Further updated: “Justice” kills

6 05 2021

There’s increasing concern about hunger strikers and political prisoners Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, including well-meaning calls from some for them to not die when seeking justice.

Sadly, it is becoming clear that the regime is callous and savage. More, we know that the king has a say in whether the lese majeste is used or not. We also know that he is savage in dealing with those he thinks have been disrespectful – look at how he has treated his various wives and Vajiralongkorn’s mad and furious tone in his official declarations when he sacks people.

It gets worse. It is now confirmed that another political prisoner, Arnon Nampa, has fallen ill with the Covid virus “and been moved for medical treatment” at the Medical Correctional Institution. The virus appears to be infecting many inmates and may be out of control.

Coronation 1

Arnon is the second political prisoner to have contracted the virus while incarcerated. The first was Chukiat “Justin” Saengwong.

All prisoners are now under threat, but that these political prisoners are at risk is yet another example of the politicization and monarchization of the (in)justice system. After all, the junta’s constitution states at Article 29:

A suspect or defendant in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent, and before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.

In lese majeste cases, there is a presumption of guilt.

The question must be asked again and again: why is that these activists are not receiving justice? What is it or who is it preventing justice? WHo is it who doesn not care if they die? Who is it that relishes this savage and feudal treatment of young Thais?

No wonder hundreds of thousands of young Thais have joined a Facebook group that displays their dismay and that they have lost faith in many of the country’s institutions.

The military, the mafia regime, and the monarchy are destroying the country while they and their friends eat it.

Update1 : Some good news: “The Criminal Court has approved bail for the temporary release of Rassadon co-leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul on condition that she must not get involved in activities deemed to dishonour the monarchy.” Who knows what the latter condition means.In addition, “she must not join any activity that may cause unrest in the country, leave the country without permission and must report to the court as scheduled.”

The court appeared unable to make a decision without getting advice-cum-orders from on high: “After an inquiry into her bail request on Thursday morning, the court first scheduled handing down the decision at 3pm but later rescheduled it twice to 4pm and 5pm.” We take that delay as confirmation that the court gets it order from the regime and/or the palace.

Update 2: Despite the virus outbreak in prisons and at least two political prisoners already infected, Parit Chiwarak has been transferred “from Ramathibodi Hospital back to prison … after his health improved.” The danger to him is made clear by the courts themselves, which refuse to hear these defendants for fear of the virus. Parit’s court appearance, and that for Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, have been postponed “because the two defendants will not complete their 14-day quarantine until tomorrow. Prison officials said both have to be screened again, to make sure they are clear of the virus, before they will be allowed to attend the hearing.” This amounts to protecting judges and other officials – which is reasonable – but keeping political prisoners in dangerous conditions.





Callous and savage

30 04 2021

While not unexpected, the report by Prachatai that the Criminal Court has again denied bail for seven activists detained on lese majeste charges is to be lamented as yet another demonstration that the judicial system is deeply flawed.

These political prisoners are Panupong Jadnok, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, Arnon Nampa, Chukiat Saengwong and Parinya Cheewinkulpahtom.

Penguin and Rung

Clipped from The Nation

Parit has now been detained for more than 80 days. He remains on a partial hunger strike that began some 45 days ago to protest the injustice of the system and the denial of bail for detained activists.

Lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharat of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said:

…one of the reasons for requesting bail is concern over the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, because even the court is concerned that the virus will spread among court officials. He also said that there is no more reason to keep the activists in detention, and that it would be acceptable if the court set a condition related with their trial. He also mentioned that the court previously granted bail for activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.

Kritsadang expressed considerable concern for Penguin and “also requested that the court allow Parit to be taken to Rama 9 Hospital for 30 days, because the hospital is better equipped than the Medical Correctional Institution…”.

The court demonstrated its inhumanity by dismissing the request. It is as though the courts take their orders from savage and vindictive higher-ups.

Kritsadang revealed that:

he visited Parit on 28 April and spoke to him through teleconference. During the visit, Parit told Kritsadang that he has not been able to sleep, his skin is dry, and that he suffers from nausea and fatigue. Blood was also found in his stools, but he has not been sent to the Medical Correctional Institution to have his condition assessed.

The court exhibited a callous disregard for the detainee’s health.

Meanwhile the “Department of Corrections has denied that Parit’s condition has worsened…”.

