Updated: More on the “assassination plot”

26 11 2015

We get the impression that the military dictatorship remains confused and anxious. The story on the “assassination” plot is changing by the minute.

Yesterday the “authorities” claimed that they had foiled a royal assassination plot and arrested three men. Today, according to Khaosod, a police general says “he was no longer sure about their [the “plotters”] objective.” And, there’s only two in custody and another seven being “hunted.” It turns out that these two have been in military custody for a week.

Confused? You bet!

More significantly, The Dictator, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and his police say red shirt activists are behind what is now described as “a disrupted terror plot.”

They appear to be making political capital from the tragic events in Paris and hoping that by calling the so-called plot an act of “terrorism,” the rest of the world may believe them.

Bizarrely, the “authorities” are also claiming that the “red shirt cell” is one they said they destroyed last year when they arrested two dozen persons who have still not been brought to trial after 17 months.

Deputy police chief Sriwarah Rangsipramkul said the military detained “two Redshirt supporters” for “an unspecified conspiracy to cause ‘unrest,’ possibly by assassinating junta chairman Prayuth.

Confused? You bet! It gets worse:

“They have targets, but we cannot confirm what those targets are,” Sriwarah said. However, he believes the group could have been thinking about seizing army barracks in the northeast as a starting point to unleash their alleged campaign of terror.

Confused? You bet!

Red shirt leaders say the alleged plot is “a work of fiction” meant to “distract the public from ongoing embarrassment over alleged corruption in the army’s Rajabhakti Park…”. Weng Tojirakarn said the story was a “farce.” Worachai Hema said it was “absurd.”

Just to make the whole thing more theatrical, The Dictator “told reporters today he’s undeterred by the alleged threat and will continue visiting northeastern provinces for government affairs.” He puffed out his chest and declared: “I can visit any area. I’m already risking my life these days anyway. I’m not afraid. Don’t you think I’m not risking my life now?”

Confused? Maybe not. Prayuth gets to show he is a tough guy and the Army has interference running for it.

Update: A Bangkok Post report updates the confusion. It continues to report that the arrested men have been “charged with violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, and the Computer Act.”

Pol Maj Gen Chayapol Chatchaidej “said that apart from Pol Sgt Maj Prathin and Mr Nathapol, there were seven other people involved in a plot to stage terrorist attacks and capture military and police camps as well as government installations in many northeastern provinces.” Many? Really?

Of course, the “two had confessed to the crime…”.

The seven others in the “team” are listed as: Phitsanu Promsorn, 58, Wallop Boonchan, 33, Chatchai Sriwongsa, 24, Meechai Muangmontree, 49, Thanakrit Thongngernperm, 49, Veerachai Chaboonmee, 33, and Pahiran Kongkham, 44.

Promoting the junta’s “democracy”

26 11 2015

PPT missed this “story” and a regular reader brought it to our attention. While a short report, it deserves consideration as reflective of the huge propaganda effort being undertaken to ensure that only “good” and “moral” people – the junta’s people – are elected whenever the dictatorship feels safe enough to have an election.

The quite ludicrous Election Commission (EC), which failed to effectively manage elections in 2014 and opposed them, “is seeking the help of the Interior Ministry to promote democracy in various provinces and stamp out the illegal practice of vote buying.”

Now vote-buying was not a huge problem in most of the elections in the 2000s. When it was, it was most usually perpetrated by pro-military and anti-democracy parties. In most elections, pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties simply didn’t need to do much vote-buying as they were elected because they were popular.

Vote buying was more likely under the old, pre-1997 election system that demanded coalition governments. The system was preferred by the royalist ruling class.

The EC Secretary-General Puchong Nutrawong is seeking help from Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda, who has participated as a senior general in two military coups.

The Ministry of Interior itself has always been suspicious of parliamentary democracy.

None the less, the EC met with these anti-democrats to “discuss ways to support democracy, stamp out vote buying, and set up a public referendum.”

