The junta’s assault on political expression

8 02 2017

Yesterday we posted on United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye and his denunciation of the military dictatorship’s political repression and especially the political use of lese majeste.

We later added the junta’s asinine response.

Today, the Bangkok Post reports on another critique of the junta and is warping of law in order to wipe out all political opposition. This is a 36-page report from Amnesty International.ai-report

Read it and weep for Thailand:

… Thai authorities have targeted political activists, human rights defenders and others as part of a systematic crackdown on government critics.

Thailand’s military government has frequently resorted to arbitrary detention and criminal proceedings to silence those criticizing the government or raising concerns about political developments in the country. However, it is not only political activists that have been targeted. Human rights researchers have also been investigated for their work on rights violations, lawyers for defending their clients, land rights activists for supporting communities at risk, journalists for reporting on sensitive topics, and academics for expressing opinions on academic freedom.

We haven’t read the whole report yet, but a couple of points might be made.

The first is that the report fails to mention the case of Burin Intin, a welder and a protester, who was arrested in late April 2016 and recently sentenced to more than 11 years for lese majeste. We are not sure why this is, and would appreciate some advice about this omission. Has he been “disowned” by the activists? If so, why?

The second point refers to the emphasis on “civil society.” We know this is AI’s bread and butter, but one thing that mangles Thailand’s politics is the fact that civil society there is politically sliced and diced in much the same way as the whole of political society. Civil society groups do not all support freedom of expression or progressive politics.


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