A deluge of 112 charges

23 07 2021

People might be dying in the streets but the regime has its eye on what it thinks is most important: more and more lese majeste and other charges. It is desperate, not to stem the virus, but to stem any notion that the neo-feudals should be reformed.

Thai PBS reports that 13 protesters were formally indicted by public prosecutors on Thursday for lese majeste and sedition. The charges stem from the march and rally at the German Embassy on 26 October 2020. It states:

Mind

Among the accused named by the public prosecutors are Passaravalee “Mind” Thanakitvibulphol, Korakot Saengyenphan, Chanin “Ball” Wongsri, Benja Apan, Watcharakorn Chaikaew, Nawat “Am” Liangwattana, Atthapol “Khru Yai” Buapat, Akkarapon Teeptaisong, Suthinee Jangpipatnawakit, Ravisara Eksgool, and Cholathit Chote-sawat.

12 protesters reported to prosecutors at the Bangkok South Criminal Litigation Office at about 9.30am to acknowledge the charges brought against them by Thung Mahamek police. The other was due to report … [today]. They were escorted by police to the Bangkok South Criminal Court for arraignment and have been granted bail.

Fellow activist Arnon Nampa and others showed up to provide support, while “[t]hree “Move Forward” MPs, namely Rangsiman Rome, Thongdaeng Benjapak of Samut Sakhon, Suttawan Suban Na Ayuthaya of Nakhon Pathom, were present at the court to offer their parliamentary status to secure bail for the protesters.” In addition”six lecturers also volunteered to offer their academic status to support bail for the protesters.”

The Bangkok Post reports that “[t]hree officials from the German embassy were also present as observers.”





More on foodpanda 112 case

21 07 2021

Prachatai and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that Sitthichote Sethasavet, 25, stands “accused of burning a royal arch at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue during the 18 July protest. He is accused of royal defamation [they mean lese majeste] and arson…”.

He has denied all charges and was “released on bail with 100,000 baht as securities.”.

Sitthichok

Clipped from Prachatai

It is reported that Sitthichote “was arrested by plainclothes police at his house in Rangsit on Monday night.” Prachatai states:

Sitthichok’s arrest is related to the #banfoodpanda (#แบนfoodpanda) hashtag which trended on Sunday. A Twitter user mentioned the food delivery platform, saying its rider may have been involved in the arson attempt on a royal arch during the 18 July protest. Foodpanda responded by saying that it would look into the details and that the platform has a policy “against violence and all forms of terrorism.”

The comment angered many netizens for equating protestors with terrorists when the protesters faced violence from the police use of anti-protest measures. They criticized the platform’s stance which seemed to support authoritarianism and prejudice against its rider without any proper investigation. This led to users and restaurants themselves to call for a boycott of the Foodpanda service.

Foodpanda soon published “a letter apologizing for the disappointment that its message had caused among users and partners. The letter stated that the company is still carefully looking into the incident.”

Meanwhile, labor groups “published a statement condemning Foodpanda Thailand for violating their worker rights of political expression.”

The Nation reports that Sitthichoke has “denied charges of burning royal portrait during an anti-government protest on Sunday, claiming he was attempting to put out the flames.”

Police claim they “have evidence that proves the suspect burned a royal picture…”.

He also revealed that police officers were interrogating the 16 protesters arrested earlier for their role in Sunday’s rally.





112 bail denied

16 07 2021

112Quoting Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Prachatai reports an the lese majeste case against Prasong Khotsongkhram.

The 26 year-old has “been denied bail for the third time after being charged with [lese majeste] for three Facebook posts made in May and June 2021.” This despite “using 250,000 baht as security and ask[ing] the court to allow him release while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet and for a supervisor to be appointed.”

As has been the case in about half of recent Article 112 charges, the complaint came from a royalist vigilante:

Thitiwat Tanagaroon

Royalist Thitiwat. Clipped from Reuters

The complaint against Prasong was filed by Thitiwat Tanagaroon, a royalist protester who was praised by King Vajiralongkorn for raising a portrait of the late King Bhumibol at a pro-democracy protest. TLHR reported that Thitiwat filed the complaint against Prasong after seeing three public posts on Prasong’s Facebook profile, one of which was made on 21 May 2021 and the other two on 7 June 2021, which Thitiwat said were insulting to the King.

This royalist complaint led to Prasong being arrested on 8 July by Bangplat Police Station. The following day, the court approved his continued detention, denying a bail request. A second bail request, lodged on 11 July, was also rejected.

