Intimidating the relatives of the dead

7 09 2012

As we recently posted, Asia Provocateur (Andrew Spooner) has moved. His first post there deserves attention.

He reports that , the mother of murdered medic , and a campaigner for justice for her daughter and others killed during the events of April and May 2010, is receiving threats. It is explained that: “Payao told me this morning that she has been harassed continually since 2010 but that the tone of the harassment is becoming ‘more aggressive’.”

… with some callers even claiming to be Thai Army officers. The call I received on 3rd September threatened to murder my whole family if I didn’t stop pursuing justice for the death of my daughter. The second call was this morning [7th September], it sounded like the same man, and repeated the same threats. But this time he sounded very angry and became abusive.

 





Prayuth, snipers, “fake” ammo

29 08 2012

The stories concocted by the military to deny its use of  snipers in April and May 2010 are now reaching such incredible levels that the Army is now destroying its very last few shreds of credibility. These most fantastical lies were apparently delivered to the Department of Special Investigation yesterday. But we turn first to Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Army boss said “he would cooperate if summonsed by the DSI.’ That seems pretty straightforward. But not, it seems, in the mind of the distracted and angry general, for it is immediately added that he “would have to check whether he had an important engagement on that date…. If he could not make himself available, he would assign an officer to represent him…”.

That means Prayuth isn’t going to show up. This deliberate snub of the investigation shows how much Prayuth values impunity and sets up for a clash between military brass and government.

Now back to the two army snipers who showed up yesterday. Recall that the military has repeatedly denied the use of snipers, despite evidence to the contrary. 

The report states: “Sgt Saringkan Taweecheep and Sgt Kacharat Niamrod of the 5th Cavalry Battalion were accompanied by a lawyer Lt-Col Burin Thongprapai of the Judge Advocate General’s Department…. They did not speak to the press.” The Post tells us nothing more.

However, Andrew Spooner has blogged on other reports. He refers to a short report at TNN24. This report states in its headline that the two snipers admitted that the fired at the “red shirt mob” but used “fake bullets.” Yes, that is the story. These men were assigned to the Bon Kai area, with M-16s, but they used some kind of blank cartridge.

We don’t blame these low-ranking men for this lie. Obviously their bosses have ordered them to make this ridiculous claim. Anyone still believes this bunch of liars masquerading as state-funded military brass must have fairies at the bottom of the garden or are blinded by nonsense political ideology.





Updated: Suthep and Abhisit

28 08 2012

Yesterday, in a brief update to an earlier post, PPT noted that former deputy premier and the man mostly responsible for security issues under Abhisit Vejjajiva’s royalist government Suthep babbled about his capacity for only telling the truth before his “talk,” over many hours, with the Department of Special Investigation. In fact, this is how the Bangkok Post reported him: “I’ll tell only the truth…”.

It seems it is difficult for Suthep to recognize the truth because even this statement of him telling the truth is revealed as a lie. Andrew Spooner has a post worth reading at Asian Correspondent, where Suthep is quoted by Matichon as saying that he had “never seen” video footage of troops “shooting at Red Shirt protesters in the afternoon of April 1oth 2010 at Kok Wua.” It is impossible that a man in his position could not have seen this widely available footage, much of it available on the very night of the events.

As for Abhisit, Spooner draws attention to a Thai Rath report where Abhisit is quoted as warning Yingluck Shinawatra that an elected government should not interfere with the Army or else she would end up like her brother, Thaksin, overthrown in a military coup. Abhisit must simply love that idea as the Army might even make him prime minister again.

Abhisit has said that his party plans to “grill” the government on “white lies” about the economy. We wonder if the Democrat Party would ever be able to ask itself about the myriad of lies it has told regarding the murderous events it unleashed in 2010. They were black lies.

Update: The Nation now carries an account of Suthep’s 10 hour “meeting” with DSI and investigators, including his claims about being blind to evidence. The Nation headline appears to misrepresent the story in that Suthep’s claim is that the Army didn’t “fire first.” This seems to be something of a shift in the Democrat Party story on events, and different from that by the Army boss; until now, the claim has been that the Army killed not a single person.





