Imprisoned for insulting the king
“Here [in prison] they know I get a lot of international support. Without that support I would maybe already be dead. (…) I will continue to fight for my freedom from prison. I appeal to all the international community friends and comrades to continue to support democracy, freedom and justice in Thailand"
Somyot, a long-time labour activist, human rights defender and magazine editor, has been in detention since April 2011 for the publication of two articles deemed insulting to the king ('lèse majesté'). He was sentenced to eleven years imprisonment in January 2013, with an appeal still pending.
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) is working with human rights organisations to lobby the governments of EU countries and other key policy-makers to call on the Thai government to release Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.
More specifically, the CCC, in coordination with other human rights organisations, lobbied the EU delegation in Thailand, European embassies in Thailand and Ministries of Foreign Affairs (Switzerland, France, the Netherlands), as well as French and Dutch members of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. Ministers from Italy, Switzerland and the EU have sent a reply saying that they have been following the case and will continue to raise the issue with the Thai government. The EU said it will plan a prison visit to Somyot and have raised his case in official talks with Thailand's Foreign Ministry. The EU has also encouraged the Royal Thai Government to invite Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, to Thailand.
An urgent appeal for Somyot’s release was launched by the Clean Clothes Campaign national platforms in September 2012. On September 19, after the announcement by the Thai Criminal Court of the cancellation of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk’s hearing, the Thai Labour Campaign (TLC) submitted more than 8,000 signatures from people who signed the Urgent Appeal to the Prime Minister of Thailand during an action in Bangkok with other organisations. On the same day, the Clean Clothes Campaign and other organisations jointly issued a statement asking for Somyot’s immediate release and drawing attention to his case again.
In late 2012 CCC initiated a Facebook action demanding Somyot's release.
“The deprivation of liberty of Mr Prueksakasemsuk (…) is arbitrary”, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, August 2012.
On December 19, international NGOs including the CCC were present as observers at Somyot’s hearing. The verdict was delayed until 23 January 2013.
CCC continues to call upon the Thai authorities to drop all charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all other human rights defenders detained under the lèse majesté laws. CCC asks that, as a minimum, Somyot will be released on bail. CCC also asks that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of judicial or other harassment.