The ruling to deny bail was “signed by judge Tawan Rodcharoen. Judge Tawan delivered the verdict in the Joe Gordon lèse majesté case in 2011.” Joe had repeated bail requests denied. When he finally agreed to plead guilty and he was sentenced to 5 years.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Corrections Department has said that Parit is “physically well.” It quotes Department deputy director-general Thawatchai Chaiwat from Thursday, stating that “Parit could talk and was well and conscious. He was tired and had dry lips, but was not dizzy.” Thawatchai added that Panusaya who is also rejecting “food and took only drinking water, minerals, juice and milk,” is also “well, conscious, looked normal, talked understandably and was able to do her routines…”.

The lie in this is demonstrated. Parit is now hospitalized. The very same Corrections Department now states that Parit “was admitted over concerns he could go into shock if his condition worsened and require specialised care.”

TLHR warns that both Parit and Panusaya “are in deteriorating health…”.

Parit faces 20 lese majeste charges “which could result in a sentence of 300 years.” Meanwhile, “Panusaya faces nine cases under the law, which could lead to a 135-year sentence if convicted.”





HRW on continuing detentions

21 04 2021

Human Rights WatchHuman Rights Watch has released a statement on the continuing detention of political activists. We reproduce it in full, including with links HRW had embedded:

(New York) – Thai authorities should immediately release pro-democracy activists detained on charges of insulting the monarchy, Human Rights Watch said today. Prominent Thammasat University students Parit Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul have been on hunger strike to protest their pre-trial detention, for 35 days and 21 days respectively.

The charges against Parit, Panusaya, and others should be dropped for violating their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Until then, bail should be provided for all those detained under the lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) law. Hunger strikers should be transferred to a hospital for medical supervision.

“Thai authorities should immediately drop the cases against Parit, Panusaya, and others unjustly charged for their peaceful pro-democracy protests, but at a minimum they should be released on bail,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Holding activists in detention prior to trial and conviction, which could be years away, seems aimed to unfairly punish them rather than fulfill a legitimate state interest.”

On March 8, 2021, the Bangkok Criminal Court ordered Panusaya, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, and Panupong Jadnok into pre-trial detention on lese majeste charges connected to the speeches they made demanding reforms of the monarchy during a rally on September 19, 2020. The cases follow the court’s February 9 decision to order four other prominent democracy activists – Parit, Arnon Nampha, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat Saraiyaem – into pre-trial detention on similar charges.

Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code makes lese majeste punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The activists were also charged with sedition under Criminal Code article 116, which carries a maximum 7-year sentence. These cases are just the latest in which Thai activists charged with lese majeste have been detained for lengthy periods that could go on for years until their trial is concluded, Human Rights Watch said.

Except for Patiwat, who gave a statement in court on March 29 that he would no longer participate in rallies and other political activities or make public comments about the monarchy, the court has repeatedly denied the activists’ bail requests, saying they are likely to commit the alleged offenses again if released.

Holding those charged with lese majeste in pretrial detention violates their rights under international human rights law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified, encourages bail for criminal suspects. Article 9 states that, “It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial.” Those whose charges have not been dropped should be tried without undue delay, Human Rights Watch said.

The number of lese majeste cases in Thailand has significantly increased in the past year, Human Rights Watch said. After almost a three-year hiatus in which lese majeste prosecutions were not brought before the courts, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, in November, ordered the authorities to restore lese majeste prosecutions, ostensibly because of growing criticisms of the monarchy. Since then, officials have charged at least 82 people with lese majeste crimes in relation to various activities at pro-democracy rallies or comments on social media.

In a February 8 statement on the situation in Thailand, United Nations human rights experts said that lese majeste laws have “no place in a democratic country.” They also expressed serious concerns about the growing number of lese majeste prosecutions and harsh prison sentences the courts have meted out to some defendants. On January 19, a retired civil servant, Anchan Preelert, received an 87-year prison sentence, later halved after she pleaded guilty.

The ICCPR protects the right to freedom of expression. General Comment 34 of the Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors compliance with the covenant, states that laws such as those for lese majeste “should not provide for more severe penalties solely on the basis of the identity of the person that may have been impugned” and that governments “should not prohibit criticism of institutions.”

“The Thai government should stop this witch hunt against peaceful dissenters and demonstrate respect for human rights by permitting all viewpoints,” Adams said. “The government should engage with United Nations experts and others about amending the lese majeste law to bring it into compliance with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations.”





Protest=arrest

18 04 2021

There’s been considerable sympathy for the political activists detained without bail on lese majeste charges, some of them refusing solid food. In a situation where the virus is spreading rapidly, a lot of this has been seen on social media.

