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.





“I denied all the charges”

13 12 2018

Apologies for neglecting this story from 10 December, Constitution Day, where Khaosod reports on the arrest of Phayao Akkahad, the long-suffering mother of volunteer nurse Kamolkade Akkahad, who was “killed by military snipers inside … [the Pathum Wanaram] temple during street protests eight years ago…”.

Phayao was charged with violating the junta’s decree that bans public gatherings on Monday night. The “gathering,” of just four persons (not counting all the cops) was a kind of play “to demand justice for her daughter.” The story says Phayao “was arrested at the Democracy Monument with three other protesters – one of whom [Pansak Srithep] also lost his son in the 2010 crackdown.”

Clipped from Khaosod

The decree supposedly lifting the unlawful political gathering decree was promulgated less than 12hours later.

Phayao “denied all the charges…”.

It is not the first time that Phayao has been arrested for actions demanding an end to the impunity of the military over the murder of her daughter. We know the military murdered Kamolkade because a “court inquest in 2013 identified her killers as soldiers firing from the elevated BTS Skytrain track into the temple, which was designated by the government at the time as a ‘safe zone’ [for protesters].”

While all four protesters were arrested, it seems only Phayao was charged, and is now scheduled to appear in court on 24 December.

Phayao says the justice system is deliberately concealing the names of those soldiers and others responsible. The banner they held (above) shows some of those who deserve blame and who should be on trial.





Updated: Justice still denied

6 01 2016

As PPT mentioned a couple of days ago, Phayao Akkahad, the long-suffering mother of Kamolkate Akkhad, a nurse killed on 19 May 2010 at Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple in the military clearance of red shirt protesters, reported that she was being harassed by the authorities.

This harassment was because she and others who lost family members in the 2010 crackdowns on red shirt protesters by the military, planned a rally for  6 January:

to call for justice for victims of the April-May 2010 crackdown after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) last week concluded that Abhisit Vejjajiva, former Democrat Party Prime Minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, his former Deputy, and Gen Anupong Paochinda, the former Army Chief, were not guilty in ordering the 2010 military crackdown.

Despite the threats, the rally went ahead. Prachathai has a short report with some photos, one of which is snipped below.

Justice denied

The report states that “[f]amilies of victims of the military crackdown during the April-May 2010 political violence gathered in central Bangkok to demand justice and condemn the recent ruling from the authorities not to not prosecute those who authorised the crackdown.”

Joining Phayao and her son, were “Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist whose son was killed by the military during the same political violence, and Wannakirati Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist…”. They “gathered at Pathum Wanaram Temple.” They were watched and escorted by some 30 police officers.

The “four started a march to 14 October Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Rd. where they plan to read our the statement to call for justice for the victims at 6 pm.” Because there were only four of them, the military junta’s “National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Order No. 3/2015, which prohibits a political gathering of five or more persons,” the authorities were unable to stop them. The police, however, prevented reporters and others from following them.

Update: At Prachatai, the details of the rally for justice are outlined. The families of the dead and injured “have vowed to struggle for justice, calling the recent ruling not prosecute those who authorised [Abhisit and Suthep, along with Anupong] the crackdown ‘shameful’.” They are correct and right. Phayao stated:

We will not accept the shame of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). I tell you, from this day onwards, I will begin a struggle again after a long halt. You (NACC) has caused me to come up to fight again. I will do everything I can to make the society realised what you did to the deaths and those who were injured. You [the authorities] have been slandering us for so long. It is now the time which I will not give in….

Another participant, Phasuk Ngamkam, declared:

“If I am a human who witnessed other human beings dying like pigs and dogs and did nothing, I think I’m lower than dogs. Therefore, I will fight with their families.

According to Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist,

before stating its conclusion after a 6-year-inquiry into the April-May 2010 political violence, the NACC only called in Abhisit, Suthep, and Gen Anupong, to testify as witness to the incident, but none of the family members of victims were called in.

No justice in Thailand.





Fear and loathing III

5 01 2016

The military dictatorship is fearful that its repression is insufficient to destroy those it loathes.

PPT posted a couple of days ago on the small and quite ludicrous storm over a calendar in Roi-et depicting Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra.

Loudmouthed and excitable dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha could have let the issue pass but, as usual, like a dog with a bone, he has gone off.

Prayuth, who is unable to bring himself to say Thaksin’s name, declared the calendar “inappropriate” because one of the images was of “a person who broke the law,” meaning Thaksin.

In line with Prayuth’s childishness, “[p]olice and soldiers in Khon Kaen also banned distribution of the calendar on Monday, when Ms Yingluck visited the province for a merit-making ceremony and to meet her supporters.” The military thugs also ordered two people “to report for attitude adjustment after finding the two members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship handing out the calendar during the former prime minister’s visit to Khon Kaen.”

