Remember those nice lads from the south who came to Bangkok and organized protests against the military junta’s coal-fired power station plans? Yes, the lads who have a leader who is a royal and who called for a counter-coup if they didn’t get their way?
Those lads seem to be good lads because they had the junta changing its mind on the power plant process and also forgiving the lads so that none of them have become subjects of harassment and jailing. This is because they are pro-coup.
It seems good lads can even threaten the junta without having to worry too much. Of course, the junta may change its political judgement about these lads, but at the moment they seem “protected.”
Then there are bad lads, defined as
activists and drug dealers and troublemakers. Chaiyapoom Pasae, killed with a single shot by the Army, is said in the Bangkok Post to be an activist and artist. That article describes two stories of Chaiyapoom’s death, and its pretty easy to see that the military and police story is struggling to paint him as a bad lad.
One of the very interesting parts of the story is the attached picture, a screen grab from TNN, showing a blurred out image of “the body of Chaiyapoom just after he was shot, as the police, military and their photographers begin to coordinate the stories they will tell the public.” We assume it is accurate in its description and have clipped it and reproduced it below.
We find it interesting because we recall that at first “soldiers claimed that they found certain amount of amphetamine in the car Chaiyaphum was sitting in and that he was resisting the authorities to arrest him by pulling out a knife before running into a bush.” First the knife went missing from the story and now, looking at the picture, the bush is gone too.
Earlier there were pictures, leaked by a Facebook page opposing the Single Gateway Internet control idea, that showed Chaiyapoom cooperating with the soldiers’ search. The pictures seem to contradict the claim that the Lahu teenager resisted the soldiers.
The problem with Chaiyapoom’s sad case is that the disbelief expressed by many is causing the authorities to have to embellish and refine their story. In other words to make it more believable by making him appear as bad as possible. But there’s the troubling problem of witnesses who are not in uniform. The driver of the car involved has been held by military and police since the event. There may be others, and if this is a cover-up, then the authorities need to control them.
If previous cover-ups are a model, then this involves intimidation and violence. One measure of the moves being made is a statement by Army deputy spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree who:
yesterday dismissed reports of a witness to the killing being threatened as untrue, saying officers have been taking care of the witness who had been co-operative and provided useful information.
He went on to threaten the media: “…[he] warned that anything revealed to the media could be libellous.”
Meanwhile, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit:
took a man who was Chaiyapoom’s mentor to Na Wai police station to file a report about receiving a threat. The mentor (whose name has been withheld) told the NHRC he found a bullet in front of his house on Wednesday night, after he spoke out in defence of the young activist. He said two men, who did not identify themselves, had showed up earlier at his house to tell him to stop talking about Chaiyapoom.
They will have been military thugs.
The NHRC stated that “[o]ther witnesses were too scared to even talk to members of the rights body team yesterday.”
No soldier who manned the checkpoint at the time of the extrajudicial murder had been transferred or suspended. They were all continuing to work as normal.
Perhaps that’s why the witness who has been threatened is being assisted by the NHRC and will likely “go into a witness protection programme.”
Expect more efforts to paint Chaiyapoom as a bad boy, to intimidate his family and friends and to intimidate witnesses.