Supporting the students

6 07 2015

Readers might find this page of interest. It is a Statement “For our friends” From Thai Students in Europe who are against the coup d’état. It’s demands are:

As a part of students in European countries, we believe that higher education anywhere in the world has a duty of encouraging their students to think, speak and express what they believe in with reasons. We believe that differences in ideas are normal and necessary. Without arguments, there will be no progress in any discipline, and the society will never move towards democracy. We believe that knowledge, thoughts and truth we hold should not put anyone in a serious bind that these Thai students are facing now. Therefore, we declare the following:

1. The 14 students must be released immediately without condition. They are innocent, and manifest peacefully on their own accord. There is no malicious secret support many groundlessly accuse them of having.
2. We would like to support the “New Democracy Movement” which consists of citizens who support the students, with 5 principles of democracy, justice, people’s involvement, human rights, and peace.
3. We ask international organisations, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and other human rights organisations, to keep a close watch on Thailand’s situation. The threats against the students are threats against thoughts, and are a grave danger to any democratic society.
4. We ask students, professors and citizens who value democracy to support the movements of these students however they can, directly or indirectly. Do not let the demand for democracy become the wrong thing.
Down with dictatorship! Democracy must prevail!

Students to military court

6 07 2015

As we usually do, the following is from the Asian Human Rights Commission. We realize that PPT is being heavily blocked by the military dictatorship at present, yet getting this word out may be useful.

July 06, 2015

A Statement from the Protection International, Thailand Team forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Call for observation — 14 students and allied activists face an extension of pre-trial detention on Tuesday 7th July at Bangkok Military Court

Protection International calls upon you to be present at the Bangkok Military Court[1] on Tuesday 7th July at 9:00AM to witness the proceedings facing the 14 students and allied activists who were arrested on Friday 16th June on sedition charges. As publicised by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (a lawyer group providing lawyers and legal support to the 7 Dao Din students amongst the 14 activists) the 14 activists will challenge the request for a new custody permission of 12 days which will be filed by the Public Prosecutor on Tuesday 7th July. However, the 14 activists remain united in their refusal to apply for bail as they reject the legitimacy of the charges and don’t accept being tried in military court.

Chonticha Chaengrew, the only woman activist in the group of 14, being held at Bangkok’s Central Women’s Correctional Institution was transferred to a prison hospital on Thursday 2nd July to treat wounds she has been suffering from since the violent crackdown by authorities at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre on 22nd May 2015. The 13 male activists currently being held in Bangkok Remand Prison were separated into different sections of the prison in the evening of Wednesday 1st July. The 13 have shaved their heads in protest of this measure. We remain concerned about the physical and psychological well-being of all 14 detained as they face arbitrary detention for an extended period of time.

National Human Rights Commissioner and Chairperson of the NHRC Sub-Committee on Civil and Political Rights, Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara, held an enquiry meeting on Thursday 2nd July 2015. The lawyers of the students and allied activists, representatives of the Law Society of Thailand, the communities which the Dao Din student group works with, the parents of the students and allied activists, and professors from Thammasart University, were invited to the enquiry meeting. The meeting was observed by plainclothes military officials. Dr. Niran said that the behaviour of the authorities constituted an intervention in the work of the NHRC. Furthermore, family members, friends, lawyers and community-based Human Rights Defenders affiliated to the 14 detained activists continue to face intensive intimidation and monitoring by authorities, as well as a public media campaign by the government to delegitimise the work of the students and allies.

Thus, we call on you to:

Lobby the National Council for Peace and Order to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges and against all 16 activists (including 2 activists released on bail, facing fewer charges);
Demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all 14 activists;
Be present inside the Bangkok Military Court hearing on Tuesday 7th July at 9:00AM;
Publicly condemn the Human Rights violations and repression of civil and political rights which this criminalisation of peaceful, pro-democratic activism constitutes;
Lobby the National Council for Peace and Order to immediately stop the campaign of intimidation, harassment and misinformation which is targeted at the detained activists’ families, friends, lawyers, allied community-based HRDs, academics and other affinity groups.

Further call on the National Council for Peace and Order to cooperate with independent Human Rights mechanisms and allow them to work effectively in Thailand, namely by ensuring their ability to conduct country visits.

