Thai activist fired from Sydney job due to fear of vigilante attacks from ultra-royalists
By South-East Asia correspondent Liam Cochrane
Updated Fri at 3:36am
A Thai man living in Sydney has been sacked from his restaurant job after being targeted by an ultra-royalist group known as the Rubbish Collection Organisation (RSO).
Somsak Rachso was accused of insulting the Thai monarchy — a serious crime in Thailand punishable by up to 15 years jail — although it is unclear exactly what sparked the campaign against him.
"Thai people there [in Australia] — don't associate with him, don't give him or his family a job," said the hardline leader of RSO, Major General Rianthong Nanna.
As a result of the online harassment, Mr Rachso was fired from his part-time job at Siam Cuisine Thai Restaurant in Penrith, for fear of attracting vigilante attacks.
"I already kicked Somsak out because for safety reasons, I didn't want anyone to get hurt," said Peter, the restaurant's owner.
He asked that his surname be withheld due to the sensitivities about this subject in the Thai community, and stressed his respect for the late king.
Since the death of Thailand's widely-revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13, the military junta has pursued at least 20 cases of lese majesty, or royal insult, which is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.
Mr Rachso's Facebook page included posts supporting Thailand's so-called Red Shirt political faction, aligned with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Mr Somsak appeared to be involved with a NSW-registered group, Thai Alliance for Human Rights.
His Facebook page — which was removed on Wednesday — also posted articles by journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall that discuss aspects of the monarchy usually considered taboo in Thailand.
Mr Somsak wrote to his accuser, who he called "Rianthong the criminal gangster".
"In the past three days I have been pressured by beloved and respected friends and relatives, asking me to stop any movement or fight with undemocratic Thailand which is ruled by dictatorship and military," wrote Mr Somsak.
"My movement does not violate Thai or Australian laws, it only upsets your barbarous laws [but] … I will stop the movement to relieve the worries of my relative and family."
มันจับเราฝังดินเอาหินทับ— Maysaa111 (@maysahaway) October 29, 2016