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Why Talking About Pizza Can Land You in Trouble in Thailand

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If you are in Thailand and you suddenly crave for pizza, it is highly likely that you will be referred to The Pizza Company, the largest pizza fast food chain in the country. And when you dial the company hotline “1112”, be aware that there are some activists in Thailand who use the word pizza to refer to the notorious Article 112 of the criminal code.

pizza-1112

The Pizza Company hotline 1112 has become a code word to refer to Article 112 of the criminal code

Khaosod English, a Bangkok-based news site, explained that the word pizza came to be associated with the particular section of the penal law simply because of The Pizza Company’s nearly identical phone number with the law’s name.

Article 112 deals with the Lese Majeste or anti-royal insult law, which criminalizes any behavior deemed insulting to the royal family. The king of Thailand is the country’s most revered public figure aside from being the world’s longest reigning monarch. Some scholars believe Article 112 is the world’s harshest and needs to be overhauled. Several individuals have been detained already for allegedly insulting the king through SMS or posting online comments

Some activists have accused the government of using the law to harass critics. There have been various petitions to reform Article 112 but authorities have rejected these proposals.
To avoid prosecution under Article 112, some Thais are using the word pizza to refer to the “draconian” law instead of directly mentioning the measure:

If a discussion begins to veer dangerously towards insulting the monarchy, someone may teasingly ask, “Are you ordering us a pizza?” or “I hope they serve pizza in prison.

After the army took power last May, the new government has filed more than a dozen Lese Majeste cases. A recent issue involved a scholar who was reported by a retired army officer to have insulted a dead king.

Those who are found guilty of Lese Majeste can be detained for up to 15 years.

So next time you dial 1112 in Thailand, be sure you are really referring to The Pizza Company. Otherwise, you might get to eat pizza in a prison cell.

Activist Red Shirts used this sticker to refer to Article 112

Activist Red Shirts used this sticker to refer to Article 112

This Article by Mong Palatino, originally appeared on Global Voices
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