The bookish Thai rights lawyer who challenged the king


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His activism began in high school and he started working in human rights in 2006, the year that elected populist leader Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown in a military coup.

Once Anon qualified as a lawyer in Bangkok, he saw his mission as defending society’s weakest.

“Many cases he took are victims of harassment who nobody knows,” said Krisadang Nutcharat, another human rights lawyer.

In 2010, Anon set up a legal practice to help those affected by bloody clashes between Thaksin’s supporters and the authorities.

After the then army chief Prayuth seized power in a 2014 coup, Anon took on cases of political activists – including those who had been charged with lese majeste offenses against the monarchy.

“In many cases, the accused spoke truthfully but the things they said are unacceptable for society at large … The court still ruled that they are guilty,” Anon said. “This is why I became interested in the monarchy.”

The reforms Anon seeks to the monarchy include reducing the king’s constitutional powers, which were expanded after he succeeded his late father in 2016, and dropping the lese majeste laws.

As Anon stepped up his political activism after the 2014 coup, so the arrests began. In 2015, he was charged with organizing a banned political gathering.

Including the most recent arrest, he has been charged 13 times. Of the six cases that have concluded, three were thrown out and he faced fines totalling 2,200 baht ($70) over the others. Seven cases are pending, including some for protests in 2018 to demand fair elections.

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