How will they do this? The answer is that these dolts simply do what they’ve done in the past: propaganda, indoctrination and repression. The EC has:

asked the Interior Ministry to assist by increasing the number of personnel responsible for promoting democracy in the villages, adding that the individual who is responsible for promoting democracy and election should come from the district’s center. The move is aimed at creating good democratic citizens in each village.

In addition, the EC is also asking district sheriffs [kamnan] to facilitate the effort, by setting up monthly meetings with local authorities and organize activities for villagers to inform them of related information.

Villagers have moved on from this nonsense, yet the ministries, military, royalists and other conservative anti-democrats live in a previous century.

Lese majeste, the junta and the US

26 11 2015

US Ambassador Glyn Davies is still relatively new in Thailand and on Wednesday gave his first talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand.

The military dictatorship and rabid royalists will be unhappy. Expect to see the madder ones protest because Davies expressed concern about “the lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences handed down by Thai military courts against civilians for violating the lese majeste law…”.

He added that “[n]o one should be jailed for peacefully expressing their opinion…”.

Of course, Davies also went the royal ritual route and “stressed the deep respect and admiration the US held for the monarch.” PPT is not sure who he means, but we guess this remains the State Department line.

Davies stated: “We believe no one should be jailed for peacefully expressing their views and we strongly support the ability of individuals and independent organisations to research and to report on important issues without fear of retaliation…”.

Concern is not a huge deal; after all, a U.N. spokesperson recently said it was “appalled” by the huge sentences being handed out for lese majeste.

Davies also “reiterated the US call for a return to democracy in Thailand,” but left that up to “Thais” to sort out.

Military and royalist dolts will respond angrily and talk about interference in domestic affairs and “Thai culture” being “different” and justifying military dictatorship and feudal laws.

1984 is Thailand now

25 11 2015

Life under the military dictatorship is depressing and repressing. It is a life in a dystopia where boundaries, especially political boundaries, are difficult to discern. Even so, some brave activists challenge the regime.

As protesters showed soon after the coup, the military dictatorship is not unlike George Orwell’s 1984. In 1984, existence is in a world of perpetual internal war against those identified as opponents, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation, dictated by a political system euphemistically claimed to be creating “happiness.” The junta rules and controls for a privileged elite that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrime.”

This is well illustrated in a Prachatai report on “[e]mbattled lecturers charged by the military for violating the junta’s political gathering…”.

On Tuesday, “six lecturers charged with the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Order No. 3/2015, a ban on political gathering of five or more persons, reported to Chang Puak Police Station of the northern province of Chiang Mai after summon letters were issued for them last week.”

The lecturers are Chiang Mai University’s Attachak Sattayanurak and Somchai Preechasilapagun, Charoon Yuthong and Nattapong Jitnirat, from Thaksin University in Songkhla, Mana Nakum from Khon Kaen University and Booncherd Nu-im of Burapha University in Cholburi.

It is reported that “military officers in plainclothes were seen video-recording the briefing by the academics after the interrogation and people who came to support them…”.

All of them denied the charges and they were not detained. Where 1984 comes in is in the charges.Attachak “explains”:

The police informed us that they received complaints from the military and they have to proceed. They [the military] felt that we broke some sort of an agreement on what not to say, which we never agreed upon. We confirm that what we did is legal and that different ideas are crucial for the Thai society under the reconciliation and reform process….

An “agreement” involves two parties, but not in the junta’s blurry, surreal and scary Thailand.

The junta was apparently upset that the lecturers “participated in a briefing to read out the statement titled ‘universities are not military barracks’ to call for academic freedom on 31 October 2015.”

If they were to be found guilty, the academics “could be jailed for up to one year and fined up to 20,000 baht.”

The Dictator has made threats:

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and prime minister, said “There activities, if they are not afraid of the law, it’s up to them. If people follow these activities, they will be in trouble. Well, it’s up to them. Some might find guns or bombs to attack them. It’s up to them, but I won’t do that of course.”

Threats, arrests and corruption mark the rule of soldiers for the royalist elite.