As is all too often the case in royalist courts, the “Taling Chan Criminal Court ruled to deny him bail on the grounds that the charges are serious, that he might try to flee, and that there is no reason to change previous court orders” to deny bail.

Prasong “is currently detained at the Thung Noi Temporary Prison, which is on the same premises as the Military Circle 11 Prison.” Using the virus crisis, the Department of Corrections has ruled that Prasong “will have to be in quarantine for 21 days, during which time his family and lawyer will not be allowed to visit him. After he has completed his quarantine period, he will be transferred to the Thonburi Remand Prison.”

The royalist repression continues.





Anchan’s absurd 112 sentence

11 07 2021

FIDH and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) have “petitioned the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to seek the release of Anchan Preelerd…”. Ancha, who is 65 years old, is serving 87 years in the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok for lese majeste.

This is “the longest prison sentence ever imposed under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code…”. She was convicted on

Anchan

Clipped from Prachatai

19 January 2021, on 29 counts of lese-majeste “for uploading and disseminating audio clips to social media platforms between 12 November 2014 and January 2015.”

FIDH and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) have “petitioned the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to seek the release of Anchan Preelerd…”. Ancha, who is 65 years old, is serving 87 years in the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok for lese majeste.

This is “the longest prison sentence ever imposed under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code…”. She was convicted on 19 January 2021, on 29 counts of lese-majeste “for uploading and disseminating audio clips to social media platforms between 12 November 2014 and January 2015.”

FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan declared: “Anchan’s outrageous prison sentence is effectively a death sentence for an act that constitutes a peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.” Khan demanded the “Thai government … immediately release her and end such extreme abuse of the lèse-majesté law…”.

In their statement, FIDH and TLHR said the consider:

… the prosecution of Anchan and her deprivation of liberty have been in violation of her right to a fair trial and her right to freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are guaranteed by Articles 14 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.

TLHR Head Yaowalak Anuphan stated:

Anchan has been subjected to unfair judicial proceedings in a military court, lengthy detention before and during trial, and an unprecedented prison sentence. The Thai government must right the wrongs suffered by Anchan and immediately release her….

FIDH and TLHR called for Anchan’s “immediate and unconditional release” and called for “the amendment of Article 112 to bring it into line with Thailand’s obligations under the ICCPR.” They also urged “the government to refrain from carrying out arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of individuals for merely exercising their fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression.”





Revoking 112 bail

8 07 2021

Via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Thai Enquirer reports that “the public prosecutor has asked the court to revoke the bail of [Wanwalee Thammasattaya or] Tee Payao, a student activist facing lese-majeste charges…”.

She was charged under Article 112 for a speech she made at a protest at Wongwian Yai on 6 December 2020. Later, after the Office of the Attorney General proceeded with the prosecution, the Thonburi Criminal Court sent her to pre-trial detention on April 27.

Wanwalee

Wanwalee. Clipped from Prachatai

After 11 days in detention, she was granted bail on the “condition that she not publicly insult or arrange any activity against the royal institution.” The latter is royalist-speak for the monarchy, but a term now widely used, demonstrating the continuing strength of the dominant royalist ideology.

On 6 July 2021, the Thonburi Department of Criminal Litigation told a court hearing “that Wanwalee had breached her bail conditions when she made a speech during a series of protests by the Ratsadon group, the main student led pro-democracy group, on June 24.”

Remarkably, the department invoked the virus emergency decree as one reason for revoking bail. This is telling as it highlights how authoritarian regimes have welcomed the virus as a way of embedding their rule. It is ironic in that the regime’s prisons have terrible record on the virus, which has raged through them.

The department alleges that on 24 June, “Wanwalee had made a speech about the [monarchy] and the content could be against the lese-majeste law.”

The prosecutor “handed … evidence of her speech to the court…”. On its part, the court said it would “rule on the possible revocation of Wanwalee’s bail on July 12.”

This is unlikely to be the end of real and threatened bail revocations – now used as a means of political repression – as the regime’s (political) police “have asked the public prosecutor to request for bail revocations for five protest leaders from the Ratsadon.”





Monk gets 112 summons

7 07 2021

Via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) , Prachatai reports that novice monk Saharat Sukkhamla, seen at some protest rallies, “has received a summons from Pathumwan Police Station on a[n Article 112, lese majeste] charge] … relating to a speech he gave at a protest on 21 November 2020.”

