Rehearsing lies

9 03 2017

A story at Khaosod tells much about the military dictatorship that currently rules Thailand by dint of military boot and Article 44.

The story reports Pitikarn Sithidej, who works for the little known Rights and Liberty Protection Department in the Ministry of “Justice.” (We gave up looking for it on the Ministry website, which is a tangled mess.) We imagine they don’t have much work to do.

Pitikarn proudly declares that “Thailand is ‘fully prepared’ to defend its record and obligations on human rights next week when they are discussed in Geneva before the United Nations…”.

Others have also defended the undefendable and usually it has been the skilled liars from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have led the teams defending torture, lese majeste, political repression, enforced disappearance, the murderous military, impunity, military courts, massive censorship, restricting speech and assembly, rule by decree and martial law, and many more.

Apparently, on Monday and Tuesday next week, in Geneva, “an 18-member body of independent experts chosen by UN member states will review Thailand’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

In fact, this is an open-and-shut case. The junta simply doesn’t defend civil and political rights; it mangles them.

Still, perhaps thinking that the rest of the world is moving in Thailand’s direction, the Rights and Liberty Protection Department’s Pitikarn says it has been rehearsing responses: “We have staged a question-and-answer drill and anticipate what questions will be asked by the committee. We are fully prepared, and our report will be based on the facts…”.

Facts? We get it, she really means “junta lies.”

Oddly, although perhaps part of the “rehearsing,” Pitikarn appeared at a forum with Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch. He revealed that “his organization would focus on the use of Article 44 under the military’s interim constitution, which he said has widely undermined human rights and lacks any accountability. ”

He added: “All [international human rights] obligations can be discarded by Article 44 and many times it’s been used to violate rights…”.

Sunai also said HRW “will call next week … for the military government to abolish it to demonstrate its commitment to restoring democracy.”

Seriously? Just that? That’s the best HRW can come up with? Square that with National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit saying: “There must be an assurance they will not sue those speaking in Geneva.”

Yes, those going to speak at Geneva – apart from the official bearers of rehearsed junta lies – are already fearful!





Lese majeste and the collapse of human rights

23 02 2017

Amnesty International joins Human Rights Watch in declaring human rights at a new low in the military dictatorship’s Thailand.

AI’s overview of the past year in royalist Thailand states:

The military authorities further restricted human rights. Peaceful political dissent, whether through speech or protests, and acts perceived as critical of the monarchy were punished or banned. Politicians, activists and human rights defenders faced criminal investigations and prosecutions for, among other things, campaigning against a proposed Constitution and reporting on state abuses. Many civilians were tried in military courts. Torture and other ill-treatment was widespread. Community land rights activists faced arrest, prosecution and violence for opposing development projects and advocating for the rights of communities.

Read the sorry story here.

As if to confirm the human rights decrepitude of the junta’s human rights record, the Bangkok Post reports that Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (or Pai), accused of lese majeste for circulating a BBC story somehow deemed critical of Thailand’s king, was again refused bail.

The report states that Pai’s “family and lawyers … vowed to keep on appealing to secure bail for the 25-year-old after their seventh request was rejected by a court.”

The junta’s court reportedly “took less than 20 minutes in considering [the bail] … petition and again ruled it would not allow temporary release for Mr Jatupat…”.

That denial of bail “came even though the lawyers increased the surety from 400,000 cash to 700,000 baht and had prominent social critic Sulak Sivaraksa as a second bail guarantor, apart from Mr Jatupat’s father, Wiboon Boonpattararaksa.” The application included “letters [guarantees] from academics and people with credibility which confirmed Mr Jatupat would not flee the trial or do anything of concern.” This included senior academics like Gothom Arya and former National Human Rights commissioner Niran Pithakwatchara.

The court denied and dismissed “the defence lawyer’s argument that there is no point in detaining Jatuphat further because the case’s investigation process is already completed, the court reasoned that the suspect could try to interfere with evidence or jump bail if he is released.”

Pai is being framed by the military junta because he is identified as a troublesome anti-junta activist and his fate and jailing is considered by royalist and military thugs as a way to threaten and silence others.

His case is not unique, but Pai’s travails do show (again) how the royalist junta denies rights and destroys the rule of law. Its also indicates (again) that the courts have no independence and that the courts are partners in human rights abuse in Thailand.

In essence and in fact, lese majeste is a law that underpins dictatorship and domination in Thailand.





More snooping

12 08 2016

Reuters reports on a “new scheme that would allow Thai police to intercept telephone calls in national security cases has been put forward to cabinet for approval…”.

Under the military dictatorship, everyone knows that this means essentially two arenas of “national security” will be emphasized: protecting the junta and protecting the decrepit monarchy.

The report states that the taps would be for “criminal, national security, royal insult and transnational crime cases but not political cases…”.

That’s utter nonsense as the junta makes political cases about sedition and national security. This is simply about creating a Nazi-ified Thailand.

