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.





Prayuth and Suthep dissemble (again)

11 08 2013

Many readers will know that, last week, a Criminal Court declared that six persons killed on Wat Pathum Wanaram on 19 May 2010 were shot by the soldiers. The court states that five were shot by the soldiers situated on the BTS sky train track above the temple, with the sixth shot by soldiers stationed on Rama I Road.

That seemed pretty clear, but not for Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The outspoken general is reported at Khaosod as insisting “that the military was not involved in the deaths of 6 civilians shot dead as they sought shelter inside a temple during the 2010 military crackdown.”Prayuth locked and loaded

In one sense this should not be surprising as the military has repeatedly “denied any involvement, despite stacks of evidences and witness′ accounts.”

Prayuth “insisted that he never gave order to kill civilians. None of his commanding officers ever admitted they had shot any civilian…”.

Adding to the the mood of rejection of courts, evidence and reality, Prayuth is joined by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. Also reported at Khaosod, The newspaper points this out:

… the more mind-boggling denial of what happened in 2010 appears to rest with the Democrats, who have repeatedly argued that the military operating under Mr. Abhisit [Vejjajiva]′s government have not killed any civilian or protester throughout the crackdown….

Continuing this mind-boggling denial, with Suthep speaking in parliament, again “denied that the military ever used excessive violence against the protesters.” His explanation was appropriately royalist:

Suthep Thaugsuban (Bangkok Post photo)

“The soldiers were loyal to His Majesty the King. They knew they were the nation′s troops. They acted according to my orders within the lawful power.” Mr. Suthep announced to the Parliament. He said a group of unknown individuals was responsible for any death.

Remarkably, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, Suthep claimed (again) that there were no snipers at work shooting down red shirts.

Puea Thai Party MP Khattiyar Sawasdipol, whose father, Seh Daeng or Khattiya Sawasdipol, was cut down by a sniper’s bullet, declared: “Mr. Suthep is lying right inside the Parliament…”.army-snipers

Even more remarkable and showing not a shred of normal human emotion or sense, Suthep reportedly responded: “Maybe your father was shot by one of your own people?”

Such responses derive not just from reprehensible elite arrogance but from the history of impunity for state officials who murder citizens.





Bangkok as Sarajevo

17 05 2010

The Times (17 May 2010) compares Bangkok to Sarajevo. The story by Richard Lloyd Parry begins: “It is obvious that something frightening has overcome the city of Bangkok…. Towering barricades of rubber tyres topped with forests of bamboo staves block either end of the street. The hotel receptionist warns us to keep the curtains tightly drawn all night for fear of snipers lurking on the roofs of surrounding buildings.”

This story claims at least “33 people have been killed and more than 200 injured since Friday” and it could well be far more than this.

The author notes that: “Cameramen and photographers have recorded soldiers firing with telescopic sights and, as a result, people all over Bangkok live in fear of snipers, who are fancied to be on top of every building.”

It is mentioned that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has “indignantly rejected a proposal by Red Shirt leaders for negotiations mediated by the United Nations.” In fact he rejects any foreign mediation.

The article mentions Seh Daeng, but not his death. The yellow-shirt blogs are ecstatic.

It says that “soldiers put up signs warning of ‘Live Firing Zones’. Rama IV, a main road of banks and offices, resembles Sarajevo at the height of the Balkan wars.”

The author says it “is depressingly difficult to see any end to the violence, or any way of bringing together the two sides that race in parallel without any chance of meeting. Mr Abhisit has never won an election: he came to power as the indirect consequence of a military coup [and PAD demonstrations and a judicial coup]. To the Red Shirts it is only a matter of justice that he should be tested at the polls. To the Government it is equally obvious that such matters cannot be determined by mob rule.”

No retreat says Abhisit.





Eyewitness on Seh Daeng assassination bid

14 05 2010

PPT doesn’t usually post much material that is not in newspapers or other media. However, this note from a reader struck as being of potential interest in the current murky circumstances:

Eyewitness account i’ve been sent of sae daeng shooting – please use but don’t mention me

“I was at Sala Deang area near the MRT station. A group of us reported about noise coming from the the Dusit hotel. What looked like a long stick extended from the roof top. Within minutes, the general (Seh Daeng) was speaking to his supporters, offering water to an elderly lady and giving her a hug. Moments later, a shot was heard from overhead. The object had been pulled back and a man with a black hood stood up and walked away. About 5 min. later. A man wearing the same outfit was escorted out of the hotel into a black police van. Quickly, it took off and proceeded to go up Rama 4 and turned left to go towards MBK.

