Updated: Concern for 112 detainees

26 03 2021

There is reason to be concerned for the safety of those accused of lese majeste and currently detained without bail in several prisons.

The Bangkok Post reports that these members of the Ratsadon group “are being detained at five prisons while police prepare the cases against them…”. The report lists some of them:

Six were being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, he said. They are Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Piyarat “Toto” Jongthep, Patiwat “Bank” Saraiyaem, Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpatararaksa, Arnon Nampa and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.

Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, alias “Ammy The Bottom Blues”, is being held at Thon Buri Prison, and Panusaya “Rung” Sitthijirawatanakul at the Central Correctional Institution for Women.

In Pathum Thani province, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak is detained in Pathum Thani central detention centre, and Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree of the Ratsadon Mutelu group is in Thanyaburi Prison in Thanyaburi district.

Release our friends

There are several reasons for concern for the safety of these political detainees. First, Corrections Department deputy director-general Veerakit Hanparipan has revealed that his department lacks coordination and standard operating procedures. Second, it is a “policy” to separate the detainees as a means to break their spirit and to prevent them from supporting each other. Third, lawyers and families are having great difficulty visiting the detainees. Fourth, political detainees are being treated as common criminals. Fourth, Thonburi Prison is said to be a problematic location due to it being in a high-risk Covid zone.

All of this amounts to lese majeste torture.

There is special concern for Parit, “who is on a partial hunger strike…”. Veerakit told reporters that Penguin “continued to refuse solid food.” He added that he has become “weakened from refusing food” and that “Parit was instead given bread, milk, sweet drinks and mineral water to prevent his blood-sugar level falling too far.” Veerakit also revealed that “Parit had a rash on his chest. Prison officials had given him medication.”

Update: Concern for Penguin is increasing. He’s “been on hunger strike for over two weeks,” and is experiencing weakness. He has “allowed doctors to conduct a blood test for the first time on Saturday night, after suffering from fatigue, increased dizziness and dehydration.” As a result, he’s now being administered glucose and fluid intravenously.





Neo-traditionalism and fascists

18 03 2021

Prachatai has a couple of stories that are about a theme – political repression. In our view, they also appoint to the entrenchment of neo-traditionalist, royalist, fascism.

The first report is about complaints made by the so-called People’s Network to Protect the Monarchy to Anek Laothamatas, who seems to spend some time as Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. They demanded that the former communist now mad royalist and failed politician investigate the lecturers who have used their positions to stand bail for arrested protesters. The fascist Network “claims that their bail requests for Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak and Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, students at Thammasat and Mahidol universities, constitute behaviour that infringes upon the monarchy.”

Clipped from Prachatai
The Network submitting a petition to the MHESI representatives, Duangrit Benjathikul Chairungruang and Jak Punchoopet (Source: Facebook/ Center for People Protecting the Monarchy).

Immediately, the ministry sprang into action: “Jak Punchoopet, Advisor to the Minister … said … the Ministry is preparing to summon deans and chancellors of the universities of 8 lecturers who offered bail to 3 student activists detained while awaiting trial for royal defamation and other charges.” Jak previously participated in People’s Democratic Reform Committee efforts to foment a coup against an elected government.

The Network claimed it is “unethical for teachers as they are protecting students who have clearly and publicly defamed and infringed upon the King, Queen and the Chakri dynasty, which the Network has denounced.”

Jak quoted Minister Anek as stating that “academic freedom must not infringe on the … monarchy.”

There’s not much academic freedom in Thailand anyway, with the 2020 Academic Freedom Index grading Thailand as an E, “the lowest grade, with a score of 0.13 out of a maximum of 1.  Other countries with and E grade include China, North Korea, Cuba, Lao, Iran, Rwanda, and South Sudan.”

Preventing academics standing bail would be a major change to previous and longstanding practice.

Of course, neither the fascists of the Network nor the dolts at the Ministry ever pause to think that none of these political prisoners have yet been found guilty. In any case, none were allowed bail.

An equally concerning report is about constant harassment of independent media:

The Isaan Record, an online media organization based in Khon Kaen Province, is under surveillance by police officers. This is not the first time, and it occurs after they report on monarchy reform and anti-dictatorship activities which other media find distasteful.

