Free Jeng Dokchik
Yoswaris Chuklom, widely known under his stage name Jeng Dokchik, is a prominent Thai comedian and a leader in the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) movement. During a UDD rally in March 2010, Dokchik gave a speech condemning the then-Prime Minister’s decision not to dissolve the parliament, which the UDD had urged. He repeatedly said during the speech that he “couldn’t say” the name of the person responsible for this decision, which the court took to be an implicit implication of King Bhumibol.
In January of 2013, Dokchik was sentenced to three years in prison for the crime of lèse-majesté or “insulting the king,” a penalty that was later reduced to two years. This is the first time that Thailand’s notoriously strict lèse-majesté law has been extended to a case involving unspoken words. Following the sentence, he was soon released on bail and given the chance to appeal. The appeal process has taken years, but on March 7, 2017 the court’s ruling was upheld and Dokchik was imprisoned.
Dokchik, whose career as a comedian began to transition into one of activism and politics after a 2006 military coup (he had previously served as an advisor to Thailand’s deputy finance minister), has already endured seven years of legal struggle and now faces another two in prison. It is up to us to stand up and demand the release of Jeng Dokchik and other creative dissenters that repressive governments try to silence through the selective and specious application of vague laws like Thailand’s lèse-majesté law.