Harry Nicolaides comes home

February 22, 2009

Author Harry Nicolaides is back in Melbourne after being granted a royal pardon by the Thai king.
Harry spent six months in jail for the crime of les majeste – insulting the Thai royal family.

Full story in the Melbourne Age. [Tx Medusa for the tip-off]

Pardon Harry – no slight to the King intended

February 18, 2009

The ABC has reported that Harry Nicolaides, the Australian writer jailed for insulting the Thai royal family has been recommended for a King’s pardon. That’s good news, but Harry’s not free yet.

Meanwhile, for another good source of material about censorship in Thailand, try FACT.

Free Harry – offer not available in Thailand

You might also be interested in this story about a British author who has been banned from appearing at a literary festival in Dubai. Her book apparently contains references to homosexuality and was deemed by the organisers as too controversial.

British author Geraldine Bedell says her upcoming book has been banned in the United Arab Emirates, and she was dropped from a literary festival in Dubai because her novel contains references to homosexuality and was deemed critical of Islam.

Bedell, a journalist with the Observer newspaper, said she had been in talks with the organizers of the first International Festival of Literature in Dubai about launching The Gulf Between Us, which is set in the Gulf region

It’s a worry that this stuff is going on today, I guess it always has, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that Enlightenment is only skin deep in some parts of the world.

Free Harry – offer not available in Thailand

February 11, 2009

A couple of my very good Aussie friends were visiting Aotearoa this week and we caught up last night for yakitori at Tanuki’s Cave. Unfortunately Tanuki’s is not really a cocktail bar, so I never bother ordering a Martini there. Instead I go for the ice-cold Kirin.

I love Tanuki’s, it has a great jazz soundtrack, the food is fantastic, there’s a good Sake menu and the atmosphere is probably among the coolest in town. As usual the conversation with P&P flowed with the beers and they told me the disturbing story of Harry Nicolaides.

I haven’t come across any coverage of Harry, though I was on my “OE” when most of the drama was taking place. It certainly didn’t make much of a splash in the UK media.

Poor old Harry is festering in a Thai jail for insulting the Thai king in one line in a self-published novel that has sold seven copies. It seems that at least one copy found its way into the hands of the Thai secret police, because¬† in August 2008 Harry¬† was arrested and charged with the crime of “le majeste”.

The Thais take their royal family very seriously – we’ve all seen those fading colour prints in Thai restaurants all over the world – and Harry Nicolaides is now paying the price.

It’s a shocking way to treat anyone, but Harry did not set out to offend the Thai king and he’s also issued a sincere public apology. Unfortunately, he’s now in prison serving a three-year sentence.

A website and campaign has been established to bring Harry home. Read the rest of this entry »

Those "dirty" Europeans, MySpace, YouTube, censorship and the Thai Military Junta

July 4, 2007

I’m always amazed about how hot under the collar some people get when the topic of s*x is mentioned. Haven’t prudes got anything better to do than be offended by a bit of nudity and rumpy-pumpy? The latest shock-horror outrage is a fairly harmless little advert produced by the European Commission to promote “art house” films.

According to news reports today, the clip, one of the most viewed on YouTube at the moment, has attracted the unwanted attention of the dirty (on the inside) raincoat brigade.

In the interests of balance – that is offending everyone equally – here it is. Nothing to it really, though it does show gay couples embracing the “beast with two backs” position. Oh, and if you look closely I think the woman in the first shot has a Brazilian – they’re everywhere now, so common. Nothing risque anymore in a close and personal shave, a bit like tattoos really. There’s someone who looks under 18 (to me anyway) in the audience, mouth agape (as you do in “art house” cinema). And, just by the way, aren’t there any non-whites living in Europe these days? It would be far more offensive to the neo-nazis to have black and brown people doing the rhythm thing.
Nothing to see here folks, keep moving!

Perhaps the only sensible thing to do is to take a leaf out of the Thai military junta’s playbook and ban bloody YouTube altogether. That way no one can be offended. In May 2007 YouTube agreed to remove four clips from its site that the Thai government said were insulting to the king. YouTube agreed! Why?

Well, advertising revenues might be one answer. The world of “DIY” video-stardom is also expanding. MySpace last week (29 June 2007) launched a rival site, MySpaceTV.

Our obsession with self-celebrity is destructive to say the least. Not to mention making it easier for the forces of Laura Norder to keep a weather eye on the trouble makers.