Further updated: Thammasat student gets summons on new lese majeste charge

3 01 2012

At New Mandala, Somsak Jeamteerasakul comments on what he says is a new lese majeste charge. PPT reproduces it in full:

New LM case: a first year student at Thammasat charged

I regret to inform all NM readers of the second of three new LM cases I mention above (an earlier post in the same thread).

The first case, that of ajarn Suraphot Thawisak, had already been reported.

The accused in this case is Miss Natthakarn Sakuldarachat (her name at the time of the incident she is being charged with, she has since changed her name and surname to avoid harassment). At this moment she is a first year student in the Faculty of Social Welfare, Thammasat University.

During March-April 2010, at the height of the rallies and crackdown in Bangkok, Natthakarn or “Kan Thoob” the nickname she used online then, under which she is more widely known, had just finished her high school course, and had already passed the written exam to the Silpakorn University.

She posted some comments on her Facebook. Some online royalists saw them, quickly accusing her of LM, and widely attacking her on the internet and in “Yellow” media outlets.

These fierce attacks were such that the Dean of the Silapakorn Faculty (a known royalist) where Natthakarn “Kan Thoob” already passed the written exam, decided to reject her as new student, claiming she was not qualified because of her lack of loyalty to the monarchy.

A few weeks afterward, Natthakarn earned the right to take a oral exam at Kasetsart University. But the royalists hounded her, threatened to stage a protest at the university the day she was scheduled to appear for an oral exam. So Natthakarn decided to not show up and forfeited her right to study there.

Because of this, between mid-2010 and mid-2011, Natthakarn stayed at home, losing a whole year of study.

In mid 2011, i.e. at the start of this academic year, she passed the exam into the Faculty of Social Welfare, Thammasat University; although the administration knew of her case (Dr.Somkid, the university rector recently gave an interview about her case), she was more fortunate that here at Thammasat, they were more tolerant of differing opinion and accepted her without any incident. She already finished her first term as student … and is about to start the second term, postponed because of the flood until the middle of this month.

However, some royalists were not satisfied with just ruining her study for a year; unknown to Natthakarn, some of them apparently lodged LM complain about her case with the police.

At the end of last October, an LM charged and a summon had been issued to Natthakarn by the Bang Khen Police precinct. But because of the flood (the police precinct itself was flooded, and Natthakarn herself was back in her home province of Ratchaburi), the date she was summoned to appear was re-scheduled twice, finally being set at 10 am., Wednesday 11 January.

During the past two months (from the time Natthakarn received her summon), I together with some academic friends have tried to made informal contact with people in the authorities, urging them to reconsider Natthakarn’s case. After all, there is really little merit in the charge and still less any benefits to social and political order, but to no avail. So, Natthakarn is now officially the latest victim in this LM madness.

Update 1: At Prachatai, a commentator has pointed to  a report on this case in a Freedom House report:

In addition to legal repercussions, internet users who post controversial content can face societal harassment, termed “online witch hunts” by local observers. In a case reported in May 2010, an 18-year-old high school graduate became the subject of an online hate campaign over her alleged insult of the monarchy. The woman claimed that she was refused a place at Silpakorn University because of her Facebook postings, and expressed fears of a physical attack after her name and address were posted on public websites. She said that she faced hostility in her neighborhood as well as threatening leaflets and phone calls, and that police had refused to accept her complaint. [53] A network of users calling themselves the “Social Sanction” group has actively sought out individuals who have expressed views deemed to be disrespectful of the monarchy and launched online campaigns to vilify them. In some cases, these campaigns have sparked official investigations of the targeted individual.[54]

Notes:

[53]  Pravit Rojanaphruk, “18-Year-Old’s Facebook Posting Spurs ‘Hate Campaign,’” Nation, May 28, 2010, available on Prachatai at http://prachatai3.info/english/node/1864. One of the pages condemning the young woman can be found at http://www.khanpak.com/front-variety/variety-view.php?id=500

[54] Sawatree Suksri, Siriphon Kusonsinwut, and Orapin Yingyongpathana, Situational Report on Control and Censorship of Online Media, Through the Use of Laws and the Imposition of Thai State Policies (Bangkok: iLaw Project, 2010), http://www.boell-southeastasia.org/downloads/ilaw_report_EN.pdf, p. 14.

