Category Archives: Case

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.


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.


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

      Waleed Abu Al-Khair

      Waleed Abu Al-Khair is a  lawyer and a prominent human rights activist currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. He is the head of the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

      In 2007, Waleed launched a statement entitled “Features of a Constitutional Monarchy,” which advocated for human rights and democracy. In 2008, he created the Monitor of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, but both the website and the Facebook page was blocked in December 2008 and May 2009, respectively.

      In his work, Al-Khair defended many individuals seeking to express their views, and advanced a more democratic state.

      In April 2014, al-Khair was arrested and jailed for his human rights work. He was not allowed to contact either his clients or his family. Several months later, Abulkhair was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, followed by 15 years of ban on travel. He remains imprisoned. 


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

      Taslima Nasrin

      Taslima Nasrin is a prominent Bangladeshi human rights activist, author, and blogger. Her works involve feminist motifs and criticisms of religion, which have gained her international fame.

      She had written against Islamic philosophy, angering many Muslims of Bangladesh, who called for a ban on her novel, Lajja. Taslima left Bangladesh in 1994 because of death threats, and spent the next ten years in exile. 

      In 2015, Nasrin was threatened with death by extremists linked to murders in Bangladesh. She currently lives in India.

      Listen to Taslima Nasrin’s interview from Point of Inquiry:

      You can also listen to this interview at the Point of Inquiry website.


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

        Mariam Ibrahim

        Mariam Ibrahim is a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Sudan for apostasy. Her brother learned she was a practicing Christian who had married another Christian, and reported her to the police because her biological father was a Muslim, despite the fact that her father did not raise her. Leaving Islam is against the law in Sudan. She was arrested during her second pregnancy and gave birth to a girl in prison in May 2014.

        Sudan has a very caustic attitude and long abusive history toward Sudanese Christians. Mariam witnessed this abusive attitude because of the heavy corruption and heavy religious influence exercised in the government of Sudan. She was arrested for being a Christian despite her father being a Muslim.

        After intense pressure, the Sudanese government released Ibrahim and allowed her to escape to the United States. She currently lives in New Hampshire with her brother-in-law, where she says she will continue to advocate for victims of religious persecution.


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

          Raif Badawi

          Raif Badawi, 30, is founder of the website Liberal Saudi Network, which was dedicated to fostering open discussion of religion and politics in Saudi Arabia. He is also an advocate for freedom of religion, belief, and expression, and women’s rights. He is currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for insulting Islam.

          In 2008, Badawi was detained and questioned on charges of apostasy, but was eventually released. However, on June 17, 2012, Badawi was arrested and formally charged with insulting Islam and apostasy – the latter of which could result in punishment as severe as the death penalty. Badawi was arrested for hosting a website which features content critical of religion, and declaring May 7 as a “day for Saudi liberals.”

          While the apostasy charge would later be dropped, on July 29, 2013, a criminal court sentenced Badawi to seven years in jail and 600 lashes for his other offenses. The Court of Appeals struck down that ruling, and sent his case for review to Jeddah’s Criminal Court. He remained in prison during this process.

          On May 7, 2014, the Center for Inquiry learned that a Saudi court issued a new sentence for Raif: 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a one million riyal fine. CFI would later release a translated copy of this court ruling.

          On January 9, 2015, Saudi authorities gave Badawi the first 50 of his 1,000 lashes, prompting the Center for Inquiry to once again demand that the Saudi Arabian government end this persecution, forego this brutal punishment, and free Raif immediately.

          Badawi’s sentence and punishment has been condemned by many prominent political figures, including several foreign governmental and UN leaders and eight U.S. Senators.


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

          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.


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

          Sherry Rehman

          Sherry Rehman is Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. Due to a citizen complaint, she is currently under investigation for blasphemy, which could result in punishment as severe as the death penalty.

          In 2010, Rehman took part in an interview that was aired on Pakistani television. Muhammad Faheem Ahkter Gill, a 31-year-old businessman who owns a marble business in the city of Multan, was reportedly watching the appearance with friends and felt Rehman made comments critical of the Islamic prophet. Gill spent years trying to register a case against Rehman, and in January 2013 – for reasons unknown – Pakistan’s Supreme Court finally accepted the case and directed police to perform an investigation.

          Rehman has previously faced death threats after urging for reform to the country’s blasphemy laws. Several prominent Pakistani politicians have been assassinated for criticizing blasphemy laws, including Salmaan Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the former Minister for Minority Affairs.


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

            Asif Mohiuddin

            Asif Mohiuddin, ~30, is an engineer and one of Bangladesh’s most prominent atheists and bloggers. He was attacked by suspected radical Muslims, then jailed for his criticism of Islamic tenets.

            On January 14, 2013, as Mohiuddin arrived to work in the capital area of Dhaka, he was brutally attacked and stabbed by a group of men. According to Haridas Saha, a surgeon at Dhaka Medical College Hospital: “The nature of the cuts proved that the attackers wanted to murder him.”

            Mohiuddin partially recovered, but was later arrested “for posting derogatory comments about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.”

            On June 27, 2013, Mohiuddin was released on bail. However, on July 29, his plea for permanent bail was denied, and he was sent back to prison.

            Mohiuddin was eventually released on bail, and then escaped the country, but the charges against him were never dropped.


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

            Yossawaris Chuklom

            Yossawaris Chuklom, 54, is a prominent comedian (stage name: Jeng Dokchik) and activist in Thailand who was recently sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the monarchy.

            In March 2010, “red-shirt” political protesters who support ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra occupied parts of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, to demand that the government of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva step down. During these protests, Chuklom delivered a speech in which he was allegedly critical of the monarchy.

            He was formally sentenced in January 2013, and appealed his conviction. Chuklom was released on bail in September 2014.

            People found guilty under the Thai law that criminalizes criticism of the monarchy can face up to 15 years in prison.


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