Updated: Monarchist monk mad about the U.S.

1 10 2015

Readers will recall the activities of Buddha Issara, a political monk who campaigned against elections and the elected government and who supported the anti-democrat movement. He is a rabid royalist.

Rightist monks are not new in Thailand, with Buddha Issara’s antics reminding us of Back in the 1970s, another defining element of rightist extremism was the rise of fascist monks. Most notorious was the palace-linked monk Kittivudho Bhikkhu, who claimed that killing Communists was not much of a sin. He meant all “leftists” who were also considered a threat to the monarchy. He was also a fraudster and shyster.

Prachatai reports that the “pro-coup Buddhist monk known for leading anti-election mobs prior to the 2014 coup d’état has urged the US [government] and Human Rights Watch, a human rights civil society group, not to touch Thailand’s lèse majesté law or intervene in its domestic affairs.”

Not much there that anyone would not guess from the right-wing royalist, but the rest of the report suggests that Buddha Issara is one very dumb monk – one of the “uneducate” – or is more than a little kooky.

Buddha IssaraOn Monday, the monk posted a letter on his Facebook page, addressed to Glyn Davies, the new U.S. ambassador to Thailand.

In the letter he urged “the US and Human Rights Watch not to intervene in Thai politics and to stop calling on the Thai junta to amend ‘Articles 112 and 116’ of ‘the Constitution’.” Neither Article is in any constitution, and he refers to the draconian and feudal lese majeste law and the sedition law.

He called for a rally at the U.S. Embassy today.

The racist, rightist and royalist monk stated:

We have to show those ‘Farang’ (westerners) that we Thai people will not let anyone insult and intimidate our beloved monarchy. Do not breach diplomatic protocol and intervene in our domestic affairs,” Buddha Issara stated. “This time if something happens, I ‘Phraya Ratchasi (the king of the lions) of Chaengwattana Stage’ (one of the PDRC stages in Bangkok before the coup) will be responsible.

According to the report, he added another error when he stated:

that the reason he will not go to the Human Rights Watch office, which according to him is in the UN Headquarters in Bangkok, is because it is a ‘satun’ (vulgar) organisation established by the US government.

HRW has no office in Bangkok.

Update: According to Khaosod, the rightist monk did lead a group of demonstrators “at the U.S. Embassy to urge the United States to stop calling for Thailand to amend its laws against insulting the monarchy.” Provided with “tight police security,” the royalist monk established his hierarchy of “institutions”:

“Thailand is not the colony of any country. We have Nation, Religion and the Monarchy as our own beloved institutions,” read the letter addressed to recently installed U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies. “Especially the monarchy, which has been building national security for hundreds of years until now.”

The monarchist monk declared:

We call for this New York-based organization and U.S. Embassy officers to stop intervening in our domestic affair and apologize to the Thai people for disrespecting our dignity by insulting our king…. And we, the Thai people, hope the ambassador and U.S. government will prioritize this issue.

He is confused, thinking he speaks for “the Thai people,” and seems to consider discussion of feudal laws like the lese majeste statute to be defining of a “people.” These would be odd utterances and beliefs anywhere except when oozing from the mad monarchists in Thailand.

This royalist was joined by ultra-royalists, led by Rientong Nan-nah, who want to lock up anyone with views different from their own warped beliefs.

HRW on Prayuth at the UN

23 09 2015

Human Rights Watch has released a call for General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the self-appointed prime minister of Thailand, known to PPT readers as The Dictator, to be held accountable.

We agree. He should be held accountable for his illegal act of throwing out an elected government, for his human rights abuses, for the murder of red shirt protesters, for jailing political opponents and for his callous use of Article 44 and the draconian lese majeste law.

We disagree with HRW that he should be urged to “quickly restore democratic civilian rule…”. Even if he does this, it would be a sham restoration. The military dictatorship is creating law and circumstances that mean that civilian rule will change little. Rather, the Thai people need to reject military rule, throw out the dictators and establish their own constitutional rule.

