Today, PEN International is publishing and freely distributing two booklets containing speeches by four leading activists within Thailand’s reform movement. This is the first time that these booklets will have been published in English, with each booklet including a foreword by the translator, whose identity must remain anonymous to avoid persecution by the Thai authorities.
Since early 2020, protest rallies have taken place across Thailand calling for political reform and the revocation of the highly punitive lèse-majesté law (Art. 112), which has been used to criminalise any critical expression concerning the Thai monarchy and carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years. All four activists now face multiple charges of violating the very law they peacefully called for the abolition of.
Note: Insert image of first booklet here (Monarchy and Thai Society)
The first booklet, The Monarchy and Thai Society, contains a speech made by poet and human rights lawyer, Arnon Nampha, at a Harry Potter themed protest rally on 3 August 2020. As an individual who has selflessly dedicated his life to improving the welfare of others, Arnon’s speech provides a powerful example of speaking truth to power at great personal cost. In response to his peaceful expression, Arnon now faces a dozen lèse-majesté charges, amounting to a potential sentence of 180 years imprisonment.
Note: Insert image of second booklet here (The Day the Sky Trembled)
The second booklet, The Day the Sky Trembled, includes a collection of four speeches given at protest rallies in August 2020 by Panupong Jadnok, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, and Arnon Nampha. Over 45,000 copies of the original Thai-language publication of this collection were seized by the Thai authorities to be used as evidence in ongoing and future Art. 112 cases, making this publication uniquely significant as it highlights the damaging impact that lèse-majesté has on the right to freedom of expression.
When considered together, the English translations of these booklets will serve as an important resource for those seeking to gain a deeper understanding of the values and motivations of those willing to risk imprisonment as a consequence of their peaceful expression in Thailand.