CCTV “failures”

20 04 2017

As the regime continues to feign a lack of knowledge of political and historical vandalism that saw the removal of the 1932 plaque, while it protects the new royalist plaque, the humble CCTV provides evidence of the links between the political past and present. But not how one might immediately think of it.

The political vandal responsible for the removal of the 1932 plaque will not be identified as the police refuse to investigate and the junta and its minions deny the significance of the plaque. In other words, the junta, the palace and assorted royalists have managed to expunge one more symbol of Thailand’s constitutional revolution.

Another reason no one will be identified is because “the 11 CCTV cameras that were situated at traffic lights around the Royal Plaza had been removed on March 31 when City Hall workers began work to improve traffic lights in the area.”

What an astonishing coincidence! Well, probably not, for as a Bangkok Post editorial observes:

what is more astonishing is that the 11 cameras were removed just days before the promulgation of the 2017 constitution by … the King which took place at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. With such a big event being eagerly watched by the entire nation and where leaders and prominent figures had gathered, the BMA [Bangkok Metropolitan Authority] still managed to remove the cameras.

Most unlikely indeed. When looking at the question of cover up or cock up, PPT would usually go for cock up, but not in this case. This shouts cover up.

The more so when additional information is provided by Khaosod. The report states: “a representative said City Hall did not order the cameras removed, but declined to say which agency was responsible.”

(There’s the fear again. You get the picture of how very threatening the vandal is.)

The BMA “explanation” gets even more laughable: “[an activist] asked how police could hope to investigate any potential crime that took place there without aid from the cameras. Yutthayapan [Meechai, secretary to Bangkok’s governor] replied that crimes are unlikely to happen there because of high presence of security officers about the Royal Plaza.”

So no reason to have the CCTV in the first place – clearly a case of malfeasance – and there are “security officers” who know exactly what went on there and who ordered the removal of the plaque.

We can be pretty sure that the cover up includes lying about the non-operation of the CCTV cameras.

Here, the CCTV cameras and their alleged non-operation allow the state to blur political visions, blur crimes and erase history.

This is not so different from the case of the extrajudicial killing of Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae about a month ago. That case has gone very quiet, and this also suggests a cover up and one that is likely to be successful simply because the junta (this time) wants it covered up.

Prachatai reports that “police have revealed that the military has not yet sent the CCTV footage of the crime scene to them.” We can guess why that is. Cover up. The “military unit whose personnel is responsible for the killing has not yet sent it to the police investigator.” Cover up.

The police make a ludicrous claim that “the fact that the military is still withholding the footage will not affect the investigation” while everyone can guess that the CCTV footage is incriminating for the military involved and they demand impunity.

Then there’s the lies. In earlier reports, “3rd Region Army chief Lt Gen Vijak Siribansop … said then that the military had already sent the CCTV footage to the police and that the military had no authority to reveal evidence to the public without court permission.”

So it is the police or the general who is lying, but probably both as they collude.

Even without CCTV coverage, the picture in both cases is clear. Lies, collusion, cover up, impunity.





Sounding familiar II

4 04 2017

With the top general in the Army claiming that “strict discipline” – inhumane beatings, torture and murder – are just “old habits” and that he wants the old habits gone, you have to wonder if he’s suggesting he can change a routinized and standard practice that exists to maintain hierarchy and is done with impunity.

Meanwhile, sounding all too familiar and also like standard practice protected by impunity, Prachatai reports that “[s]oldiers and paramilitary officers in Rueso District of Narathiwat on 29 March 2017 summarily killed Isma-ae Hama, 28, and Aseng Useng, 30.”

The police have again come out to protect soldiers. They say:

Region 4 Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), the two resisted arrest and exchanged gunfire with officers, adding that they were allegedly involved in the shooting on 2 March 2017, which killed four people, including an eight-year-old student.

Civil society groups say this is buffalo manure and “have urged an end to the culture of impunity…”.

There’s only one civilian witness, a 13 year-old sister of Isma-ae, who has stated that “the two were unarmed when they were shot. She said the car her brother was driving was halted by officers who shot them shortly after they stepped out of the car.”

No drugs, grenades or knives this time. At least the “authorities” have not made this claim as yet.





Stupidity, crime and impunity

24 03 2017

Wasant Techawongtham is former News Editor at the Bangkok Post. He has an interesting op-ed in that newspaper on the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae.

He states that the young lad:

… must have been really stupid. He was a local Lahu boy. He knew where the military had set up their semi-permanent checkpoint. He had with him 2,800 tablets of ya ba, a knife and a hand grenade — all stuff that could put him in jail.

Yet he allowed himself to be driven through the checkpoint and expected to get away with it.

