The Dictator and violence

23 10 2020

We found the iron bars and violence that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha babbles about, and it is the royalists being violent.

The incident at Ramkhamhaeng University resulted in at least one injury to a young student.

PPT looks at the “break” from protests and sees the regime gaining time for organizing rightists and royalists. Thai PBS sees the lifting of the state of emergency and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s sudden interest in parliament as a tactic. Thai Enquirer points out that The Dictator is not to be trusted or believed.

The unelected dross in the Senate have “rallied” behind the monarch.

The junta’s satanic seed, the Palang Pracharath Party has ordered its MPs to organize activities “in their constituencies to show loyalty to the monarchy.”

Regime-organized royalist rallies are popping up. Among the first in this recent round of mobilization saw soldiers and police disguised as loyalists for the queen. The video tells a story.

For more on the forces of the right, see this academic account.





With 4 updates: The Dictator’s response II

22 10 2020

At about the time that a mass of demonstrators began to march from the Victory Monument, via a couple of half-hearted police road blocks, to Government House, The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha took over Thailand’s national pool broadcasters to explain how he was a democrat.

It may be stating the completely obvious, but we want to point out the contradictions in The Dictator-cum-fake-Democrat general’s speech.

That speech included accusations against the protesters (or their leaders) as violent, extremists, “unThai,” a minority and mob who seek chaos, and anti-monarchists. He didn’t use those terms, but everyone knows the code.

Listening but not hearing

It is Gen Prayudh’s failures, his repression and his lies that, as the pro-regime Bangkok Post reported, led to an ultimatum: “protesters have given the prime minister three days to release detained activists and step down, or face a new round of demonstrations.” We use the official text of The Dictator’s speech, released and published by Thai Enquirer. Protesters have dismissed his (fake) entreaties as too little, too late.

With demonstrators seeking to create a more democratic Thailand, Gen Prayuth calls on them to “sacrifice … their personal desires for the greater good of their country.” That is, to compromise with his illegitimate regime for something less than the protesters want.

He positions himself as “a national leader” who must look after “everyone in this country…”, while taking on the “very extreme” and protecting “the nation” from “dark forces that may seek to damage our country…”. He claims to speak and act for the “huge silent majority” and to rule the country “based on principle, the law, and the will of parliament as the ultimate representative of the people.”

Of course, this is a large pile of buffalo manure that paints the protesters as an extreme minority making “mob demands.”

Gen Prayuth speaks of the need to “step back” from a situation where “violence begets more violence.” But have the protesters been violent? Of course not. The violence has been from the regime and yellow-shirted stooges.

For Prayuth, his big lie is that the protesters who have been violent:

Last Friday night, we saw things that should never be in Thailand. We saw terrible crimes being committed against the police using metal rods and huge cutting implements in brutal attacks, with the aim of severely wounding fellow Thais. But when we look deeper, we can also see that, beyond a small group of ruthlessly violent people with bad intentions….

How high?

Go back and look. Really? Maybe he’s confused. PPT has reviewed all of our collected media reports from that day and there are no reports of such violence by protesters that we can find. All the reports are of the police and their harsh actions to disperse the crowd, which Prayuth does mention, and seems to back away from such tactics.

But then The Dictator switches to “offences against institutions that are held in the highest respect.” He means the monarchy.

His “solution” to the problems he faces is “to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process. It is a slow process, but it is one that best avoids injury to our nation. We must show the maturity and patience to take the middle path.”

There’s a couple of problems with this. First, Gen Prayuth was not prepared to do this in 2014. Then, he overthrew and elected government, did not support elections, ditched the constitution and imposed a regime of draconian repression, filling parliament with his cronies and rigged the constitutional and electoral system. Why believe he’s had a change of mind? Second, the parliament that exists today is the bastard child of the military coup. It is stacked with an unelected senate that was selected by the junta – and Prayuth himself – and the “election” was rigged. How does Prayuth’s parliament find a way forward?

So, when Prayuth babbles about “respect the due process of law, and then let the will of the people be resolved in parliament,” he’s being completely disingenuous.

Mind. Clipped from a Reuters photo

Prayuth continues to base much of his “conviction” around the monarchy. That’s why he tells protesters to “turn down the volume on hateful and divisive talk.” As the protesters know, real reform must involve the monarchy. It must be discussed. The ultra-royalists fear this. They fear, as Prayuth does, that the foundation of the ruling order will be lost.

