Updated: “Fake” news, state news

13 06 2021

Anyone who struggles through the blarney posted by the regime’s PR outfits must wonder about the meaning of “fake news.”

But when the regime’s bosses talk “fake news” one can expect they are talking about others and their news. Mostly, they are worried about news on the monarchy and criticism of themselves.

All kinds of political regimes have taken up “fake news” as a way of limiting criticism, but it is authoritarian, military and military-backed regimes that have been most enthusiastic in using it to roll back and limit criticism. In Thailand, repression has been deepened through all kinds of efforts to limit free expression and to silence opponents.

With laws on computer crimes, defamation, treason, sedition, and lese majeste, a reasonable person might wonder why the regime needs more “legal” means for repression. But, then, authoritarian regimes tend to enjoy finding ways to silence critics.

It is thus no real surprise to read in the Bangkok Post that Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered “the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DES) and security agencies to take tough action against those who spread fake news.” He included the “Anti-Fake News Centre, the Royal Thai Police, the Justice Ministry and the DES” telling them to “work together to respond swiftly to the spread of fake news on social media platforms, and take legal action accordingly.”

I Can't Speak

His minions “explained” he was worried about virus news, but when Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “instructed the Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body, to study the laws and regulations, including those in foreign countries, dealing with the spread of fake news” the focus was much broader and was clearly about anti-monarchy news. After all, officials added that the Computer Crime Act was insufficient for curbing “the damage speedily enough.”

The Thai Enquirer sensed an even broader regime agenda. They saw the use of the Council of State as a path to a “law that would control the online media in Thailand.”

They recognize that the aim is to strengthen “national security,” code for the monarchy. But, they also note a desire to limit “the criticism that the government has received over its Covid-19 response program from online platforms” including by Thai Enquirer. Of course, that criticism has also involved the monarchy.

They rightly fear that the online media “would be targeted under the new law.” They say:

This law, as commentators have noted, is an affront and a threat to free and fair press inside this country. It would make our job thousands of times harder and open us up to lawsuit and the threat of legal harassment by the government.

As we have been saying at PPT, Thai Enquirer believes:

we are being taken back to the dark days of military rule because the government believes criticism aimed at them is a threat to the entire nation. That they are unable to differentiate between a political party, its rule, and the fabric of the nation is arrogant and worrying.

But here we are, even as Deputy Prime Minister and legal predator Wissanu Krea-Ngam thinks of an excuse to shut us down, we promise to you that we will keep reporting to the end.

They call for opposition to tyranny, adding that “this new onslaught against press freedom” will be opposed through their reporting.

In a Bangkok Post op-ed by Wasant Techawongtham acknowledges that fake news can be a problem but notes that a new law “Bootis aimed at silencing critics of the ruling regime.” He adds:

Since democracy was banished from Thailand following the 2014 military coup d’etat, a number of laws have been enacted purportedly to protect the Thai people against the harmful effects of computer crimes. But it is crystal clear that the real purpose of these laws is to suppress the voice of the people.

Authoritarians tend to go to great lengths to ensure their stay in power through silencing dissent.

Under this regime, Wasant observes that regime opponents have been “harassed, or even put in jail” and several have been dissappeared and others killed.

He recognizes that a range of repressive laws have:

done quite a remarkable job of suppressing free speech. Those who insisted on speaking their minds against the current rulers have been severely dealt with. Those who were put in jail were allowed back to their families only after they agreed to seal their lips.

Not only regime and monarchy critics are silenced, but the “media — broadcast, digital and print — have felt compelled to screen their offerings very carefully, which in many cases leads to self-censorship.”

But none of this is enough! The regime wants more! There can be no freedom. There can only be the regime’s “truth.”

Update: Thinking about fake news from the regime, the royal propaganda machine is pumping out some real tripe. The latest has the king and his number 1 consort cooking meals allegedly for “medical professionals,” although in the story at The Nation, Sineenat isn’t even mentioned.

Royal cooks

Clipped from The Nation

As they often are, the couple appear in identical kit with minions groveling around them. We are told that “King … Vajiralongkorn on Saturday cooked a variety of food at the kitchen of Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in Dusit Palace…”. He’s the cleanest cook in history, with not a stain to be seen, suggesting that its fake news or, in other words, a photo op meant to deceive the public. And, their gear changes in several of the pictures.

