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

 





Updated: Karma lese majeste

10 01 2018

Royalist and anti-democrat monk Buddha Issara has found it necessary to attend “the Crime Suppression Division to try to clear the air over accusations he violated the lese majeste law.”

Buddha Issara and friend

Of course, PPT doesn’t approve of any use of this feudal law. However, feudalists mike consider the role of karma in Buddha Issara’s travails.

The monk was concerned that “police investigators came to interrogate people at Wat Orm Noy” where he is abbot and that “police are preparing to raid the temple.” This caused him to report to the police, lawyer in tow.

It was in April 2017 that “Wichai Prasertsutsiri, coordinator of an organisation that promotes Buddhism” made a lese majeste complaint. His complaint is that the monk  produced amulets some “eight years ago bearing the emblem of … King Bhumibol…”.

The complainer reckoned that the monk didn’t have proper permissions. He also barked that “some of the monk’s blood was allegedly used during the blessing ceremony, which was considered inappropriate.”

Feudal rites beget a feudal response.

Update: Khaosod tells us that police are investigating but “have yet to name any suspect” in the case. The police denied a raid was planned. Col. Phumin Pumpanmuang, a commander of Crime Suppression Division, said: “He keeps talking like this. The media already knows how he is. You know he’s been like this for a long time…. Whatever he wants to speak, it’s his rights.”





The (in)justice system at work

27 06 2017

The “justice” system continues to operate in the interests of some and discriminates again others. It is a system that ensures injustice in Thailand. Far from the claims made by the military dictatorship, there is no notion of blind justice and it is a nonsense that “everyone must adhere to the law.”

In late September 2014, 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew died. He was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February 2014, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed. He had been confined to hospital for seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.

He was shot as anti-democrat protesters supporting Suthep Thaugsuban sought to block the election by besieging the Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally. Arkaew had joined those supporting an election.

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-election demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and were cheered by the anti-democrats. Four people were seriously injured in the shooting.

At the time, anti-democrat co-leader Issara Somchai admitted that the shooters on that day belonged to his lot, saying that the man who fired a gun hidden in a popcorn bag was their man. When he was arrested, shooter Vivat Yodprasit stated “still loves and respects PCAD [Suthep’s PDRC] leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” He worked as a PDRC “guard.” Vivat said he worked protecting Suthep [opens a PDF].

Initially he confessed in great detail, then withdrew that, but was still convicted. Now an Appeals Court has “dismissed the charges against a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ accused of attempting to murder red shirt protesters in February 2014.” After he was convicted he also admitted to a journalist that he was a shooter at Laksi.

Initially indicted on more than ten charges “under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code, for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public,” he got 37 years in jail. The “Appeal Court dismissed the charges, citing weak evidence.”

Although the charges against Vivat were dismissed by the Appeals Court, “the court did not release him. He will be kept in detention while the prosecution appeals to the Supreme Court.”





Defending Buddha Issara

11 04 2017

Buddha Issara is a despicable fascist and anti-democrat monk. He has lauded gunmen, acted with thugs, praised the military dictatorship, extorted hotels, accused opponents of lese majeste and been an ardent supporter of the ridiculous law, taken the law into his own hands, and supported vigilantes.

In short, he’s a detestable person and worse as a monk. Yet, in this post, PPT will support him. Why? Simply, because he’s accused of lese majeste in a case that warrants no legal attention.

Prachatai reports that on “10 April 2017, Wichai Prasertsutsiri, coordinator of the Centre for the Promotion of Buddhism Foundation, filed a complaint under Article 112 of the Criminal Code … against Buddha Isara at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.”

They accuse the “ultra-royalist monk and a key leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), of royal defamation over a ritual to bless Buddha amulets.” Wichai claims that “on 30 May 2009 the monk performed a ritual to bless Buddha amulets engraved with the monograph of the late King … before selling them to his disciples.” Yes, that’s 2009, eight years ago.

The complainant says that the royalist monk “used his own blood to bless the amulets.” This, apparently is the cause of the allegation, with Wichai claiming “[s]uch action was defamatory to the … monarchy since the amulets were engraved with the royal monograph…”.

What a load of buffalo manure. Wichai is like many others who lash out at others using this feudal and ridiculous law, making up ever more balmy claims about what “defames” a royal.

The detestable monk responded that “the ritual was performed to honour the monarchy, adding that the plaintiff just wanted to find a way to attack him.” We are sure the latter is true, while the former is as balmy as Wichai’s accusation.

Of course, the “police accepted the complaint and said they will investigate the matter.” They have to for they are too spineless to just tell the accuser to go home and stop being ridiculous.





Stunned by reporting

23 03 2017

Well, we know nothing should stun us when it comes to Thailand, its politics and its media. Yet a report at the Bangkok Post is seriously stunning. We are stunned because the report seems to buy, consume, digest and reproduce junta propaganda.

In a report at the Bangkok Post, the newspaper combines reports on Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul and the claims by the junta that he was seeking to kill a couple of dictators, a story on the junta’s instrument, the Department of Special Investigation, a senior monk from Wat Dhammakaya surrendering himself for interrogation and a falling out between a DSI man, now assigned by The Dictator to head up the National Buddhism Office and fascist monk Buddha Issara.

Without the junta’s stories from a few days ago, there’s no connection between the stories, except for DSI being involved in each. But that’s not the headline, which is the junta ruse. That’s either really lazy editing or its a dumb acceptance of junta stories.

We also note that, as The Dictator demanded, the media is dutifully cutting back on its reporting of the Ko Tee story.

