There have been several stories of late that report that the military junta is cajoling Laos into handing over a small number of allegedly anti-monarchist refugees.
In a recent account, the Bangkok Post claims that General Thawip Netniyom, the “head of the National Security Council, said Tuesday that the people being sought used social media to attack the monarchy.”
He affirmed that the Ministry of Defense “has assigned him to seek a meeting with Laotian officials and work out a deal, which could include the exchange of people sought by each country.”
We understand that net-ignorant General Prawit Wongsuwan has been pressing Laos for some time to get the dissidents silenced and to have them deported to Thailand. In November 2016, he claimed some success by working military channels in Laos.
The claimed success involved using the late king’s death for political gain. On his passing, the junta promptly asked Lao authorities to warn the Thai dissidents. It was claimed that the Lao authorities warned them “about risky activities and asked them to keep a low profile, at least during the grieving period.”
It is claimed that “[s]ome YouTube channels such as ‘Media Force’ disappeared…”. As far as we can tell, it is still operating. as are other channels including Faiyen.
In the most recent report Defence Minister and Deputy Dictator Prawit is cited as having spoken “with his Lao counterpart Lt Gen Chansamone Chayalath, who reportedly agreed to consider deporting the wanted Thai dissidents…”.
Among the earlier “negotiations” it was stated that:
Thailand and Laos signed an extradition treaty in 1999 but the pact cannot be enforced for the junta’s purposes due to the political nature of the lese-majeste offence. Laos is a socialist republic where insulting the monarchy is not a crime. The extradition treaty does not allow offenders to be sent home for political crime or crimes that are not listed by the contracting parties.
Has the Lao government changed its mind and its policy and law? Contradicting earlier reports, it is now stated by the Thai junta’s General Thawip that:
Although Thailand and Laos do not have an official agreement to extradite suspects, we can proceed in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation. If Laos wants a criminal who violated the law in Laos and is hiding in Thailand, they may ask Thai officials to make an arrest and send that person back….
Another minion, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Kongcheep Tantravich said the people it wants deported “are causing divisiveness to another country. They are smearing the government and smearing the institution, which is dangerous.”
Helpfully, the Post adds: “The monarchy is often described with respect as ‘the institution’.” In fact, it is not always said with respect.
Maj Gen Kongcheep claimed: “They are not suspects, they are dangerous people.”
He then indicated that the military junta is cajoling its neighbors: “This is more of an exchange of prisoners between one country and another…. They have some and we have some. We are exchanging information and we will see what we get out of it.”
Cajoling for a deal. That’s a bit like ensuring that one gets a commission is a corrupt deal. Its history suggests that the most dangerous people are the Thai military.