Vigilantes and cops

28 09 2021

A few days ago, Prachatai reported that student activist Panupong Jadnok – known as Mike – has “again been detained after being denied bail on a royal defamation charge [they mean Article 112, lese majeste] filed against him by a royalist activist for a Facebook post about monarchy reform.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights state that Panupong met with the public prosecutor on 23 September 2021 to be “informed that the public prosecutor had decided to indict him and he was taken to court.”

While Mike’s lawyer filed a bail request, as is common, it was denied.

The denial “was signed by judge Chanathip Muanpawong, Deputy Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, who earlier this year denied bail to several pro-democracy activists detained pending trial.” Prachatai also recalls that it was:

Chanathip … who sentenced Ampon Tangnoppakul, or “Uncle SMS,” to 20 years in prison on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 in 2011, after Ampon was accused of sending messages to Somkiat Krongwattanasuk, who was at the time the secretary of then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, which were deemed offensive to the King and Queen.  Ampon died in prison.

Panupong has now been charged under Article 112, and an “offense to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.”

Ultra-royalist bully Nangnoi

As we have posted several times previously, it is an ultra-royalist cyber-vigilante group that has made the complaint leading to the charges. It is again cyberbully royalist Nangnoi Assawakittikorn, a leader of the misnamed royalist group Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims:

The complaint was based on a Facebook post on 8 November 2020 which said “Do you think that you will look dignified standing on the ruins of democracy or on the corpses of the people?” along with the hashtag #ปฏิรูปสถาบันกษัตริย์ (#MonarchyReform).

It is claimed that the “original post also reportedly refers to the [k]ing by name.”

Panupong is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison. He is now “facing 9 charges under Section 112; he has already been indicted on 3. He was previously detained pending trial on charges relating to the 19 September 2020 protest, and was in detention for 86 days before being released on 1 June 2021.”

One of the “lessons” of this case is to reinforce how much the police work hand-in-glove with ultra-royalist vigilantes. The cops are effectively royalists’ processing terminal for royalist repression.

Lese majeste, torture, deaths

1 09 2021

In the past, PPT has referred to lese majeste torture. This usually involved dragging out cases, detention for long periods without bail, and taking those accused all round the country to face other charges. In addition, there have been cases of deaths in custody, including of Ampol Tangnopakul.

With the Corrections Department having a terrible record of virus control, it is not at all a surprise to read in The Nation that Department deputy director-general Thawatchai Chaiwat stated that Chatchai Kaedam, one of five pro-democracy protest leaders who caught Covid-19 in prison has “developed lung trouble and needed close monitoring by doctors.” In prison it seems, not in hospital.

It seems that the Corrections Department can allow prisoners to become infected and then do little about it. This is clearly what the Thai legal system repeatedly calls “malfeasance” but could be construed as a far worse crime than this.

Again, the system is rotten.

Lese majeste and cruelty I

23 02 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that the Criminal Court has again “rejected the third bail request for four key Ratsadon members held on charges of lese majeste…”.

Charnvit Kasetsiri, a former rector of Thammasat University and Panas Tassaneeyanon, a former dean of the faculty of law were there to “offer themselves as the guarantors for the temporary releases of Arnon Nampa, Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Saraiyaem.”

The court again denied the bail request, “citing the same reasons for the dismissals of the previous two requests — the offence carried a high penalty and there were reasons to believe the suspects would repeat the offence if they were released on bail.”

As the report notes, “pre-trial detention could go on for years until the court passes a final ruling.” Most often, this is for those charged with lese majeste and is a form of torture.

Social media reports that the judges involved are the same cruel judges who sat on the case against Ampol Tangnopakul, who was convicted in late November 2011 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for the 4 text messages the court believed he sent. To simplify, the court was unable to prove that Ampol sent the messages but convicted him on the basis that he could not prove that he didn’t send them. Sadly, Ampol died in custody.

Updated: Passing and remembering

8 05 2020

Darunee Charnchoensilpakul (Da Torpedo) has passed away.

We looked for an English-language source but could not find one (but see below). She was one of the first incarcerated in the post-Thaksin Shinawatra era of lese majeste arrests. She bravely fought back and remained stoic, despite ill health, through years of imprisonment.

Matichon photo

For the details of her case, see our long post on her here. A funeral has been is being held (see below).

