More comical military lies

30 08 2014

We assume that having to be in exile is not a joke. But the military dictatorship’s recent call for political opponents to return to Thailand for a “fair trial” is comical.

Khaosod reports that the junta’s spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suvaree as stating: “We want them to come back. We never shut the door to them. We never prohibit them [from coming back]…”. He went on to claim that The Dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha “has personally invited all dissidents to return to Thailand, with promises to treat them fairly.”

To be honest, PPT does not believe that Prayuth understands “fairness.” This is snipped from Wikipedia [click on the image for a larger view]:Fairness

The record of the military and the judiciary is of remarkable double standards that could not be further from any notion of fairness. Winthai, and presumably The Dictator too, was responding to a comment by a lawyer numerous opposition activists and lese majeste defendants. The record on lese majeste is clear: even laws, international conventions and constitutional provisions are routinely ignored in seeking to punish the accused.

Those who have fled the countryinclude “former Minister of Interior Affairs Charupong Ruangsuwan, Redshirt leader and former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan  Wiriyachai, and historian and critic of the Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul.”

Winthai added to the lies by disingenuously stating:

“The case is the duty of the police to decide how to proceed. Everything is in accordance with the law. The NCPO will merely ask for cooperation [from Mr. Apiwan] to come back and contest the charge in Thailand,” Col. Winthai said. “Let me stress that we have no policy of hunting down individuals who are taking exile abroad.”

The media has quoted several officials who claim to be hunting down those overseas and seeking extradition. Think of Aum Neko as just one example. Winthai lied further – has he no shame? – “People who are contesting their charges in the country, those that don’t run away, get their bail release.” This is clearly, unequivocally a blatant untruth. Khaosod gives an example:

Contrary to Col. Winthai’s claim, a Thai criminal court recently denied a bail release for two activists charged with lese majeste for their role in a play that was performed in October last year. Police say the theater performance was offensive to the Thai Royal Family.

The two activists are currently imprisoned as they await their trial. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in jail.

What is the purpose of continually and intentionally making false statements? After all, everyone know that these are lies. We at PPT can only assume that the military is so accustomed to false claims and impunity that they can no longer detect the truth.

Monarchy madness increases

5 08 2014

Under the military dictatorship the role of the monarchy has been elevated to an astral level. The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, soon to grab the premiership for himself, claims to hold the monarchy in the highest possible esteem.

Monarchism underpins or justifies all the political operations of the military dictatorship. It is lese majeste that has been a significant element of political repression.

Even with all of this mad monarchism, PPT is still confused by a recent Khaosod report, where it is reported that the media regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), “has fined Thai PBS channel for broadcasting discussion about Thai monarchy, a taboo subject in Thailand.” The report states:

The episodes [of Tob Jote], presented in a series called “Monarchy and Constitution”, featured a number of historians and politicians talked with well-known TV host Pinyo Traisuriyathamma about the roles of the Royal Family in modern history.

The most controversial episodes were the debates between Thammasat University historian and regular critic of Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul and prominent royalist writer Sulak Sivalak, in which Mr. Somsak argued that the power in the hand of Thai monarchy far exceeds the acceptable limit of a modern constitutional monarchy.

According to the NBTC, the episodes violate Article 37 of the 2008 Broadcasting Act, which prohibits dissemination of “content which leads to the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy system of government, or affects national security, public order and morality…”.

PPT had never considered “discussion” of the monarchy to be “taboo.” After all, there’s shelves of books on the monarchy, they are on television every single day, and there is endless “information” provided on the royal family and monarchy.

So we thought we should look up the word “discussion.” We found that it means “consideration of a question in open and usually informal debate.” The problem seems to with the word “open.” As we all know, the lese majeste law does not allow open consideration of the monarchy.

That confirmed, it still seems odd that the state-owned channel should be considered to have been promoting the “overthrow of the constitutional monarchy system of government…” or anything similar.

