Lèse-majesté within Thailand’s regime of intimidation
In the past dozen years, there have been four distinct trends and a curious note related to lèse-majesté prosecutions in Thailand. The first trend is that since 2008, more and more defendants facing near certain conviction have argued that their right to freedom of expression should extend to commentary on the monarchy and have pleaded their innocence. The second trend is that there has been a groundswell of criticism of the monarchy among some segments in Thai society that are critical of the monarchy. Although not a “movement”, holders of this sentiment were emboldened after 2010 and became increasingly vocal – a sentiment that was largely silenced by the junta after the 2014 coup. The third trend is that the boundaries of what is deemed lèse-majesté have widened while at the same time social media has expanded the opportunities to run afoul of the law. The fourth trend, contrasted with the view of many observers, is that the actual number of lèse-majesté cases prosecuted has dropped somewhat since the military coup in 2014.