The effort to silence The Isaan Record is clear and follows a pattern:

On 10 March, Hathairat Phaholtap, the Isaan Record editor, told Prachatai English that police officers came to their office 4 times in one day. She was informed by vendors close to the office that police had asked them about the agency. The police did not approach staff directly.

This took place after the agency reported on an activity organized on 8 March by Femliberate, a feminist activist group, who shrouded the statue of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat with women’s sarongs with a banner reading “Justice died 8 March 2021,” a symbolic action against the oppression of women and the court decision to keep in detention Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul and Panupong Jadnok, 3 leading pro-democracy activists.

Police intimidation sometimes leads to arrests but can also lead to attacks by royalist thugs – more often than not these are police and military men in plainclothes. Such attacks are never investigated.

Unsurprisingly, these royalist, fascist interventions are coordinated. Prachatai reports:

… Manager Online for the northeast region reported news with the headline “Don’t stand for it! Khon Kaen people love the institution [of the monarchy]. Attack KKU [Khon Kaen University], ask its position on whether they want the monarchy or not after allowing gangs who want to abolish the monarchy to hang out there,”.

The news item reports that a pro-monarchy group blames the Progressive Movement, from the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, for being the mastermind behind the student movement in Khon Kaen in the past year. They also questioned Khon Kaen University for letting public figures who spoke about democracy and monarchy reform give lectures to the students.

You see the link between Manager Online and the People’s Network to Protect the Monarchy. When fascism takes hold, the country usually falls into a deep and dark abyss.





Updated: Political prisoners and political trials

16 03 2021

A mass hearing of 22 political prisoners took place yesterday at the Criminal Court.

Thai PBS reports that Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak made the it clear that it was a political “pre-trial” meeting. It states that the defiant Parit “caused a brief commotion during a hearing … when his request to make a statement was rejected by the court…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that “Parit read a prepared statement in which he criticised the role taken by the courts in the conflict.”

The judge “interrupted him and warned that if he continued, the court would order a meeting behind closed doors with Mr Parit alone. He then ordered the defendants out of the courtroom and suspended the hearing.”

Court officials tried to rush Parit out of the court room, “causing a commotion as other defendants tried to shield the defiant protest leader.” He stood on a chair to ask “why the court didn’t grant him bail while is still not convicted of a crime…”.

He “announced his intention to go on hunger strike in prison until his request for bail is granted…”. In fact his demand referred to all 22 prisoners.

Parit’s statement is at Prachatai.

The court did agree “to requests by Panupong Jadnok, alias Mike Rayong, Chatupat Boonpatthararaksa, alias Pai Daodin, and Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep to be transferred from Thonburi remand prison back to Bangkok remand prison.”

Parit’s defiance is brave but may well lead to an intensification of lese majeste torture.

Indeed, last evening, detainee Arnon Nampa wrote a letter through his lawyer saying he was in fear when officials and others tried to take detainees out of their cells at midnight for a “COVID test.” These thugs were armed guards, some with no identification. He ended his letter: “Please save our lives…”.

Update: We see that the authorities at the Bangkok Remand Prison have concocted a half-baked story about Arnon’s concerns. Krit Krasaethip, commander of Bangkok Remand Prison, said the prisoners returned from Thonburi Prison – Pai and Mike – were “being moved to isolate them.” He said they had to be “quarantined in isolation units” because “Thon Buri Prison … is in a high-risk Covid zone, so [the prisoners] were required to have Covid-19 tests and be quarantined in Zone 2.” He added that the “pair were to be moved from their quarantine room on the ground floor to another quarantine room on the second floor but refused to leave, so prison guards agreed not to move them to avoid problems.”

Does any of this make any sense? Why were they transferred to a high-risk area in the first place? Why put prisoners from a high-risk area in the wrong kind of cell? Why not take them directly to quarantine? And why decide to do this in the middle of the night?

Just to make it all more odd, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said the incident prompted him to order “prison authorities to install more surveillance cameras to monitor cell block activities.” How does the prison story fir with that?

