The gang’s dirty work

29 07 2016

We have long referred to Thailand’s military as a thuggish gang. One recent story we simply didn’t get to was of Naritsarawan Kaewnopparat, who was arrested for “defaming the army through her Facebook writings. She accused the military of protecting ‘certain peoples’ in the army who were responsible for the violent murder of her uncle, Wichian Puaksom, who died in the army camp in June 2011.”

The torture and violence used against its own mark the military out as a Mafia gang, enforcing loyalty, hierarchy and paternalism.

Fortunately, at The Diplomat, Pavin Chachavalpongpun has written about Naritsarawan’s case and the way the military uses outdated laws and a compliant judiciary to repress negative commentary.

Read the article and weep for a Thailand that is in the hands of a ferocious and rapacious gang of thugs.





Military must end judicial harassment of human rights defenders

26 07 2016

Torture, intimidation, repression and oppression are the stock-in-trade of the military in Thailand, under all regime types. As we often do, we reproduce an urgent appeal from the Cross Cultural Foundation, forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-FUA-006-2016

25 July 2016

THAILAND: Military must end judicial harassment of human rights defenders

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; Military; Rule of law; Threats and intimidation; Torture

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward an appeal from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) regarding the three human rights defenders who are to meet with an inquiry official at the Muang Pattani Police Station on July 26 in the defamation case filed against them by the ISOC Region 4 Forward as a result of their launching a torture report about the Deep South.

For more information, please contact:
1. Mr. Abdulawae Puteh +66 81 898 7408 Attorney of the three alleged offenders
2. Mr. Preeda Nakphew +66 89 622 2474 CrCF’s attorney
3. Ms. Nutthasiri Bergman +66 85 12 08077 CrCF’s attorney

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
—————————— —————————— ———–
THAILAND: Military must end judicial harassment of human rights defenders

On 17 May 2016, the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 (ISOC 4) has reported a case with the inquiry official at the Muang Pattani Police Station alleging that Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Ms. Anchana Heemmina, three human rights defenders, had committed criminal defamation and a violation of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

The three rights defenders were accused of publishing and distributing a report on the torture and ill, degrading and inhumane treatment in the Deep South between 2014 and 2015 and for bringing into the computer system false information via the website https://voicefromthais. wordpress.com/. The summons were issued for them since 8 June 2016, and they were supposed to turn themselves in on 26 June 2016, though they had asked to postpone it to 26 July 2016.

On 26 July 2016, the three defenders will meet Pol Lt Col Winyou Thiamrat, inquiry official of the Muang Pattani Police Station to hear the charges against them and carry with their defence later on.

The report “Torture and ill treatment in The Deep South Documented in 2014-2015” was an attempt to echo the situation in the local area and by doing so, the three HRDs hope it will help to solve the problem of torture in the Deep South. Since the start of unrest, a range of special laws have been enforced including Martial Law and the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) to bestow on the authorities extra power to carry out the arrest and detention of people. Even though it aims to quell insurgency, but undeniably, it has also led to the situation in which some officials have executed their power arbitrarily giving rise to the acts of torture and/or violations of rights and liberties in various forms. The facts are attested to be incidences of tortures committed by state officials as reported now and then including some suspects in security related cases have been found dead while in military custody or other official custody. If the problem fails to be tackled, it will simply ramp up more violence in the Deep South.

This case has attracted extensive attention from national and international rights organizations since the three activists have been playing important roles in the protection of human rights in the Deep South for a long time. Still, they are being taken to court by the authorities. It will also be another test of the Thai judicial system as to how much understanding they have toward the roles of HRDs and the issue of torture in Thailand.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)





Yes to Yes

26 06 2016

We now know that opposing the military’s draft charter is going to be made against some law or other. So too is campaigning for a No vote.

Who can support the junta’s constitution?

Anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban created a small problem for the military junta he supports when he spoke for 10 minutes in total support of the military’s draft charter. The Nation reports that there was a statement made that the junta would check that he hadn’t violated the referendum law. The Election Commission seems to have already decided he didn’t offend.

The military itself is able to campaign. Armed forces Supreme Commander General Sommai Kaotira is arranging for banners to “be hung at different military units calling on voters to cast their ballots on the referendum day.” The banners declare: “If you love democracy, you must vote in the referendum on August 7.”

Naturally, Sommai proclaimed that “the Armed Forces fully supported the referendum but would not attempt to influence the result.”

Sommai apparently thinks most Thais a gullible fools.





Going back to find a future

25 06 2016

A reader drew our attention to a small story in the Bangkok Post that our correspondent says is indicative of the backwardness of the military regime as it “reinvents” a past as the nation’s future.

This story is of “[p]eople … being taught how to make their own large concreted jars to store rainwater for home use during the dry season under a training project launched by the army.”

Our reader directs us to a document at our own pages (opens a PDF that would be illegal in Thailand), from 1987, that refers to royal celebrations that saw the “Department of Local Administration made sure that, want them or not, millions of suitably inscribed, large water storage jars would be distributed in rural areas.” These are the very same jars the military is now making (again).