We understand that a herd of mad monarchists, fearing the sky was falling through (barely) open conversation, “protested at the Thai PBS headquarters” and demanded that the rest of the series be banned. (Of course, Thai PBS quickly capitulated.) But, then, these were quite deranged ultra-royalists.

Then we located our earlier post on this and saw this:

… Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has lashed out at the Tob Jote TV programme for broadcasting a debate over the role of the monarchy.” … He considers the “broadcast was inappropriate at a time of political conflict.” So the timing was wrong? Probably not. Prayuth doesn’t want any discussion of the role of the monarchy that goes outside the narrow boundaries of the official treacly narrative.

At least the bellicose general agrees that the media has “constitutional rights … to present a programme,” and is reported to have made the remarkable claim that “there are many other pressing problems to be tackled other than the role of the monarchy.”…

The then army boss, now dictator, stated the:

… programme was inappropriate. He said the monarchy is part of the country’s history and prestige and must be preserved. He said he has served the royal family himself and can testify that the institution provides happiness to the people…. The monarchy has been under the constitution since the 1932 revolution. Gen Prayuth said the only way the monarchy can be protected is by Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law…. He said this is not the right time to make changes to the lese majeste law.

The picture is thus clear: Prayuth is settling old scores and others are settling them for him as well. Settling them is a part of lese majeste repression. Madness on the monarchy continues to stifle debate, and even “discussion.” The military dictatorship prefers its “information.”

Updated: Lese majeste regime

13 07 2014

The Bangkok Post reports on the recent surge in “lese majeste charges following the May 22 coup has raised concerns that more lawsuits will only undermine political reconciliation sought by the junta…”.

Well, yes, there has been a surge, but reconciliation. Surely this is nothing more than buying into the propaganda of the military dictatorship! “Reconciliation” doesn’t come from repression and censorship.

According to the report, “[a]t least 13 people have been arrested or charged with lese majeste under the Criminal Code’s Section 112 since the coup took place.” In years gone by, that would be the total over 2-3 years, not in a few weeks. The report mentions these cases:

… former Pheu Thai Party MP Prasit Chaisrisa, cyber activist Kathawut Bunpitak; 24-year-old engineering student Akaradet Eiamsuwan; Red Sunday group leader Sombat Boonngam-anong; freelance writer Siraphop, aka Rung Sila; and Thanat Thanawatcharanont, aka Tom Dundee.

Other high-profile people facing lese majeste charges who have had arrest warrants issued for them but have failed to report in include a hairdresser based in England, Chatrawadee Amornphat; former PM’s Office minister in exile Jakrapob Penkair; and Thammasat University historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul.

Readers might note that PPT does not have some of these cases listed. We are having trouble keeping up with the rash of charges.

Niran Pitakwatchara, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said: “The more arrests and charges are made, the more the revered institution will be politicised…”.

That is a false line that has been used by many as a means to make the proponents of the law feel somehow shamed because they bring the monarchy into disrepute. PPT finds this naive and politically daft, for those using the charge use it to repress these very persons and the palace supports the law in times when they feel threatened, as they surely do at present.

Update: It is worth adding two pieces of related news here. The first is about academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who has had his passport cancelled for failing to show up when the military dictatorship demanded it. The hopeless ThaiPBS has reported it this way:

Singapore-based Thai academic’s passport revoked
The Foreign Ministry has revoked the passport of Singapore-based Thai academic Pawin Chatchavalpongphan who is facing criminal charges in Thailand and has defied the order to report to the National Council for Peace and Order.

The decision to have Pawin’s passport revoked was based on the recommendation of the National Police Office.

Foreign permanent secretary Sihasak Puangkatekaew explained that the Foreign Ministry simply acted in accordance with procedure after it was recommended by the police.

Pawin who is a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore has vigorously campaigned for the amendment of lese majeste law in Thailand or Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He is also the man who initiated the “Ah Kong’s Palm” sign – a symbol of defiance against the lese majeste law.