Updated: Royal assassination plot alleged

25 11 2015

PPT is becoming more and more bemused by the goings on related to lese majeste and the military junta. The latest story is among the most bizarre. So bizarre that we reproduce it in full from The Nation:

Three men, including a former Border Patrol policeman, have been arrested in connection with an alleged plot targeting government figures during a big national event next month, the national police chief said Wednesday.

Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said police intelligence had learned that the trio may have been plotting to create unrest and allegedly planning an attack during the “Bike for Dad” event on December 11.

The suspects were identified as Pol Sgt-Major Prathin Chanket, who was formerly with the Border Patrol Police, Pissanu Phromsorn and Nattaphol Nawanlay. They were initially accused of violating Article 112 of the Penal Code involving lese majeste and the Computer Crime Act.

Chakthip said yesterday that police had monitored the suspects’ activities and movements for a while before their arrests were made.

“This group was targeting Bangkok and intelligence reports show they were aiming at important persons in the government. It could have been sabotage with the use of explosives,” the police chief said.

“But we still don’t know if this group has any political connections,” he said, adding that police investigators have not ruled out political motivation.

Chakthip said police have evidence against the suspects, including records of their communication through social-media applications.

“The military court approved the arrest warrants because police could prove that they were planning to carry out an attack in Bangkok,” the police chief said.

Police are checking to see if those suspects had anything to do with bomb attacks in Bangkok in the past, Chakthip said.

“Police believe this movement involves more than three people and they have a mastermind,” he added.

Before his arrest, former policeman Prathin worked as a security guard at the Bank of Thailand’s Khon Kaen office. He was arrested at his home in the Northeast province and later brought to Bangkok for questioning.

We assume that a claim will be made that the arrested men are or were red shirts. Whatever the claims that will be made and the veracity of the “plot,”, it seems that Thailand’s ruling elite and the military junta is being torn apart by something to do with succession and Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

Update 1: Khaosod reports on this alleged “plot” and does not mention lese majeste. In this report there are claims regarding “[r]umors of a plot to assassinate junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha [that] began circulating on Monday.”

Already a finger has been pointed at red shirts and a broader “plot” to create “unrest” in the northeast. The report names three “suspects”: Police Sergeant Prathin Chanket, Pitsanu Promsorn and Nattapol Nawanle. Social media rumors are of a junta effort to create a diversion from its own corruption issues and “investigations.”

The Bangkok Post reports that a “search” is on for “the mastermind of a group suspected of plotting unrest and possibly attacking key figures during festive events in Bangkok and the provinces.” This report does mention lese majeste charges against the three arrested men.

Updated: More princely lese majeste charges planned

25 11 2015

As the last survivor of the cohort of three arrested on or about 16 October 2015, so-called lese majeste suspect Jirawong Watthanathewasilp was again taken to the Military Court in Bangkok on Wednesday, and his detention at a prison inside a military base “was extended for the fourth time.” He is now detained until 7 December.Jirawong

The Post reports that “Jirawong  was escorted to the court by warders and soldiers. He appeared stressed and kept his head bent down as he entered the premises.”

Those arrested with him, Suriyan Sujaritpolwong, or Mor Yong, a fortune teller and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha have both died in mysterious circumstances in custody. All three men were previously associated with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and seem to have fallen out with him or, depending on the rumor you hear, were separated from the prince’s entourage by those trying to neutralize or control the prince.prince and suthida

Meanwhile, it seems that these three cases are soon to be joined by several others.

Police now say that the Suriyan and associates case they are “investigating” is “wide-ranging.” In fact, all of this stuff is essentially concocted out of the “normal” things that people associated with the monarchy do. But someone higher up wants to have this done.

Police claim that they have now “sought warrants for several police and military officers…”.

The warrants are for the “arrest of Pol Col Pairote Rojkachorn, former chief of the 2nd sub-division of the Crime Suppression Division, Pol Lt Col Thammawat Hiranyalekha, former deputy chief of the CSD’s 2nd sub-division, and several other [unnamed] police and military officers and civilians.”

