Cracking the yellow coalition

29 04 2016

A couple of days ago we posted on demands made of the junta by a cross-color coalition. Now, according to The Nation, a group claiming to be the Anti-Thaksin Shinawatra V for Vendetta group has reactivated to oppose to military dictatorship.

It is said to have “crashed government websites yesterday in protest over the draft constitution and in collaboration with a group that opposes the proposed single Internet gateway for the country.”

The group declares that the military “government is not being truthful about the purpose of the national referendum…”. It said its “members would vote against the charter in the referendum.” It was only in 2013 that “the group had called on the military to oust the [Yingluck] Shinawatra government.”

The cracks in the military’s post-coup coalition of support from anti-democrats may be widening.

Making Thailand authoritarian

29 04 2016

The military junta is getting away with too much. The illegitimate referendum by an illegitimate regime is drawing attention away from its basic work of remaking Thailand in the name and manner of the hierarchical institutions, establishing what it hopes will be a durable authoritarianism.

One of these areas is in controlling political voice. Here we don’t mean the “normal” political repression the military dictatorship engages in. We refer to establishing laws that will restrict online expression into the future.

As the Bangkok Post expressed it a couple of days ago, the “first three draft bills related to the digital economy have sparked concerns over possible problematic internet use…”. THe bills have now been passed by the puppet National Legislative Assembly.

These bills are meant to “govern computer-related crime, digital development for the economy and society, and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC).”

While the bills are touted as facilitating the development of the digital economy, much of the detail of these bills is meant to severely limit political expression and commentary on the monarchy.

Dhiraphol Suwanprateep, from the ICT group at Baker & McKenzie, says that:

Section 14 of the computer-related crime draft bill, which has been revised to include the offence of dishonest or deceitful importation to a computer system of forged or false computer data, is likely to cause damage to the public.

“It is still too broad and likely to encompass acts which should not be deemed as illegal acts…”.

Dhiraphol adds:

Section 18 has been revised to expand investigation powers of government officials to cover criminal offences…. The powers included copying, accessing a computer system, decoding a person’s computer data and seizing or attaching a computer system for the purpose of obtaining further details of an offence.

The Nation reports that the bills “sailed through” the NLA:

Meanwhile, amendments to the Computer Crime Act were also approved after a first reading yesterday stipulating that online and related offences will be subject to stronger penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Unsolicited emails, online distribution of false data that is libellous or affects national security or the economy, and other online offences will be punishable by imprisonment of up to two years and fines of up to Bt200,000.

The military junta is making Thailand a narrower, more restricted, repressed place.

Manipulating law

29 04 2016

When The Dictator was asked about the recent abductions of 10 persons for something they may have done to annoy him and the rest of the junta, General Prayuth Chan-ocha stated: “Did they commit a wrongdoing? If they did, they must all be arrested…”.

He blathered about courts and other authorities, before using the classic dictator’s line: “If you do not break the law, nothing can be done to you…”.

This comes from the man who led an illegal overthrow of an elected government. It comes from a General who led troops in shooting down protesting citizens in 2010. It comes from a General who is unusually wealthy and whose family engages in nepotism.

On these facts, this is a man who cannot be taken seriously when it comes to questions of law. For him, law is what he says it is.

In the case of the recent arrests, this record of lawlessness continues. The persons arrested were abducted. As Prachatai reports, the Military Court only issued arrest warrants for some of those abducted a day after they were taken into custody. Human rights groups state that the military’s raids:

have been conducted with the seizure of property without informing the arrestees of their charges and the reasons for the deprivation of their liberty. They were also not told where they would be taken to. It was later reported that the individuals have been taken to the 11th Military Circle.

They add:

[We]… feel gravely concerned about the exercise of power by the government officials including the arrest and detention of persons arbitrarily, without good reasons and in breach of the right to fair trial. The arrests have been made without producing court warrants, without informing the arrestees of the charges or the reasons of the arrests, and without informing them of the detention places.

When The Dictator speaks of the law, he speaks as a thug and uses his power rather than abiding by laws. His view of law is as a tool for political repression.

Ghosts, ghouls and lese majeste

28 04 2016

While the Facebook page FuckGhost (apparently registered as FakGhost) claims to be ridding Thailand of superstitious beliefs, its owner-administrator seems to have faith in the monarchy, despite its dabbling in the supernatural and mystical.

We say this because Prachatai reports that the FuckGhost page administrator has, anonymously, joined with fascist-royalist lawyer Songkran Autchariyasab, who is chairman of Network Against Acts to Destroy Kingdom, Religion and Monarchy, filed a lese majeste complaint, possibly involving dozens of people, accusing them of “defaming the monarchy on Facebook and Youtube.”

Fascist royalists

(PPT is wondering why the page is allowed by Facebook when that company is ferocious in banning persons who post artwork that includes an innocuous nipple.)

The pair charge that “many internet users have posted and shared lѐse majesté messages and images on 20 Facebook pages and Youtube.”

They want the fascist junta to arrest and jail as many anti-monarchists as possible.

It is clear that fascist ghosts and ghouls wander the land, seeking out those they may consume and destroy.

Is the referendum result already known?

28 04 2016

While the UN, ASEAN parliamentarians, academics and politicians have all made suggestions about allowing free speech on the constitutional referendum, the military junta has demonstrated in recent days that there is no chance of this.

More than this, the military regime, the dictatorship, is working to ensure a Yes vote through intimidation and repression.

Recent reports, however, suggest that the military junta is going to fix the result. Whatever the voters say, it seems clear that the charter will be made to pass.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, a regional election monitoring group which is based in Bangkok, is planning to deploy observers for the August referendum.  However, it is stated in a Khaosod report, that this would only happen “[i]f the political climate permits,” meaning if the military junta permits.

