All posts by Marc Kreidler

Thanat Thanawatcharanon

Thanat Thanawatcharanon, also know as Tom Dundee, 58, was a celebrity in Thailand for over a decade as a singer in the band Zu Zu. In 2010, he gave up doing concerts to become a leader of the Red Shirts (or United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship), giving speeches at rallies. During this time, he was denounced by royalist watchdogs (the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy) for insulting the monarchy in some of these speeches.

The Thai constitution states that “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.” Section 112 of Thai Criminal Code states: “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.” We do not actually know what Tom Dundee or Thanat Thanawatcharanon said to cause the lese majesty accusation, because the alleged insults cannot be repeated.

Thanat’s case dragged out until after the May 2014 coup led by Prayut Chan-ocha. Sentences for royal insults have become increasingly harsh under the junta, which justifies itself as protector of the monarchy. Thanat Thanawatcharanon a first he denied he was guilty of lese majesty, but after 11 months he confessed, as most lese majesty prisoners do  in hope of receiving a pardon or a lenient sentence. However, on June 1, 2016, he was given a sentence was 7.5 years. In addition, the royalist judge added that after he is released, he must compose a song promoting national reconciliation and plant trees in honor of the king.

On July 11, 2016, he was punished again for the same statements, when he was sentenced to several additional years under the Computer Crimes Act, which came into play because his speeches had been posted online. This brings the total time he will be imprisoned to 10 years, 10 months. He remains in jail separated from his wife and family. He can be pardoned by the King.

For more information on this case, please see the Thai Alliance for Human Rights.

News

This section will be updated as news develops on this case.

    Narendra Dabholkar

    Narendra Achyut Dabholkar was an Indian-born rationalist.  Dabholkar was a qualified medical doctor, and founder-president of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organization set up in 1989 to combat superstition in the Maharashtra state of India. Over the course of his life, Dabholkar wrote many books on superstitions, and addressed more than 3,000 public meetings.

    In 2010, Dabholkar led several attempts to enact an anti-superstition law in Maharashtra, known as the Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill, or Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance.

    On August 20, 2013, Dabholkar was shot and killed while out for a morning walk in the western Indian city of Pune. Just four days later, the Maharashtra legislature would approve the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance.

    In addition to his work to combat superstition,  Dabholkar was involved in social justice work. He was the founding member of Parivartan, a social action center seeking to “empower marginalised members of the community to lead lives of security, dignity, and prosperity”; and, between 1990–2010, Dabholkar was active in a movements for equality and against India’s caste system and caste-related violence.

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      Ananta Bijoy Das

      Ananta Bijoy Das was a writer and blogger based in Bangladesh. He wrote on the Bengali freethinking blog Mukto-Mona, and authored three books on science, evolutionary science, and revolution.

      In addition, Das headed a Sylhet-based group centered on science and rationalism, and edited the quarterly magazine Jukti (Bengali for  “logic.”).

      In May 2015, Das was on his way to work when he was attacked and killed by a group of four extremists armed with machetes.

      News

      This section will be updated as news develops on this case.

      Washiqur Rahman

      Washiqur Rahman was a travel executive and blogger who published under various pseudonyms, focusing on promoting rationalism and exposing fundamentalism.

      In March 2015, Rahman was on his way to work when he was attacked and killed by a group of men of men with machetes.

      News

      This section will be updated as news develops on this case.

      Niloy Neel

      Niloy Chakraborty Neeloy, also known by his pen name Niloy Neel, was an organizer for the Science and Rationalist Association of Bangladesh. He wrote for various platforms, including the Bengali freethinkers blog Mukto-Mona.

      In August 2015, Neel was at home with his wife when extremists snuck into his home and killed him, in his wife’s presence.

      Neel had earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Dhaka University.

      News

      This section will be updated as news develops on this case.