Where’s Burin Intin?

25 10 2019

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights website has posted three parts of an article by Ann Norman. These posts follow the case of Burin Intin, who was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 11 years and 4 months in prison on dubious lese majeste charges. He remains in jail and thes posts ask why.

What happened to Burin Intin? Part 1: His lese majesty case in light of the attacks on Ja New

What Happened to Burin Intin, Part 2: Some Clues from the Songs of Resistant Citizen

What Happened to Burin Inten? Part 3: Why is He Still in Jail after a String of Royal Pardons?

Pai’s secret trial

17 08 2017

Two of the defining characteristics of lese majeste under the military dictatorship have been the use of secret/in-camera trials and the use of delays to force defendants to plead guilty, meaning that there is no trial, just a sentencing.

We have seen both in the most recent case involving anti-coup activist Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa.

According to his lawyer, cited at Prachatai, the young Pai “chose to plead guilty because he was being tried in camera, meaning observers and media were not allowed into the courtroom.” In jail for almost 8 months,the lawyer stated that “Jatuphat initially intended to have people witness injustices in the Thai judicial system, but his goal could not be met if the court chose to hold his trial in secret.”

We are sure that this is something the military dictatorship knows and that’s why they hold secret faux trials in the (in)justice system.

Another motivation for Pai’s confession cited in the report is that “Jatuphat and his family was also informed by the court that he does not stand much chance to win the case as the king was protected by the constitution although he was accused of lèse majesté for merely sharing a BBC biography of King Vajiralongkorn.”

That makes little sense to us, for no-one accused of lese majeste has much chance of winning a case.

Amnesty International is cited on the sentencing:

This verdict shows the extremes to which the authorities are prepared to go in using repressive laws to silence peaceful debate, including on Facebook. It is outrageous that Pai Dao Din is now facing more than two years behind bars just for sharing a news article….

That’s entirely true.

We must also remember the cases of others when we think of injustice. Here are two of many:

Somyos Pruksakasemsuk, a journalist and labor activist, was arrested on 30 April 2011, and he remains in jail. When he was on trial, he was usually kept in chains and cages. On 23 January 2013, Somyos was sentenced to 5 years on each of two lese majeste charges, with an extra year added from a previous suspended sentence for insulting General Saprang Kalayanamit, a leader of the 2006 royalist coup. He refused to plead guilty and is serving his time.

Burin Intin, a welder and an anti-coup political activist, was arrested about 27 April 2016. He was taken from the police by soldiers and detained at a military base before the military court eventually sentenced him on 27 January 2017. Having been held for almost nine months, Burin changed his plea to guilty on lese majeste and computer crimes charges. Burin got 11 years and 4 months in jail on two lese majeste charges.

Secret trials, injustice and politicized and military courts. That’s dictatorship at work.

The junta’s assault on political expression

8 02 2017

Yesterday we posted on United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye and his denunciation of the military dictatorship’s political repression and especially the political use of lese majeste.

We later added the junta’s asinine response.

Today, the Bangkok Post reports on another critique of the junta and is warping of law in order to wipe out all political opposition. This is a 36-page report from Amnesty International.ai-report

Read it and weep for Thailand:

… Thai authorities have targeted political activists, human rights defenders and others as part of a systematic crackdown on government critics.

Thailand’s military government has frequently resorted to arbitrary detention and criminal proceedings to silence those criticizing the government or raising concerns about political developments in the country. However, it is not only political activists that have been targeted. Human rights researchers have also been investigated for their work on rights violations, lawyers for defending their clients, land rights activists for supporting communities at risk, journalists for reporting on sensitive topics, and academics for expressing opinions on academic freedom.

We haven’t read the whole report yet, but a couple of points might be made.

The first is that the report fails to mention the case of Burin Intin, a welder and a protester, who was arrested in late April 2016 and recently sentenced to more than 11 years for lese majeste. We are not sure why this is, and would appreciate some advice about this omission. Has he been “disowned” by the activists? If so, why?

