Friday, January 23, 2009

Aussie writer jailed for insulting Thai royalty (Free Harry Nicolaides!!)

An Australian writer has been sentenced to three years in a Thai prison for insulting Thai royalty. His self published novel sold all of seven copies had several sentences that were construed as insulting Thai royalty. He could have gotten fifteen years in prison.Asia Net News reports as follows.

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An Australian writer, Harry Nicolaides, was sentenced to three years' jail for insulting the Thai royalty yesterday (January 19), as possible slurs against the monarchy come under closer scrutiny here.

Nicolaides, 41, had pleaded guilty to the charge that arose from a 103-word paragraph in an obscure novel, self-published in 2005. The judge said that the accused had slandered 'the King, the Crown Prince of Thailand and the monarchy' and sentenced him to a six-year term, which he cut by half because of the writer's confession. It is still not known who filed the complaint in March last year. Before his arrest, Nicolaides was a regular visitor to Thailand and used to teach English at a university in Chiang Mai. He was detained as he tried to leave the country on a routine trip last August, unaware of the warrant against him. Yesterday morning, an emotional Nicolaides told reporters outside the courtroom: "This is an Alice-in-Wonderland experience. I really believe that I am going to wake up and all of you will be gone. "I would like to apologise. This can't be real. It feels like a bad dream." He added: "I respect the King of Thailand. I was aware there were obscure laws but I didn't think they would apply to me." Nicolaides looked gaunt as he appeared in court in prison garb and his legs in shackles. In his nearly five months in jail, he was refused bail four times."

On an abstract level, I have supported the idea of royalty as a possibly legitimate form of government. There was a monarchy in biblical times. I hope it will return again. But after reading this story, I have renewed understanding for the angry mobs that periodically through history storm royal palaces.

Thailand is a top destination of pedophile sex tourists who s prey on children, some of whom are little more than toddlers.

Thailand faces an AIDS epidemic fueled by this sex trade. It has failed to crack down on the sex trade. It lags far behind South Korea and Japan in attracting Western investment in legitimate businesses such as automotive manufacture and electronics, which could provide a safe livelihood for Thai workers without the spectre of AIDS looming over children whose lives are over before they begin.

There is a grotesque quality to a foreigner getting three years of hard time for insulting the royal family. The man was an outsider and probably tone deaf to the nuances of Thai society. How much judicial and police energy was wasted on his silly offense ? How many Thai women and children got their AIDS diagnosis on the same day as Nicolaides went off to jail? The royal family must be totally clueless to the suffering of their people to allow such an outrageous sentence?

So strict is the terms of sentencing that the 103 word paragraph that got him three years in the slammer can not be reprinted. except here. I found the offending excerpt on a web site advocating freedom for Harry Nicolaides. I am reprinting it in its entirety below.

"From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for
their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had
many wives "major and minor "with a coterie of concubines for
entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire
family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed
indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and
fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in
love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her
family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all
vestiges of their existence expunged forever."

The King has failed to intervene in this outrageous case. This outrageous attack on free speech is grotesque in a country that so badly fails to protect its women and children. readers of this article should check out the facts for themselves and protest to the Thai government. As a protest, the passage for which Nicolaides was imprisoned should be reprinted widely.

It is likely that the Obama administration will embolden Islamic opponents of free speech, who have already claimed Daniel Pearl and Theo Van Gogh as victims in their struggle to suppress western style fee speech. The blogosphere is a good place to fight these attacks. We must remain vigilant. Freedom must be defended or it will evaporate in the heat of censorship and political correctness Sphere: Related Content

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