Weaponized “law”

6 06 2019

According to a report at the Bangkok Post a few days ago, police are considering yet another political attack on Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as if it is a legal case.

We at PPT well understand that law has become deeply politicized and even weaponized in the junta’s Thailand, but this “case” is among the most egregious abuses of the law seen in recent days.

(Weaponizing law is a widely-used tactic by rightist authoritarian regimes.)

The police are apparently considering “a petition calling for a probe against … Thanathorn … and two others for allegedly offending late statesman Prem Tinsulanonda via social media.”

This crazy idea seems to be that it was not the dead Prem who was “offended” but his acolytes and posterior polishers.

The “complaint” comes from the founder of the virtually unknown junta-supporting New Alternative Party’s founder Rachen Trakulwiang.

Rachen’s royalist and military proxy party was “the first newly registered political party to receive the junta’s approval to convene meetings” back before the junta’s “election.” Then, The Nation reported on Rachen’s rightist-royalist background:

Rachen first came to the public’s attention as president of the Federation of Thai Defenders of the Monarchy. In 2011, he led a campaign against a group seeking to amend the lese majeste law in Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He has also filed complaints with police against several red-shirt leaders accused of insulting the monarchy.

In late 2013, Rachen joined anti-government street rallies organised by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), describing himself as a PDRC leader from Nonthaburi, his home province. Rachen also joined monk Phra Buddha Isara, a key PDRC leader, to organise a rally at Government Complex, but later withdrew from the effort.

Rachen has subsequently ended his role as a PDRC leader while continuing his role as president of the Federation of Thai Defenders of the Monarchy. He decided to enter politics two years ago and eventually turned the federation into the New Alternative Party.

In his most recent attack on his political opponents, Rachen barked that he “was referring to posts that he claimed were attacks on Gen Prem…”.

In filing his complaint, it seems Rachen has concocted yet another royalist “group” to allow him to propound rabid royalism:

“Gen Prem was a representative of the King. We should treat him with respect,” said Mr Rachen as his group Khon Rak Pa (“People Who Love Pa”, the nickname of Gen Prem).

Perhaps inadvertently, Rachen linked himself with other thugs by making similarly ridiculous but threatening “complaints” about other he opposes:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, an anti-coup activist who chairs the Student Union of Thailand, and Suphraiphon Chuaichu, a losing Puea Chat Party election candidate for Bangkok’s Bang Khunthian district.

Rachen whined that “he suspected their alleged insults could be the start of attempts to destroy the Privy Council and the military.”He threatened: “We can’t accept that and will never let it happen…”.

PPT suspects that Rachen and his ilk will be used by the junta’s revamped regime to “protect” it as it seeks to “govern” in a polarized political environment. Its threats and the weaponizing of law will be used to undermine and silence critics. It’s an old military strategy, primed by ISOC, to support its governments.





Not let off easy (double standards)

31 10 2018

A couple of days ago, we posted on the fact that the former Buddha Issara, am ant-democrat monk, had got off light in a criminal case.

He was charged with having allowed his People’s Democratic Reform Committee thugs to capture and beat two policemen. The beatings were savage. One suffered broken ribs and a ruptured liver and another suffered bruising and broken teeth from beatings.

He got a suspended sentence and will be back in saffron and his anti-democratic ways very soon.

Now look at the double standards.

It is reported that the Criminal Court “sentenced former Pheu Thai MP Prasit Chaisrisa to two years in jail for having a helmet and a bullet-proof vest stolen from anti-riot soldiers in 2010.”

“Stolen” is a problematic term. At the time, many soldiers simply abandoned their gear and ran away. In this case, the claim is that the helmet was taken from a soldier who was beaten.

The court found Prasit “guilty of having the warfare products in the boot of his car on April 22, 2010.” Even if we dismiss the notion that these were anything other than crowd control products, as it is reported, soldiers were using “warfare products” to crack down on red shirt protesters. That isn’t questioned.

The double standards are clear. And, do we need to add that he’s being victimized? “The former MP for Surin province was earlier sentenced to two years and six months in prison for lese majeste.”





Let off easy

29 10 2018

Even the Bangkok Post noticed that the fascist and former monk Suwit Thongprasert, better known to anti-democrats as Buddha Issara, got a great deal in court.