Update 1: In a demonstration of how empty Gen Prayuth’s speech was, within two hours of protesters giving him “a three day deadline to step down or face more demonstrations,” the protester who made the announcement, Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon, was arrested. The arrest was live streamed. Today, she was released, the court having “deemed the charges were not serious and that she still needed to attend classes and exams, so bail was granted without having to submit any guarantees.”

Update 2: Mind was released on bail today.

Update 3: The state of emergency “in Bangkok, and related orders,” has been revoked “effective from noon on Thursday,” with The Dictator saying that “the violence that prompted it is over.” We remain baffled by that claim.

Update 4: Prachatai has reproduced the letter/demand protesters presented for The Dictator last evening at Government House. It reads:

“Whereas I, Prayut Chan-o-cha, have used arbitrary power, bought and sold votes, threatened to impose a gangster’s constitution, traded benefits and positions and used the institution of the monarchy as a justification to get hold of the position of the Prime Minister,

“In order to maintain the dignity of my family, the dignity of the position of Prime Minister and the dignity of the country and to express my respect for the people who hold sovereign power, I, Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, hereby resign from the position of the Prime Minister.”





International solidarity

22 10 2020

We are late in getting to this letter of solidarity:

 

 

Date : 20th October, 2020.

To: His Excellency Mr. Narong Sasitorn

Ambassador of Thailand to Malaysia

Royal Thai Embassy

206 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur

STOP CRACKDOWN ON PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN THAILAND

We are deeply concerned over the situation in Thailand as Prayut administration continues to suppress the pro-democracy movement.

We have witnessed a massive wave of pro-democracy demonstration in recent month, which puts forward 3+10 demands for democratic reforms. These demands are:

– Dissolution of the parliament to hold a fresh, free and fair election.

– End intimidation of the people who criticize the government.

–  A new constitution to replace the current military-sanctioned constitution.

–  10 demands of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration to reform the Thai monarchy in line with democratic principles, including the abolition of the draconian lèse-majesté law.

The government of Thailand led by Prayut Chan-o-cha has responded with repressive measure including the declaration of “severe” state of emergency on 15 October 2020, banning or blocking of online media that is critical of the government, using excessive force to disperse protesters, and arrests of pro-democracy activists.

A number of pro-democracy activists have been arrested in recent days and many were denied bail. Most of them were charged with “sedition” or violating the newly promulgated Emergency Decree. This is an attempt by the Thai government to silence dissent and suppress the pro-democracy movement. Among the pro-democracy activists who have been arrested are:

– Anon Nampa (human rights lawyer)

– Prasit Karutarote (student activist)

– Parit Chiwarak (student activist)

– Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul (student activist)

– Nutchanon Pairoj (student activist)

– Ekachai Hongkangwan (former lèse-majesté prisoner)

– Somyot Pruksakasemsuk (labour activist and former lèse-majesté prisoner)

We strongly condemn the government of Thailand for the ongoing crackdown on the pro-democracy movement.

We call upon the government of Thailand to:

– Immediately  release of pro-democracy activists who have been detained and all political

prisoners.

– Drop charges against pro-democracy activists.

– Lift the state of emergency and end crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

– Stop the intimidation against pro-democracy activities.

– Repeal repressive laws including the lèse-majesté laws.

– Fulfil the 3+10 demands that put forward by the pro-democracy movement.

Choo Chon Kai

International Affairs Bureau

Socialist Party of Malaysia


International Bureau, Socialist Party of Malaysia / Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

Address: No. 140A, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, 50470 Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA.
Tel/Fax: +60-3-22762247, (mobile) +60-19-5669518
E-mail: (headquarters) pusat@partisosialis.org/
(international bureau) int.psm@gmail.com

visit our website at:

PSM





With 3 updates: The Dictator’s response I

21 10 2020

The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, is tone deaf. So hard of political hearing that he’s doubling down against the students and other protesters, seemingly prepared to risk clashes and extreme violence.

Voice TV has been defiant on the court ordered shutdown. But Gen Prayuth has ordered state authorities to crackdown hard, especially on anti-monarchy statements and images, stating: “We are duty-bound to protect the country and eliminate ill-intentioned actions aimed at creating chaos and conflict in the country…”. He’s talking about the monarchy.

In a piece of good news, and in an act that goes against the judiciary’s pro-authoritarian bent, the Criminal Court on Wednesday “repealed a government order to close down a TV channel [Voice TV] who’s been broadcasting live coverage of the student-led protests…”.