While on that story, does it seem odd that Ko Tee is reported charged: “A police source said warrants have been issued for Mr Wuthipong’s arrest on charges of possessing weapons of war and violating the Firearms Act.”

Now how does that work?

After all, the junta “plans to seek the extradition of Mr Wuthipong from Laos following the discovery of a huge [sic. that’s the Post accepting the junta story, again] cache of weapons…. They suspect the weapons were his.”

So he’s been on the run outside Thailand for more than three years but “charged” with “possessing weapons”? Poor reporting or dopey reporting?

Or is the new story that these weapons were sitting there for years and police didn’t find them in previous searches? We think we’ll go for dumb junta and dopey reporting.





“Reforming” almost everything

9 03 2017

Royal edicts are proliferating, removing royally-bestowed titles on Wat Dhammakaya monks. That they had them in the first place raises a question or two about regime and palace transitions over the past few years.

Meanwhile several of the monks have appeared in court, (seemingly not defrocked).

The junta says the standoff with Wat Dhammakaya will end in five days. How, exactly, we are not told, but it may be that troops and police will reoccupy the temple and arrest monks and their supporters. There are already more than 340 cases against the temple, 20 arrest warrants have been issued and a further 70 summons orders have been issued.

We all know that the military dictatorship tasked itself with an anti-democratic agenda of “reforming politics” when it seized power, and that this was in line with the demands of anti-democrats like the Democrat Party and its scion the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led by Suthep Thaugsuban and others. One of the “others” was the fascist monk Buddha Issara. He has also been prominent in pushing for the end of Wat Dhammakaya.

What we may not have expected was that the military dictatorship would decide to “reform” Buddhism in Thailand as well, although an article at New Mandala recently suggested this.

Now this new reform cat is out of the bag. In a report at The Nation, it is said that the junta will “soon propose that the Supreme Sangha Council [SSC] and the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) speed up reforms in Buddhism…”. As is its habit, the junta has formed a “reform panel” and the SSC has “assigned three senior monks to join [it].”

“Reforming” Buddhism, “reforming” politics and maintaining control of the state and its budgets is a practice the interventionist and murderous army has long benefited from, along with its palace allies. “Reforming” the military and the monarchy is not on the cards.





The military party

10 08 2016

It seems like only yesterday that we wrote:

Now that the military junta has had its way with the referendum and anti-democratic charter, its next task is to ensure that it gets the government it wants in place. We can see two possibilities: a new military-backed party or a coalition of anti-democrats, loosely organized around a revamped Democrat Party and probably sans Abhisit Vejjajiva.

It was the day before yesterday….

When we updated that post we said:

The junta has declared that there will be an election in 2017, but likely in December rather than July. And, apparently responding to PPT, has also stated that it will not establish a political party. Believe them? We don’t.

How much things change in just 48 hours. Or, they don’t, and the junta and The Dictator remain inveterate liars.

Here’s the Bangkok Post today:

One day after Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon indicated no military involvement in politics, plans were announced for a pro-coup political party to back Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as the post-election prime minister.

No surprises in this for anyone.

Nor is there any surprise that the new military party grows out of the anti-democratic, ultra-nationalist, royalist and statist Buddhist and anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movements:

The self-appointed leader of the new pro-military party is Paiboon Nititawan, a Buddhist activist who was a member of Gen Prayut’s original National Reform Council, formed in May, 2014, but now defunct.

Since then, he has been known mainly as a strong campaigner against the Dhammakaya sect, opposing the official nominee for Supreme Patriarch. He is closely aligned with the activist Buddhist monk and Bangkok Shutdown leader Phra Buddha Isara.

On Monday Mr Paiboon announced his intention to set up a party and run in the next general election for the House of Representatives.

He called for “retired” military officers to join his party.

Welcome to the era of strongmen, military politicians and repression. (Yes, we know, this began more than two years ago.)





One of the bosses was Buddha Issara

9 03 2016

A few days ago we posted on the sentencing of the so-called popcorn gunman, which we updated to include recognition of the New Mandala post by Nick Nostitz on the same topic. At New Mandala is is quite common for a series of comments to appear that often degenerate into mudslinging. In this case, though, some quite reasonable points were made. Many of the questions asked there about the shooter remain unanswered, and that is probably how they will stay.

While all of that commenting was going on, however, the anti-democrat supporters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, made quite a different point. As Khaosod reports, the PDRC supporters “rallied Tuesday in front of Bangkwang Prison where Vivat Yodprasit recently began serving his 37-year jail term.” They did this because they know that, for them, the popcorn shooter is a hero. As the report puts it, the “demonstrators said they wished to express solidarity with Vivat, who, according to prosecutors, wrapped an assault rifle in a popcorn bag and shot at rival protesters …[leaving] a 72-year-old man paralyzed, before he died seven months later.”Popcorn hero

After the shooting incident, the popcorn gunman “received widespread acclaim from PCAD members. Many of the demonstrators at the prison today donned T-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘Popcorn Superhero’ as a show of support.” They took a group photo, appropriately in front of a banner for Princess Sirindhorn.

Of course, this political rally was not banned by the military junta. We imagine that the junta’s members consider the shooter a hero as well.

According to the report, the convicted shooter “still loves and respects PCAD leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” We do not doubt that it is this fascist monk who is going to gather the four million baht that the poor country boy will require for bail. It is widely said that the monk is providing money on a monthly basis for the shooter’s family as well.

Given that the shooting took place at a rally organized by Buddha Issara, it might be concluded that he was one of the bosses.