Updated: Lese dictateur

13 07 2015

About a week ago PPT posted on a story that police chief and wealthy businessman Somyos Pumpanmuang was about to arrest persons who spread rumors that self-appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his wife sent ten billion baht to Singapore.

In that post we wondered which law the police were using and suggested that anyone talking badly about The Dictator might be charged under a lese dictateur law.Prayuth

At the time, Somyos tried to link “the suspect … with 14 previously detained students from the anti-coup New Democracy Movement…”.

With Prayuth saying the “culprit” was from Thammasat University, it may have been a “surprise” that the “suspect” arrested turns out to be an alleged “red shirt.”

Police arrested and paraded Rinda Parichabutr, 45, at the police headquarters. She is charged with the equivalent of lese dictateur and faces up to 12 years for “violating Computer Crime Act, inciting unrest, and causing panic among the public.”

Odd that, for we saw no panic and no unrest. But we did see an upset, angry and nasty Prayuth.

According to Somyos, “Rinda wrote on her Facebook on 6 July that Gen. Prayuth transferred 10 billion baht to an offshore bank account in Singapore.” He claimed Rinda admitted to this.

Somyos went on to claim that Rinda had a “connection” with an “overseas anti-monarchy network headed by Manoon Chaichana, aka ‘Anek San Francisco,’ a Redshirt activist believed to be residing in the United States.”Police had previously attempted to create an Anek network responsible for a “second coup rumor” in June and a “red shirt bombing plot” in March. Both claims seem to have been part of an attempt by the military dictatorship to extradite lese majeste victims as “terrorists.”

Interestingly, at a “press conference” organized by the police, Rinda stated, quite reasonably: “I think that, as a citizen, I have the rights to criticize and express my opinion, since the Prime Minister is a public figure…”.

She is right, given that the civilian courts have previously ruled in exactly in this way in defamation cases, not least in some where Thaksin Shinawatra lost cases on the basis that he was a politician. Of course, Prayuth considers himself as above the station of politicians and above civilian law.

Update: Remarkably, when Rinda was jailed, a group of protesters assembled outside the Bangkok Remand Prison “to urge the release of an anti-establishment red shirt single mother charged with sedition for posting a false rumour about the Thai junta leader.”

The police are reported to have “charged her under Articles 116 and 348 of the Penal Code, the laws on sedition and on spreading rumours that might cause public panic…. [and] under Article 14/2 of the Computer Crime Code for importing false information into the internet.” She faces the prospect of many years in prison.

Protesters stated that “[p]osting a message doesn’t destroy national security. If the military is really strong, the [military] government which came to power like this should not be afraid of a small woman…”. Another added that the “security of Gen Prayut is not same as the security of the nation…. If you are the PM, you must be able to accept this. You are not the nation, the nation is the people.”

The Resistant Citizen Group demanded the woman’s unconditional release.

Not long after, a military court reversed an earlier decision and allowed Rinda bail.

Lese majeste and the crushing of justice

8 07 2016

In a couple of posts, about a year ago, PPT referred to the “development” of “legal” notions that seemed to amount to a new “law” that we dubbed “lese dictateur.” This “law” was protecting The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

At the time, we did not link this “law” to the Bike for Dad shenanigans and the clutch of lese majeste cases that resulted from very odd claims about an “assassination plot.”

Bike for dad

At the time of the Bike for Dad event, celebrating the king and and supposedly organized by  and showcasing Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, it was never made clear who the target of the “plot” was.

We do know that the event resulted in the “death” in custody of two men who had been close to the prince. In neo-feudal Thailand, the deaths of Suriyan Sujaritpalawong and Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha were never adequately investigated or explained.

It was never made clear how the “plotters” – referred to by the media and regime as “terrorists” – had committed lese majeste. Rumors were that the “target” was The Dictator himself. If that was so, then it was unclear how lese majeste was a charge.

In other words, the Bike for Dad deaths and plot were shrouded in neo-feudal and military junta-imposed secrecy and a fog of rumor.