The military thugs determined that “the distribution of the calendar in public was deemed a politically motivated act, which violated an order of the National Council for Peace and Order that prohibits political activity.”

In line with this kind of fearful thuggery, a report at Prachatai tells of another attempt to ban anything the military finds unacceptable, most especially when it involves those deemed political opponents.

Phayao Akkahad, the long-suffering mother of Kamolkate Akkhad, a nurse killed on 19 May 2010 at Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple in the military clearance of red shirt protesters, reports that she is being harassed by the authorities.

The reason for the attention of thugs is that a rally is planned for  6 January:

to call for justice for victims of the April-May 2010 crackdown after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) last week concluded that Abhisit Vejjajiva, former Democrat Party Prime Minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, his former Deputy, and Gen Anupong Paochinda, the former Army Chief, were not guilty in ordering the 2010 military crackdown.

Despite the implied threats, the rally will go ahead. The military will be worried and aggressive.

 





On May 2010, part III

20 05 2015

The inquests that have been held on the deaths of protesters in April and May 2014 have been unable to determine perpetrators. However, quite a number have determined that the security forces and Army were responsible, even if an individual could not be identified.

This fact and the hatred that The Dictator has for red shirts and public displays of solidarity is why the military dictatorship does not permit public remembrance of the dead.

The Bangkok Post reports that Phayao Akkahad, “mother of the volunteer nurse Kamolkade who was killed on May 19, 2010 inside Wat Pathumwanaram, held the annual religious rites for her daughter in the presence of plainclothes police and military officers who asked her not to make comments critical of the government.”

She was joined by a “dozen other families who lost loved ones during the demonstration against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and other red-shirts who were at the 2010 protest joined Ms Payao at the temple…”.

For some reason, “[m]embers of the National Reform Council’s committee on reconciliation* also turned up at Wat Pathumwanaram but some families of the victims felt uneasy with their presence and did not greet them.” One woman who lost her husband in 2010 asked: “Is this a proper place to talk about reconciliation? We’re here to remember our families but they’re here to do a big PR job by joining the commemorations and taking pictures with the photos of our family members…”.

She was clearly not happy with a stunt she considered was “disrespectful of the dead.”

*Phayao is a “member of the reconciliation committee which is chaired by Anek Laothammathat, a member of the Constitutional Drafting Committee.” Anek showed up with others.





Nasty and stupid

12 12 2014

Military dictatorships are always nasty outfits. The nastiness is usually meant to make up for their general (and generals) lack of mental capacity. Socialized in hierarchical and authoritarian organizations, it is often only the dull posterior polishers who get to the top. This is certainly true of the current lot who took control of Thailand in May. They want to wind Thai society back to some “golden” age that never existed but which they think was better because people followed military orders. Repression will often get compliance, as it does at present.

They are certainly stupid men. Not necessarily lacking in IQ, but just as thick as short planks on the real world and real politics. This is demonstrated time and again in the daft things they do.

For example, at Khaosod it is reported that soldiers have dismantled a stall in Pai in northern Thailand that sold strawberry products “with a logo resembling the face of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Jam

Five uniformed soldiers dismantled a roadside stall and “refused to identify their ranks, units, or the reasons behind their action.” They “confiscated all of the products with the [alleged] Thaksin logo, which included twenty jars of strawberry jam, eight bottles of strawberry wine, and six bottles of orange juice.” They also stole his stall.

The owner of the stall, a “local coordinator of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD)” is said to be “confused by the soldiers’ operation because his stall and products are properly registered, and the [alleged] Thaksin logo is merely a cartoon that bears no political statement.”

The owner said he would “file formal theft charges against the soldiers at Pai Police Station for ‘robbing’ him.” It probably won’t do him any good for under a military dictatorship, the military can do as it pleases, no matter how base or stupid the act. In this case, The Dictator is trying to erase Thaksin from Thailand.

Reports are of nastier interventions at Prachatai.Two family members of Kamolkade Akkahad, a nurse murdered by military at Pathum Wanaram Temple in the 2010 attacks on red shirts, “were arrested on Wednesday morning after they held a symbolic activity in response to the junta leader’s distortion of the facts about the 2010 killings in saying that the military did not kill anyone during the crackdown.”

The Dictator has repeatedly lied about these events.

Phayao Akkahad and Nattapat Akkahad, the mother and brother of Kamolkade,”were arrested by the police on Wednesday at 10.30 am and were detained at Pathumwan Police Station.”

They were arrested for having “distributed and read out the court’s ruling on the deaths of red-shirt protesters which concluded that they died from gunshots from the military. They then washed a soldier’s shirt as a symbolic gesture that the military’s uniforms were tainted with blood, let off firecrackers and said ‘People died here’.”

