Faking fake news

11 09 2021

The regime’s efforts to stifle dissent and anti-monarchism has long targeted online discussion. Because of the way that international apps and sites work, this now involves loyalist, royalist courts issuing orders under legislation that delineates so-called fake news. This resort to the courts has been a constant since the 2014 military coup, deepening since the rise of student-led protests.

Prachatai, using work by The Reporters, show that “between 16 – 22 August, the MDES [Ministry of Digital Economy and Society] reported that they have found 44 URLs which they claimed to be spreading fake news, and that they are in the process of requesting a court order to block at least 145 URLs.” Of course, this is in additon to hundreds and thousands already blocked.

In this latest bunch, most are Facebook pages. While it is no surprise, many of these pages are by political activists. What is something of a surprise is that well-established online news sites and those of journalists are also being targeted. This suggests a growing appetite to further censor the media. We would guess that the confidence to take such steps is to bolstering the regime’s more aggressive street-level tactics to repress demonstrators.

Among them is Prachatai’s own Thai language Facebook page and the Facebook profile of their reporter Sarayut Tungprasert. Other media included are “Voice TV’s Talking Thailand Facebook page and the Progressive Movement’s Facebook page.” Other pages listed are:

The Facebook pages for academic in exile Pavin Chachavalpongpun, photographer Karnt Thassanaphak, actor and pro-democracy protest supporter Inthira Charoenpura, and activist Parit Chiwarak are all included on the list, as well as the Facebook pages for activist groups Free Youth, United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), Dome Revolution, and Thalufah. The Facebook group [belong to Pavin] Royalist Marketplace is also listed.

17 Twitter accounts appear, including those of human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa, Thalufah and UFTD, as well as @ThePeopleSpaces, an account which often runs discussions relating to politics and the pro-democracy movement on Twitter’s Spaces platform.

Prachatai states that it “does not know which piece of news led to the Facebook page and Sarayut’s Facebook profile being included on the list.”

While the king has not been seen for several weeks – is he in Thailand or holidaying in Germany? – his minions are hard at work erasing anti-monarchism.





Further updated: Royalist courts doing their duty

23 08 2021

Update 1: Apologies. We posted an unedited version earlier. Fixed it now.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reports that on 18 August 2021, lawyers submitted a bail application for the nine activists detained in recent days by the royal police. At least two of the detainees are COVID-19 infected.

Arnon Nampa is detained on another lese majeste charge, while the others – Sam Samat, “Penguin” Parit Chiwarak, “New” Sirichai Natueng, “Fah” Promsorn Viradhammajari, Nutchanon Pairoj, “Mike” Panupong Jadnok, “Boy” Chatchai Kaedam, and Panudda Sirimassakul or “Tong Thalufah” – faced a number of charges: “Section 215 of the Thai Criminal Code, [an] assembl[y] of ten persons [and] upwards, … violation of the Emergency Decree, and the Communicable Disease [decree/act]. Some of them were charged with causing d[amage] and [assaulting police].”

Bail was denied, with the royal courts “citing no reasonable cause to change the order.”

In prior, the lawyer had submitted bail motions on 9 August 2021 after the submission of detention motion made by the inquiry officers. The Court denied bail citing that the alleged offenders had no fear of the law. If they were to be released, they could commit further harmful acts. Therefore, the lawyers appealed the court’s order on 13 August 2021. As a result, “Poon” Thanapat (surname withheld) was released on bail citing that he surrendered himself and just passed the age of minor.

The bail application for the eight activists cited the following:

Prior to the detention on 9 August 2021 according to the warrant issued by the Court, eight alleged offenders were in good health condition. However, during the detention, Parit, Sirichai, and Promsorn were found … to be COVID-19 infected after getting tested on 14 August 2021. In addition, several correctional officers were reported to be infected. Therefore, the detention is unnecessary and causes them vulnerability to be infected without ability to protect their own lives. Although, the alleged offenders were charged with similar allegations to the current case, it remains an allegation made by the inquiry officers. The alleged offenders were not convicted by the court. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that the alleged offenders had no fear of the law and it is not admissible with the reason citing “if they were to be released, they could commit further harmful acts.”

In addition, the reason citing the alleged offenders, which are Parit and Panupong, had breached bail conditions of the other court, therefore, they should not be released on bail in this case, is not admissible. The Court had not examined the alleged offenders for facts and had not given a chance to the alleged offenders to make an objection or show an evidence.

