Conflicts & War

Thailand threatens social media over anti-monarchist content

Bangkok, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- The Thai government on Monday threatened Facebook, Instagram and Youtube with legal action if they do not remove thousands of posts, including insults towards the monarchy.

Thailand’s digital economy and society minister Puttipong Punnakan announced the government has directed several social media sites to remove content considered illegal by the Thai justice system, and warned that if they do not do so within 15 days legal action will be taken.

Platforms which fail to comply with the law could be punished with fines of up to $5,600 or a daily fee of $160 until the content is withdrawn, according to Thailand’s digital law.

Thai authorities on 23 July warned more than 7,000 publications and accounts to remove or restrict illegal content, including insults towards the monarchy, but only 39 percent have been removed, according to the Ministry of Digital Economy’s website.

The country has one of the world’s toughest lèse-majesté laws, which limits any public discussion of the monarch’s decisions and demands prison sentences of between three and 15 years for defaming, insulting or threatening members of the royal household.

Thailand has been gripped by a wave of protests with students calling for the dissolution of parliament and democratic reforms to end the hegemony of the pro-military elites, which began on 18 July in Bangkok.

Demands have been made to limit the power of King Vajiralongkorn.

Two of the organisers of one of these demonstrations were arrested last Friday while the police have ordered the arrest of other student leaders.

Vice minister of the prime minister’s office Apiwat Kantong filed a complaint for the crime of lèse-majesté against Anon Nampa, one of those arrested on Friday, for his participation in a protest.

The use of the law has greatly diminished since King Vajiralongkorn acceded to the throne in 2016, at the behest of the monarch himself, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha.

Other laws, such as cybercrime, are being applied to silence criticism of the monarchy.

The last demonstration took place on Monday in the capital with student activists calling for an end to the army’s interference in the country’s political sphere, as well as criticizing the monarchy and demanding King Vajiralongkorn’s power be limited. EFE-EPA


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