Arrested Thai activist getting South Korean human rights award

2017-05-18 19:04


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - A Thai law student arrested for sharing a critical article about his country's new king that was posted on Facebook is 2017's winner of South Korea's most prestigious human rights award.

Organisers for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights said the parents of Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boonpattararaksa will receive the award on his behalf on Thursday at a ceremony in Gwangju city.

Police in Thailand arrested Jatupat in December for sharing a profile about King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun that was posted on Facebook by the Thai-language service of the BBC. 

The article included mentions of the king's personal life when he was crown prince, including details of three marriages that ended in divorce and other material Thai news media are prohibited from publishing.

Under Thai law, insulting the monarchy is a crime that carries a prison term of three to 15 years. Critics say the country uses the law to silence political dissidents.

Busadee Santipitaks, spokesperson for the Thai foreign ministry, said it had "no particular reaction" to the award ceremony.

Jatupat, who was indicted in February and has been denied bail several times, is the only person to be charged over posting the BBC article, although it was shared nearly 3 000 times.

He is a prominent member of Dao Din, a small student organisation that has protested against Thailand's military government.

Jatupat had been put under close watch by Thai authorities since November 2014, when he and several other Dao Din members held up a three-fingered salute, a resistance gesture borrowed from "The Hunger Games" movies, during a speech by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, chief of a military junta that took power in a coup six months earlier.

Jatupat was also among about a dozen students arrested in June 2015 for participating in anti-government protests, before a military court released the students 12 days later, according to the award's organisers.

The May 18 Memorial Foundation, which organises the Gwangju Prize, said in a statement that Jatupat's "strength, courage and indomitable struggle" showed he is "willing to sacrifice his safety and future to protect democracy and the rights and freedom of his people".

The prize, which rewards contributions in human rights and democracy, was created in 2000 to honour a democratic uprising in Gwangju in May 1980 that South Korea's then-military dictatorship violently suppressed, leaving hundreds dead.

An official from the May 18 Foundation said it requested that Thailand release Jatupat so he could receive the award personally, but the Thai government sent a refusal through its embassy in South Korea earlier this month, saying that the country was handling Jatupat properly based on its laws. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing office rules.

Read more on:    facebook  |  thailand  |  south korea

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.