There’s a couple of things to note here. First, the emphasis on lese majeste is politically significant in the current context. Second, ThaiPBS and the junta seem to think that Pavin is in Singapore. He moved many, many months ago, and this is no secret.

The second piece of news is kind of good news but based on the bizarre. Prachatai reports that the dopey police have released Chaowanat Musikabhumi without charge. She was arrested for her “Long Live USA Day” placard considered potential lese majeste for parodying the propagandistic “Long live the king” slogan. She isnow  banned from political activity.

She was released on Friday 11am. Similar to other detainees, she was forced to sign an agreement that she will stop all political activities.

Updated: The lese majeste regime

5 07 2014

Tucked away in the Bangkok Post a couple of days ago was this lese majeste announcement:

The Office of the Attorney-General (OAG) is setting up a team to pursue legal action against lese majeste suspects who have fled or are living abroad.

Attorney-General Trakul Winijnaiyaphak said his agency was working with state agencies to form the team to be made up of representatives from the OAG, the police and the Foreign Ministry.

He said the team would review lese majeste cases after it received reports from the police. The team then would forward the cases to the OAG for indictment if there were grounds for prosecution.

The OAG could seek arrest warrants for suspects if they had fled or were staying in countries which had compatible laws and extradition agreements with Thailand, Mr Trakul said.

We know well enough that the military dictatorship has proclaimed its loyalty to the monarchy. We also know that it has set about dredging up every lese majeste case of recent years, accused, in process or completed, and it reviewing them. And we know that the junta’s lackey police bosses have been active in the hunt for the “disloyal.” What we are seeing is the enforcement of a lese majeste regime, with the legal arms of the state being ever more firmly being oriented to act politically for the junta and monarchy. Of course, these agencies have long been heavily biased. Now that bias is being heavily institutionalized and regularized as a lese majeste regime.

UpdateThe Bangkok Post also reports that the Foreign Ministry has also indicated the establishment of this lese majeste regime by revoking “the passports of lese majeste opponent Somsak Jeamteerasakul and hardline red-shirt leader Wutthipong “Ko Tee” Kochthammakhun.” Note that Somsak is not charged with lese majeste but that The Dictator has long been after him, hoping to pin a lese majeste charge on him.

Let the blood flow!

24 03 2014

Several readers have sent us links to reports of a speech by long-time yellow-shirt and (by definition) anti-Thaksin Shinawatra lawyer Kaewsan Atibhodhi. We are using a link we were sent for a Facebook post at Kaewmala ThaiTalk. It is revealing of the hatred of the red shirts and the desire for a final and bloody battle with the red shirts. Presumably martial law requires a military coup and the military then gunning down red shirts (again) for the likes of Kaewsan:

… Kaewsan Atibhodi caused a big stir with his fiery speech last night. How fiery? Aj. Somsak Jeam[teerasakul] has sourced a video (from Blue Sky Channel) and transcribed part of his speech which I have translated into English below.

[PPT: Kaewsan begins with the usual nasty personalized attacks on Yingluck Shinawatra and others he hates, calling them fools, dogs, jungle lizards and using foul language throughout. At times he refers to the "Thaksin regime" and members of the Shinawatra family and red shirts as a cancer on Thailand that needs to be surgically removed. Cuting out the cancer appears to require a bloodletting.]

Mr. Kaewsan is a former law lecturer, former senator, and a well known politician-turned activist in the establishment camp. He shows us how “righteous people” can be _very scary_ indeed.Kaewsan was saying if the Redshirts would ‘dare come’ (กล้าเข้ามา) to Bangkok, they would have to be “quashed” (ปราบ). [PPT: thinks "suppressed" or "crushed" is a better translation.]

