TikTok lese majeste

21 05 2021

In yet another inglorious first for the monarchist regime, we believe the first lese majeste case against a user of TikTok has been launched.

Prachatai reports that TikTok user Lalita Meesuk “faces charges under the lèse majesté law and the Computer Crimes Act for a video clip criticizing the Thai government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Lalita, from Kalasin, reported to Nang Loeng Police Station – quite a site for lese majeste charges – on 20 May 2021. Her summons was issued two weeks ago.

Lalita

Clipped from Prachatai

As is becoming common, the “complaint against Lalita was filed by Apiwat Kantong, a lawyer for the Office of the Prime Minister…”. His complaint was that “she posted a short video clip on the popular social media platform TikTok criticising the Thai government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Apiwat’s complaints are generated directly from the Prime Minister’s Office and have for some time legally trolled those critical of the regime’s virus choices, including the decision to allocate vaccine production and to subsidize a little known company that just happens to belong to the king.

Lalita says that in a reply to a comment on her post, she stated: “It’s not as much a favour as a person who takes the people’s money and gives it back to the people. But why do we need to show appreciation for royal grace?”

That got the regime’s bosses in a flap and Apiwat was given the job of filing a complaint to shut down criticism.

It is reported that Lalita denied all charges. She insists she was criticizing the government.

She was released, to report to the public prosecutor on 13 July 2021.

She was defiant, saying that the use of Article 112 amounts to a ” weaponizing the law,” adding: “What I’m feeling today is mostly anger that he used the law as a weapon to hurt me, even though he is also a lawyer. He shouldn’t be acting like this. What I said was nothing wrong. I said it because I want things to get better…”.

She attacked the government:

The country is being ruined not because of what I said. It’s being ruined because they themselves are using it and ruining it. The ones ruining it are not us but them. In the end, the things that are issued, like court orders and summonses, they have almost no meaning…. What they are doing, how long have they been doing it? And has anything got better? 5 years ago, 10 years ago, how many people did this happen to? So today, has the number got any smaller? It’s increasing instead, so is what they are doing going the right way?

They should take what we are talking about to fix things, and not look what we say as a problem, and write it down as a problem and then throw it in the garbage. The problem is not what is said. They are not doing it right. They won’t succeed if they keep acting like this.

That seems like a reasonable assessment.





Targeting Penguin

15 05 2021

Readers will probably have noticed that the recently bailed Penguin is in the sights of Palang Pracharath Party member Sonthiya Sawasdee.

On Friday, the execrable Sonthiya “asked the Criminal Court to review its decision to free Parit … Chiwarak on bail after the protest leader was accused of violating his bail conditions in a social media post.”

Sonthiya petitioned “Sitthichote Intharawiset, the Criminal Court chief justice, asking the judge to look into the post and decide on the matter.”

It seems this is the brave and challenging post, translated by Thisrupt:

Penguin

Clipped from Prachatai

The 93-day imprisonment and 57-day hunger strike to protest against injustice are now over. Yesterday, the court returned my and Ammy’s right to receive bail, even if there are some bail conditions. It’s self-evident these conditions are meant to obstruct the struggle for democracy. I believe the court is political, and the court must examine whether it stands for justice. In any case, there is now a legal precedent on the right to bail in Article 112 cases. In the past, bail was never granted. Also, I believe this barbaric law should be abolished soon.

I have no issues with the bail conditions because I don’t see how I commit royal defamation. I don’t think there’s defamation when the people speak the truth, whether it’s the demand to abolish Article 112, the request to return royal assets (such as SCB shares), or the call to cancel personal royal armed forces. I don’t see how these things defame the royal institution. If the call for the king to be under the constitution is defamation, then the question becomes: is Thailand a democracy with the king as the head of state or an absolute monarchy?

As such, for me, the struggle for monarchy reform continues.

Regarding the condition barring me from participating in protests that lead to social chaos, I insist I have always upheld peaceful resistance throughout my struggle. Every protest I participated in or organized has been peaceful and without weapons. There have only been nonpeaceful actions by the authorities and government supporters as far as I can see. Therefore, this condition is not an obstacle in my struggle. I am ready to participate in every activity after the current COVID crisis (which occurred because of government incompetence) has passed.

