Support Thai labour rights activist - on trial now

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Trial of Thai labour activist begins

The trial of Thai labour rights activist and journalist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk started on 21st November 2011, following seven months in detention on charges of lèse majesté. If found guilty he could face 30 years' imprisonment.

Take action today to call for Somyot's release

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is the founder of the Center for Labour and International Solidarity Thailand (CLIST) and has worked with us on numerous campaigns and Urgent Appeals. In recent years he has been devoting his time more exclusively to journalism and human-rights activism, including working as editor of Voice of the Oppressed (Voice of Taksin).

Somyot was arrested on April 30th 2011 and charged with breaking the controversial lèse majesté law, or Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code which states that “whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The lèse majesté law is widely criticised for being used by the Thai authorities for the suppression of free speech and as means to silence political opposition.

Somyot’s arrest came only five days after the launch of a petition for a parliamentary review to revoke Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which Somyot claims contradicts democratic and human rights principles. According to a document produced by the public-prosecutor, Somyot is also alleged to have allowed two articles that make negative references to the monarchy to be published in his magazine.

Seven months after his initial arrest Somyot is now being tried on these charges. The trial will take place over six months. The hearing dates for the Prosecutor's witnesses will be held on 21 November 2011, 19 December 2011, 16 January 2012, and 13 February 2012 in various provinces while the dates for the Defendant's witnesses will be held during April and May 2012. LBL will be issuing live reporting and regular updates, photos and testimonies from the hearings, to follow these sign up to our facebook and twitter sites.

Somyot has been denied bail and has remained in custody since his arrest. LBL is deeply concerned that this could ultimately influence the outcome of his case. It is believed that around 98% of all Lese Majeste cases result in the defendant being found guilty and the lack of bail and current detention conditions decrease his ability to properly defend himself from the charges. The continued denial of bail is also in violation of the constitutional guarantee for a right to bail under Thai law as well as the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

LBL, along with colleagues and supporters of Somyot around the world, are asking people to help pressure the authorities to allow Somyot the right to bail. The Clean Clothes Campaign, along with several other key organisations, sent a letter calling on the Prime Minister to intervene in this case and ensure bail is granted, Somyot is released and the lese majeste laws are amended.

We are now asking you to send your own letter to the Thai Prime Minister calling for the immediate release of Somyot and the repeal of Law 112. A copy will also be sent to the Thai Ambassador to the UK. Click here: http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/component/rsform/form/38-free-somyot...

Further information: http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/urgent-actions/itemlist/category/265...

Free speech! Free Somyot!

Some pictures here of a small protest we did on 19 December, handing in a letter at the Thai embassy. There were only a couple of us owing to it being rainy and a few days before Christmas! But we've got some nice graphics to use for the next protest which will be in March when Somyot is next due in court.

Free speech! Free Somyot!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11722019@N03/sets/72157628495382853/