Ko Tee dead?

8 08 2017

Following reports of Wuthipong Kachathamakul’s enforced disappearance in Laos there has been little information available. However, reports in the media and on social media make two points that are at odds with each other.

The military dictatorship states that it has heard nothing from Lao authorities to confirm anything about the case. That’s according to General Thawip Netniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council. Then Thawip said “he personally believes that Wutthipong is still in hiding.” In fact, such claims by the authorities are common following enforced disappearances.

The diverging social media account is that Ko Tee is dead: “Photos purportedly of Wutthipong’s body have gone viral on social media.”

It is incumbent on the Lao government to investigate the matter, but it is doubtful that the secretive regime there will make any statement.





HRW on Ko Tee’s “disappearance”

2 08 2017

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement on Wuthipong Kachathamakul’s apparent forced abduction.

While the military dictatorship in Bangkok continuing its Sgt. Schultz “explanation,” HRW has called on the “Lao authorities … [to] urgently investigate the abduction of an exiled Thai activist … Ko Tee…. Eyewitnesses stated that a group of unknown armed assailants abducted him in Vientiane on July 29, 2017, raising grave concerns for his safety.”

Providing more details, HRW’s account is that:

On July 29, at approximately 9:45 p.m., a group of 10 armed men dressed in black and wearing black balaclavas assaulted Wuthipong, his wife, and a friend as they were about to enter Wuthipong’s house in Vientiane according to multiple witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch. The assailants hit them, shocked them with stun guns, tied their hands with plastic handcuffs, covered their eyes, and gagged their mouths. Wuthipong was then put in a car and driven away to an unknown location while his wife and his friend were left at the scene. According to Wuthipong’s wife and his friend, the assailants were speaking among themselves in Thai. The incident was reported to Lao authorities in Vientiane.

It calls on the Lao authorities:

The Lao government needs to move quickly to ascertain the facts and publicly report their findings, including an assessment of Wuthipong’s whereabouts and who might be responsible for this crime that was so boldly carried out in its own capital city.

Lao authorities should mount a serious effort to find Wuthipong if he is still in Laos, and take immediate steps to prosecute any persons in Laos who were involved in this abduction.

It remains unclear who abducted Ko Tee.

We can guess that the military dictatorship in Bangkok would be involved in some way. We also know that enforced disappearance is not unknown in Laos. We also know that the Thai military regime has allowed other security forces – in several cases from China – to abduct dissidents from Thailand. We might also consider this action as a typical action of Thailand’s dictatorship, seeking to silence critics by attacking one as a special example.





Further updated: Ko Tee disappeared?

31 07 2017

Social media lit up this afternoon with speculation that Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul has been “disappeared.”

Over months and years, the military junta has been hunting Ko Tee, alleging lese majeste, anti-monarchy plots and more, while Ko Tee has poked back, angering the short-tempered royalist generals who are Thailand’s dictators.

The speculation is that the military dictatorship has sent teams of assassins to hunt him down.

Update 1: Khaosod reports that:

Word that Wutthipong “Ko Tee” Kochathmmakun had been abducted began spreading early Monday morning by another exile, Los Angeles-based journalist Jom Petchpradab. Jom wrote that Ko Tee was abducted by 10 armed Thai men in all black and wearing hoods Saturday night in Laos and likely taken back into Thailand.

Jom’s report remains unverified, but if this is an enforced disappearance, then there will be silence. Khaosod continues:

Jom said his account was based on that of two men who were with Ko Tee at the time but either were not taken or managed to get free.

He quoted the two unidentified friends, who claimed their heads were covered with cloth while another piece of cloth was stuffed into the mouths of all three as they were dragged into a residence.

“Those who arrested us spoke Thai,” Jom wrote, quoting the men. “They used an electric shock device and applied it to our necks. Each of us was then assaulted and threatened to not make any noise, not to cry out. At the same time, [the source] said he heard Ko Tee say, ‘Ouch. Can’t breath,’ and then Ko Tee went quiet.”