Saharat at a 2020 rally. Clipped from Prachatai

That summons was received on 5 July 2021. The summons states “the complaint against him was filed by Ratthanaphak Suwannarat, and that Saharat must report to Pathumwan Police Station on 12 July at 10.00.” Ratthanaphak’s complaint was about a “speech Saharat gave at a protest organized by the students’ rights group Bad Student on 21 November 2020.”

Earlier, “on 25 February 2021, special branch police officers tried to disrobe Saharat, claiming a consensus of the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand … and an announcement from the National Office of Buddhism” that permitted him to be disrobed. At that time, the police “claimed that Saharat’s actions insulted the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand … and that he caused conflict within the order.” However, they were unable to locate Saharat.

The total number of people now charged since last November is claimed by TLHR to be at least 103, eight of them minors. Saharat seems to be the first monk charged under Article 112.





Vigilante 112

4 07 2021

In a deepening of Thailand’s fascism, ultra-royalist vigilantes continue to lay complaints against netizens, which police convert into charges.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report on another such case. We do not think we have previously posted on this case. TLHR states:

On 22 June 2021, at 08:00 am, Ms. Kanlaya (Pseudonym), a 27-year-old employee of a private company in Nonthaburi province, close to Bangkok, reported to Su-ngai Kolok District Police Station in Narathiwat province, Thailand’s Deep South, to acknowledge her charges under the “lese majeste” provisions of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, as well as Article 14(3) of the Computer Crimes Act. Mr. Pasit Chanhuaton filed these charges against her with the inquiry officer at this police station due to four of her online activities in which she posted, shared, and commented on Facebook about the monarchy.

The report does not provide further details regarding the alleged offenses.

Police state that Pasit “has accused at least five persons of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code and filed the charges at this police station in Su-gnai Kolok.” This suggests that he may be in the employ of state agencies, a member of a vigilante cyber-spy group funded by the state or an eager ultra-royalist.

Whatever his particular location as a snitch, police say they “have gradually started to issue summonses for these accused persons to acknowledge their charges.”

Kanlaya’s summons was “from Acting Pol. Maj. Natee Chansaengsri, an inquiry officer from Su-ngai Kolok District Police Station. Dated 17 May 2021, the summons required her to acknowledge her charge in person on 7 June 2021.” She managed to postpone this given that her abode was hundreds of kilometers away in Nonthaburi and her official residence in Phayao. She reported on 22 June 2021.

Snitch Pasit claimed to have been “using Facebook when he came across one Facebook user posting images and four messages referring to the monarchy. The messages include a criticism of the monarchy’s role in relation to the political protests…”. Pasit also claimed Kanlaya shared a post from another Facebook user which urged that Article 112 be revoked to permit free expression on the monarchy.

An outraged Pasit “claimed that these messages maliciously referred to the King in an accusatorial manner.”

Kanlaya has denied all charges.

The police requested that the Narathiwat Provincial Court remand Kanlaya in custody. The court did this but granted a bail application on a surety of 150,000 baht.

Kanlaya is  scheduled to report to the Court again on 9 August 2021.

According to TLHR, there are now “at least 101 persons have been charged under Article 112 in 98 cases since the enforcement of this article has resumed in late November 2020.” Fully 45 of these cases result from vigilante-like complaints.





Repressive bail and 112 illegality

1 07 2021

Readers might be interested in a report at Asia Democracy Chronicles on “Repressive bail conditions stifle basic freedoms in Thailand” by Anon Chawalawan from iLaw.

In an otherwise reasonable report, we wonder why Anon decided to begin the report with the usual lazy journalism: “In Thailand, the monarchy is revered.” Recent events have demonstrated that this is not true. The monarchy is contested.

Tyrant 112

Clipped from the linked report

One point worth repeating is on how bail comes with political conditions:

… the activists behind bars must accept certain conditions imposed by the court if they want their temporary freedom. The court will dismiss the petitions for bail of activists who do not agree to the conditions, such as the prohibition for them “to take part in any activity that may harm the monarchy.” The court is likely to dismiss said petitions until the activists agree to the condition. In this manner, the state uses the conditions for bail to limit anti-government protesters’ freedom of expression and movement.

The question is raised regarding the legality of this (not that the regime worries about legality). The law states:

In granting a provisional release, the official empowered to so grant or the court may stipulate any condition governing the residence of the person provisionally released or any other condition to be observed by such person, in order to prevent his abscondence or any possible danger or injury which might ensue from the provisional release (unofficial translation).

In some cases, the use of electronic tracking devices has also been part of the conditions for bail. As has been shown in two cases, other courts have rejected this requirement, suggesting that 112 bail conditions are illegal.

