Back to “normal”

5 12 2021

After months and months of calls for monarchy reform, the arrest of hundreds, plenty of political prisoners, the massive use of repression, and hundreds of lese majeste, sedition, and several other charges, what has changed?

If we look at King Vajiralongkorn’s behavior, we guess he’d be content to answer that nothing much has changed. He’s back to his erratic, self-centered “best.”

Readers will recall that when the students first made calls for monarchy reform, the king eventually had to interrupt his long residence in Europe to return to Thailand and engage in a bit of royalist rabble-rousing. That involved a mobilization of his daughters and wives. The king had to spend an extended period in-country, more than he’d done for years.

At the same time, the regime deepened it political repression, emphasizing lawfare.

By early November, it appeared that king and regime figured that they had seen off anti-monarchism, and the king sent a huge number of people, dogs, and royal stuff to Germany. He jetted out in secret in the second week of November. As the the SCMP had it: “He’s back and is feeling at home with his poodles in his favourite kingdom of Bavaria,” Bild wrote, adding he had brought 30 poodles with him from Thailand. The Guardian adds that the king and entourage “booked an entire [4th] floor of the Hilton Munich airport hotel for 11 days.”

The king has quickly re-established his old pattern of quick trips back to Thailand to perform “important” kingly tasks. As far as we can tell, he was back in Thailand, for about 24 hours, when he was required at Wat Phra Kaew, just a few days after arriving in Germany.

And, today, he’s back, again for about 24 hours. This time it is for his dead father’s birthday where he is “scheduled to plant a tree at 4pm on Sunday in a ground-breaking ceremony for a monument to King Rama IX in Bangkok’s Princess Mother Memorial Park.”

We have no idea how much this costs the long-suffering taxpayer. But Metropolitan Police Bureau spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Jirasan Kaewsaengaek revealed that “some 1,300 police officers will be deployed to provide security and control the traffic around the area.” One tree, one king, 1,300 police.

Lots of roads closed and plenty of encouragement for royalists to show up and show support the itinerant monarch.

All pretty “normal.” Obviously, regime and palace feel they can get back to fleecing taxpayers for the royal house.





112 charge for Facebook post

4 12 2021

Via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Prachatai reports that Warunee (family name withheld), aged 30 and from Phitsanulok was arrested on 2 December 2021 for lese majeste.

Warunee’s charge stems from a Facebook post that included “a picture of King Vajiralongkorn changing the seasonal decoration of the Emerald Buddha, edited so that the Buddha is wearing a dress.” The accused is alleged to have posted an edited photo that had “the Buddha is wearing a purple ball gown with a Yorkshire terrier sitting next to the base of the Buddha, along with the message ‘Emerald Buddha x Sirivannavari Bangkok’.”

The photos in this post are not the photo referred to but illustrate the point being made in the accusation of lese majeste.

King Vajiralongkorn had briefly returned from Europe for this ceremony.

TLHR said that Warunee was arrested at her Phitsanulok home at about 7AM “on an arrest warrant issued by the Criminal Court and taken to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) headquarters in Bangkok.” She had not received a police summons before she was arrested.

As is becoming the norm, the “complaint against her was then filed by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Centre for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group…”.

From Wikipedia

Nopadol complained “that the edited image insulted and made fun of the King, and that the post was rude and inappropriate and could affect national security, as well as insulting the religion.” He has managed the trifecta of royalist “national identity.”

Warunee was charged under Article 112, Article 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, and “insulting an object of religious worship under Section 206 of the Criminal Code.”

Warunee has denied all charges and “asked the inquiry officer to summon Nopadol to explain his accusations and to point out which component of the image was offensive.”

The police confiscated her phone and laptop. She was detained overnight at the Thung Song Hong Police Station before being taken to court on 3 December. Her lawyer “requested bail for Warunee on the grounds that she has bipolar disorder and needs to receive continuous treatment. She was later granted bail using a 100,000-baht security.”





Parliamentarians under threat

3 12 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on a then upcoming launch of an ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights report.

The report is now available and it makes grim reading. Today, authoritarian repression hangs over the region like the annual haze, choking the vestiges of democracy and restricting political freedoms.

Get the report Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against opposition MPs in Southeast Asia in 2021 and read it. There’s a chapter on Thailand.

