Royalists continue to damage the monarchy

9 06 2023

As well as making lese majeste a topic that may not be discussed (except when making complaints), claiming that Move Forward is communist and anti-monarchist, mad monarchists now want to have Move Forward’s Pita Limjaroenrat investigated for lese majeste.

The “King Protection Group,” which seems to be a group of Facebook friends who dress in martial style clobber have filed a complaint against Pita under 112 and the computer crimes law “alleging that his interview with BBC has affected the country’s highest institution.” They mean the monarchy. Exactly what they consider contravenes any law in that interview remains unclear.

The Technology Crime Suppression Division, usually dead keen to pursue 112 complaints against the regime’s political opponents has, unusually, requested that these ultra-royalists “provide additional testimony before the complaint is processed further.”

As far as we can tell, these mad monarchists are likely to bring down (lom chao) the monarchy they seek to “protect.”

Monarchy vs. the people

5 06 2023

The old guard, desperate to head off a popular government, have been using the monarchy with relentless enthusiasm.

So far, the Move Forward Party is sticking with its election promise to reform Article 112. Of course, the old men and women who align with the military and monarchy are using 112 as a proxy for the monarchy and the whole edifice of the ruling class system.

Seeking to push the proposed coalition forward, Pol Gen Seripisut Temiyavet, leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party “has assured the Senate that he will not allow the lese majeste law to be amended, in what is seen as a bid to woo support ahead of the prime ministerial vote.”

His party has one seat. Move Forward currently holds 151.

One might wonder how the aged policeman can vow: “I will not allow Move Forward to amend the law. Other parties [which are partners of the prospective coalition] such as Prachachart and Pheu Thai have also opposed the bid.” He adds that 112 is not in the coalition Memorandum of Understanding.

The latter is certainly true, but the MOU also permits parties to pursue their core election promises. MFP deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakun, who insists on the freedom of expression principle, “all parties have the right to advocate for additional policies as long as they do not contradict the policies outlined in the agreement.” As such, she says Move Forward will submit the same bill it did in February 2021.

It is looking increasingly likely that the monarchy is being “protected” by opposing the people. This could end very badly.

Updated: Courts unlawfully fast-tracking 112 cases

3 06 2023

An earlier photo

Earlier in the week, PPT speculated that the judicial system has been charging, convicting, and repressing at an increased pace. We added that it seemed that the courts and prosecutors are keen to push lese majeste cases through the courts, ensuring that as many are locked up as possible.

That has now been confirmed. In tweets by Thai Enquirer, where it is stated: “Chonthicha [Jaengrew] … noted that her lese-majeste case is not the only one being expedited, as the Criminal Court also fast-tracked the case against another MFP MP candidate, Piyarat ‘Toto’ Chongthep.” In a related tweet it is noted that the “Human Rights Lawyers Association has stated that the fast-tracking of the case was not a result of the defendant’s actions, but rather due to the decision of the deputy director of the criminal court, made without consulting the defendant’s lawyers.”

These tweets refer to court proceedings against Chonthicha that the Association “deemed unlawful in this case and a violation of human rights.

The events that have caused the court to engage in actions deemed unlawful are detailed by Prachatai.

Chonthicha was initially charged with lese majeste following a complaint by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the bullies who misname themselves the Thailand Help Centre for Cyberbullying Victims, a royalist group that has filed numerous lese majeste complaints against activists, protesters, and internet users. Chonthicha was accused of “posting a message to King Vajiralongkorn during a November 2020 protest, in which protesters marched to the Grand Palace to send letters calling for monarchy reform.”

Witness hearings in the trial against Chonthicha were scheduled for March 2024. However, in a startling move, the Criminal Court changed the schedule to 1–11 June 2023, “even though Chonticha’s lawyer informed them that he is not available on these dates as he has to attend another hearing at the South Bangkok Criminal Court.”

On 1 June, “Chonticha filed a request with the court to postpone the witness examination hearings on the grounds that her lawyer has already informed the court that he is not available and because she did not sign the court order rescheduling the hearings.”

