Release Pai IV

20 01 2017

According to the Bangkok Post, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) wrote to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on 6 January over the arrest of Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (Pai) on 2 December 2016 and the subsequent revocation of his bail on 22 December 2016.

The OHCHR has replied, explaining that it had followed Pai’s case and had “sent a letter to the permanent secretary of justice, Royal Thai Police, Foreign Ministry and the Khon Kaen Provincial Court” about the case. That letter:un-letter

expressed concern over the prosecution of Mr Jatupat on a lese majeste offence for exercising his right to freedom of expression and opinion, the military’s role in the investigation of the case and the revocation of his bail based on his comments against the government.

Further, the OHCHR urged “the government [ie. the junta] to review cases, including Jatupat’s, in which suspects have been charged under Section 112 of the Criminal Code known as the lese majeste law.”

The Geneva-based Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders also sent a statement of concern to the junta thugs Thai authorities over Pai’s detention. It stated:

The Observatory noted that, to date, Mr Jatupat is the only individual who has been arrested and charged among the approximately 3,000 web users who shared the BBC profile of the King on Facebook. It is believed the charges against him are aimed at sanctioning [punishing] his legitimate human rights activities.

Readers will have also noticed that about 50 activists rallied in support of Pai in Bangkok, while another 40, including Sulak Sivaraksa, have visited him in his Khon Kaen jail.

None of this matters much to the military thugs. Today, Pai was again refused bail. The hearing on his bail application was held in secret.

It is reported that “[w]hen the court informed the activist that the hearing would be held in secret, Jatuphat objected to the court procedures, adding he does not need a lawyer and will not sign any documents.”

Pai has now been refused bail five times.





Junta paedofascists

19 01 2017

The military junta repeatedly shows how some foreign commentators get under its collective skin – make that scales.

Some time ago we posted on a junta-initiated raid on the home of the parents of Noppawan Bunluesilp, the wife of former Reuters reporter Andrew MacGregor Marshall, author of a banned book critical of the monarchy and allegedly “wanted” for lese majeste.

One of the junta’s tactics like those used by many fascist and repressive regimes – is to get at critics by harassing their families. The troglodytes in the junta believe that they can silence Marshall by threatening his family.

Yesterday the junta thugs were at it again. Prachatai reports that at “3 pm on 18 January 2017, Ruedeewan Lahthip, the mother-in-law of … Marshall … told BBC Thai that two policewomen in plainclothes visited her house to look for her daughter, Noppawan…. [T]he policewoman told Ruedeewan that their superior would like Marshall not to post information deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy online again.”

The threat was clear: “[P]lease tell Andrew that [if he likes or does not like certain things] he should keep this to himself and not post [certain] images, so his child can come back to Thailand with no worries…”.

That’s the junta’s police threatening a toddler. What do you call a regime that does that? Paedofascists?

On Facebook, Marshall responded:

I’m terribly sad and angry to hear from Ploy, the mother of my son Charlie, that three plainclothes Thai police arrived at her family’s house in Bangkok again today to make threats to them as result of my journalism about Thailand.

They harassed and threatened Charlie’s grandmother, who was there alone at the time.

This follows a previous incident back in July when more than 20 police raided their house and took Ploy away for five hours of questioning.

Let me explain this to the Thai junta and palace one more time: if you have a problem with my journalism, deal with it with me. Stop harassing Ploy and her family just because we were married and she is the mother of my son. Ploy and her family have their own views and have nothing to do with my work and my journalism.

What kind of sick regime treats its own citizens like this? As is widely known, the junta’s behaviour already helped undermine our marriage, and I am truly disgusted that Thailand’s soldiers and police have nothing better to do than harass this innocent family. Shame on you.

Agreed, the paedofascists should be ashamed. But they won’t be as this tactic is standard procedure, along with corruption, torture and murder.

 





Monarchy, judges and prosecutors

19 01 2017

Dead kings, live ones, the princeling judges of the courts of law and now prosecutors are protected from all kinds of “threats,” implied, imagined and real.

Thailand’s process of judicialization has gone a long way under various royalist regimes and their constitutions since 2006. Judges and prosecutors are untouchable.

To emphasize how far this process has gone, crippling any notion of rule of law, a report in the Bangkok Post will appear ludicrous to most readers.

It seems that the seemingly august  prosecutors in the case at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions hearing the political case against Yingluck Shinawatra are easily frightened.

On “Oct 7, 2016 around noon,” two court spectators were considered to be “staring at prosecutors in an intimidating manner.”no-justice

Intimidation through staring. There’s a cultural aspect to this but presumably prosecutors are used to dealing with criminals like rapists, murderers, drug dealers, torturers and even hi-so types with excellent connections. But staring bothers and frightens them. Perhaps they feel closer to the criminal types.