They added that the detainees had not resisted arrest and did not pose a flight risk.

The bail application for Arnon also cited the risk of COVID-19 infection and proposed a 200,000 baht surety.

All applications were dismissed.

That’s how the royalist regime operates.

Update 2: Thai Enquirer reports that Sureerat Chiwarak, mother of jailed activist Parit has “demanded an investigation into the delays in transferring her Covid-19-stricken son and other detained protest leaders to hospital for treatment.” Speaking for other parents, she stated: “We have requested this transfer since August 16, but to no progress…. We are now very concerned and scared, and want to know what happened to those requests.”





Deadly serious III

19 08 2021

The Nation reports that, yesterday, “activists headed to the district court in Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani … to submit bail requests for Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and other Ratsadon members who have picked up Covid-19 in jail.”

The (In)Justice Ministry said “that four protesters had picked up the virus in jail but their condition is fine and they are being given Favipiravir pills for treatment.” In addition to Parit, the Ministy listed them as: Sirichai Nathuang, Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree, and Thanapat Kapeng.

Four other jailed protesters “have tested negative though they are being quarantined…”.

The activists’ mothers – Ratsamoms – joined with others pushing for bail and release from prison for their kids.

In another report, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, said that

for three days Parit … coughed and had a headache, body pains and excessive phlegm, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level remained normal. He was breathing normally and was able to sleep and eat.

Sirichai … had headache, body pains, eye pain and fever for three days, but was able to breathe normally. His pulse and oxygen saturation level were also normal, the deputy director-general said, and he could eat and sleep.

Promsorn … suffered from headache, excessive phlegm, fever, fatigue, a sore throat and a cough for three days. He also lost his sense of smell, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level were normal.

Despite these health problems and the Department’s poor reputation for virus mitigation and treatment, the Thanyaburi Court rejected a bail request “for Parit … and seven others charged in connection with a protest in front of the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district on Aug 2.”

As expected the vicious, royalist court saw “no reason to reverse the detention order.”  The courts have a reputation for “teaching lessons” to those charged with lese majeste. Deaths in custody are seen as part of the “lesson.”





Updated: Trampling remaining freedoms III

8 08 2021

The Bangkok Post reports some good news: “The Civil Court on Friday ruled in favour of the media by issuing an injunction suspending Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s regulation restricting freedom of speech and threatening internet censorship.”

There are few good news stories from the judiciary, but this one seems to be in that category, with the court ruling that the new rules “went against the law,” and even issuing an “English-language announcement of its decision.”

It is quoted:

Considering that Section 9 of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005) (No. 29) provides Prime Minister no authorization to suspend internet services provision, Article 2 of the Regulation authorizing the suspension of internet services provision against the Internet Protocol address (IP address) of which the user has disseminated the information not compatible with the Regulation is in contrary to the law….

It is in the view of the Court that, considering the existence of several legal instruments establishing the measures concerning illegal dissemination of information and the government’s capability to educate people, develop a public better understanding and examine false information, the suspension of the enforcement of such Regulation does not pose any obstacle to public administration in emergency situations and public interest….

Update: The bad news is also in the Bangkok Post. It reports that “Thailand has moved into the third-lowest tier in the world for internet freedom, down two steps from the year before, according to Comparitech, a website that focuses on improving cybersecurity and privacy online.”

That rating says that Thailand is a massive “73% restricted,” meaning it ranks on a par with dictatorships and monarchies like “Belarus, Qatar, Syria, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates…”.

Most of Thailand’s score was attributed to the royalist-inspired banning of Pornhub. This is, however, just one element of a broad effort to limit non-official information available on the monarchy.





Threatening Penguin

9 06 2021

To get bail, Penguin – Parit Chiwarak – had to give the court certain undertakings that prevent him from questioning the monarchy and engaging in political protest. The regime and its pliant judiciary considered they have worked a fix that keeps the protesters quiet and compliant.

As would be expected from this repressive regime and its royalist vigilantes, they been patrolling Penguin’s social media.

Thai PBS reports that the “parents of Ratsadon anti-establishment protest leader … Penguin … and a Thammasat University lecturer were warned by the Criminal Court today (Monday) that it may revoke the anti-establishment [anti-monarchy] political activist’s bail if he is found to be in breach of his bail terms.”