The second point refers to the emphasis on “civil society.” We know this is AI’s bread and butter, but one thing that mangles Thailand’s politics is the fact that civil society there is politically sliced and diced in much the same way as the whole of political society. Civil society groups do not all support freedom of expression or progressive politics.

Updated: 11+ years for lese majeste

27 01 2017

Prachatai reports that Burin Intin has been sentenced by a military court on two lese majeste charges.

The report isn’t entirely clear. It says Burin was sentenced to 11 years and 4 months. Usually, when a “suspect” pleads “guilty,” the sentence is halved, so we wonder if Burin was actually sentenced to 22 years and 8 months.

Prachatai states:

The military court read the verdict two days after he pleaded guilty to two lèse majesté counts he was indicted with. Together with the lèse majesté offences, Burin was also indicted with Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for publishing illegal computer content.

The first count concerned a Facebook comment which was posted shortly before he joined the protest on 27 April 2016. The second was a message on his private Facebook chat with Patnaree Chankij, the mother of Sirawit Serithiwat, a well-known anti-junta activist.

We can now expect the merciless thug-junta to now go after the single mother Patnaree.

Update: A report in the Bangkok Post sort of clarifies sentencing. It states:

During sentencing yesterday, the court initially commuted his term by half due to his confession.

However because he had been convicted for another crime less than five years ago the court increased his sentence by a third, which meant he will have to serve 11 years and four months in total.

Forced confessions and lese majeste

25 01 2017

In a recent post we used the term  whiffy to describe a deal approved by the military junta to extend a contract to manage the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center for one of Thailand’s richest.

If that deal was whiffy, then a recent story at Prachatai details a case that reeks.

It is apparently another case of a political activist being accused of lese majeste and then being fitted up. In this case, being held in detention until he “agreed” to plead guilty.

Burin Intin, a welder from northern Thailand, was arrested about 27 April 2016. He was taken from the police by soldiers and detained at a military base before being indicted on two counts of lese majeste and computer crime charges on 22 July 2016.Burin

He was arrested as the military junta cracked down on dissidents. Burin had been campaigning online for the release of the eight from the Neo-Democracy and  Resistant Citizen groups arrested for opposing the military junta’s illegal rule.

The military junta’s thugs declared that Burin had committed lese majeste in his “private chats” on Facebook and it was soon revealed that at least some of his chats were with Patnaree Chankij, the mother of activist student Sirawith Seritiwat, who has also been charged with lese majeste in another bizarre case.

The conversation was referred to by police using these (translated)  words:

In the [Facebook] chat, Mr. Burin who used his Facebook account named “Burin Intin” had posted messages obviously deemed defamatory to the monarchy. During the chat, Mr. Burin had also wrote “Don’t criticise me for saying all these”, and a reply had come from a Facebook account “Nuengnuch Chankij writing ‘Ja’.

Having been held for almost nine months, on 24 January 2017, Burin changed his plea before the military court to guilty on lese majeste and computer crimes charges. He will be sentenced on Friday.

It is a common tactic of the thug-authorities to drag out lese majeste cases until they get a guilty plea. This tactic is a form of torture.

Burin has stated that, on “the night when he was detained at the military base in Bangkok, army officers demanded his Facebook password, but he resisted by keeping his mouth shut.” He claims that he was then beaten:

a heavily-built man in plain clothes, with a knitted hat, gave Burin four hard slaps on the head, while an interrogation officer threatened him by saying “You surely won’t survive. You won’t be able to get out [of this place]. If you won’t tell me [your password], I will take you somewhere where you will face even harsher treatment.”

Burin insists he did not give up his password yet police “used conversations claimed to have been obtained from Burin’s Facebook inbox as supporting evidence to press charges against him.”

It also appears that “the documents to support the charges appear to have been prepared even before the police raided his house and confiscated his computer.”