Voice TV “representatives argued to the court that the shutdown order breached the constitutional protection of media freedom…. The argument was accepted by the court, who noted that the order did not cite any clear wrongdoing.”

But other parts of the judicial system acted against democracy. Many will have seen reports that several of those arrested had been bailed. Not so fast. A Bangkok Post report states:

Two protest leaders, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, were taken to the Criminal Court on Wednesday as Bangkok police pressed charges against them for their part in an anti-government rally at Sanam Luang on Sept 19.

Samran Rat police took the two pro-democracy activists from the Region 1 Border Patrol Police camp in Pathum Thani province to the court, ariving around 10.50am on Wednesday.

The two Thammasat University students were released on bail by Thanyaburi court on Tuesday afternoon, before police took them to the Region 1 Border Patrol Police camp in Khlong Luang district.

Mr Parit and Ms Panusaya were also wanted on arrest warrants from other police stations for their roles in anti-government rallies in Bangkok and other provinces.

In other words, the police and regime can continue to keep them on political ice.

More than this, the arrest continue, even in the fake case of “royal endangerment.” Suranat Paenprasert, a coordinator for children’s welfare and anti-drug advocacy group “Active Youth,” was charged with Article 110 of the Criminal Codes, which bans committing acts of violence against the Queen or [h]er [l]iberty.” It is a fit up, but the regime want to raise the temperature of ultra-royalists, while removing activists.

Meanwhile, the royalists are getting organized, with support from the state. Seeing the students and other protesters as “misled” and “duped” – terms also use when denigrating red shirts – Warong Dechgitvigrom warned of “the plot”: “pro-democracy protesters’ demands were not legitimate, especially those concerning the monarchy.” And, he added that there were hidden backers: “group leaders did not want to show themselves to avoid legal action.”

Helping him out, “Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin yesterday spoke about his Facebook post urging people in Chon Buri to exercise their power to protect the monarchy.” That’s a call to action and probably arms.

The state is now actively engaged in mobilizing royalists. The Bangkok Post reports:

Crowds estimated to number in the tens of thousands led by local administrators gathered in several in provinces on Wednesday in a show of loyalty to the royal institution.

The royalist demonstrations, staged in response to recent calls by some student protesters for reform of the monarchy, took place in provinces including Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Lampang, Nan, Narathiwat and Songkhla….

Similar gatherings were planned in provinces before the end of this month.

Bangkok Post: An estimated 20,000 yellow-clad people march in Sungai Kolok district of Narathiwat on Wednesday morning to show their loyalty to the royal institution. (Photo by Waedao Harai). The Post always downplays and vastly underestimates the size of student rallies.

The states involvement is a dangerous turn of events and The Dictator seems to be digging in. We are not sure that can save him. How desperate can he become?

Update 1: The Bangkok Post appears to be aiding the regime. One of its latest “stories” is about continuing protests and the ultra-royalist marches mentioned above. It reports that “authorities are worried about possible clashes between the two groups in the future.” Again, the post goes full ultra by not pointing out that it is the authorities who are mobilizing the royalists. Indeed, many of those who marched were in civil service uniforms! The Post, by playing dumb, is aiding and abetting any violence that the state unleashes.

Update 2: The Nation makes it clear that the royalists were mainly officials.

Update 3: Social media reports that the first attacks on protesters by yellow shirted royalists took place at Ramkhamhaeng University around 5-6pm today.





Updated: Down with Feudalism, Long Live Citizens!

20 10 2020

Rallies today were not as high-profile as over the last few days. Despite a call from Free Youth for supporters to save their energy, large groups rallied in provincial cities and at a couple of sites in Bangkok.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

At the same time, the police look ed silly as they assembled in places where there were few protesters.

Supporters were urged to go to BTS stations and “flash a three-fingered salute after the national anthem ends at 6pm…”. They were also to shout “the protest’s slogan ‘Down with Feudalism, Long Live Citizens’!”

A Free Youth social media post declared:

Let’s rest for the day. For a week, we fought bravely together. But the government is not aware feudalism is about to collapse. Since they ignore out calls, they’d better wait for a big announcement on Wednesday….

On the topic of the regime’s political hearing impairment, readers are encouraged to peruse “The future of Thailand hangs in the balance,” an opinion piece by well-known academics Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker. We think the title slightly misrepresents the content, which really says that the future of Thailand is in the hands of the protesters rater than with the political dinosaurs.

