On a recent trip to the United States, a picture of the Prime Minister and his wife appeared in the press. The picture showed the wife of the Prime Minister carrying a very expensive purse. Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri shared that post on Facebook. He will be prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act and faces up to five years in prison and a fine.
April 26, 2018
Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police
Royal Thai Police Headquarters
Rama 1 Road
Bangkok, 10330 Thailand
Fax: +66 2251 4739
Dear Commissioner General:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for our colleague Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri, a distinguished scholar of history and former rector of Thammasat University, who faces a five-year prison sentence and a 100,000 baht fine for sharing a Facebook post. The post in question, a photograph taken during the visit of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to the United States, highlights and comments on the expensive handbag his wife, Naraporn, was carrying.
Professor Kasetsiri did not create the post, he merely shared it, but in either case the post was protected political speech. His prosecution under the Computer Crimes Act, which was initiated on January 31, is completely in contradiction to Thailand’s obligations under the Universal Declaration to Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which your government is a party.
We urge you to take steps to protect free expression. We urge you to see to it that our fellow scholar, Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri, is released immediately and unconditionally, and that all charges against him in connection with this Facebook post be dismissed.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Minister of Justice
Government Centre Building A
120 Moo 3
Bangkok 10210 Thailand
Fax: +66 2953 0503
Mrs. Pattrawan Vechasart
Royal Embassy of Thailand
1024 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007