UN Human Rights Committee findings

29 03 2017

The UN Human Rights Committee has published its findings on the civil and political rights record of countries it examined during its latest session. These findings are officially known as “concluding observations.” They contain “positive aspects of the respective State’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and also main matters of concern and recommendations.”

All of the reports generated for Thailand’s review, including the Concluding Observations are available for download.

The Committee report begins by welcoming Thailand’s “submission of the second period report of Thailand, albeit 6 years late, and the information contained therein.”

There are 44 paragraphs of concerns and recommendations. There’s a lot in it: refugees, enforced disappearances, Article 44, freedom of expression, torture, constitutional issues, arbitrary detention, the National Human Rights Commission, military courts, problems in the south, repression during the constitutional referendum, defamation, computer crimes, sedition and much more.

We just cite the comments on lese majeste:

37. The Committee is concerned that criticism and dissention regarding the royal family is punishable with a sentence of three to fifteen years imprisonment; and about reports of a sharp increase in the number of people detained and prosecuted for this crime since the military coup and about extreme sentencing practices, which result in some cases in dozens of years of imprisonment (article 19).

38. The State party should review article 112 of the Criminal Code, on publicly offending the royal family, to bring it into line with article 19 of the Covenant. Pursuant to its general comment No. 34 (2011), the Committee reiterates that the imprisonment of persons for exercising their freedom of expression violates article 19.  





Updated: Suthep demands more dictatorship for longer

18 03 2017

The People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) is the legalistic renaming of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee to allow it to keep operating under the junta it helped seize power in 2014.

It is still led by Democrat Party stalwart Suthep Thaugsuban, who “left” the party to arrange his anti-democratic actions opposing elections and the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. Its bosses remain those anti-democratic elite and Democrat Party (former) members, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Akanat Promphan, Chitpas Kridakorn (Bhirombhakdi), Thaworn Senniam, Nattapol Teepsuwan, Chumpol Julsai and Sakoltee Patthippayakul.

It was this group that recently met with representatives of the military junta for “reconciliation talks.”

Readers might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) that, almost three years after he got the coup he wanted, Suthep “remained firm in its stance of ‘reform before election’, saying it did not mind a delay in the holding of the next election.”

Suthep and his clutch of anti-democrats also declared their full support for “absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter” and claimed it “was not a problem for reform. Suthep said it as an opportunity for the junta to effectively reform the country.” We know he supports the murderous military and we guess he would also support military courts, torture and all manner of draconian measures against his political opponents.

Of course, we also know that Suthep hates elections, not least because his party never won one in its own right, and repeatedly hung off the military and royal coattails.

Likewise, it is no surprise that this group of anti-democrats “admitted to being fans of junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the desire to complete key reforms.” Why wouldn’t they be? It was Suthep who claimed that he had worked since 2010 with General Prayuth on ways and means for preventing a Thaksin Shinawatra-aligned government from getting elected and then, if it did, on bringing it down.

Suthep and his cronies met with the junta’s people for “four hours of reconciliation talks” after which Suthep declared or maybe even threatened: “We’ve made the point in the meeting that the masses expect the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the government led by [Prayuth] to finish the reforms so the country can continue as a democracy with the monarch as the head of state.”

Suthep, who spent many years as a Democrat Party powerbroker and politician chortled about “politics” being a problem: “Politics has to serve the people. In the past, it was [dominated by] politicians and financiers as well as interest groups. It’s never about the people…”. Because his party was resoundingly defeated time and time again, we can understand his reluctance to accept the will of the people.

Remarkably, as if Thailand’s elite is still under threat, he grasps the monarchy shibboleth by the throat and thunders: “Most importantly, political parties must be run by people who support democratic rule with the monarch as the head of state, not a republic.”

That purported danger justifies for Suthep, and his gaggle of anti-democrat scions of the elite, continuing military dictatorship. He reckons “the people” don’t want an election any time soon.

If the message wasn’t clear, Suthep stated: “The PDRF has no concerns over the NCPO staying in power so long as it works to push reforms.” He added that his support for “the military and Gen Prayut … was never hidden…”.

Update: And just in case anyone was wondering, the Bangkok Post reports that Suthep declined “to say whether his group would accept the outcome of the next election in the event that the Pheu Thai Party wins the poll.”