Not many op-eds in the military dictatorship’s Orwellian kingdom use irony like this. He continues: “Or maybe he wasn’t so stupid but was just unlucky to run into a group of overly aggressive soldiers.”

Then there’s this:

Another extra-judicial killing in the same vicinity as Chaiyapoom was killed has gone unnoticed and unreported until now.

Just a month earlier, a 33-year-old Lahu man, suspected of drug dealing, was gunned down by soldiers from the same unit involved in Chaiyapoom’s death. At the scene of his death, he was photographed holding a hand grenade of a similar type that was found by Chaiyapoom’s side.

Fancy that! What a surprise! Well, no, it isn’t.

It is the military and police who are trained in glorious stupidity. They are trained in violence, propaganda, crime (their crime) and lying. They are trained to come up with ludicrous “stories” to cover their crimes. They are trained to expect impunity for murders and torture committed for authoritarian regimes and in the name of protecting the monarchy. That “loyalty” allows them to enrich themselves and expect impunity for all their crimes, for the state and personal crimes.

And the military story just gets more and more stunning. These dolts have been gradually overlaying a story that gets darker and darker. Having earlier stated that they “knew” Chaiyapoom was involved with drugs, the “army has revealed the Lahu activist who was fatally shot by a soldier last Friday in Chiang Mai was involved in the drug trade for more than a year.”

They now claim a different story at the scene of the killing:

Based on the footage of a CCTV camera at the scene, soldiers who checked the vehicle were not armed, Lt Gen Vijak said, adding they simply questioned the men inside the car and checked their identification cards.

As the suspects were acting suspiciously, the soldiers asked them to get out of the vehicle, he said, adding that one of them fled and tried to fight, prompting another armed security team to respond.

No mention of CCTV was made previously, no one else has seen it, and the nature of the stop is now changed too. And the “knife” seems to have “disappeared” from the story.

When asked how he believed the activist [Chaiyapoom] managed to procure the grenade, Lt Gen Vijak said similar Chinese-made devices can be found along the Thai border.

Or maybe it was recycled by  the military.

But here’s the thing. Even if the kid was the “stupid” and brazen “drug dealer” that the military asserts, this does not justify his killing. But this is the (in)justice system at its worst.





Lies and impunity

22 03 2017

The story about the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae gets more unlikely by the day. Of course, it was never a “likely” story, we are just emphasizing that its getting ragged and ridiculous. Ragged and ridiculous is a standard strategy used by the police and military when they murder citizens and need a cover story, no matter how ridiculous.

In our last post, we quoted some dopey police spokesman claiming that Chaiyapoom “was shot dead by a soldier in Chiang Mai last Friday as he tried to attack him with a hand grenade.” That spokesman “insisted” there “was no foul play behind Chaiyapoom’s death.” This official version of the story was supported by a junta spokesman.

The story has now changed as the military dissembles. Reacting to massive criticism on social media, The Dictator has ordered a “probe” into the death. By whom, we are just not sure, but we would guess its those with impunity seeking to grant impunity to their minion murderers.

Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan weighed in. He knows what happened:

… he had received a report from Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart, which said officials had to protect themselves as the suspect had intended to throw a grenade that was found at the scene.

“What can they do? The officials also fear dying,” Prawit said, when told the suspect was a youth activist.

That’s pretty clear. Meanwhile,

Army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the case would be handled in accordance with legal procedures, adding that officials involved in the operation had to give testimony justifying their actions and police would proceed with their investigation, he said.

As we have said many times recently, there is no justice in Thailand and legal procedures are ways to grant impunity.

Winthai knows what happened:

“If the relatives [of Chaiyapoom] have doubts over the investigation and the case, they can have lawyers raise inquiries during the investigation and court trial,” Winthai said. “The army is ready to make the case clear and give justice to all.”

If only the poor in Thailand could afford to buy the “justice” the rich purchase. If only the poor had an institutional system that worked for them rather than the murderous thugs working for the military dictatorship.

The military’s report states a soldier is charged with something or other, but there are no details. The report says this:

Soldiers stopped, searched and found 2,800 methamphetamine pills in a car in which Chaiyapoom and his friend were riding. The soldiers took the two into custody, but Chaiyapoom broke away and was about to throw a grenade at the troops, prompting the soldier to shoot.

According to Col Winthai in an earlier report on Monday, the soldier fired a single shot to kill Chaiyapoom, and no other troops fired.

Col Winthai, who knows what happened, “told reporters the shooting was in self-defence.”

This is different from the original claims. The boy did not throw a grenade.