Ichal Supriadi, one of the people at the Network said that a maximum of 10 observers would be allowed to be deployed. That’s a token effort, kept that way by the junta. But even that token effort “may be reduced again depending on the pre-referendum environment.” He means depending on the junta’s decisions.

Supriadi stated that the “fact that political gatherings are still banned by the junta also undermines the credibility of any ballot…”.

The same report states that the “European Union’s mission in Bangkok confirmed Monday that no European observers will be sent…”.

A few days later, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared that he “will not allow international organizations to observe the referendum on the draft charter.” He “claimed that there has been no precedent for such an action by any country in the world.”

We think the junta is fully prepared to do anything it wants to ensure it gets the outcome it wants in the illegitimate referendum. Observers would only complicate their cheating.

Updated: Intimidation intensifies

27 04 2016

The military dictatorship appears to have moved into a period of even deeper repression and intimidation. Part of this has to do with the fear of Thaksin Shinawatra. Some of it has to do with the junta cracking down on widespread opposition to it charter and its anti-democratic intent. And there may be other motivations that have to do with junta fears.

We can’t post on all of the reports of this new and deepening intimidation. Rather, we provide a listing of recent reports. It quite a list over just a week. The pattern is clear. As Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk stated that a “climate of fear” is “growing in the country ahead of the referendum.” He added that the “junta is mobilising state machinery and everything is being used to promote the draft constitution while people who oppose the draft are being targeted…”.

In fact, as we will show below, as bad as this is, in fact, the intimidation is broader than this.

The junta has threatened Bencharat Sae Chua, a lecturer of Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies. The lecturer is distributing information for a vote against the military’s draft charter has been threatened with Section 61 of the Referendum Act of 2016. This could mean up to 10 years in jail.

Puea Thai Party members have been targeted. It is reported that some 300 police and soldiers searched the homes of two politicians among others in Nakhon Sawan, accusing them of being “influential” figures. The military barred reporters from the houses they searched.

Earlier today it was reported that at least four people were abducted by the military in the early hours of the morning. Two men were abducted in Bangkok and two in Khon Kaen. The four are accused of being red shirts.

Within a couple of hours, the number abducted by the military rose to eight, with the military then saying they held 10 persons. Two of those abducted worked closely with red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan. Of the 10, eight were taken in Bangkok and two in Khon Kaen. The two in Khon Kaen were accused by the military of “belonging to the New Democracy Group and the Resistant Citizen Group led by Anon Kampa.”  Activists called for protests.

At least some of those arrested seem to have been subject to complaints by the hopelessly biased puppet Election Commission. It  filed its first charges under the new referendum law that criminalizes political commentary. The charges were against a Facebook group for posting “foul and strong” comments criticizing the military’s draft constitution. The puppet EC claimed that the Facebook page had used “aggressive, harsh and rude language to urge readers to vote against the draft constitution to be put to a public vote Aug 7.”

Earlier, it was reported that Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan stated that both the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the red shirts were under investigation for “announcing their stands on the draft constitution.” So far we can find no evidence of action against the PDRC.

A couple of days ago, the military “indicted six activists for demanding an investigation into the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal.” Those indicted are reported to be “Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from New Democracy Movement, Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and core leader of Resistant Citizen, Kititach Suman, Wisarut Anupoonkarn, Koranok Kamda and Wijit Hanhaboon…”.

Last week, in Udon Thani, soldiers intimidated anti-mine activists ahead of a planned forum on the environmental effects of a potash mine in the province.

Around the same time, Watana Muangsook complained that “certain people pressured the Charoen Pokphand Company (CP), one of the biggest conglomerates in Asia run by the family of his former wife, to convince Weerada Muangsook, his daughter, to leave the country.”

In the south, the military has summoned the leader of a sea nomad community on Rawai Beach in Phuket, to a military camp. There he was intimidated by the military who accused of violating a junta order which gives almost absolute power to soldiers with the rank of sub-lieutenant upwards to maintain national security.

Update: Members of the Neo-Democracy Movement and the Resistant Citizen group organized a protest against the arrests at the Victory Monument.Police grabbed and detained 16 of the protesters at the Phaya Thai police station. They were detained for protesting by standing still in a group.

Demands on junta

27 04 2016

A joint statement has been issued on the constitutional referendum by an unusual group of 108 persons (105 in some reports) and five organizations. What is unusual is that the 108 includes persons from all sides of politics in the usually divided country. The group made four demands:

1. The referendum must be conducted in a free, transparent, and fair manner in accordance with international principles and standards.

2. In the process towards the referendum, there must be open and inclusive debates, participated by those who agree and disagree with the content of the draft constitution. Voters must have access to accurate, comprehensive, and thorough information on the draft constitution, as well as, a safe and public space to voice their disagreements under the laws.

3. People have legitimate rights to freedom of expression and to voice their opinions constructively on the draft constitution which is the highest law of the country. Such basic political rights which shall be protected. Suppression on people’s rights to express their views on the draft constitution by using measures related to security, including taking people to detention in the name of attitude adjustment is not only a violation of basic human rights, but also delegitimises the referendum process as a whole.

4. Before the referendum is conducted, there must be clearly defined options for what happens in case the draft constitution does not pass the referendum, in order to reach a consensus on a constitution agreeable to all sides. People of all groups and all sides must be able to debate and to propose these options freely and constructively.

While the statement and its demands challenge the junta, it does appear to accept the notion that a referendum can be held to complete a process that has been illegitimate from the beginning.

The group read its statement to the public “despite Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s warning ahead of the announcement that such a move would break the referendum law.”


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