Thailand’s junta intensifies its hunt for critics of the monarchy

THE only historical record of Queen Chammathewi, the legendary founder of the Thai city of Lamphun, comes from a fanciful 15th-century chronicle written on palm leaves in an ancient liturgical language. It describes how, some time in the seventh century, she came to a spot that the Buddha had supposedly visited centuries before. With the help of a Buddhist ascetic, she conjured a city out of the jungle, subjugated the natives and begat not one, but two royal dynasties.

There is no proof that the queen (pictured) ever really existed, and she definitely falls outside the scope of Thailand’s law on lèse-majesté, which bars criticism only of the reigning king, queen, heir apparent and regent. But Thais should not feel they can say whatever they want about her. So, at least, a provincial court implied last month when it convicted a local of disseminating false or illegal material online for posting a lascivious comment about her on Facebook.

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