Renowned Buddhist scholar faces jail for ‘criticizing’ Thai monarchy
Source: Religion News Service
Sulak Sivaraksa, center, walks to a military court on Dec. 7, 2017, in Bangkok to find out whether the military prosecutor proceeded with the indictment against him on lèse-majesté. A Thai military court has delayed a decision on whether to prosecute the prominent historian and social critic, who suggested that a famed duel on elephant-back won by a Thai king against a Burmese prince 400 years ago may not actually have happened. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) (Caption amended by RNS)
(RNS) — Sulak Sivaraksa, an internationally known Buddhist social activist and scholar, is facing possible jail time for questioning the outcome of a battle fought from the backs of elephants 400 years ago.
Sivaraksa, 85, made the remarks at a Bangkok university history conference in October 2014. Referring to a 16th-century battle immortalized in Thai culture as a triumph and point of national pride, he warned academics “not to easily believe in things. Otherwise, you will fall prey to propaganda.”
Sivaraksa was arrested last October and charged with “lèse-majesté,” or defaming the monarchy, a law that bans criticizing the Thai royal family and comes with a 15-year prison sentence.
On Wednesday (Jan. 17) he will appear before a military court set to decide on whether to prosecute him. There have been more than 100 lèse-majesté arrests since 2014, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.