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.”





HRW fails on the military dictatorship

21 09 2014

Human Rights Watch is wasting its collective breath on Thailand’s military dictatorship. Declaring that the “Thai government and military authorities [PPT: in fact the two are indistinguishable] should immediately end its crackdown on academic seminars and respect freedom of expression,” really is a waste of time and effort. The truth is that the military dictatorship is true to form; Thailand’s military governments are generally authoritarian book burners who repress and oppress in the name of monarchy and ruling class.

When it detains academics and “activists for several hours for organizing [a] … seminar,” this is nothing new for the uniformed troglodytes.

Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch seems a little confused when he says: “While telling the world that they are not dictators, the Thai military authorities are extending their grip into universities and banning discussions about democracy and human rights,” he seems as if he really wants to believe the criminals who seized power in an illegal coup. He seems to think that “the world” does not recognize that men in uniform with dyed hair and propaganda machines extolling a cult of personality in the name of the monarchy is not a fascist dictatorship.Human Rights Watch

When Adams declares: “Prime Minister Prayuth should immediately end this crackdown on academic freedom and free speech,” he may as well be trying to make gold from iron filings. Prayuth is The Dictator and recognizing him as anything else is politically dumb. He should know this for he quotes The Dictator who is clear:

“We are working on reconciliation.… This is not a time for them to talk…. They did not get permission to talk. And what did they want talk about? They talked about democracy at Thammasat University. They talked about political issues that we told them not to talk about.”

Thinking is banned. Talking is banned when it does not conform.

HRW quotes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to The Dictator. We are sure that he couldn’t care less whether Thailand is a party to such an agreement as it doesn’t accord with His ideas.

Again Adams sounds as if he believes junta claptrap when he says, “Thailand is clearly not on a path toward democracy when free speech is censored, criticism is prosecuted, and political activity is prohibited…. The path that such repressive action leads to is dictatorship.”

Has HRW lost the plot again?

This is not a regime on the path to dictatorship, it is a fully-fledged and operating dictatorship.





HRW on the Thai dictatorship

23 08 2014

Human Rights Watch on the rise of The Dictator and his regime, reproduced in full:

Thailand: Junta Leader Named Prime Minister
Repression Continues Three Months After Military Coup
August 22, 2014

(New York) – The appointment of Thailand’s junta leader as prime minister by the military-picked legislature does not advance human rights or a return to democratic rule, Human Rights Watch said today.

On August 21, 2014, the 191-member National Legislative Assembly unanimously approved Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as the new prime minister while permitting him to retain his chairmanship of the ruling military authority, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Three months after the May 22 military coup, the junta continues its crackdown on those exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms and has made no genuine progress towards restoring democratic rule. Under martial law, the junta’s sweeping powers can be carried out without any judicial or other oversight, and with full immunity from prosecution.

“As both prime minister and junta leader, Gen. Prayuth can wield broad power without accountability,” said Brad Adams [3], Asia director. “This marks a dark day for human rights and the future of democracy in Thailand.”

Under the interim constitution proclaimed on July 22, the military junta created a closed and undemocratic political system. The NCPO filled the National Legislative Assembly with military personnel and others known to be close to the junta. Since its formation, the assembly has appeared to operate as a rubber-stamp body for the NCPO rather than placing any checks on the junta’s broad executive powers. For instance, during Prayuth’s presentation of the national budget proposal on August 18, not a single assembly member made a critical comment.

Human Rights Watch learned that after the presentation Prayuth asked, “Anyone disagree with me?” The room remained silent.

Since the military coup on May 22, the NCPO has enforced widespread censorship, largely banned public gatherings and other political activity, carried out hundreds of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and disregarded allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

“Three months under military rule, the junta continues to show contempt for fundamental rights and freedoms,” Adams said. “Criticism is prosecuted, political activity is banned, free speech is censored and subjected to punishment, and several hundred people have been arbitrarily detained.”

Censorship and Restrictions on Free Expression

Restrictions on media and free expression and censorship that began after the coup have continued. Under martial law, the authorities can censor any information considered to be “distorted” or likely to cause “public misunderstanding.” Failure to comply with censorship orders could result in prosecution before a military court. As a result, print and other media operators have generally refrained from publishing news and commentary critical of the military.

The junta has not only targeted media outlets affiliated with the ousted Pheu Thai Party and its mass organization, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the “Red Shirts,” but it has also banned criticism from pro-junta newspapers and other media.

On July 26, the junta issued an order threatening to prosecute the weekly magazine Phu Jad Karn Sud Sapda if it continued to publish “false information to discredit the NCPO” after the magazine published stories alleging military cronyism and corruption. The junta also instructed the National Press Council of Thailand to launch an ethics inquiry against the magazine. In protest, Phu Jad Karn Sud Sapda announced on August 2 that it would stop publication for one month. Through August 21, the magazine’s sister ASTV satellite broadcast is off the air since the NCPO shuttered the station on May 22.