The launch press release emphasizes that: “The number of Members of Parliament (MPs) detained in Southeast Asia has dramatically risen this year, from just one in 2020, to 91 in 2021…”. In addition, there have been “threats to lawmakers for doing their jobs, as well as orchestrated campaigns of judicial harassment and disinformation, aimed at both discrediting and silencing them…”.

On Thailand, the release states:

… the government and its allies continued to level trumped-up criminal cases against Move Forward Party (MFP) lawmakers, while opposition MPs were also the target of widespread abuse online, often through highly coordinated “information operations” orchestrated by state-affiliated actors.

In the report, the “systematic judicial harassment against the Move Forward Party” is detailed, along with the regime-inspired “threats and coordinated online disinformation campaigns.”

The chapter on Thailand concludes:

The continued harassment against the MFP lawmakers and former lawmakers of the FWP [Future Forward Party], whether through the judiciary or through online targeting, appears to be part of a concerted and systematic effort by the government to discredit and silence the party. Despite the personal costs involved and the ever-present threat of arrest and even imprisonment, its MPs have continued to challenge the role of the military in Thai politics and promote a human rights agenda in parliament. The most recent example of this is the proposed Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act, which is currently being debated in parliament.





Updated: Arbitrary detention

2 12 2021

On 26 November 2021, law NGO Destination Justice (Facebook page) filed an Urgent Action to the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Thai activists Parit Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

The submission asks the Working Group to “declare Parit and Panusaya’s current arrest and detention as arbitrary and in violation of international law.” In addition, Destination Justice “called upon the United Nations to request the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Parit and Panusaya and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them.”

From Destination Justice

Here’s the information from Destination Justice:

GENEVA, Switzerland, Friday, 26 November 2021 // Destination Justice has today filed an Urgent Action to the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Thai human rights defenders Mr. Parit Chiwarak (also known as “Penguin”) and Ms. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul (also known as “Rung”).

The Urgent Action requests the United Nations body to declare Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s current arrest and detention as arbitrary and in violation of international law.

Destination Justice has also called upon the United Nations to request the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya are amongst the highest profile, most outspoken protesters in a mass protest movement in Thailand calling for socio-political change, including monarchic reform.

They have been repeatedly arrested and detained for participating in peaceful protests, expressing opinions, and otherwise exercising fundamental freedoms protected under international law.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya are currently being detained pending trial on charges including for lese-majesty under Criminal Code section 112, which has a sentence of up to 15 years.

Overall, Mr. Parit faces 43 trials and up to 300 years’ imprisonment and Ms. Panusaya faces 25 trials and up to 135 years’ imprisonment.

Moreover, a recent Thai Constitutional Court decision means that they may eventually charges of attempted insurrection for their human rights work, a crime which carries the death penalty.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a Special Procedure of the United Nations Human Rights Council that investigates deprivation of liberty around the world. It can also intervene urgently where a person is detained arbitrarily in dangerous conditions or where there are other unique circumstances.

The Urgent Action has also been sent to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and opinion, and human rights defenders. All of these officials, together with the Working Group, have already expressed concern over the treatment of Thai protesters participating in the ongoing movement.

ENDS //

For media inquiries, contact info@destinationjustice.org.

ANNEX: Executive Summary of the Urgent Action

Mr. Parit Chiwarak and Ms. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul are 22-year-old Bangkok-based Thai university students. They are being detained over their peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms as amongst the highest profile, most outspoken protesters in a mass protest movement in Thailand calling for socio-political change, including monarchic reform.

Both have been arrested and indicted on charges including lese-majesty for participating in a protest on 19-20 September 2020 at Sanam Luang, with Ms. Panusaya also being detained over a 20 December 2020 protest at Siam Paragon that Mr. Parit also attended. For breaching bail conditions prohibiting them from exercising fundamental freedoms, they were detained and remanded in custody while their trials are ongoing. This is scheduled to be until at least December 2022. Taking into account past periods of detention, Mr. Parit has now been detained for 219 days overall and Ms. Panusaya for 81 days.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s human rights activities are situated within a broader movement of mass civilian protests. The Thai authorities have responded by shrinking the space for fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly (including by using Covid-19 as a pretext), which many States remarked upon at Thailand’s recent Universal Periodic Review.