It is worth emphasizing that the application of the lese majeste law itself has involved courts making illegal decisions, applying the law to persons not covered by it.





Updated: Ultra-royalist cartography

29 06 2021

In recent days there has been justified alarm regarding royalist vigilantism mapping the names, addresses and photos of about 500 people, many of them children.

Reuters reports that in this Google-based mapping some of the photos showed students in their university and high school uniforms.

Google has taken “down two Google Maps documents on Monday that had listed the names and addresses of hundreds of Thai activists who were accused by royalists of opposing the monarchy…”. According to Reuters, a spokesperson for Alphabet’s Google said “the issue is now fixed”, adding: “We have clear policies about what’s acceptable for user generated My Maps content. We remove user generated maps that violate our policies.” But these maps had received at least 350,000 views while they were available.

The maps showed the “faces of those named had been covered by black squares with the number 112, in reference to the article under the country’s criminal code [lese majeste] which makes insulting or defaming the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”

Songklod as Fascist

Rightist vigilante Songklod

Reuters located one ultra-royalist, rightist, activist claiming to be running this vigilante operation. “Retired” army captain Songklod Chuenchoopol said “he and a team of 80 volunteers had created the maps and planned to report everyone named on them to police on accusations of insulting the monarchy.”

Songklod said that he and his team “sought to highlight those they accused of breaking that law.” He said that his “volunteers” hunt “something offensive posted on social media,” and they then log it to the map. He referred to his vigilante work as a “psychological warfare operation,” was meant “to dissuade people from online criticism of the monarchy.”

He described his “operation targeting opponents of the monarchy” as a “massive success.”

Songklod has a history of rightist/royalist activism. He was previously reported as being the “founder of the right-wing ‘Thai Wisdom Guard’ [and] spends most of his day trawling for evidence to file a case under the strict computer crimes act or other laws.” He was said to have then brought a case “against more than 100 people for sharing a post he deemed critical of the Constitutional Court.”

His history suggests that he probably has support from military groups like ISOC, which has a history of supporting rightist/royalist vigilante groups.

These vigilante operations are meant to silence critics through fear of attack and violence, an outcome seen several times in recent years.

Update: A report at Prachatai links Songklod to the so-called Thailand Help Centre for Cyber-bullying Victims. THis seems a reasonable link to rightist, royalist, child abusers.





20 lese majeste cases

18 06 2021

At one time it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the military and royalists considered the devil and faced the most lese majeste charges. We think that he faced somewhere between four and six charges and several more accusations and investigations.

The record for lese majeste charges is, as Prachatai reports, now held by Parit Chiwarak or Penguin. He is “now facing 20 counts under the lèse majesté law, after complaints were filed against him for Facebook posts he made about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse [Yuvadhida Suratsawadee], and the use of Sanam Luang for funerals.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) are the source for information on the new charges. They report that “Parit went to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday (15 June) to hear the charges…”.

These charges resulted from complaints by “Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens…”.

Readers will recall that it was only a few days ago that the same group of royalist, right-wing, fascists showed up at the very same TCSD more charges against those they claimed  violated lese majeste and computer crime laws. AT the time, police said Nangnoi Assawakittikorn and her royalist minions were  calling for charges against another 90 individuals. The new report adds that these 90 all made posts that they claim insulted Queen Suthida on her recent birthday.

Prince, Yuvadhida, and kids in earlier times

The complaints against Parit, however, “were filed on 11 January 2021 and are related to two Facebook posts he made in December 2020. The first was on 8 December 2020 about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, who now lives in the United States in exile with her four sons.”

He also stands accused of “called for Princess Sirivannavari, the King’s younger daughter, not to use taxpayer’s money to promote her fashion brand…”. She’s not covered by Article 112. However, it is also alleged that Parit “included in the post a link to a voice clip rumoured to be that of the king saying ‘I know I’m bad’.” We guess if he’s convicted on that, then the rumor is proven.

In another post on 31 December 2020 it is alleged he “mentioned how funerals are allowed to be held at Sanam Luang but people are not allowed to sell shrimp, referring to the shrimp sale organized by the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer on 31 December 2020 which was dispersed by police.”

In addition to the 20 lese majeste charges Parit now faces, he also has outstanding charges under the Computer Crimes Act, sedition, and more.

In these two most recent cases, Parit denied all charges. Startlingly, he reportedly “requested that Sujarinee and her sons be brought in as witnesses and to have them testify on why they had to leave the country, who is involved in their exile, and whether they wish to return to Thailand.” That may result in more charges.