What the mainstream media won’t report I

31 12 2010

The Bangkok Post makes a pretty good effort at listing several local stories that simply didn’t get enough coverage this past year.

Triumph workers protest

Their first pick is a good one, and is one that PPT posted on several times (here and here), but not in 2010 and is headlined: Struggle not over. It refers to the long struggle by garment workers laid off by Body Fashion Thailand, the production arm of swimwear giant Triumph International.

The workers … took the case to court. They also staged a rally in front of the Labour Ministry…. Body Fashion Thailand (BFT) later agreed to give the workers 400 sewing machines to help them make an independent living. The donation was made through the Paitoon Kaewthong Foundation to avoid red tape. Mr Paitoon is a former labour minister and Democrat MP for Phichit.

The second unreported story is of lantern fire balls for a king’s birthday government-hosted celebration that almost caused the incineration of the National Museum and fell on Wat Phra Kaew, the National Theatre and Thammasat University. Burning down the symbolic center of royal power might not be meritorious at all.

The third story is of a villagers’ protest that involves growing rice on a 10-rai site in Prachuap Khiri Khan as a symbolic protest against the planned construction of a 500 million baht smelting plant by the giant Sahaviriya Group.

A fourth story carries the headline Unsung reds.

The red shirt protests from March to May have inevitably been listed as the top news story for 2010 by every Thai media outlet, and Time magazine included the uprising in its top 10 world news stories of the year. But most of the news coverage has focused on the key figures heading the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and the government’s handling of the situation. The fate of lesser-known red shirts in the aftermath of the May 19 dispersal has been under-reported….

Stories about red shirts detained or killed during the riots can usually only be found on alternative media such as the Prachatai online newspaper or the pro-red shirt Voice TV network.

Abhisit flip-flops

The stories under-reported in the mainstream media include Amornwan Charoenkij who sold flip-flops at red shirt rallies and was arrested and charged with violating the emergency decree by selling products with “provocative messages.” The fact that the emergency decree wasn’t in effect in Ayudhya where she was arrested continues unreported, even in this story…. This story of an authoritarian farce was the subject of several posts by PPT. A related red shirt story mentioned by the Post involves red shirts imprisoned in Mukdahan, many of them on groundless charges. Some became suicidal. PPT has covered some of these reports, often drawing on the brave but always threatened Prachatai.

The fifth story is headlined Eviction fight and involves the Thong Lor slum community “fighting against eviction despite its occupation of the area for 50 years.” They face big money and the corrupt police who make a fortune “regulating” crime and entertainment in the area.

In a post later today, PPT will post its own list of stories the mainstream media shied away from, deliberately downplayed or neglected for political reasons.

An authoritarian farce

13 10 2010

It just gets worse and worse as the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime becomes farcical in its attempts to silent opposition.

Flip-flops that mean jail

Not that  long ago PPT posted on the sorry tale of a flip-flop seller arrested (we think) illegally under a non-existent emergency decree in Ayudhya for selling flip-flops with the faces of Abhisit and his then Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, linking them to the death of red shirts at Rajaprasong.

PPT had hoped that the stupid people responsible for arresting Amornwan Charoenkij would quickly realize that a case like this makes Thailand an international laughing stock. More, we hoped that they recognized that their actions were damaging to the country when double standards demonstrated that out-of-control state authorities were bent on stamping out every act of “rebellion”, no matter how minute.

Double standard slippers sold at PAD rallies

But no, the stupidity of the repressive regime is demonstrated further.
Prachatai reports that Amorn has been charged with “distorting facts about the killings at Ratchaprasong and offending traditional Thai morals for putting the faces of Abhisit and Suthep on her flip-flops.”

Amornwan’s case has, it is said, “been vetted by a joint committee composed of various police commanders, because the case has attracted much public attention.” Defying logic and justice, if not the law, these commanders decided that Amornwan is a criminal red shirt and will face “additional charges…”. They also continue to emphasize the emergency decree, as if it is in effect where she was arrested.

Two of the most senior police in the province consider the 20 baht flip-flops to be “printed materials which contained messages which might cause panic or misunderstanding among the public about the emergency situation, affecting national security or the good morals of the people, under the Emergency Decree and its derivative regulations issued on 7 April 2010.”

In fact, the actions by these apparently empty-headed police are not simply idiocy at work. Rather, they are part of a broader pattern of repression and authoritarianism that have become the currency of the Abhisit regime.