He was charged with having allowed his People’s Democratic Reform Committee thugs to forcibly capture and detain two policemen. They were savagely beaten one suffered broken ribs and a ruptured liver and another suffered bruising and broken teeth from beatings.

The monk was photographed “questioning” the policemen.

For this the former monk faced the Criminal Court to get a suspended 18-month jail term. It is stated that the “prison term was commuted from three years to one year and six months because he confessed, and then suspended for a year because he had never previously committed a crime and had compensated the two victims, who did not want to continue with any legal action against him.”

We suspect the two have been ordered to keep quiet. Within a few weeks, we expect to see Suwit back in saffron robes and probably out of his wheelchair, which seemed a useful device for engendering court leniency.





Cleansing and coronation

25 06 2018

Some PPT readers may know more about these stories than we do. We’d appreciate and advice at our email: politicalprisonersinthailand@hushmail.com.

Our guess is that the stories we discuss below are probably linked with the big “cleansing” at senior levels of the Buddhist sangha that began with the crackdown on the Dhammakaya sect, then saw senior monks jailed or fleeing the country, and also saw fascist, royal amulet making monk Buddha Issara jailed.

We noticed a further cleansing trend in some rather cryptic media reports that can be seen in the tone of reports at The Nation.

The Nation reported the case of the Lawyers Council of Thailand criticizing police for their violent and forcible detention of a lawyer acting for a client. The client was “a self-proclaimed spirit medium [seeking] to file a defamation complaint against another person…”.

Amid the chaos, the 49-year-old medium, Saengsuriyathep Phramahasuriya, slipped out of the precinct without filing the complaint against Atchariya Ruangratanapong, a lawyer and chairman of the Facebook group for assisting crime victims. She later returned with a new lawyer to file the complaint. That complaint was about accusations that the medium was “insulting the monarchy [by claiming to be a medium of past kings’ spirits] and promoting false information to the public – both accusations denied by her [the medium].”

Soon after, ThaiPBS reported that “Police of the Crime Suppression and Technology Crime Suppression divisions have been ordered to launch a nationwide clampdown on mediums, especially those who claim they have connections with members of the royalty.”

Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Thitirat Nongharnpitak “said the police had been instructed to first approach the mediums and to tell them to stop the practice…”. Police said “that people … should be told not to believe the mediums as the practice of mediumship is un-Buddhist.”

The police claim to have “nabbed at least three mediums who claimed to have supernatural powers.  One of them was removed of his strange hairstyle from which he claimed to derive his supernatural powers … adding that not one medium has faced criminal litigation.”

This report was confirmed in another at the Bangkok Post. That more detailed report states that many mediums “claimed to be possessed by the spirits of the past kings and their followers lost a huge amount of money to these psychics…”.

It added that the “crackdowns have been carried out secretly over the past two weeks with at least three mediums netted.” The report confirms that no charges had been laid by police.

Police said “the issue connected to people’s faith and belief can be sensitive…”. It was added that police “do not want people to see that police are intimidating these mediums…. However, if we let this situation go on any longer, the mediums could exploit their victims by asserting their claims they are vested with supernatural power, which is not real.”

Pol Lt Gen Thitirat Nonghanpitak, a police commissioner “said police were enforcing the law swiftly as some mediums were posing as the spirits of those in the high institutions ‘which is completely inappropriate’.” Well, harassing, warning, cutting hair….

Police say they “nabbed a couple who claimed to serve as a medium for King Rama IX in Nakhon Pathom after they organised a rite which was widely shared on YouTube.” Another in Chachoengsao claimed to be a “medium for King Rama V…. This person, who applied makeup and dressed like King Rama V, ran an unlicensed clinic which doubles as a fortune telling outlet.”

Yet another man “claimed to be the medium of Phra Sri Ariyametrai, who was the fifth life in the Lord Buddha’s past, police said. He claimed he could foretell people’s future and cleanse them of their sins.”

Some mediums went further and “claimed they could be possessed by the spirits of multiple kings.”

The mediums detained by police, who did not name them, were given a “talking to” and were released after they “agreed to stop the spiritual possession business.”