Here’s the HRW statement:

World leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly should urge Thailand’s prime minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, to end repression of human rights and quickly restore democratic civilian rule, Human Rights Watch said today.

General Prayut, who led a coup in May 2014, is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly in New York on September 29, 2015. The theme for this year’s General Assembly is “The United Nations at 70: the road ahead for peace, security, and human rights.”

“Thailand’s junta leader should get the welcome he deserves at the UN, which is an earful about the junta’s abysmal human rights record,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The leaders attending the General Assembly should use their meetings with General Prayut to urge an end to the junta’s wave of repression and restore democratic civilian rule.”

Thailand is campaigning for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in an election that will be held in October 2016. While Thailand has promised collaboration with the UN, the junta has frequently raised what it termed Thailand’s “unique conditions” to deflect criticism of its human rights violations. Its “roadmap” for a return to democratic rule has repeatedly been pushed back.

The General Assembly presents an important opportunity for concerned governments and UN officials to urge Prayut to act immediately on a broad range of human rights concerns, including the military’s sweeping and unchecked powers. Section 44 of the interim constitution of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) grants broad authority to the junta to carry out policies and actions without any effective oversight or accountability for human rights abuses.

World leaders should not tread lightly in broaching Thailand’s rights violations with General Prayut. By being forthright in raising concerns, concerned governments can help reverse the human rights crisis in Thailand and put the country on the path toward civilian democratic rule.

For instance, on September 10, Prayut told the media that he would not tolerate criticism of his administration: “No one can oppose me. If they still don’t learn that, they will be detained again and again.… I might tape their mouths shut too.” Three days later, a well-known journalist, Pravit Rojanaphruk, was summoned and then held for several days in incommunicado military detention for criticizing the junta leader.

The NCPO has severely suppressed fundamental rights and freedoms. More than 200 websites about the political and human rights situation in Thailand have been blocked for having content the junta considers threatening to national security. The junta has banned public gatherings of more than five people and prohibits most political activities. Protesters who have peacefully expressed disagreement with the junta have been arrested and sent to military courts, where some of them could face up to seven years in prison on sedition charges.

The junta has made frequent use of Thailand’s laws against criticizing the monarchy. Since the coup, 53 lese majeste cases have been brought against suspects – 40 of whom allegedly posted or shared comments online. Military courts have imposed especially harsh sentences, such as the 60-year sentence (later reduced to 30 years) for Pongsak Sriboonpeng for six Facebook postings.

Since May 2014, the NCPO has summoned at least 751 people to report to the military authority. Most were politicians, activists, and journalists accused by the junta of criticizing or opposing military rule. Under section 44 of the interim constitution, the military can secretly detain people without charge or trial for up to seven days. Military personnel interrogate detainees in military facilities without providing access to their lawyers or ensuring other safeguards against mistreatment. The junta has refused to provide information about people in secret military detention, increasing the risk of enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill treatment. There has been no official inquiry into allegations of torture and mistreatment in military custody.

Since the coup, Thai authorities have continued to violate the rights of asylum seekers and refugees under customary international law not to be returned to a country where they face repression. On July 9, the Thai government forcibly repatriated 109 ethnic Uighurs to China. Thai authorities have attempted to seal off the border to prevent boats carrying ethnic Rohingya fleeing abuses, persecution, and hardship in Burma and Bangladesh from landing. Thai authorities have frequently intercepted these boats and pushed them back to the sea after providing rudimentary aid and supplies.

“World leaders should not tread lightly in broaching Thailand’s rights violations with General Prayut,” Adams said. “By being forthright in raising concerns, concerned governments can help reverse the human rights crisis in Thailand and put the country on the path toward civilian democratic rule.”

The 2010 lie

6 08 2015

Human Rights Watch has identified that the military dictatorship is still trying to “cover-up abuses committed by soldiers during the 2010 political violence and prosecute all sides responsible for rights violations…”.

No one expected that the military would ever do anything else, so we are a bit puzzled by the HRW announcement. After all, the military never admits its corporate guilt. From the very time of the murderous events of 2010, the military brass, including the current self-appointed premier, have done nothing but lie, obfuscate and cover up.