Update 2: Somsak Jeamteerasakul has added more details, again at New Mandala. We reproduce it below, with a bit of editing:

Natthakarn has decided to ask the police for postponement of her reporting for LM charge, from next Wednesday to sometime next month. The police agreed. The new date is tentatively set at 11 February.

The reason for the request is that she has upcoming final exams for last semester (held up from October because of flood) within a few days after next Wednesday. At first she thought she could manage the preparation for both the exam and the reporting to police within few days of one another, but apparently the latter interfered too much with her time and concentration for the exam preparation.

I’d like to emphasize that the LM charge against Natthakarn “Kan Thoob” stills stands, the summon still stands, only the date of her reporting to police has been rescheduled.

Somsak goes on to provide further details:

I’d like also to give some further info about Natthakarn, just checked with her. She was born in May 1992. This means that her posting on Facebook between March and April 2010, for which she is being charged, happened when she was not quite 18 years old. I am not quite sure about the law on this, but as I understand it, should the case come to court, she could be tried as a minor, presumably even in juvenile court (?).

In any case, this fact (and the fact that even now she has not yet reached 20 years), makes the charge all the more depressing. While nobody of any age (or political persuasions – not even Sondhi Lim), should be charged with LM, in the case like Natthakarn’s, the police should have exercised good sense and should not have laid a formal charge against her. At most they should have contacted her, perhaps with her parents and her university supervisors, to warn her of potentials danger of posting ambiguous messages online. They should have let her get on with her life and study.

In addition, at New Mandala, Andrew Spooner points out that he wrote about this case a few months ago. His post then began:

Back in 2010, as the Thai people were busy counting the corpses resulting from former-PM Abhisit’s Bangkok massacre, a young 17-year-old girl left a message on her public Facebook page. The message was a rebuke to Thailand’s royalty that was so mild it didn’t even attract a charge under Thailand’s draconian lese majeste. But what it did attract was something far more sinister.

It might have been sinister then. It is far worse now. Lese majeste madness indeed.





Thailand’s extreme lese majeste law used to sentence another victim

23 11 2011

If anyone needed further proof that Thailand’s lese majeste law and its closely related Computer Crimes Act were amongst the most extreme and repressive sets of laws it comes today with the sentencing of Ampol Tangnopakul.

Ampol is 61 years and ill and yet was given 20 years on charges of sending text messages. There remains real doubt that Ampol even had the skills to send such messages. Ampol denied the charges, saying he was unfamiliar with the text message function on mobile phones and did not know the recipient of the message. But never mind, the royalist courts have locked him up, probably until he dies.

He was reported arrested by Crime Suppression Division police on 3 August 2010 for sending SMS messages considered offensive to the monarchy to several important people, including a secretary to then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. He was charged under the draconian laws that protect the monarchy from any comment that others may deem as critical. His sentence came without Ampol even being in court as he sat in the flooded Bangkok Remand Prison.

Ampol’s cruel sentence, some say, may allow a quick pardon on the king’s birthday. If there was some compassion for this old and poor man, perhaps that is the best case to be made for such a spiteful sentence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Lung Ampol.

One aspect of the case that deserves attention is the Central Bureau of Investigation claim that the messages were “inappropriate and considered insulting to the monarchy and have upset the recipients…”. The delicate soul who was offended by messages, said to be about the queen, was a personal secretary to Abhisit. We can only assume Abhisit also felt “upset.” In fact, the Democrat Party leader and his party were using lese majeste to repress political opponents.

Nothing has changed much since then. As Andrew Spooner points out, the Democrat Party is hard at work attempting to ensure that even more people are put in jail for lese majeste. Their efforts have now become quite maniacal.