Human rights defenders who peacefully call for socio-political change are also being judicially harassed through strategic lawsuits against public participation initiated by public and private actors. Mr. Parit faces 43 trials and up to 300 years’ imprisonment and Ms. Panusaya faces 25 trials and up to 135 years’ imprisonment (for lese-majesty alone). Moreover, following a 10 November 2021 Constitutional Council decision, future attempts by Mr. Parit or Ms. Panusaya to exercise fundamental freedoms may be met with charges such as attempted insurrection, which is a capital offence. Therefore, Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya could face the death penalty over their human rights work and a real possibility of actual execution.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s arrest and detention are arbitrary as they result from lawful exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly and association, and public participation (category II arbitrary detention). Their detention is also arbitrary due to partial non-observance of their right to a fair trial, including violations of the principle of legality, presumption of innocence, right to confidential communications with counsel, and right to adequate time to prepare a defence (category III arbitrary detention). Moreover, their arrest and detention are arbitrary as they represent discrimination based on their political opinions and status as human rights defenders advocating views deemed offensive by the authorities, for which they have been discriminatorily persecuted (category V arbitrary detention).

Finally, there are three unique circumstances warranting your intervention in this case as an urgent action. First, Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya may be imminently charged with capital offences, for which they could be expeditiously tried and even executed, posing a serious danger to their lives and representing an irreversible and egregiously unjust outcome. Second, their physical integrity is in danger due to detention conditions which expose them to the risk of contracting Covid-19 (which both have contracted in prison previously) and to attacks, surveillance, and harassment. Third, the apparently State-sponsored campaign of judicial harassment against them and prospect of interminable litigation and constant uncertainty over one’s fate also creates a significant threat to their psychological integrity amounting to inhumane treatment.

For the above reasons, Destination Justice calls on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, together with other relevant UN special procedures, to, among other things, declare Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s detention arbitrary and ask the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them.

Update: Panusaya has been granted bail. On 30 November 2021, “the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 19 – 20 September 2020 protest and the 2 December 2020 protest at the Lat Phrao Intersection.” During her bail hearing, “Panusaya told the court that she is still enrolled at the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, and is required to complete class projects and take her final examinations between 2 – 17 December 2021. She also said that in the next semester, she will have to complete an independent research project in order to graduate…”. She had been held for 17 days.

The Criminal Court granted bail on strict conditions and for a limited period:

… on the grounds that her education has been damaged by her detention, and set the conditions that she must not leave her residence without court permission unless for a medical emergency, to go to classes or take exams, or to contact the courts.

She is also prohibited from participating in activities that are damaging to the monarchy or cause public disorder and from leaving the country. She must also wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

The Criminal Court’s temporary release order is also only valid until 12 January, coinciding with the final exam period at Thammasat University.

This was a coordinated effort by several courts:

Today (1 December), the South Bangkok Criminal Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 20 December 2020 crop top protest at Siam Paragon, while the Ayutthaya Provincial Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 21 August 2020 protest in Ayutthaya. Both courts also set her the same conditions as the Criminal Court.

Five other activists remain in the regime’s dungeons, denied bail.





Squeezing media freedom

1 12 2021

Hathai Techakitteranun is Thai PBS World’s deputy editor and has an op-ed on alarming media censorship that’s worth reading.

In a region where media freedom is reducing, RSF said this in its 2021 report:

At least 10 other countries – all marked red or black on the World Press Freedom map, meaning their press freedom situation is classified as bad or very bad – used the pandemic to reinforce obstacles to the free flow of information. Thailand (up 3 at 137th), Philippines (down 2 at 138th), Indonesia (up 6 at 113th) and Cambodia (144th) adopted extremely draconian laws or decrees in the spring of 2020 criminalising any criticism of the government’s actions and, in some cases, making the publication or broadcasting of “false” information punishable by several years in prison.

We find it remarkable that Thailand is “up,” but this may reflect the rapid decline in media freedom elsewhere. Thailand’s “score” places it with a pack of authoritarian states and a couple of monarchies.

As the global sink into authoritarianism rumbles on, Thailand too is getting worse.

Hathai Techakitteranun is Thai PBS World’s deputy editor and has an op-ed on alarming media censorship that’s worth reading. Here’s some clips from the article:

For viewers of foreign media, available through Thai cable TV packages, it has become the norm to see unscheduled messages filling the screen and blocking content for several minutes, a tool used to censor content which may be deemed to be touching upon the highly sensitive [to the regime, monarchy and palace] topic of the monarchy or to be unfavourable to the Thai government.

For most local media, such crude methods are not needed, as they have already opted to self-censor….