But there’s more. Prachatai reports that there are other witnesses:

in an interview that Thai PBS broadcasted on 21 March 2017, an anonymous source said several other civilians saw the incident, adding that three gunshots were heard before Chaiyapoom was killed. “Many villagers saw that he was dragged out of the car and beaten. [A soldier] put a foot on his face and fired two shots to intimidate him. When [Chaiyapoom] broke free from the beating and ran, the soldier shot him. They did not allow the villagers to approach the site,” the Thai PBS quoted the anonymous witness as saying.

Based on previous experience, it is likely that the military thugs will be hunting down these witnesses to silence them or, perhaps, charge them with something.

This is how military dictatorships operate.





Going after kids III

21 03 2017

Along with the alleged “assassination plot” or perhaps it is multiple “plots,” against Thailand’s dictator, another unbelievable event has unfolded with the killing of a young Lahu boy by soldiers.

No one has any reason to believe the police or the military on this tragic event. Their story is bizarre, the only credible witness is in their custody and the “investigation” of the killing is being conducted by the people who did the killing.

The Bangkok Post reports on what it says is an “extrajudicial killing.”

The police have “insisted …[the] Lahu activist … was linked to drug trafficking…”. They also claim that the killing “was carried out in self-defence.” As we said in our earlier post, this really does sound like a report from the 1970s or perhaps from the War on Drugs earlier this century.

A police spokesman has claimed that Chaiyapoom Pasae “was shot dead by a soldier in Chiang Mai last Friday as he tried to attack him with a hand grenade.” That spokesman “insisted” there “was no foul play behind Chaiyapoom’s death.”

This is the official spokesman making this claim of nothing untoward when there is meant to be an “investigation” into the events. It is pretty clear where that “investigation” is going.

Locals have called for a broader probe into the killing. They say “they don’t believe the [young] man was embroiled in drug smuggling and that he was an activist dedicated to local causes.”

Experienced in cleaning up such messes and managing official impunity, the police claim that they “found” some “2,800 methamphetamine pills hidden in a car.

Pongnai Saengtala, the driver of the car that Chaiyapoom was in, they say, was being “detained” when Chaiyapoom “ran away.” You can already see that this is is either concocted or that the soldiers and police involved were incompetent dimwits. If Chaiyapoom was a “suspect,” why wasn’t he under guard?

The next claim is equally suspicious: “A soldier chased Chaiyapoom, who turned and threw a hand grenade at the soldier, forcing him to shoot Chaiyapoom. It is not clear where the grenade came from.” That shooting was “only one shot…”.

There’s no story about the grenade going off. In fact, it is being “examined” in the “investigation.” The claim must be that Chaiyapoom threw the grenade as if it was a rock. Earlier versions had him with a knife and a grenade. Believable?

Now, cleaning up, the cops will “trace the source of the drugs that were found in the car…”. We suspect a real “investigation” wouldn’t have to go far to locate that source. As is widely known, the police regularly plant “evidence.”

Yet what they do is “investigate” his family and they will charge the driver and make a deal for a “confession” and for incriminating Chaiyapoom. That’s the pattern of these things.

Of course, the junta is on-side with cops and soldiers:

National Council for Peace and Order [junta] spokesman Winthai Suvaree yesterday said authorities performed their duties according to a code of conduct and none of them would have fired their weapons had it not been necessary.

The military’s death toll of civilians murdered climbs by one more.





Going after kids II

19 03 2017

A tragic report at Prachatai sounds like something from the 1960s or 1970s. It reports that:

On 17 March 2017, soldiers and other security officers of Pha Muang Task Force deployed at a checkpoint in Mueang Na Subdistrict of Chiang Dao District in Chiang Mai Province summarily killed Chaiyaphum Pasea, a 17-year-old Lahu ethnic minority.

The soldiers claimed that they found certain amount of amphetamine in the car Chaiyaphum was sitting in and that he was resisting the authorities to arrest him by pulling out a knife before running into a bush.

The security officers added that when they found the suspect in the bush he was about to throw a bomb at the soldiers, so they shot him.

The only civilian witness to these events is in custody (and in grave danger). The report explains Chaiyaphum’s background:

The killing of Chaiyaphum raised many questions because he was an active youth activist who participating in many events to promote the rights of ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand.

On 15 March, he was among the 19 youth representatives of ethnic minorities who attended a youth activist forum organised by the National Institute for Child and Family Development in Bangkok.

He was also awarded a prize at the 16th Thai Short Film and Video Festival for a short film called ‘Belt and Comb’ and several of his short documentaries were broadcasted on Thai PBS.

The late activist is also a gifted song writer who composed ethnic folk songs about his communities.

This does not sound much like a drug-taking, knife wielding bomb thrower to us. Like probably every one else, we cannot help bu think that this is just one more murder by the military state. Expect military denials, even more ridiculous stories and claims by them and impunity for the murderers.





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!