Prachatai reports that this in not going to change. The trial, in a provincial military court, of the alleged “plotters” will be held in secret:

Citing national peace and order, a military court has given the green light to the prosecution’s request to hold the trial of six lèse majesté suspects in secret. They are alleged to have been involved in a Bike for Dad terrorist plot and making lèse majesté comments behind bars.

The “Military Court in Khon Kaen approved the military prosecutor’s request to hold a secret trial for Prathin Chanket and five other suspects charged with lèse majesté, arguing that a public trial would affect national peace and order since the case contained sensitive messages…”.

The secret trial will begin on 4 August 2016.

This trial now revolves around the six suspects being accused of, “some time between August 2014 and February 2015, the defendants uttered three lèse majesté messages to two witnesses.” (They still face cases under other laws for a “terrorist” plot.)

That, apparently, is the totality of lese majeste aspect of the allegations.

Remarkably, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, “during that time [when they committed the alleged lese majeste], the defendants were being detained separately at a prison in Khon Kaen Province.”

It is understood they were being held as defendants in another murky case brought by the military dictatorship, claiming they plotted separate anti-coup actions in 2014, when they were arrested and jailed.

As might be expected from persons already incarcerated, all the defendants therefore denied the lese majeste allegation.

Prayuth’s authoritarian Thailand is a lawless place where justice is crushed under the military boot.

Ridiculing The Dictator not sedition

19 05 2016

In a tiny piece of news that suggests that someone, somewhere in the military junta’s network has an ounce of sense still lurking, the military court “has dismissed a sedition charge against a red shirt who posted a rumour about the junta head [The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha]…”.

At the time we called this sedition charge the equivalent of lese dictateur, with Prayuth seeming to allocate a royal-like status to his own person.

Rinda Parichabutr isn’t off scot-free, however, as the court seems to have ruled that her post “constitutes defamation, not the instigation of violence.” Rinda was “arrested on 8 July 2015 for spreading a[n allegedly] false rumour through social networks that Gen Prayut … and his wife had deposited about 10 billion baht in a secret bank account in Singapore…”.

She was “charged on 3 counts: sedition, under Article 116 of the Criminal Code [sedition]; spreading rumours that might cause public panic, under Article 384 of the Criminal Code; and importing false information into the internet, under Article 14 (2) of the Computer Crimes Act.” Presumably she still faces that latter two charges and possibly a defamation case.

At least these cases are likely to be before a civilian court.

The Dictator’s majesty

29 01 2016

Don’t mock The Dictator. Despite being a tough guy who mocks others to his hearts content, commands troops that murder citizens, stomps on human rights and locks opponents up, General Prayuth Chan-ocha is thin-skinned, emotional and has yet has feelings (about himself).

Almost like a king, it is decreed that no one may mock the sensitive dictator. This seems like another case of lese dictateur.

A former city council member “was arrested last night for resharing a music video mocking Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on the LINE application with his friends and family.” Naturally, it did not help that Narong Roonthanawong represented the Puea Thai Party.

Remarkably, for sharing a song with family and friends, Narong finds himself “charged with violating article 14 of the Computer Crime Act” for spreading “false computer data into the system in a manner that is likely to cause damage to another person or the public.” Narong could face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 60,000 baht.

In The Dictator’s Thailand, he is protected as if he is a monarch. No joking, no puns, no mocking. Only enforced silence or North Korea-like adulation is permitted when it comes to The Dictator.

The music video “For our beloved uncle,” has been widely shared across the country.

Narong will be required to apologize and slither about for the great man’s pride to be satisfied and he could still go to jail to teach a lesson to all those who do not love the increasingly kingly Prayuth.

Rinda has bail renewed

30 07 2015

The Nation reports that a “military court has ordered the woman accused of starting the rumour about Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha transferring his money abroad to report on August 14 after it renewed her bail yesterday.”

This refers to Rinda “Lin” Parichabutr or Paruechabut, said to be a red-shirt supporter who spread a rumor on social media that Prayuth and his wife had transferred 10 billion baht to Singapore via a dodgy South Pacific-based bank.

Rinda is due to report back to the military’s court on 14 August. She is represented by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. Her bail is “Bt100,000 as a bail collateral and released under the condition that she does not express her political opinion or incite social disturbances. She is forbidden from travelling abroad without the court’s permission.”

