A lawless regime and its repression

25 10 2014

The military dictatorship continues to repress those it views as its political opponents.

Earlier, we posted on lese majeste repression. Yet there is a much broader repression that is ongoing.

Schoolchildren are considered political opponents for opposing The Dictator’s dicta. Prachatai tells us that the ” junta reportedly called the director of the school to ask about the student activist in order to pressure the school, while the student activist insisted on carrying on with her activities for academic freedom.” Despite the military dictatorship’s intimidation the Education for Liberation of Siam “will continue to campaign against the 12 Thai values and urged the junta to understand that ELS activities are not politically aimed against them because the members of the group have various political orientations.”

The military dictatorship appears afraid of middle-class schoolchildren, fearing that open opposition to The Dictator’s propaganda may spread.

Prachatai also reports on the military dictatorship harassing “Boonyuen Siritum, a consumer rights and energy reform activist and former [elected] senator at her house in a bid to suppress rallies on energy reform.” Military thugs raided her house “and accused her of inciting people to stage rallies and being unusually rich.” These thugs in uniform, acting on the otrders of the military dictatorship, “searched the house in Samut Songkhram’s Muang District without warrant, claiming that they can search any house under martial law.”

In a case that may be considered tangential but which demonstrates the failure of the justice system and “standard” repression used by the police and military in Thailand, DVB reports that the “father of one of the detained suspects in the Koh Tao murder case has told DVB that … his son told him that he and his friend confessed to rape and murder only after Thai interrogators threatened to kill them…”. He stated: “The interrogators told them to confess to the crime, and threatened to cut off their limbs, put them in a bag, and dump them in a river if they did not.”

These claims are credible because these tactics of threat, beating and torture are regularized in the police and military, and have been used against political activists. In the past, bodies have turned up in rivers. Burning those being interrogated has a long history. The military and police have murdered and tortured with impunity.

Another case of repression that dates from the moment the military junta seized power is the unlikely story of the so-called Khon Kaen Model. Prachatai reports that a “Military Court in Khon Kaen … rejected bail for [26 mostly elderly] red-shirt defendants accused of planning a rebellion against the coup makers despite a lack of evidence…”. These people have been detained in prison since the coup. The military court prefers secrecy: “During the deposition hearing on Wednesday, the court only allowed the defendants, the lawyers and Kingsley Abbott, observer from International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to be in the courtroom…”. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, “[r]elatives and friends were able to contact accused … for the first time in five months when all 26 defendants were brought to the military court – where they face the death penalty.”

It is important to read this account of the military’s apprehension of the “Khon Kaen model” to understand the military junta’s desire to intimidate red shirts immediately following the coup.

Also at Prachatai, human right lawyers observe that: “For almost five months, the Thai military has used the draconian century-old martial law to detain anti-coup protesters and academics. Recently, however, it has also used the martial law to arrest and detain suspects without charge in cases related to general crimes and informal debts.”

The military regime came to power through an illegal act and its misuse of even the most draconian of laws means that it is an essentially lawless regime.





Wolf Bride lese majeste charges

24 10 2014

Prachatai has reported the expected news that they are filing “lese majeste charges against two activists involved in the political play ‘the Wolf Bride’.”

As is usually the case with lese majeste charges, the prosecutors took a considerable time getting their case together, with the defendants being held without bail. It is reported that “Phawinee Chumsri, lawyer representing Patiwat S. and Pornthip M., told Prachatai that the public prosecutor on Friday filed lese majeste charges against the two suspects after almost three months of detention.” The courts have repeatedly refused bail.





Lese majeste in the news

24 10 2014

As PPT has been pointing out, the royalist military dictatorship is demonstrating its “loyalty” through repressing political opponents and dampening dissent through its vigorous use of the draconian lese majeste law.

In this short post we want to point out two reports that also reflect on the increased lese majeste repression.