Quote: “… Firstly, whenever the Redshirts, whether as a force within their party, an armed group, or a mass [rally], dare come and put a knife at the neck of the NACC, the Court or the Bangkokians, and say ‘Don’t move while we continue to rape you!’, whenever it comes to that point, there’s no need for any election. Declare martial law and quash them. Quash them! Enough, enough. Enough of this repeated [aggression?]. [They] reject the power of the Court, reject the law, insult and abuse, make corruption, issue laws for themselves. Again and again. In other countries, they would have all been shot f**king dead. That leaves just us, standing right here. Whenever it comes to that point, they say they’ll come on April 5, I say there’s no other way out. If the cancer is this aggressive, it calls for surgery. Declare martial law. Take care of them. Point 1, what I have just said is not Khun Suthep’s or PDRC’s opinion, but a legal opinion as to what course of action is needed for the cause. Point 2, after the force has been used to maintain order…”

“…หนึ่ง เมื่อไหร่พวกแดง ไม่ว่าในพรรคหรือกองกำลัง หรือมวลชน กล้าเข้ามาเอามีดจ่อคอ ปปช หรือศาล หรือคนกรุงเทพ (แล้ว)บอกมึงอย่าขยับขอกูข่มขืนต่อไป เมื่อไหร่มันมาถึงจุดนั้นเมื่อไหร่ ไม่ต้องเลือกตั้ง ประกาศกฏอัยการศึก ปราบมันเลย ปราบมันเลย พอแล้ว พอแล้ว ซ้ำซากพอแล้ว ปฏิเสธอำนาจตุลาการ ปฏิเสธกฎหมาย หยามเหยียด คอร์รัปชั่น ออกกฎหมายเพื่อตัวเอง ซ้ำๆซากๆ เป็นบ้านอื่นเมืองอื่นเค้าไล่ยิ่งแม่งตายไปหมดแล้ว มีพวกเรานี่แหละยังยืนอยู่นี่แหละ แต่ถ้าถึงจุดนั้นเมื่อไหร่ ที่ว่า 5 เมษายน จะมานี่นะครับ ผมว่าไม่มีทางออกทางอื่น ถ้ามะเร็งมันกำเริบขนาดนี้นะครับ ต้องผ่า ประกาศกฏอัยการศึก จัดการมันเลย ข้อที่ 1 ที่ผมพูดไปนี่ ไม่ใช่ความเห็นคุณสุเทพหรือ กปปส แต่เป็นความเห็นในทางกฎหมายว่า ว่าเหตุถึงขนาดนี้แล้วต้องทำอะไรบ้าง ข้อที่ 2 หลังจากใช้กำลังจัดการให้อยู่ในที่ในทาง …”

From Min. 25 in this video:

นี่คือคำพูดเต็มๆของแก้วสรร เมือคืนนะครับเมื่อคืน ผมฟังสด แล้วเขียนสรุปไป ไม่กี่นาที ผมก็ตัดสินใจ”ซ่อน”ไว้ เพราะมาคิดว่า น่าจะดูคลิปและถอดคำพูดเขาให้ตรงๆเป๊ะๆดีกว่า แต่ก็มีเพื่อนหลายท่าน “ไว” มาก capture ทีผมโพสต์ และบางท่าน ยังทำเป็นสไลด์ รูปแก้วสรร แล้วเอาคำทีผมสรุปไปโพสต์ด้วยว่าเป็นคำแก้วสรรจริงๆที่ผมสรุปก็ตรงนะ ไม่ได้บิดเบี้ยวอะไร แต่นี่คือ คำพูดของเขาจริงๆ คำต่อคำ นาทีที่ 25 นะครับ (ตอนแก้วสรรพูด “ปราบมันเลย” ย้ำ 2 ครั้ง นี่เน้นเสียงดุดันมาก) ขอให้สังเกตว่า “ตัวอย่าง” ที่แก้วสรรพูดว่า ถ้าเสื้อแดง “กล้าเข้ามา” นี่คือตัวอย่างจริง เรื่อง นปช นัดชุมนุม 5 เมษา ด้วย”…หนึ่ง เมื่อไหร่พวกแดง ไม่ว่าในพรรคหรือกองกำลัง หรือมวลชน กล้าเข้ามาเอามีดจ่อคอ ปปช หรือศาล หรือคนกรุงเทพ (แล้ว)บอกมึงอย่าขยับขอกูข่มขืนต่อไป เมื่อไหร่มันมาถึงจุดนั้นเมื่อไหร่ ไม่ต้องเลือกตั้ง ประกาศกฏอัยการศึก ปราบมันเลย ปราบมันเลย พอแล้ว พอแล้ว ซ้ำซากพอแล้ว ปฏิเสธอำนาจตุลาการ ปฏิเสธกฎหมาย หยามเหยียด คอร์รัปชั่น ออกกฎหมายเพื่อตัวเอง ซ้ำๆซากๆ เป็นบ้านอื่นเมืองอื่นเค้าไล่ยิ่งแม่งตายไปหมดแล้ว มีพวกเรานี่แหละยังยืนอยู่นี่แหละ แต่ถ้าถึงจุดนั้นเมื่อไหร่ ที่ว่า 5 เมษายน จะมานี่นะครับ ผมว่าไม่มีทางออกทางอื่น ถ้ามะเร็งมันกำเริบขนาดนี้นะครับ ต้องผ่า ประกาศกฏอัยการศึก จัดการมันเลย ข้อที่ 1 ที่ผมพูดไปนี่ ไม่ใช่ความเห็นคุณสุเทพหรือ กปปส แต่เป็นความเห็นในทางกฎหมายว่า ว่าเหตุถึงขนาดนี้แล้วต้องทำอะไรบ้าง ข้อที่ 2 หลังจากใช้กำลังจัดการให้อยู่ในที่ในทาง …”