Military officers where seen smiling and shaking each others hands from this killing of this man.

Our party was told by an army officer.

You have seen nothing, go back to your hotel at once or you will be arrested and deported.

He repeated again and again. You’ve seen nothing, nothing to see here. Go back to your hotels.”





Final: The army continues to move in

14 05 2010

Facing considerable resistance, huge numbers of troops continue to surround the red shirt protest zone at Rajaprasong. They are gradually moving in on the protesters but are reportedly meeting considerable but sporadic resistance. Some useful reporting is as The Thai Report.

Meanwhile, the yellow-shirt media cheers the assassination attempt on Seh Daeng, asking why it took so long to get him, and to urge the government on to crush the red shirts. 2Bangkok.com suggests that the bid to kill Seh Daeng is army revenge (scroll down to Colonel Romklao’s revenge – May 14, 2010).

Bangkok Pundit has some recent news reports and tweets from reporters who are still seeing and hearing sporadic gunfire.

SkyNews reports that at least three foreign journalists have been shot and wounded. It names one of them as being Nelson Rand from France 24 television. This link includes a brief report on events in Bangkok. The Nation reports that a Matichon photographer – named as Jo Subin – was shot and wounded.

The Nation also reports that clashes continue: “Troops clashed with protesters at the Rajprarop security checkpoint Friday afternoon. Protesters tried to ambush troops at the Rajprarop barricade at 2:15 pm, leading to an exchange of gunfire. The sounds of gunfire prompted reporters and photographers to run for cover around building corners.”

James Hookway in the Wall Street Journal has a longer report on Friday’s continuing troubles: “Antigovernment protesters in Bangkok pushed back against police and army efforts to pin them down in the center of Thailand’s capital Friday, setting fire to a police bus and beefing up the improvised fortifications around their camp as violent clashes continued from the night before. Troops responded by firing bullets and tear gas at protesters attempting to turn the area into a war zone. It wasn’t immediately clear if the soldiers were using live ammunition, but they had previously been authorized to do so by army commanders who say ‘terrorists’ are operating within the demonstrators’ ranks.” It seems clear that live ammunition is being used (see comments above on wounded journalists).

Britain’s The Sun raises the prospect of civil war.

Yesterday, PPT suggested that the government side would deny involvement in the assassination bid against Seh Daeng. It didn’t take long. ChannelNewsAsia reports that Colonel Dithaporn Sasasmit, the spokesman for the army-run Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) has denied army involvement. The fact that CRES stated that snipers were deployed and the reports of yellow media (see above) seems to throw doubt on the denials. CRES spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd also denies. AP reports he says: “It has nothing to do with the military. It has never been our policy (to assassinate). We have been avoiding violence…”. So why the snipers despatched to rooftops yesterday? Snipers are used for just one purpose. See Thailand’s Troubles on the assassination bid.

Useful Asian Correspondent video:

AP reports that “troops fired bullets and tear gas at anti-government protesters rioting near the U.S. and Japanese embassies Friday as an army push to clear the streets sparked bloody clashes and turned central Bangkok into a virtual war zone.” It added that “Friday’s violence was centered on a small area home to several foreign embassies. Soldiers crouched behind a raised road divider and fired rubber bullets, live ammunition and tear gas shells. Army vehicles were seen speeding on deserted streets littered with stones and debris. Protesters retreated and hurled rocks and insults.”

The BBC has a recent report (1004GMT) on continuing urban warfare in Bangkok, with video. Worth viewing. The report shows troops firing weapons into what appears to be Lumpini Park and states that troops are stopping and searching ambulances (recall when the red shirts copped huge criticism for doing this? PPT expects nothing to be said about this when the government forces do it).

Colonel Sansern is cited in a SkyNews report as saying that clashes with red shirts at the Suan Lum night market occured when the former tried “to stop soldiers moving towards their main camp in central Bangkok.” He claimed that about 2,000 red shirts “intimidated authorities with weapons” so there was “an order was given to disperse them.” This is Sansern speak for opening fire.