To add to the “news,” the “Royal Office” is quoted as saying:

These foods have nutrition values of five food groups with fingerroot as a key ingredient…. Fingerroot or Krachai is a Thai traditional herb that has various medicinal benefits and could help strengthen the body’s immune system and help prevent Covid-19. Furthermore, eating freshly cooked meals is one of the recommended ways to stay safe from the virus.

We have to say that we at PPT must have wasted our time getting vaccinated because, as the royals have, hot food protects us, and we eat “freshly cooked meals” at least twice a day! Krachai may well be the king’s favorite ingredient as it is said to help with male sexual performance. But how to explain the erect chef’s hat is beyond us.

That aside, this palace propaganda must rank as “fake news.”





Updated: Blind 112 complaint

11 06 2021

Longtime readers of PPT might remember a lese majeste case from 2016, where Nurhayati Masoh, a then 23 year-old unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala who was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail.

At the time, we commented that, under the military dictatorship, lese majeste cases had become increasing bizarre and cruel. Students, journalists, academics, workers, red shirts and many more have been charged and sentenced. In recent months this purge has included juveniles and the aged. 112 logo

Nurhayati ‘s case marked another sad milestone in that she is blind. Worse still, she had been reported by Pipathanachai Srakawee, President of the Thailand Association of the Blind and a fervent royalist. Not only did he lodge his complaint, but he repeatedly and obsessively pursued senior officials, police and prosecutors to ensure that she was charged, tried and convicted. She was eventually sentenced to one year in jail for violating the Computer Crime Act.

As Prachatai reports, Pipathanachai (now Phatanachai) and still President of the Association is back, “protecting” the monarchy. In this case, the king’s fourth wife Queen Suthida.

Phatanachai told the Thungmahamek Police in Bangkok to report “an allegedly lèse majesté comment posted by someone older who also has a visibility impairment.” Prachatai reports:

Khumklao Songsomboon of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the lawyer in the new case, said on 9 June that the police summons had been delayed until 25 June because the notice was too short and the suspect was a blind person in another province.

Khumklao said that he could not reveal any details without the permission of the suspect. Prachatai is trying to reach the person for more detail.

All Khumklao could say was that TLHR received a request for help from a blind person. And apart delaying the police summons, he was preparing a bail request in case of detention.

The evil Phatanachai “told Prachatai that the suspect was his senior when he was studying in a school in Surat Thani.” He claimed to have been motivated to snitch “because in 2020 the suspect shared a comment critical of Queen Suthida in a post by Nipit Intarasombat, a former MP of the Democrat Party.”

Remarkably this royalist snitch went on to “explain” his perspective on Article 112:

He thought that criticism of the monarchy, including calls for monarchy reform, was okay, but it should also have boundaries. He agreed that 3-15 years in jail was long, but the jail term should be reduced in proportion to the criticism of the monarchy – that is it should be based on reasons, facts, and politeness.

Making the regime’s and palace’s point for them, he added that 112 “has no effect to people who keep quiet…”.

Presumably he also thinks that snitching and vigilantism is rewarded.

Update: Prachatai has a lengthy article that reflects more on Phatanachai’s perculiar perspective on lese majeste. In it he claims “he is not keeping track of this complaint” as he did in the previous case he instigated. He also compares prison for the blind as being “just the same as boarding school…”.





Updated: The anti-monarchy virus

5 06 2021

Seemingly worried that the nation lacks herd immunity, the royalist regime is increasing its efforts to prevent infection by the anti-monarchy virus. The latest effort involves enlisting the royalist courts to ban eight social media pages.

The Ministry  of Digital Economy and Society which only seems to work on banning free expression and thought, has had the courts order these pages closed “because their content allegedly violates the Computer Crime Act.” We assume it is not “alleged” as they have been banned.

The Ministry “announced that the Facebook pages of Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Royalist Marketplace, Suda Rangkupan, ป้าหนิง DK, Aum Neko, KTUK and Pixel HELPER will be removed.” The Nation report says “[t]hese pages carried politics-related content and were critical of the Thai government.”

This is not entirely accurate. They have been banned for their anti-monarchy content.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Ministry describes these sites as having “posted fake news…”. Some might suggest that these sites do sometimes post rumors and guesses about the monarchy. But that reflects the medieval secrecy associated with a monarchy that gulps taxpayer funds, regularly intervenes in politics, has an unsavory reputation, and has a nasty, symbiotic relationship with the military.

