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.