A police general stated that “they had committed lese majeste on different occasions in connection with one another.”Saturno devorando a su hijo

The courts are likely to quickly approve the warrants. Apparently, “[p]olice had been sent to keep the suspects under watch.  They would arrest them once the courts approved the warrants…”.

The general also stated:

It was not yet known whether three other police officers — an officer holding the rank of police general, an officer with the rank of police lieutenant general who was transferred to the Royal Thai Police’s operations centre yesterday, and Pol Maj Gen Akradej Pimolsri, chief of the Crime Suppression Division — would also be arrested for lese majeste charges….

It seems there are now 17 linked lese majeste cases.

Update: Khaosod names a third suspect and provides further details. The army officer involved is Maj. Gen. Suchart Prommai. It adds:

Suchart served as a senior adviser to the Royal Thai Army and personal aide to its former chief, Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr, who retired from the post in October. Pairoj and Thammawat are former officers from the Crime Suppression Division.

Udomdej’s days must be numbered. As we said previously, he’s likely to abscond now that the lese majeste and corruption dragnets involve him.

Khaosod includes this disclaimer:

Like other lese majeste cases and issues involving the monarchy, the ongoing investigation into the three suspects has been conducted in secret. Media agencies have been told by authorities not to report anything other than official statements and authorized disclosures.

UN Human Rights Office and military detention of civilians

25 11 2015

The following from the UN Human Rights Office:

UN Human Rights Office calls for Thailand to stop civilian detentions in military barracks

(24 November 2015) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) calls for the immediate closure of a Bangkok military detention facility where two inmates died over the past month, and urges the Thai Government to include independent experts to join an investigation into the cases. UNHR

OHCHR also calls on the Government to stop using military facilities to hold civilian detainees.

On 11 September, the Ministry of Justice issued an order designating the 11th Military Circle as a temporary remand centre to hold individuals on charges related to national security and other special cases

Two people accused of being involved in the deadly Bangkok bombing of 17 August 2015 and three others arrested on fraud and lèse-majesté charges were sent to the facility. Thai authorities said that Pol. Maj. Prakom Warunprapha, one of the lèse-majesté detainees, died at the facility on 23 October after he was found hanging by a shirt in his cell. On 7 November, Mr. Suriyan Sucharitpolwong, another lèse-majesté detainee, was found dead in his cell. Authorities said he died from blood poisoning.

The UN Human Rights Office has asked the Thai Government to conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial inquiry into the two deaths in custody. Matilda Bogner, OHCHR’s regional representative, said an independent and impartial investigation would clarify the circumstances of the deaths, ensure accountability and help prevent further similar incidents. She added, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand should help with any investigation. Bogner also stressed that the results of the inquiry should be made public.

“The use of a military barracks as a detention facility is prone to human rights violations, including torture,” said Bogner.

In October 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment sent a joint letter to the Government concerning allegations of torture and inhuman treatment of five individuals by military officers. In the letter, the UN experts wrote they were concerned by reports that the detainees, who were being held in military facilities in and around Bangkok, were subjected to physical abuse, threats of execution, electrocution and solitary confinement.

Referring to the military detention of civilians, Bogner said it appeared that at least some of the military officers were not suitably trained to run such a detention facility, and that the rights of the detainees had not been fully met. “It was reported that a lawyer representing one of the suspects in the Bangkok bombing case was not allowed to meet with his client in a confidential manner, and that he had his questions screened beforehand,” she said. “ International Law guarantees due process rights for detainees, including prompt, confidential and regular access to lawyers. Breaches of due process rights leads to an environment of increased risk to the safety of detainees.”


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The Regional Office of South-East Asia in Bangkok represents the High Commissioner for Human Rights within South-East Asia. The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal human rights official of the United Nations and heads the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which spearheads the United Nations’ Human Rights efforts.

OHCHR website: http://www.ohchr.org

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