Students rising II

28 02 2020

In an earlier post we mentioned that some students were pointing at the monarchy in their demonstrations and we also noted that the regime’s response had been muted.

That’s changing fast.

In some provincial cities, police and military are limiting the rallies and “persuading”-cum-intimidating students to abandon them.

Meanwhile, in a censored report, Khaosod recounts police efforts to stamp out anti-monarchism.

Clipped from Prachatai

In response to “subtle references to the monarchy [that] were spotted on some signs and placards in the students-led protests,” the police have warned students. Describing the references as often humorous “and relying on internet slang, some of these slogans were widely shared on social media in recent days.”

Police spokesman Col. Kissana Phathacharoen “said students must leave the monarchy out of their protests against the government of PM [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha.”

Krissana added that “police are closely monitoring the rallies taking place in dozens of university campuses and schools nationwide…”.

More intense intimidation may push more students to join the already very large rallies.





Rap Against Dictatorship celebrated

28 05 2019

It is fantastic to read that the anti-dictatorship rapper group Rap Against Dictatorship win the Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, awarded by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation. The prize recognizes those who “engage in creative dissent, exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth.”

According to one report, “[t]wo members of RAD – Liberate P and Jacoboi – are flying to Norway to attend the awards ceremony, which will be held at the Oslo Freedom Forum.”





Seethe against the military junta

21 09 2018

Punk fans and anti-Fascists rejoice! Tonight is the time for “BNK44: Four Years Later and All We Eat is Fortune Cookies,” will start at 8pm on the rooftop of The Overstay, an underground venue in the Pinklao area that hosts punk and reggae shows. Entry is free.

Recall that several punk bands involved in this gig are returning after the “Almost Four Years, You Motherfucker” concert that was shut down by the junta’s thugs. This time they want “to seethe against military rule, four months after their last show was raided by police” because they were considered anti-junta.

The bands are “lampooning the junta’s recruiting of a girl idol group for publicity, according to an the event organizer who asked not to be named ‘because our concept is anonymity and anarchism’.”





Resistance matters

18 01 2016

Resistance to the military dictatorship has been constant. Yet the regime has also been quite successful in repressing opponents.

Maintaining pressure on the regime is critical for Thailand’s future. Time and again in the past, students and academics have been important in opposing authoritarianism. Things are challenging this time, with these groups having been split by the red-yellow divide.

Yet it is heartening to see the neo-democracy students being so brave in facing down the military dictatorship. According to a story at Khaosod, academics are following suit.

The report states that “[p]ro-democracy academics want to shift to a proactive stance in an attempt to restore some political rights amid concerns the junta may attempt to remain in power much longer.”

They are right to be concerned for Thailand’s political future.

The report is about a group of “[s]ome 30 academics and NGO activists organized as ‘Thai Academics for Civil Rights’ [which] will meet Thursday through Saturday to review their role and come up with strategies and measures to push back against repression by the military junta against students and scholars.”

Anusorn Unno, the dean of Thammasat University’s Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, asked: “What can we do to steal the agenda from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)?” He said:

his group is counting on the growing disillusionment of groups which used to support the coup-makers, including medical doctors, NGO workers, rubber farmers and some members of the movement created to oust the former civilian government, the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy with the King as Head of State, or PCAD.

These people increasingly recognize that paving way for the military to seize power didn’t enable [the country] to progress…. It wasn’t that clear in the first year since the coup, but the dust has now settled.

In fact, it was clear from day 1, but we agree that a wider group is beginning to see the failures and strategies of the dictatorship for embedding royalist authoritarianism.

Anusorn observes that: “The support base of the regime is eroding and simmering conflicts which have been suppressed await to be reignited…”. He mentioned Corruption Park.

The Assembly of the Poor is involved, with Barame Chairat, a coordinator, observing: “I agree that we need to launch an offensive because we have been on the receiving end so far… If we don’t do this, more will suffer.”





Still intimidating students

8 08 2015

A few days ago PPT posted on the continuing intimidation of the Dao Din students. That intimidation continues in a manner that is remarkably blunt, dull and marking the bureaucracy and the military dictatorship as a throwback to the mid-twentieth century.