On the rights of Abhisit

6 10 2010

A few days ago, PPT posted on the case of Ms. Amornwan Charoenkij, the woman flip-flip seller in Ayutthaya who was arrested and whose flip-flop stock was confiscated on Sunday. Her alleged crime? The flip-flops were printed with  Abhisit Vejjajiva’s face and had the text “People died at Ratchaprasong.” As PPT commented a few days ago, “No doubt Abhisit feels better and sleeps well at night knowing that he’s had a poor woman, scraping together an income, jailed as a warning to all other poor market vendors who are drawn to the red shirt message.”

Prachatai reported that Paiboon Varahapaitoon, one of the commissioners on the National Human Rights Commission, has claimed that the flip-flops violated Abhisit’s rights and his humanity (ศักดิ์ศรีความเป็นมนุษย์). PPT tries to avoid feeling outraged every moment of every day, but this is often difficult given the current state of affairs in Thailand. Today, this was harder than  usual. 

So let’s get this straight: It is a violation of Abhisit’s rights and humanity to make a pair of shoes pairing his face along with the statement of fact “People died at Ratchaprasong.” What about the rights and humanity of the people who died at Ratchaprasong?

It was bad enough when Ms. Amornwan Charoenkij was arrested on Sunday. But calling the flip-flops a violation of Abhisit’s rights? Really?

Follow-ups from The Nation

6 10 2010

The Nation is pretty sure of itself on two recent events. It says that “a red-shirt man arrested and fined Bt500 on Monday for a bomb hoax against Siriraj Hospital now faces a heavier charge: making a threat against His Majesty. Such an offence would carry a lengthy jail term if he is convicted. Police said it was common knowledge that His Majesty is receiving treatment at Siriraj Hospital.”

No evidence is produced of the significance or validity of the red shirt claim. And, it implies political motive, while none has been shown so far.

PAD slippers: Double standards again? (Posted by a reader at Prachatai)

And without a question or qualm the same report states: “Police in Ayutthaya arrested a shoe vendor for violating the state of emergency by selling flip-flops with the images of Abhisit and Suthep on each side. Shop owner Amornwal Jaroenkit said she bought 300 pairs during the red-shirt protests in May. She was charged with distributing a statement deemed detrimental to state security.”

Now everyone except the dopes at The Nation seem to understand that there is no state of emergency in Ayudhya. But we are too quick to label them dopes, Forgive us. Rather The Nation is deliberately distorting and peddling government propaganda.

The Nation seems to get like this whenever its bosses fear that opposition forces are challenging the royalist regime.

Abhisit is protected

4 10 2010

According to a report at Prachatai, which could easily be in Not The Nation if it was a spoof rather than real, a very dangerous woman has been arrested for red-shirt activity in Ayudhya. She was selling slippers (flip-flops?) with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s face on them.

Sure, that is a pretty strong insult in Thailand, but the state’s bully boy police and security agencies are now into the realms of high farce.

It seems that on 3 October, “police arrested Amornwan Charoenkij, 42, for an offence under Section 9(3) of the Emergency Decree which prohibits ‘press releases and distribution or dissemination of letters, publications or any means of communication containing texts which may instigate fear amongst the people or is intended to distort information which leads to a misunderstanding of the emergency situation to the extent of affecting the security of the state or public order or the good morals of the people either in the area or locality where an emergency situation has been declared or the entire Kingdom’.”

There you have it. This is what the Thai state’s repressive apparatus under the royalist regime ghas become. Presumably the search is on for the “terrorists” who manufactured the shoes.

In fact, Ayudhya is not under the emergency decree, so presumably this is another example of either Keystone Cops or, more likely, a result of the state’s continued repression of red shirts.

Amornwan was bailed by a Puea Thai Party parliamentarian and “expected that the remaining 40 pairs of slippers, out of 60 she had brought to sell, would be confiscated by the police. The slippers were printed with a message, ‘People died at Ratchaprasong,’ and photos of Abhisit and Suthep Thaugsuban.” She added: “When asked by the police, I answered frankly that people did die there. What else could I say? I had no problems selling these elsewhere. This is too much. These are not weapons.”

No doubt Abhisit feels better and sleeps well at night knowing that he’s had a poor woman, scraping together an income, jailed as a warning to all other poor market vendors who are drawn to the red shirt message.

PPT is sure that the same women will recognize that this arrest is an outrage and reflective of double standards and injustice under the royalist government.

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