Free Pai XVI

16 07 2017

The military dictatorship’s jailing of  Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (or Pai) is an example of how the junta engages in selective political repression.

The first political activist to be charged and jailed on lese majeste charges during the reign of the loathsome King Vajiralongkorn, his arrest was a act of political repression, singling out Pai among thousands who shared a BBC Thai story about the king. Pai has now been held in jail for more than six months awaiting what will surely be a conviction.

Of course, the “authorities” want him to plead guilty so that they can jail him without a trail.

The junta’s regime is interested in repression and uses the law as a gangster uses a gun.

In this story of repression, double standards and manipulation of the law, as The Nation reports, international activists are now working to bring attention to Pai’s sad and sorry case.

These activists have launched a campaign called “Bring the World to Pai” to tell the stories of Jatuphat and other political prisoners, while telling the world about the political situation in Thailand under the military dictatorship.

The brave young activists, “identified as Cat, Chris, Austin, Jay, and Effy from Australia, England, Canada, Malaysia, and Vietnam” actually “visited Pai at Khon Kaen Central Prison on Friday.”

Pai was said to be “in good spirit and told his international friends, with one of his fists up in the air, to encourage young people everywhere to carry on their struggle for freedom and democracy.”

This expression of “solidarity with Thai activists opposed to the military-backed regime” puts the conference delegates at the International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai to shame. So far, PPT hasn’t heard a peep from these academic tourists about the grave political situation or about political prisoners in Thailand. There’s still time for some kind of statement from them, but so far it has been silence, which the junta must appreciate.





Keeping the repression lock on

8 07 2017

After more than three years, the military dictatorship is not about to allow critics much space. This doubling down on repression is likely to continue until the junta decides it can hold its “election” and be assured of an outcome that suits it.

In a recent piece at Prachatai, readers get a clear idea of the repressive tasks it has allocated itself, in addition to making sure that the Shinawatra clan is hobbled and nobbled.

The story of the mopping up those who identified themselves as junta enemies by daring to discuss the junta’s constitution as it was mixed, rolled and roasted by various well-paid junta flunkies, sometimes considered lawyers and law “scholars.” Eventually they came up with the 2017 constitution, which the king and junta still changed after it was “approved” in a wobbly junta referendum.

A year after the constitution “referendum” Khon Kaen police – who have become especially politically active – have decided “to press charges against 11 people accused of breaking the junta’s political gathering ban for participating in a discussion about the 2017 Constitution.”

Heavens, not a discussion! How threatening! Lock ’em up!

They have been ordered to report to the 23rd Military Circle in the province (not the police). The police decided “to press charges against them and submit the case file to the military prosecutor.”

The 11 are: Cherdchai Tantisirin, former Member of Parliament for the Pheu Thai Party, Panwadee Tantisirin, lecturer in the Nursing Faculty of Khon Kaen University, Rangsiman Rome, key member of the Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), Panupong Sritananuwat and Akhom Sributta, activists from Dao Din Group, [the jailed] Jatuphat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa, Narongrit Uppachan, Nattaporn Ajharn, an environmental activist, Duangthip Khanrit and Niranut Niamsap, staff of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and another person who requested anonymity.

The junta’s thinking seems to be that these activists could annoy them when it decided to hold its “election.”





Release Pai XV

1 07 2017

Prachatai reports that Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa’s 10th application for bail on a trumped-up lese majeste charge has been rejected by a vindictive royalist court in Khon Kaen.

The Khon Kaen Provincial Court “confirmed an earlier ruling of the Appeal Court, reasoning that the activist mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law sufficiently.”

That’s why the court is vindictive. It is punishing Pai in a manner that is essentially lawless.

As a unit in the military junta’s injustice system, the Khon Kaen court “dismissed arguments from Jatuphat’s family that as a law graduate he is required to sit a training course taught by the Lawyers’ Council …, and that if released he could prepare for his defence more effectively.”

On the latter, this court, like all others working on lese majeste convictions, obviously has no interest in defendants preparing a defense; they are only interested in guilty pleas and convictions.

Jatuphat is being punished for having “mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law sufficiently,” as well as lese majeste against King Vajiralongkorn by reposting a BBC Thai story on the king’s accession to the throne. Vajiralongkorn prefers demeaning and jailing those he views as opponents.

The case is due back in court on 3 August.





Release Pai XIV

26 06 2017

We are pleased to pass on the news that Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, or Pai Dao Din, is said to have “passed the last subject of his undergraduate course last Friday…”.

He’ll be celebrating in his jail cell where the military thugs have had him locked up for six months on a trumped up lese majeste charge.

But celebrate he should. This young man, through his stoicism, intellect and commitments, makes the knuckle-draggers in the junta look more ridiculous each day they lock him up. He’s no threat to them or to the monarchy. Indeed, the monarchy and military are more dangerous for each other than a new graduate in Khon Kaen can ever be.

Jatupat’s father, Viboon, also a lawyer, pondered “what his son would do if or when he is released.” He thought:

Perhaps he will go into the field to collect information about human rights violations. Or perhaps, he will return to Loei province where he will offer legal assistance to local communities….

Well, we guess he is a threat to some. By helping the downtrodden he threatens the elite and their comfortable lifestyles, built on the backs of good working people, exploited mercilessly for decades.

Viboon “gathered with dozens of others at Chit Lom BTS station on Thursday to call for the release of Mr Jatupat.” That effort was broken up by 50 thug-police.

