>Thailand blocked the video site youtube today. It’s not the first time either. All occasions have resulted from what the Thai officials deem to be insulting videos about the King. The King who has reigned for over 60 years now, is revered as a demi-God. His portrait is on every street, in every house or shop and just to venture towards criticism is a dangerous move.
About 10 foreigners a year are arrested and sentenced for insulting the King. Most are deported but some have been imprisoned. While the King himself welcomes discussion about his role and has stated that he is not above criticism, politically it’s a no-go area. Of course, in a democracy, all manners should be respectfully discussed but Thailand can hardly be called a working democracy right now, even though it is relatively free and functioning.
A real issue for many is the seriousness of the subject and the penalties imposed. Just to be accused of doing insulting the King creates a situation which is worrying threatening. The police in Thailand don’t play games with criminals. Almost all murderers confess their crimes and they are given little choice in the matter. So in the case of insulting the King, it’s a very dangerous accusation and unfortunately sometimes a lucrative one.
Turkey did the same action when I was there after videos about Ataturk. Youtube removed the offending videos and the site was up again after 4 days. Hopefully that will happen here. But for Europe, it begs questions of freedom of speech issues with Turkey, a country seeking to join the EU within the next 5 years. The huge apathy that surrounds the EU during it’s 50th year is actually an ironic dynamo of integration. While Europe has it’s economic grind and bureaucracy but still can really say what you like and that’s an enduring strength.