Kaewsan has a long history of supporting anti-democratic causes, from the People’s Alliance for Democracy to the military junta in 2006 and every royalist and fascist group that has been created since.

Back when the military junta appointed him to “examine” Thaksin’s assets, the Assets Scrutiny Committee (or the Asset Examination Committee) was stacked with anti-Thaksin appointees and its work was only ruled legal because its work was undertaken under junta rules. PPT’s favorite example of “independence” of this mob was Kaewsan, as its secretary, claimed “evidence and witnesses are useless,” with one of its panels recommending legal action without hearing 300 witnesses or considering 100 additional pieces of evidence (Bangkok Post, 9 April 2008). Now he just wants a bloodletting. This is the kind of legal/political mind who wants to “reform” Thailand!

ALRC, lese majeste and the UN

26 02 2014

Reproduced in full:

February 24, 2014

Twenty fifth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

A written submission to the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre

THAILAND: Legal and Extralegal Threats to Freedom of Expression

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise grave concerns about the intensification of legal and extralegal threats to freedom of expression in Thailand. Carried out in the name of protecting the monarchy, this range of threats constitutes the entrenchment of the normalization of the violation of human rights and curtailment of freedom of expression. This statement is the eighth on this topic that the ALRC has submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in the legal and unofficial use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27). During the nineteenth session in February 2012, the ALRC detailed some of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55). During the twentieth session in June 2012, the ALRC raised concerns about the weak evidentiary basis of convictions made under Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/37) and the concerning conditions surrounding the death in prison custody of Amphon Tangnoppakul on 8 May 2012, then serving a 20-year sentence for four alleged violations of Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/38). During the twenty-second session in March 2013, the ALRC highlighted the January 2013 conviction under Article 112 of human rights defender and labour rights activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (A/HRC/22/NGO/44). During the twenty-third session in June 2013, the ALRC emphasized the regularization of the crisis of freedom of expression, and noted that constriction of speech had become constitutive of political and social life in Thailand (A/HRC/23/NGO/42). During the twenty-fourth session in October 2013, the ALRC emphasized the dangers of the normalization of the violation of human rights in the name of protecting the monarchy (A/HRC/24/NGO/35).