… Thailand’s telecom and broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), already provided a solution last week, by simply “asking” broadcasters to refrain from reporting on the monarchy reform movement and their demands and to refrain from interviewing people on the subject, citing how the act of reporting in and of itself can be interpreted as an attempt to overthrow the country’s constitutional monarchy.

… [M]any foreign journalists based in Thailand have been wording things differently, so that they can remain in the country, but without the freedoms which international media without personnel here still enjoy.

To not report on one of the most significant issues this country has ever faced is simply turning a blind eye to a huge social development, which is currently sharply dividing the country….

A free press, which is essential in any democratic society, means a free society. A press living in fear means a society living in fear. Media freedom is not just about the media. It affects the freedom of speech and the rights to information of all of us.

It is obvious, however, that Thailand is not a democratic society. And, it is clear that the regime is not interested in a free press.





Anti-human rights group rallies for regime II

30 11 2021

Another flock of about 40-50 ultra-monarchists and regime puppets, arranged by the regime, “rallied” on Tuesday, calling for the military-backed regime to expel Amnesty International from the country, grumbling in terms that draw on Land Destroyer-New Atlas conspiracy theories. They believe – or so they say – that Amnesty seeking to bring down the regime and its German-based monarch. Of course, this is nothing more than a reflection of the regime’s own desires and efforts.

Displaying placards of the of toxic turncoat Suporn Atthawong, now known as Seksakol, an assistant minister in the Prime Minister’s Office alongside a Chinese dragon, the “protesters,” mostly from a pro-Prayuth Chan-ocha group, seemed more intent on showing that “there are working people in their 30s who are not supporters of the anti-establishment movement….” than in ousting Amnesty.

Clipped from Thai PBS

More broadly, these royalist conspiracy conspiracists “claim that organizations like Amnesty are looking to destabilize the country. They say that the group has political objectives, such as advocating for the amendment of the constitution that could lead to the overthrowing of the constitutional monarchy system or the amendment of the lese-majeste law.”

The usual gaggle of regime supporters and propagandists are getting behind Gen Prayuth’s order for Amnesty to be “investigated.”

The junta’s senator Somchai Sawaengkarn “told reporters on Friday that he agreed with Prayut’s instruction.” Of course he does; he’s a consumer of mad monarchist conspiracies that go back to the fictional Finland Plot. He gets quite agitated: “there are questions whether Amnesty International Thailand has been guiding protests and providing financial support for violent protests in Thailand…”. This is utter nonsense, but that has never bothered Somchai. He added that “the Anti-Money Laundering Office should also investigate other organizations to find out if any of them have been operating beyond their scope of duties or interfering with the country’s affairs.”

You get the picture. This is a Constitutional Court-emboldened effort to further autocratize and monarchize Thailand.

Somchai is joined by another military-aligned propagandist Panitan Wattanayagorn. He’s said to be “a lecturer in political science at Chulalongkorn University,” when he’s really an adviser to the regime and, in PPT’s view, not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. He also claimed that “some” rights organizations “have interfered in politics…”.

You can see where this is going. As a regime mouthpiece, he’s warning all human rights defenders that they cannot accurately report on the regime and its many human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, police spokesperson Pol Col Kissana Phatthanacharoen has said that Gen Prayuth “has ordered the Ministry of Interior and the Royal Thai Police (RTP) to look into the matter…. The RTP is now investigating whether the non-government organisation had committed any offences in a way that could affect national security and the monarchy…”.

Next the regime will target (more) foreigners, and those “associated” with “foreigners,” and who speak out on these matters, including journalists. The regime is seeking to tame and “retrain” them in how to (not) report (on regime and monarchy).





Parliamentarians at Risk 2021

29 11 2021

The following is reproduced from APHR:

Parliamentarians at Risk 2021 – Report Launch
Thursday 2 December, 3pm Bangkok time (GMT +7) 
Dear Members of the Press,

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) will host an online press conference at 3pm Bangkok time on Thursday 2 December, for the launch of our new report, Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against oppositions MPs in Southeast Asia in 2021. The report builds on the 2020 version of the report, documenting the increased threats faced by MPs in the region in the past year.

The last year has seen a dramatic rise in the number of MPs detained across Southeast Asia, from just one in 2020 to 91 in 2021, largely due to developments in Myanmar, where the military seized power in a coup in February. Scores of other MPs in Myanmar have been driven into hiding where they remain at risk of arrest.

Governments also used responses to COVID-19 to unjustifiably silence democratic debate, including by bringing politically-motivated cases against critics and lawmakers who expressed dissenting views.