Nothing is particularly new now. These liars are simply repeating the lies!

The events that seem to have motivated the new concern from HRW is media reports that “soldiers have claimed in the long delayed investigation by the Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) that rubber bullets were chiefly used during the crackdown on street protests in 2010.”  PPT commented previously on such fabrications.

As HRW notes, this claim “first became public when the DSI questioned military snipers in August 2012.”

Snipers don’t use rubber bullets, and as HRW points out that “[o]verwhelming evidence, including post mortems uncovering high velocity bullets, concluded that civilians were struck by live ammunition.”

HRW states:

For the army to pretend the many people who had bullets pulled out of their bodies were hit only by rubber bullets is a preposterous attempt at rewriting history…. Despite overwhelming evidence that soldiers used excessive and unnecessary lethal force against protesters and others, to date not a single soldier has been held accountable for deaths or injuries during the crackdown.

In fact, in September 2012, the DSI had determined that the “military was culpable for 36 deaths.” Now the military dictatorship seems to be managing the DSI in order to cover up that culpability. HRW concludes:

The prospects for justice for victims of the 2010 violence appear bleaker than ever under the ruling military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order. The junta leader, Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, has said on many occasions that soldiers should not be condemned for the casualties during the 2010 political violence.

The junta clearly is not serious about using justice as a foundation for the rule of law or political reconciliation…. No one responsible for serious abuses during the 2010 violence – including soldiers and their commanders – should be allowed to escape from criminal accountability.

This will fall on deaf ears. The men running the country are responsible for many of the 2010 deaths. They ordered their men to murder.

May 2010, part IV

20 05 2015

Human Rights Watch has a post on the impunity of 2010. Brad Adams, Asia director, Human Rights Watch:

The failure of successive Thai governments to prosecute anyone from the military for the 2010 political violence sends a stark message of impunity. Fully five years on, commanders who gave the orders to soldiers and those who pulled the triggers all remain untouchable.

Five years after the events,

Despite overwhelming evidence that soldiers used excessive and unnecessary lethal force against protesters and others, not a single soldier has been held accountable for deaths or injuries during the crackdown on street protests.

HRW on the junta

29 01 2015

Human Rights Watch has released the 25th edition of its world report. It comments on Thailand’s descent under the military dictatorship. Its press release begins by noting that rights in Thailand are in “free fall” and adds:

Thailand’s military government has severely repressed fundamental rights and freedoms since the May 22, 2014 coup…. In response to calls from the United Nations and many concerned governments to respect rights and transition to a civilian government, the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has vaguely promised elections but has taken no steps to restore genuine democratic rule.

Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director stated: “The junta is using draconian martial law powers to prosecute dissenters, ban political activity, and censor the media.”

The release adds:

Since the coup, the NCPO [they mean the junta] has functioned without accountability and enjoyed immunity for its abusive acts. The junta has largely banned political activity, has carried out hundreds of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and has disregarded serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees.

We think HRW is mistaken in stating that the “junta has brought at least 14 new cases of lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) under article 112 of the criminal code.” We think it is triple that number, at least.

It is correct to note that those “charged are routinely denied bail and often jailed for many months awaiting trial in military courts. Convictions have resulted in harsh sentences. Under martial law, a military court verdict is final and cannot be appealed.”

Adams concludes that: “Thailand’s generals are tightening their grip on power and showing contempt for human rights…. The junta’s promised path back to democratic rule will only be credible when martial law is revoked, censorship ends, and peaceful political criticism can take place.”

The latter points are pathetic. HRW misses the point entirely. The military dictatorship is an illegal regime that deals in repression. Even if it grants a few “rights,” that does not change its fundamental nature.

HRW on the junta’s repression

26 11 2014

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement on the repression being used by the military dictatorships in Thailand. PPT reproduces snips from the statement:

Thailand’s military government is severely repressing fundamental rights and freedoms six months after its May 22, 2014 coup. The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has shown no genuine signs of restoring democratic civilian rule.