2. Over the course of the prior seven statements, the ALRC first noted with surprise the active use of measures to constrict speech, then tracked the expansion of this use, and finally, the entrenchment of the foreclosure of freedom of speech. The ALRC is again raising the issue of freedom of expression with the Council because the law has continued to be actively used to violate the right to freedom of expression and extralegal threats to freedom of expression, and human rights broadly, have emerged in Thailand. In the statement submitted to the Council in October 2013, the ALRC warned that the routine denial of bail and the use of vague references to national security to attempt to legitimize the violation of the human rights of those with dissident views had become normalized. In this statement, the ALRC wishes to alert the Human Rights Council to ongoing developments that indicate the urgency, and growing difficulty, of addressing the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand.

3. There are two primary laws that are used to both legally constrict freedom of speech in Thailand and create a broad climate of fear for those who hold dissenting opinions. Article 112 of the Criminal Code criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA), which was promulgated as part of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, has been used to target web editors and websites identified as critical of the monarchy or dissident in other ways. The CCA provides for penalties of up to five years per count in cases that are judged to have involved the dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a key part. While Article 112 has been part of the Criminal Code since the last major revision in 1957, available statistics suggest that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed since the 19 September 2006 coup; how often these complaints become formal charges and lead to prosecutions is information that the Government of Thailand has continuously failed to provide up to the present. The CCA has often been used in combination with Article 112 in the seven years since its promulgation; similar to the use of Article 112, the Government of Thailand has not made complete usage information available. This failure to make information public about the frequency and conditions of use of both laws creates fear and diminishes the space for freedom of expression through the use of secrecy and creation of uncertainty.

4. In addition to the continued use of the law to constrict speech, recent events indicate that there is an increase in the potential for extralegal violence against those who hold dissident views. During the statement submitted to the nineteenth session (A/HRC/19/NGO/55) in March 2012, the ALRC warned the Council about the threats made against members of the Khana Nitirat, a group of progressive legal academics at Thammasat University who proposed reform of Article 112. In response, hundreds of threats were posted online against the group, calling for the members to be attacked, killed, beheaded, and burned alive. Subsequently, one of the members of the group, Professor Worachet Pakeerut, was assaulted outside his office at Thammasat by two young men who later told the police that they attacked him because they disagreed with his ideas.

5. On February 12, 2014, an attack on another progressive academic, Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a history professor at Thammasat University and outspoken political and cultural critic, indicates a renewed increase in the permissive climate for extralegal intimidation and violence of those who hold dissenting opinions. Two assailants fired repeated gunshots at the home and car of Professor Somsak. Although he did not sustain any physical injuries, the damage to his car and house indicate that the violence was intended to be deadly. The attack took place during the day, while Professor Somsak was at home, which lends further credence to the idea that the perpetrators intended to inflict harm or death and that they were unconcerned with being seen.

6. Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s writing and teaching have inspired many students and citizens to carefully examine the past, present, and persecution of the powerless by the powerful in Thailand. His criticism often makes those in power uncomfortable, and there has been an attempt to use Article 112 to curtail his speech. In April 2011, a police investigation began against him in relation to a complaint likely made in relation to comments he made in article about a Princess Chulabhorn’s (one of the daughters of the current Thai king) appearance on a talk show. This case is still ongoing, even though Article 112 does not apply to Princess Chulabhorn, and so there is no legal restriction of comments made about her. In early February 2014, the deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army commented that the Army plans to file additional complaints of violations of Article 112 against Professor Somsak in relation to comments he posted on the social media website Facebook.

7. The ALRC is particularly concerned that the violent attack on Professor Somsak has come so close following the comments of the deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army regarding further proceedings under Article 112 against him. While the identities and motivations of the attackers remain unknown pending police investigation, the temporal link to the formal and legal action taken against him by the Royal Thai Army is striking. In addition, given the severe polarization in Thai society which began when the protracted protests against the elected government began in November 2013, this extralegal attack on Professor Somsak is a further indication of the ongoing breakdown of the rule of law in Thailand.