Yet, as Prachatai recently reported, for some time, the Resistant Citizen group has been arranging 112 minute daily “Just Standing” protests, targeting court buildings across the country, and attracting dozens to several hundred people.

Among those joining have been academics, lawyers and the mothers of some of the detainees, all holding banners. Some of the mothers are quoted:

The mother of Panupong Jadnok, one of the leading protest figures, told Matichon that the prolonged and strict judicial process and the rejection of bail have made her son guilty without a court ruling. The repeated travel to numerous proceedings have exhausted her.

Malai Nampa, mother of Anon Nampa, another leading figure, said the last time she met Anon was on 9 April when he walked past her but was not allowed to speak.

We know that Mongkol Thrakhote was arrested on Wednesday during a protest in front of the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court and that he has since been charged with lese majeste.

Protesters are now being harassed, with “leaders” being targeted by police. The Bangkok Post reports that police “are preparing to charge four key figures behind the political rally outside Government House on Thursday for organising a public gathering in violation of the Disease Control Act and the emergency decree…”.

The regime is seeking to harass all political opposition figures it identifies as likely to “lead” others.





Virus of double standards II

11 04 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that at least 22 “detained on charges related to the protests,” mostly using Article 112.

While the Criminal Court has granted bail to Patiwat Saraiyaem, on the basis that he “pledged not to breach Section 112 … and also stay away from political rallies…”, it refused bail for to other political prisoners, Somyos Pruksakasemsuk and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa.

The report adds that Somyos and Jatuphat “joined other protest figures in signing a letter expressing their intention to withdraw their lawyer from their Section 112 trial,” but did not detail the complaints made by the detainees.

Thai PBS states that the “court said that it doubts the credibility of the two Ratsadon leaders’ pledge not to mention the revered institution in future protests, after they refused to recognize the trial process.”

Prachatai provides an account of the withdrawal of defense lawyers, based on Thai Lawyers for Human Rights:

22 people facing charges relating to the protests on 19 – 20 September 2020, including 7 protest leaders facing lèse majesté charges, have withdrawn their legal representation in protest at court measures and treatment by prison officials which deny them the right to a fair and open trial.

The 22 are listed as:

The 23 defendants in the case are Chinnawat Chankrachang, Nawat Liangwattana, Nattapat Akhad, Thanachai Aurlucha, Thanop Amphawat, Thanee Sasom, Phattaraphong Noiphang, Sitthithat Chindarat, Suwanna Tallek, Anurak Jeantawanich, Nutchanon Pairoj, Atthapol Buaphat, Adisak Sombatkham, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Panupong Jadnok, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Chukiat Saengwong, and Chaiamorn Kaewwwiboonpan.

The defendants “requested to withdraw their legal representation and their lawyers requested to be released from their duties.” They consider the “courtroom has been made into a prison.”

The defendants and lawyers say they are not receiving a fair and open trial and their rights are not being respected. According to TLHR the defendants:

  • have not been allowed to speak to their lawyers individually and confidentially, as they were always under the control of prison officials
  • who are detained pending trial and those granted bail have not been allowed to discuss the case with each other
  • family members and other individuals have been prevented from observing the proceedings, with some family members initially forbidden from even entering the court building and told by court police that they do not have permission to enter the courtroom
  • family members have been prevented from personal contact with the political prisoners, and at times they have been prevented from handing over personal items and food

Political prisoner and lawyer Arnon Nampa wrote a declaration to the court saying:

… he would like to withdraw all legal representation on the ground that he has been denied bail and treated in ways which are degrading, that he cannot participate in a judicial process which is “carried out with fear and without taking human dignity into account.” He also wrote that the law has been used to silence the demands of the younger generation, that violence has been used to suppress protests, and that their detention will lead to fear in society and no one will dare to speak the truth.

“In this trial, our right to fully fight the case has been violated,” he wrote. “The courtroom has been made into a prison.” He then went onto say that the process is unconstitutional, and that the defendants and lawyers agreed that if they continue to participate in the procedure, they would be promoting a process of injustice.

“This case has involved the destruction of human dignity, the use of the law to silence people, and many other forms of injustice. As a person who has studied the law and who practices as a lawyer, and as one of the citizens who aim to reform the monarchy, the defendant cannot continue to participate in this process. The defendant whose name is at the end of this petition therefore requests to withdraw legal representation and refuses this process,” Anon wrote.





MP wants 112 suspects locked up

2 04 2021

Palang Pracharath Party MP Sira Jenjaka has decided that prison is the best place for those charged with violating Article 112.