Judicial harassment against MPs continued in countries like Thailand and the Philippines, and escalated substantially in Malaysia, while online abuse and harassment of MPs continued at an alarming rate throughout the region, often through coordinated disinformation campaigns. In the Philippines, such abuse spiked ahead of the upcoming elections in 2022.

Speakers at the Press Conference will include Teddy Baguilat Jr, an APHR Board Member, and former Philippines MP, Rangsiman Rome, a Thai MP and APHR Member, as well as an MP from Myanmar. At the event, a statement will also be read out from Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, an APHR Member, who has been arbitrarily detained for almost five years. The event will be followed by a Question and Answer session.

Please register at the link below, or email info@aseanmp.org for more information.

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_V21ez4aVT0OQPbCPIY5jSQ





Censorship unites mad monarchists and ultra-nationalists

28 11 2021

PPT has mentioned several times that we were sure that self-censorship and regime censorship was increasing simply because so many lese majeste cases were not making it into the mainstream media.

That perception has been confirmed in reports that the supplicant National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission “has warned the media against reporting on calls for monarchy reform…”.

NBTC commissioner Lt Gen Perapong Manakit reportedly “said during a meeting with representatives of various media outlets that they should not broadcast the 10-point demand for monarchy reform put forward by the activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration at a protest on 10 August 2020, after the Constitutional Court ruled on 10 November…”. Since then, the NBTC rules have circulated.

The general affirmed that reporting on calls monarchy reform “could be repeating the offense.” He stated that “reporters should not interview protest leaders, protesters, or those who agreed with the demands, but may report on the events that happen.” He warned that there should be no “long live broadcasts of protests to prevent the re-broadcast of speeches made during protests and calls for people to join the movement.”

The NBTC has also told the media that they should “avoid inviting guests for talk show interviews about the demands, especially inviting representatives of both sides in to give their opinion on air.”

These kinds of censorship and threats to reporters and media outlets egg on ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists. Not that long ago, the Bangkok Post reported that Sonthiya Sawasdee, a former adviser to the House committee on law, justice and human rights has made a police complaint “against Miss Universe Thailand Anchilee Scott-Kemmis for standing on what looks like a Thai flag in a picture featured on the pageant organiser’s website.”

Sonthiya has “accused Anchilee of breaching the 1979 Flag Act and the PM’s Office announcement banning the use of national flags for commercial purposes.”

The picture “was released online in a promotional campaign before Anchilee competes in the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel on Dec 12.”

Photo from Thai Enquirer

Sonthiya wants to stop Anchilee from setting “a bad example for young people, as has a large following on social media.” She’s seen as too close to reformists and democracy activists.

Thai PBS added that Anchilee was “carrying a Thai flag pole on her shoulder and standing on a Thai flag motif carpet.” The outlet seems as dull as the rightists attacking her, confusing a constructed image as including a “carpet.” But, we are talking about stupid nationalism/royalism. Many of them “took her standing on the Thai flag carpet, particularly on the blue bar, which signifies the monarchy, … and pointed out that she was showing aggression toward the revered institution.”

From a Facebook post

Clearly, fake news, but the regime’s fake news is okay. For example, royal news is often faked. Most recently, the Bangkok Post announced that a “research team led by … Princess Chulabhorn … has demonstrated two methods for synthesising molnupiravir for emergency use on Covid-19 patients…”. Given her longstanding and debilitating illnesses, we doubt she leads anything. This is simply royal posterior polishing as established in the previous reign.

While on Chulabhorn, several years ago, when she supported anti-democrats then calling for a coup, she used the Thai flag on a dog’s foot.

And, we can only wonder about all of those shoes sold with the Thai flag emblazoned on them.

In other words, the usual double standards of “good” people versus “bad” people is at work. The “good”can do what they like and will be praised even when they do nothing. Critics, especially those wanting a democratic Thailand, are censored. The media is threatened – censor the other side or else!

 





State-sponsored attackers

28 11 2021

Prachatai reports that “[s]everal pro-democracy activists and academics have reported receiving an email from Apple warning them that ‘state-sponsored attackers’ are [or may be] targeting their devices.”

The activists have “received an email from Apple saying that it believes that he is being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are ‘trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with [his] Apple ID’ and that, if the device is compromised, these attackers may have access to ‘sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone’.”