The Nation reports that the students have had to invite an EU diplomat to visit them in Khon Kaen. Why? It seems that the students, still being followed by security officials are being accused of having “illicit items such as weapons…”. The EU remains concerned about the safety of the students.

Of course, if the authorities decided to raid the students’ house and office, they would probably set them up by planting “illicit items.” This was standard practice in the dark past, and such searches and “finds” were seldom questioned because they occurred under dictatorial regimes and often resulted in disappearances or long jail terms.

Meanwhile, The Isaan Record has published an interview with the students. PPT won’t summarize the interview as it is widely available and worth reading in full.





Intimidation continues

3 08 2015

One of the characteristics of military dictatorship is paternalism, and that is clear in the manner in which it seeks to intimidate the Dao Din students (and their parents). The paternalism is packaged with persistent acts of intimidation.

The Nation reports that:

The parents of one of the anti-coup activists arrested in June claim they have been told by an official to “take their son out of school” to stop him from “mingling” with his friends and participating in anti-junta activities.

Intimidation.

To encourage this “suggestion,” the Roi Et Governor Somsak Changtrakul as well as “soldiers and state officials,” have “offered their son a job as a defence corps volunteer in exchange for him dropping out of the university in Khon Kaen, where he and his Dao Din friends flock together to stage social and political activities.”

The governor has denied making such suggestions but that is horse manure.

Chalermsak and Neeranuch Soontararak, parents of Apiwat or “Noi”, state that the “governor told us to encourage our son to quit school and he said he would take care of him. He invited our son for a meal at his official residence and offered him the volunteer job…”. Intimidation.

They also point out that the authorities “have been visiting us very frequently after there was a legal case in which our son and his friends held up a protest banner against the junta…”. The father stated that “[m]ore than 40 soldiers and state officials have also visited him at his workplace. The students as well as his colleagues were panic-stricken…”.

That’s the aim. Intimidation.

The paternalism of this intimidation is evident in the “blaming” attached to the parents: “They asked how we raised our son…”.

The soldiers also prowl their neighborhood. Intimidation.

They show up at family events. Intimidation.

One parent wrote: “You are unforgivingly intimidating our personal space…”.

 

 





Updated: Scholar disparages junta

12 07 2015

[Update: corrected some typos. Sorry.]

Some scholars have been reluctant to criticize Thailand’s military dictatorship. If they do, Thai scholars risk being called in by the junta for a bit of threatening. Foreign scholars risk being turned away from Thailand if they speak against the dictatorship. Others, both Thai and foreign, have been enthusiastic in their support of the prepared to speak out in favor of dictatorship. The whole of the so-called Council of University Presidents had been captured by anti-democrats and royalists. The military has its tame “scholars” in its pay and ideologically committed to anti-democracy.

Of course, there have been outspoken opponents all along, but they are repressed, threatened or silenced. in recent days, there have been cases of Thai scholars and foreign scholars speaking out for the Dao Din students.

When a foreign scholar enters the den of the dictators and criticizes them as anti-democrats, it deserves some attention. Tyrell Haberkorn from Australian National University has been an assiduous translator of important documents at Prachatai. The Nation reports that she has now stated, in an international forum entitled “Democracy Drawbacks in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University, has stated that “[t]he military is the primary cause of the retreat of democracy in Thailand and Southeast Asia…”.

She’s right in everything reported from her speech, snips of which appear below:Tyrell

[T]he extensive power obtained by coup-makers encourages more putsches in the future.

[G]ranting amnesty to those launching military coups and passing laws like Article 44 of the provisional charter granting the junta leader absolute power could lead to more coups.

Each time the military forgives themselves for seizing power, detaining people, and torturing people, it makes it easier to do it [the coup] the next time….

[The junta passing orders that were treated as law and adjudicating civilian cases within the military judicial system] could never be a path towards democracy, no matter what the generals in charge may say. These are actions that are both individually and in sum detrimental to the exercise and promotion of human rights.