Sadly, the next day marked the anniversary of Ampol Tangnopakul’s passing, incarcerate for lese majeste.

Read about his tragic case here.

Update: Prachatai has an article acknowleding that Darunee passed away on 7 May “at Siriraj Hospital, where she was admitted for cancer treatment.” It continues to say that a “funeral will be held at Thewasunthon Temple in Chatuchak from 7 – 9 May, and the cremation will be held on 10 May at 15:00.” And, it adds:

Those who wished to contribute to the cost of organizing the funeral may transfer their donations to the Siam Commercial Bank account 0-16-45875-46. In accordance with Daranee’s will, the donations will be used to cover the cost of her funeral. Any remaining amount will be given to her relatives.

More judicial harassment

15 12 2017

The military dictatorship has repeatedly used the judiciary to harass its political opponents. It has also repeatedly used this harassment against individuals. It is at it again.

One such case is Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer who is also anti-junta and a member of Resistant Citizen. He is associated with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and has defended numerous individuals accused of lese majeste and the Computer Crimes Act since 2010. His high profile cases have included Ampol Tangnopakul, the aged lese majeste victim who died in prison in 2012 and the case of a man accused of lese majeste for mocking the then king’s dog.

Arnon has faced several situations identified as judicial harassment. In 2015, the military accused him of “importing into a computer false information which may damage national security” under the Computer Crimes Act for five Facebook posts that criticized the military regime’s administration of “justice” under martial law. Then he faced up to 25 years in jail and a fine. In 2016, he was charged with “standing still.” This was a public protest against the junta’s detention of anti-coup activists. The public prosecutor filed charges under Public Assembly Act.

The junta is again using the judiciary to harass Arnon. Is the EU following this case?

According to Prachatai, police have summoned Arnon “over his 2 Nov 2017 Facebook post, accusing him of contempt of the court and importing false information into a computer system under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act.”

His “crime” was to question the Khon Kaen court’s 2 November verdict “which found seven anti-junta activists guilty of contempt of the court for their activities in front of Khon Kaen Court on 10 Jan 2017.” This case had accused a “peaceful symbolic activity was organised to give moral courage to Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, alias Pai Dao Din, a pro-democracy activist who has been sentenced to 2 years and six months in jail for lèse majesté.”

Arnon copied a news story and wrote a comment, questioning if it is fair or even possible for a court to prohibit those convicted “from associating with each other.”

For this he gets slapped with a charge that could result in many years in jail.

The harassment of political opponents continues. The junta brooks no opposition.

Ah Kong’s case

19 08 2015

We at PPT wanted to post this update on Ampol Tangnopakul’s case earlier, but the bombings took up our space and reading time.

Ampol and grandchildren

Ampol and grandchildren

Sadly, Ampol (known as Ah Kong) has departed this life, having died of cancer while in custody in 2012. He was in jail because he had been sentenced for lese majeste. Some might have thought that that would have been the end of the case.

However, as reported at Prachatai, Ah Kong’s wife Rosmalin Tangnopakul has continued to “pursue a case against the Department of Corrections of Thailand at the Civil Court over her husband’s death.”

On Monday, a pretrial hearing on Ah Kong’s death in custody, with Rosmalin”demanding compensation of 2,070,000 baht (about USD 58500) from the Department of Corrections over the death of her husband.”

In her complaint, she “accuses the prison authorities of negligence over the health conditions of prisoners resulting in the death of her husband, which violates Article 51 of the 2007 Constitution on the rights to public health provisions and Article 32 on the rights and liberty of individuals.” She has also requested compensation for the cost of Ah Kong’s funeral.

The case will be back in court on 19 October 2015 when the court will decide whether to hear the case.

A Kingdom in Crisis reviewed I

5 10 2014

Readers will probably be eager to digest the first review (that PPT has seen) of A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. The review of Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s book is by David Eimer at the South China Morning Post. A book cannot be understood by its cover or by its reviews, and had PPT has yet to receive a copy, we will do no more than point out some of the interesting bits of the review.

Kingdom in crisisThe first point to make is that this book will probably sell well and be widely read. Marshall has produced some explosive and well-researched material in recent years at Zen Journalist, and he has worked hard to promote it through his extensive use of social media. The publishers at Zed Books are also likely to be strongly promoting it.