However, the court rejected her request. The court stated that “she did not oppose it when the hearings were rescheduled and because the prosecution witnesses had already come to court, and ruled that the hearings should continue without her lawyer.” In fact, Chonthicha’s lawyer had “filed a request to the court which included a list of cases he is responsible for and hearing schedule.”

Chonthicha protested the court’s decision to proceed. She told the court that hearing witnesses without her lawyer “would undermine her right to a fair trial.”

She then asked to speak with the “Criminal Court Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice [Attakarn Foocharoen], who she said decided to reschedule her hearings, but she was refused.” She then “requested to change the judges responsible for the trial on the grounds that their ruling to continue witness examination without her lawyer is unlawful and undermines her ability to fully fight her charges. Her request was later rejected by the Chief Justice because there is no ground to change the judges.” It was Attakarn who rescheduled the court dates.

Chonthicha resolved to reject the process and told the court she “will not sign any document resulting from the hearing.” The court determinedly “insisted on continuing the witness examination after her declaration and summoned 4 prosecution witnesses to the stand without Chonticha’s lawyer to cross examine them.” She was advised by the court “that she may cross examine them herself, she refused to do so in her rejection of the process.”

Chonthicha stated that “if the court insists on examining witnesses knowing that there won’t be a lawyer present then go for it. Section 112 is a criminal charge. According to the principles, there should be a lawyer present. If you want to examine the witnesses, go for it. Let the judicial process fail.”

The court went ahead and heard all seven prosecution witnesses in just two days, and scheduled the next hearing for 6 June.

On 2 June, she filed a complaint with the Judicial Commission. In that complaint, she requested:

disciplinary action to be taken against the judges for expediting her trial to the point of examining witnesses without the defendant’s lawyer. She said that the court did not tell her why her hearings were rescheduled, only saying that it was up to the judges’ discretion. She noted that her lawyer told a court official that he is representing Parit Chiwarak and other activists and would not be available. Despite this, the court rescheduled the hearings without asking her lawyer to confirm them.

Legalities and technicalities hardly matter in Article 112 cases. What does matter is who is directly the judges. And, clearly, there is considerable effort now being made, after long delays, to convict activists.

Of course, the fact that Chonthicha has just been elected as a Move Forward MP is likely a factor in the ruling class’s decision-making on these cases. As she said “she was indicted only days after she announce[d] her intention to run an an MP candidate for the Move Forward party in February 2023.”

The Human Rights Lawyers Association “said that rescheduling hearings without confirming whether the defence lawyer is available and not allowing the hearings to be postponed is unlawful and damages the fundamental principles of the judicial process.” The Association “called on the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court to investigate these actions and prevent them from occurring again so as to stop any unfair and unlawful proceedings, noting that although trials can be expedited so that they do not take too long, doing so must also be fair to everyone involved.”

Of course, the Chief Justice is a party to these proceedings (see above) and is likely to be the one ordering and/or transmitting orders on these cases.

Update: Should we believe that the bureaucracy running the courts are bumbling idiots (along with some of the judges) and that they cocked up or is it that there’s a conspiracy? We at PPT usually prefer the idea of dolts cocking up, but it is sometimes difficult to know. Prachatai reports on a cock-up/conspiracy involving Chonthicha’s lawyer, stating that, at last, the “Criminal Court has postponed the witness examination hearings in the [Article 112]… trial of activist and MP designate Chonticha Jangrew, claiming that it has just discovered her lawyer’s schedule in its own case information system. Yes, seriously.

It adds that:

the Court has now postponed Chonticha’s hearings, saying that it has found on its online case information system that her two lawyers have to attend hearings in a royal defamation trial against activists charged for wearing crop tops in a protest at the Siam Paragon shopping mall.

While the court did not grant the request for the prosecution witnesses to testify again, it agreed to summon them to court for cross examination by the defendant’s lawyers on 11 August, noting that the previous hearings we recorded on video and the defendant may request to see this before the cross examination.

We think we lean to conspiracy on this one, and it has been the public outrage that has caused the court to claim a cock-up.