Of course the increased pressure on the government to throw people in political prisons is a part of a broad and apparently coordinated strategy to link with the People’s Alliance for Democracy to show the government is disloyal to the throne. To any normal person, the idea of using Jurassic-era and anti-democratic laws would seem ridiculous, but not to this anti-democratic Democrat Party.

But readers will be pleased to know that the terrible sentence has even motivated the normally lese majeste somnolent Benjamin Zawacki at Amnesty International, who is said to have “condemned” the verdict, “accusing the government of suppressing freedom of expression.” He claimed that the current law “form and usage [of the law] place the country in contravention of its international legal obligations.” Zawacki added that Ampol “is a political prisoner.”

Of course, as PPT has pointed out for several years, every lese majeste victim is a political prisoner. Sitting around waiting until each one is sentenced before making a statement, as Zawacki appears to do, means that human rights organizations are complicit in the torture-like treatment that lese majeste victims are subjected to.

While Ampol’s case has had little attention to date, the over-the-top sentence has already gained considerable media attention in just a few hours. Here are some of the stories:

Man sentenced to 20 years for sending text messages deemed offensive to Thai queen

Washington Post

BANGKOK — A Thai criminal court sentenced a 61-year-old man to 20 years in prison Wednesday for sending text messages deemed offensive to the country’s queen. The court found Amphon Tangnoppaku guilty on four counts under lese majeste and computer

Man sentenced to 20 years for insulting Thai queen

eTaiwan News

AP Thailand’s criminal court has sentenced a 61-year-old man to 20 years in prison for sending text messages deemed insulting to the country’s queen. The court found Amphon Tangnoppaku guilty Wednesday of violating the kingdom’s lese majeste and

Thailand lese majeste man jailed for 20 years

BBC News

A man who sent text messages deemed insulting to Thailand’s monarchy has been jailed for 20 years. Ampon Tangnoppakul, 61, was convicted of sending four messages last year to an official working for then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Thai Man Receives 20 Year Sentence for Insulting Monarchy

Voice of America (blog)

A court in Thailand has sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for sending text messages that authorities say were “insulting” to the country’s royal family. Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Wednesday found 61-year-old Ampon Tangnoppakul guilty of sending

20 Yrs Of Jail For Antimonarchy SMS In Thailand

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia

(AGI) Bangkok – A man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for texting insults against the monarchy Thailand. Ampon Tangnoppakuln was found guilty of lese-majesty. In May 2010 he texted the private secretary of then-prime minister,

20 years’ jail for Thai anti-royal texts: lawyer

AFP

BANGKOK — A Thai court on Wednesday sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for sending text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy, his lawyer said, under the kingdom’s strict lese-majeste laws. Ampon Tangnoppakul, 61, was found guilty of four counts

Man gets 20 years for insulting Thai king

Herald Sun

A THAI court has sentenced a man to 20 years in prison for sending text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy,

 





Updated: Politicizing a national disaster II

28 10 2011

In addition to the comments in PPT’s earlier post, there are a couple of stories that reflect on the way that the attacks on Yingluck Shinawatra reflect on the broader political conflict in Thailand.

Michael Montesano has a story at the Jakarta Globe that reflects on how the “floods have triggered a political and ideological contest concerning the role of the Thai monarchy.” He adds that “Thais unreconciled to the victory of Yingluck’s Red-Shirt-supported Pheu Thai Party in July’s polls have in recent weeks tried to turn her government’s current struggle to partisan political advantage. ” He notes how they have used fake and dated photos to convince themselves that the palace is hard at work on floods.

Related, it is interesting that Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha seems to have become official spokesperson for the monarchy. We noted his earlier comments here. Now, at The Nation, it is he that tells the media that “Their Majesties the King and Queen have been concerned about the plight of flood victims…”, noting that the king is monitoring the floods. Why wouldn’t he be?

