notes the Clean Clothes Campaign in which Somyot was involved.
“The Clean Clothes Campaign signals that charges of lèse majesté have over the last two years increasingly been used to silence labour-rights activists,” a CCC statement says.
“Last year Somyot was arrested and detained for three weeks for holding a news conference where he and others called for the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva following the bloody repression of red-shirt protesters in 2010. Clean Clothes Campaign supporters worldwide sent protest letters against his arrest to the Thai government. Soon afterwards, he was released.
“We understand that this time the launch on April 28 of a campaign to collect 10,000 signatures to remove the lese majeste article from the Thai criminal code was the immediate cause of his arrest, although the arrest warrant against Somyot apparently dates from February this year. He denies the charges of lese majeste, and was never informed about an arrest warrant issued against him, let alone that he tried to flee the country in an effort to escape his arrest, as was claimed by the authorities. Still, he has been refused bail, and the Criminal Court agreed with the Department of Special Investigation to extend the detention of Somyot until May 13.
“Somyot is founder of the Center for Labour and International Solidarity Thailand (CLIST) and worked with the CCC on numerous campaigns and Urgent Appeals, including the landmark Eden case in the mid-nineties and the MSP case in 2006.
He worked as a project coordinator for the International Chemical, Engineering and Mining Union Federation (ICEM) before devoting his time more exclusively to journalism and human-rights activism.
“The CCC joins the Asia Floor Wage campaign, Asia Pacific Worker Solidarity Links, AMRC and labour unions in Asia in calling for his immediate release,” the statement continues.
The day before his arrest on 30 April Somyot and other members of the Democracy Net network had submitted 10,000 signatures to call for abolish of Lese Majeste law, the TrinleyChodron blog adds.
“I would not be the last victim as long as we are still trapped in the rule which is essentially a dictatorship, but is falsely portrayed as a democracy to the world. I shall fight for freedom until my last breath. I may agree to shed my freedom, but not my humanity,” Somyot said in a statement from a holding cell, at the Crime Suppression Division, Bangkok on 8.30 am, May 2, 2011.
Without freedom, humans are not human (Trinleychodron)
Thai human rights activist imprisoned for second time (Clean Clothes Campaign)
Interview with Somyot Pruksakasemsuk (Ratchaprasong News/YouTube)