Bail for some, jail for others

10 05 2016

The Bangkok Post reports that the military court “has allowed bail for the eight administrators of a Facebook page mocking the prime minister but police asked to further detain two them who were also charged with lese majeste.”

The first number refers to the Facebook 8, arrested for poking fun at The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha. They are: Natthika Worathaiyawich, Harit Mahaton, Noppakao Kongsuwan, Worawit Saksamutnan, Yothin Mangkhangsanga, Thanawat Buranasiri, Supachai Saibut, and Kannasit Tangboonthina. Poking The Dictator has seen them charged with sedition and computer crimes.

More seriously, Natthika and Harit have been charged with lese majeste law. The police want these two held without bail.

The Post produced a useful table of the recent charges against the 10 arrested in recent days. We reproduce it below:

FB8++

 





Updated: No rights

10 05 2016

Atiya Achakulwisut at the Bangkok Post on the fallout from Patnaree Chankij’s case and the arrest of the Facebook 8:

What is the point of having our rights and liberties guaranteed in the charter or any other laws when our rulers can override them at any time by citing national security, public order and good morals?

At this point, there is no telling whether a citizen’s rights to privacy and communication still exist. We don’t know either how far the citation of national security, public order and good morals can be extended to suit the regime’s agenda.

A constitution will only be useful if it can protect us, citizens. Will the draft that the military regime is offering us do the job? As a popular online poster suggested: Think, while it’s still legal.

In Thailand, if you are not 100% behind the military dictatorship and at its beck and call, you have no rights.

Update: A reader points out an error. If you are 100% behind the junta, you still don’t have any rights. What you have is the political latitude granted by the junta.





Updated: Panama Papers live

10 05 2016

ICIJThe Panama Papers database was released a few hours ago.

The data provided is combined with the Offshore Leaks database. The online search functions are pretty basic.

PPT did a quick search using some of the names of the rich and politically powerful in Thailand. Our search was of the 10 super-rich listed by Forbes, the names listed in an earlier post, as well as a few top political names.

The results showed that the story for those who had their names previously listed in the Offshore Leaks database from several years ago remains the same. For the super-rich, about half of them appear to be listed in the Panama Papers, with most activity centering on family trusts. Several of them show links to China.

We couldn’t find any new Panama Papers links to some of the better known political families in our quick search apart from a Shinawatra name we didn’t recognize and Piyapas Bhirombhakdi.

Obviously, PPT hasn’t been systematic on this, but it would seem that the 16-21 names the “authorities” said they would “investigate” might be rather too limited. Readers might do their own searches and let us know if they find interesting links and data.

Panama

Update: Andrew MacGregor Marshall posted on Facebook that he managed to search and find more than 1,000 names associated with “Thailand” in the database.





Updated: Gangsters

9 05 2016

Thailand is a country in the hands of gangsters and thugs.

Police General Chakthip Chaijinda, the police chief, has confirmed this.

According to Prachatai and other news outlets, on Saturday 7 May, the chief of police threatened all anti-junta activists, warning them that “their family members can be prosecuted, just like Patnaree Charnkij, an activist’s mother who has been charged under the lèse majesté law.”

Chakthip said his junta had “repeatedly and clearly explained the country’s roadmap to the public. Everyone was happy with it, except Patnaree’s son, Sirawith Seritiwat, aka ‘Ja New’, an activist from Resistant Citizen and the New Democracy Movement, and his friends, who were stubborn and disobeyed the junta. ”

This thug then brazenly declared:

“I want everyone to take Ja New (Sirawith) as an example. All politicians and other activists who previously took part in political movements are now in the place they’re supposed to be because they violated the law…”.

How much lower can the junta go? We suspect we have yet to  see the worst from this gang of thugs.

Update: Not only is the military junta a gang served by thugs, but by lying thugs. Despite the clarity of the statements above by Police General Chakthip, the Bangkok Post reports that junta spokesman Col Piyapong Klinpan “insisted the regime had not brought the charge to silence its critics.” Clearly, Piyapong has been sent out to lie for his bosses.





More on Patnaree’s case

9 05 2016

As the lese majeste arrest of Patnaree Chankij, mother of student activist Sirawith Seritiwat, began to be criticized domestically and internationally, the military junta decided to respond.

The Bangkok Post reported that the junta’s thugs insisted that “there is solid evidence behind the arrest of an anti-coup activist’s mother, despite information circulating online suggesting there is little to support a lese majeste charge.” At least some of that information was from the police charge sheet, which suggested a fit-up and hostage taking.

In order to justify its actions, a junta “legal officer” was sent out to “explain” that the charge against Patnaree “as based on evidence which investigators were not willing to divulge to the media.”

That “legal officer” also found it necessary to declare that the “authorities had not intimidated witnesses or used illegal means to obtain their evidence.”

Based on these statements, the junta’s track record and its lack of transparency, reasonable people can assume that the regime has concocted charges and has used intimidation and illegal means to gain evidence.”

