Students released

7 07 2015

The Bangkok Post reports that the 14 student activists of Dao Din have been – or soon will be – released.

With rising discontent and increasing support for the students, the military court “rejected a request by military police for permission to detain them for another 12 days for further investigation.” The court “rejected the request on the grounds the students had not tried to flee and there was no reason to detain them further.” But this is not the end of the case, for the court also stated that “continued detention would make it difficult for the students to prepare their case to defend themselves in court.” This means the charges remain in place and the students could end up back in jail.





More paternalism

7 07 2015

In an earlier post PPT wrote of The Dictator’s paternalism as a marker of military dominance and rule in hierarchical Thailand.

Of course, Thak Chaloemtiarana wrote about this many years ago, analyzing the Sarit regime that many have seen as setting a political tone for the current dictatorship.Thak book

Prachatai reports on more paternalism from the military dictatorship. This time it comes from Maj Gen Weerachon Sukontapatipak, spokesman for the junta. Last time we posted on delusional spokesmen for the junta was a story on rights. Weerachon joins the “team” with a remarkable piece of paternalist nonsense tinged with a statement that dismisses the heroic student uprising in October 1973, indicating that the military dunces still smart about that defeat by the people.

Weerachon stated that international organizations wanting the release of the 14 students “lack a true understanding” of the political context of the arrest of the students. We think that what is not understood is the paranoia of the military junta.

According to Weerachon, “the Thai political context of the arrests” is that the junta:

is concerned about certain groups who hope to take advantage of the student activists’ protest by turning it into a situation similar to the 14 October 1973 student uprising, stated Weerachon. Therefore, international organizations pressing for the activists’ release must first understand the Thai political context and goals of various interest groups….

In other words, 1973 wasn’t a brave student uprising but that the students were dupes of political conspirators. Consider this clip from “Thailand 1973,” by now dedicated royalist Jeffrey Race, writing in Asian Survey, 14, 2, 1974:

1973

It seems the internal culture and learning of the military rejects anything but the memories and hallucinations of dictators.

Weerachon displays the arrogance and paternalism of the military when he says: “The students came to protest with pure intentions, but they are still children. They can think on some level.” Even if that statement is taken at face value, that the students can think on any level seems to locate them as intellectual giants when compared with the military leadership. But such claims are nothing more than the arrogance of fools.

Weerachon also referred to the pro-junta activists who have been permitted, at the behest of the junta, to protest against the students’ actions. Weerachon then claimed that the junta had public legitimacy, saying the students needed to “why most Thais still accepted the junta’s regime.” He added: “We’ll have to discuss with the students why they don’t accept laws that everyone else does.”

The junta seems to have convinced itself that it is popular. General Thanom Kittakachorn and Prapas Charusathiarana made similar claims. They were wrong then, and the junta is delusional today.





A little politics and music

6 07 2015

Coconuts Bangkok has an AFP story regarding the political use of mo lam. It also refers to mo lam as a music genre now under threat.

As the report notes, mo lam was heavily used in the 1960s and 1970s by the military in the Northeast. The Communist Party also used it and:

wrote lyrics praising their collective system and warning Isaan against becoming “servants of Bangkok” under the yoke of “bastards who don’t have farms.”

In more recent times, part of the story says that the political conflicts of recent years:

have curdled a sense of cultural and geographic difference between the center and the northeast – home to a third of Thailand’s people and most of its poorest provinces.

 One result of this was that:

Before the most recent coup last year, Mo Lam songs extolling the virtues of Thaksin [Shinawatra] and lampooning the Thai elite did the rounds at Red Shirt rallies and on their radio stations….

The 2014 military coup changed this:

But when the military seized power, it shuttered radio stations and silenced local leaders, tearing down posters of Thaksin and outlawing rallies.

In normal times, Mo Lam – and its racier electric guitar-backed offshoot Mo Lam Sing – would be expected to provide the soundtrack to a resistance.

But, this time, the Red Shirts have barely flickered in defiance.





Supporting the students

6 07 2015

Readers might find this page of interest. It is a Statement “For our friends” From Thai Students in Europe who are against the coup d’état. It’s demands are:

As a part of students in European countries, we believe that higher education anywhere in the world has a duty of encouraging their students to think, speak and express what they believe in with reasons. We believe that differences in ideas are normal and necessary. Without arguments, there will be no progress in any discipline, and the society will never move towards democracy. We believe that knowledge, thoughts and truth we hold should not put anyone in a serious bind that these Thai students are facing now. Therefore, we declare the following:

1. The 14 students must be released immediately without condition. They are innocent, and manifest peacefully on their own accord. There is no malicious secret support many groundlessly accuse them of having.
2. We would like to support the “New Democracy Movement” which consists of citizens who support the students, with 5 principles of democracy, justice, people’s involvement, human rights, and peace.
3. We ask international organisations, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and other human rights organisations, to keep a close watch on Thailand’s situation. The threats against the students are threats against thoughts, and are a grave danger to any democratic society.
4. We ask students, professors and citizens who value democracy to support the movements of these students however they can, directly or indirectly. Do not let the demand for democracy become the wrong thing.
Down with dictatorship! Democracy must prevail!





Students to military court

6 07 2015

As we usually do, the following is from the Asian Human Rights Commission. We realize that PPT is being heavily blocked by the military dictatorship at present, yet getting this word out may be useful.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-FST-034-2015
July 06, 2015

A Statement from the Protection International, Thailand Team forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Call for observation — 14 students and allied activists face an extension of pre-trial detention on Tuesday 7th July at Bangkok Military Court

Protection International calls upon you to be present at the Bangkok Military Court[1] on Tuesday 7th July at 9:00AM to witness the proceedings facing the 14 students and allied activists who were arrested on Friday 16th June on sedition charges. As publicised by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (a lawyer group providing lawyers and legal support to the 7 Dao Din students amongst the 14 activists) the 14 activists will challenge the request for a new custody permission of 12 days which will be filed by the Public Prosecutor on Tuesday 7th July. However, the 14 activists remain united in their refusal to apply for bail as they reject the legitimacy of the charges and don’t accept being tried in military court.