The persecuted prosecutors “filed a petition with the court on Nov 18, accusing the two spectators of contempt of court.” The courts swung into action to investigate the “starers” protect the “stare-ees” and a panel of three very senior judges gave their presumably valuable time to this nonsense important “case.”

The Post reports that on “Jan 17, a panel of three judges led by Wiroon Saengthian, deputy president of the Supreme Court, summoned the two for questioning.” The starers admitted they had stared and were fined 500 baht each.

Thailand’s farcical judicial system just got a lot more ridiculous as it seeks to protect the status quo of the ever more hierarchical society.





More power to the king

19 01 2017

Reuters recently had a story about unconstitutional constitutional amendment made “constitutional.”

Oddly, the report makes the claim that the amendments demanded by King Vajiralongkorn were “requested.” Even more oddly, the authors of the report mistakenly believe that the draft constitution is “military-backed.” In truth, it is the military’s constitution. While it is true that this charter “is a vital part of the ruling junta’s plans to hold a general election” but it seems they are wrong in assuming that that sham election will be held “at the end of this year.” No one thinks that likely (not even the rest of the report).

The most bizarre notion in the report is that the “election” will “return Thailand to democratic rule following a 2014 coup.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The junta is determined to ensure that electoral democracy does not return and that it and future military leader retain control of the state.

The report states that this royal “intervention is rare for a sitting Thai monarch, who are granted limited formal powers but wield significant political influence.” Perhaps the Reuters writers need to read The King Never Smiles, even if it is banned in royalist Thailand.

The Economist is much better on what is actually going on.

It begins by noting that the “ruling junta … has been cooking up a constitution which it hopes will keep military men in control even after elections take place.” It notes that the charter went to a “referendum made farcical by a law which forbade campaigners from criticising the text.”

The report explains the changes demanded by the king:

The generals say the palace has asked them to amend a rule which requires the monarch to nominate a regent when he leaves the kingdom (probably because King Vajiralongkorn plans to spend much of the year reigning from his residences in Germany). They also say they will revise an article which makes the constitutional court the final arbiter at times of political crisis—a role which had traditionally fallen to the king—as well as an article which introduced a requirement for some royal proclamations to be countersigned by a minister.

The notion of “tradition” is false – in fact, it is the military that has usually been the “final arbiter.” These amendments are likely to cede far greater power to the new king.

On his intervention, the report states:

Under King Vajiralongkorn’s father the palace preferred to maintain the fiction that Thailand’s monarchy holds a symbolic role which is “above politics”, even while it meddled energetically behind the scenes. The bluntness of King Vajiralongkorn’s intervention—and the determination it reveals to resist relatively small checks on royal power—is both a snub to the junta and a worry for democrats, some of whom had dared hope that the new king might be happy to take a back seat in public life.

The report raises constitutional questions about the intervention. It says the interim constitution “allowed for the king to reject the draft constitution in its entirety but appeared not to provide for the possibility that he might ask to strike out lines he did not like.”

Interesting times, again, and a developing story that will further define some of the relationship between the junta and the king. As he showed as a prince, the king is likely to continue his erratic behavior as king. It is likely that getting his way now will encourage increased interventionism.





Release Pai III

18 01 2017

Just yesterday PPT posted from a Bangkok Post report that stated a request by Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (Pai) to leave prison to sit his final exams for Khon Kaen University (KKU) had been rejected on Monday but that “authorities agreed to arrange for him to take the tests behind bars.”

That turns out to be horse manure. In fact, Prachatai refers to such reports as “rumors.” A dean at KKU has denied that he will be permitted take the examination in jail.

Assistant Professor Khitibodee Yaibool, Dean of KKU’s Law Faculty, said the university has no plan to facilitate examinations for Pai.

We should note that and assistant professor is a low rank but that a deanship is often a politicized administrative position and is likely to be filled by academic dolts. KKU is one of the few yellow-tinged outposts in Khon Kaen, although we have no idea of Assistant Professor Khitibodee’s politics or of the relationship between the dean and the local military thugs.

The report seems to imply that Assistant Professor Khitibodee has blamed Pai for the turnabout, saying he needed to make “a special request to the university to ask for such procedure.” Pai has apparently refused to do this and now faces expulsion although his mother has requested he be able to maintain his student status.

Of course, if his bail hadn’t been revoked to punish him for “challenging” state power he’d have taken his examination.





“Commissions”

17 01 2017

PPT has several times (see here) posted on “commissions” that flow to state employees and most especially senior military officers from state procurement.

Of course, the top officers aren’t usually doing the “deals,” but the “system” works so that funds flow to the top. So embedded is this system that it is normalized among the heads of the military, police and other big procurement agencies.

The results can be seen in the unusually high wealth declared by these persons when, say, the junta gives them well-paid positions in puppet assemblies. That they declare huge wealth is a measure of the normalization of corruption.

Often, when allegations of corruption arise, they simply drift away.