Meanwhile, international outrage was apparent. Social media lit up. The international media reported the event in deservedly incredulous terms. Human Rights Watch stated:

“The Thai junta has sunk to a new low by charging an activist’s mother under the ‘insulting the monarchy’ law, which has been systematically abused to silence critics,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Prosecuting someone for her vague response to a Facebook message is just the junta’s latest outrageous twist of the lese majeste law.”…

“In the name of protecting the monarchy, the junta is tightening a chokehold on free expression and heightening a climate of fear across Thailand,” Adams said. “The arbitrary enforcement of the lese majeste law against an activist’s mother is yet another example of Thailand’s blatant contempt of its human rights obligations.”

The junta initially seemed unperturbed, sending goons to search “the family home of Mr Sirawith, confiscating two computer CPUs, as they attempt to widen the lese majeste probe into his mother and several other suspects.” The impression is that the junta has decided to smash the little remaining activist opposition to its mandates.

General Thawip Netniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council “warned the activists Sunday not to break the law or the regime’s orders, saying they could face legal action.” He also “criticised attempts to bring in international organisations to put pressure on the government, saying the charges against the suspects including Ms Patnaree were based on evidence.”

We assume that this is the evidence that no one can see.

Parroting his boss, he demanded that “foreign groups study Thai laws to understand the fact that authorities were only enforcing the law.”

What he doesn’t get is that “foreign groups” are unlikely to be dolts who will not see that the law the general refers to is the junta’s law, designed to be selectively used against political opponents.

Suddenly, however, the situation turned. The military court, which hours earlier reportedly refused bail and extended detention, granted bail.

The Post states that this might have something to do with “pressure on a Thai delegation set to defend the country’s human rights records in Geneva on Wednesday.” We posted on this earlier. There may be something to this, although we are sure that





UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

9 05 2016

PPT reproduces this from a UN media release:

Thailand’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review

GENEVA (6 May 2016) – Thailand’s human rights record will be examined by
the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group
for the second time on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 in a meeting that will be
webcast live.

Thailand is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group
during its upcoming session taking place from 2 to 13 May.  Thailand’s
first UPR took place on 5 October 2011.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report –
information provided by the State under review 2) information contained in
the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the
Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3)
information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights
institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

Among the issues raised in the above-mentioned documents are: the expansion
of internal policing powers for the military; addressing reports of torture
and ill-treatment by security and military officials; cases involving
lèse-majesté; the use of the death penalty; cases of enforced
disappearances; martial law and special emergency laws in southern border
provinces; discrimination and racial profiling against Malayu Thais;
freedom of expression and assembly; judicial inquiries into the killings of
journalists; addressing impunity; combatting human trafficking; respect for
the principle of non-refoulement; eradicating forced labour; measures to
protect economic, social and cultural rights and towards poverty reduction;
steps to ensure migrant workers’ rights and access to social services; the
rights of migrants and refugees, particularly Rohingyas; and the August
constitutional referendum.

The three reports serving as the basis for the review of Thailand on 11 May
can be found here:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/THSession25.aspx

Location: Room 20, Palais des Nations, Geneva
Time and date: 09.00 – 12.30, Wednesday 11 May (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour)

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human
rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Since its first meeting was
held in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed during the
first UPR cycle and 168 thus far during the second cycle.  The second
review of States aims to highlight human rights developments in the country
since its first review and provides an opportunity for States under review
to spell out steps taken to implement recommendations posed during their
first reviews.

The delegation of Thailand will be headed by Mr. Charnchao Chaiyanukij,
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice

The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the
review of Thailand are:  El Salvador, France and Maldives

The webcast of the session will be at http://webtv.un.org

The list of speakers and all available statements to be delivered during
the review of Thailand will be posted on the UPR Extranet at the following
link [username:  hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session]:
https://extranet.ohchr.org/sites/upr/Sessions/25session/Thailand/Pages/default.aspx

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to
Thailand at 17.30 on 13 May.  The State under review may wish to express
its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review.  The
recommendations will be shared with the media on this day in advance.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez at
+41 (0) 22 917 9711 /  rgomez@ohchr.org  or Cédric Sapey at +41 (0) 22 917
9751 / csapey@ohchr.org

To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, visit:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx

UN Human Rights Council, follow us on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UNHRC
Twitter: https://twitter.com/UN_HRC
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Lese majeste news

8 05 2016

In the current situation of abductions and hostage-taking by the military regime, a couple of recent stories worth reading on lese majeste deserve mention here.

The first is an long and reflective article by Nanchanok Wongsamuth in the Bangkok Post. The article provides some interesting background on Bundith Arniya, who is currently on trial for his second lese majeste charge. He was first accused of lese majeste in 1975.

The second is an important article by Pravit Rojanaphruk at Khaosod English on the efforts of Akechai Hongkangwarn to raise funds for those incarcerated on lese majeste. Akechai was arrested in March 2011 on lese majeste allegations and was convicted in March 2013. He was released on 15 November 2015. The website of the For Friends Association has details on how to make donations.