Brian McCarten at Asia Times Online says that clashes on Friday “became much more serious as troops clashed with the protesters, firing rubber bullets, live ammunition and tear gas in an attempt to seal off their [the red shirt] encampment…”. He adds that casualties are mounting: “the death of one demonstrator, [and] around 30 people, including Seh Daeng, were injured during Thursday night’s violence.” [Erawan Emergency Center reports casualty update: 22 injured (4 in ICU), one dead. Among them, 1 Canadian and 1 Burmese.]

McCarten also reports that some red shirts appear to be armed. PPT doesn’t quite understand the media’s fascination with revealing that some protesters are armed.  And, according to this report, some protesters are not hiding this fact from the media. Clearly, while the vast bulk of protesters are unarmed or are fighting with rudimentary weapons (including rocks and slingshots), there are clearly some armed protesters. Thailand is a violent society and weapons are widely available, so it would seem logical to assume that some red shirts will have armed themselves for what they see as a final clash at Rajaprasong.

BBC reports (1122GMT)  “Redshirt spokesman Sean Boonpracong, saying there were ’40 companies of troops firing teargas, rubber bullets, as well as live ammunition’ who had converged on the area.”

This reporting is all based on tweets from journalists: At 1220-1230GMT, clashes are reported to be continuing, apparently in an expanded area, but still focused around Rajaprasong/Lumpini. Reporters have been warned to identify themselves with green arm bands but also to stay away from clashes as the military cannot guarantee that they won’t get shot. Shooting has erupted at Suan Phlu, Rajaprarop and Din Daeng with further reports of deaths and woundings.

At 1240GMT it is reported that tear gas has been fired into the Rajaprasong area and that explosions (tear gas canisters) have been heard near the main red shirt stage. Explosions also reported at Saladaeng.

NPR reports: “The situation seems to grow more dangerous by the hour in Bangkok, where thousand of anti-government “red-shirt” protesters and authorities are facing off.” A tweet at 1255GMT says “all hell breaking loose” at Saladaeng. Large numbers of trooops gathered in Sukhumvit.

MCOT Twitters that “Health Minister: Taxi driver confirmed dead, 37 persons including 3 journalists wounded in day-long clashes between troops and Red Shirts.” As this appears, another red shirt is reported dead.

Armored vehicles and ambulances are said to be moving into Saladaeng area. MCOT (see above for link) twitters that “Army mobilises armoured vehicles to Sala Daeng intersection for operation to retake area, a burst of gunshots heard continuously.”

Useful video of troops in action, firing live rounds at Guardian site.

At 1340GMT there’s an iunconfirmed report of an attack on the red shirt stage including an attempt to assassinate red shirt leaders. Report is of one woman shot by sniper.

Bangkok Post confirms blast at Rajaprasong: “A bomb exploded in the middle of the anti-government rally at Ratchaprasong commercial district on Friday evening. At least 15 people were injured from the blast. Reports said the explosion occurred at 6.20pm at the protest venue in Bangkok’s main shopping district. The blast caused people to scatter and hide at nearby areas.
Leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) had to jump down from the stage and told their supporters to protect themselves by lying on the floor.”

Explosions also reported at Saladaeng. <a href=”http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/05/bullets_fly_in_bangkok_as_thai.html&#8221; target=”_blank”>NPR</a> reports: “The situation seems to grow more dangerous by the hour in Bangkok, where thousand of anti-government “red-shirt” protesters and authorities are facing off.” A tweet at 1255GMT says “all hell breaking loose” at Saladaeng. Large numbers of trooops gathered in Sukhumvit.




First reports of attacks on red shirts

13 05 2010

This post began as a running commentary as fighting broke out in Bangkok, with a reported 32,000 armed troops surrounding red shirt protesters. PPT has now returned to regular posting.

2Bangkok.com reports: “More shooting and grenades reported at the southern Red Shirt barricades (at Silom Road) / Key Red Shirt militant leader Seh Daeng shot and hospitalized / Some reports of protesters fleeing the rally site.

Bangkok Pundit says this:

21:10: TNN reports that Seh Daeng was shot by a high velocity gun.”

“20:30 ThaiPBS reports that sounds of gunfire also heard near Sala Daeng intersection and was fired into the red shirts. TNN reports it was Seh Daeng who was shot.”

Blogging at New Mandala says: “Several injured it seems. More gun / M79 fire. Guns firing right now as I peck on my iPhone. 19.31” and later: “Dozens of shots fired….probably 100 or so by now. Still unclear as to number of injuries / deaths, if any.” See comment thread for reports from many observers.