The review begins by noting that Thailand’s recent politics has been chaotic and “has veered from one political crisis to another,” and the country is now in the hands of “a junta with the Orwellian-sounding name of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).” Eimer asks: “How did a country once regarded as a model of stability and economic growth for the rest of Southeast Asia come to this?” Obviously, a book that tries to make sense of the political roller-coaster come to a political dead-end is welcome.

Eimer states that this “new book pins the blame partly on the one man in Thailand no one is supposed to associate with politics, or even talk about in public: King Bhumibol Adulyadej.” He explains that, “[f]or Marshall, though, Bhumibol is little more than a stooge of the military and business elite.” Marshall’s book is said to reveal” how pliant and essentially powerless Bhumibol has been throughout his reign,” and reliant on the military.

That statement alone would have it banned in Thailand, although it will already be banned under the royalist military dictatorship that considers Marshall toxic for monarchist Thailand.

Marshall is said to argue that “the king has been deliberately elevated to his exalted position so that the traditional ruling classes can maintain their hold on power while denying true democracy to their fellow Thais.”

Most controversially – “incendiary” is another word used by the reviewer – “Marshall believes the political turmoil of recent years is intimately connected to the question of who will succeed the 86-year-old ailing sovereign, who has spent much of the past five years in hospital. Bhumibol’s official heir is Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, more noted in Thailand and elsewhere for his playboy image than his regal status.” Marshall reckons they want the dumpy Princess Sirindhorn to succeed to the throne.

Eimer mentions the lese majeste law, but his claim that “[n]o one knows the power of the lese majeste laws more than Marshall” is overdone and surely one that Marshall would reject given his support for the anti-lese majeste cause and the plight of those imprisoned under the law and the death in custody of Ampol Tangnopakul.

The May 2014 coup has left “Thailand’s future is deeply uncertain…”. That may seem like an odd characterization given that the military is intent on creating certainty and managing succession. Yet the intervention has not altered the fault lines or the essential conflicts that rumble deeply and underpin all that the military does. According to the review, Marshall thinks nothing much will change “until the king passes away” today or perhaps in a decade.

Eimer criticizes Marshall’s lack of attention to “the growing grass-roots opposition to the establishment – Thaksin’s most lasting legacy may be politicising a formerly placid population in just a decade” but says this “is still a timely analysis of Thailand’s dysfunctional system of government.” He says it is also a “brave book,” for  throwing “a harsh light on the political role played by the royal family in a country where it has long been allowed immunity from criticism, and that is a unique achievement.”

PPT can’t wait to read it.

Don’t forget the lese majeste prisoners

23 03 2014

112.jpgreport at he Bangkok Post: of a timely gathering of relatives and students in support of lese majeste prisoners has “called on the public to pay attention to the plight of people convicted of violating lese majeste laws.”

Some 50 activists as well as relatives of lese majeste prisoner Somyos Prueksakasemsuk “gathered at the Bangkok Remand Prison where they paid a visit to Somyot, the former editor of the Voice of Thaksin magazine.”

As well as supporting lese majeste prisoners and drawing attention to the repressive lese majeste law, the activists campaign for the release of Somyos who was sentenced to 11 years in prison and is still appealing his conviction.

Aum Neko, who is about to front police on a politically-inspired summons on lese majeste attended the protest, highlighting case like Somyos, Darunee Charncheonsilapakul, serving 15 years and in prison since 2008, and the death in jail of lese majeste prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul.

Notes from the news

31 12 2013

PPT is catching up on some news and blog posts that may be of interest to readers:

1) As PPT posted earlier today, the anti-democracy crowd have been concocting quite a few myths meant to sustain anger and hatred. At Bangkok Pundit, another of these is explored: the idea that the government employs Cambodians against the protesters. Pundit says:

The clear implication from this inflammatory rhetoric is that it makes it easier for the protesters to feel justified in physically attacking the police because the police are not Thais; they are just Cambodian mercenaries (no doubt paid personally by the evil one, and of course, paid in Cambodian money because that is the only type of money that Cambodian mercenaries would accept). Expect to see a continuation of this rhetoric as the protesters up the ante…

It also panders to the perspective that Cambodians are Thaksin allies. Readers may recall a PAD rhetoric about Cambodian black magic. The link here is to Guardian article “Shuffling towards fascism,” which still makes good reading five years after it was written.

