Digging in or grave-digging? II

1 02 2018

In a post yesterday we said:

When a regime comes under pressure and feels that pressure, it usually responds in a couple of ways. One way is to change what it’s been doing so as to assuage some of the criticism. Another is to dig in and attack critics and ring-fence the regime with barbed wire, sometimes metaphorically and sometimes for real. It is often difficult to distinguish digging in from political grave-digging.

In looking at Prachatai’s headlines today, it seems clear that the junta has decides to dig in. This means more repression. We really had no doubt that this would be the military dictatorship’s basic response for the junta is composed of oafs with little capacity for much more than Pavlovian responses.

The headlines tell the story of a military regime that is digging a very deep and dark hole. Of most significance in this horror list of “crimes” is the one that somehow criminalizes demanding an election that the junta has repeatedly promised and is a part of the military junta’s own constitution.

We understand that comparing the junta’s Thailand to Orwell’s 1984 has been done before but its current efforts to protect itself and to force obedience and compliance by prosecuting those who draw support from the junta’s deeply flawed constitution surely fits the bill.

How many people is the junta prepared to jail? We think it’s capable of locking up thousands. The more significant question, however, is how many people are brave enough to confront the junta. The regime is betting its only a scores of dissidents.

1984 is Thailand now

25 11 2015

Life under the military dictatorship is depressing and repressing. It is a life in a dystopia where boundaries, especially political boundaries, are difficult to discern. Even so, some brave activists challenge the regime.

As protesters showed soon after the coup, the military dictatorship is not unlike George Orwell’s 1984. In 1984, existence is in a world of perpetual internal war against those identified as opponents, omnipresent government surveillance and public manipulation, dictated by a political system euphemistically claimed to be creating “happiness.” The junta rules and controls for a privileged elite that persecutes individualism and independent thinking as “thoughtcrime.”

This is well illustrated in a Prachatai report on “[e]mbattled lecturers charged by the military for violating the junta’s political gathering…”.

On Tuesday, “six lecturers charged with the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Order No. 3/2015, a ban on political gathering of five or more persons, reported to Chang Puak Police Station of the northern province of Chiang Mai after summon letters were issued for them last week.”

The lecturers are Chiang Mai University’s Attachak Sattayanurak and Somchai Preechasilapagun, Charoon Yuthong and Nattapong Jitnirat, from Thaksin University in Songkhla, Mana Nakum from Khon Kaen University and Booncherd Nu-im of Burapha University in Cholburi.

It is reported that “military officers in plainclothes were seen video-recording the briefing by the academics after the interrogation and people who came to support them…”.

All of them denied the charges and they were not detained. Where 1984 comes in is in the charges.Attachak “explains”:

The police informed us that they received complaints from the military and they have to proceed. They [the military] felt that we broke some sort of an agreement on what not to say, which we never agreed upon. We confirm that what we did is legal and that different ideas are crucial for the Thai society under the reconciliation and reform process….

An “agreement” involves two parties, but not in the junta’s blurry, surreal and scary Thailand.

The junta was apparently upset that the lecturers “participated in a briefing to read out the statement titled ‘universities are not military barracks’ to call for academic freedom on 31 October 2015.”

If they were to be found guilty, the academics “could be jailed for up to one year and fined up to 20,000 baht.”

The Dictator has made threats:

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and prime minister, said “There activities, if they are not afraid of the law, it’s up to them. If people follow these activities, they will be in trouble. Well, it’s up to them. Some might find guns or bombs to attack them. It’s up to them, but I won’t do that of course.”

Threats, arrests and corruption mark the rule of soldiers for the royalist elite.


3 07 2014

Several readers have told us that new copies of 1984 are in Asia Books, looking like they have been censored. The immediate question was whether this was self-censorship by the booksellers:

1984In fact, this is Penguin “releasing new editions of five of books by George Orwell, with covers by designer David Pearson. Perhaps the best of the new designs is Pearson’s simple but brilliant idea for 1984, with the title and author’s name apparently censored with black foiling.”

We wonder if the military junta will ban these also? The fascists better get their hopelessly banal chief police censor down to the shop.

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