The corrupt are loyal

1 06 2023

According to Prachatai, Lampang Deputy Governor Chamlak Kanpetch, who has been investigated for alleged disloyalty to the monarchy, has declared that “he is a true royalist, and willing to die for His Majesty.” More fool him, but you get the picture regarding the ridiculousness and buffalo manure demanded by the rightist-royalist regime (which is still in place and deeply embedded).

He was investigated by a panel of six for clicking the like button on the Facebook page of Yan Marchal, known for his political parodies of Thailand’s monarchy and junta. The deputy gov claims he was “framed” by someone disgruntled about a land deal. We wonder if the deal should be investigated.

This would be silly if it were not reflective of the old regime’s efforts to stymie the popular vote and engineer a more “royalist” regime than any that would include Move Forward. It is remarkable that mad monarchism now means that a pro-Thaksin party is more reliable than Move Forward. Just a month ago the royalists feared a Puea Thai coalition government and still hates Thaksin Shinawatara. Now the tune has changed as the old men and women of the entrenched ruling class seek to see off Move Forward as dangerous anti-monarchists and to prevent mildly progressive change in the country.

Even the caretaker prime minister, never elected but aligned to a party that was crushed in the election, has decided that he’s still the boss and can order folks around.

The Nation agrees that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “appears to be having a hard time moving on from his crushing election loss.” Yet there he is, warning “the party that won the most seats in May 14 vote – Move Forward – against amending Article 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law.”

When the defeated general was asked if he was against amending Article 112, he replied: “Of course.” He added: “It has to be that way. It is in the heart of soldiers, police, civil servants, and many people…. They don’t agree and they wonder why [Move Forward would amend it.]”

Who support Article 112, meaning the monarchy? He says, “many people,” but we can never know for sure. But we do know that more than 60% of the people who voted threw in their lot with parties that want reform or had expressed concern about 112.

He says the military. Some of the election results show that many of the rank-and-file voted for progressive change and against military-backed parties. We also know that the military is a bloated and corrupt organization led by hundreds of more or less inactive generals who, like Prayuth, live high on the hog.

He says the police. Here he refers to a vast and corrupt mafia-like organization, where a new scandal involving billions emerges almost every day.

In other words, protecting Article 112-cum-crown is an exercise in protecting the corrupt.

Burning down the house

31 05 2023

According to Prachatai, a teenager, known only as K., has been indicted for lese majeste “after a prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General ruled that burning a portrait of the King is the same as burning the King himself.”

Read more on burning portraits of the king here.

Clipped from Asia Democracy Chronicles

The teenager was arrested on 8 September 2021, when just 17 years old. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said K. and another person were “arrested without a warrant and were detained for around 20 hours, during which their clothes, mobile phones, and motorcycles were confiscated.” They were questioned about protests in the Din Daeng area. The police “requested an arrest warrant after searching their residences and confiscating their belongings.”

K. was charged with lese majeste, violation of a curfew imposed under the Emergency Decree, arson, participating in a gathering of more than 10 people, and being disorderly in public. Additional charges included “allegedly shooting a slingshot and setting fire to a royal ceremonial arch near the Din Daeng intersection during a protest on 6 September 2021.”

K. was indicted on 26 May 2023.

TLHR reported that “Somsawat Thepnamsomanay, a public prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney General’s Family and Juvenile Case Division, ruled that setting fire to a ceremonial arch containing a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn is an offence under the royal defamation law because a portrait of the King is a representation of the King himself, and therefore burning the portrait is the same as burning the King himself and shows that the protesters involved wanted to destroy the monarchy.”

The prosecutor also accused K. of “throwing explosives and using a slingshot to shoot marbles at crowd control police during the protest and setting a fire on a public road, as well as tearing down the King’s portrait and stepping on it before setting fire to it.”

K. was granted bail on a security of 10,000-baht, and is scheduled to appear in court on 24 July 2023.

Updated: Don’t even talk about 112!