They were “summoned as Parit’s caretakers to the Court today for a special hearing over a complaint in which Parit is accused of posting a message on his Facebook page deemed to be a breach of the terms of his release on bail…”.

During the hearing, “caretaker” Dr. Adisorn Juntrasook explained that Parit was “just exercising of his freedom of expression within the terms of the bail.” Parit’s “parents also explained that their son did not do anything which could be considered a breach of the bail terms.” Adisorn promised “to remind Parit to comply strictly with the court’s requirements.”

The court “instructed them to make sure that Parit strictly follows the bail terms and refrains from posting any messages on social media which may constitute a violation, or the court may revoke his bail.”

No anti-regime or anti-monarchy language will be tolerated.





Updated: Judges and Toyota II

1 06 2021

Thailand’s judiciary is rotten. It is politically biased, engages in acts of double standards, and has been shown to be inhumane in its sentencing. Underneath all of this, it is corrupt, long “protected” by is association with the monarchy.

However, a bribery case in the USA and involving Toyota is shining a light on corruption alleged to be at the very top of the judiciary. For an earlier post on this developing case, see here.

About a week ago, Law 360’s Frank G. Runyeon reported that:Law360

“U.S. authorities are ramping up their Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of Toyota, with federal prosecutors impaneling a grand jury in Texas as they seek any evidence the carmaker bribed top Thai judges to overturn a $350 million tax judgment, according to a U.S. law enforcement official and documents related to the investigation.

Ongoing investigations by both the USA’s Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are poring over documents from Toyota, which self-reported, an internal company investigation conducted by WilmerHale, presented to American authorities by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in April 2020.

Toyota suspected senior attorneys working for Toyota Motor Thailand “funneled bribes through a private Thai law firm to Thailand Supreme Court judges in an effort to influence the decision on a still-pending appeal of the tax judgment…”.

The grand jury proceedings are secret, but more details have been released regarding the internal investigation at Toyota:

The internal Toyota investigation found that TMT contracted with Annanon Law Office to help establish a backchannel to Thailand’s highest ranking judge via a former chief judge and an advisor, law enforcement documents show. TMT paid nearly $18 million on the $27 million contract, according to the documents, with $9 million to be paid if Toyota won the appeal, which relates to import taxes on Prius car parts.

Those potentially involved in the alleged bribery are named: “… Annanon law firm, … former Supreme Court of Thailand President Direk Ingkaninan and Supreme Court senior advisor Chaiyasit Trachutham…”. They were “to persuade high court president Slaikate Wattanapan to accept Toyota’s argument and have the court rule in its favor within a year, sometime after Slaikate’s term began in October 2019…”.

Runyeon reports that:

Thai government records indicate that around the time of the alleged bribery scheme Direk was a sitting senior judge and Slaikate was president of the Supreme Court. While the duration of Chaiyasit’s alleged tenure as a high court advisor is unclear, records show he was a senior judge on the Court of Appeal for Specialized Cases until at least October 2019…. Mr. Direk assisted TMT with the Prius case in the Primary Court and has been involved again in the current possible Supreme Court appeal.

Direk, 70, was the top ranking senior judge on the Supreme Court as of May 2020, government records show, and is eligible to serve until he ages out next September. Records show Chaiyasit, 70, reached mandatory retirement age in September 2020 after various judicial posts on Thailand’s appellate and supreme courts. Slaikate, 66, stepped down as Supreme Court president in September 2020, but retained senior judge status.

… The long-serving Toyota attorneys who law enforcement documents claim allegedly organized the scheme — General Manager Wichien Hirunmahapol, his deputy Sathit Tungjitpreechatai and Pornchai Saetachantana — left TMT in the midst of Toyota’s internal corruption probe and opened a boutique law firm, according to online biographies, the firm’s website and sources familiar with that investigation.

… A court official confirmed on Monday that Direk and Slaikate remain sitting senior judges on Thailand’s Supreme Court but did not immediately confirm Chaiyasit’s employment status. He referred Law360 back to an earlier public statement.

Soon after this report was noticed in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported that the “Thai Court of Justice has vowed to take action against wrongdoers following a report the US Department of Justice is taking the Toyota bribery probe involving three top Thai judges to a grand jury.”