Jom also posted photos of what were described as the cloth and plastic wrist restraints used in the abduction.

A fellow activist, Nithiwat Wannasiri, “said he was unsure whether Ko Tee had been abducted but said no one has been able to contact him since Saturday.”

The story then refers to the earlier disappearance of another activist:

[Nithiwat] … added that he wouldn’t be surprised because a lesser-known dissident, Ittipon Sukpaen, aka DJ Sunho, disappeared from Laos in June 2016, and no one has seen him since.

“I believe Sunho is dead. I can’t conclude if Ko Tee has been forced to disappear, however,” Nithiwat said from Laos.

An attorney representing Ittipon’s family said in July 2016 they also believed he was dead.

It appears that there was a warning from Lao authorities:

A member of the Thai dissident community living in Laos said they were warned by Laotian authorities last week that they were “being hunted down” by those from the other side of the border, a reference to Thai authorities. Many temporarily moved to safer locations, the source said, requesting anonymity for fear of his safety.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post has reported on this, in somewhat odd terms. In a photo insert quoting Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan using the usual Sgt Schultz line, the report states that the “rumor” is that Ko Tee was “rounded up by troops while hiding in Laos.” We assume the report means Thai troops operating either clandestinely in Laos or with the connivance of the government there. It adds that the military dictatorship has been keen to have Ko Tee silenced, to “prevent his group criticising the Thai regime via community radio stations based in Laos.”





Updated: National security debased (again)

6 05 2017

With all the repressive ridiculousness of the military dictatorship, it is easy to miss a report at the Bangkok Post regarding the never-ending campaign to capture and jail Wuthipong “Kotee” Kochathamakun.

National Security Council secretary-general General Thawip Netniyom has reportedly sent a third request to Laos for the arrest and deportation of Ko Tee. He has done this because “Lao authorities had not been responsive to previous requests…”.

With all of its important work protecting the country, now to be (eventually) supported by submarines, the National Security Council seems to rank the capture of a minor anti-monarchist at the top of its security agenda.

One of the reasons for this is that the yellow shirts clamor for him to be taken down. Another reason is that the new king apparently demands that his protection from words, photos, video and more is one of the highest concerns of national security.

General Thawip “described Mr Wuthipong as being a dangerous person because he had violated the lese majeste law and allegedly planned attacks on national leaders.” We do not dispute the first claim, but the second is buffalo manure. It is a wild claim concocted by the military dictatorship so that it could then concoct a claim for extradition from Laos.

Anyone seen any of the so-called terrorists arrested in the highly publicized operation fronting a court? It was almost two months ago.

The junta now claims it has “21 arrest warrants for a series of serious offences” out on Ko Tee.

It seems that the police, military, junta, NSC, cabinet and many other state agencies are now essentially devoted to nothing more than tracking down and concocting lese majeste, including entrapping and jailing curious citizens who, for example, are interested in the king’s bizarre fashion choices.

Update: A reader points out that Ko Tee has made threats of attacks in his podcasts. That’s not in dispute. The manure mentioned above is the concoction of an actual plot rather than an internet-based rant.





The Ko Tee “plot” and extradition

20 03 2017

In our last post on the military junta’s marvelous story about a mammoth plot to accumulate war weapons, assassinate The Dictator using a sniper rifle and cause a rebellion based on Wat Dhammakaya, we stated:

While Ko Tee [Wuthipong Kachathamakul] has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014…. “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

Bingo! The Bangkok Post reports that the junta “has vowed to seek the extradition of hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee, from Laos following the discovery of a huge cache of weapons by authorities in a house in Pathum Thani.” (Like everyone else, we thought he was in Cambodia.)

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said “he wanted Mr Wuthipong brought to justice given the weapons were found in his home, adding officials will contact Laos authorities to seek Mr Wuthipong’s extradition.”

They really want him for lese majeste and seem prepared to go to extreme devices to get him.

In our earlier post we also stated:

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.

Bingo! The same Bangkok Post story quotes a senior policeman as stating; ” The nine arrested suspects were questioned by military officers and they confessed to keeping the weapons for a particular mission…”.