The struggle for democracy continues with strength and conviction. Our struggle is built on the foundation of truth. There is no power greater than truth. Like the stars, truth never dies. No matter which corner of the sky, the stars shine bright, just as the truth. No matter the cage, the torture chamber, or the execution chamber, the truth remains powerful and eternal.

In the immediate step, we must help release others who speak the truth that remains unjustly imprisoned: Lawyer Anon, Brother Mike Rayong, Frank, Natchanon, and others. We who love democracy must continue our struggle to prove speaking the truth is not wrong; lies cannot forever hide the truth.

I am still who I am. I still have faith in the truth. No one can turn back the clock, and soon the wind of change will sweep us into the other side of the sky.

For now, I must rest my body and eat before I march again with my brothers and sisters. I am the same person. I fight for the same ideals. I am more resolute than ever before.

Death to feudalism. Long live the people.

Penguin Parit Chiwarak

12 May 2021 (1 day after freedom)





Hunting political prisoners

7 05 2021

Rising disillusionment with the hopelessness of the mafia regime, its kowtowing to a nasty and erratic king, and the judiciary’s subservience to both regime and monarch saw the membership of a new Facebook group “Let’s Move Abroad” or “Migrate” explode. When we last looked it was approaching 900,000.

While no one expects 900,000 young Thais to pack their bags and head for more liberal environs, the regime correctly diagnosed another political challenge. And, as expected, its group idiocy kicked in.

Get outta here

Clipped from Juliology

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry announced that it “is closely monitoring a new Facebook group…”. All of the “Let’s Move Abroad” lot would rightly see this response as confirming that the current regime is hopeless.

While the Bangkok Post thinks the group “sprang up out of frustration over the government’s handling of the Covid-9 pandemic,” it is wrong. The group reflects a much, much broader disillusionment. As one academic put it:

There’s a huge disillusionment. It’s an economic, political and ideological response to what’s going on…. It’s a way of attacking the regime politically by suggesting that there are people who have lost faith.

This is confirmed by the political nature of the posting. And that is what has the DES flustered and fuming seems to be “political content and posts about highly sensitive issues which are alleged to be in violation of the lese majeste law have also been spotted.”

DES Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn said the ministry’s working panel “has been instructed to take legal action against any illegal content when necessary.”

The regime continues to hunt for those it can incarcerate as political prisoners. That’s enough to send people looking for something better.





Free Penguin and Rung

26 04 2021

Tyrell Haberkorn and Thongchai Winichakul of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have a call for the release on bail of political prisoners Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul. It is at NikkeiAsia. Read it in full.

Clipped from The Nation

The two have “gone on hunger strike while being detained ahead of their trials in late May for alleged lese-majeste. The pair are refusing nourishment to protest the denial of their right to bail.”

Penguin began his partial hunger strike on 15 March 15 and Rung joined him 15 days later: “The risk to their health grows with each passing day.”

The authors note:

…these activists have not actually insulted, defamed, or threatened the monarchy. Instead, they have dared to call for an open and frank discussion on the place of the monarchy in Thailand — particularly with respect to its relationship with the law, the judiciary, the military and its assets.

Parit faces at least 20 counts of violating Article 112, and Panusaya at least nine. Their sentences for speeches at peaceful protests and social media posts could break records — evidence how afraid the state and the palace are of such discussions.

They point out that the “right to bail is guaranteed under Thai law and by Thailand’s international human rights obligations, but it is routinely denied in Article 112 cases on the grounds of national security and the fact that the harsh penalty makes flight more likely.” By denying bail, they say,the regime “has effectively shut down the protest movement, and instilled fear in those who dare to dissent.” And, authoritarianism deepens.

They conclude:

As each application for bail is denied, it becomes more evident that preventing citizens from openly discussing the monarchy and its role in the Thai polity are to the authorities more important than the lives of citizens. Parit, Panusaya and all the other political detainees must have their bail rights restored.





