Intimidation of one and all

7 06 2017

One of the defining features of Thailand’s military dictatorship is intimidation. Intimidation of individuals, groups and the nation.

Individuals are intimidated by police and soldiers. Recently, soldiers “visited” the house of Cholticha Jang-rew, an anti-junta activist from Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), in Pathum Thani.

She wasn’t home, so the soldiers intimidated her mother, demanding that she cease all political activities.

Each intimidation of an individual is meant as an “example” to others, not unlike the lese majeste case against Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, singled out from thousands of others for “special” attention for sharing a BBC Thai story about the king.

When the junta targets individuals and groups it is difficult to ignore as it is active; the soldiers arrive on one’s doorstep. Scores of activists have fled the country to escape intimidation and jail. Yet exile is also a form of repression.

Intimidating the nation involves the multiplication of the intimidation of individuals and groups. It also involves the capacity of the military junta to demand that its voice be heard while it silences other voices.

Soonruth Bunyamanee, a deputy editor of the Bangkok Post reports that The Dictator has decreed that all television stations in the national pool must show the pure propaganda of the junta as it bellows about its “achievements.” Twelve episodes, each of half an hour, means six hours of junta propaganda spewed out to the nation.

This kind of intimidation is easier to avoid. After all, there are DVDs and satellite television as well as online media. Even so, the old heads in the junta will be reassuring themselves that the children have heard their propaganda.