31 05 2023

The Bangkok Post reports that Teerayut Suwankesorn, claimed to be a lawyer, has filed a petition request with the Office of the Attorney General, requesting that that Office “forward a petition to the Constitutional Court requesting that it order Move Forward leader and aspirant prime minister Pita Limjaroenrat and his party to cease their campaign to change the lese majeste law.”

As well as demanding that Move Forward “cease all attempts to amend or abolish Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law,” he also opined that the court order Pita and Move Forward “to stop expressing opinions in speeches, articles, publications and advertisements which could lead to Section 112 being amended or abolished.”

Teerayut previously acted as a lawyer for fascist monk Buddha Issara.

Meanwhile, the tycoons who own pay TV in Thailand are censoring international news on Move Forward and Article 112. They are either being ordered to this or are doing it off their own bat as misguided, rich, loyalists acting in the interests of ultra-royalists and palace. In this case, it was the BBC that was blocked when there was discussion with Pita regarding lese majeste.

Pita’s interview is available in English with Thai subtitles:

Update: Read Pravit Rojanaphruk’s opinion piece on these disturbing issues.

112 update

30 05 2023

So… PPT chose the wrong time to go on holidays. So much happened. Our apology comes in the form of an update, focused mainly on lese majeste.

In the middle of the month, there was an election. Lots of enthusiasm, with the military-backed monarchists defeated in a progressive landslide, with Move Forward coming out on top. But hold on. Two weeks later, and once again the same military-royalists are seeking to overturn the result. A variety of mechanisms have been deployed to get rid of Move Forward and to split the proposed coalition apart. We found several articles particularly useful in explaining the situation: Thitinan Pongsudhirak has two insightful articles in the Bangkok Post on 19 May and 26 May, while Kevin Hewison had “Thailand’s Orange Wave: Progressives, Conservatives, and Monarchy” with Australian Outlook.

The senate votes

Most noticeably the appointed senators have gotten off their posteriors, awoken from junta-induced sleep, and have been poked into action to oppose the electorate. Their action is unequivocally about the monarchy, with the proxy issue that is front-and-center in the royalist rejection of Move Forward is Article 112. Of course, the military junta’s constitution writers made sure that the unelected have the capacity to reject a prime minister.

Meanwhile, the judicial system has been hard at work, charging, convicting, and repressing. It seems that the courts and prosecutors are keen to push lese majeste cases through the courts, ensuring that as many are locked up as possible. Here’s a summary, Based on Prachatai’s excellent reporting, which begins with a good news story (although appeals may be ongoing):

The monarchy and Thai society (preamble)

6 05 2023

Clipped from Prachatai

PPT has decided not to run a commentary on the 2023 election in the last couple of weeks of the campaign. Part of the reason for this is that we are taking a break and will only be posting occasionally over the rest of the month.

However, over the days leading up to the election, we are posting The Monarchy and Thai Society, a speech by Arnon Nampa, made on 3 August 2020.

The 2023 election is about many issues, but an important pivot is around the monarchy and Article 112. As such, we feel this speech deserves renewed attention for the light it throws on the nature of the military- and monarchy-backed regime.

We use translation of the speech made available in English some time ago. The translators’ introduction states that the speech was given during the “Casting a Spell to Protect Democracy,” protest organized by Mahanakorn for Democracy and Kasetsart University (KU)
Daily at the Democracy Monument.The translators’ note adds:

The Democracy Restoration Group transcribed the tape of the speech and it was published as both a small paper booklet and distributed as a free PDF. For this English-language translation, in addition to the footnotes in the original Thai-language version, footnotes (marked with –trans. at the end) and supplemental information in [ ] have been added to the text where necessary for an international audience that may be unfamiliar with Thai politics and history. Otherwise, the translation has hewn as close to the original as possible to retain the quality of speech.

TLHR recommendations for ending political prosecutions

3 05 2023

Read the whole Thai Lawyers for human rights post “Recommendations for Ending Political Prosecution since the 2014 Coup until the Present.” It is packed with information, data, and good sense. Here are the recommendations, in full:

(1) Enact a law to end the prosecution of civilians in the military court and political or politically-motivated cases arising after the coup d’état on 22 May 2014 until today

1.1 The parliament should enact a law authorizing and empowering the committee on political trials to decide which case is political and which one is politically motivated.