2) We note an AP report that police protested on Monday “to show their frustration after weeks of dealing with aggressive and often violent anti-government demonstrators, with officers saying that the order for them to show restraint has left them vulnerable and humiliated.”

At least eight people have been killed in sporadic violence since the demonstrations began about two months ago. At the government’s orders, police have responded with relative restraint despite severe provocation.

Police Col. Niwat Puenguthaisri, who led the gathering, said police were worried for their own safety because of lack of protective gear for many and poor riot control planning. Most police are allowed to carry only batons and riot shields, while selected officers are equipped with tear gas canisters and guns to fire rubber bullets.

Orders to show restraint has resulted in police several times being trapped by demonstrators and forced to bargain for their release.

3) In Siam Voices excellent series of posts on 2013, part 2 looks at lese majeste. It notes the bizarre and frightening expansion of the definition of lese majeste in 2013, to cover alleged offences against dead kings and the current dynasty, a crime of thinking about acts that might be lese majeste if committed, for insulting the monarchy without actually mentioning it or its incumbents, for editing something someone else wrote that was considered lese majeste, and so on. While there have been fewer cases in 2013 than, say, in 2010, these expansions of the law are threatening and dangerous.

4) In another lese majeste story, Prachatai reports that the “Human Rights Lawyer Association overseeing the case of Ampon Tangnoppakul, a 61-year-old man who passed away last year while imprisoned for lèse majesté, said it is raising funds to help Ampon’s wife with the legal fees for a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections in the Administrative Court.” The case aims to “improv[e] the standards of healthcare in the prison infirmary.”

5) Related, we note the quite boneheaded attempt by the Royal Thai Navy to sue and silence journalists at Phuketwan by using defamation charges related to a story published in July 2013 that “quoted a Reuters news agency investigation alleging that some members of the Thai military were involved in networks smuggling Muslim Rohingya boat people from Myanmar.” It’s really another military impunity story dressed up as something else.

6) The Red Shirts blog includes an updated and detailed report on the five dead supporters from the events near Ramkhamhaeng University on 30 November and 1 December 2013. It also lists the 30 injured red shirts.


Updated: “Inadequate evidence of negligence”

30 10 2013

In an AFP report, the results of an inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul are set out. The impunity available for state officials is maintained.

The report states that the “court on Wednesday ruled out negligence in the treatment” of  for cancer and “who died in jail of cancer while serving a controversial sentence for defaming the monarchy.” It is added that the court “said there was insufficient evidence of negligence.”

The court ruled that “Ampon died due to the spread of liver cancer.” That is hardly news to anyone and is an insult to Ampol’s memory.

Despite the evidence of “[f]ellow prisoners had told the court that Ampon had not received enough food or health care while he was in jail…” the judge “concluded that his treatment was in line with other inmates.”

His family’s lawyer, Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, noted that “the prison hospital had inadequate staff and equipment.” Poonsuk added:

“He was bedridden for three days before he died. If the health care was up to standard, he should have been diagnosed earlier…”.

That point seems clear to all except the courts.

Update: A report at the Bangkok Post reminds readers that the evidence of negligence was hardly “inadequate”:

The court rejected testimony by Thantawut Taweewarodomkul, a lese majeste prisoner who shared the same living quarters with Ampon, and Kittiphum Juthasamit, a Phusing Hospital director, that improper treatment at the prison hospital and inadequate equipment at the correctional facility contributed to his death.

During the inquest which began seven months ago, Mr Thantawut told the court the prison authorities did not give Ampon enough food and restricted his meetings with doctors. Prison officials also abused him verbally because he was a lese majeste prisoner. The court said yesterday the authorities did not discriminate against Ampon.

Dr Kittiphum’s evidence that the “prison hospital should have done more” was rejected by the court: “the doctor’s opinion did not prove the prison’s hospital caused his death.”

Senior nurse Ratchanee Harnsomsakul, who was working at the hospital on the day of Ampol’s passing, said:

medical staff provided the inmate with the standard treatment…. However, she admitted the prison hospital was not properly equipped to treat cancer patients.

It seems that the courts continue to insist on punishing lese majeste, even in death.

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