For us, against us

8 07 2014

The lines of demarcation between the junta and its opponents are reasonably clear, as two recent event demonstrate.

If you are an ally of the junta, you get special treatment.

Bangkok Pundit recently suggested that the massive Cambodian migrant worker “exodus was so quick that it has no doubt caused political problems in Cambodia, [and] … forced Hun Sen to cooperate with the junta. (Veera’s release?).” Veera is Veera Somkwamkid, the People’s Alliance for Democracy-associate ultra-nationalist member of the Thai Patriot Network, who was detained in Cambodia following a border incursion in 2011. When he was released a few days ago, all of the old hyper-nationalist, yellow shirts got together for a party to welcome back their “hero.”

As the Bangkok Post reports, the party was arranged at the at the Royal Turf Club, where General Boonlert Kaewprasit was host. Boonlert is a favorite of the military and royalist elite not least because he was one of those who managed the revival of anti-democrat street protests for the PAD lot prior to the mobilizations that became the Suthep Thaugsuban anti-democrats, who paved the way for the coup…. and the rest is history, as they say.

The military dictatorship became worried, after the fact, that the welcome party might be seen as “double standards,” not that such claims seem to bother them in other spheres. The party was attended not just by Boonlert, but a bunch of others from the military and the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movement including “Gen Preecha Iamsuphan, former senators Prasarn Maruekpitak, Khamnoon Sitthisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul, national artist Naowarat Pongpaiboon and other activists.”

So Veera and Boonlert were called in by the junta. The result was a bit of hugging and and a public reprimand. Then, as the Post reports it, after a couple of hours, they were “allowed to go home after a meeting with a high level officer of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).” They even went on television to “explain”:

Gen Boonlert said in an interview with television reporters afterwards that Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, the assistant army chief and NCPO’s chief of legal and justice affairs section, asked him and Mr Veera to let the NCPO know before conducting any activity which may be construed as violating the NCPO’s orders including the ban on a political gatherings.

They agreed to comply with the request, Gen Boonlert said.

If you are seen as an opponent of the coup, you get very different treatment. Boonlert and Veera get mainstream media coverage for the party and its aftermath. Most of those present, as yellow shirt supporters of the coup, go about their business, political and otherwise. But not opponents. Khaosod reports the second detention of Thanapol Eawsakul, editor of Fa Diaw Kan.

A “senior army officer” says that the editor is having his attitude “re-adjusted.” Why? Because of “critical Facebook comments violated a condition he signed before being released from his first bout of military detention. That release form barred Mr. Thanapol from participating in politics or expressing any opinions that ‘incite unrest’.” Should the “military decide to charge Mr. Thanapol with violating the NCPO’s release conditions, the activist will be tried in military court and could face up to two years in prison.”

Compare the re-education and multiple detention of an activist writing on Facebook with the military junta’s freeing of Veera and the treatment of their friends Boonlert and Veera. This is not about double standards but about the nature of the military regime.


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