Junta vs. red shirts

11 03 2018

The military junta is intensifying internet censorship again. For us at PPT it is kind of difficult to determine if we have posted anything that gets their minions excited or whether it is just a broader effort to crack down on stuff considered of the opposition.

Meanwhile, Thai PBS recently reported that the junta is still trying to keep the military boot firmly on the neck of the official red shirts.

The Bangkok Military Court has recently had 18 red shirt leaders before it, including Jatuporn Promphan who is already jailed. They face charges of “defying the order of the National Council for Peace and Order in 2016.” Yes, that is 2016.

Jatuporn was in chains and “escorted by soldiers.” The junta treats its opponents in ways that are meant to degrade but actually demonstrates the repressive and vindictive nature of the military regime.

Apart from Jatuporn, the others “included Nattawut Saikur, Mrs Thida Thavornset, Weng Tochirakarn, Yongyut Tiyaphairat, Korkaew Pikulthong, and Virakarn Musikapong.”

The faked up charges relate to the “holding political assembly of more than five people after they held a press conference at Imperial Department Store in June 2016 to announce the formation of the Centre for the Suppression of Referendum Fraud.”

This was when the junta was forcing through its constitution in a unfree and unfair referendum.

The PDRC and Suthep

16 12 2017

Two recent news reports mention Suthep Thaugsuban and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

The report that got most attention was about Suthep and his anti-democrat colleague Paiboon Nititawan seeking changes to the organic law governing political parties, arguing for “fairness” for all parties. As all commentators have noted, this is an attempt to delay the “elections.”

Suthep and friends

Suthep has repeatedly called for the military dictatorship to remain in power, so this call is aimed at that end. The puppet National Legislative Assembly says it will hear from Suthep and Paiboon.

The second report, in the context of judicial double standards, is a tiny piece of what appears to be brighter news. At the end of a report on Jatuporn Promphan, it is briefly noted that the Phatthalung Provincial Court sentenced a former senator and PDRC key figure Thawi Phumsingharach and 10 supporters “for disrupting an advance vote and election officials in the province back in 2013.”

Thawil was slapped with a five-year prison term, and the others received from one to five years “for their role in obstructing the Muang district poll on Dec 28-31 and preventing the provincial election commission from performing its duty.”

We assume they are appealing.

De facto lese majeste

15 12 2017

We were interested to read a Bangkok Post report that the “Supreme Court has halved two prison terms given to red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan for accusing former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of ordering soldiers to kill protesters” in 2009.

The bit of the report that interested us was the reason the court provided for refusing to suspend the sentences:

The Supreme Court rejected Jatuporn’s request for suspended sentences, saying his speeches had affected the royal institution.

We had not previously understood that Jatuporn’s jail sentence was a de facto lese majeste case.

Incessant double standards

7 08 2017

In his weekly column at the Bangkok Post, Alan Dawson looks at the double standards that define the military dictatorship’s (in)justice system.

In it, he mentions national deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul’s chagrin at not being able to arrest Yingluck Shinawatra supporters last week that “he has their transport dead to rights. He captured 21 taxi and van drivers who drove the fans to the court because they were not licensed to drive in Nonthaburi province where the court is.” He suggests this action was vindictive and petty.

He turns to lese majeste:

On Thursday, the first witness hearing was held in the case of The Regime vs Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka Pai Dao Din. The prosecutors call him “that man who liked a Facebook post”.

Which he did, of course. He fully admits it and it’s there on the BBCThai.com website if you need prove it. The “like” was for a biographical news report. It’s a report on which 3,000 other people in Thailand clicked like — but aren’t being prosecuted for lese majeste and computer crime with 30 years of free room and board at state expense in the balance.

As others have, he compares this with the situation of hugely wealthy and influential Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya:

That’s a double standard [Pai’s case]. But the pursuit and persecu… we always get that word wrong, the prosecution of Pai is in stark, massive contrast to the case of a playboy and bon vivant from a family with 10 dollar billionaires. The chase doesn’t even rise to the description of trivial pursuit.

In just a few more days, the rich guy’s case expires. Cop dead, run over and his body dragged along the road by the expensive car, but never mind, attack rural students for being a political activist.

Dawson could have gone on and on.

What of those accused of lese majeste and sentenced for “crimes” against royal personages not covered by the law? Then there are the political activists picked off by junta using lese majeste charges.

Then there are those sent to jail, like Jatuporn Promphan, for defamation of leading anti-democrats, while anti-democrats defaming their opponents remain free. Then there are those who are slapped with sedition charges for pointing out some of junta’s failures (of which there are many).

What of those identified as opponents who are prevented from meeting when “allies” like the members and leadership of the People’s Alliance for Democracy can. And we hardly need to mention the jailing of red shirts for all manner of “crimes” while PAD leaders walk free.

And then there are the double standards when it comes to corruption. The junta is considered squeaky clean, always. “Evil politicians” are always considered corrupt.