1.2 The House of Representatives should formulate broad criteria for considering political and politically-motivated cases and make sure that members of the committee on political trials consist of all stakeholders, including MPs, victims’ representatives, agencies in the justice system, academics, and human rights organizations, with gender diversity and gender balance in mind. The committee on political trials must be independent and impartial.

A political case means a case where the offense or event on the date of incident can be identified, for example, cases related to NCPO announcements and orders, civilians’ cases in the military court, lèse-majesté cases, etc.

A politically-motivated case is a case that cannot be characterized as a political case or where it is not possible to identify the event on the date of incident, but whose motivation can be proven to be political.

1.3 The parliament should enact a law ending political prosecution and politically-motivated cases since the 2014 coup d’état until the present and nullifying the culpability in those cases, effectively terminating them.

1.4 The parliament should enact a law allowing civilians involved in non-political or politically-motivated cases and/or civilians who were tried by the military court to request a re-trial in the Court of Justice or allowing civilians involved in the cases happening during the martial law to exercise the right to appeal.

(2) Establish an independent commission of inquiry 

To develop mechanisms to seek and expose the truth related to the human rights violations that occurred as a result of the military trials of civilians after the coup and the abuse of power by the state. The parliament should enact a law establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate the abuse of power and human rights situation following the 2014 coup. The said mechanism should take the format of a ‘truth commission’ tasked to pursue the truth in accordance with the right to truth of the victims, their families, and the society at large.

Its main missions should include collecting information and facts about the event, investigating relevant parties, as well as collecting and preserving evidence. The findings are to be disclosed to the public and ensure that the public can access relevant documents and official archives. The truth shall form a basis for remedy for those whose human rights have been violated and for prosecuting those involved in human rights violations.

It is important that the state guarantees that the selection and appointment of each committee member is in accordance with the principles of independence and impartiality and that the committee can work to its full capacity and to engage relevant people and human rights organizations both within and outside of the country. The committee shall consist of experts or representatives from various disciplines as well as victims’ representatives, lawyers, psychologists, social workers, and human rights experts in a way that is gender diverse and balanced.

(3) The state should take responsibility for the violations of human rights

The Cabinet and parliament should issue a public statement apologizing for what happened in order to show their acknowledgement and acceptance of the truth and the impact of human rights violations on the affected individuals. They should also provide the guarantees of non-repetition, as well as consider providing social remedies, for example, by raising public awareness on the said events and creating mechanisms to prevent, monitor, and systemically solve social conflicts.

Activist convicted on 112

30 04 2023

Election campaigning and intensified debate regarding Article 112 seems to be intensifying royalist courts’ efforts to lock people up.

Prachatai reports that activist Nawat Liangwattana, indicted on 8 December 2021, was sentenced on 26 April 2023 to three years in prison under Article 112.

The lese majeste charge was for a speech given at a protest on 13 February 2021.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) stated that “Nawat was charged with royal defamation, destruction of property, blocking a public road, violation of the Emergency Decree, violation of the Public Cleanliness Act, and using a sound amplifier without permission for his participation in the protest.”

As well as the three years, he “was also sentenced to 2 months in prison and a fine of 2,000 baht for destruction of property, and a fine of 1,000 baht for using a sound amplifier without permission, although TLHR noted that the maximum fine as stated in the Sound Amplifier Act is 200 baht.”

The court reduced this to 1 year and 7 months in prison and a fine of 1,500 baht because he confessed.

The public prosecutor reportedly decided that “calling for monarchy reform, demanding that the King must be under the Constitution, and questioning how the royal family uses taxpayers’ money is not an expression of opinion in good faith and can damage King Vajiralongkorn’s reputation.”

Prachatai states that “Nawat is facing 18 charges for joining pro-democracy protests, including 4 counts of royal defamation [lese majeste]. This is the first time he has been found guilty and sentenced to prison.”

He was later granted bail.

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