Prayuth then goes on to say that he is “pledging full military efforts on rescue and recovery.” What were they doing before this? Half-hearted efforts? Prayuth adds that “Their Majesties told the soldiers to take good care of the people…”. In Bangkok, yellow-shirt speak, that is saying (again) that Prayuth and the military’s loyalty is not to the government, but to the monarchy. Prayuth seems back on political course, posing the monarchy-army alliance against Puea Thai. The watery coup idea holds water, so to speak.

Andrew Spooner has a cheeky post that asks a relevant question of the HRW staffer in Thailand who seems to have a political concern about portable toilets….

For those saying that the government has been partisan in its efforts, this story is a kind of mild antidote.

Update: A reader draws our attention to a story in The Nation:

The military will deploy another 50,000 troops, 1,000 vehicles and 1,000 boats to fight off floodwaters from Bangkok, the Defence Ministry said yesterday.

The First Army Area will defend Bangkok, and the Navy Siriraj Hospital, where His Majesty the King is receiving treatment, and Thawee Watthana district….

The Air Force will be in charge of Don Mueang airport compound and the government Flood Relief Operations Centre, said ministry spokesman Colonel Thanathip Sawangsaeng.

There are around 10,000 troops already deployed throughout the country, he said. Military reservists may be mobilised as extra helpers to assist regular troops when needed.

It does seem seem odd that the report only has 10,000 troops in places other than Bangkok. Given that almost all deaths and injuries have been beyond Bangkok and that the flood in Bangkok will, in all likelihood, be less than further north, the question of priorities needs to be raised.





Updated: Abhisit on holiday?

26 10 2011

There has been a bit of media traffic concerning a 3-day holiday trip to a luxury island resort in the Maldives by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. PPT has seen a post by Andrew Spooner that has several updates, a comment by Bangkok Pundit and a post at Thai E-News. Within these stories there are numerous links to Thai newspaper reports of a holiday trip.

The gist of the debate seems to be that people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. The Democrat Party and its yellow-shirted supporters have been highly critical of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for wearing  Burberry Wellington boots (admitted, but were they knock-offs?) while sloshing around in floods, that she attended a concert (vehemently denied) and some have even complained that she wears make-up (ho hum) while out in the floods…. The response seems to be that she’s out paddling around in floods, while Abhisit, as head of the Democrat Party, is on holiday.

Related, the Democrat Party has been confused and confusing in its responses on this issue, both denying and admitting. A column in The Nation cited by Bangkok Pundit says this:

A [Democrat] party source says he did spend a couple of nights there with the family and Abhisit didn’t deny it….

The Democrat [Party]… said Abhisit planned this school-break holiday a long time ago, and within hours there were photos on Twitter of him back on the job in Bangkok.

Along the same lines, former Finance Minister and Abhisit school chum Korn Chatikavanij (wealthiest politician in the Thai parliament) has seen his wife’s choice of rain gear in the media, although her choice of expensive wet fashion seems to have been praised by the yellow shirts….

While the last word might be with the Bangkok Post’s Roger Crutchley, it does seem that Abhisit and his party are leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to destabilize the current administration.

Update: Andrew Spooner has been following this story about Abhisit’s Maldives trip very closely and it seems that there is now a general admission by the Democrat Party that their leader was there. As Spooner puts it,

Now they’ve admitted he was in the Maldives. But only after they got their story “straight”.

It is a curious story.





Ministry of Foreign Affairs on lese majeste

20 10 2011

Andrew Spooner at Asian Correspondent has a post worth posting in full:

Once again, London-based freedom of expression activists, ARTICLE 19, are taking the lead in pushing the international agenda for the repeal and reform of Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law. In addition, in the interview below, they have also called for the immediate release of ALL of Thailand’s lese majeste prisoners.  But the most surprising development – which ARTICLE 19 have highlighted in their most recent press release – is the Thai Foreign Ministry’s quite extraordinary comments on lèse majesté.

In a country where political discourse can amount to treason, ARTICLE 19 welcomes the recent Thai Foreign Ministry admission that the enforcement of the lèse-majesté law has affected people’s freedom of expression. The admission comes nearly two weeks after Thailand underwent its first United Nations (UN) human rights review, in which the excessive use of the lèse-majesté law was highlighted by the ARTICLE 19 delegation in attendance, and echoed further by UN member states.”

