July 31, 2014 -- Updated 4:10 pm GMT

Anti-Monarchist Websites To Be Blocked In Thailand

Posted in: Thailand

The Thai government announced plans to block websites they deem inappropriate and offensive, on Monday. bhumibol 206x300 Anti Monarchist Websites To Be Blocked In Thailand

Those websites include any that criticize Thailand’s revered King, Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The communications ministry has received more than 1,000 complaints about Web sites that are deemed offensive to the royal family, minister Mun Patanotai said, but declined to give details about them, saying the issue is “sensitive.”

“Revealing them would encourage Internet users to visit them,” Mun told reporters, adding that the ministry’s gateway will initially target mostly sites that violate lese majeste laws. “But it can also monitor and block pornographic or terrorism-related sites.”

Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, but has severe lese majeste laws, mandating a jail term of 3 to 15 years for whoever “defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent.” Actual prosecutions are relatively rare.

“There is a growing number of websites that attack the monarchy, and the ministry is consulting to buy a blocker that costs between 100 and 500 million baht (2.8 and 14 million dollars),” said Mun.

“More than 80 percent of these websites are from overseas,” he added.

Thailand made headlines around the world last year when it blocked the popular video-sharing website YouTube after clips appeared to mock the King.

80 year old King Bhumibol is extremely popular in Thailand, and is seen as rock in a country that has been experiencing political turmoil recently.

Anti-government and pro-government groups clashed in Bangkok in the past month. Anti-government groups wear yellow to symbolize their loyalty to Bhumibol.

The royal family has been trying to remain neutral, but a few weeks ago, Queen Sirikit attended the funeral of a young protestor who died in the clashes.