With his son, the family remains determined to “be strong and fight for [Jatupat] in the way we know best…”. After all they have faced, it is remarkable that the family still thinks that there is a better Thailand, buried below the injustice muck and detritus of the military dictatorship.

The only way to be sure is to get rid of this corrupt military regime that goosesteps in time with the monarchy.





Arresting one as a threat to many

25 06 2017

This military dictatorship has established a pattern of threat to repress.

In its early days, the military regime arrested hundreds and directly threatened thousands more, the latter mainly in the countryside. That level of mass repression is costly in political terms and a strategy emerged of arresting or high-profile threatening one activist as a way of threatening and repressing similar activists.

One high-profile example was Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa. He was charged with lese majeste and jailed for sharing a BBC Thai story that thousands of others had also shared. Yet the regime went after Jatuphat because he is an activist with links to other activists, several causes and relatively poor villagers.

The most recent arrest is of activist Rangsiman Rome, who was taken into police custody late on Sunday afternoon. Reporting of his arrest are at Khaosod and the Bangkok Post.

Police in Bangkok “detained the New Democracy Movement member on Tao Nao Road near the Oct 14 Memorial, where he was to attend a fund-raising event organised by the group to help political prisoners.”

Yet it seems that it was not this particular event that caused an “arrest warrant for him and 12 other activists for launching a campaign for voters in the area to throw out the draft charter in the referendum held on Aug 7, 2016” was suddenly activated.

Rangsiman expects to be taken before a military tribunal.

He has stated that he “believes the arrest was ordered because he was going to petition the military government to disclose information about the deal it struck with China allowing it to build a high-speed rail connection between Bangkok and Korat.”

Now all those who have been challenging the military junta’s use of Article 44 to push through the rail project know that they are under threat. As Rangsiman stated, “Now we have to postpone it [the petition], otherwise my friends will risk facing the same fate…”.

Or, they could go ahead and see if they do join Rangsiman in jail and ignore the junta’s strategy of repression by example.





In your face

23 06 2017

We are pleased that Prachatai has reported yesterday’s demonstration at Rajaprasong in support for Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa. This protest marked six months since the military dictatorship singled him out for a bogus lese majeste charge.

Prachatai reported that “Democracy lovers gathered to demand” Pai’s release.

While the cops monitored the event, it went on for almost an hour. There’s a 35-minute video at the Prachatai site.

Don’t fear this horrid dictatorship, get rid of it.





When the military is on top VI

10 06 2017

It is a while since we used this headline. Yet an editorial in the Bangkok Post draws us back to it.

That editorial is about a hot social media story about a traffic jam in Khon Kaen. The editorial states:

the wedding of Lt Col Pitakpol Chusri and his bride, a young woman from a wealthy family in Khon Kaen, on June 8 has drawn numerous complaints, mostly from commuters.

This was because part of the busy Mittraphap Highway was sealed in order to pave the way for the groom’s traditional procession in which a groom and his entourage make their way to the bride’s house to propose formally. The convoy reportedly resulted in heavy traffic congestion as it took place during rush hour. The tailback was said to have stretched over 10km and this caused an online uproar over the past few days.

The editorial doesn’t seem to mind this. After all, it is “traditional.” And, they want “to be fair” to the groom and his wealthy bride.

What gets the editorial’s author hot under the collar is:

the reaction from Col Winthai Suvaree, the spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order, in his dire attempt to defend the groom, is unacceptable. Without properly investigating the matter, he simply denied the highway was partially closed for the groom’s procession. Col Winthai said the congestion occurred because there were so many guests who arrived in their own cars and it so happened that some of them had no choice but to park their vehicles along the road.

That is not the truth.

It isn’t true, and the editorial got irate:

The regime spokesman seemed to ignore the suggestion that authorities should look into the matter and probe why such a request [to close part of the highway] by state personnel was accommodated.

As the regime spokesman, we expect Col Winthai to carefully check information before making any statement. We also expect him to stick to the facts. The spokesman may have acted out of goodwill and dismissed the allegations, thinking the problem is trivial. But that can hurt his credibility.

The wedding case shows we have to question Col Winthai’s “no problem” attitude. It may bring into question whether anything he says in the future is truth or propaganda.

That’s where our headline comes in. It is propaganda that Colonel Winthai is hired to propagate. It is a military dictatorship.

That point is made by op-ed writer Kong Rithdee. He explains clearly and emphatically that life is changed by military dictatorship.

Yet neither Post article makes what we think is a critical point, found in a story by Khaosod.

Lt Col Pitakpol Chusri or “Seh Pete” is the “commander of the junta’s provincial security wing.” He is a junta thug:

After the junta seized power in May 2014, Phitakphon’s unit imposed a curfew that forced all concerts to end before 1am. The ban led to protests from mor lam folk musicians who said their traditional performances last until early dawn.

Phitakphon was also the officer who filed royal defamation [lese majeste] charges against pro-democracy activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, or Pai Dao Din, for sharing a BBC Thai article about the king. Jatupat has been jailed since December.

As a senior military thug, Pitakpol can do more or less anything he wants. If you don’t like it, he can arrange for you to be jailed. That’s what happens when the military is on top.

That’s why the Rolls Royce corruption “investigations” disappear, that’s why senior military can accumulate huge wealth, that’s why no one can ask what happened to the 1932 plaque, that’s why torture is not investigated, that’s why deaths in custody are not properly investigated, that’s why soldiers can kill with impunity, that’s why referendum and elections can be fixed, that’s why civilian protesters can be murdered; that’s why weapons and human trafficking can thrive. It just goes on and on.