 





Lese majeste and cruelty III

13 03 2021

Yet again, the royalist courts have “rejected the bail applications by four core leaders of the anti-establishment Ratsadon group on the grounds that there is no justification for changing the court’s previous order to remand them in custody.” This refers to Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, and Piyarat Chongthep.

The new applications for bail “were filed today by Mr. Krisadang Nutcharat, a lawyer from the Centre for Human Rights Lawyers, and a group of lecturers from Thammasat and Mahidol universities.” Krisadang said “that he and the lecturers were seeking bail for the three students, namely Parit, Panusaya and Chatuphat, because they are about to take examinations.” The case of Piyarat has to do with “pre-emptive” arrest (as far as we know he has not been charged with 112).

In another report, it is stated that “Kritsadang also complained about Mr Parit’s transfer to Area 5 of the prison, usually designated for inmates already convicted.” He condemned this action, making an argument of the presumption of innocence. We doubt the royalist courts even know what this is as they take orders from the top.

The pattern emerging is one of lese majeste torture, seen in several earlier lese majeste cases. Keeping them locked up and seeking to separate them from their fellow political prisoners is a way to break their spirit and solidarity. It is also reflective of the nastiness seen in other cases involving those who “cross” the king.





Concocting “victory”

9 03 2021

With three more pro-democracy campaigners locked away on lese majeste charges, the regime seems confident it has a royalist political victory in sight.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – were each charged with 112 and other “crimes” and denied bail for the Thammasat University rally back in September 2020. Along with 15 other pro-democracy protesters, they also face sedition charges.

Some of those locked up. Clipped from France24

The other 15 were bailed, marking the regime’s 112 strategy as now involving lengthy jail stints waiting for a trial before royalist judges and potentially very heavy sentencing. The regime and palace – which gives the orders on 112 – want to stamp out all signs of anti-royalism.

They join Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem who have already been held for about three weeks without bail on similar charges. Also banged up on 112 charges is Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues.

Jatuphat called on followers: “Fight on everyone…”, while Panusaya, “who is facing eight other royal defamation charges, believes the pro-democracy movement will continue to exist although most of the leaders could be locked behind bars”: “No matter how many people are locked up, people outside will continue fighting, they do not need us…. “I am not concerned at all that the movement will stop.”

The regime thinks it has them beaten. With its carefully managed violence and targeted arrests, these detentions signal that the regime believes that the leaders will not get broader support.

The mainstream local media does not challenge regime stories of violence and weapons, although some of the international media has a different reporting. We conclude that the local media has come under enormous pressure to follow the regime’s lead and that corporate owners are willingly propagandizing for the regime. Why else would the Bangkok Post be interviewing and publishing outlandish conspiracy manure from anti-democrats? The media that lambasted the protesters for allegedly straying from the path of non-violence have been regime pawns too.

Such concocted claims have been seen from royalists many times in the past – from Pridi shot the king to the Finland Plot and more – and they continue. We can but speculate that these claims will lead to a deeper repression across the country, as they did in the past.





Lese majeste charges mushrooming

27 11 2020

Thai PBS reports that:

Twelve core members and supporters of the Ratsadon group reported to Phya Thai police station today, to acknowledge charges of violating the state of emergency law with their protest march from the Victory Monument to Government House on October 21st.

The report lists just nine: Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, Chonthicha Jaengraew, Suwanna Tarnlek, Chartchai Kaedam, Korakot Saengyen, Apisit Sapnapapant, Passaravalee Thanakitvibulphol, Dr. Tosaporn Sererak and Arnan Loomchan.

This list does not entirely match that at Thai Enquirer. and nor does it match that we reproduced a couple of days ago. Comparing the three lists, it may be that about 20 have been charged or been summoned to hear 112 charges.

In addition, Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, has posted on Facebook that he too faces a charge. This is his second lese majeste charge. He was jailed on the first.

 





No regime compromise

19 11 2020

The regime has delivered its verdict on the waves of demonstrations and calls for constitutional reform. There won’t be any substantive reform and the diddling around the edges will be at the pleasure of the regime.

The Bangkok Post reports that the most democratic iLaw proposal, supported by almost 100,000 and reflecting the core of the protesters’ demands has been dumped, with almost unanimous support of the junta-appointed senators and of the military spawn party Palang Pracharath.

