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Since July, students and artists have fostered the public debate on the contemporary validity of the monarchy.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Friday expressed its concern about the use in the "Lèse Majesté Provision" of Thailand’s criminal code against pro-democracy protesters.
“We are deeply troubled by the move by Thai authorities to charge at least 35 protesters,” the OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said, explaining that the offense carries sentences of between three and 15 years imprisonment for defaming, insulting, or threatening the country’s royal family.
She urged called it "extremely disappointing" that the authorities are using this provision, as well as regulations related to sedition and cybercrime, against anti-government protesters who have taken part in protests.
"We call on the Government of Thailand to stop the repeated use of these serious criminal charges against people who are exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Shamdasani stressed.
@WITNESS_Asia RT @tappanai_b: Jatuporn Sae-ung, one of the two charged with royal defamation for allegedly mocking the monarchy by wearing a traditional Thai dress to a protest, dance her way into Yannawa Police Station to meet with investigators. #Whats… pic.twitter.com/r3Y1DzX5Js
Since July, Thai students have organized protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. Through highly symbolic actions, young people have also opened the public debate on the validity of the monarchy.
Since King Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne in 2016, he has been criticized for directly controlling various units of the Army, possessing a vast royal fortune, and spending lengthy stays in Germany.
Recently, Jatuporn Sae-ung (23) and Nopphasin Trirayapiwat (16)appeared before the courts because they took part in a street fashion show satirizing the King's royal consort. These young Thai men are among dozens of citizens accused in recent weeks of insulting the royal family.
"Actress Inthira 'Sai' Charoenpura, who has publicly supported the pro-democracy movement, was summoned to answer for the same charge," Coconuts Bangkok reported.