Thai PBS gets the reason for the ban right, adding that the Ministry “summoned internet providers to acknowledge a court order to block or delete eight Facebook accounts, groups and fan pages, known for their criticism of the Thai monarchy.”

The court order apparently also applies to “[a]ny new or other accounts related to the same users, providing similar content…”.

This is one step in a process of getting Facebook to take down these pages. In an increasing ly authoritarian capitalist world, it seems likely that Facebook will fold. In seeking to enforce royalist silence on the monarchy, a “working committee has also been set up to pressure platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, to ban accounts which feature content which violates Thai laws…”. You see the issue here. A mad or medieval regime can have all kinds of regressive laws and thus pressure the huge internet businesses.

In Thailand, the Ministry announces that it “…

© Shutterstock

now gives importance to prosecuting violators to the fullest extent of the law…”. The court order requires ISPs “to remove or block information posted by the individuals on websites and social networks, along with their passwords and IP addresses, from their computer systems.”

The Bangkok Post story cites Sunai Pasuk of Human Rights Watch, who “called the court order a censorship order instructing Facebook to ban critics of the monarchy. That will put a chokehold on people’s ability to express themselves as well as on the social media platform’s open space…”.

The royalist regime believes such a chokehold will prevent the anti-monarchy virus from spreading further.

Update: Prachatai reports:

On 2 June, the Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES) Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn invited Internet Service Providers to acknowledge a court order to restrict access to or delete computer data of 8 allegedly illegal users on Facebook within 24 hours. Four days on, the pages of the targets remain accessible.





Updated: Chulabhorn lese majeste

2 06 2021

A property appraiser is facing prosecution for alleged lese majeste and computer crimes associated with comments reportedly targeting Princess Chulabhorn’s recent political and business intervention over vaccination.

As is becoming usual, it was Seksakol Atthawong and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s lawyer Apiwat Khanthong who “filed a formal complaint with Nang Loeng police in Bangkok against Sophon Pornchokchai…”, a man working in real estate.

They allege that “Sophon violated the lèse-majesté law and uploaded false information into the computer system.” Seksakol claimed Sophon “posted a message on social media that offended the ‘institution’ [he means monarchy]…”, even if the post had since been removed. Because the “post attracted public attention,” the rabid and official royalist protectors declared “[l]egal action was in order…”.

Apparently no names were mentioned in the post, but Seksakol declared “[p]eople who read the message understood straight away what it meant…”. He added that a “part of the message also defamed the government…”.

We are not quite sure why, but Seksakol lied that “he and Mr Apiwat, as ordinary citizens, asked the police to press charges against Mr Sophon.”

Seksakol urged vigilante action across the country, saying “[a]nyone who comes across statements or messages that violate lèse-majesté can lodge a complaint with police…”.

Sophon denied the accusation, “saying he and his family have always been loyal to the monarchy.” He said his post “about a vaccine issue and the Chulabhorn Royal Academy should not be misinterpreted because he has never had bad thoughts about the monarchy…”.

As a footnote, it is of some interest that the Bangkok Post recently reported that the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society took “legal action against architect Duangrit Bunnag and Accap Assets Co, a real estate company, for allegedly fabricating documents about the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine and spreading fake news about it. It says the claims discredit the government.” What’s happening in real estate and why their flap over Chulabhorn’s intervention?

Update: Of course, we should have observed that the lese majeste law does not apply to Chulabhorn. But as others have been investigated and charged with lese majeste for all kinds of offenses not covered by the 112 law, perhaps this is no surprise.





Updated: Judges and Toyota II

1 06 2021

Thailand’s judiciary is rotten. It is politically biased, engages in acts of double standards, and has been shown to be inhumane in its sentencing. Underneath all of this, it is corrupt, long “protected” by is association with the monarchy.

However, a bribery case in the USA and involving Toyota is shining a light on corruption alleged to be at the very top of the judiciary. For an earlier post on this developing case, see here.

About a week ago, Law 360’s Frank G. Runyeon reported that:Law360

“U.S. authorities are ramping up their Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of Toyota, with federal prosecutors impaneling a grand jury in Texas as they seek any evidence the carmaker bribed top Thai judges to overturn a $350 million tax judgment, according to a U.S. law enforcement official and documents related to the investigation.