Now we await the parade of “suspects.”

As a footnote to this story, readers might recall earlier posts, beginning in early February, about a junta desire to extradite anti-monarchists from Laos. This morphed into an alleged “death threats” against The Dictator, which were then said to come from republicans, and which saw attempts to push the Lao government to extradite the alleged conspirators. This effort went on for some time.

Does it seem like too much of a coincidence that yet another plot has suddenly been “revealed”?





Still pressuring Laos

21 02 2017

The Nation reports that Army Chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart has declared that “Laos has agreed to consider Thailand’s proposal to help tackle Thai criminals including anti-monarchy dissidents in its territory.”

The royalist Army boss spent two days in Laos on an official visit meeting with “high ranking security officials there.”

Chalermchai seemed to feel that the most important thing from the meetings was that “he had expressed concerns over the moves against Thailand in Laos and asked the counterpart to help Thailand in the matter.”

Thailand’s junta seems remarkably paranoiac and apparently wants to lock up everyone who is critical of the monarchy.

Interestingly, the boss “said he did not discuss with his counterpart about extradition.” But he reckons the Lao authorities are “working on it…”.

It is clear that the anxious junta is putting a huge amount of pressure on its neighbor.





“Dangerous” people and cajoling Laos

1 02 2017

There have been several stories of late that report that the military junta is cajoling Laos into handing over a small number of allegedly anti-monarchist refugees.

In a recent account, the Bangkok Post claims that General Thawip Netniyom, the “head of the National Security Council, said Tuesday that the people being sought used social media to attack the monarchy.”

He affirmed that the Ministry of Defense “has assigned him to seek a meeting with Laotian officials and work out a deal, which could include the exchange of people sought by each country.”

We understand that net-ignorant General Prawit Wongsuwan has been pressing Laos for some time to get the dissidents silenced and to have them deported to Thailand. In November 2016, he claimed some success by working military channels in Laos.

The claimed success involved using the late king’s death for political gain. On his passing, the junta promptly asked Lao authorities to warn the Thai dissidents. It was claimed that the Lao authorities warned them “about risky activities and asked them to keep a low profile, at least during the grieving period.”

It is claimed that “[s]ome YouTube channels such as ‘Media Force’ disappeared…”. As far as we can tell, it is still operating. as are other channels including Faiyen.

In the most recent report Defence Minister and Deputy Dictator Prawit is cited as having spoken “with his Lao counterpart Lt Gen Chansamone Chayalath, who reportedly agreed to consider deporting the wanted Thai dissidents…”.

Among the earlier “negotiations” it was stated that:

Thailand and Laos signed an extradition treaty in 1999 but the pact cannot be enforced for the junta’s purposes due to the political nature of the lese-majeste offence. Laos is a socialist republic where insulting the monarchy is not a crime. The extradition treaty does not allow offenders to be sent home for political crime or crimes that are not listed by the contracting parties.

Has the Lao government changed its mind and its policy and law? Contradicting earlier reports, it is now stated by the Thai junta’s General Thawip that:

Although Thailand and Laos do not have an official agreement to extradite suspects, we can proceed in terms of mutually beneficial cooperation. If Laos wants a criminal who violated the law in Laos and is hiding in Thailand, they may ask Thai officials to make an arrest and send that person back….

Another minion, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Kongcheep Tantravich said the people it wants deported “are causing divisiveness to another country. They are smearing the government and smearing the institution, which is dangerous.”

Helpfully, the Post adds: “The monarchy is often described with respect as ‘the institution’.” In fact, it is not always said with respect.

Maj Gen Kongcheep claimed: “They are not suspects, they are dangerous people.”

He then indicated that the military junta is cajoling its neighbors: “This is more of an exchange of prisoners between one country and another…. They have some and we have some. We are exchanging information and we will see what we get out of it.”

Cajoling for a deal. That’s a bit like ensuring that one gets a commission is a corrupt deal. Its history suggests that the most dangerous people are the Thai military.