The same unelected senators and regime flunkies “overwhelmingly backed the government-sponsored versions” of (non)reform. The two versions that passed the first reading were the government draft that “would set up a committee of elected and appointed members to write a new charter within 120 days, leaving Chapters 1 and 2 concerning the monarchy untouched,” while the “opposition” version “requires an elected charter-drafting committee to write a new charter within 240 days, also leaving Chapters 1 and 2 untouched.”

The result of the vote is that “a 45-member committee was set up to scrutinise the drafts before their second and third readings.” While iLaw manager Yingcheep Atchanont expressed some optimism that the “door for charter amendments has been cracked open…”, it seems pretty clear that the government’s version will be approved unless something massive happens.

Pro-democracy demonstrators had arrived “in their thousands again on Wednesday at Ratchaprasong Intersection, where they besieged Royal Thai Police Headquarters and splashed paint all over its walls.” It was clear that the protesters “were expressing their anger at police for using water cannon and tear gas on protesters outside Parliament on Tuesday while failing to prevent clashes with royalist counter-protesters. The violence left at least 55 injured, six with gunshot wounds.”

The Bangkok Post reports the protesters’ anger was heightened by “the rejection of the so-called ‘people’s draft’ of amendments to the constitution.” Even so, they avoided direct confrontation with the police, daubing paint and slogans across the wall of the police headquarters.

Another Bangkok Post report is that protest leader Jatuphat Boonpattarasaksa declared that the rejection of the “people’s constitution amendment draft has left anti-government protesters with no other choice but to press on with their street protests to achieve their goals…”. He added that “Wednesday’s decision by parliament was the last chance at compromise.”

His compatriots at Free Youth “posted on its Facebook page accusations of most MPs and senators serving the dictator [inverted commas removed] and ignoring calls by the people.” They added that refusing to deal with the reform of the monarchy, “any new constitution that was drafted would not really serve the people…”.

Ending the rally on Wednesday evening, it was “announced they will hold another rally at the Crown Property Bureau on Nov 25.”

Clearly, as Thisrupt notices, protestors are well aware that the regime is “dragging its feet, using delaying tactics to exhaust the movement.” That means that the “heart of Thailand’s political conflict is the monarchy question.”

The speeches by rally leaders are now “addressed directly to … Rama 10 by his first name, Vajiralongkorn, and openly mock … his rule,” his lifestyle and his wealth.

At the parliament rally, “”[p]rotestors launched red balloons into the air. The words written on them were, ‘I order you to be under the constitution’.” Strikingly, the “derogatory กู (gu) [w]as the pronoun for ‘I’ and มึง (mueng) as ‘you’.”

As never before, discussion of monarchy reform is now widespread across society.

Thisrupt predicted that the regime may crack down harder.

Today, The Dictator has responded. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha lamented that the “situation is not easing in a good direction and there is a tendency for conflict to escalate into more violence. If not addressed, this could cause damage to the country and the beloved institution [he means the monarchy], as well as to peace and the safety of people’s lives and property…”. As a result, he declared that “the government and security agencies [will] … intensify their actions by using all laws and all articles to take action against demonstrators who break the law…”.

No compromise, no stepping back. More of the same and intensified arrests and repression.





Updated: The political judiciary

28 10 2020

From long being a pretty somnolent part of the bureaucracy, in the 21st century, Thailand’s judiciary has shown that it can move politics in particular directions. The judiciary has demonstrated a capacity for politicized decision-making that has supported rightist, royalist and military interests. Its double standards are now legendary.

Sure, sometimes a court makes a decision that goes against the political grain, but these are exceptions to what is now a rule.

The most politicized of judges, who do as they are required, get rewarded. The most recent is the appointment of Nurak Mapraneet as a privy councilor. He is a former president of the Constitutional Court. He became court president in 2007 following the 2006 military coup. During his tenure there, the Court dissolved six political parties, removed two prime ministers, nullified the 2014 election, banned scores of politicians, and accepted a king’s announcement as law. Quite a record and now he’s rewarded.

All of this is a preamble to an observation that the judicial system and the courts are again being used by the regime as a political weapon.

