Notes from the news

31 12 2013

PPT is catching up on some news and blog posts that may be of interest to readers:

1) As PPT posted earlier today, the anti-democracy crowd have been concocting quite a few myths meant to sustain anger and hatred. At Bangkok Pundit, another of these is explored: the idea that the government employs Cambodians against the protesters. Pundit says:

The clear implication from this inflammatory rhetoric is that it makes it easier for the protesters to feel justified in physically attacking the police because the police are not Thais; they are just Cambodian mercenaries (no doubt paid personally by the evil one, and of course, paid in Cambodian money because that is the only type of money that Cambodian mercenaries would accept). Expect to see a continuation of this rhetoric as the protesters up the ante…

It also panders to the perspective that Cambodians are Thaksin allies. Readers may recall a PAD rhetoric about Cambodian black magic. The link here is to Guardian article “Shuffling towards fascism,” which still makes good reading five years after it was written.

2) We note an AP report that police protested on Monday “to show their frustration after weeks of dealing with aggressive and often violent anti-government demonstrators, with officers saying that the order for them to show restraint has left them vulnerable and humiliated.”

At least eight people have been killed in sporadic violence since the demonstrations began about two months ago. At the government’s orders, police have responded with relative restraint despite severe provocation.

Police Col. Niwat Puenguthaisri, who led the gathering, said police were worried for their own safety because of lack of protective gear for many and poor riot control planning. Most police are allowed to carry only batons and riot shields, while selected officers are equipped with tear gas canisters and guns to fire rubber bullets.

Orders to show restraint has resulted in police several times being trapped by demonstrators and forced to bargain for their release.

3) In Siam Voices excellent series of posts on 2013, part 2 looks at lese majeste. It notes the bizarre and frightening expansion of the definition of lese majeste in 2013, to cover alleged offences against dead kings and the current dynasty, a crime of thinking about acts that might be lese majeste if committed, for insulting the monarchy without actually mentioning it or its incumbents, for editing something someone else wrote that was considered lese majeste, and so on. While there have been fewer cases in 2013 than, say, in 2010, these expansions of the law are threatening and dangerous.

4) In another lese majeste story, Prachatai reports that the “Human Rights Lawyer Association overseeing the case of Ampon Tangnoppakul, a 61-year-old man who passed away last year while imprisoned for lèse majesté, said it is raising funds to help Ampon’s wife with the legal fees for a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections in the Administrative Court.” The case aims to “improv[e] the standards of healthcare in the prison infirmary.”

5) Related, we note the quite boneheaded attempt by the Royal Thai Navy to sue and silence journalists at Phuketwan by using defamation charges related to a story published in July 2013 that “quoted a Reuters news agency investigation alleging that some members of the Thai military were involved in networks smuggling Muslim Rohingya boat people from Myanmar.” It’s really another military impunity story dressed up as something else.

6) The Red Shirts blog includes an updated and detailed report on the five dead supporters from the events near Ramkhamhaeng University on 30 November and 1 December 2013. It also lists the 30 injured red shirts.




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