She is accused of lese dictateur or in the words of the junta’s laws, “violating Article 116 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crimes Act by spreading the rumour.”

Still disingenuous

8 07 2015

Several recent stories indicate the paucity of grey matter and political skills amongst the military dictatorship and its servants.

First, at the Bangkok Post, police chief and wealthy businessman Somyos Pumpanmuang is hot on the trail of the persons “who spread rumours on social media that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his wife wired ten billion baht to Singapore.” He could not actually “reveal information in the case yet because it would make their work more difficult” but he claims, as always to be hot on the trail of a rumor. As might be expected, Prayuth has denied the rumor, and we imagine that he has had a tantrum as well.

At least he did acknowledge that he didn’t know “the intentions of the person behind the rumours,” but we guess he figures that anyone talking badly about The Dictator must be up to no good because Prayuth’s reputation, like the king’s, can’t be sullied by rumor. Somyos is probably thinking of a kind of lese dictateur law.Prayuth

Remarkably and dishonestly, Somyos said his Keystone cops “are checking if the suspect is connected with 14 previously detained students from the anti-coup New Democracy Movement.” This is simply as stupid as it gets amongst the troglodytes grinding Thailand under.

Equally stupidly, Prayuth says he’s been told that “those who put out the information were from Thammasat University.” Rumor and pranks are not the stuff that is likely to bother grown-up dictators but they seem to rattle this lot, and that encourages even more of them.

A second story at the Bangkok Post, is an editorial that we found disturbing. While it welcomes the “military court’s decision to release 14 members of the self-styled New Democracy Movement, it added: “It will help the military regime out of a hole it should not have dug itself into in the first place.” This strikes us as a dumb statement. After all, the junta is in this position because it is a dictatorship.

It is then stated that Prayuth “told the media he had made ‘suggestions’ to the military judiciary about how to handle the case.” Now who was it telling the world that the Thai justice system was fair and unbiased? Oh, yes, it was The Dictator and his spokesman. The Post observes:

Prime Minister Prayut said he had spoken to judicial authorities and made “suggestions” on how to handle the case. He broadcast this startling revelation himself, to the media. The sight of a superior officer influencing the actions of a court — even a military court — is a surprising admission.

It also showed that while Gen Prayut says he must let the wheels of justice roll, he can influence, affect or even reverse that process.

The editorial observes that there “are numerous reasons the students never should have been detained in the first place,” not  that we agree with all the reasons. Yes, they were “entirely peaceful,” but the claim that they should be released because they only “attracted a minuscule crowd that posed absolutely no threat to the regime or to civil order,” ignores the fear and repression of the military dictatorship.

The assertion that the students’ “appeal to the public and political influence was not precisely zero but close to it,” and that it is the “authorities [who] have given them a national audience and widespread sympathy” shows that the Post’s editor and its owners are fully lined up with the dictatorship, even if they agree that the students “deserve a voice, even a seat at the table, but never a prison cell for their thoughts.”

Yet another revealing report at the Bangkok Post is about the people allegedly “behind” the Dao Din students. Recall that the dictatorship was sure that there were “political figures” at work behind the “children.”

A dopeThat absurd claim didn’t have much traction, so General Thawatchai Samutsakhon, a military member of the National Reform Council, decided to come up with an even more absurd accusation. He babbled about the Dao Din students being under the influence of an “ill-intentioned foreign organisation.”

The dim general described a “brainwashing” where the “organisation’s representative had talked with the man’s son for two nights over a month ago…” and reckoned he got this information from one of the student’s fathers.

The father “later denied the claim and said he never met or knew the senior retired officer.” He added that “he didn’t think his son or other students were brainwashed, instigated or hired to speak up against the junta.”

We can assume that this general is a liar.

In a later report, also at the Bangkok Post this particular lie is taken further by “an intelligence team” which has told The Dictator “that a US agency was secretly instigating the students to stand up to the military regime.” While the yellow shirt brigade will lap this up, the U.S. Embassy naturally denied it.

The sensible response was from the student’s father mentioned previously who stated that the Dao Din group had met with representatives of several embassies and the U.N.

The junta looks more ridiculous each day.

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