The junta has repeatedly vowed to prosecute critics of the monarchy, in violation of the right to free expression. Since the coup, at least 14 new cases of lese majeste – insulting the monarchy – have been brought to the Bangkok Military Court and criminal courts around Thailand.

On August 14 and 15, the authorities arrested two activists involved in a play, “The Wolf Bridge,” performed in October 2013 that the junta considered to be “insulting to the monarchy.” Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkong were denied bail and are being held in detention facilities in Bangkok.

On August 14, the Bangkok Criminal Court found Yuthasak Kangwanwongsakul, a taxi driver, guilty of lese majeste based on his conversation with a passenger, and sentenced him to 30 months in jail. On July 31, the Ubon Ratchathani Court sentenced a 27-year-old man to 15 years in prison for posting messages on Facebook deemed insulting to members of the monarchy.

On August 5, the Cultural Ministry announced that the simulation game Tropico 5 was banned because it contained content that appeared to be offensive to the monarchy. The Cultural Promotion Department chief said the game allowed players to name the country and its leader or king as they pleased, and therefore the content was deemed offensive to the Thai monarchy and might affect the country’s dignity.

Arbitrary Arrests and Detention

Since the coup on May 22, the military has detained more than 300 politicians, activists, journalists, and people accused of supporting the deposed government, disrespecting or offending the monarchy, or being involved in anti-coup protests and activities.

The NCPO has banned public gatherings of more than five people and prohibits any opposition to the military authorities. On August 20, police and soldiers arrested at least 11 energy-reform advocates while they walked on the Asian Highway in Songkhla province’s Rattaphum district. The activists were told that their activity violated martial law provisions banning public gatherings of more than five people. Those arrested were taken to the Senanarong Army Camp in Hat Yai district, where they are being held indefinitely.

On August 10, the authorities ordered Amnesty International Thailand to stop its campaign activity in Bangkok calling for peace in the Gaza Strip, citing the public assembly restrictions and prohibition on political events.

On August 8, the NCPO attempted to stop an academic seminar on the interim constitution at Thammasat University in Bangkok. A letter, signed by Col. Noppadon Tawrit, commander of the Kings Guard’s 1st Field Artillery Regiment, to the university rector, stated that the event should be stopped in order “to prevent the resurgence of differences in political attitude.”

The NCPO has held people in incommunicado lockup in unofficial places of detention, such as military camps. Some have been held longer than the seven-day limit for administrative detention under martial law. For example, Yongyuth Boondee, a well-known Red Shirt supporter, was arrested by soldiers in Chiang Mai province on June 28. He was brought to a news conference on July 1, in which the authorities accused him of involvement in grenade attacks and shootings at opposition demonstrations. Since then, the authorities have refused to provide Yongyuth’s family with information on his whereabouts. On August 8, military officers told legal aid activists that Yongyuth had “consented” to voluntarily stay in military custody at an undisclosed location.

Kritsuda Khunasen, another Red Shirt activist, was arrested by soldiers on May 27 in Chonburi province and held incommunicado until June 24, when she was released without charge. In a video interview released on August 2, Kritsuda alleged that soldiers beat her during interrogation and suffocated her with a plastic bag over her head until she lost consciousness. The Thai authorities quickly blocked access to the interview on YouTube and to an English language article about her case. There has not been any official inquiry into Kritsuda’s allegations or other reports of mistreatment in military custody.

The NCPO’s response to Kritsuda’s allegations has been dismissive, raising broader concerns for the authorities’ treatment of all detainees.

On August 20, Worawut Thuagchaiphum, a student at Mahasarakham University, told the media that military personnel threatened him with enforced disappearance and death while in military custody in May because he had protested against the coup. He and his friends had made cloth banners with anti-coup messages and hung them from a clock tower and around Mahasarakham. After the media reported Worawut’s account, the army unit that allegedly interrogated him summoned him to report to its base.

Since the NCPO’s announcement on June 24 that all detainees held without charge had been released, no information has been provided about releases, and individuals continue to be arrested and detained. Those released from military detention have to sign an agreement that they will not make political comments, become involved in political activities, or travel overseas without the junta’s permission. Failure to comply could result in a new detention, or a sentence of two years in prison, or a fine of 40,000 baht (US$1,250).

“Since the May coup, the generals have tightened rather than relaxed their grip on power,” Adams said. “Instead of the promised path back to democracy through free and fair elections, Thailand’s military seems to be opting for a road to dictatorship.”








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