A series of reports at Prachatai and at the Bangkok Post are a useful reminder of what Thailand is like when the military is in charge.
Corruption, the use of special powers, thuggery, working with business people to exploit the poor in coercive ways. And, impunity. The military and the bureaucrats can do whatever they want, and get away with murder, abduction, enforced disappearance and other gang-like bad behavior because, like a male street dog licking its undercarriage, they can.
We apologize for this rather rude analogy but the actions of the military and the junta are uncivil, uncouth and brutish.
The first story at Prachatai relates to three suspects – red shirts, of course – arrested, tortured, kept in jail longer than the law allowed and accused of accused of “carrying out an attack with explosives on the PDRC protest in Trat on 22 February 2014, which resulted in the deaths of three people, two of them children, and 39 injured.” They were acquitted by the Provincial Court in Trat. The evidence was non-existent and the military thugs who arrested them didn’t even bother to appear in court.
The second Prachatai story is one that seems a remarkably 20th century account of primitive accumulation. Investors, in cooperation with the authorities sent hired thugs to attack a rural community the tycoons want moved (in many previous cases the thugs have usually military men out of uniform). In this case, “a group of men with military and police officers came to the beach and surrounded the area, which the investors have been attempting to use for developing lucrative projects for years.” The local community was attacked and beaten when they objected to the tycoons taking their community and land.
The first Bangkok Post story is about the use of Article 44 to progress business interests at the expense of local communities, mainly in border areas, including coal-fired power stations. The idea is to prevent local communities complaining.
The last story is an op-ed by Sanitsuda Ekachai, with a title that sums up everything in the four stories: “Poor suffer as regime goes back to old ways.” Land “reform,” small-scale fishers, farming communities being pushed about by miners, and more, all supported by the political and economic bosses and their hired thugs. As one activist described it: “Our country is going backward in time, not years, but decades…”.
Update: On the second Prachatai story above, of course, there is no evidence that the company that had men beat the “sea gypsies” with sticks were linked to the local military mafia. A story in the Bangkok Post refers to a leaked document on social media showing the Baron World Trade Co asked brass at the Royal Thai Army Military Circle 41 base in Nakhon Si Thammarat to deploy troops to protect company staff during construction work.” Racism, accumulation and corrupt links between military and business are linked in this case.