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Student blogger in the clink in Thailand

| November 8, 2011 | 0 Comments

In late August this year, a Business Administration graduate from Kasetsart University in Thailand was arrested because of his online blog posts. Norawase Yotpiyasathien is the latest to fall foul of the country’s lèse majesté law. Yotpiyasathien was charged under the infamous law and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

The lèse majesté law has a conviction success rate of 94%, and people can expect prison terms of up to 15 years if convicted of “defaming, insulting or threatening the King, the Queen, the heir to the throne or the regent”. The arrest of several academics in the past has caused international outcry, but now that a student has been charged with lèse majesté, the education community in Thailand – and beyond its borders – are asking how far students should go in expressing online opinions.

The law is known to be quite random, with no standard interpretation. Since it transpired that the Deputy Rector at Kasetsart University alerted authorities to the ‘seditious’ blog, a bitter war of words has raged online about whether students should trust teachers. Said one student, “As a student involved in political activism, I feel freedom of expression is threatened.”

In 2010, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies in Thailand, together with the ministries of Justice and of Education, launched the ‘Online Cyber Scout’ project that provides training to over 100 000 online volunteers to monitor and report websites that threaten ‘national security’, including breaches of the lèse majesté law.

Category: Summer 2011

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