Updated: Targeting red shirts

15 09 2014

When Khaosod changed its location, we missed commenting on this story. Since its coup, the military dictatorship has repeatedly claimed that it is promoting reconciliation. Of course, the data on detentions and arrests show this is untrue (see here and here).

These false claims were recently reinforced by Lt.Gen. Preecha Chan-ocha, the head of the northern-based 3rd Region Army – yes, that’s The Dictator’s brother – has explained why the “junta does not plan to lift martial law in northern Thailand…”.

He says: “We have collected and considered all the information, and we realise that there are still dissidents who are campaigning discreetly…”. PPT is a bit puzzled by the claim of “discreet” campaigning, but what Preecha fears is that lifting martial law in the region would “provide an opportunity for the dissent movement to campaign openly.”

military shoppingOpen dissent is always challenging for military authoritarians, especially when they tout surveys that miraculously claim 85% support for the military overlords. The fear of red shirts is palpable, even if the red shirts have shown little desire to rise.

Like so many authoritarian rulers, repression is laughed off as normality: “People can still buy things normally, and there has been a steady flow of tourists…”. Shopping is a measure of something but not necessarily political normality.

Update: While shopping may be “normal” in Thailand, what isn’t “normal” is the military dictatorship’s censorship. As recently reported in The Nation, Public Relations Department director-general Apinant Chantharangsi has declared digital war against “political groups” that “could bring about more rifts in the country.” The junta has ordered strict control:

The orders ban media operators from featuring people connected with political parties. The content must not be critical of the NCPO or the government; programmes must be recorded in advance so they can be checked for content before broadcast; there must be no phone-ins to any programmes, even to entertainment ones such as music programmes.

He said the department would keep a close watch on 147 radio stations and all newspapers, Facebook and Line.

Apinant declares his intentions: “Please be patient because our country is suffering from a serious illness and we need a surgery to be healthy and happy as we were…”. We think Apinant might seek some mental health attention himself.


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