Monarchy, junta and judiciary entwined

17 03 2017

In a couple of recent posts, PPT has emphasized the lawless or rule-by-law nature of the military dictatorship. Under this regime, rule-by-law is essentially lawlessness as the junta can make everything it does legal, while using law to repress and oppress all of its opponents, be they red shirts, “politicians,” grannies, kids or activists.

Lese majeste has been one important law used against political opponents and the prince-cum-king’s personal acquaintances, minions and consorts who fall out of favor. The threat of lese majeste, interpreted in ways that are not even covered by the law, threatens and silences many.

The junta uses Article 44 dozens of times to make illegal actions legal or to ride roughshod over law and procedure. Having come to power illegally through a military coup, later made “legal,” the junta uses law when it suits it, but makes law up as it feels fit. In other words, it behaves lawlessly but makes that lawlessness “legal” through “special” decrees.

The judiciary is complicit in both the manipulation of lese majeste and the making legal the junta’s lawlessness. Since the late king’s infamous intervention in 2006, the judiciary has been more highly politicized, with movement to judicialization, marking itself out as a royalist court that “interprets” law for the political advantage of royalists and its class.

The most recent example of the judiciary’s view of itself as “above” the hoi polloi is its use of “contempt of court” allegations and charges against anyone daring to question or criticize a court or judges. This is a ploy used by various courts in recent years, always in political cases.

In Khon Kaen, the Provincial Court is going after student activists.

This court, doing the junta’s work, has repeatedly refused bail for Jatuphat (Pai) Boonpattaraksa, the sole person accused of lese majeste for sharing a BBC Thai nes story on the new king. More than 2,000 others did the same thing and are not targeted. Jatuphat is charged and jailed simply because he is an anti-junta activist.

The director of the Provincial Court’s Prosecutor’s Office has accused several supporters of Jatuphat with “contempt of court for participating in a peaceful gathering to demand for … [Pai]’s release.”

In a junta pattern, the charges are targeted on activists considered leaders. The junta wants to threaten all by targeting leaders. The junta wants to decapitate opposition groups. The judiciary supports the junta’s work.

The activists are:

Phayu Bunsophon, Chatmongkon Janchiewcharn and a female student activist (who does not want to reveal her identity), the three law students of Khon Kaen University who are members of Dao Din group, and Narongrit Upachan, a political science student from the same university who is a member of NGC.

The court will hold a hearing on the case on 24 April 2017, essentially considering its own evidence. Whatever the outcome, the court, complicit with the junta, is seeking to threaten and  silence.





Going after kids I

17 03 2017

A few days ago, PPT posted on the military junta “going after grannies.” Now, sadly, we must post that the junta has gone after kids. Not university students who have been anti-coup activists, but a 14 year-old kid holding a sign against the use of Article 44 against Wat Dhammakaya.

The grannies weren’t jailed, but the kid has been.

In danger of junta arrest

This is not the first time the junta’s thugs have gone after kids. In 2016, the goons grabbed a couple of 8 year-olds for play determined as anti-junta. In the same period they determined that other kids were “threatening” and perhaps in the hire of “politicians.”

In the current case, Prachatai reports that “police … revealed that they have arrested a 14-year-old disciple of Dhammakaya Temple for protesting against the junta’s use of Section 44 to tighten control around Dhammakaya Temple’s complex.”

Khaosod reports that the boy was recently bailed after a week in juvenile detention.

Khlong Luang police in Pathum Thani Province confirmed that they arrested the boy on 8 March 2017. He was arrested with three other adult protesters.

The police claim they “arrested him for holding a banner to protest against the junta’s use of Section 44 of the Interim Constitution…”.

Col. Samart Srisiriwiboonchai, who is the acting chief thug at Khlong Luang Police Station, said “it was necessary for police to arrest and prosecute the boy.” It seems the police felt threatened:

“They were together, so we arrested them together…. They were obstructing our operations. They were not peaceful protesters as they claimed. They acted in an aggressive way.”

Another thug-cop simply stated: “The kid violated the NCPO [junta] order…”.

The boy’s father sought to bail him of 10 March but was rejected. On 13 March, another bail attempt was rejected. On 14 March the boy’s mother submitted another bail request and this was also rejected.

On the last attempt the court declared “that the parents of the detainee are living separately and do not seem to be able to raise him properly, so he should be taken care of by the JOPC [the juvenile detention center].”