A couple of days ago, Thai Enquirer published a list of Thailand’s latest political prisoners. It is a list of list of university students, activists, and musicians who have been charged, since 18 July 2020, under Article 116 with sedition (21 persons) and Article 110 for committing an act of violence against the queen or her liberty (3 persons). It notes that “at least 60 other protestors have been charged for joining the pro-democracy protests between October 13 and October 24, according to TLHR and Amnesty International.” Many of these were charged with violating the emergency decree. Astoundingly, that number includes “two children, aged 16 and 17, and they will be prosecuted even though the severe state of emergency decree was lifted…”.

The courts get involved in these cases almost from the beginning. From a phase where those arrested were soon bailed by the courts, that has now ceased for those deemed to be “leaders.” It is as if an order has come from higher up, telling the judges not to release them. For example, there have been several instances where the political detainees have been granted bail and then immediately arrested on other charges. The most recent example is human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa. He was bailed by a Chiang Mai Court and then immediately re-arrested and transported to Bangkok by road to face another period in detention.

As was the pattern in lese majeste cases, we see the judiciary, police and corrections being used to punish, detain, and harass. We refer to this as “lese majeste torture.” The most awful example was the treatment meted out to Somyos Prueksakasemsuk. He’s now in jail and denied bail again. Also well aware of this tactic, having also been a lese majeste prisoner, is Akechai Hongkangwarn. He’s now denied bail on a spurious Article 110 charge.

Then there are the young “leaders.” Not only are they repeatedly denied bail, but the system ensures that they are treated to all the feudal rules of the prison system. While they have not yet had their heads shaved, they are given king-approved haircuts and made to wear prison uniforms and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul has been made to “dye her hair natural black,” if those words from the Bangkok Post make any sense at all.

But none of this makes much sense. It is just a dictatorial regime acting under orders.

Update: Khaosod reports that police are looking to charge some 16 persons: “Deputy Bangkok police chief Piya Tawichai told the media yesterday the police were gathering evidence to prosecute the embassy protesters…. Maj. Gen. Piya said a number of laws were violated, such as the public assembly act and libel.” Pro-democracy activists Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa are among those being “investigated.”

It is not reported whether the police are taking similar action against the yellow shirts who protested at the same embassy before the pro-democracy thousands.





Updated: Another night, more protests

17 10 2020

Another afternoon and night of protests. The regime thought that shutting down the train system would prevent protesters massing again, They particularly concentrated on the Victory Monument, and closed it off, with not a protester in sight.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters gathered at various spots around Bangkok and in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and several other provincial towns. Our pictures are clipped from social media.

Some of the signage was interesting.

Update: The Bangkok Post has some details on those arrested, still detained, and some bailed. Among those refused bail are former lese majeste victims Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk. While there is some information on arrests, the regime is opaque, and Thai Enquirer says “security forces may have arrested up to 100 demonstrators for violating the government’s emergency decree…”. It also says that some demonstrators are “missing.”

In the royal car case, Bunkueanun Paothong has been bailed, while Akechai Hongkangwarn, another lese majeste victim, is awaiting bail.

Among those recently arrested are student leaders Panupong Jadnok (Rayong Mike) and protest leader Tattep Ruangprapaikijseree.





Arrests and royal traffic operations

13 10 2020

Livestreamed, some 20-24 protesters were arrested on Rajadamnoen Avenue this afternoon.

Khaosod reports that “police officers broke up a small rally held in anticipation for a larger anti-government protest set for tomorrow.” It isn’t clear why “police moved in on the rally opposite the Democracy Monument … while activist Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa was giving a speech…”.

Police had ordered the protesters to stop their activities because a royal motorcade for the king was about to pass by.

Jatuphat arrested. Clipped from the Bangkok Post

During the police royal traffic operation, a “scuffle broke out between the demonstrators and the police, and blue paint was thrown at some officers.”

Police “said the suspects would be charged with violating the Public Assembly Law for failing to notify the authorities about their rally.”

It is reported that “Jatupat and others were sent to the Royal Thai Police headquarters for questioning.”

One response was that activist Parit Chiwarak “led several hundred people to stage a protest in front of the police headquarters and demanded their unconditional release.”

Another response has been to bring the start time for the main rally forward to 8am.








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