Dead king, dead dog, lese majeste case goes on

28 06 2017

Thanakorn Siripaiboon was arrested at his house in Samut Prakan Province on 8 December 2015. He was arrested by military and police officers who invoked Article 44 of the then Interim Constitution which gives The Dictator absolute authority to maintain national security. He was accused and then charged with violating the lese majeste law by spreading “sarcastic” content via Facebook which allegedly mocked Thong Daeng, the royal dog.

Both the king and the dog are now deceased.

In one of the most bizarre lese majeste cases ever heard in an increasingly bizarre royalist Thailand, Thanakorn, who has been on bail, sought to have his case heard in a civilian court.

But as Prachatai reports, his appeal was rejected and the “Court Jurisdiction Committee has decided that a lèse majesté suspect accused of mocking the late King’s favourite dog will be tried in a military court.”

He also faces charge under the Computer Crimes Act.

In a separate case, he has been indicted under the sedition law, for posting an infographic on the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal on Facebook.





The (in)justice system at work

27 06 2017

The “justice” system continues to operate in the interests of some and discriminates again others. It is a system that ensures injustice in Thailand. Far from the claims made by the military dictatorship, there is no notion of blind justice and it is a nonsense that “everyone must adhere to the law.”

In late September 2014, 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew died. He was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February 2014, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed. He had been confined to hospital for seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.

He was shot as anti-democrat protesters supporting Suthep Thaugsuban sought to block the election by besieging the Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally. Arkaew had joined those supporting an election.

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-election demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and were cheered by the anti-democrats. Four people were seriously injured in the shooting.

At the time, anti-democrat co-leader Issara Somchai admitted that the shooters on that day belonged to his lot, saying that the man who fired a gun hidden in a popcorn bag was their man. When he was arrested, shooter Vivat Yodprasit stated “still loves and respects PCAD [Suthep’s PDRC] leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” He worked as a PDRC “guard.” Vivat said he worked protecting Suthep [opens a PDF].

Initially he confessed in great detail, then withdrew that, but was still convicted. Now an Appeals Court has “dismissed the charges against a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ accused of attempting to murder red shirt protesters in February 2014.” After he was convicted he also admitted to a journalist that he was a shooter at Laksi.

Initially indicted on more than ten charges “under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code, for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public,” he got 37 years in jail. The “Appeal Court dismissed the charges, citing weak evidence.”

Although the charges against Vivat were dismissed by the Appeals Court, “the court did not release him. He will be kept in detention while the prosecution appeals to the Supreme Court.”





“Everyone must adhere to the law”

27 06 2017

Knuckle-draggers, knuckle-heads and other anti-democrats have gotten pretty darn agitated by Yingluck Shinawatra’s recent tears. We don’t imagine that any of them can see past their hatred of a popular politician and her troubles as concocted by the military dictatorship.

But one line by Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan caught our eye. In dismissing Yingluck, he reportedly stated that “everyone must adhere to the law.”

Prawit is the nitwit with the tongue

If that were true, he wouldn’t be Deputy Dictator and illegal coup-makers would be jailed.

If that were true, the popcorn gunman wouldn’t have been acquitted.

If that were true, the Thai Rak Thai Party would not have been dissolved using law retrospectively.

If that were true, the military dictatorship would have 3,000 people awaiting trial for reposting a BBC Thai story on King Vajiralongkorn.

If that were true, there would have been an investigation of the theft of the 1932 plaque.

If that were true, all those committing torture, disappearances and so on, would be jailed.

If that were true, military murders would be jailed.

If that were true, the Red Bull killer would be in jail.

If that were true…. We don’t need to go on. This general is a nasty nitwit.





Updated: Torture and lese majeste

27 06 2017

Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists reckon that “Thailand had pledged 10 years ago to respect and protect the rights of all people to be free from torture and other ill-treatment by ratifying the Convention against Torture. But the organisations said they remained concerned that torture remains prevalent.”

We don’t imagine that the two NGOs are surprised. After all, Thailand’s military and police use torture regularly and as standard practice. They even use it when training their own recruits. It is just normal for the thugs.

One form of torture that seems relatively new relates to lese majeste. A few years ago, at about the time that the then government was “pledging” to end torture, royalist thugs came up with the idea of keeping those accused of lese majeste in jail until they confessed.

This form of torture has been refined. Now, those accused of lese majeste are kept out of courts until they confess. If they don’t confess, then court proceedings dragged out over months and even years, are secret. Sometimes not even family or lawyers know about the court date. Sometimes not even the defendant knows and courts take decisions without the defendant or a lawyer present.

Royalist courts are never going to provide justice in lese majeste cases. However, a guilty plea means the courts don’t even have to deal with the case. All they do is sentencing.

The most recent example of this kind of lese majeste torture involves a 59 year old man who has been locked up for three years until he finally entered a guilty plea.

The report says he faces up to 50 years in jail, but this is wrong (a point made later in the report) for it accepts that the sentence will likely reduced by half for his guilty plea and because Thailand “limits” sentences to 50 years. In fact, the nonsensical nature of lese majeste should be emphasized by noting that he could be sentenced to more than 100 years in jail.

