More on the repression of legal political activity

5 09 2009

The repression of political activity now seems the normal state of affairs in Thailand. So much so that the Bangkok Post (5 September 2009: “UDD under close watch in run-up to rally”) simply states the fact of political repression by the government and its military supporters.

The Post states that while the “security authorities have relaxed security in Bangkok” – they mean the introduction and use of the draconian Internal Security Act –  they are now focused “on monitoring pro-Thaksin groups in the run-up to a Sept 19 rally by anti-government protesters…”. In other words, the “security authorities” are cooperating to monitor legal “movements by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).”

The “security authorities” will “clamp down on the UDD if its actions seem likely to lead to political unrest…”. We added the emphasis to “seem.”

PPT can readily see a point to authorities being aware of political movements, their demands and so on. However, the monitoring that is taking place is for political purposes and is the monitoring of political activities that appear protected by the 2007 Constitution.

In a democratic political system, governments spying on its own citizens, without adequate checks and balances on the government’s powers,  is something that is usually proven to be illegal and generally seen as repressive. By checks and balances we mean judicial oversight, public accountability, and the right and ability to challenge government’s actions in a court of law.

In authoritarian systems, governments spying on its own citizens, without  checks and balances on the government’s powers, is considered normal.

Deputy Prime Minister for security Suthep Thaugsuban met military and police chiefs for 30 minutes at the army headquarters yesterday to follow up on movements by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

The panel did not discuss invoking the Internal Security Act (ISA) or other security measures as the UDD had already delayed its rally, originally planned for today, to Sept 19, said Maj Gen Ditthaporn Sasamit, spokesman of the Internal Security Operations Command.

But authorities will seek cabinet approval to clamp down on the UDD if its actions seem likely to lead to political unrest, he said. Security forces could be mobilised within an hour.

UDD leader Veera Musikhapong told the press yesterday that the red shirts postponed their rally from today to Sept 19, when they will congregate at the Royal Plaza to protest against the Sept 19, 2006 coup which toppled the Thaksin administration.

The UDD would train its activists in rally control and defensive techniques at the Imperial World department store in Lat Phrao, he said.

UDD spokesman Natthawut Saikua said the red shirts wanted to strengthen their position before the Sept 19 rally to take advantage of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s undermined position after infighting had weakened the coalition and the ruling Democrat Party.

He also said the rally would not be prolonged. Demonstrators would leave the following morning unless external groups instigated unrest, he said.



2 responses

6 09 2009
New: More censorship, more repression « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] PPT pointed out previously, there is a “normalization” of political repression going on under Prime Minister […]

13 09 2009
New: PAD warns of violence and coup « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] of the draconian Internal Security Act to prevent or limit political dissent. A recent post was here. Yesterday we posted on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s latest proposals for protecting […]

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