Earlier in the week, as chairman of the House committee on law, justice process and human rights, Sira “visited the Bangkok Remand Prison … where three of the leaders — Arnon Nampa, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattaraksa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok — are being detained on charges including lese majeste.

Sira made the outrageous claim that these detainees are living the high life and their rights are not infringed: “It’s like living in a five-star hotel,” he said. Such a claim is quite deranged. Bangkok’s prisons are overcrowded, unpredictable, dank and dangerous.

And, only recently, in an unusual decision, acting on a complaint made by Arnon, that fellow political prisoners Jatuphat and  Panupong were mistreated, the Criminal Court “found the wardens failed to fully protect the rights of the detained protest figures.”

It seems Sira’s self-appointed task was to lie. No human rights abuses in prison and life was good. What a clown! His performance continued as he went from MP to medical practitioner. Untrained in medicine, Sira determined that Jatuphat, seen in a videolink, was “in good health…”.

Sira claimed the detainees’ supporters “who are worried shouldn’t be…”. He then got to his main point: “Let them [the protest leaders] be and don’t try to get them out. They are fine where they are.”

Presumably the odious Sira wants even more political prisoners.

Of course, Sira may lose his own position as an MP for a previous fraud conviction, which legally means he should not have been a candidate in the rigged election. But given that a deputy minister has a heroin conviction, we wonder if Sira doesn’t feel safe so long as he leeches around the regime bosses.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Thanakrit Jitareerat, stated that:

the ministry would support any request by Mr Parit’s mother Ms Sureerat Chiwarak, to have her son moved to a Corrections Department hospital where his care could be monitored more effectively and which would have more medical resources than doctors at the Pathum Thani Detention Centre where he is currently incarcerated.

Not on your life. A couple of days later, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Department of Corrections and also its spokesman, “rejected a request by Mr Parit’s mother to refer him to a private hospital, saying if hospitalisation was required, detainees would be transferred to well-equipped prison medical facilities.denied Mr Parit was suffering serious health issues from going on a hunger strike in protest at the justice system.”

The whole regime appears full of liars, leeches, and charlatans.





Updated: Concern for 112 detainees

26 03 2021

There is reason to be concerned for the safety of those accused of lese majeste and currently detained without bail in several prisons.

The Bangkok Post reports that these members of the Ratsadon group “are being detained at five prisons while police prepare the cases against them…”. The report lists some of them:

Six were being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, he said. They are Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Piyarat “Toto” Jongthep, Patiwat “Bank” Saraiyaem, Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpatararaksa, Arnon Nampa and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.

Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, alias “Ammy The Bottom Blues”, is being held at Thon Buri Prison, and Panusaya “Rung” Sitthijirawatanakul at the Central Correctional Institution for Women.

In Pathum Thani province, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak is detained in Pathum Thani central detention centre, and Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree of the Ratsadon Mutelu group is in Thanyaburi Prison in Thanyaburi district.

Release our friends

There are several reasons for concern for the safety of these political detainees. First, Corrections Department deputy director-general Veerakit Hanparipan has revealed that his department lacks coordination and standard operating procedures. Second, it is a “policy” to separate the detainees as a means to break their spirit and to prevent them from supporting each other. Third, lawyers and families are having great difficulty visiting the detainees. Fourth, political detainees are being treated as common criminals. Fourth, Thonburi Prison is said to be a problematic location due to it being in a high-risk Covid zone.

All of this amounts to lese majeste torture.

There is special concern for Parit, “who is on a partial hunger strike…”. Veerakit told reporters that Penguin “continued to refuse solid food.” He added that he has become “weakened from refusing food” and that “Parit was instead given bread, milk, sweet drinks and mineral water to prevent his blood-sugar level falling too far.” Veerakit also revealed that “Parit had a rash on his chest. Prison officials had given him medication.”

Update: Concern for Penguin is increasing. He’s “been on hunger strike for over two weeks,” and is experiencing weakness. He has “allowed doctors to conduct a blood test for the first time on Saturday night, after suffering from fatigue, increased dizziness and dehydration.” As a result, he’s now being administered glucose and fluid intravenously.





Preparing for book burning

22 03 2021

Thailand’s regime continues to push the country down into the abyss of a dark authoritarianism.

Thai PBS reports that police “raided the anti-establishment Fah Diew Kan printing house and seized many copies of a book called “The Monarchy and Thai Society”, which police claim were intended for distribution to protesters at Sanam Luang on Saturday evening.”

Some of the books do appear to have been distributed. The book is The book is a “compilation of the speeches about the monarchy given by Arnon Nampa, … currently … detained, with others, at the Bangkok remand prison on lèse majesté charges.”

