Renowned Buddhist scholar faces jail for ‘criticizing’ Thai monarchy

Source: Religion News Service

(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.

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