The police will gain the “authority to wiretap communication by amending a 1934 Criminal Procedure Code…”. We suspect they already do this illegally.

 

Under the proposed new “rules,” the police “will have to ask court permission,” but that’s a snip under the military dictatorship and its supplicant judiciary.

 

Sunai Phasuk oft Human Rights Watch, called the idea “disturbing.” He adds that the “idea is very disturbing, given Thai authorities’ reckless and arbitrary use of security charges…”.

We’d call the “innovation” not so much “disturbing” as “normal” for a fascist regime.





NYT and the military’s charter

7 08 2016

The New York Times wonders why a “new constitution that it [the junta] casts as an essential step toward restoring democracy” has seen the junta block “opponents from campaigning against the measure, banned election monitors and restricted news coverage of the referendum.”

It notes that “critics” say the proposed constitution will “extend the military’s influence for years to come.”

We doubt that the “vote will be the first major test of the military’s standing with the public, as much a referendum on the legitimacy of military rule as on the draft constitution” as the NYT suggests.It might have been if the event had been free and fair.

Its wasn’t, for “no matter the outcome, the junta will remain in control until it decides to hand power back to an elected government.” Even then, the military and other unelected bodies will control parliament’s actions. Military-controlled democracy is no democracy.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, points to more than 100 arrests for referendum-related “offences.” He says: “This referendum is not legitimate…. This is a redo of a military coup, using fear and intimidation to force Thai people to grant an extension of their control of power.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to the junta declared himself in support of repression: “the public did not need an election campaign that could lead to more strife. Voters can decide by studying the 105-page document…”.

He’s always been a dedicated military pawn and lies about the draft. Almost no one has seen it or read it. It beats PPT why the NYT even speaks with such a dick. Perhaps only to get the expected quotes.

But he does drone: “The section on the parliamentary system [reducing its representativeness]  is quite new in many regards…. It’s an attempt to control and regulate the politicians.”

That’s true. The military and its supporters and acolytes like Panitan hate the idea that the people should freely choose their representatives in a competitive political situation they do not control.

The International Federation for Human Rights is quoted:

The draft charter creates undemocratic institutions, weakens the power of future elected governments and is likely to fuel political instability…. If approved, the charter will allow the military and its proxies to tighten their grip on power and cement their influence in political affairs.

That’s true. The aim is to retain royalist authoritarianism.





Updated: Thailand rejected at the UN

29 06 2016

Kazakstan does not look very much like a democratic polity. Yet it is not a military dictatorship. As the Bangkok Post has it, Kazakstan “easily defeated Thailand’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, with just 55 countries backing Thailand against 138 for Kazakhstan.”

Junta supporters have pointed to the 55 and drawn some cockeyed notion about support for the regime, but that glass isn’t even half full.

Earlier, some of Thailand’s diplomats were quoted as declaring that “[m]ilitary-ruled Thailand stands a ‘good chance’ over oil-rich Kazakhstan…”. We couldn’t help wondering if these were the same shoppers diplomats who lied to the UN Human Rights Council. That these diplomats reckoned it was “a 50:50 draw, but we stand a good chance as we have secured support from Washington among others…” is another example of how the junta’s Thailand is Bizarro World, where its inhabitants are in some kind of delusional state or parallel political universe.

We also wondered if The Dictator’s self-described diatribe to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon might have sunk a very leaky Thai ship in the UN.

In the end, the “second-round voting wasn’t close.”

For more background on this event, see Kavi Chongkittavorn’s propaganda-like piece in support if the junta’s bid for the UNSC seat and the opposition of Human Rights Watch and FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) opposition.

Update: Despite all of the junta hype before the devastating defeat, and in the face of statements that the “Thai bid delegation, comprising former Asean secretary-general [and Democrat Party stalwart] Surin Pitsuwan and other retired ambassadors, had been optimistic about winning the race,…” Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has commented that: “We had anticipated that…. Never mind. Next time.” Prawit sounds as if he will still be around “next time” in 2017-18. Meanwhile, according to the same Bangkok Post report states that the “Pheu Thai Party claimed Wednesday the country spent more than 600 million baht in a campaign leading up to Thailand’s defeat in the race for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).”





Further updated: Against the junta and its draft charter

23 05 2016

Khaosod has a good report on yesterday’s protest that was held on the 2nd anniversary of the 2014 military coup, with pictures and links to video. The report states that “[s]everal hundred people marched from Thammasat University to Bangkok’s Democracy Monument…”.

The march to the monument was led by the Neo-New Democracy Movement.No campaign

With police and undercover officers everywhere, “the event was also monitored by staff of local and international right groups such as iLaw, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.”

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch observed: “In this climate of fear, where the junta has been putting hundreds and hundreds of people into military tribunals, detaining them for their dissent opinion…. The fact that hundreds showed up today is a positive sign for people to realize the aspiration for the return to democratic rule.”

