Updated: Concern for 112 detainees

26 03 2021

There is reason to be concerned for the safety of those accused of lese majeste and currently detained without bail in several prisons.

The Bangkok Post reports that these members of the Ratsadon group “are being detained at five prisons while police prepare the cases against them…”. The report lists some of them:

Six were being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, he said. They are Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Piyarat “Toto” Jongthep, Patiwat “Bank” Saraiyaem, Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpatararaksa, Arnon Nampa and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.

Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, alias “Ammy The Bottom Blues”, is being held at Thon Buri Prison, and Panusaya “Rung” Sitthijirawatanakul at the Central Correctional Institution for Women.

In Pathum Thani province, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak is detained in Pathum Thani central detention centre, and Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree of the Ratsadon Mutelu group is in Thanyaburi Prison in Thanyaburi district.

Release our friends

There are several reasons for concern for the safety of these political detainees. First, Corrections Department deputy director-general Veerakit Hanparipan has revealed that his department lacks coordination and standard operating procedures. Second, it is a “policy” to separate the detainees as a means to break their spirit and to prevent them from supporting each other. Third, lawyers and families are having great difficulty visiting the detainees. Fourth, political detainees are being treated as common criminals. Fourth, Thonburi Prison is said to be a problematic location due to it being in a high-risk Covid zone.

All of this amounts to lese majeste torture.

There is special concern for Parit, “who is on a partial hunger strike…”. Veerakit told reporters that Penguin “continued to refuse solid food.” He added that he has become “weakened from refusing food” and that “Parit was instead given bread, milk, sweet drinks and mineral water to prevent his blood-sugar level falling too far.” Veerakit also revealed that “Parit had a rash on his chest. Prison officials had given him medication.”

Update: Concern for Penguin is increasing. He’s “been on hunger strike for over two weeks,” and is experiencing weakness. He has “allowed doctors to conduct a blood test for the first time on Saturday night, after suffering from fatigue, increased dizziness and dehydration.” As a result, he’s now being administered glucose and fluid intravenously.

Concocting “victory”

9 03 2021

With three more pro-democracy campaigners locked away on lese majeste charges, the regime seems confident it has a royalist political victory in sight.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – were each charged with 112 and other “crimes” and denied bail for the Thammasat University rally back in September 2020. Along with 15 other pro-democracy protesters, they also face sedition charges.

Some of those locked up. Clipped from France24

The other 15 were bailed, marking the regime’s 112 strategy as now involving lengthy jail stints waiting for a trial before royalist judges and potentially very heavy sentencing. The regime and palace – which gives the orders on 112 – want to stamp out all signs of anti-royalism.

They join Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem who have already been held for about three weeks without bail on similar charges. Also banged up on 112 charges is Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues.

Jatuphat called on followers: “Fight on everyone…”, while Panusaya, “who is facing eight other royal defamation charges, believes the pro-democracy movement will continue to exist although most of the leaders could be locked behind bars”: “No matter how many people are locked up, people outside will continue fighting, they do not need us…. “I am not concerned at all that the movement will stop.”

The regime thinks it has them beaten. With its carefully managed violence and targeted arrests, these detentions signal that the regime believes that the leaders will not get broader support.

The mainstream local media does not challenge regime stories of violence and weapons, although some of the international media has a different reporting. We conclude that the local media has come under enormous pressure to follow the regime’s lead and that corporate owners are willingly propagandizing for the regime. Why else would the Bangkok Post be interviewing and publishing outlandish conspiracy manure from anti-democrats? The media that lambasted the protesters for allegedly straying from the path of non-violence have been regime pawns too.

Such concocted claims have been seen from royalists many times in the past – from Pridi shot the king to the Finland Plot and more – and they continue. We can but speculate that these claims will lead to a deeper repression across the country, as they did in the past.

Further updated: Burning down the monarchy II

7 03 2021

The regime’s crackdown on protesters continues, as it uses its police to pick-off those it considers leaders. The police continue to act illegally, searching without warrants, detaining people without adequate identification, and detaining those arrested in illegal locations:

At the end of the protest, those arrested were divided into 2 groups: 18 were taken to Border Patrol Police Region 1, Pathum Thani, and the remaining 27 went to Paholyothin Police Station after protesters managed to surround the police van they were in and others managed to break out of another van.

Those who were broken out “walked with their lawyer to turn themselves in at Phahon Yothin police station.”

Mainstream media, supportive of the regime, reports events such as the arrest of Wevo guards as if they were legal and accepts regime claims with little scrutiny: police claimed those arrested “planned to use firearms to attack police and instigate violence during the rallies. A search during their arrests allegedly found objects that could be used as weapons … [they sad they] found 30 smoke bombs and one shield, among other items.”

Prachatai reports that the protesters arrived at the court complex on Ratchadapisek Roa] and began “burning rubbish,” piling up material and setting it alight.” This lasted less than 10 minutes and was non-violent. They extinguished the fires themselves. It adds:

It is reported that portraits of the King and the late King Rama IX were burned during the protest. Some protesters were seen trying to stop this. The demands for monarchy reform and repeal of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes insults and expressions of hostility against the king, queen, heir and regent, were also presented.

The burning of royal pictures has aroused wide interest after Chaiamorn ‘Ammy’ Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer of the pop band The Bottom Blues, was arrested for allegedly setting fire to a large portrait of King Rama X in front of Klong Prem Central Prison on the night of 27 February.

Later, a “blown-up letter ‘in the People’s Name, to the People’s Court’, was placed at the King’s portrait. The letter condemns the courts for the unfair detention of pro-democracy protesters and political prisoners and demands their release.”

