Thailand Warns Citizens Against Contacting Critics of Royal Family

Apr 17, 2017

Thai Royal Family
Credit manhhai / Flickr

Criticism of the government is one of the traditions of a democracy. But if you live in Thailand, criticism of the royal family is another matter entirely. And now government leaders in Bangkok have issued a new warning about several well-known critics. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

 


Thailand has had a monarchy for hundreds of years. the current ruling dynasty has been around since the late 1700’s—longer than the U.S. Constitution.

Since the 1930’s, Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy.

That hasn’t always meant political stability—there have been 19 military overthrows of the civilian Thai government since 1932.

Most recently, military officers seized control in May 2014.

A new king has been on the throne since December after the former king served nearly 70 years.

Criticism of the king or any of his relatives can be dangerous. And last week, Thailand’s military government took that to a new level. Issuing a ban on communicating with three well-known critics of the Thai royal family.

The three include two academics and a journalist—all of whom live outside Thailand.

Last week, the country’s “Ministry of Digital Economy and Society” warned that Thai citizens are liable to prosecution if they contact the individuals in any way—including sharing social media posts.

The Guardian quotes a regional official of Amnesty International as saying the action shows that Thai authorities have “plunged to fresh depths” in restricting freedom of expression.