On the topic of feudalism, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the Progressive Movement, has called for “the House of Representatives to set up a committee on reform of the monarchy…”.

Piyabutr said:

“Like it or not. Agree with it or not. Until today, nobody can deny the fact that a large number of people have raised a proposal – for the reform of the monarchy.

“But since Gen Prayut (Chan-o-cha) said at a press briefing that he, as the head of government, is duty-bound to protect the monarchy, how can we find a common way out?

“I would like the House of Representatives to pass a resolution to set up a committee on the reform of the monarchy and make it a safe zone for discussing this matter. It is where the people’s proposal can be pushed for implementation to enable the monarchical institution to co-exist with democracy. This is the only way to protect the monarchy in this era.

“The protection of the monarchy does not mean coercion, suppression or intentional evasion of the issue.”

The challenge to the regime is clear.

Update: The Nation reports that “1,118 academics have signed the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights’ petition demanding that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha step down.” More, they demanded that “the Constitution to be rewritten so it is more democratic and for the monarchy to be reformed.”





With 3 updates: Voice TV shut down (but not quite)

20 10 2020

While not unexpected, the regime has decided to shut down media broadcasting about and in support of the demonstrators. The first victim is Voice TV.

The government claims “a court backed its order to close down ‘all platforms’ of … [Voice] TV channel…”. Ministry of Digital Economy and Society Deputy Permanent Secretary Putchong Ntethaisong “said Voice TV must now shut down all of its broadcasts, whether on air or social media, due to violations of the emergency decree.”

He added that “the court is also deliberating on the shutdown order for three other media sites: The Standard, The Reporters, and Prachatai.”

Putchong went on to accuse “Voice TV and three other media agencies of spreading information that could cause unrest in the country, which is banned under the Severe State of Emergency imposed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha…”. Of course, by “spreading information,” the regime means news that for several nights via YouTube has been a largely uninterrupted and without much editorial comment.

The regime does not want people to see what’s happening. Worse, it could be that it wants to prevent the broadcast of any further state crackdown.

Update 1: Thai Enquirer quotes The Dictator:

Speaking after the cabinet meeting, Prayut said that a much-reported gag order on some news agencies were to prevent the spread of “fake news” which has exacerbated the conflict within the country.

Prayut said the order was necessary to maintain peace.

“Any agency that has to be shut down will be shut down as according to the continuous police procedures and I am not violating anyone’s rights,” he said.

“My job is to prevent any harm done on the country and to stop the efforts to incite unrest and create a rift within the society,” he said.

Of course, he’s lying. There’s been no “fake news” that we have seen, except from the likes of Nation TV. And, he’s violating everyone’s rights to protect himself, the king and his regime.

Update 2: Voice TV continues to broadcast, vowing to defy the military-backed regime.

Update 3: The broadcaster continued last evening, with several live broadcasts from spots where protesters congregated. In one of these, a vigorous statement of commitment to the promotion of democracy was a message to the regime.





The regime goes lower II

20 10 2020

Dozens arrested – although it may be a lot more – and with protest rallies continuing, the regime is dipping ever lower into its dictatorial bag of repression tactics and dirty tricks.

As one experienced reporter had it:

Busy day for the Thai Ministry of Censorship [Ministry of Digital Economy and Society]. 300,000 bits of online content deemed threatening to nat[ional] security (monarchy mostly), Telegram app ordered blocked, 4 news organisations threatened with suspension and a publishing house raided. What next?

That’s an excellent question.

There have been some developments over the last 12 or so hours.

The regime has just released some of those held, but not those seen as long-term anti-monarchists. We would expect the released activists to further strengthen the anti-regime protests.

Panupong Jadnok was “detained for 12 days for sedition and altering a historic site.” The sedition charge seems to be a lese majeste charge in disguise and is “related to his participation in the September 19 protest…. The second charge was related to his role in the installing of the 2020 coup memorial plaque in Sanam Luang on September 20.”

But it is the response to repression that is most interesting.

Following the regime’s decision to investigate the Standard, the Reporter, Prachathai, and Voice TV, the editorial board of Thai Enquirer published the following statement:

Journalism is not a crime, censorship is not an option.

That the government of Prayut Chan-ocha would choose to censor free and digital media at a time of national emergency is indicative of the type of government that it actually is. Whether that censorship is in whole or in part, both are unacceptable to a free and fair society.