Bangkok Military Court

Judge Advocate General’s Department,
Ministry of Defence, Lak Muang Road,
Phra Borommaha Ratchawang Sub District,
Phra Nakorn District, Bangkok 10200.
The Court can be reached at Tel. 02 222 3887 or Tel. 02 224 0041 extension 207.

Health and subs

6 07 2015

In a post a few days ago, PPT commented on The Dictator’s call for Thailand’s universal health care system to be “reformed.” His main claims were that it was too costly and that it was a populist policy, meaning it was Thaksinism.

Not surprisingly, Navy boss Admiral Kraisorn Chansuwanich said his lot had again decided to purchase submarines from China “through a government-to-government contract worth Bt36 billion and would propose for the purchase details to the Cabinet soon,” there were understandable comparisons between the alleged lack of funds for health but tons of money for military kit. Of course, the navy has been coming up with various schemes to get submarines for years.Beached sub

As a footnote to this story, it is reported that Prayuth advised that the “submarine proposal that had been planned for 10 years.” As our previous posts clearly show, he’s lying, as usual. Each time the proposal has come up, it has been rejected. There is no “plan,” other than to produce wondrous commissions.

The comparison between military greed and universal health care is so stark that self-appointed prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha “is attempting to shield himself from increasing criticism over the government’s plan to spend billions on the purchase of three submarines from China while dealing with a universal healthcare scheme running out of funds…”.

Prayuth said no “clear decision is yet to be made on either one,” and displayed his usual paternalism: “… do not link the healthcare scheme with the Navy’s plan to buy submarines. The government will consider the two matters with care…”. Trust me, I am The Dictator!

More threateningly, he used his usual claim of people behind those discussing the issue: “Do not make a mountain out of a mole hill or the ill-intentioned group may use it as a tool…”.

He probably means Puea Thai Party politician Watana Muangsook who wrote on this. “He said that Prayut[h]’s government would never do for the poor what it claimed it would, but would only benefit its cronies.” He added that the “government said it has no budget to help the farmer, but at the same time it has allocated more than Bt100 billion for the military officers who helped stage the coup last year…”.

The Dictator’s paternalism

5 07 2015

The Bangkok Post reports on yet another of The Dictator’s television broadsides on Thai society, its politics and his view of “problems.” In this one, as well as a string of other things, self-appointed premier General Prayuth Chan-ocha had words for the Dao Din students.

He stated, “I will not reprimand or blame them for the actions,” and he claimed the students are “pure” in intent.

But then he returned to the paternalism that is one of the hallmarks of the military’s politics and rule, stating: “”Please use your discretion and avoid being misled by those trying to use you by giving you false information.”

As the students themselves have stated, this claim is nonsensical. Like so many other claims by The Dictator and his minions, it is delusional and self-interested.

Prayuth offered a kind of “deal” for the students. He demanded that the “student activists to obey rules and laws, do their duty and protect their good profiles for the sake of their own future.” Of course, that’s how Prayuth prefers and understands the world as one large military-like paternalistic hierarchy.

The deal is: knuckle under, obey the rules and laws set by the military dictatorship, and cooperate with the junta and your “cases would be taken care of…”.

Mafia-like thuggery

5 07 2015

We are sure that quite a few readers will have seen the Khaosod report on People’s Alliance for Democracy and People’s Democratic Reform Committee coordinator Supot Piriyakiatsakul being chased by the military for allegedly supporting the Dao Din students of the Neo-Democracy Movement.

According to Supot, a group of soldiers arrived at his home “in Nakhon Ratchasima province on 2 July and sought to talk with him, though he was not home at the time.” Reportedly, the “soldiers identified themselves to his neighbors as officers from 21st Army District, and left a message for him before leaving the scene.” Supot says that they told his neighbors to warn him: “Don’t get involved with Dao Din group. If you don’t stop getting involved, and if you don’t obey us, we will get involved with you.”

This is surprising and baffling, not least for Supot. As the report states:

In 2005-2006, Supot was a regional coordinator for the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which sought to oust Thaksin [Shinawatra] and his government at the time.

In late 2013, Supot joined the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State – another reincarnation of the Yellowshirt movement – when it launched street protests to topple the government led by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. The campaign came to an end after then-army chief Gen. Prayuth [Cha-ocha] seized power in a coup on 22 May 2014.

