Thailand: Imprisonment of student actors stirs criticism
Two theatre actors were sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 24 february 2015 for staging a play in 2013 that was deemed defamatory to the monarchy.
Patiwat Saraiyaem, 24, a fourth year student at Khon Kaen University, and Pornthip Munkong, 27, former coordinator of Prakai Fai Theatre Troupe, were found guilty of the country’s Lèse Majesté law for performing in the comedic, satirical play ‘A Wolf’s Bride’. The play was staged at Thammasat University to mark the 40th anniversary of the 14 October 1973 uprising.
The pair was arrested in August 2014 on lese majeste charges, and for widely distributing the play via the Internet. With both pleading guilty, their sentence was reduced from five to two and half years.
The courtroom was packed with members of the defendants’ family and friends, who reacted to the verdict with tears.
The judges said the sentence would not be suspended even though the defendants pleaded guilty and had no criminal records, because their action was clearly defamatory to the monarchy, which is revered by the Thai people.
Thailand’s military government actively searches for six more students who took part in the play, pursuing the same charges against them.
The Voice Project calls upon the government of Thailand to release the two imprisoned students and to drop the charges against their fellow artists.
“Freedom of expression is not a crime, satire is not a crime, and any regime that treats it as such has far more important issues to tackle than the performance of a simple play.”
The Voice Project
» Sign the petition demanding the release of the two students:
» Read more:
» Khaosod English – 23 February 2015:
Theater Activists Jailed Over Satirical Play About Monarchy
» The Nation – 24 February 2015:
Jailing of actors for lese majeste stirs criticism
— The Voice Project (@thevoiceproject) March 9, 2015