As always happens in such international cases of bribery and corruption, Thai authorities sought “information.”

Usually the “information is delayed, lost, misplaced for long enough that it fades away.

Suriyan Hongwilai, spokesman of the Court of Justice, stated that “if the Court of Justice found or could verify that the bribery had taken place, it would take disciplinary action, regardless of who the wrongdoers were or what positions they held by submitting the finding to the Judicial Commission.” He added that no one should “not to jump to conclusions before the cases were concluded in both countries.”

As we know, even if convicted of a crime in the US, the judges could turn to politics and become ministers.

LaughingAnother Law 360 report follows Suriyan’s media outing, claiming he stated that “[s]ince becoming aware of the matter, the Court of Justice has been trying to follow, verify, and gather all related information and facts both in the country and abroad…”. It seems they found nothing, knew nothing for Suriyan said: “Now that there has been a news report mentioning names and positions of some individuals, the Court of Justice will proceed to verify with the related affiliated agencies.” He added: “Further action would depend on the details of the obtained information…”.

It won’t be just PPT who will find such statements laughable. After all, as another Law 360 report says, it is “[m]ore than six months before Toyota disclosed concerns to U.S. authorities about possible foreign bribery in Thailand…” and two months since it was publicly reported.

Law360 says that the “protocol for the internal [Toyota] investigation was laid out in a 22-page document dated Sept. 30, 2019.” It was that document that “appeared to show that Toyota was concerned about possible corrupt payments to current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials.”

It is stated that:

Toyota’s internal investigation focused on whether its employees made payments to any of eight Thai law firms or 12 individuals who may have played a role in the Prius litigation as the company was challenging the tax judgment in Thai courts. In addition to understanding if and how payments were made, the probe sought to confirm the amounts and whether any such payments were hidden, made indirectly, diverted to others, or “used or intended to be used for an improper purpose, and in particular, to influence the outcome of the Prius case.”

Another key question for reviewers was whether the recipients of any such payments had any connection to, influence over, or ex parte contact with sitting Thailand Supreme Court judges who might rule on Toyota’s case. WilmerHale also asked its team to flag any evidence that Toyota Motor Corp., the global parent company, knew about any “potentially improper payments to consultants.”

The response from the named judges began with threats of defamation cases. The aim was to keep their names out of reports in Thailand, including on social media. Isra News Agency reported:

that three Thai judges mentioned in a Law360 article about the possible bribery would ask the Court of Justice … to file a computer crime complaint with police to take legal action against those who mentioned them by name or shared such news on social media.

Thai PBS reports that “[f]ormer president of Thailand’s Appeals Court, Professor Chaiyasit Trachutham, has categorically denied allegations, reported by Law360, that he was among three senior judges implicated in Toyota Motors Thailand’s (TMT) bribery scandal.” He added that:

he was directly involved in the legal dispute between TMT and the Thai Customs Department, over import taxes on Toyota Prius hybrid cars,when he was a senior judge at the Appeals Court and was responsible for handling 10 case files…. After having carefully studied the case, he said that he felt that TMT had only a slim chance of winning the case….

The Bangkok Post reports that the Court of Justice moved a little further, and “has set up a 10-member panel to follow up on the Toyota bribery scandal…”. It was set up last Friday. So what the judiciary was doing before probably amounted to a hope that the story could be kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported that “Salaikate Wattanaphan, former president of the Supreme Court, has [also] denied any involvement in the bribery case…”. He “insisted that since he wasn’t in a position to make any decisions on Toyota’s appeal against the Appeal Court’s ruling in the tax dispute case, it is impossible that he would be offered as much money as claimed.”

Salaikate said “he was president of the court back then but wasn’t directly involved in the decision.”He reckons “… accusations that senior judges were paid US$19 million and later US$27 million were sketchy … who would ever be silly enough to pay that much money to them while not knowing how the decision [on the appeal] would turn…”. It seems he’s semi-serious in this observation.

Meanwhile, cases against those mentioning the report and judges are moving faster than any investigation of the bribery allegations.

Update: How fast can a judge move when named in a corruption case? In the kill-the-messenger sprint, it is with Olympic record speed. The Bangkok Post reports that former Supreme Court president Direk Inkhaninan and Chaisit Trachutham, a former senior judge in the Appeal Court, have already “filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against Law360, a US-based legal news website, for defamation.”