This was too much for The Dictator’s underlings and they sprang into action arresting the two.

As reported, when meeting media editors last week, military dictator and self-appointed prime minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha continued his lies and fabrication when he stated that “photo evidence used in court of a military sniper aiming a gun in the direction of the temple was actually intentionally posed for photographs.” This is a very large pile of horse manure. When he adds that “I know very well who was behind this, which group is behind it and who paid the media to attack me,” he is making himself look not only absolutely callous but hopelessly stupid.





Interview with released political detainee

27 05 2014

Andrew Spooner’s interview with detainee Nattapat Akkahad. It is one of the first insights into life inside the camps for the detainees.

Nattapat was grabbed on junta orders on 22 May. He is the son of Phayao Akkahad whose daughter, Kamolkade, was shot and killed by the Army on 19 May 2010 who was working as a medic.

How were you seized?

I was seized at the UDD rally at Aksa Road on the 22nd May. The Army were shooting in the air as they approached and they were fully armed. They took six of us away. First of all they put in me into an Army truck then transferred me into a van. They looked after us all quite well. I didn’t really feel scared as I knew we’d not done anything wrong. I cannot say where they took me because that’s a condition of my release.

Do you know the condition of any of the other UDD leaders?

No, they are all in different locations. When we were taken they were all ok but I can’t speak of how they are now.

Can you describe the conditions you were kept in?

It was in a very small prison cell. There was no bed, just a mat on the floor. No fan, so it was very hot, extremely hot. I had a toilet in the cell but it was in very bad condition. Food quality was ok. I was being held in an army camp. I wasn’t allowed out for any exercise. I was allowed to telephone my family over the weekend – only the one time. I didn’t ask to speak to a lawyer and was never offered access to one. I was also given a medical examination.

Was anybody mistreated in the prison?

To my knowledge, no. But I was there alone and so there was nobody for me to speak to.

What were the conditions of your release?

I’m not allowed to take part in political activity, not allowed to leave the country. These are the main two conditions. If I want to leave the country I have to ask for permission from the army.

How do you feel now?

I am not scared. I have done the right thing in calling for justice for what happened in 2010. I will now fight for those who are detained to be released. I want to speak to the diplomatic and international organisations about what happened.

Are you happy for your full-name to be used in this interview?

I’m not afraid. I can only speak the truth about what happened.





The human rights farce that is the NHRC

29 09 2013

PPT and many others have long pointed to the failure of the National Human Rights Commission. Its political makeup and position is royalist and miltiarist, which means that it protects the “rights” of abusers and the “rights” of the state.

The head of the NHRC, Amara Pongsapich, not that long ago, stated that the Commission was bored with the criticism it had faced, all of it valid criticism: “We’ve been criticised too much already and do not want to be bothered any more.”

In recent days Phayao Akkahad, mother of volunteer medic Kamolkade, murdered during the 2010 crackdown on red shirts protests ordered by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has met with Amara to request that her Commission “push for a bail release for the Redshirts currently imprisoned for their alleged crimes during the protests.” Khaosod reports that she “pleaded” the bailing of the still detained red shirts.

She had to explain to the hopeless head of the NHRC that bail is a right under the constitution and should have bail in order to be able to prepare for their legal cases when they eventually come to court. She also pointed out that yellow shirts are always granted bail and have their cases conveniently postponed.

Hopeless Amara “promised Ms. Payao that the Commitee [NHRC] would look into the matter, and assuring her that it is within the ability of the NHRC to push for the prisoners′ release.” But she sounded oh so Abhisit when she declared: “the process would not cover all protesters, as those who ‘committed criminal acts’ would not be released.” Of course, yellow shirts charged with criminal acts walk free.

Why the Yingluck Shinawatra government has not bailed these remaining red shirts is a matter of conjecture. She and her cabinet and party deserves as much criticism as the failed NHRC for gutlessness on this matter.

 





Real amnesty?

19 07 2013

A few days ago at the Bangkok Post it was reported that relatives of those killed in the April-May 2010 crackdown by the Army and the Abhisit Vejjajiva government on red shirts are to submit an alternative amnesty bill to parliament, which has six other amnesty bills to consider.

Phayao Akkahad, whose daughter Kamolkade was killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram on 19 May 2010, said the relatives’ bill meant that: “People from all colours will be absolved of any offence they committed or had committed against against them, except for core leaders…”. The relatives’ bill will “seek to bring to justice those who made the decision” on the crackdown. It would also “allow judicial lawsuits to be pressed against persons or groups that killed people and/or damaged private property” and “does not prevent private entities whose properties were damaged in the unrest from launching civil suits against vandals or arsonists…”. Importantly, the relatives have specified “which actions, not persons, will be granted an amnesty…”.

