A Thai man has been forced into a psychiatric hospital against his will after he wore a T-shirt questioning the Thai monarchy.
45-year-old Tiwakorn Vithiton was reportedly admitted to the Rajanagarinda Psychiatric Hospital in Khon Kaen after posting a photo of himself wearing a controversial T-shirt on Facebook.
The message on the shirt read: ‘I have lost all faith in the institution of monarchy.’
In Thailand, criticizing the monarchy in public is a taboo because of a ‘lese majeste’ law which means offenders can face three to 15 years in prison.
The news of Tiwakorn’s admission into a psychiatric hospital against his will has drawn concern from human rights activists.
Yingcheep Atchanont, a small group of human rights defenders visited Tiwakorn on Monday at the hospital.
‘He seemed to be OK but wasn’t sure in what legal capacity he is being held,’ the activists who work with iLaw, an independent justice watchdog group, said after their visit.
Yingcheep said Tiwakorn’s family said the hospital staff and police had to force him when he resisted going to the hospital, following an earlier visit to their home by doctors who questioned him.
According to the activists, there are 13 lese majeste cases out of 89 that iLaw has monitored where the accused have ended up confined in mental hospitals.
‘Tiwakorn’s case is the first in which the authorities had someone committed someone straight to the psychiatric facility without having gone through filing charges and legal detention first,’ Yingcheep said.
Khon Kaen police chief Major General Puttipong Musikul says Tiwakorn has not been charged with any crime and was taken to hospital for medical reasons.
Hospital director Dr. Nathakorn Jampathong said Tiwakorn has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation since being admitted on July 9.
‘All I can tell you is that he is fine and the evaluation is still going on,’ the medic said.