Corrupt justices, corrupt regime

6 04 2021

Yesterday, PPT posted on a possible corruption case involving “current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials…”.

Such a bombshell has received muffled attention and another cover-up might be expected. Even so, as the Bangkok Post reports, the Courts of Justice have felt compelled to provide a comment, although it is of the usual slippery variety, telling the taxpaying public that “they will take action against any judges found to have taken bribes linked to a tax dispute involving a Thai subsidiary of automaker Toyota.”

Well, maybe, for the claims are dismissed: “the office said claims without grounds that judges involved with bribery often happen during legal disputes.” Such claims were described as “bogus.” In other words, like Mafia dons they say “forget about it.”

Helpfully, Suriyan Hongvilai, spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, “explains” that:

… the case in the focus involves a tax dispute worth about 10 billion baht between Toyota Motor Thailand Co (TMT) and tax authorities over the imports of parts for Prius cars.

He said the Supreme Court’s decision to review the dispute was announced on March 29 and the case is now pending hearings and has yet to be finalised.

He urged the public to investigate and not to rush to conclusions when bribery allegations against judges emerge.

“The Supreme Court has yet to hear and rule on the case. It just agreed to hear it and the granting of the request is line with laws which allow the Supreme Court to hear the case when it sees fit,” he said.

So, the Supreme Court decided to “review the dispute” and announced this on 29 March, the very day that Law 360 published the story “Toyota Probed Possible Bribes To Top Thai Judges.” That was just 10 days after the first media report of the Toyota case. How convenient.

The clarification is in response to foreign media reports.

Thailand’s Mafia dons also appear in a separate Bangkok Post report.

Palang Pracharath Party leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has thrown his and his party’s “support behind former national police chief [Gen] Chakthip Chaijinda for the upcoming Bangkok governor election…”. The junta appointed the sitting governor, also a former top cop, and Gen Prawit expects to be able to maintain that control.

To get the job done, Gen Prawit has reportedly assigned Mafia boss, convicted heroin trafficker, and moneybags, Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thammanat Prompao to arrange the election for the party.

That’s a neat idea: a former felon will assist a former top cop. Cops are used to dealing with “dark influences” in Thailand, often working in partnership for mutual wealth creation.

One of the outcomes of coup and military dictatorship has been the alliance of the twin evils of dark influences and dark power.





Judges and Toyota I

5 04 2021

At the end of March, Law 360 published the story “Toyota Probed Possible Bribes To Top Thai Judges,” written by Frank G. Runyeon. It is a story about Toyota investigating and reporting itself on possible corruption in Thailand.

It took more than six months of internal investigation “before Toyota disclosed concerns to U.S. authorities…” in April 2020.

It found that “its consultants paid off Thai judges and government officials in an effort to overturn a $350 million import tax judgment related to its Prius cars…”. The report states:

… documents obtained exclusively by Law360 and court filings in a related case show the company previously conducted its own investigation led by counsel at WilmerHale. Code-named “Project Jack,” it sought to determine whether Toyota Motor Thailand violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or the U.K. Bribery Act by making payments to outside law firms or consultants that may have been passed to or shared with Thai judges, court advisers or others in an effort to secure a favorable outcome in the Prius tax case….

Titled “TMC Thailand Inquiry: Background & Protocol for Document Review,” the guidelines were distributed to several teams of reviewers poring over millions of company documents dating back to 2012 with help from more than a dozen attorneys and translators. The protocol appeared to show that Toyota was concerned about possible corrupt payments to current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials….

In the Prius matter, Thai customs officials had accused Toyota of shorting the government 11 billion baht, or about $350 million today, in import taxes over a two-year period because the company did not use Thai assembly lines to build Prius cars there and instead imported pre-assembled cars, according to a WilmerHale case summary. A loss for Toyota would make its import tax obligation skyrocket from 10% to 80% of the cars’ value.

Back then, Toyota challenged the tax judgment in the courts. Its investigation was to determine “if and how payments were made,” and also “sought to confirm the amounts and whether any such payments were hidden, made indirectly, diverted to others,” ore were otherwise illegally made.

In particular, a “key question for reviewers was whether the recipients of any such payments had any connection to, influence over, or ex parte contact with sitting Thailand Supreme Court judges who might rule on Toyota’s case.”