The press release also went on to say that: “According to figures produced by the Thai Judiciary authorities, approximately 480 people were brought before the lower courts in 2010 on lèse-majestécharges. Freedom Against Censorship Thailand and i-Law (Thai groups monitoring censorship) identified 75,000 websites that were blocked in 2010 under the Computer Crime Act and Emergency Decree, 57,000 of which for containing lèse-majesté content.”

(The full press release can be read here).

Since that press release has been published I managed to conduct a short interview with Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. I started by asking Dr Callamard how significant a step this admission is by the present Thai government?  After all, this is the first time a Thai govt has acknowledged that lese majeste breaches affects freedom of expression.

The admission by the Thai Foreign Ministry is undeniably significant, as the country has a long history of censorship.  Mechanisms for censorship include strict lèse majesté laws, direct government and military control over the broadcast media, and the use of economic and political pressure to silence critical voices.

    The heavy-handed implementation of the lése-majesté (LM) law in recent years has resulted in a pervasive climate of self-censorship amongst the media and civil society.  People are too scared to even mention the law because of the severe repercussions. Therefore, the government’s acknowledgement of its mis-use is a first step in the right direction. However, ARTICLE 19 maintains that the repeal of the law is the only legitimate outcome of this process, as by its very existence, lèse-majesté law constitutes a threat to political expression and freedom of expression in Thailand.

    In addition, ARTICLE 19 urges the Thai government to review in a similar vein the Computer Crime Act (CCA), which has contributed to a sharp increase in the number of lèse majesté cases tried each year in Thailand. Like with the LM, the CCA is also being misused to suppress critical views. The Thai government should seize on the momentum gained to identify all amendments necessary to bring it in line with the Thai Constitution and international freedom of expression standards.”

Do you feel the present government are more committed to reforming or repealing LM than the previous government?

Upon becoming Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra,  publicly stated that the new government will review all criminal charges and lèse majesté cases to ensure fair investigations,  with the view of creating an atmosphere for reconciliation.

    At the same time, public statements made by the Deputy Prime Minister on August 26 2011, in which he stated his intention to further crackdown on LM on the internet directly contradicts the PM’s statement. This raises serious concerns regarding the level and nature of the commitment of the Thai government to address and redress  freedom of expression violations.

    ARTICLE 19 strongly encourages this new government to help turn the tide on the crackdown on freedom of expression and to take all necessary steps towards repealing the LM law.  More generally, ARTICLE 19 calls on the new government to take all necessary measures towards stronger protection for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the country.  In this context, it is crucial that any new policies or measures introduced regarding political expression, the media or internet are in line with international human rights standards.”

Some lese majeste prisoners, including those on remand awaiting trial, are being held in appalling conditions – what action would you like to see the Thai govt and international community take regarding this situation?

ARTICLE 19 is calling for the immediate release of all those imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.  This includes anyone currently imprisoned for LM crime, or awaiting trial on LM charges.

    ARTICLE 19 believes that the international community has a crucial role to play in supporting the new Thai government towards establishing a strong protection for human rights, including freedom of expression, in Thailand. The public admission of problems with the LM law comes after Thailand’s first peer-review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.  There is no doubt that the role of the international community has been paramount in getting the new government to address the bleak state of freedom of expression in the country. International pressure must thus persist.”

Andrew Spooner can be found on his public Facebook page here.







Spooner exits

11 08 2011

It is a great shame to learn that Andrew Spooner – Asia Provocateur – is not going to be continuing his blog on Thailand’s politics. Andrew’s posts have been provocative and path-breaking, and PPT will be sorry to see this blog go.

The reasons for his decision are understandable given the reprehensible actions taken against him and his family by those who found his blogging just too truthful on Thailand. This kind of harassment has become a standard practice in a political culture that is intolerant and vindictive of those with different ideas.

Under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, there were “semi-official” efforts to harass those who were seen as “unfriendly” to the regime – the efforts against those associated with New Mandala come to mind.