8. The ALRC would like to remind the Thai government that they are a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and are bound to uphold the human rights principles named therein. In particular, the ALRC would like to call on the Thai state to uphold Article 19 of the ICCPR, in particular, paragraph 1, which guarantees that, “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference,” and paragraph 2, which guarantees that, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” It is imperative that the Thai state’s protection of the rights guaranteed in Article 19 and the remainder of the ICCPR be active, rather than passive. Upholding the ICCPR necessarily entails protecting those whose views are dissident and ensuring that they can safely exercise their political freedom. Failure to do so will signal to vigilante actors that attacking those who hold different views are acceptable within the Thai polity.

9. The ALRC would also like to remind the Government of Thailand that under Article 19 of the ICCPR, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are only permissible under two circumstances: “for respect of the rights or reputations of others” and “for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.” Although Article 112 is classified as a crime against national security within the Criminal Code of Thailand, and this, along with the need to protect the monarchy, is frequently cited by the Government of Thailand when faced with the criticism that the measure is in tension with the ICCPR, a precise explanation of the logic for categorizing the measure as such has not been provided to date. Until this explanation is provided, the constriction of freedom of expression is arbitrary and contributes to a climate hostile to human rights.

10. The ALRC is gravely concerned about the ongoing legal and extralegal threats to freedom of expression in Thailand, and their effects on human rights, justice, and the rule of law in Thailand. The intensification of extralegal threats to dissenting citizens’ rights and lives as indicated by the February 2014 attack on Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul represents a new point of crisis in the longstanding climate of constriction of political freedom in Thailand.

11. In view of the above, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on the UN Human Rights Council to:

a. Call on the Government of Thailand to ensure that a full investigation into the attack on Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul is carried out and bring the men who shot at his house and car to justice;
b. Call on the Government of Thailand to release all those convicted or facing charges under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. At a minimum, those currently being held should immediately be granted bail while their cases are in the Criminal or Appeal Courts;
c. Demand that the Government of Thailand revoke Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act;
d. Urge the Government of Thailand to allow and support the full exercise of freedom of expression and political freedom, consistent with the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party, and;
e. Request the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to continue ongoing monitoring and research about the broad situation of constriction of rights and individual cases in Thailand; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to continue to monitor and report on those cases of persons arbitrarily detained under Article 112.

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Read this online from AHRC

25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

Read this online from ALRC

25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC

Fearing Somsak

15 02 2014

In reading an op-ed by Kong Rithdee at the Bangkok Post, we at PPT were reminded that lese majeste is about something more than the display of loyalty-expressed-as-hatred that is usually associated with ultra-royalist responses to what they define as an attack of the “revered institution.”

Bombings, shooting, threats, stalking, social media campaigns and long jail sentences have all been associated with those considered to have trespassed beyond the invisible yet  constantly moving boundaries of what is “acceptable” on the monarchy for royalist extremists. Kong refers to some of these nasty witch hunts in the context of the recent attack on historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, led by the Army and then followed up by gunmen in support of the military and/or unknown royalist fascists.

Kong refers to “thoughtcrime in the land of crooked smiles…”. He observes:

It’s a cruel irony that while everyone — of all colours and inclinations — is parroting the true worth of democracy, we’re also living in a time when thinking and writing can be a crime. Hit-and-run suspects get bail (remember the Red Bull heir?), suspected murderers get bail (remember Kamnan Poh?), but thinking aloud on highly sensitive topics, like Mr Somsak did, could get unknown thugs firing at your house, or get you thrown in jail without bail — like Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was after he was convicted under Section 112.

Why is this? We think it is because Somyos, Somsak and other like them generate tremendous fear in their opponents.

The fear is that the emperor will be seen to be naked.

The fear that if the monarchy is seen for what it really is – a dysfunctional family that has been politically and economically rapacious – will quickly undermine the hierarchical system where the monarchy is a keystone institution. If it is undone, politically or ideologically, they fear that the royalist system will also collapse.

They fear that their regime of control and repression is brittle.

Protecting against these fears requires fascism, horrendous repression and hatred.

This is a fear that makes for a royalist elite nightmare. It is a nightmare they deserve.





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