The first is at Siam Voices. We begin by disagreeing that it is only under the junta that things are “more strict” on lese majeste. In fact, the refusal of bail and even in-camera courts have been seen in the recent past. That said, we do agree that “complaints have been politically motivated, either to attack a political opponent or because an individual is perceived as a threat to Thai ultra-conservatism…”. We also agree that “[t]hings have gotten considerably worse since the coup in May 2014…”.112

The second is at Global Voices. It states that pizza can get you arrested!

If you are in Thailand and you suddenly crave 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.

Sandwiches, books, silence and now pizza delivery can get you in trouble in royalist Thailand.





Impunity not just for the military

24 10 2014

PPT has often posted on the abject failure of Thailand’s so-called justice system. We have also posted on the impunity enjoyed by officials – mostly in the corrupt military – who torture and murder citizens. Impunity is promoted by the failed justice system that is politicized and works in the interests of the royalist elite.

It is clear, though, that impunity extends to others who do the elite’s dirty work. It is reported at Khaosod that the former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who was “summoned to give testimony for a court inquest into the death of Muramoto Hiroyuki, the Reuters reporter who was shot dead while covering the clashes between Redshirt protesters and security forces on Din So Road on the night of 10 April 2010.” As Khaosod states, this “crackdown was authorized by Suthep and then-PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.”

Suthep “said he would not attend the court hearing because he has already given testimonies in other court cases related to the 2010 crackdown…”. Clearly, Suthep’s bloody work for the elite outweighs the law.

Here’s how impunity works, as clipped from Khaosod:

According to the official, the court will issue another summons for Suthep to provide testimony in court on 25 November. It is unclear whether the former deputy PM will face any legal action if he refuses to attend the hearing. 

… Suthep and Abhisit have repeatedly insisted on their innocence, claiming that the military operation was necessary to restore order in the capital city. They also alleged that many of the civilian casualties were in fact caused by “Blackshirt” militants allied to the protesters, not security forces.

Commanders of the Thai military have echoed this account, including Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the 22 May coup.

Although court inquests in the recent years have identified military forces as responsible for many of the deaths caused by the crackdown, no official has ever been held accountable.

Murder charges filed against Abhisit and Suthep were thrown out by the Criminal Court this August. According to the judges, Thailand’s Criminal Court lacked jurisdiction over the case because Abhisit and Suthep were holders of political office at the time of their alleged crimes.

… In contrast to the drawn-out inquiries into Abhisit and Suthep’s murder charges, Thai authorities convicted 26 Redshirt demonstrators of charges related to the unrest in the first year after the crackdown. At least two Redshirt activists were jailed for 10 months before facing trials and never compensated for their time in prison even though they were eventually acquitted.





Defending The Dictator

23 10 2014

It might seem odd to have to defend the dictatorial military ruler of any country. After all, what the The Dictator wants, he usually gets. That often means being treated like a kind of royal, a demi-god.

At the Bangkok Post, Education Minister Adm Narong Pipatanasai – there’s a reasonable chance that, like most admirals, he’s worth a packet! – has defended the trite dicta of The Dictator that have become the equivalent of sufficiency (non)democracy.

A group of students opposed to these “12 core values” and called themselves “Education for Liberation of Siam,” protested at the Education Ministry, accusing it of “thought control” and “launched an online petition to stop the forced recital of the values on http://www.change.org. As of yesterday, 750 people had signed up to the campaign.”Propaganda - Copy

The tired old admiral insisted that thought control is “necessary to cultivate national values among students, adding that teachers will also be required to memorise the 12 principles.”

As a man who has spent his entire career in the hierarchical military, cutting 10-30% off every deal with impunity, and without fear of contradiction from any underling he finds it difficult to understand when his demands and orders meet any opposition. It’s even worse when he thinks his boss is being contradicted. The boss may blame him for a lack of discipline and order from those contrarian students!