Most of those who received the message are anti-regime activists but also included were several academics, including Puangthong Pawakapan, a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Prajak Kongkirati, a lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University, and independent researcher Sarinee Achavanuntakul.

Worryingly, those targeted included Yingcheep Atchanont from the legal monitor group, iLaw. It seems clear that the regime is now angling to destroy or limit one of the few groups monitoring the regime’s lawfare.

The spyware used is probably Pegasus, made by the Israeli NSO Group and mostly used by governments, armed forces, and intelligence agencies. Last week, Apple issued a press release “stating that it has filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group and its parent company ‘to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users’ and is seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple products.” The press release also stated “that Apple is notifying the targeted users and that it will continue to do so whenever it discovers activities likely to be state-sponsored attacks.” Apple had also updated its operating system to limit these attacks.

Thai Enquirer reports that opposition parties, including Puea Thai and Move Forward had made the reasonable accusation that the regime is “behind the latest wave of cyber-attacks targeting activists and critics.”

The regime confirmed this by declaring “that there is no evidence to back their allegations.” It doubled down on this confirmation through a blatant lie, with a spokesperson declaring: ““We insist this is untrue, the government respects individual liberties…”. Everyone knows this is buffalo poo.

Move Forward logically concluded that it is “the military’s secret budget [that] was used to fund such attacks.”

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that Dechathorn “Hockhacker” Bamrungmuang, from Rap Against Dictatorship, “vowed not to be silenced … after he and at least five other government critics received messages from Apple warning that state-sponsored hackers could be targeting their phones.”

Ominously, he added: “I think the state won’t stop at this.”





Anti-human rights group rallies for regime I

27 11 2021

A flock of “protesters” claimed to be ultra-monarchists and ultra-nationalists, and arranged by the regime, “rallied” at Government House on Thursday, bleating that “the government expel Amnesty International (AI) from the country for allegedly interfering in internal affairs.”

The Centre of the People for the Protection of Monarchy is led by Jakkapong Klinkaew,who gets wheeled out at critical times to promote the regime’s political interests. This has included calls for lese majeste charges (the regime was pleased to oblige, again and again) and for bail to be revoked for young activists accused of lese majeste (and, again, the regime has complied).

Less successful due to the conflicting message it sent was the group’s earlier call for Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit to be sent packing from Thailand. The group’s racist taunts “questioned his loyalty to Thailand by pointing out his ethnic Chinese ancestry.” As news reports explained, this was ironic as “many of the ultraroyalists in Thailand who are opposed to any democratic reforms are themselves of ethnic Chinese heritage.” So are the most significant supporters of the regime, from the tycoons to the palace.

In the latest “rally,” the “protesters” were welcomed into Government House and “submitted a letter, addressed to Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha, demanding that authorities investigate the role and activities of AI’s Thailand office, to determine whether they amount to a threat against national security and the monarchy.” This followed the work of toxic turncoat Suporn Atthawong, now known as Seksakol, an assistant minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The group – and the regime – are irked by campaigning that urges fair, constitutional, and legal treatment for political detainees. It claims that AI has undermined national security – code for undermining the monarchy.

While it remains unclear whether these buffoons can distinguish between AI internationally and locally, they have “claimed that AI’s conduct could be seen as pulling the strings of anti-establishment groups in Thailand, to undermine the Thai monarchy.”

AI Thailand has “issued a statement refuting all allegations. It claimed that AI is a movement of about 10 million ordinary people across the world which is dedicated to the protection of human rights, social equality and fairness for all and it is free from political affiliations.” It is supported by donations. It stated that AI “will continue to perform its duties to protect human rights for people whose rights are being breached ‘because we firmly believe that every man is born equal and should not be oppressed…’.” AI has been officially registered in Thailand since 2003.

Again, the regime has accepted the ultra-royalist (self)coaching and Gen Prayuth “has ordered a probe into Amnesty International Thailand to determine if the human rights watchdog is operating in compliance with Thai law.” If it has violated the “law,” the 2014 coup leader said “it will be banned.”

The general added that “he does not want anyone or any group to speak ill about the country.” He means the regime. He added that “the government is seeking to make sure that NGOs act in a transparent way.” This is code for closing down NGOs, a path taken by several other authoritarian regimes. The irony is that the regime itself lacks any transparency.

Lapdog foreign minister Don Pramudwinai, who prefers dealing with dictators at home and abroad, pointed to “good and bad NGOs…”, providing direction for those clamoring for an even greater unfreedom in Thailand.








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