Ongoing investigations by both the USA’s Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are poring over documents from Toyota, which self-reported, an internal company investigation conducted by WilmerHale, presented to American authorities by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in April 2020.

Toyota suspected senior attorneys working for Toyota Motor Thailand “funneled bribes through a private Thai law firm to Thailand Supreme Court judges in an effort to influence the decision on a still-pending appeal of the tax judgment…”.

The grand jury proceedings are secret, but more details have been released regarding the internal investigation at Toyota:

The internal Toyota investigation found that TMT contracted with Annanon Law Office to help establish a backchannel to Thailand’s highest ranking judge via a former chief judge and an advisor, law enforcement documents show. TMT paid nearly $18 million on the $27 million contract, according to the documents, with $9 million to be paid if Toyota won the appeal, which relates to import taxes on Prius car parts.

Those potentially involved in the alleged bribery are named: “… Annanon law firm, … former Supreme Court of Thailand President Direk Ingkaninan and Supreme Court senior advisor Chaiyasit Trachutham…”. They were “to persuade high court president Slaikate Wattanapan to accept Toyota’s argument and have the court rule in its favor within a year, sometime after Slaikate’s term began in October 2019…”.

Runyeon reports that:

Thai government records indicate that around the time of the alleged bribery scheme Direk was a sitting senior judge and Slaikate was president of the Supreme Court. While the duration of Chaiyasit’s alleged tenure as a high court advisor is unclear, records show he was a senior judge on the Court of Appeal for Specialized Cases until at least October 2019…. Mr. Direk assisted TMT with the Prius case in the Primary Court and has been involved again in the current possible Supreme Court appeal.

Direk, 70, was the top ranking senior judge on the Supreme Court as of May 2020, government records show, and is eligible to serve until he ages out next September. Records show Chaiyasit, 70, reached mandatory retirement age in September 2020 after various judicial posts on Thailand’s appellate and supreme courts. Slaikate, 66, stepped down as Supreme Court president in September 2020, but retained senior judge status.

… The long-serving Toyota attorneys who law enforcement documents claim allegedly organized the scheme — General Manager Wichien Hirunmahapol, his deputy Sathit Tungjitpreechatai and Pornchai Saetachantana — left TMT in the midst of Toyota’s internal corruption probe and opened a boutique law firm, according to online biographies, the firm’s website and sources familiar with that investigation.

… A court official confirmed on Monday that Direk and Slaikate remain sitting senior judges on Thailand’s Supreme Court but did not immediately confirm Chaiyasit’s employment status. He referred Law360 back to an earlier public statement.

Soon after this report was noticed in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported that the “Thai Court of Justice has vowed to take action against wrongdoers following a report the US Department of Justice is taking the Toyota bribery probe involving three top Thai judges to a grand jury.”

As always happens in such international cases of bribery and corruption, Thai authorities sought “information.”

Usually the “information is delayed, lost, misplaced for long enough that it fades away.

Suriyan Hongwilai, spokesman of the Court of Justice, stated that “if the Court of Justice found or could verify that the bribery had taken place, it would take disciplinary action, regardless of who the wrongdoers were or what positions they held by submitting the finding to the Judicial Commission.” He added that no one should “not to jump to conclusions before the cases were concluded in both countries.”

As we know, even if convicted of a crime in the US, the judges could turn to politics and become ministers.

LaughingAnother Law 360 report follows Suriyan’s media outing, claiming he stated that “[s]ince becoming aware of the matter, the Court of Justice has been trying to follow, verify, and gather all related information and facts both in the country and abroad…”. It seems they found nothing, knew nothing for Suriyan said: “Now that there has been a news report mentioning names and positions of some individuals, the Court of Justice will proceed to verify with the related affiliated agencies.” He added: “Further action would depend on the details of the obtained information…”.

It won’t be just PPT who will find such statements laughable. After all, as another Law 360 report says, it is “[m]ore than six months before Toyota disclosed concerns to U.S. authorities about possible foreign bribery in Thailand…” and two months since it was publicly reported.

Law360 says that the “protocol for the internal [Toyota] investigation was laid out in a 22-page document dated Sept. 30, 2019.” It was that document that “appeared to show that Toyota was concerned about possible corrupt payments to current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials.”