Whatever one thinks of Wat Dhammakaya, the machinations of the junta are astounding. Recall that this is happening as the junta’s 46-member shopping team are “defending” its horrendous human right record before the U.N. in Geneva.

As ever, the military dictatorship shows its true nature by its unconscionable behavior.





Rehearsing lies

9 03 2017

A story at Khaosod tells much about the military dictatorship that currently rules Thailand by dint of military boot and Article 44.

The story reports Pitikarn Sithidej, who works for the little known Rights and Liberty Protection Department in the Ministry of “Justice.” (We gave up looking for it on the Ministry website, which is a tangled mess.) We imagine they don’t have much work to do.

Pitikarn proudly declares that “Thailand is ‘fully prepared’ to defend its record and obligations on human rights next week when they are discussed in Geneva before the United Nations…”.

Others have also defended the undefendable and usually it has been the skilled liars from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have led the teams defending torture, lese majeste, political repression, enforced disappearance, the murderous military, impunity, military courts, massive censorship, restricting speech and assembly, rule by decree and martial law, and many more.

Apparently, on Monday and Tuesday next week, in Geneva, “an 18-member body of independent experts chosen by UN member states will review Thailand’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

In fact, this is an open-and-shut case. The junta simply doesn’t defend civil and political rights; it mangles them.

Still, perhaps thinking that the rest of the world is moving in Thailand’s direction, the Rights and Liberty Protection Department’s Pitikarn says it has been rehearsing responses: “We have staged a question-and-answer drill and anticipate what questions will be asked by the committee. We are fully prepared, and our report will be based on the facts…”.

Facts? We get it, she really means “junta lies.”

Oddly, although perhaps part of the “rehearsing,” Pitikarn appeared at a forum with Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch. He revealed that “his organization would focus on the use of Article 44 under the military’s interim constitution, which he said has widely undermined human rights and lacks any accountability. ”

He added: “All [international human rights] obligations can be discarded by Article 44 and many times it’s been used to violate rights…”.

Sunai also said HRW “will call next week … for the military government to abolish it to demonstrate its commitment to restoring democracy.”

Seriously? Just that? That’s the best HRW can come up with? Square that with National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit saying: “There must be an assurance they will not sue those speaking in Geneva.”

Yes, those going to speak at Geneva – apart from the official bearers of rehearsed junta lies – are already fearful!





Thirayudh’s tattlings and the anti-democrat agenda

7 03 2017

We at PPT have to be honest and admit that we have never felt much interest in (faux) academic Thirayudh Boonmee or his mental meanderings. The feelings are probably mutual.

That said, we do acknowledge that, as an Octoberist, there remain people willing to listen to his rambling “advice” to Thailand’s elite. Most significantly, he tends to reflect the musings of the deeply yellow gaggle of anti-democrats.

A couple of days ago, at The Nation Thirayudh was described mischievously, as a “[p]olitical expert and independent scholar,” rather than retiree and political pundit. For the anti-democrat crowd, he “criticised the post-coup regime for what he viewed as its failure to undertake national reforms, warning of a possible decline in public faith in the government.”

That is likely to bother the military junta mostly because Thirayud speaks to the junta’s civilian constituency, despite the fact that his “briefing” sponsored by the Election Commission and was “at the Government Complex in Bangkok’s Chaeng Wattana area.”

He is urging the junta to maintain its anti-democrat “mandate” and push it further. This is why he wants the military “to stick to its promised ‘road map’ for a return to democracy.” Thirayudh knows that the “return to democracy” means the restoration of elite models of “guided democracy” that is no democracy at all.

This is why Thirayudh “expressed support over the use of absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter, saying that it was in tune with the nature of Thais who are prone to accept authoritarianism.”

More than this, he demanded that the regime use Article 44 more. He argues the regime “should exploit it to its best use, but not abuse it.” His point is to push back against those “liberals” who are wavering on the regime’s authoritarianism.

You get the picture. The elite rules and exploits because the “nature” of Thais is to accept exploitation, murderous military regimes and repression. He ignores the long history of Thai rejection of these rulers and their schemes.

Thirayudh is worried that “the direction of politics currently leaned towards conservatism and there was little hope of reforming the power structure.” He is worried that the “present powers were civil servants [sic.] who would lose power once the reform was implemented.”