Update 1: We have to say that the reporting of the arrest of the guards is getting more and more bizarre. We are not sure if this is because the police are simply concocting a story that is piled upon buffalo manure or because the reporting is awful. But, based on track record, we tend to think it is the former. The latest pile, via Thai PBS, is of the Metropolitan Police  launching an “investigation” of “shots” that damaged police buses during the last ReDem rally. Perhaps it was Men in Black? But they are police…. Anyway, the story gets increasingly weird.

Pol Lt-Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is reported as having said:

… police booked Piyarat Chongthep, alias Toto, head of the WeVo guards, and three other guards at the car park of Major Ratchayothin shopping mall, after they found 15 slingshots, 50 steel pellets, 300 glass pellets, 30 smoke bombs, 30 plastic bags containing fermented fish, 13 crash helmets, 37 bullet-proof vests, a teargas canister and a police shield in their shoulder bags. He claimed that the non-lethal weapons were to be used to trigger violence at the protest site.

Based on the footage released (see link above), this seems an outlandish claim. How they would get all of that gear in should bags is another claim that seems to stretch the realms of credulity. Either these were Santa sized shoulder bags or the cops are making stuff up.

Update 2: So let’s see if we have this right. The police arrest a bunch of WeVo guards and claim they have all kinds of weapons and other paraphernalia associated with “violence.” One report states: “Police held at least 48 guards and people in an eventful arrest at a shopping mall on Saturday afternoon.” The very same day, they release most of them: “Of them, 30 were later released on the same day without charges.” 15 of the remainder faced charges and all but one were released: “The Criminal Court has denied bail for Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, leader of Ratsadon guards, but allowed 14 other people held on Saturday to temporarily walk free.”

It is added: “The charges against them came on Sunday. Police claimed the WeVo (We Volunteer) group, led by Mr Piyarat, was an illegal association. It was an assembly of more than five, hid its methods of operations, divided its responsibilities and aimed to commit illegal acts.” This is using the ancient anti-Chinese secret society law from the early 20th century. No weapons charges that we can see. Interestingly, the Post has two versions of events, suggesting that there’s some doubt emerging about police claims.

Burning down the monarchy I

6 03 2021

When PPT read the early accounts of the police hunt for Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, 32, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues, we were suspicious. It was claimed he torched a portrait of the king. First he was arrested, then he wasn’t, and then he was again.

Then the cops claimed they had both “forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts [to] implicate a pro-democracy activist [Ammy] in the torching of a large portrait of … the King last week…”. “Forensic” could mean anything, but “eyewitnesses”? Really? Bangkok police commander Maj. Gen. Phukphong Phongpetra declared: “We have witness testimony as well as forensic evidence pointing to him, not just security camera footage.” That’s sounds implausible.

Phukpong also said that Ammy was “receiving treatment for unspecified injuries at the Police Hospital; investigators said Chaiamorn suffered a fall after he climbed up to burn King Rama X’s portrait.” Police “released CCTV footage of the incident to the media, allegedly showing Chaiamorn driving his car to the prison at about 3am on Sunday, just before the portrait went up in flame.”

Then Ammy released a statement “confessing to the burning of a portrait of the King in front of Khlong Prem Central Prison on February 28.” He stated: “The burning down the King’s portrait was my doing and I want to solely take responsibility for it alone and it has nothing to do with any movement or any demand…”.

Soon, tens of thousands of “tweets using #StandWithAmmy … [were] used on social media to discuss the case and the charges of lese-majeste which have accompanied the incident.”

Clipped from Khaosod

Ammy went on:

“When I was arrested on Oct 13 last year, Penguin [activist Parit Chiwarak] was the first to telephone me when I was in the police van and called for a rally… But this time, Penguin and my brothers and sisters have been in jail for more than 20 days now, but I have not been able to help them. I feel ashamed and disappointed with myself,” the singer wrote in his post, which his lawyer confirmed was authentic.

He is confessing in solidarity with his friends and fellow activists.

Of course, the Criminal Court denied a bail request. One of the usual justifications was used: “the singer posed a flight risk.”

PPT wonders if burning the king’s portrait might become a way of opposing neo-traditionalism and military fascism.

Further updated: Three more 112 complaints

2 03 2021

Thai PBS reports that the Corrections Department has lodged lese majeste complaints with police, “seeking legal action against a group of people who torched the portrait of … the King in front of Khlong Prem prison early Sunday morning.”

An official cabal of 112 accusers was composed of Justice (yes, we know, there’s no real justice when it comes to king things) Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, Director-general of the Corrections Department, Ayut Sinthoppan, and Pol Col Panudet Sookwong, deputy commander of Second Division of Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Somsak said there are “three suspects, two men and one woman, after they examined footage from the CCTV system in front of the prison, which shows a white MPV at the scene at about 3.10am Sunday morning.” He added that the three had been tracked down “and further investigation shows that the trio have political connections…”. He did not explain.

We are reminded of earlier 112 arson cases.

The Bangkok Post reports that they will also be charged with ” charged with arson, trespassing on state property…”.

Somsak ordered tightened security and warned officials to “never let a similar incident happen again.” That should stand as a call for the burning of royal portraits across the country.

Update 1: We should have added the observation that the Bangkok Post decided headline arson charges rather than lese majeste cases. The Post is becoming an ever less reliable newspaper because of its bending to royalism. We think there are now 62-63 persons charged with lese majeste is the latest round of anti-royalist repression.

Update 2: Reports soon appeared that one of those being tracked by the police was Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, better known as Ammy The Bottom Blues. There was considerable apprehension when Ammy was reported arrested on social media but saw police denying this. Later, it was confirmed that he was arrested in Ayutthaya. He now faces several charges:

The charges carry severe penalties — 5-20 years, life in prison or death for arson; 3-15 years for royal insult; and five years each for trespassing on a state office and for computer crime.

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