It is stated that:

Toyota’s internal investigation focused on whether its employees made payments to any of eight Thai law firms or 12 individuals who may have played a role in the Prius litigation as the company was challenging the tax judgment in Thai courts. In addition to understanding if and how payments were made, the probe sought to confirm the amounts and whether any such payments were hidden, made indirectly, diverted to others, or “used or intended to be used for an improper purpose, and in particular, to influence the outcome of the Prius case.”

Another key question for reviewers was whether the recipients of any such payments had any connection to, influence over, or ex parte contact with sitting Thailand Supreme Court judges who might rule on Toyota’s case. WilmerHale also asked its team to flag any evidence that Toyota Motor Corp., the global parent company, knew about any “potentially improper payments to consultants.”

The response from the named judges began with threats of defamation cases. The aim was to keep their names out of reports in Thailand, including on social media. Isra News Agency reported:

that three Thai judges mentioned in a Law360 article about the possible bribery would ask the Court of Justice … to file a computer crime complaint with police to take legal action against those who mentioned them by name or shared such news on social media.

Thai PBS reports that “[f]ormer president of Thailand’s Appeals Court, Professor Chaiyasit Trachutham, has categorically denied allegations, reported by Law360, that he was among three senior judges implicated in Toyota Motors Thailand’s (TMT) bribery scandal.” He added that:

he was directly involved in the legal dispute between TMT and the Thai Customs Department, over import taxes on Toyota Prius hybrid cars,when he was a senior judge at the Appeals Court and was responsible for handling 10 case files…. After having carefully studied the case, he said that he felt that TMT had only a slim chance of winning the case….

The Bangkok Post reports that the Court of Justice moved a little further, and “has set up a 10-member panel to follow up on the Toyota bribery scandal…”. It was set up last Friday. So what the judiciary was doing before probably amounted to a hope that the story could be kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported that “Salaikate Wattanaphan, former president of the Supreme Court, has [also] denied any involvement in the bribery case…”. He “insisted that since he wasn’t in a position to make any decisions on Toyota’s appeal against the Appeal Court’s ruling in the tax dispute case, it is impossible that he would be offered as much money as claimed.”

Salaikate said “he was president of the court back then but wasn’t directly involved in the decision.”He reckons “… accusations that senior judges were paid US$19 million and later US$27 million were sketchy … who would ever be silly enough to pay that much money to them while not knowing how the decision [on the appeal] would turn…”. It seems he’s semi-serious in this observation.

Meanwhile, cases against those mentioning the report and judges are moving faster than any investigation of the bribery allegations.

Update: How fast can a judge move when named in a corruption case? In the kill-the-messenger sprint, it is with Olympic record speed. The Bangkok Post reports that former Supreme Court president Direk Inkhaninan and Chaisit Trachutham, a former senior judge in the Appeal Court, have already “filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against Law360, a US-based legal news website, for defamation.”





Lost faith = 112

30 05 2021

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) advises that the Khon Kaen Provincial Court “has accepted a lèse-majesté case  filed against Tiwagorn Withiton, a Facebook user whose picture wearing a shirt printed with ‘I lost faith in the monarchy’ went viral in 2020.”

TLHR reported that on 27 May 2021, the “public prosecutor has filed a case against Tiwagorn under Sections 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law and the sedition law, as well as under the Computer Crimes Act.”

Tiwagorn was granted bail using a security of 150,000 baht and his next hearing is scheduled on 3 August 2021.

Tiwagorn first became known in July 2020 when a Facebook post showed him wearing a t-shirt printed with “I lost faith in the monarchy on it.”

This act initially confused the state’s monarchy police who tried to convince him to give up the t-shirt and not advertise his lost faith. When he refused, he was arrested, dragged from his home, “and forcibly admitted to Khon Kaen Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital…”. He was discharged following a public campaign demanding his release.

He was re-arrested on 4 March 2021 and “taken to Tha Phra Police Station in Khon Kaen on charges under Section 112, Section 116, and the Computer Crimes Act because of Facebook posts he made on 11 and 18 February 2021.” On 26 May he was informed that the public prosecutor had decided to proceed with the case.

While such a case could be written of as daft and silly – which it is – this is royalist Thailand and daft and silly things now have serious consequences when pursued by the royalist establishment and its minions.





TikTok lese majeste

21 05 2021

In yet another inglorious first for the monarchist regime, we believe the first lese majeste case against a user of TikTok has been launched.

