Threats and assaults

28 05 2019

Two recent reports in Prachatai point to the continuing assaults and threats against two political activists.

These threats and repeated assaults against Akechai Hongkangwarn and Anurak Jeantawanich are punishment for their anti-junta activism and are meant to be seen by other activists as a warning of what can happen to them if they are outspoken.

That the assaults have occurred multiple times, usually with the same modus operandi, and with impunity suggest that the attacks have approval at high levels.

In one Prachatai report, an assault on Anurak (aka Ford) by “6 men [who] rode 2 motorcycles…”. Red shirt activist Anurak required hospital treatment. He was required to stay in hospital for a couple of days.

The assault took place as “he was leaving his house to join a demonstration at the Telephone Organization of Thailand, the temporary venue for meetings of the House of Representatives.” That protest was “against the political system rigged in the junta’s favour.”

Anurak was reportedly “hit on the head with a metal pipe, leaving a wound 5-mm deep” and requiring stitching. He had other injuries to his head and limbs.

Meanwhile, Akechai is reported by Prachatai to have claimed that “Someone has ordered me dead.” This anonymous warning also told him to leave Thailand.

This might be considered alarmist if it were not for two facts. First, Akechai has been attacked and beaten seven times and, second, activists have been disappeared and killed in recent times.

Nothing has been done by the authorities about threats and attacks. One reason for this lack of attention to repeated assaults would be that the authorities themselves are involved in the crimes. Akechai was even assaulted at a court!

As the political climate becomes more unstable in future months, expect the junta/”new” regime to become increasingly repressive and combative.





No justice from the military

23 05 2019

The mothers of two men murdered by the Army in early 2017 are suing it for 11 million baht in compensation, with their lawyer urging the authorities to ensure justice for the families.

The families of Abe Saemu and Chaiyapoom Pasae have been forced to the Civil Court because the Army and the military junta has refused any justice for the extrajudicial killings, despite the “Chiang Mai Provincial Court ha[ving] … ruled last year that Abe and Chaiyaphum had indeed been shot dead by military officers.”

Chaiyaphoom

PPT’s summary of the murder of Chaiyaphoom is worth re-reading for the details of this horrendous cover-up that began from the moment he was murdered. The impunity is staggering, even for the junta’s Thailand.

Ratsada Manuratsada, representing the families, “said his clients have the right to seek compensation as per the Liability for Wrongful Act of Officials Act, under which official agencies have to make reparations for the wrongdoings of their officers.” He added: “We have to take this case to court, because the acts of military officers in both cases are a clear discriminatory action and directly violates their rights…”.

Ratsada also “called on relevant officers to disclose the latest update on the process of filing a criminal case against the officers behind the slayings…. He also asked whether the police had already submitted the case docket with a Military Court attorney, as civilians are not allowed to file a case with the Military Court directly.”

And, Ratsada again called for the “release of a CCTV recording of the incident involving Chaiyaphum at the checkpoint, which has been missing so far.” Well, “missing” only in the sense that the military has withheld it.





Political murder and impunity

5 05 2019

Many readers will have already seen the Khaosod report that sadly but not unexpectedly tells of another coronation gift: “Soldiers who killed six people at a temple during a 2010 protest will not stand trial in the military court…”.

Phayao Akkahad, who lost a daughter, Kamonkade, when the nurse was treating the wounded at the “safe zone” at Wat Pathum Wanaram. Kamonkade was shot dead by soldiers, probably firing from the Skytrain elevated railway. They shot others in that so-called safe zone as well.

“Investigators” have now told Phayao “that the military prosecutors decided to drop charges against the eight soldiers…” a court inquest earlier held responsible. They  cited “a lack of evidence,” but as everyone in Thailand knows, this is buffalo manure. In fact, the military is just doing what it always does when it tortures or kills civilians. That is, granting impunity.

Phayao said the “military prosecutors announced there won’t be indictment…. The prosecutors reasoned the no-indictment that there was no evidence, no circumstantial evidence, and no eyewitnesses.”

This is simply false. There are still photos and video evidence of the soldiers involved. PPT has posted some of this evidence several times.

The Khaosod report has video reporting from the time showing soldiers firing into the temple.

The evidence is clear but no soldier is held responsible. More importantly, those who ordered the murderous crackdown – Suthep Thaugsuban, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Gen Anupong Paojinda and current military dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha – get away with murder.

To date, not a single person has been held responsbile for the more than 90 deaths in April and May 2010. Sadly, in royalist Thailand, that is normal.





Impunity continues

31 03 2019

To leave “election” news for a while, PPT noticed a report in the Bangkok Post that gave an account of a recent court ruling from the south.

The Pattani provincial court ruled the deaths of four men, initially claimed to be “insurgents” and shot dead by police and military were legal.

The court proclaimed that “state authorities are not required to compensate the families of four men shot…”.As the report states,

A fact-finding committee, set up to look into the case, concluded in April 2015 that the four were not linked with the deep South insurgency. These findings prompted Lt Gen Prakarn Cholayuth, then 4th army region commander, to apologise for the incident.

Despite this, “the court ruled that the police and army officers who gunned down the four had acted lawfully and that their organisations would not be liable for the incident.”

The families can appeal, but this court’s decision again grants police and military with impunity when they murder citizens.





Torture, impunity

12 03 2019

While the puppet National Legislative Assembly continues to pass all manner of legislation, working faster than it ever has, seeking to complete the military junta’s political agenda before the NLA passes into history.