This is just one more lese majeste case where laws and the rights of citizens are simply ignored and thug-authorities steamroller cases to conviction. The “justice” system in Thailand is very deeply flawed, but nowhere is it so lawless and unconstitutional than in the use of the lese majeste law and the framing of “suspects.”

Thailand’s “justice” system, always dubious, is now a sham. Previous shaky notions of rule of law have been expunged to create an injustice system of rule of and by lords, with the lords being the military, monarchy and the royalist elite.

The dictatorship’s threat to all opposition

16 12 2016

Prachatai reports that, on 14 December 2016, a military court has held a deposition hearing on the lese majeste case against Patnaree Charnkij, the mother of the well-known anti-junta activist Sirawith Serithiwat.

The court decided to hear the case in secret, announcing “it would proceed with the hearing in camera, allowing only Patnaree and her defence lawyer to be in the courtroom without any observers since the case is related to the lèse majesté law.”

Patnaree denied the lese majeste charge “and vowed to fight the case.” She remains on bail.

Patnaree’s charge arises from a “private Facebook chat with Burin Intin, another lèse majesté suspect.”

In fact, she is charged because the military dictatorship has sought to silence her activist son. It is a threat to each and every activist, emphatically stating that the junta will come after you and your family if you dare oppose the junta.

She is accused of “defaming” the monarchy by the use of the word “ja” when “replying to a Facebook message from Burin deemed to be lèse majesté…”.

The report states that “Human Rights Watch translated this word as a non-committal, colloquial ‘yes’ in the Thai language,” while the lese majeste police say the word “shows that she accepted or agreed with the message and failed to report Burin to the authorities.”

Both are wrong. The use of “ja” or “ka” or “krup” is an acknowledgement of another’s statement. It is not a “yes” or an agreement. These words do not imply agreement or disagreement.

Her secret trial in a military court will begin on 29 March 2017.

Deadly and dangerous clowns

12 05 2016

Despite an inglorious day before the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, where the junta was shown to be tyrannical, rancid and hopelessly out of its depth, this seems to count for nothing in a regime composed of very dangerous clowns.Nasty clown

We do not intend to diminish the gravity of the situation facing Thailand under the junta by the use of the word “clown,” but this junta is composed of buffoons who only understand hierarchy, violence and repression.

The clownish aspects are demonstrated in a Prachatai story. Justice Minister General Paiboon Khumchaya has lapped up some royalist kool-aid sufficient to declare that “other countries” can’t understand Thailand’s lese majeste law because they lack Thailand’s level of “civilization, sensitivity, and gentleness.”

Yes, he’s lost his marbles, and to make that absolutely clear, the royalist maniac blurted out that “by having the King, Thailand was unique and civilized. That makes Article 112 or the lèse majesté law necessary…”. More remarkably, Paiboon told the media to report his “explanation.”

Meanwhile, the junta continued its witch hunts for political opponents, real or imagined.

In Pitsanulok, up to nine persons were detained by the military for joining a “field trip to investigate corruption allegations over a canal dredging project by the War Veterans Organisation.” The military accuses the Puea Thai Party of being involved. The alleged corruption involves the Ministry of Defense.

In Bangkok, the last two of the Facebook 8 have been denied bail by the military court. They are Harit Mahaton and Natthika Worathaiwich. At the same time, one of their supporters, Burin Intin, has been detained on lese majeste charges. The military court denied bail “citing flight risk, the possibility that they might attempt to distort evidence and the seriousness of the offence.” That is standard practice by the courts. It is also a gross breach of their rights under the law. The defendants allege that the military and police used illegal measures to obtain “evidence.”