In the wake of the May 2014 coup d’etat, Supot was one of the hundreds of activists, academics, and politicians summoned to army camps for up to seven days of “attitude adjustment” aimed at easing the country’s political tensions.

“When the military summoned me for attitude adjustment, I joined it, and I showed my sincerity of wanting to build reconciliation and unity for people in the nation,” Supot said. “Let me insist that I do not know Dao Din students at all. I have only been hearing about them in the news. There is no reason for me to be behind or give support to Dao Din.”

Supot is said to be 69 years old, and has long been an organizer in Korat. His networks with NGOs were the initial link to PAD and while we can’t confirm it, as with most PAD stalwarts in Korat, he probably has connections with organizers trained by and with U.S. Special Forces at Lopburi in the 1960s and 1970s (see about p. 341 of this book). These organizers have had a role in managing farmers and electioneering in Korat, some with links to Chartichai Choonhavan and then with his son, Kraisak. His credentials with PAD are impeccable.

As might be expected, Supot complains:

This is an arrogant exercise of power…. Throughout all this time, I and my fellow [activists] were united in showing our stance of supporting the government of General Prayuth Chan-ocha. We recently asked him to stay in power for a long time to solve the country’s problems and deal with corrupt politicians. We have even traveled to Bangkok to show our support.

He added: “Let me insist that I do not know Dao Din students at all. I have only been hearing about them in the news. There is no reason for me to be behind or give support to Dao Din…. This kind of net-casting is like pushing friends to join the opposition.”

As well as suggesting that the military is either very dull and/or can’t abide any organizing, even by political allies, the thing about this report that struck PPT was that the military is using Mafia-like tactics. We know that the military has used similar tactics with opposition figures, but this report somehow lays bare the nature of the thuggery involved. Mafia-like, members of the military gang intimidate and display their power to the neighborhood. They could be running protection rackets as well.



Sulak and lese majeste

4 07 2015

Sulak Sivaraksa has a long history of confrontation with military regimes and, not unrelated, being handed lese majeste charges. Sulak is a self-professed royalist who has faced at least five lese majeste charges. He is a long-time conservative critic of the lese majeste law and of this king.

SulakIt was reported that Sulak could face a sixth lese majeste charge for comments made in a panel discussion on the anniversary of the end of absolute monarchy. The discussion was organized by Rangsit University’s Faculty of Economics and the Heroes of Democracy Foundation. Police were reported to be investigating and had summoned “witnesses” to the speech Sulak delivered on 22 June.

Sulak declared that “arresting him unfairly would signal the downfall of this government, adding that this move was likely politically motivated.” He says he has previously “praised” The Dictator and the junta for not having summoned him earlier. Sulak says General Prayuth Chan-ocha “is patient…”. He says this because he reckons “that hawkish men in his contingent are now telling him to deal with me, much in the manner of slaughtering a chicken to set an example to the monkeys, by using the lese majeste law against me.”

He warned: “If I am arrested, nothing will be easy for the NCPO…”.

Sulak is under scrutiny because he “had provided shelter to the 14 students in Bangkok for two nights before they were arrested last Friday for voicing their anti-coup sentiments.”


Prem and holes in the road

4 07 2015

The Nation will probably fix this story, but at present it appears as a strange combination of stories. Or perhaps Prem was found in a hole? In politics he’s been more a road block to anything progressive and democratic rather than a sink hole.

We are sure that readers will be grateful for the report. We are sure that those spreading rumors are hopeful rather than ill-intentioned.

Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda is in good health, his close aide said yesterday, in a bid to deny recent rumours.

Lt-General Pissanu Putthawong, chief of the office of the Statesman’s Foundation, pointed out that Prem had attended a social function on Thursday, adding that rumours like this are spread from time to time by people with ill intentions.

“It is a distortion of fact. I ask you [media] to inform the public that this is not true,” he said.

BMA repairs metre-deep sinkhole on Phetkasem Road

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has finished repairing a sinkhole on Phetkasem Road, which is now open to traffic.

The 3.5-metre-wide and 1m-deep sinkhole rendered the road inaccessible to vehicles as it took up both lanes on the street.

Officials were dispatched on Friday morning to carry out the repairs and the road was reopened before rush hour.

The BMA explained that the soil and rocks below the surface that soils and rocks below the surface may have been dissolved by groundwater circulating through them, creating a void that causes the road to collapse .


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