Further updated: The meaning of (Thai-style) democracy

23 10 2014

A reader who sends us a pile of material has sent us two video links over the past 3-4 days, and we felt that, even though they are separated in space and time, they tell a story of the cognative dissonance that envelopes contemporary Thailand.

The first is a remarkably revealing portrait of anti-democrat Phetchompoo Kijburana being introduced at one of those crass celebrations of the potentially great. She is introduced by President Nicolas Ardito Barletta of Panama someone who has, how shall we put it, a patchy career record, having served military dictators. He has been laundered by his elite friends.

He introduces her as having fought for “democracy,” with the result being a military government. As we said, cognitive dissonance. But then the elites and their friends and supporters can mangle even the reality of military dictatorship and repression as “democracy.” Only a servant of military dictatorships could understand a coup as being a way of strengthening democracy. The overthrow of the elected government is because of the “corruption and democracy they were having.” Oh boy…. The anti-democrat who wrote Barletta’s speech has created a lie that only a servant of military dictatorships could understand.

Phetchompoo is in the same category, except that she and her family would have servants. She and the elite regained “their” country by getting the military-monarchy alliance to overthrow electoral democracy and return the country to the non-democracy that is Thai-style democracy.

SnipersThe second clip is of soldiers, as snipers, shooting red shirts in 2010.

We don’t think PPT has seen this particular clip previously. Lest it is forgotten, the soldiers that conducted the coup and who have been promoted since, one to the dizzy heights of being The Dictator. The men who now control and repress Thailand are murderous criminals, who came to power, not just by their own efforts, but by those of the anti-democrats who claim to have protested (and killed) for democracy.

View the video by clicking here.

Update 1: By the way, create havoc at the child of advertising gurus One Young World sham by registering as an “ambassador.” If you are filthy rich, mummy and daddy can pay for you to be one, or maybe one of the corporates seeking an image upgrade will support you.

Update 2: A reader points out we missed a very important link on the buy me an ambassador site. It is: Thank you Dublin, rock on Bangkok! Apart from questioning who says “rock on” in the 21st century, the fact is that, yes, Bangkok’s Democrat Party has purchased the event for 2015:

The Closing Ceremony of the One Young World Summit 2014 saw the passing of the baton from Dublin’s host Lord Mayor Christy Burke, to Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra who will welcome the Summit to Bangkok next year.

Bangkok’s portly prince-cum-governor apparently declared:

…  his excitement and pride at holding the Summit which ‘provides unrivaled opportunities’ for delegates from around the world to ‘move the world in the right direction.’

Much to Governor Paribatra’s delight, Bangkok will be Asia’s first city to host the One Young World Summit, a responsibility which is not being taken lightly. He went on to assure the crowd that Bangkok is ready to ‘emulate the success of the 2014 Summit’ and to do their bit to ‘make the world a safer and better place to live.’

‘Bangkok is ready to do what is does best, welcome all of you in the best Thai tradition.’

It should be great. Maybe bring out the snipers again for a Hunger Games bit of fun for the delegates and self-promoting ambassadors. The delegates will be able to marvel at military repression, extensive censorship, a military-backed and installed government, dozens of political prisoners and a North Korea-like cult of personality. The One Young World sham will be in a place that is a sham.





Rejected

22 10 2014

Khaosod reports that “[j]unta-ruled Thailand failed to secure enough votes to join the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday, losing to four other Asian nations that applied for the seats.” India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Qatar were all elected.

Given that the military dictatorship doesn’t like election, this might not be considered an international travesty. However, as Khaosod points out, The Dictator, General Praytuh Chan-och, has been mouthing off about his fantasy that “the international community ‘understands’ Thailand’s situation.” He has also “claimed that his visit to the recent Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan, Italy, successfully ‘lifted the image’ of military-ruled Thailand in the eyes of the world.”

Apparently the world is not yet developed the same detachment from reality that commands The Dictator’s worldview. We don’t imagine that the repressed, the jailed and the censored in Thailand share his hallucinatory affliction either.

 








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