On 26 June 2017, the “Military Court in Bangkok postponed the sentencing of Tara W., a 59-year-old seller of Thai traditional medicine accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, after he pleaded guilty.” He will now be sentenced on 9 August 2017.

Tara W. is one of the Banpot 6/8/10/14 (the number varied as arrests were made). He and another decided to fight the case (we don’t know any more about the other defendant). Tara sold traditional medicine but was accused of being the “owner of a tourism website, okthai.com, which is now blocked by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.” It is even blocked overseas. [Update: Not blocked. Thanks to a reader for directing us.] Blocking seems to mean taking down but maintaining a blocked notice. We hope the regime is paying for the domain name.

As the report states, a “tiny corner of the website allegedly contained a banner with a link promoting the programmes of Hassadin U., also known as ‘DJ Banpodj’, the head of the so-called Banpodj Network, which has allegedly produced podcasts criticising the monarchy.”

Tara faces six lese majeste charges and other charges under the Computer Crime Act.

He had claimed that he “only uploaded them [the clips] for their information on traditional medicine.” He was arrested on 25 January 2015 and has remained in jail since.

That constitutes torture. There’s several other human rights mangled by the case, but readers should understand that this is now standard practice in royalist Thailand.





What went wrong in 2475?

26 06 2017

There’s been a lot of discussion about 1932/2475 and what went wrong and what went right. One of the big questions asked is whether 85 years is a long time to wait for electoral democracy.

Academics can debate all kinds of things about 2475. How was it that a military faction gained the ascendancy?What was the commitment to democracy and equality? And so on.

But the real issue that needs to be recognized is that the People’s Party proved unable to rid itself of the royal family and royalists.

The path to a new society – and, yes, we do benefit from hindsight – is to establish a republic. Notice that we use the present tense.

Getting rid of royals and their hangers-on is arguably far more difficult now than it was in 2475, because the failure then has allowed them to be stronger now.

If the history of the royalist re-establishment is considered, it is clear that the royalists were far less squeamish in dealing with their foes than were the progressives of 2475. Today, as they have been over the last 85 years, royalists are vicious and retributive.





Release Pai XIV

26 06 2017

We are pleased to pass on the news that Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, or Pai Dao Din, is said to have “passed the last subject of his undergraduate course last Friday…”.

He’ll be celebrating in his jail cell where the military thugs have had him locked up for six months on a trumped up lese majeste charge.

But celebrate he should. This young man, through his stoicism, intellect and commitments, makes the knuckle-draggers in the junta look more ridiculous each day they lock him up. He’s no threat to them or to the monarchy. Indeed, the monarchy and military are more dangerous for each other than a new graduate in Khon Kaen can ever be.

Jatupat’s father, Viboon, also a lawyer, pondered “what his son would do if or when he is released.” He thought:

Perhaps he will go into the field to collect information about human rights violations. Or perhaps, he will return to Loei province where he will offer legal assistance to local communities….

Well, we guess he is a threat to some. By helping the downtrodden he threatens the elite and their comfortable lifestyles, built on the backs of good working people, exploited mercilessly for decades.

Viboon “gathered with dozens of others at Chit Lom BTS station on Thursday to call for the release of Mr Jatupat.” That effort was broken up by 50 thug-police.

With his son, the family remains determined to “be strong and fight for [Jatupat] in the way we know best…”. After all they have faced, it is remarkable that the family still thinks that there is a better Thailand, buried below the injustice muck and detritus of the military dictatorship.

The only way to be sure is to get rid of this corrupt military regime that goosesteps in time with the monarchy.





Arresting one as a threat to many

25 06 2017

This military dictatorship has established a pattern of threat to repress.

In its early days, the military regime arrested hundreds and directly threatened thousands more, the latter mainly in the countryside. That level of mass repression is costly in political terms and a strategy emerged of arresting or high-profile threatening one activist as a way of threatening and repressing similar activists.

One high-profile example was Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa. He was charged with lese majeste and jailed for sharing a BBC Thai story that thousands of others had also shared. Yet the regime went after Jatuphat because he is an activist with links to other activists, several causes and relatively poor villagers.

The most recent arrest is of activist Rangsiman Rome, who was taken into police custody late on Sunday afternoon. Reporting of his arrest are at Khaosod and the Bangkok Post.

Police in Bangkok “detained the New Democracy Movement member on Tao Nao Road near the Oct 14 Memorial, where he was to attend a fund-raising event organised by the group to help political prisoners.”

Yet it seems that it was not this particular event that caused an “arrest warrant for him and 12 other activists for launching a campaign for voters in the area to throw out the draft charter in the referendum held on Aug 7, 2016” was suddenly activated.

Rangsiman expects to be taken before a military tribunal.

He has stated that he “believes the arrest was ordered because he was going to petition the military government to disclose information about the deal it struck with China allowing it to build a high-speed rail connection between Bangkok and Korat.”

Now all those who have been challenging the military junta’s use of Article 44 to push through the rail project know that they are under threat. As Rangsiman stated, “Now we have to postpone it [the petition], otherwise my friends will risk facing the same fate…”.

Or, they could go ahead and see if they do join Rangsiman in jail and ignore the junta’s strategy of repression by example.