We guess the next question is whether this case will go the way of the Rolls Royce corruption when some $18.8 million was alleged to have been paid by Rolls-Royce to “regional intermediaries” and ended up in the pockets of “agents of the State of Thailand and employees of Thai Airways…”.





Regime’s judges deepen repression

11 03 2021

Human Rights Watch:

Thailand’s Bangkok Criminal Court has ordered three prominent democracy activists to pretrial detention on charges of insulting the monarchy, Human Rights Watch said today. The order could leave them detained for years until their trial is concluded….

“There is a growing pattern of Thai activists charged with lese majeste being sent to long periods of pretrial detention,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Courts should uphold the right to the presumption of innocence and ensure all fair trial procedures are observed.”

… The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified, encourages bail for criminal suspects. Article 9 states that, “It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial.” Those denied bail should be tried as expeditiously as possible, Human Rights Watch said….

“Thai authorities should immediately end their heavy-handed enforcement of the lese majeste law and allow a broad-based discussion to bring the law into compliance with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations,” Adams said.

Amnesty International:

The denial of bail for four protest leaders on Monday (8 March) is “tantamount to a systematic suppression of freedom of expression and freedom of opinion” in Thailand, says Amnesty International, who calls on the government to end legal prosecution against dissenting voices….

Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand said:

“It is profoundly worrying that the Thai authorities are systematically prosecuting a large number of protest leaders and demonstrators. In certain cases, the suspects may face up to 15 years of imprisonment. This is a severe and disproportionate punishment. Given the normally protracted period of trial, the prosecution of dissenters or critics of the government is being weaponized to silence and retaliate against those who dare to challenge the state power.”

“Mass prosecutions and denial of bail demonstrate how the justice process is being used as a tool to brazenly attack the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. People are entitled to legitimate rights to express themselves and participate in activities concerning social issues.

“The Thai authorities must stop treating critics as if they are criminals or a threat to national security. They must be released and the charges against them must be immediately dropped in the condition where there is an insufficient evidence under international criminal standard.”

Should anyone thinks that the courts are involved in anything other than “lawfare,” we suggest a careful reading of a Prachatai report, where it refers to the “[b]izarre treatment of pro-democracy protesters…”. It mentions several anomalies:

The court’s rejection of bail for 4 pro-democracy activists on 8 March is raising questions about procedural irregularities as 3 of them were taken from court before they were allowed the opportunity to complete bail requests, while another was sent to a prison other than the one designated by the court.

Corrections Department Director-General Ayut Sinthoppan said that several political prisoners were transferred from Bangkok Remand Prison to Thon Buri Remand Prison to “ease overcrowding.” Lawyers and families were left in the dark.

At least 58 people now face lese majeste charges and none of them will be treated fairly or legally.





Courts uphold military coups

31 01 2021

We are slow in getting to this story, and many readers will have seen it at Prachatai (with a date error in the final lines). We were going to write that this is a “remarkable story,” but nothing is particularly remarkable in a country that has an erratic monarch who favors neo-absolutism and a “civilianized” military junta that has maintained tight control since its military coup in 2014.

On 26 January, the Appeals Court “found Pholawat Warodomputthikul, 28, a former technician in Rayong, guilty under the sedition law for distributing leaflets expressing opposition to the 2014 coup.”

For opposing a military coup, made “legal” after the event by a pliant judiciary, “Pholawat was sentenced to 4 months in prison,” but “commuted the prison sentence to 2 years on parole.”

The leaflets reportedly stated:

“Wake up!!! and stand up to fight already … Everyone who loves democracy … Dictators shall fall. Long live democracy,” with an image of the three-finger salute, with the message “Liberty, equality, fraternity, oppose the coup.”

Most of the “leaflets were distributed in Rayong province, which, the court ruled, showed the intention to rally people who share Pholawat’s political ideas to oppose the government led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the head of the junta which had seized power.”

The court “ruled” that such opposition to the [illegal] coup, “might cause disorder or violence among people to the point that it may have caused unrest in the country, and does not constitute honest criticism…”. In fact, it was absolutely honest and an action protected by the constitution had it not been trashed by the junta.

The court’s verdict mangled and conccoted to justify its support for military coups. Much of the court’s verdict, as it is reported, reads like it was put together by the junta itself.

Pholawat plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.








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