An actress and protest supporter facing 15 years in prison found out today that she has been charged with insulting the royal family over two words – “very brave.”
After spending the past week perplexed by a vague police summons, Inthira “Sai” Charoenpura today appeared to formally hear the charges, where police told her they stemmed from writing those words online in a “sarcastic” social media post that went viral in the pro-democracy movement..
“Facebook user Inthira Charoenpura posted a picture that had text mocking the monarchy. It featured the words ‘I may not go back to loving you,’ ‘you are very brave,’ and ‘because everybody’s eyes are widely opened,’” read the charges, which she posted online. “The word ‘very brave’ was said by King Rama X to admirers at a royal event, and to repeat the word in a mocking tone defames his dignity.”
Inthira, who will turn 40 on Wednesday, made her response to the charges known immediately in a caption to the post:
“I may not go back to loving you,” she wrote, repeating one of the phrases. The visible portion of the document did not specify more information about the post in question.
In October, “very brave” took off as a catch-phrase among activists after King Vajiralongkorn used those words to thank a royalist supporter for confronting protesters at a march.
“Very brave, very brave, very good, very good, thank you,” the king said Oct. 23 to Thitiwat Tanagaroon after the queen told him that Thitiwat had held a portrait of his much-loved father, King Rama IX, among protesters three days earlier.
As of today, more than 30 people have been charged in recent weeks with lese majeste, including a 16-year-old boy. Use of the law had lapsed since King Vajiralongkorn came to power – it was used widely in the twilight of his father’s reign despite the late king’s stated opposition to it – but has been enjoying a comeback amid rising criticism of the monarchy.
Charges of lese majeste, as the royal insult law is known, can be filed by anyone against anyone, and the authorities are obligated to investigate. The complaint against Inthira was filed by deputy Bang Khen district police chief Anan Wonrasat.
Inthira, best known for playing a lead role in last decade’s King Naresuan film franchise, has become one of few high-profile figures to openly support the ongoing pro-democracy movement. She’s provided material support including food, toilets and other donations for the rallies which re-emerged in June.
She went to hear the charge this morning at the Bang Khen Police Station accompanied by pro-democracy activists and leaders including lawyer Arnon Nampa and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak.