If lese majeste doesn’t work, try terrorism

22 03 2015

Army boss General Udomdej Sitabutr has explained “military intelligence and lese majeste. It seems clear that, frustrated by foreign countries disregarding junta pleas to extradite lese majeste “suspects,” the military dictatorship is changing tack.

Most countries in the world do not recognize lese majeste as a serious law, much less one of “national security” as claimed by Thai elites. When the junta seeks extradition on lese majeste charges, the silence is deafening.

So it is that the “great minds” in the junta and military have conjured a new approach: claim the lese majeste suspects are “terrorists.”

Udomdej has explained that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice are currently working to extradite the alleged mastermind of the terror plot, a man named Manoon [Anek] Chaichana who is believed to be living in the United States of America. Manoon has regularly uploaded videos under the pseudonym Anek San Francisco that criticize the Thai monarchy, a crime under Thailand’s lese majeste law.”

Do the members of the military junta think that all administrations operate with limited intelligence, like themselves?

Bombs, red shirts, martial law and torture

19 03 2015

PPT has held off posting on the recent arrest of persons allegedly involved in an incident where a grenade was lobbed into a car park at the Bangkok Criminal Court on 7 March 2015. We held off because, as is often the case under the military dictatorship, the information released appears politically compromised, partial and the details of the case/s contradictory and suspicious. We made similar comments when the police made statements about bombs at Siam Paragon. It has also been a developing story, and our account does not include even a proportion of the material available.

Bomb networkAs much as we’d like to support a movement against the junta, the story the junta and the police are weaving is anything but believable. As seems usual in such cases, the police have a network diagram, which we reproduce here. The previous claims about networks have all proven unfounded and were concocted by military and military-backed regimes for political gain, smearing opponents.

Not coincidentally, along with the bombers’ plot, pinned to red shirts, the military has “discovered” a small cache of weapons, mostly BB guns, in a temple they claim linked to red shirts in the northeast (although, the temple is actually in Saraburi…, but, hey, this is “military intelligence” at work). The really big “evidence” seems to be a pin with Thaksin Shinawatra’s image on it. This sounds like yet another arranged discovery meant to link red shirts to political activism against the military dictatorship. We simply find it impossible to believe a military with a huge record of deception, lies, murder and concoction of “evidence.” We wish there was an organized movement against the military dictatorship.

For PPT, the plot had a whiff of fish from the beginning, which according to the police and military, goes back to the Siam Paragon case. It got even whiffier when The Bangkok Post reported that the military junta was using the “plot” to seek the extradition of Manoon Chaichana (we know him as Anek Chaichana) said to be a lese majeste suspect, from the United States “as he also faces an arrest warrant for his alleged involvement in the grenade attack at the Criminal Court.”

The junta has been trying to extradite lese majeste suspects who have fled the country, but with no success. This is mainly because those other jurisdictions do not recognize the feudal lese majeste law. So tying Manoon to a bombing case seemed rather convenient. Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan said the junta “would seek the cooperation of the country where the suspect lives.”

The cops say Manoon “gave financial support for the grenade attack…”. They also mentioned his leadership of the Thai Alliance for Human Rightsand linked the suspects to it. The Thai Alliance for Human Rights was formed in San Francisco in October 2014. The Alliance includes both Anek and Chupong Thithuan, both accused of lese majeste, in multiple cases. The police accuse this group of attempting to “raise public panic.” There are said to be 14 in the group.

One of the early reports on the arrest of the suspects in Thailand also caused us to think of fish. The military claimed to have a tip-off that there was to be an attack on the Court and soldiers lay in wait for the suspects to arrive and throw a grenade into a pretty much vacant car late at night, seemingly not trying to cause any damage. They were promptly arrested after a brief shoot out. Even if the military did have “intelligence,” and they rarely do, this bomb plot seems entirely different from that at Siam Paragon, which was conducted during the day with many people around. The similarity is that neither seemed designed to kill.

Then things got even more smelly when Nattathida Meewangpla was suddenly abducted by the military, who denied it was them, and then produced her – a witness to military crimes – as a suspect in the “bombing plot.” In the Bangkok Post it was reported that police said that “Nattatida was in the same group of people accused of attempting to hire others to launch grenade attacks at five locations in Bangkok last month. Targets included the 11th Infantry Regiment, Lumpini Park, the Chatuchak MRT station, the Criminal Court and the parking lot of the Siam Kempinski Hotel near Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping mall.”

Finally, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights claim that some of the suspects have been tortured (see the press release below).

Abduction, torture, lese majeste, police and military. That’s quite a combination. And, it all allows for the maintenance of martial law.

Press Release

Investigation of alleged torture against suspects of the Criminal Court Bomb urged, Martial Law must be lifted

For immediate release on 17 March 2015TLHR

          A bomb exploded inside the compound of the Bangkok Criminal Court on 7 March 2015 and nine suspects have been arrested so far. Today, 17 March 2015, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has received complaints from four of the suspects in this case including Mr. Sansern Sriounruen, Mr. Chanwit Chariyanukul, Mr. Norapat Luephon and Mr. Wichai Yusuk. It was alleged in the complaints that the four suspects had been subjected to torture including being hit, punched, booted in their head, chest, back and threatened with an assault in order to extract information from them. In addition, some suspects were electrocuted leaving visible traces on their skin while being held in custody invoking Martial Law during 9-15 March 2015.

          TLHR is gravely concerned about the use of Martial Law to hold a person in custody and to prevent the person from communicating with his or her relatives and lawyers during the seven days. Previous detentions invoking Martial Law since the coup have taken place in undisclosed facilities and were conducted without transparency and accountability. The latest case of its kind of the detention of Ms. Nutthathida Meewangpla which was made known later that she had been subjected to military custody. The deprivation of liberty of a person invoking Martial Law may give rise to arbitrary exercise of power, torture and ill treatment, and enforced disappearance. Torture inflicted on a person while being held in custody is considered a gross human rights abuse and is a breach to obligations regarding the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) to which Thailand is a state party and was obliged to follow since 1 November 2007.

          TLHR demands the following from concerned agencies;

          1. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) must bring to a halt the invocation of Martial Law to suppress any criminal act since the police are already able to invoke their power as per the Criminal Procedure Code to effectively apply for arrest warrants and to investigate the case.

          2. The Department of Corrections which supervises detention facilities must ensure access to independent and impartial physicians of the four suspects. They along with other suspects in the same case should have access to physical and mental examination so as to create a guarantee against any possibility of being subjected to torture and ill treatment during the time Martial Law is imposed.

          3. The Royal Thai Police must conduct an investigation and collect evidence related to the abuses committed against the four suspects and to bring to justice the perpetrators.

With respect of people’s rights and liberties

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

More fanatical monarchism

9 08 2014

Monarchism has underpinned all governments since 1957. It has been required since General Sarit Thanarat crushed the last of the Khana Ratsadon and any others who favored a politically restricted monarchy. Strikingly, when monarchism has become ultra-royalism, it has been the regimes closest to the palace that have been most fanatical. Think of the right-wing palace fascism of privy councilor Tanin Kraivixien in 1976-77, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime of 2008-11, and now the military dictatorship under The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Prayuth’s reign dictatorship is already emerging as one of the most hardline and reactionary of this selection of ultra-royalist regimes. Here are some recent examples of the nature of the regime.

At Khaosod it is reported that the newspaper has been forced into outspoken self-censorship. We understand that this hardly makes sense, but look at the editorial Khaosod has published.

Khaosod English states it had to make changes “to a recent article about an anti-royal video posted on youtube last week.” The editors removed some rather innocuous direct quotes in the original posted article, fearful of the lese majeste law. The editorial stated that as “a news agency based in Thailand, Khaosod English is obliged to comply with Thai laws. However, we always strive to find a balance between the boundary of the law and our strong commitment to an objective, accurate news reporting.”

That is a moving boundary, moving mostly to the right, and a boundary that is almost impossible to locate, meaning that self-censorship is the rule, and it becomes more extensive under repressive lese majeste regimes like that of the curent military dictatorship.

Also at Khaosod, the nature of the royalist nature of the regime is further revealed in story headlined, “Hardline Royalist Elected Head of NLA.” By NLA is meant the puppet assembly, handpicked by The Leader. That The Leader’s choice as head of the puppet assembly was “unanimously” voted into the position tells you a great deal about how slavishly loyal this “assembly” is. No independence, no thought, no representation. Asia Sentinel has a useful article on this “lap dog.

The one chosen as The Leader’s boss of the puppet assembly is Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, a former Supreme Court judge. Judges are, by definition, ultra-royalists who leave snail trails on the path when they slither off to the palace.Snail Trail

The last time he was a member of a puppet assembly after the 2006 coup, Pornpetch wanted tougher lese majeste laws. Yes, sentences of 15, 20 and 30 years are simply insufficient when protecting the royalist elites wealth and political power.

Khaosod states that his proposal back then was to expand Article 112’s coverage to “cover members of the Royal Family, the Head of Privy Council, all of the Privy Councilors, and ‘any person who has been appointed a representative of His Majesty the King’.” He also “suggested granting judges the power to outlaw media coverage of ongoing lese majeste trials.” Pornpetch reportedly withdrew his bill “because he was told to do so by the Privy Council…”.

This time, as the slave of The Leader, Pornpetch has said that choosing a premier is not something that is urgent for the puppet assembly. ho need a prime minister when you have an all-powerful and palace-sanctioned dictator.

Meanwhile, getting right down to the most important things, Prayuth has barked about lese majeste (again). Perhaps he’s been excited about the queen’s birthday and the lavish spending to “celebrate” yet another propaganda moment. More likely, he has been enraged by the video calling for the king to abdicate and return power to the people.[clicking opens a YouTube video, banned in Thailand]

The Leader identified some of those he considers opposed to the monarchy and who he wants locked up for decades. He said, in a televised address: “Let me name them,” he said. “[They are] Chupong Theetuan, Anek Chaichana, Saneh Thinsaen, Amnuay Kaewchompoo and Ong-art Thanakamolnan.” PPT has no links for Ong-art or Saneh. Each of the named men is reported outside Thailand. Prayuth warned that he’s hunting more.

Just for good measure, The Leader, joined by even some of his blogosphere “enemies”, decided to condemn Kritsuda Khunasen for claiming she was tortured while in Army detention. He said the claims were untrue and just meant to attack his military dictatorship. Why should anyone believe Prayuth on this? It makes little difference, for under the dictatorship, the military can do what it wants and there is “no plan to investigate the issue.”

At the Wall Street Journal it is pointed out that Prayuth is in firm control. It observes: “The point of this tight control is to rig Thailand’s future political system to prevent supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who the majority of Thai voters support, from forming a future government.” This is too soft and and too narrow. Even The Economist is remarkably weak in identifying military authoritarianism for what it is: a dictatorship. Thailand’s military dictatorship is winding back to a Premocracy, denying democracy, and cementing the foundations of the royalist state.



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