Chonticha Chaengrew, the only woman activist in the group of 14, being held at Bangkok’s Central Women’s Correctional Institution was transferred to a prison hospital on Thursday 2nd July to treat wounds she has been suffering from since the violent crackdown by authorities at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre on 22nd May 2015. The 13 male activists currently being held in Bangkok Remand Prison were separated into different sections of the prison in the evening of Wednesday 1st July. The 13 have shaved their heads in protest of this measure. We remain concerned about the physical and psychological well-being of all 14 detained as they face arbitrary detention for an extended period of time.

National Human Rights Commissioner and Chairperson of the NHRC Sub-Committee on Civil and Political Rights, Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara, held an enquiry meeting on Thursday 2nd July 2015. The lawyers of the students and allied activists, representatives of the Law Society of Thailand, the communities which the Dao Din student group works with, the parents of the students and allied activists, and professors from Thammasart University, were invited to the enquiry meeting. The meeting was observed by plainclothes military officials. Dr. Niran said that the behaviour of the authorities constituted an intervention in the work of the NHRC. Furthermore, family members, friends, lawyers and community-based Human Rights Defenders affiliated to the 14 detained activists continue to face intensive intimidation and monitoring by authorities, as well as a public media campaign by the government to delegitimise the work of the students and allies.

Thus, we call on you to:

Lobby the National Council for Peace and Order to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges and against all 16 activists (including 2 activists released on bail, facing fewer charges);
Demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all 14 activists;
Be present inside the Bangkok Military Court hearing on Tuesday 7th July at 9:00AM;
Publicly condemn the Human Rights violations and repression of civil and political rights which this criminalisation of peaceful, pro-democratic activism constitutes;
Lobby the National Council for Peace and Order to immediately stop the campaign of intimidation, harassment and misinformation which is targeted at the detained activists’ families, friends, lawyers, allied community-based HRDs, academics and other affinity groups.

Further call on the National Council for Peace and Order to cooperate with independent Human Rights mechanisms and allow them to work effectively in Thailand, namely by ensuring their ability to conduct country visits.

Bangkok Military Court

Judge Advocate General’s Department,
Ministry of Defence, Lak Muang Road,
Phra Borommaha Ratchawang Sub District,
Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok 10200.
The Court can be reached at Tel. 02 222 3887 or Tel. 02 224 0041 extension 207.





Health and subs

6 07 2015

In a post a few days ago, PPT commented on The Dictator’s call for Thailand’s universal health care system to be “reformed.” His main claims were that it was too costly and that it was a populist policy, meaning it was Thaksinism.

Not surprisingly, Navy boss Admiral Kraisorn Chansuwanich said his lot had again decided to purchase submarines from China “through a government-to-government contract worth Bt36 billion and would propose for the purchase details to the Cabinet soon,” there were understandable comparisons between the alleged lack of funds for health but tons of money for military kit. Of course, the navy has been coming up with various schemes to get submarines for years.Beached sub

As a footnote to this story, it is reported that Prayuth advised that the “submarine proposal that had been planned for 10 years.” As our previous posts clearly show, he’s lying, as usual. Each time the proposal has come up, it has been rejected. There is no “plan,” other than to produce wondrous commissions.

The comparison between military greed and universal health care is so stark that self-appointed prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha “is attempting to shield himself from increasing criticism over the government’s plan to spend billions on the purchase of three submarines from China while dealing with a universal healthcare scheme running out of funds…”.

Prayuth said no “clear decision is yet to be made on either one,” and displayed his usual paternalism: “… do not link the healthcare scheme with the Navy’s plan to buy submarines. The government will consider the two matters with care…”. Trust me, I am The Dictator!

More threateningly, he used his usual claim of people behind those discussing the issue: “Do not make a mountain out of a mole hill or the ill-intentioned group may use it as a tool…”.

 

He probably means Puea Thai Party politician Watana Muangsook who wrote on this. “He said that Prayut[h]’s government would never do for the poor what it claimed it would, but would only benefit its cronies.” He added that the “government said it has no budget to help the farmer, but at the same time it has allocated more than Bt100 billion for the military officers who helped stage the coup last year…”.





The Dictator’s paternalism

5 07 2015

The Bangkok Post reports on yet another of The Dictator’s television broadsides on Thai society, its politics and his view of “problems.” In this one, as well as a string of other things, self-appointed premier General Prayuth Chan-ocha had words for the Dao Din students.

He stated, “I will not reprimand or blame them for the actions,” and he claimed the students are “pure” in intent.

But then he returned to the paternalism that is one of the hallmarks of the military’s politics and rule, stating: “”Please use your discretion and avoid being misled by those trying to use you by giving you false information.”

As the students themselves have stated, this claim is nonsensical. Like so many other claims by The Dictator and his minions, it is delusional and self-interested.

Prayuth offered a kind of “deal” for the students. He demanded that the “student activists to obey rules and laws, do their duty and protect their good profiles for the sake of their own future.” Of course, that’s how Prayuth prefers and understands the world as one large military-like paternalistic hierarchy.

The deal is: knuckle under, obey the rules and laws set by the military dictatorship, and cooperate with the junta and your “cases would be taken care of…”.








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