Updated: Watana and protests

20 04 2016

Watana Muangsook, taken into custody on Monday, appears to remain under military detention at an undisclosed location, perhaps at a base in Kanchanburi. It was a busy day for Watana, activists and junta thugs.

In a recent post, we pointed out that when junta minion Wissanu Krea-ngam and and the junta’s General Prawit Wongsuwan talked about a law preventing discussion of the military’s draft constitution, we assumed they referred to the draft awaiting royal signature. In Watana’s case, however, the junta has another (non-)law in mind.

Prachatai reports that the junta has announced that Watana “may face two years imprisonment for violating the regime’s announcement [Announcement No. 39/2014].” Under the military dictatorship, an Announcement has the power of law.

This announcement – effectively a military decree – “states that people who have been released after detention by the authorities must strictly comply with the conditions set upon the release or risk being imprisoned for up to two years or fined up to 40,000 baht of both.”

Like many others, following the 2014 coup, Watana was “forced to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the regime, promising to steer clear from all political activities.” Under the military dictatorship, a forced undertaking can be considered law-like.

Watana has been “forced to sign several MoUs with the regime after h[e] was summoned for attitude adjustment sessions on many occasions. However, he never complied with the MoU, but continue to criticise the NCPO[ the junta].”

The junta now claims – the report says “clarified” – that the “latest detention of Watana is not related to his criticisms on the latest draft constitution…”. If that is so, then the junta needs to say exactly what it is that he is accused of. Frankly, we believe the military junta is making this up as it goes along.

Following Watana reporting to the military and being taken into custody, the Bangkok Post reports that a “lawyer Anon Nampa, a core member of the Resistant Citizen Group, posted a message on Facebook on Tuesday calling for supporters to rally in white at the Victory Monument at 6pm if former commerce minister Watana Muangsook was not released.” He wasn’t released.

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit immediately declared that “the rally would not be allowed.”

Dumpy and dopey, Prawit falsely declared: “We have not infringed on anybody’s rights. We have only asked for cooperation regarding the expression of opinions, as we are the holders of state power.” Prachatai reports that his “regime does not care about criticism from human rights groups and other nations.”

Perhaps he was referring to the fact that Watana’s daughter “has submitted a letter to the European Union office in Bangkok to push for her father’s release.” She also planned to “go to the US embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday morning and to other places until her father is released.”

Remarkably, the junta responded to the EU by media, with military puppet Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai at his condescending, racist and ridiculous best: “Westerners may not be familiar with Thai history. Therefore, they may not understand the country’s current situation…”. We aren’t sure the junta understand Thai history. We are sure the EU Office in Bangkok understands the military’s authoritarian puppetry.

Meanwhile, Khaosod reports that the “Pheu Thai Party on Tuesday issued a statement demanding Watana’s unconditional release…”. That will get no response from the junta. Delusional and dumpy Prawit was reported as whining about Watana and others criticizing the junta: “At this moment, 70 million people are happy…”. He lied again when he stated: “We aren’t using any double standard. Anything causing damage or conflict in this land cannot be done.”

Because Watana was not released, the call by activists to meet at Victory Monument saw people converge at the giant traffic circle.

Protests

Another Khaosod story reports that “[s]ecurity forces surgically removed several activist leaders gathered at Victory Monument this evening, effectively nipping a planned protest in the bud.”

Many protesters “wearing white T-shirts, had melded into the busy crowd of rush-hour commuters Tuesday but were apparently left without a clear plan of action after at least four organizers were whisked away by police.”

Junta thugs took away “Siriwith Seritiwat of the New Democracy Movement, Arnond Nampa of Resistant Citizens, Aramis Akahad and Wannakit Chusuwan…”.

Helpfully, Khaosod uploaded “three live broadcasts” emanating  from the protesters and activists, here, here and here. There are more photos at the Neo-Democracy Facebook page.

Protests

Using the three-finger salute “associated with defiance to the military regime, several dozen protesters shouted ‘Free Watana’ until they were cleared out by crowd control officers, who numbered in the hundreds, with numerous police vehicles waiting nearby. No uniformed military personnel were visible.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the four activists “were detained for several hours…” and released without charge. Their response was to call for daily protests at 6 p.m. each day until Watana is released. They say the “daily protests will consist of people standing in a visible location to call attention to their complaints about the military’s use of secret detention against its critics.”

Update: It seems we were right in supposing that the military puppet Foreign Minister Don was condescending, racist and ridiculous when dealing with the EU. Prachatai reports that when he met with Jesús Miguel Sanz, the Ambassador of the EU to Thailand, Don’s “history” turned out to be reheated junta propaganda. Don apparently “explained to the EU Ambassador about latest detention of Watana … who is currently detained in a military base outside of Bangkok.” We would have liked to have heard that, for as far as the public is aware, the charge against Watana is that the junta is not happy with him.

The puppet Foreign Minister “told the EU Ambassador about crucial role of the military and the political reform roadmap of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [they mean the military junta] because the EU might not understand the whole situation…”. We are sure they understand very well the nature of the repressive and regressive military regime.

Like his puppet masters, Don stated that “Thailand has no problem with human rights.” If it weren’t so serious a matter, Don’s ventriloquist dummy act would be laughable.


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