Instead of dialogue, opening up discussion and press, the government has chosen to embrace its authoritarian roots and censor, shutdown, and intimidate journalists working to present the news.

The government of Prayut Chan-ocha should, instead of censoring the press, read the content of new and digital media to understand the grievances and viewpoints of the people it claims to represent.

The Thai Enquirer calls on the government to rescind the gag order immediately and to engage in dialogue with the press, the opposition and the people.

Even the Bangkok Post seems to have found something resembling a spine, observing:

It seems this government is blind to the fact that truth can no longer be distorted nor narratives crafted by those in the seats of power. Blocked websites can be accessed by alternate means and social media transcends geographical boundaries.

Its efforts at censorship may ultimately be a bigger blight on its reputation than the already disseminated content it futilely hopes to redact.

The Post urges discussions between “student leaders” and the regime. PPT doesn’t think that there’s much point talking with a regime that includes heroin smugglers and corrupt and murderous generals, has engaged in enforced disappearances and a myriad of human rights abuses is worth talking with. It is a regime that came to power via a coup, changed laws to suit itself, came up with a rigged constitution and arranged a rigged election and rigged parliament. Talking with this regime is unlikely to be anything other than a waste of air.





Tearing them down

19 10 2020

The website Royal Central has noticed that anti-monarchism runs deep among pro-democracy activists and their supporters.

It notes that:

Protestors in Bangkok have torn down photos of King Maha Vajiralongkorn (also called Rama X) and Queen Suthida.

Videos have emerged of protestors tearing down photos of the King and Queen while chanting “Get out!”

And not just in Bangkok. The photos of the royals are everywhere – it is a central element of palace propaganda – so have become easy targets throughout the country, being torn down, defaced and covered in anti-monarchist graffiti.

It refers to videos that has gone viral on social media showing tattoos of the dead king removed and street art “calling for a republic, and many of the demonstrators have been seen carrying signs saying ‘Republic of Thailand’.”

Protests are “being seen as the biggest threat to the Thai monarchy in decades.”

Thailand banned gatherings of five people or more last week in an effort to curb the anti-monarchy protests, but instead of stopping the protests, it has added more fuel to the fire. Police have sprayed protestors with water laced with chemicals to end the protests, but demonstrators have continued to gather to fight for democracy in their country.

The report also notes the “controversy in Germany” where it has been officially stated that “the King is not allowed to reign from their soil. They are said to also be watching the demonstrations in Thailand very closely.”





Thailand’s super-queen

19 10 2020

The palace propaganda that developed over many decades has always portrayed royals as “good” and with super intellects. One can never know how intelligent or dull they are because no one could ask or challenge and one never knew if what was in their name was their own thought. We do know that Vajiralongkorn was never very bright.

One of the ways the royals were propagandized as geniuses was was through honorary degrees. The dead king, who had a high school diploma, has a whole Wikipedia page on all the “trophies” he was given, almost all arranged for him by government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He held the “world record” for honorary doctorates at almost 140. Chiang Mai University gave him 14 in one year and in another year Kasetsart gave him 11. He got some of them in areas remote from his claimed “expertise.”

In recent days, Queen Suthida appears to have surpassed King Bhumibol for the number of honorary degrees in one year – in fact, all in one day! She got 19 from different Rajaphat universities at a ceremony where the bosses of all 38 Rajaphat universities showed up to present her with her “awards.” That’s one hell of a super queen!

We are sure that we at PPT aren’t the only ones astounded by such nonsensical posterior polishing. Both king and queen seem anything but sharp in their responses.

As a footnote, it was noticed that about this time, Consort Sineenat went home. Readers will recall that when he was unhappy with her and had her jailed, he also demolished the family home. Presumably it has been rebuilt.





Updated: The regime goes lower I

19 10 2020

It is widely reported that the regime is trying to censor news and even withdraw or block content that is about the pro-democracy uprising. See, for example, The Isaan Record. However, some of these reports have been removed. We are not sure what this means.

The censorship is aimed at media that have rallied behind the protesters and some that livestream the protests. This includes Voice TV, The Standard, The Reporters, and Prachatai. There is also a move to block the protesters official social media pages.

Such desperate and oafish moves are likely to fail, incite more protests and may be defied.

Update: There are now social media reports that the regime is sending out police to collect “dangerous” publications, including some academic works on the 1932 revolution. How low will it go?