The relatives have now submitted their draft bill to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

PPT thought this proposed bill made sense. Hence, we were somewhat surprised when, at The Nation, Democrat Party leader Abhisit was reported as being “prepared to back an amnesty bill proposed by relatives of the victims of the 2010 crackdown, provided the government withdraws all previous versions of the amnesty bill proposed to Parliament.”

But at the Bangkok Post, it is reported that the reprehensible royalist added an important caveat: “the bill needed to make sure that those involved in corruption and offences against the monarchy are not included under the amnesty.”

Everyone knows that the corruption bit refers to Thaksin Shinawatra. But the monarchy bit is part of the never-ending project to re-energize a declining monarchy that royalists consider central to their world.

PPT wasn’t alone in its surprise, for the Democrat Party immediately came under heavy criticism from red shirt-hating royalists.

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut was quick to dismiss “criticism that the party has supported an amnesty aimed at exonerating those involved in instigating public disturbances during the 2010 political violence.” He pointed out that his reading of the relatives’ bill was that it “clearly separates offences in violation of the emergency rule and minor offences during the 2010 unrest.”

Bright yellow unelected Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn attacked the Democrat Party and called for it “to clarify its stance on the people’s amnesty bill.” His reading of the bill is that it is “modelled on an amnesty bill proposed by the Nitirat group” and “seeks to grant an amnesty to offenders who violated Section 112 [lese majeste] and to those who set fire to government buildings.” Oops, the royalist whip has been cracked.

Chavanond had Abhisit and the Democrat Party immediately in reverse, saying “the party will not support an amnesty for these violations…”. In other words, Abhisit is not (now) supporting any reasonable amnesty bill, and neither is the Democrat Party.

 





Opposing impunity

3 06 2013

In one of our recent posts, PPT commented on the Army’s continuing efforts to maintain the impunity it has historically had when murdering its own citizens. One of the concerns amongst red shirt groups and others who saw family and friends gunned down in 2010 is that some of the proposed amnesty bills will result in political and military leaders being immune from prosecution. Unfortunately, this is a real possibility, and in recent days the families of some of those killed have spoken out.

At Khao Sod it is reported that Elisabetta, sister of murdered photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi has “expressed her opposition to any bill that will grant amnesty to those responsible of the military operation which resulted in her brother′s death.” She states she has particular concerns about a draft bill proposed by deputy premier Chalerm Yubamrung,

which would grant amnesty to all those involved in political cases from 2006 to 2010 including former PM Abhisit Vejjajeeva, who had been charged with murders for his role in ordering crackdown against the Redshirts; the military would also benefit from the amnesty.

She pleaded with ruling party parliamentarians, “insisting that absolving the authorities of their responsibility would destroy every effort she and other families of the victims had been putting into their quest for justice in the last 3 years.” She was not opposed to an amnesty for leaders once they had been convicted.

Elisabetta added that she supported an “amnesty bill that helped political prisoners who were jailed for their roles in the 2010 protests.”

An interesting footnote to the story is that Abhisit has contacted Elisabetta, seeking a meeting. She invited him to join her at the event this report comes from, but he declined.

Meanwhile, at The Nation, it is reported that relatives of some of the victims from 2010 have also expressed opposition to Chalerm’s draft bill and any others that grant amnesty to murderers. Nurse Kamolkade Akkahad was killed, and her family has been at the forefront of moves for accountabuility. Her brother Nattapat and mother Phayao held a press conference to express opposition. They “also called for the removal of Tarit Pengdith, head of the Department of Special Investigation, from its team probing the killings.”

Phayao expressed the family’s position:

first, they confirmed that they did not ignore people now imprisoned due to accusations during “Black May” protests in 1992 as they stated that they would support the people’s bill. Secondly, they reject both the National Reconciliation Bill and the Amnesty Bill, as they don’t want to see culprits get off without being punished for their actions. Thirdly, they said if the head of the DSI (Department of Special Investigation) remained, the truth would not be revealed. DSI chief Tarit Pengdith should resign, as Tarit was part of the Centre of Resolution for the Emergency Situation – and thus a suspect in terms of those responsible for killings.

Nattapat said the government and red-shirt leaders had ignored them: “We feel like being a political piece of meat, that we have no meaning to them – they’re just using us if they feel they want to.” He also said of the military: “I’m not afraid of you”.

Thaksin Shinawatra is on record as having “told his red-shirt followers he favours an amnesty bill that excludes not only protest leaders and those responsible for the crackdowns, but also himself.” If this was not more than a bit of political blarney, Thaksin needs to say it again and again. The state’s impunity must end.