[T]he junta granting themselves amnesty] is dangerous because this institutionalises and gives a legal clause to otherwise illegal actions that are explicitly damaging the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Even when … holding conversations and [where] there was no arrest, it was still a form of intimidation, which shrinks the space of freedom of expression and political freedom….





An avalanche of lies

11 07 2015

When the military has impunity it leads to lawlessness. In Thailand, the military has long had impunity and this makes them – quite literally – a law unto themselves. The military has long evade the jurisdiction of civilian courts.

When the military has illegally seized power, impunity is no longer an issue. It just is a fact of life. The military is thus untouchable. Sure, the junta might sometimes throw a soldier or officer under a legal bus, but this is no more than smoke and mirrors. The military is, quite simply, not bound by the laws of the land, the laws of decency or even required to abide by quite basic human traits such as the capacity to distinguish between truth and lies.

In recent weeks, PPT has sometimes pointed out deliberate fabrications emanating from the military junta (as three recent example, see here, here and here). It is obvious that fabrications are the stock in trade of the generals and that they are unable to distinguish between fact and their lies. In fact, it seems that they believe their lies are facts. This is deeply disturbing to the average human being and could be considered a marker for a deep-seated psychological confabulation marking an entire national leadership.

The latest reason for us thinking this is a story at Prachatai that has yet another junta spokesman lying. A few days ago, the sub-committee on civil and political rights of the largely useless and incompetent National Human Rights Commission of Thailand called in “Col Nurat Kongkaew, the Director the Military’s Staff Judge Advocate Office, who came as the representative of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Somporn Musik, a representative of the Lawyer Council of Thailand, and Kittisak Prokati, a lecturer of the Faculty of Law of Chulalongkorn University.” The police decided to skip the meeting. Those who did show up were to discuss the arrest of the 14 Dao Din students.

A junta representative said that the military took no part in  anti-junta activists and dismissed allegations of intimidating villagers who support the activists.  The junta’s representative stated that “the military took no part in the arrest of the 14 anti-junta activists on 26 June 2015 and that the police were responsible for the operation.” This is a lie.

Sure, it was the police who arrested the students as they went to a police station, but the police acted for the junta, for the military and used the junta’s laws and were under the orders of the military dictatorship. Nurat confirmed this, saying “that the arrest was done in accordance to the law and that the NCPO acted within the law.” He means the military junta. Nurat also confirmed the lie by refusing to say if there were military officers present when the students were arrested.

The same liar “dismissed allegations that the activists were followed by military officers and said that there is no evidence that military officers paid visits to the houses of the activists.” This is a lie.

When he was asked why the 14 activists were before a military court, Nurat “refused to answer and said that it is policy.” When asked if “military officers [had]… intimidated villagers to prevent them from showing support to the activists,” this fabricator stated that “if there were people who disguised themselves as military officers, then they would be prosecuted according to the law.”

Lies, deceit, fabrication and fiction go together with repression, censorship, torture and impunity to define this military regime.





Further updated: On the student’s release

10 07 2015

A reader sent us the following declaration:

Declaration 5 of Lecturer Network Concerned about Imprisoned Students

Thank you to the People from all sectors

As the military court has rejected the custody petition for another term resulting in the release of the 14 students, we Concerned Lecturers would like to express our thankfulness to students, academics, writers, translators, artists, NGO activists and the great number of people who have supported the 14 students, joining to the demand their unconditional release. Without this push, the 14 students might have been imprisoned and lost their freedom for even longer.

Moreover, the experience we got from helping the students made us see the possibility that participation from a variety of groups of people, whether in the same political side or not, can cross the barrier of disparity.

From various, opposite parties we can all join to create an appropriate principle and consensus in order to protect those who fight for freedom. This cooperation in the middle of political disparity shows that there could be grounds to encourage relations, exchanges and participation to enforce Rightness for the Public in the long run.

However, as the prosecutors still keep all charges in this case and the previous political cases, it is possible that the 14 students will be subject to political charges and processes at anytime as well as being threatened by other methods. We, the Lecturers continue to participate as a network to monitor the students’ security. We demand the Junta cease threatening activists and the networks. We are especially concerned about the warrant issued to Mr. Baramee Chairut and the manager of Suan-nguen Mee-ma, in charge of operations against the draft Constitution based on exaggerated accusations and a pattern of threats.