We are not sure why HRW places any credibility on the notion that the military junta was ever “genuine” about democracy. PPT reckons that “civilian rule” is a red herring. After all, the junta only wants a civilian regime that will do the bidding of the royalist elite and effectively disenfranchise millions of Thai voters. In other words, civilian rule will be the military’s version of rule by civilian puppets.

“Respect for fundamental freedoms and democracy in Thailand under military rule has fallen into an apparently bottomless pit…. Six months after the coup, criticism is systematically prosecuted, political activity is banned, media is censored, and dissidents are tried in military courts.”

Coup leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, now prime minister and NCPO chairman, announced on November 17 that criticizing or obstructing him, the government, or the NCPO was unacceptable. He also undermined his claims about a road map to return to civilian democratic rule through free and credible elections….

Who seriously believes a dictator? Why believe a military dictator? See our comment above on “reform.” HRW seems to be saying that it accepts the coup, but only if the military engages in “reform” a la the demands of the anti-democrats.

As part of its crackdown and attempt to maintain its hold on power, the junta has repeatedly vowed to prosecute critics of the monarchy, in violation of the right to freedom of speech…. At least 14 new lese majeste cases are pending in the Bangkok military court and in criminal courts around Thailand.

We think HRW is under-estimating. We count at least 17 new lese majeste cases under the junta.

The junta has also tightened restrictions on media. On November 13, Lt. Gen. Suchai Pongput, the NCPO-appointed head of a special committee to monitor media, said that reporting needed to be controlled to ensure reconciliation in society: “We do not limit media freedom but freedom must be within limits.” The military pressured Thai PBS TV to remove Nattaya Wawweerakhup from the talk show “Voices of the People That Must Be Heard Before the Reform” after she allowed participants on a November 8 program to criticize the coup and raise concerns about repression under military rule.

The Bangkok middle class and the media itself, many of who supported the coup, find that military repression in the media unacceptable, and these actions will continue to undermine the support base for the military coup.

NCPO’s suppression of free expression and public assembly makes the government’s self-proclaimed “reform” process into a sham that lacks broad-based participation and strictly follows the junta’s guidelines, Human Rights Watch said. Public forums on issues such as land reform, forest conservation, energy policy, and tax policy have been canceled by the military citing concerns that the discussions could fuel social divisions. Any gathering of more than five people can be prohibited under martial law.

It was always a sham. The issues mentioned in this snip also go to the question of how long royalist and middle class NGOs will continue to support the coup and the dictatorship.

“Instead of a path toward the return of democracy, the junta is tightening its grip on free speech and any public criticism,” Adams said. “Simply offering an opinion on politics can land a person in military court and prison. The junta needs to reverse course and revoke martial law, end rights abuses, and take concrete steps towards democratic elections if it wants to persuade the international community it’s not a dictatorship.”

Again, it seems odd to us that HRW gives considerable credibility to the “reform” claims made by those who ran and supported the coup. Was HRW supporting the military coup and is now disappointed, like its partners in Bangkok?

Judicial secrecy

31 10 2014

At The Nation there’s an attempt to shine a light on the military dictatorship’s desire to hold “closed-door trials in military court for civilian defendants and forbidding observers from taking notes in other cases undermines the due process of law…”.

Military regimes in Thailand use the law but are not governed by it.

Special concern is expressed by “both local and foreign observers” in for political prisoners, especially those held or charged with lese majeste.

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch states: “This [secrecy] is a cause for serious concern and goes against the National Council for Peace and Order’s assurance that the military court would follow due process [of law]…”.

Yingcheep Atchanont, from iLaw, stated that the sentencing of the two anti-coup protesters saw observers “instructed not to take any notes.” Yingcheep went on to speculate “that the judges might have banned observers from taking notes because they know this is not something the international community would appreciate,…” and stated: “My guess is that the court is also afraid, as they’re being watched by the media and the international community. The military court is aware that these are political trials, and that it would not look good in the eyes of the international community…”.

The right to fair trial is compromised “by the very fact that note-taking is forbidden and that the four lese majeste cases are being heard behind closed doors, without any observers or media.”


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