He is right to note that “Democracy is not dead in Thailand…. It takes root among the people.”

A mock referendum rejected the military’s draft constitution.

While this demonstration is all that Sunai says, as a reader reminds us, a people’s constitution would undercut the military’s draft. Alternatives to the military’s domination and suffocation are necessary.

Update 1: Fixed some typos and a missing line above.

Update 2: Prachatai reports on the rally and march. This story includes a number of images of the rally. The last photo appears to shows some conflict. The story states that “a group of around 20 pro-junta people shouted to the rally participants ‘the NCPO is not a dictatorship, get out! you all’.” It is added that”[n]o serious physical skirmishes between the two groups has been reported.” On social media, there are photos of the “pro-coup” group and some of its individuals circulating. It seems that the group was “sponsored.”





Thailand’s human rights lies

12 05 2016

As readers know, Thailand’s human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group.

The Nation reports that the delegation sent by the military dictatorship “came under severe criticism over the human rights situation in the country with international delegates of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) raising serious concerns in Geneva yesterday.”

The junta’s delegation led by Justice Ministry permanent secretary Chanchao Chaiyanukij who is reported to have “toed the official line in responding to the questions and recommendations made by the UNHRC members, saying the junta needed to ‘limit’ people’s rights and freedom to maintain peace, law and order during the transition period.”

We are not sure he could explain what the “transition” was leading to, although political scientist Prajak Kongkirati has done this at Prachatai.

In a litany of falsehoods, Chanchao “told the UN yesterday that his government would take recommendations from the members in accordance with the capacity to implement. Thailand fully respected human rights but in the context of local circumstances, norms, and culture…”.

Thailand’s military dictatorship has no respect for human rights at all, no matter what the definition.

We know that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha knows nothing of human rights. He has stated his own uneducated and bizarre conception of human rights. The claim of domestic norms and culture is an excuse for nepotism, corruption, murder, torture and abuse. Think of the military’s culture and norms.

Many delegates asked pointed questions: the delegate from Greece called for an end martial law and the use of military courts; US representatives “raised a number of concerns over the role of the military court, the restriction of people’s freedom in the referendum law, the lese majeste law, freedom of expression, and Article 44 of the interim constitution;”and Britain’s delegate asked similar questions and asked “what plan the Thai government [meaning the junta] had to end the prosecution of civilians by the military court and their detention in military facilities.”

The junta has no plans for anything other than continued repression.

Remarkably, the junta sent a “judge from the military court … [as] a part of the Thai delegation” to concoct and fabricate the junta’s case. This military thug “explained” the “need” to prosecute in a military court “civilians who commit serious crimes with war weapons, disobey the junta’s orders or are accused of lese majeste.”

This is horse manure as all these “crimes” were conducted under civilian courts in the past.

The “judge” also “explained” that “defendants in the military court have their right to appoint lawyers and seek bail.”

As everyone knows, this is not always the case, with people being abducted by the military and held incommunicado and often without access to lawyers.

When the so-called judge claims that defendants “have all the rights for a fair trail in accordance with international standards,” any reasonable person knows this is a lie. As the junta stated early after it illegally seized power, military courts are used to plow under rights and to get quick convictions.

The Foreign Ministry also sent along a toady official to “explain” that the “lese majeste law was badly needed for Thailand to protect the monarchy.” 

She is not reported as explaining why the monarchy, always claimed to be “loved” and “revered,” needs “protection” that has harsher sentencing than in most murder cases. We guess it is the same tired and ridiculous claims about the monarchy being “special” for Thailand and unlike monarchies almost everywhere except in other hard authoritarian and absolutist regimes.

Her “explanation” for Article 44, which allows The Dictator to do anything that takes his fancy, seemed to rely on some cockeyed notion that the use of such draconian, unjust and capricious law is “not new in Thai political history…”. That bizarre claim was followed with yet another junta lie: “it was exercised with caution.” It has been used for all kinds of things, with “caution” thrown to the wind.

Thais should be embarrassed by this pathetic performance by a regime that lacks sense, credibility and seems unable to even think about its international performance.

Puea Thai Party member and former minister Chaturon Chaisaeng agreed, stating that “the UPR report on Thailand was the most embarrassing one, as it placed the country in the international spotlight for human rights violations.” He says “Thailand not only failed to pass the test at the UN session, the country also became a laughing stock…”. He’s right.

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch “slammed Thailand’s responses in the UPR regarding the use of a military court to try civilian cases. He said it was false and insincere.” He’s right too.

He called out one lie: “The [junta’s] representatives said that only a small number of civilians had been tried before the military court. Sunai said, in fact, at least 1,000 civilians had been tried by the military court…”.

As well as “lies,” it was “hypocrisy” that was a common description of the military junta’s approach to the UN.