At the same time, it has resisted legislation that would limit the impunity of the military’s and state’s assassins and torturers.

In a recent editorial, the Bangkok Post noted:

Shortly after it was appointed by the new military regime in 2014, the National Legislative Assembly proposed a law that would criminalise torture and the government murders known as “enforced disappearances”.

But almost 5 years later, this legislation – the Torture and Enforced Disappearance Prevention and Suppression Bill – is likely to be dropped. The Post comments:

The refusal to ban abuses and murders that are illegal in most countries and by international law is a shameful blot. Both the regime and its appointed parliament share that shame.

The editorial observes that torture is standard practice in Thailand. It also notes that another horrendous practice – enforced disappearance – has also been widely used:

Thailand has never had a law against torture. It has never legislated against the detestable crime of disappearing — murdering and hiding the bodies — critics and activists who have not broken the law.

It might have added that the military regime appears to have escalated this practice internationally for “protecting” the monarchy.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

This perhaps explains why the military regime’s “supporters in the NLA have already tried to strip accountability from the pending legislation,” extending impunity. The regime, the military and the police want to be able to torture and “disappear” with impunity. Many in the ruling class agree that their henchmen should have such “powers.”

Victims, their supporters and families are left powerless and that’s how the regime, the military and the police want.





Updated: On not doing the human thing

20 02 2019

This is likely our last PPT post on the Hakeem al-Araibi case. Our last post was about failures on the Thai side.

Until now, we had not seen an admission of fault by the Australian side for its role in passing on information to the Thai authorities based on an Interpol Red Notice that should never have been issued and that should have been trumped by the Australian government’s acceptance of Hakeem as a refugee.

Fronting parliament – that would be an innovation in Thailand – Australian Border Force officials have had to admit “human error” in the Hakeem case, “saying processes that might have prevented him from being detained in Thailand ‘broke down’.”

But as seems all too common in security agencies with bloated power, Commissioner Michael Outram seemed to refuse to accept full responsibility.

Hakeem spent “spent two months in a Bangkok prison after having an Interpol red notice issued against him, despite being recognised as a refugee,” but the commissioner backed away from taking responsibility: “Asked if he would like to apologise to Mr al-Araibi, Mr Outram said he could not say whether the mistake directly led to his detention.” He went on:

But to offer an apology for him that would say that I’m accepting that the outcome, what happened in Thailand, was entirely due to that error. I can’t say that without speculating.

Such disingenuous is a feature of belligerent security agencies, as is well known in Thailand.

Outram told the Senate hearing that “ABF staff regularly received red notice information from the AFP [Australian Federal Police] which they then needed to cross-check against other government information, a process which could take 14 days.”

It remains unclear why more care was not taken in reporting Hakeem to the Thai authorities. “Human error,” perhaps, but undue haste as well. Why?

Have heads rolled? No. Impunity  is not just a Thai phenomenon. In the West it is made worse by ridiculous managerial-speak.

The best Commissioner Outram could do was apologize that “an error occurred within Border Force and that is something that we’re taking very seriously…”. But they are not taking Hakeem’s personal distress very seriously. Can he take legal action?

Managerial-speak went berserk when “secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Mike Pezzullo, told the hearing his department was looking at ways of using ‘sophisticated algorithms and data matching’ to automate the process.” He buried it all with this nonsensical prose:

But to accelerate that program would mean that other programs potentially are not funded equally, to an equal level of priority and it’s a question of then managing those priorities…,

Just saying sorry to Hakeem would have been a human thing to do.

Update: It is good to see that that Amnesty International Australia “has called for the Australian government to conduct an independent investigation into what it called ‘a monumental mistake’ that led to the much-publicised arrest and detention” of Hakeem in Thailand. Amnesty’s Tim O’Connor declared:

It is absolutely unacceptable that Hakeem, a completely innocent man supposedly under the Australian government’s care, was detained for 76 days in Thailand in fear for his life simply because someone at Border Force forgot to send an email….





Abuse of power over many decades

15 12 2018

A couple of days ago, The Nation reported that the  National Human Rights Commission Chair What Tingsamitr, recalling that Thailand had been one of the first nations to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, continues to have a serious human rights  problem.

While What mentioned several groups “responsible” for for human rights abuses, this was a remarkable effort to deflect attention from the main perpetrators. In fact, What had to admit that “state officials commit 90 per cent of human rights violations…”.

What appeared to want to whitewash this basic fact, babbling about “misunderstandings” and “different definitions” of human rights.

However, “Cross Cultural Foundation director Pornpen Khongkachonkiet argued that the root of the problem did not lie in misunderstandings, but came from the abuse of power and an absence of the rule of law.”

Pornpen got to the point that What preferred to avoid:

It is clear that most of the rights violations in Thailand occur in the same pattern – officials violating the rights of people. We have witnessed that again and again. When someone opposes the government and their policies, state officials turn on these people….

She cited several examples of oppression under the current military junta, noting that “rights violations against those who oppose the authorities are far more severe in cases related to the stability of the state and the monarchy.”

Pornpen observed that “key problems include a lack of proper investigation, court litigation and punishment against officers who commit these crimes.” That is, impunity, adding that violations and impunity are abetted by “a partisan culture within the justice system, which allows so many offending officers to walk free and even keep their job in official agencies.”

This situation has existed for decades. However, under the junta, Pornpen concluded, “the problem of human rights violation by the state … is worse than ever…”.