Masters of repression IV

24 07 2021

The masters of repression have been hard at work.

Several outlets, including The Nation, reported that a “total of 154 pro-democracy demonstrators from eight protest groups were prosecuted between July 2 and 18…”. That seems to be something of a boast by the Metropolitan Police Bureau or perhaps it is just reassuring higher levels and yellow-shirted zealots that repression is strong.

Emphasizing the use of virus rules, “all were charged with violating the emergency decree and disease control acts,” in addition to a range of other laws, including sedition and lese majeste.

At the same time, responding to the zealots, the police are planning to “ask the Criminal Court to revoke temporary release granted to pro-democracy leaders who [they claim] broke bail conditions by joining protests.” One senior cop also made the extraordinary threat that “protest leaders who hold rallies will be charged with causing the virus to spread.”

So callous have the police become that they ignore bodies of the dead in the street while seeking to arrest the “two Covid-19 patients who protested in front of Government House on Wednesday evening…”. The police say that: “After they recover, both will be charged for joining several previous protests…”.

What do you say about such grotesque behavior? It is simply cruel. And it is this gross cruelty that they celebrate.

Meanwhile, lawfare is waged against regime critics, involving preposterous “charges.” By now, most readers will already know of the defamation action by Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha against rapper Danupa “Milli” Kanaterrakul, just 18 years-old, “for criticising him on social media.”

She had tweeted that the government’s handling of the virus situation was hopeless. According to The Nation“ she tweeted: “The situation is bad. The government does nothing at all.” One can see such comments in every news outlet. Tens of thousands have tweeted similar things and millions agree with them.

Unaccountably, she “confessed to the charge and paid a 2,000-baht fine.”

Even Tongthong Chandransu, a former dean of the Faculty of Law at Chulalongkorn University, observed: “A government is not a juristic person. It therefore cannot be the damaged party in a criminal case.”

But legal action is not something that bothers the regime. Digital Economy Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn has “warned people, especially celebrities, against posting ‘false information’ on social media.” Fake news is one thing, but it is clear that the regime is targeting criticism, when Chaiwut stated:

Actors are influencers or public figures whom people love. Please don’t exploit this advantage for their political agenda by attacking the government. It is tantamount to distorting information and spreading fake news…. Please don’t look from only one side. You have to think of what the government has done as well — procuring good vaccines that meet standards just like what our neighbours do….

Gen Prayuth’s special lawfare “committee tasked with monitoring and taking legal action against people who propagate on social media false information about him and his cabinet” – well, any criticism – “has filed hundreds of complaints.”

Following up on celebrities, Thai PBS reported that “[a]s many as 25 Thai celebrities have been or are being investigated over their criticism of the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, especially concerning the currently inadequate national vaccine rollout and other pandemic measures…”.

Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tavichai the list of celebrities was “submitted by the prime minister’s lawyer to police…”. He said that those “who called out specific members of the government may be subject to defamation charges, while others may be subject to charges under computer crime regulations for entering false information into a computer system.”

The regime is fighting a losing battle on this as the criticism expands by the day as the number of deaths and infections grow. But it insists on fighting battles with political opponents it fears may ignite protest.


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