In another case of the junta breaking the law, “military and police have attempted to break into the house of a Pheu Thai Party politician to detain him after he criticized the junta leader.” It is reported that early today soldiers and police “surrounded the house of Worachai Hema, a former Member of Parliament (MP) of the Pheu Thai Party from Samut Prakan Province, and attempted to break into the house.” They allegedly “pulled out the telephone line to the house and ordered Worachai’s daughter-in-law to remove a CCTV camera from the house.” Presumably they don’t want any evidence surfacing of their illegal acts. The thugs apparently had no warrant nor permission to enter the compound. The Bangkok Post reports that 50 soldiers and police were involved and Worachai states that “soldiers broke into his bedroom and ransacked it.”

Another raid was carried out against a former Puea Thai deuty minister, Pracha Prasopdee. A later report states that 12 homes were searched and this thuggish fishing trip yeilded “two BB guns, an ID card for a security guard of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), four CDs on UDD rallies, three communication radios, a notebook computer of Noppakao Kongsuwan, one of the eight Facebook users suspected of violating the Computer Crime Act, and two mobile phones” along with “11 firearms of various types, handguns and rifles, all of them properly registered but taken for examination, and a communication radio.” The military thugs claim that these raids are part of their crackdown on dark influences. Readers will recall predictions of this “crackdown” being politically motivated.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy monk Phraiwan Wannabut revealed that the military have visited him at his temple more than five times asking him to “stop all political activities, including writing articles and Facebook posts…”. This is intimidation of a religious figure, a new low for the military’s thugs.

It is only going to get worse.

More on Patnaree’s case

9 05 2016

As the lese majeste arrest of Patnaree Chankij, mother of student activist Sirawith Seritiwat, began to be criticized domestically and internationally, the military junta decided to respond.

The Bangkok Post reported that the junta’s thugs insisted that “there is solid evidence behind the arrest of an anti-coup activist’s mother, despite information circulating online suggesting there is little to support a lese majeste charge.” At least some of that information was from the police charge sheet, which suggested a fit-up and hostage taking.

In order to justify its actions, a junta “legal officer” was sent out to “explain” that the charge against Patnaree “as based on evidence which investigators were not willing to divulge to the media.”

That “legal officer” also found it necessary to declare that the “authorities had not intimidated witnesses or used illegal means to obtain their evidence.”

Based on these statements, the junta’s track record and its lack of transparency, reasonable people can assume that the regime has concocted charges and has used intimidation and illegal means to gain evidence.”

Meanwhile, international outrage was apparent. Social media lit up. The international media reported the event in deservedly incredulous terms. Human Rights Watch stated:

“The Thai junta has sunk to a new low by charging an activist’s mother under the ‘insulting the monarchy’ law, which has been systematically abused to silence critics,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Prosecuting someone for her vague response to a Facebook message is just the junta’s latest outrageous twist of the lese majeste law.”…

“In the name of protecting the monarchy, the junta is tightening a chokehold on free expression and heightening a climate of fear across Thailand,” Adams said. “The arbitrary enforcement of the lese majeste law against an activist’s mother is yet another example of Thailand’s blatant contempt of its human rights obligations.”

The junta initially seemed unperturbed, sending goons to search “the family home of Mr Sirawith, confiscating two computer CPUs, as they attempt to widen the lese majeste probe into his mother and several other suspects.” The impression is that the junta has decided to smash the little remaining activist opposition to its mandates.

General Thawip Netniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council “warned the activists Sunday not to break the law or the regime’s orders, saying they could face legal action.” He also “criticised attempts to bring in international organisations to put pressure on the government, saying the charges against the suspects including Ms Patnaree were based on evidence.”

We assume that this is the evidence that no one can see.

Parroting his boss, he demanded that “foreign groups study Thai laws to understand the fact that authorities were only enforcing the law.”

What he doesn’t get is that “foreign groups” are unlikely to be dolts who will not see that the law the general refers to is the junta’s law, designed to be selectively used against political opponents.

Suddenly, however, the situation turned. The military court, which hours earlier reportedly refused bail and extended detention, granted bail.