Soldiers are being trained “to make the giant jars, which are a traditional method of storage.” In fact, they aren’t “traditional” at all, but as noted above, developed in the 1980s. Earlier jars were made of clay and were much smaller. The big jars have been adopted in other countries, as seen in this UN manual, and have even made it to the US.

Maj Gen Supoj Buranajaree, reported to be the commander of the 36th Military Circle, said the “intention is for the soldiers to complete training and then be deployed through the 12 districts of Phichit to teach people how to make the jars.” He added that the “army project is in line with the government’s policy to promote occupational training and self-reliance.” He says “[s]imilar programmes are in place in other provinces throughout the country.”

Going back 30 years may be natural for the military, as it places them in the era of the unelected regime of royal restorationist General Prem Tinsulanonda. Yet it seems they only learn some things from the past and forget others.

The UN reported on the jars, and notes that they were a part of a program that began in 1981. It says this of the program when it was run the way the army is doing it now:

There was also some corruption involving the Government funds provided for village jar construction, which resulted in the production of some substandard jars. Leakage and breakage were common in such cases. However, shifting of manufacture of the jars from Government programmes to the private sector eliminated this corruption.

The UN report adds:

According to a 1992 review by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the numbers of 2 m3 jars in use in Thailand increased from virtually none in 1985 to nearly 8 million in 1992. This increase was partially due to the Government’s National Jar Programme, but mostly due to the willing adoption of the technology by the public and to the widespread promotion of the technology by the commercial sector. Government intervention is no longer necessary.

The military really is hopelessly embedded in the past and somehow considers this a reinvented future.





AI launches urgent campaign for human rights activists

21 06 2016

Amnesty International has launched a an urgent action appeal for three human rights activists who face up to five years’ imprisonment and fines of up to 300,000 baht for their documentation of the use of  torture by state authorities in Thailand.

The three activists, Somchai Homlaor, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Anchana Heemmina “face charges of criminal defamation and for committing computer crimes for their documentation, and online publication, of reports of torture by the Royal Thai Army and Royal Thai Police in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces.”

AI has a PDF that can be downloaded with background information and the details of how to join the campaign.





Army vs. red shirts

28 05 2016

Prachatai reports on two related cases in the Provincial Court of Udon Thani.

On Wednesday, the court issued an arrest warrant for Kwanchai Sarakham, a red shirt leader, who did not appear to hear a court decision in a case that goes back to 2008 where “Kwanchai and other red shirts were indicted for assaulting members of the pro-establishment yellow-shirts and attempting to demolish their stage in Udon Thani…”.

There’s a series of stories here on the events. Note that the claims of one death were later withdrawn (“PAD gives petition to UN rights agency,” Bangkok Post, 29 July 2008). PAD had been invading red shirt sites at various northeastern provincial capitals prior to this clash.

Meanwhile, the same court “dismissed charges against five soldiers and a member of the Territorial Defence Volunteer Corps (TDVC) accused of shooting of a local redshirt leader [Kwanchai]…. The six were indicted for allegedly shooting Kwanchai in front of his house in Udon Thani on 22 January 2014. He was severely injured from the shooting, but survived.”

Kwanchai was shot soon after warning the army that he would mobilize red shirts against a coup.

No proof the court said. Of course not, no evidence against the military can be countenanced when the military junta is in place and when the potential assassins worked in the military’s interests.





More suppliers means more “commissions”

18 05 2016

The Nation reports that Army boss General Theerachai Nakawanich has “defended the decision to purchase main battle tanks [MBTs] from China, saying Chinese hardware is of high quality and performance.” He “explained” that he knew this “since I personally went to see them…”.

Hmm. Theerachai has:

been Director of TMB Bank Public Company Limited since November 2,2015. General Nakwanich serves as Commander in Chief of Royal Thai Army at Metropolitan Electricity Authority. He serves as Secretary of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and Member of the National Legislative Assembly. He received Bachelor of Science, Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, and Diploma of RTA Command and General Staff College. He also completed the programme of National Defence College.

Tanks aren’t listed. But Thailand has hundreds of tanks, of six types, some quite old, so we might assume he’s seen one and sat in it.

The Army has reportedly signed a contract with China’s Norinco for the MBT 3000 main battle tanks, also known as VT4. The tanks would be delivered from 2017. Thailand is the first and, so far, only buyer. The tank is a relatively new version, with a review of it here. One assessment is that “this tank is no match for modern Western MBTs.”

The Army has been having trouble with new tanks because the Ukrainian T-84 Oplot deliveries are way behind schedule.

In 2011, the Army ordered 49 Oplot tanks and only about 10 have arrived. The general says the Oplots will arrive.

If one looks at the Army’s arms purchases, it is noticeable how much kit is acquired and from many suppliers. Often relatively untried equipment is purchased. The reason for this pattern has to do with “commissions” and spreading these out. Each new commander simply loves the idea of new kit. And the boss changes regularly, allowing them to be rewarded and to reward themselves.








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