Bloomberg reports: “Thai security forces have started an operation to seal off a central Bangkok commercial district with 6,000 protesters inside…”. Updated report here.

AP reports: “A short burst of gunfire and at least two explosions have been heard in central Bangkok where Red Shirt anti-government protesters are camped.It was not clear who was shooting, but the sounds came after the government said it will impose a military lockdown on the area in an effort to evict the protesters.” SkyNews has a similar report. BBC has a report also.

VOA reports that Seh Daeng has been shot. It is unclear whether he is dead. Seems an eye-witness account of the sniper shot at Seh Daeng: “VOA Correspondent Daniel Schearf in Bangkok reports witnessing the general, known as Seh Daeng, being shot, possibly by a sniper, within the so-called Red Shirt protesters barricaded rally site. There are also reports of gunfire and other explosions inside the encampment.” CNN says Seh Daeng is critically wounded. AP (updated here) and Reuters report on this assassination bid also. Photo of Seh Daeng in hospital here. Red shirt leaders reportedly defiant, although other reports are that some are taking cover or even resigning, maybe out of fear that they are assassination targets.

Times Online reports on a statement by Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd of CRES that says “Snipers will be deployed in the operation.” Looks like they might have had Seh Daeng as their first target.

A New Mandala blogger says that “Silom [is] like a quiet war zone after the initial frenzy about 7:30.” Al Jazeera has a longer report. The Nation’s report is here, with commentary that suggests injuries to an unknown number of protesters from bomb explosions.

The attack on Seh Daeng may have been an attempt to shock and to take out someone the government has always seen as a critical factor in red shirt organizing. It is possible that the government side may now wait to see red shirt reaction before continuing with any crackdown. It is difficult to see who the government could blame for this assassination attempt, but in the past few weeks that have always denied everything. Maybe they say they were taking out a “terrorist.”

Somewhat oddly, the Straits Times has a account of Seh Daeng here, without mentioning his shooting.

Readers might want to follow the TAN Twitter on events. A reader suggests that this Twitter site incorporates TAN and others. Reports clashes at the hospital where Seh Daeng has been taken for emergency treatment. TAN has a useful timeline of events. CNN has a voice report from Dan Rivers.

Red shirt crowds remained in place (see photos here) and groups of red shirts clashed sporadically with soldiers.





Confused in government

3 12 2009

Recently Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban was telling reporters that he expected “small protests … from December 15 to 31″ but that big rallies would be “planned after New Year’s Day celebrations to January 21.” With precise intelligence, he claimed that the Peua Thai Party is organizing rallies against the government by trying to “incite hatred before it resorts to parliamentary means to oust the administration…”. He also warned of  “sabotage in public places similar to the incidents in 2006.” That’s bombs, expected until 1 January.

No evidence was provided for any of this and Suthep’s comments seemed close to those by PAD spokesman Suriyasai Katasila and the article in the Bangkok Post PPT posted about earlier today.

PPT thought that Suthep was scare-mongering in ways that would allow the government to oppose red shirts by using the Internal Security Act. One thing does seem clear: the “intelligence” agencies, the government, PAD and friendly reporters all seem keen to promote the same stories, with no evidence presented to the public who are the target of this kind of scare mongering.

Now, however, just 48 hours later, Suthep has a new story, reported in the Bangkok Post (3 December 2009: “ISA won’t be imposed to control UDD rally”). He says there is “no need to invoke the Internal Security Act in the capital to control red-shirt rally on Dec 10…” which coincides with Constitution Day.

Suthep said “he was surprised by the UDD’s decision to rally. He called on the group’s core leaders to reconsider the planned political demonstration,” but added that the police would maintain “peace and order.”

This seems an odd turnaround. Yes, we know that 10 December is not in the “planned” dates mentioned by Suthep earlier, but shouldn’t he explain why one rally is considered “safe” enough to leave to the police and others more “dangerous.” More confusing is that one red shirt associate, and one with a reputation for dangerous actions and human rights abuses in the past, Major General Kattiya Sawasdipol, has made a statement that the government might consider a threat.

So what is it that is causing Suthep to so quickly change his mind  on the “red threat” in Bangkok?

Meanwhile, the report suggests that security forces and the Ministry of Interior seems to be working assiduously to undermine red shirt domination in Chiang Mai.