The Post states that this might have something to do with “pressure on a Thai delegation set to defend the country’s human rights records in Geneva on Wednesday.” We posted on this earlier. There may be something to this, although we are sure that

Further updated: On the junta’s lese majeste hostage II

7 05 2016

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights have posted an English-language account of the military dictatorship’s ridiculous allegations of lese majeste against Patnaree Chankij.

We won’t reproduce it all, just this important paragraph filled with the nonsense and concoctions that are defining of the dictatorship:

“In the [Facebook] chat, Mr. Burin who used his Facebook account named “Burin Intin” had posted messages obviously deemed defamatory to the monarchy. During the chat, Mr. Burin had also wrote “Don’t criticise me for saying all these”, and a reply had come from a Facebook account “Nuengnuch Chankij writing ‘Ja’. Such reply implied the acknowledgement and agreement with the alleged posts made by Mr. Burin. Therefore, judging from the circumstances and the acts of the user of Facebook account named “Nuengnuch Chankij”, the user is an accomplice to Mr. Burin in the act to post the messages defamatory, insulting, or threatening to the King, the Queen, and the Heir-apparent and to bring into a computer system data which is an offence against national security. Had the Facebook user “Nuengnuch Chankij” not agreed with the alleged posts made by Mr. Burin, she would have stopped him from posting the messages or blamed him for doing so. Instead, her reply “Ja” simply infers her consent (to the act).”

Patnaree currently languishes in one of the junta’s prison cells, hoping that their barbarous act against a mother will silence her son and others of the Neo-Democracy and Resistant Citizen movements.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post reports that police now say that their own notification of charges is wrong or at best misleading. This admission comes following widespread criticism of the military dictatorship for arresting the mother of a student activist. A relatively low-ranked police officer states: “We insist Ms Patnaree did not utter just one word as reported earlier. There’s more to the conversation which we can’t reveal at this stage…”. The officer then threatens the media and the defendant’s lawyers: “Those who said she was charged because of the word ‘ja’ are spreading a lie and they are liable to prosecution.” Threats, arrests, intimidation are the stock in trade of the military junta.

Update 2: Khaosod reports that a military court granted temporary bail to Patnaree on Sunday. The bail surety was set at 500,000 baht. The military court set the conditions of bail, including “agreeing not to participate in political activities and being barred from travelling abroad without the court’s permission.” Lawyer Arnon Nampa said bail “was raised by the Resistant Citizen group…”.

On the junta’s lese majeste hostage I

7 05 2016

Yesterday we posted on the arrest warrant issued for Patnaree Chankij the mother of activist student Sirawith Seritiwat has been charged with insulting the monarchy. Khaosod reports that Patnaree has now reported to police and that she is held in custody.

What is she charged with? According to her lawyers accounts, the police say she is guilty of lese majeste silence.

Khaosod puts it this way:

Patnaree Chankij, the mother of a prominent student activist, never sent a single message insulting the monarchy, police said Friday evening as they denied her release.

However, it was the fact she received such messages but made no effort to reprimand their sender for which she will be tried on a royal defamation charge, Patnaree’s lawyer told reporters at police online crimes headquarters in the first known instance of someone charged under such reasoning.

There’s a lot wrong with this. There is no established “fact” in this. There is a brazen and politically-motivated allegation made. As in some previous cases, the regime is manufacturing a lese majeste case that has no basis in law. Even if one rejects the law as it stands, there is nothing in it that condemns silence. Rather, the law is meant to maintain silence.

In this sense, there is no “reasoning” involved in this allegation. It is a fabrication and a concoction.

According to police, Patnaree “was contacted via Facebook chat by activist and lese majeste suspect Burin Intin, who sent her messages that were deemed insulting to the monarchy…. Although Patnaree did not respond to those messages, her failure to reprimand Burin meant she condoned the sentiment, and therefore counted as lese majeste…”.

Patnaree has denied the charges, but as they are brought to silence her son and as a warning to all political activists, we can expect the junta to demand that its puppet judiciary make a case out of this nothingness. The gangsters have a hostage.

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