Police seized a large number of copies, promising to “carefully check the book for any content which is deemed insulting or critical of the monarchy.”

We have no doubt that the police will locate something in the book they consider lese majeste and this may lead to even more arrests.

 





Updated: Political prisoners and political trials

16 03 2021

A mass hearing of 22 political prisoners took place yesterday at the Criminal Court.

Thai PBS reports that Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak made the it clear that it was a political “pre-trial” meeting. It states that the defiant Parit “caused a brief commotion during a hearing … when his request to make a statement was rejected by the court…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that “Parit read a prepared statement in which he criticised the role taken by the courts in the conflict.”

The judge “interrupted him and warned that if he continued, the court would order a meeting behind closed doors with Mr Parit alone. He then ordered the defendants out of the courtroom and suspended the hearing.”

Court officials tried to rush Parit out of the court room, “causing a commotion as other defendants tried to shield the defiant protest leader.” He stood on a chair to ask “why the court didn’t grant him bail while is still not convicted of a crime…”.

He “announced his intention to go on hunger strike in prison until his request for bail is granted…”. In fact his demand referred to all 22 prisoners.

Parit’s statement is at Prachatai.

The court did agree “to requests by Panupong Jadnok, alias Mike Rayong, Chatupat Boonpatthararaksa, alias Pai Daodin, and Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep to be transferred from Thonburi remand prison back to Bangkok remand prison.”

Parit’s defiance is brave but may well lead to an intensification of lese majeste torture.

Indeed, last evening, detainee Arnon Nampa wrote a letter through his lawyer saying he was in fear when officials and others tried to take detainees out of their cells at midnight for a “COVID test.” These thugs were armed guards, some with no identification. He ended his letter: “Please save our lives…”.

Update: We see that the authorities at the Bangkok Remand Prison have concocted a half-baked story about Arnon’s concerns. Krit Krasaethip, commander of Bangkok Remand Prison, said the prisoners returned from Thonburi Prison – Pai and Mike – were “being moved to isolate them.” He said they had to be “quarantined in isolation units” because “Thon Buri Prison … is in a high-risk Covid zone, so [the prisoners] were required to have Covid-19 tests and be quarantined in Zone 2.” He added that the “pair were to be moved from their quarantine room on the ground floor to another quarantine room on the second floor but refused to leave, so prison guards agreed not to move them to avoid problems.”

Does any of this make any sense? Why were they transferred to a high-risk area in the first place? Why put prisoners from a high-risk area in the wrong kind of cell? Why not take them directly to quarantine? And why decide to do this in the middle of the night?

Just to make it all more odd, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said the incident prompted him to order “prison authorities to install more surveillance cameras to monitor cell block activities.” How does the prison story fir with that?

 





Concocting “victory”

9 03 2021

With three more pro-democracy campaigners locked away on lese majeste charges, the regime seems confident it has a royalist political victory in sight.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – were each charged with 112 and other “crimes” and denied bail for the Thammasat University rally back in September 2020. Along with 15 other pro-democracy protesters, they also face sedition charges.

Some of those locked up. Clipped from France24

The other 15 were bailed, marking the regime’s 112 strategy as now involving lengthy jail stints waiting for a trial before royalist judges and potentially very heavy sentencing. The regime and palace – which gives the orders on 112 – want to stamp out all signs of anti-royalism.

They join Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem who have already been held for about three weeks without bail on similar charges. Also banged up on 112 charges is Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues.

Jatuphat called on followers: “Fight on everyone…”, while Panusaya, “who is facing eight other royal defamation charges, believes the pro-democracy movement will continue to exist although most of the leaders could be locked behind bars”: “No matter how many people are locked up, people outside will continue fighting, they do not need us…. “I am not concerned at all that the movement will stop.”

The regime thinks it has them beaten. With its carefully managed violence and targeted arrests, these detentions signal that the regime believes that the leaders will not get broader support.

The mainstream local media does not challenge regime stories of violence and weapons, although some of the international media has a different reporting. We conclude that the local media has come under enormous pressure to follow the regime’s lead and that corporate owners are willingly propagandizing for the regime. Why else would the Bangkok Post be interviewing and publishing outlandish conspiracy manure from anti-democrats? The media that lambasted the protesters for allegedly straying from the path of non-violence have been regime pawns too.

Such concocted claims have been seen from royalists many times in the past – from Pridi shot the king to the Finland Plot and more – and they continue. We can but speculate that these claims will lead to a deeper repression across the country, as they did in the past.