Finally, for this post, there is impunity, which is the grossest of double standards. Who stole the 1932 plaque? No investigations permitted. Chaiyapoom Pasae’s murder has disappeared into official silence, so that usually means impunity via cover-up by simply ignoring it as a case against soldiers. The enforced disappearance of Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee is unlikely to be mentioned much at all as the military junta quietly congratulates itself on a “job” well done. It seems a bit like the murder of Kattiya Sawasdipol or Seh Daeng by a sniper in 2010.

Not only is the junta operating with double standards, its sanctions the murder of its opponents. Meanwhile, the justice system in Thailand is broken.

“Public” discussion

26 07 2017

How does the junta handle “public” discussion? The linked report explains.

The military headed up the military junta’s main “reconciliation” effort by coming up with something various called a “social contract” or a “national harmony pact.” In fact, this was a set of military junta musings about how to keep a lit on Thailand’s sometimes raucous politics by banning and repressing the junta’s political opponents.

Following its release, the military junta then ordered what it called “final public hearings to introduce the draft of the so-called social contract, and seek opinions on it…”.

These meetings “were held at four regional military barracks around the country from Monday to Thursday beginning 17 July.

The report states that “[h]undreds of people joined in…”. Who were they? Apparently, almost all “seats were reserved mostly for those enlisted or invited.” Further, the report states that “[m]ost participants were civil servants called up by Interior agencies.”

It is unclear how many “outsiders” made it to the meetings. It was reported that “[d]espite it being a top national agenda item, only one well-known figure, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, attended the seminar on Monday at the First Army Area command in Bangkok.” Hours later, he was sentenced to a year in jail.

The report goes on to explain that in a “two-hour long presentation by the military, less than 30 minutes were spent on the introduction of the draft social contract…”. The rest of the presentation by the military “involved officers emphasising the military’s dedication to recreating national harmony and the inclusive, non-dictatorial approach they had adopted in the scheme.” In other words, the officers shoveled buffalo manure.

That’s how the military arranges reconciliation for the military and by the military.

Repressing red shirts

25 07 2017

The military dictatorship and a gaggle of anti-democrats seems petrified that red shirts are re-mobilizing.

Yet a report at The Nation suggests that the official red shirt capacity for mobilization is limited following more than three years of repression.

This report is about the most recent jailing of red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan. He’s just the “latest – and most senior – red-shirt leader to be sent to jail, and this seems to be further weakening the movement.”

The report states that “at least 12 leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) had been sentenced to imprisonment in separate cases. Some of them are serving time in prison while others have appealed the court verdicts against them and have been released on bail.”

The Supreme Court sentenced Jatuporn to a year in jail for “defaming” former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. At the time, we commented that despite two courts rejecting accusations against him, the junta’s more politically predictable Supreme Court jailed red shirt leader.

As we noted, plenty on Abhisit’s side of politics were able to defame red shirt leaders and their supporters and used state power to murder dozens of them, but it is Jatuporn who has been jailed.

The military and the royalist elite fear Jatuporn because he is a powerful orator and organizer. They have jailed him several times in recent years. The Nation states that this jailing is “the fourth time he has been put behind bars over the past decade.”

A search of our many posts on Jatuporn shows how dogged his opponents in high places have been. The Dictator has been keen to have in in jail over the past decade.

Since its coup in 2014, the military dictatorship set itself the task of destroying the official red shirts.

“Election” readiness I

20 07 2017

It seems to some of PPT’s pundits that preparations for the military junta’s election are moving along. The signals are getting stronger.

For one thing, the middle classes seem to be getting bored with the military dictatorship. They are increasingly disgruntled by poor economic data and are beginning to complain about corruption. Another sign is that the military has seemingly filled its shopping list for new kit, just in case a civilianized post-“election” regime is less able to hand over all that lovely equipment.

The hopeless anti-Election Commission recently let it be known that it believes that the earliest the junta could arrange its election is sometime about August 2018.

More telling of the preparations being made is the continuing efforts to neuter the red shirts, the Thaksin clan and the Puea Thai Party. One of the major “cases” against Yingluck Shinawatra is drawing to a close. The linked report states:

A not guilty verdict is unlikely…. A not guilty verdict would be a huge blow for the junta. It would exonerate Yingluck while galvanising her support and the populist movement. The trial has already cost the junta a significant amount of money. It would threaten the junta’s hold on power while calls for a return to civilian-led democracy would grow louder.

But a guilty verdict would pave the way for an “election” with the Shinawatra clan further “damaged.” That said, her supporters are fighting back and are not done yet.

In another case, despite two courts rejecting accusations against him, the junta’s more politically reliable and predictable Supreme Court has jailed red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan to a year in prison for defaming former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Plenty on Abhisit’s side of politics were able to defame red shirt leaders and their supporters and used state power to murder dozens of them, but it is Jatuporn who is jailed.

The military and the royalist elite rightly consider Jatuporn a threat because he is a powerful orator and organizer. They have jailed him several times in recent years, overturned election results to keep him out of parliament and more. Yet red shirts also remain defiant.

Meanwhile, the courts have continued to exonerate yellow shirts. Clearly, the junta knows who its opponents and supporters are as it prepares to civilianize its political authoritarianism via an “election.”