Prachatai reports that TikTok user Lalita Meesuk “faces charges under the lèse majesté law and the Computer Crimes Act for a video clip criticizing the Thai government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Lalita, from Kalasin, reported to Nang Loeng Police Station – quite a site for lese majeste charges – on 20 May 2021. Her summons was issued two weeks ago.

Lalita

Clipped from Prachatai

As is becoming common, the “complaint against Lalita was filed by Apiwat Kantong, a lawyer for the Office of the Prime Minister…”. His complaint was that “she posted a short video clip on the popular social media platform TikTok criticising the Thai government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Apiwat’s complaints are generated directly from the Prime Minister’s Office and have for some time legally trolled those critical of the regime’s virus choices, including the decision to allocate vaccine production and to subsidize a little known company that just happens to belong to the king.

Lalita says that in a reply to a comment on her post, she stated: “It’s not as much a favour as a person who takes the people’s money and gives it back to the people. But why do we need to show appreciation for royal grace?”

That got the regime’s bosses in a flap and Apiwat was given the job of filing a complaint to shut down criticism.

It is reported that Lalita denied all charges. She insists she was criticizing the government.

She was released, to report to the public prosecutor on 13 July 2021.

She was defiant, saying that the use of Article 112 amounts to a ” weaponizing the law,” adding: “What I’m feeling today is mostly anger that he used the law as a weapon to hurt me, even though he is also a lawyer. He shouldn’t be acting like this. What I said was nothing wrong. I said it because I want things to get better…”.

She attacked the government:

The country is being ruined not because of what I said. It’s being ruined because they themselves are using it and ruining it. The ones ruining it are not us but them. In the end, the things that are issued, like court orders and summonses, they have almost no meaning…. What they are doing, how long have they been doing it? And has anything got better? 5 years ago, 10 years ago, how many people did this happen to? So today, has the number got any smaller? It’s increasing instead, so is what they are doing going the right way?

They should take what we are talking about to fix things, and not look what we say as a problem, and write it down as a problem and then throw it in the garbage. The problem is not what is said. They are not doing it right. They won’t succeed if they keep acting like this.

That seems like a reasonable assessment.





Two charged

24 04 2021

112Two are bailed, two are charged.

Two further lese majeste cases have been sent to investigation. Both seem part of an official and vigilante effort to drive people away from Pavin Chachavalpongpun’s commentaries that criticize and poke fun at the monarchy.

In the first case, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has filed a complaint against a transgender woman for sharing a Facebook post by Pavin.

On 19 April 2021, Patchara, a pseudonym for a 22 year-old woman, attended the Technology Crime Suppression Division to hear the charges over her sharing of a Pavin post “that criticized the work of King Rama X…”. Her re-posting was on19 November 2020.

The police allege the re-posting constitutes an offense under Article 112 and was a breach of the Computer Crime Act. It was claimed that uploading information by Pavin criticizing the king was a threat to the kingdom’s security.

Patchara reportedly “denied the charge and will give further documentary testimony on 19 May. She also refused to sign the register for hearing the charge.”

According to Prachatai, “Patchara’s case is the 8th case of royal defamation filed by the MDES since the moratorium on using Section 112 ended in November 2020.”

The second case involves Pipat (surname withheld by request), a 20 year-old man who had to travel from his home in Lopburi to hear charges at the Bangkaew Provincial Police Station in Samut Prakan on 20 April 2021.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Pipat was charged for a post in Pavin’s Royalist Marketplace Facebook group. That group has over two million followers, almost all of them in Thailand.

The charge dates back to 28 May 2020, when someone named Umaphon Sunthonphot:

saw Pipat’s post on the Royalist Marketplace, a satirical Facebook group established by Pavin Chachavalpongpun. The post consists of a photograph of King Rama X and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti with a 2-sentence caption to the Prince’s photo, which Umaphon views as defamation, infringement or an expression of hostility against the King and the Crown Prince.

The police charged Pipat under the lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act.

Pipat has also denied the charges and “will submit documentary testimony within 30 days.” In addition, he asked:

…police to summon the plaintiff to give further details about how his post damaged her and how it was deemed wrongful according to the Section 112 of the Criminal Code. The police said that they would do so.

Police took Pipat to Samut Prakan Provincial Court for a temporary detention order. Pipat’s lawyer asked for bail “with 150,000 baht as security, citing the principle of presumption of innocence, the accused’s good cooperation with the police, and the effect that detention would have on his career and family’s wellbeing.”

