Another year has passed for Political Prisoners in Thailand. As in previous years, we admit our disappointment that we are still active.
By this, we mean that PPT should have gone the way of the dinosaurs, being unnecessary as Thailand’s political prisoners would have been released and political repression gone.
When we began PPT on 21 January 2009, we hoped it would be a temporary endeavor. Instead, seven years later, we are still at it. The dominance of an illegal regime, founded in nonsensical royalism, a cult of personality, the death of the king/succession conundrum, the politicization of the judiciary and the resort to the military boot challenge all Thais. A better, more representative and more democratic politics remains a dream. The “reform” promised by the military junta and currently being embedded in a military-royalist constitution is a nightmare.
When we sputtered into life it was as a collaborative effort to bring more international attention to the expanded use of the lese majeste and computer crimes laws by the then Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and his anti-democratic Democrat Party. That regime’s tenure saw scores die and thousands injured in political clashes and hundreds held as political prisoners.
The royalism and repression that gained political impetus from anti-democratic street demonstrations that paved the way for the 2006 military coup and then for the 2014 military coup have become the military state’s ideology. Those perceived as opponents of the military and the monarchy are whisked away into detention, face threats and surveillance and some have died in mysterious circumstances. The 2006 and 2014 coups, both conducted in the name of the monarchy, have seen a precipitous slide into a new political dark age where the lese majeste law has been a grotesque weapon of choice in a deepening political repression.
Royalists have fought to maintain a royalist state that lavishes privilege, wealth and power on a few. The military junta is seeking to institutionalize this control and power.
On this anniversary, as in past years, we want and end to political repression and the release of every political prisoner.
We especially remember the unconstitutional and illegal treatment of brave individuals like Darunee Charnchoensilpakul and Somyos Pruksakasemsuk. Their continued imprisonment – over seven years for Darunee and more than four years for Somyos – is a travesty of justice and their treatment has been inhumane.
Under the current regime, hundreds of people have been jailed or detained, subjected to military courts and threatened by the military. The military regime is not only illegal but is the most repressive since the royally-appointed regime under Thanin Kraivixien in the mid-1970s. Just last night, another opponent was whisked away into secret detention.
In recent years, lese majeste cases have grown exponentially. Worse, both military and civil courts have held secret trials and handed out unimaginably harsh sentences. And even worse than this, the definition of what constitutes a crime under the draconian lese majeste law has been extended to include implied lese majeste and the “protection” of royals not cover by the law and even kings dead for several centuries.
PPT has now had more than 2.6 million page views at our two sites. We aren’t in the big league in the blogging world, but the level of interest in Thailand’s politics and the use of lese majeste internationally has increased. We are pleased that there is far more attention to the issue than there was when we began and that the international reporting and understanding of the issue is far more critical than it was.
In Thailand, however, political repression and the use of lese majeste has deepened. Unfortunately, we see very little light in this long, dark tunnel.
We want to thank our readers for sticking with us through all the attempts by the Thai censors to block us. We trust that we remain useful and relevant and we appreciate the emails we receive from readers.
As in the past we declare:
The lese majeste and computer crimes laws must be repealed.
All political prisoners must be released.
The military dictatorship must be opposed.