The Technology Crime Suppression Division is also being used “to track down the mediums who are operating businesses online. They would be summonsed for talks with the police.”

Such efforts do seem congruent with the broader cleansing that is taking place prior to the king’s coronation.

Perhaps surprising is the fact that, as with Buddha Issara, such use of royal names is not being treated as lese majeste. That might be a good thing and represent a change in “policy,” although there’s also the relationship between the mediums, their supposed powers and those in power.





When lese majeste is re-defined

29 05 2018

Buddha Issara is still in jail, now seen in a wheel chair. Our question is about one of his charges.

The last time we looked, lese majeste was being expansively defined by the current military junta to harass and jail political opponents. Dead kings. dead king’s dead dogs, princesses (although there was some pull back on that), against adults, children and the infirm and disabled, and for things said, not said but implied or nodded or winked about. It has been heavily used for those misusing the royal name/s and for profiting from royal proximity.

In short, lese majeste was draconian and more or less predictably horrendous.

So we were amazed and shocked to learn that the fascist and anti-democratic monk is charged with “forging a royal emblem on amulets he sold” but not lese majeste. As the report notes: “Claiming false ties to the monarchy is also considered a grievous offense in Thailand and has drawn royal defamation charges in the past.” The linked report also has some great photos of the fascist monk “at work.”

Yingcheep Atchanont, an activist who is said to monitor the use of lese majeste observes: “At least 40 people have been arrested in recent years for claiming a false connection [to the monarchy] for personal gain, as far as I know…. They include even some people who worked on royal projects.”

So what’s going on? Is the (former) monk protected? We don’t think anyone should be charged with lese majeste, but if he’s not, all those others, some who are dead, must be absolved of this most horrible of charges/convictions.

Interestingly, some of the monk’s former allies have abandoned him. “Veera Somkwamkid, an ultra-nationalist says: “His time is due. Because he is… well … Let’s say he has many more charges waiting against him…”. He added that an “influential person” wanted to “disgrace Buddha Issara but would not elaborate.” More interestingly still, he adds: “I believe police received a certain order from above…”. The question then is: what and who is above?





Buddha Issara arrested II

25 05 2018

We continue to be mystified regarding the motives for the arrest of Buddha Issara, now defrocked and held in jail, now known as Suwit Thongprasert.

We are not sure how his arrest relates to that of other senior monks, although such reorganizations or “cleaning” of the senior monkhood have previously occurred with a royal succession and/or a new political regime.

The story is now that he was arrested for actions by “a group of anti-Yingluck Shinawatra government demonstrators he led which robbed Special Branch police of guns during their protest on Feb 10, 2014.” We mentioned this yesterday.

It is added that the “case also involves using the initials of the names of the late King Rama IX and … the Queen … on the back of Buddhist amulets without royal permission.” This seems to relate to a case discussed some time ago as a lese majeste accusation.

At the time we stated that he may be a detestable person and worse but that does not mean the accusation of lese majeste is any less ridiculous.

It is also added that the arrest warrant for the monk, issued by the Criminal Court, involved both lese majeste and “charges of ang-yee (running an illegal secret organisation)…”. The latter is a law that’s been on the books probably longer than Article 112, and was initially enacted for the control of Chinese “secret societies” during the absolute monarchy.

Tell us this isn’t a mysterious case. That probably means big powers are involved.





Buddha Issara arrested I

24 05 2018

Like others, we are somewhat mystified by the arrest of fascist monk Buddha Issara. The English report we have seen states:

At Wat Onoi in Kamphaeng Saen district, police arrested activist abbot Phra Buddha Isara, who gained front-page notoriety for his support of the Bangkok Shutdown movement in 2013-14. He was held on a charge of supporting robbery during the demonstrations led by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

The police case against Phra Buddha Isara relates to a group of anti-Yingluck Shinawatra government demonstrators he led which in 2013 robbed Special Branch police of guns during their protest.

We do recall that the events mentioned and the monk’s many interventions, as well as the support he had for The Dictator. We recall his support for the popcorn gunman and other shooters. We remember that he held and tortured some police. Maybe the police are paying back.

Buddha Issara and friend