The court granted bail, which was posted by “Ratsadorn Prasong, a donation fund used for bailing out pro-democracy protesters or sympathizers.”

Prachatai adds that “at least 87 people have been charged” with lese majeste since last November. We at PPT think it is more than this, but accurate information is difficult to come by.





Further updated: 112 in Chiang Rai

15 04 2021

Mongkol Thrakhote was arrested on Wednesday during a “solo protest in front of the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court to demand the release of Ratsadon leaders…”.

A resident of Chiang Rai province and aged 27, he was arrested while “facing a lèse majesté charge in his home province…”.

He was taken to “Pahonyothin police station for questioning, before he is to be sent back to police in Chiang Rai province.” Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said “Mongkol had insisted on giving his statement to police in Pan district of Chiang Rai … adding that a lawyer from the centre there will provide the suspect with legal counsel.”

Update 1: The arrest of Mongkol is looking suspiciously like a fit-up by the police and their masters. Prachatai reports that Mongkol arrived from “Chiang Rai on 12 April to join the hunger strike while sitting in front of the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, to demand the release of activists currently detained pending trial and denied bail.”

Court officials immediately placed “metal barriers in front of the Criminal Court sign and told him that his action might be considered contempt of court, so he went to sit just next to the sign.” Other officers demanded his personal information and questioned and asked to search him. He was “told him that a ‘higher-up’ in the Court is unhappy and would like him to go away…”.

Soon, “uniformed and plainclothes police officers from Phaholyothin Police Station, along with some officers dressed like a commando unit, arrived to question him for another hour.” This questioning continued over several hours, on-and-off, and they pressured him to leave the area.

The next day, “a large number of officers” arrived as other protesters joined Mongkol. The, at “13.20 on 14 April, Mongkhon was arrested by police officers from Phaholyothin Police Station. The officers presented an arrest warrant from Phan Police Station in Chiang Rai, which stated that he was being charged under Section 112, or the lèse majesté law, and the Computer Crimes Act.”

It seems that “that police officers from the Muang Chiang Rai Police Station went to search Mongkhon’s house” on the morning of 14 April, with a search warrant.

This sounds suspicious to us. It gives the impression that the police were in search of a charge as a way to remove Mongkol.

Update 2: Prachatai reports that Mongkol “has been granted bail after two days in detention.” A surety of 150,000 baht was required. The report adds further information on the case. Officers searched his house and confiscated several items:

pieces of paper with messages written on them, a declaration by the activist group Ratsadorn, an armband with the three-finger salute symbol, and a red ribbon, and had his mother sign documents to acknowledge the search and confiscation. It is not clear how the objects confiscated by the officers are related to the case. Mongkhon’s mobile phone was also confiscated when he was arrested in Bangkok.

According to the police, the charges “to 25 Facebook posts he made between 2 – 11 March 2021, including messages referring to the King’s images, sharing video clips and foreign news reports about the Thai monarchy, and sharing posts from Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s Facebook page while adding captions.”





Vendor held on 112 charge

9 04 2021

Prachatai reports data from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who say that “at least 82 people are facing charges under Section 112 since November 2020.” Several face multiple lese majeste charges and a slew of other charges.

One of the most recent cases to become known involves a 22 year-old online vendor from Chiang Mai, identified only as Phonphimon or Pholpimol.  She faces both a 112 charge and a charge made under the Computer Crimes Act. The charges are reportedly related to a Facebook post from October 2020.112

Phonphimon was arrested on 31 March 2021 “by a team of 5 – 6 uniformed and plainclothes police officers who presented an arrest warrant issued by the Chiang Mai Provincial Court…”.

She was taken to Chang Puak Police Station and “held overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request.”

On 1 April, she was told that “the charges were filed by Thikhathat Phrommani, who claimed he saw a Facebook post which was an insult to the King.”

The same day, the “Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled to detain Phonphimon for 12 days, on the grounds that the penalty for the charges is high and that the accused is likely to flee or tamper with evidence.” As the police already had here electronic devices and she had given them access, this is ridiculous claim by the court.

Phonphimon has denied all charges and denies the Facebook profile is hers.

The Court denied bail and she was taken to the Chiang Mai Woman Correctional Institution. She remains in detention.

She is “being held alone with a prison guard in a cell with no window, and that there was no light other than in front of the cell.”