Besides this, up until now such threats has spread to lecturers in rural local areas too in various methods: calling them, approaching for inquiry, and requests for some appointments to any local lecturers who have joined us.

We, the Lecturer Network demand that the Military and other officials immediately stop such behavior and threats. We insist that our participation is rooted in our genuine concern for the students who openly, sincerely and justifiably demanded the freedom that they deserve. We are pleased to provide this communication in order to create right understanding under an open condition, and with sincerity.

With confidence in Right, Freedom and Equality

Lecturer Network Concerned about Imprisoned Students

July 8, 2015

Update 1: Readers will find the two interesting reports on the students’ jail experience at Prachatai, here and here.

Update 2: For more on these concerned lecturers, see a story at Prachatai, where their harassment by the military is set out. The story tells of a “visit” by five military officers came to Mahidol University to ask the lecturers “about their political stands and whether they support the 14 anti-junta activists, who are temporarily released.” It is stated that: “Besides asking about the political stands and if the lecturers support the 14 anti-junta activists, the officers requested the lecturers to soften up the critical contents of the seminars and discussions that the institute usually organises.” The lecturers responded that “they disagreed with the coup-maker and that they will continue to support the 14 anti-junta activists.”





News and views on the students

7 07 2015

Below PPT links to some useful reports and op-eds on the Dao Din students and the challenge they pose for the junta.

At the Globe and Mail, Nathan Vanderklippe writes of the Dao Din students and the protest that got them arrested as “hardly the stuff of revolutions.” Yet their call for a return to democracy means the students “represent what could develop into a potent challenge to the military regime, which faces growing opposition to the tight chokehold it has maintained on civil liberties for more than a year” under the military dictatorship. The dictatorship “has shown itself to be a jittery warden of a nation it has promised to return to democratic rule.” They are jittery but they also fear opposition:

The students’ supporters say their arrest marked an important moment. People cowed by the junta came to the streets in the hundreds to demand their release. More than 300 academics also signed letters asking the government to release the young people, a risky move. Authorities questioned 30 of the signatories.

David Streckfuss observes that the students hope “to be a spark, and they’re starting to get some sympathetic ears, at least amongst other students…. They know that if no one takes a risk in standing up to the regime then the regime will stay on and on.” At the same time, there is some pessimism “particularly as opposition parties, universities and much of the country’s middle class remained silent over the students’ detention.”

In another commentary, at The Diplomat, there is discussion of the military dictatorship as “an antiquated authoritarianism.” This note argues:

While the junta is consolidating its power through constitutional revisions and clamping down on political opposition, thousands of lives are being lost. The systematic lack of respect for human rights and human life is something Thailand’s western partners cannot ignore. Yet, neither the United States nor the European Union has put any pressure on Prayuth to address the root cause of the problem.

PPT is sure that external pressure is important. However, real change must be generated within the country.

Sulak Sivaraksa, an ardent supporter of the students, is interviewed in another report. He says that “the fact that people are daring to challenge such powerful authority figures shows bodes well for the country’s future.” He’s thinking of the challenge they provide for an outdated and hierarchical education system. Sulak spoke of the Dao Din students and the challenge they pose for the dictators, referring to “divisions among junta members on the students’ case…. Some say they should be let free, so that it stops the beginning of something bad, but some others are willing to punish them…”. Splits in a dictatorship are sometimes corrosive of juntas.

Sulak also has some criticism of the lese majeste law and its negative impacts for politics and society:

“This article not only helps to stop people speaking the truth, it also helps people close to the palace to get away with economic and political exploitation as the public is unable to hold them to scrutiny for fear of the lese-majeste charge…”.

He calls the article “dangerous for the monarchy and dangerous for the country,” and claims that many royal affiliated businesses, such as the Royal Projects, are not accountable….

The article adds that the projects “are for the most part financed on the government budget and contribute to the popularity of some members of the royal family.”








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