PPT wishes Andrew the best of luck in future ventures.





Update on Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul

25 07 2011

The last several days has held a flurry of updates and news related to the case of Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, and PPT wanted to alert readers to various sources of news as well as offer some additional commentary.

Friday, 22 July 2011, was the three year anniversary of her arrest for allegedly committing lese majeste during 55 minutes of speech during a political rally on Sanam Luang.  Marking this anniversary, Andrew Spooner at Asia Provocateur posted his transcript of an interview with Daranee.  The interview is well worth a read, and PPT wishes to highlight this exchange between Spooner and Daranee:

Spooner: Do you believe violence is necessary to change Thailand?

Daranee: Speaking the truth is not “violence”. I don’t believe violence is necessary to change Thailand but civilians have a right to defend themselves.

PPT agrees with Daranee that speaking the truth is not violence, and is deeply concerned that in a country where there is much unresolved extrajudicial violence, speech could be cast as such.

Then, late on Sunday, news of the Constitutional Court’s statement on her case, which was not expected until October, was posted as a PDF on the website of the Constitutional Court (PPT accessed it more easily here, on Prachatai). Regular observers of her case  may recall that in February 2011, the Appeal Court referred her case to the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court ruled that the secret trial of Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was not in conflict with the rights and liberties protected in the 2007 Constitution. At Prachatai English, Elizabeth Fitzgerald offered a translation of an important part of the decision, which PPT reproduces here:

“Examination in secret does not mean that either side will not be treated fairly in the judicial process and does not in any way restrict the rights of the defendant in a criminal case. This is because in regards to examination in secret, Article 178 of the Criminal Procedure Code mandates that involved individuals have the right to be in the courtroom, such as the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer, the defendant and the defendant’s lawyer, the defendant’s guards, witnesses, experts, interpreters, etc. This shows that Article 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code is an article in line with the basic rights for individuals in the justice system put in place by the Constitution even though it has some limiting effects on the rights and freedoms of individuals. But this is a limiting of individual rights and freedoms only to the extent that it is necessary. There are no significant repercussions on rights and freedoms

[การพิจารณาเป็นการลับ  ก็มิได้หมายความว่าคู่ความฝ่ายใดฝ่ายหนึ่งจะไม่ได้รับความเป็นธรรมใน กระบวนการ ยุติธรรมและมิได้จำกัดสิทธิของจำเลยในคดีอาญาแต่อย่างใด  เพราะเมื่อมีการพิจารณาเป็นการลับ  ประมวลกฎหมายวิธีพิจารณาความอาญา มาตรา ๑๗๘ กำหนดให้มีบุคคลที่เกี่ยวข้องกับการพิจารณามิสิทธิอยู่ในห้องพิจารณาได้  อาทิเช่น  โจทย์และทนายของโจทย์  จำเละและทนายของจำเลย  ผู้ควบคุมตัวจำเลย  พยาน  ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ  และล่าม เป็นต้น  จึงเห็นได้ว่าประมวลกฎหมายวิธีพิจารณาความอาญา มาตรา ๑๗๗ เป็นบทบัญญัติที่อยู่ในขอบเขตแห่งการใช้สิทธิพื้นฐานใน กระบวนพิจารณาแก่บุคคลตามที่รัฐธรรมนูญรับรองไว้  ถึงแม้จะมีผลเป็นการจำกัดสิทธิและเสรีภาพของบุคคลอยู่บ้าง  แต่ก็เป็นการจำกัดสิทธิและเสรีภาพของบุคคลเพียงเท่าที่จำเป็น  มิได้กระทบกระเทือนสาระสำคัญแห่งสิทธิและเสรีภาพ]

Elizabeth Fitzgerald then concludes by asking ” No significant effects on rights or freedoms? …. It is worth asking what it means when the public is excluded from observing a trial – in a democracy, or a state which claims to be one, is the public not a relevant and involved party to a court case?”

PPT would go further and say, again, that Article 112 must be abolished. The law is unjust, and this Constitutional Court ruling amplifies that injustice.