In a recent report from the BBC, however, we are provided with details of the corruption involved in selling Rolls Royce engines and associated contracts to Thai Airways from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s.

For those who wish to see how the money flows, read the story and its embedded links to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, also listed below:

We know there are many such cases. “Commissions” are paid on literally everything that is procured.





Depressing and familiar

17 01 2017

Reading the Bangkok Post this morning seemed like a trip back in time.

One story at the Post has the The Judge Advocate-General’s Department “seeking a further extension to a deadline to challenge a court ruling that revoked the dismissal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from the army reserve.” He allegedly used “fake documents when applying to join the army as a lecturer at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in 1987. The job exempted him from military conscription and gave him the rank of acting sub-lieutenant.”

That story has been around for years now, and Abhisit has been cashiered once in 2012 and then the “Civil Court … ruled in 2015 that … Abhisit had used false documents when he applied for the job and that the Democrat [Party] leader had lacked the necessary qualifications.” An Appeals Court overturned the ruling last year and reinstated Abhisit.

It is a rather simple case that is important to Abhisit because it involves face and status. It is important to his opponents as an example of double standards.

Another Post story has General Prayuth Chan-ocha denying “a report stating the government will revamp the selection system of provincial governors by seeking experts, including those outside the Interior Ministry, to serve in the positions.”

This proposal was apparently recommended by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Somkid reckoned he wanted “governors who have vision …, expertise, strength, … and initiative.”

As a former Thaksin Shinawatra minister, when CEO governors were promoted, it is easy to see why The Dictator has had to quickly respond to a wildfire of yellow-tinged alarm, denying any plan to change the time-honored, elite-supported manner for controlling local populations.  No “vision” or “initiative” required when repressing and managing the dangerous masses.

A third Bangkok Post story is of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) “investigation” of Thawatchai Anukul’s mysterious death in custody on 29 August 2016. This is the former official said to have worked with members of the elite to acquire land – an “normal” enough thing in Thailand. He somehow ended up being investigated and taken into jail. He then died. A first “investigation” concluded “Thawatchai strangled himself by wrapping his socks around his neck and attaching them to a door hinge.” The problem was that the police’s Institute of Forensic Medicine “reported in its initial autopsy result that Thawatchai died of abdominal haemorrhaging and a ruptured liver from being hit with a solid, blunt object together with asphyxiation from hanging…”.

Now the family says it can’t get an autopsy report because “the findings could not be revealed now as they might affect people involved in the case.” Perhaps results will be available for a court hearing in a month or so.

You get the picture. Impunity, cover-ups and complete incompetence are “normal.”

Yet another Post report is of “reconciliation.” General Prawit Wongsuwan has decided that “political parties and pressure groups will be asked to sign ‘a memorandum of understanding on national reconciliation’ as part of government efforts to heal the political divide…”. At the same time, he scotched discussion of an amnesty.

“Reconciliation” has been on the political agenda since the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. The problem has been that “reconciliation” has not involved justice. This time around, Prawit wants ideas from “representatives from all political parties and groups will be invited to contribute ideas, including academics, legal experts, senior military soldiers, and police officers.” After this the junta will “establish a set of guidelines that will promote unity.”

That sounds like what might be expected for “reconciliation” run by a military junta. As Prawit “explained,” the military can play a role in “reconciliation” processes because the military is not viewed as a party to political conflict! Gen Prawit said: “The military never has enemies. It has no conflict with anyone.”

Democrat Party leader Abhisit declared “there was a need to determine the truth behind political unrest” before reconciliation. He means a truth that suits him.

Perhaps surprisingly, Puea Thai Party and official red shirts were sounding enthusiastic. But, then, they desperately need an election as soon as possible.

Interestingly Puea Thai’s Sudarat Keyuraphan, observed that “success in fostering unity rests on the sincerity of those in power.” She added: “Those in power must show sincerity and maintain impartiality, and must avoid getting themselves involved in conflict themselves. They must listen to all sides equally, rather than invited parties involved in conflict only as a token gesture as before…”.

Related, and at the Bangkok Post, former Thaksin aide Suranand Vejjajiva observes that the military “regime will find it hard to achieve meaningful reconciliation if it is not committed to a return to full democracy and applying the rule of law.” He points out that the military’s “reconciliation” is embedded in the authoritarian “roadmap to democracy” and “its true authoritarian agenda to manipulate political outcomes after a new general election is held either this year or the next.”

Nothing will change the roadmap to authoritarian tutoring over a further 20 years. He says the junta “has to realise that only democracy can pave the way for political reconciliation.”

Suranand’s democracy is not one the military comprehends. It is establishing a 1950s version of Thai-style democracy.

He predicts that “[a]ny future meetings on national reconciliation that Gen Prawit expects to call will end up as a series of shows for the media, if representatives of political parties show up at all.”

That’s been the pattern: impunity, PR and repression. It is depressingly all too familiar.