He believes the military regime has won and that those who lost just need to accept this and Thailand will be just right. But the regime needs to move to its guided democracy:

They [those supporting The Dictator] seem to have some accomplishments, but still there is no hope in the reform…. Moreover, they show the intention to support [General Prayut] to stay in power so they can, too. But things will get more difficult and the whole thing may collapse if they stay in power longer than [they promised] in the road map.

Thirayuth warns The Dictator and his regime that “the public’s confidence in the government had been shaken. Hence, it must do the right thing and keep its vow to hold an election as well as be prepared for issues to come after the poll by focusing on reform of the power structure and fighting graft.”

He worries that if The Dictator and his regime hang on, that a new 1992 may emerge, again unleashing the masses in politics.

In another Bangkok Post story, the (anti-)Democrat Party is reported to have backed Thirayudh, “saying the social critic pinpointed the problems and highlighted the failure of the government’s approach to them.”

Democrat deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul “said the government needed to listen to Mr Thirayuth, no matter how harsh his opinions might be.”

Regarding reform, Ong-art declared “the people so far have not experienced any tangible outcomes…”. He added that after “three years in power, the government has only just started its bid for national reconciliation…”.

Junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd has already “rejected” Thirayudh’s “criticism,” asking for the critic to be “useful” by providing “practical solutions to the problems rather than preach about theories and principles.”

In fact, the point of Thirayudh’s intervention is to push the junta to increased “reform.” Like them, he is an anti-democrat, but he is opposed the embedding of military dictatorship. He wants guided democracy.

Increasingly, as Sansern expresses it, the junta wants more and more time for “reform.” He says: “It was not easy to achieve its desired results in such a short period because many of the country’s problems had been left unresolved for a long time.”

They have been supported by others from the Democrat Party. Supachai Panitchpakdi is a  politician who failed to gain top spot in his party and has led an undistinguished career in high-profile international organizations.

His name often comes up when “national governments” are discussed and we can’t help wondering if the ever-eager for top position Supachai sees another opportunity if the military is to get itself a party for an “election.”

He’s now serving the junta, and its members will feel happy that Supachai has supported them against Thirayudh’s mild criticisms. We guess that’s why they hired him.





Going south II

27 02 2017

Attacking those “liberals” and of the middle class who have generally been supportive of the 2014 military coup and the military junta is another example of things turning screwy from the junta’s position.

The Nation reports that Mahidol University, in rankings terms, the best of a pretty dismal bunch of universities, all controlled by royalist administrations, has said that it “will form a committee to investigate a group of lecturers belonging to its Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP)…”.

Why is this? It is precisely because of “the institute’s statement questioning alleged junta abuses of power, including the issuance of Article 44 orders.” Goodness! How could they be so ungrateful of the wonderful junta?!

The boundary riders of royalist “learning” claim that defending human and legal rights is terrible. “In a statement issued Sunday, Mahidol University denounced the lecturers for ‘damaging the university’s reputation’ by using its name in their original statement.”

In fact, the reputational damage is now caused by the dopey and coup-lovers in the administration.

It gets worse, when they state: “Such action is not academic freedom…. We urge the issuers to stop immediately.”

This is a clear demonstration of the failure of university administrators and another example of why education fails in Thailand in so many ways. By and large, royalist ideologues see all education as indoctrination and claims about human and legal rights are not a part of this.

Mahidol’s administration asserts that “it always stood by the principle that everyone must respect the law.” Well, the military’s law, anyway.

The university administration’s rightist reaction “came after the IHRP late on Saturday night issued a statement calling for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] to stop using absolute powers granted by Article 44 of the interim charter.”

Its authors stated:

Using the article [to solve problems] is using dictatorial power against the rule of law, with a lack of checks and balances, and it is illegitimate…. Article 44 is used too often and without a sense of urgency. In many cases, the government and authorities are able to enforce [the same measures] by normal laws.

That all seems polite and reasonable. Yet one thing that seems to have bother the junta and their supporters running the university was that in citing “nine orders issued this month,” it also mentioned “one establishing the controversial Dhammakaya Temple and surroundings areas as a ‘controlled area’.” It came just after “a man hanged himself from a 100-metre-high radio antenna in an apparent protest against the ongoing siege at the controversial Dhammakaya Temple.” He also complained about Article 44.

Military-loving yellow shirts went online to condemn the IHRP, caliming it should not be “allowed to use Mahidol’s name when taking action.”

Things are indeed unraveling.