Penguin’s defiance

20 04 2021

As silent protests against the incarceration of lese majeste victims, Penguin or Parit Chiwarak has shown more defiance as he rejects the (in)justice system.

Thai PBS reports that:

Thailand’s anti-establishment Ratsadon leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak declared, before judges of the Criminal Court today (Monday), that he does not recognize the judicial process and will not attend his trial because he has not been accorded justice and granted bail to enable him to find evidence in his defence.

He also directed his lawyers to stand down. His lawyers explained that as “Parit had decided not to be part of the justice process and so the lawyers were of no use.”

Parit

In his defiance of the royalist judiciary, he “refused to take part in a Criminal Court session on Monday that was examining evidence in the lese majeste case against him.”

Parit, on a partial “hunger strike for 30 days, arrived in court in a wheelchair and attached to drips.”

He “refused to accept the 32 witnesses presented by the prosecution and also insisted that his detention was unfair…”, saying that “his detention had prevented him from mounting a full legal defence and that rendered the judicial process unjust.”

Penguin declared that “he would continue to refuse to acknowledge the entire legal case against him until he was released on bail.”

Several other activists – those not in jail – and his family have expressed concern for Penguin’s declining health.

The court rejected another bail request put by his family.





Virus of double standards II

11 04 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that at least 22 “detained on charges related to the protests,” mostly using Article 112.

While the Criminal Court has granted bail to Patiwat Saraiyaem, on the basis that he “pledged not to breach Section 112 … and also stay away from political rallies…”, it refused bail for to other political prisoners, Somyos Pruksakasemsuk and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa.

The report adds that Somyos and Jatuphat “joined other protest figures in signing a letter expressing their intention to withdraw their lawyer from their Section 112 trial,” but did not detail the complaints made by the detainees.

Thai PBS states that the “court said that it doubts the credibility of the two Ratsadon leaders’ pledge not to mention the revered institution in future protests, after they refused to recognize the trial process.”

Prachatai provides an account of the withdrawal of defense lawyers, based on Thai Lawyers for Human Rights:

22 people facing charges relating to the protests on 19 – 20 September 2020, including 7 protest leaders facing lèse majesté charges, have withdrawn their legal representation in protest at court measures and treatment by prison officials which deny them the right to a fair and open trial.

The 22 are listed as:

The 23 defendants in the case are Chinnawat Chankrachang, Nawat Liangwattana, Nattapat Akhad, Thanachai Aurlucha, Thanop Amphawat, Thanee Sasom, Phattaraphong Noiphang, Sitthithat Chindarat, Suwanna Tallek, Anurak Jeantawanich, Nutchanon Pairoj, Atthapol Buaphat, Adisak Sombatkham, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Panupong Jadnok, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Chukiat Saengwong, and Chaiamorn Kaewwwiboonpan.

The defendants “requested to withdraw their legal representation and their lawyers requested to be released from their duties.” They consider the “courtroom has been made into a prison.”

The defendants and lawyers say they are not receiving a fair and open trial and their rights are not being respected. According to TLHR the defendants:

  • have not been allowed to speak to their lawyers individually and confidentially, as they were always under the control of prison officials
  • who are detained pending trial and those granted bail have not been allowed to discuss the case with each other
  • family members and other individuals have been prevented from observing the proceedings, with some family members initially forbidden from even entering the court building and told by court police that they do not have permission to enter the courtroom
  • family members have been prevented from personal contact with the political prisoners, and at times they have been prevented from handing over personal items and food

Political prisoner and lawyer Arnon Nampa wrote a declaration to the court saying:

… he would like to withdraw all legal representation on the ground that he has been denied bail and treated in ways which are degrading, that he cannot participate in a judicial process which is “carried out with fear and without taking human dignity into account.” He also wrote that the law has been used to silence the demands of the younger generation, that violence has been used to suppress protests, and that their detention will lead to fear in society and no one will dare to speak the truth.

“In this trial, our right to fully fight the case has been violated,” he wrote. “The courtroom has been made into a prison.” He then went onto say that the process is unconstitutional, and that the defendants and lawyers agreed that if they continue to participate in the procedure, they would be promoting a process of injustice.

“This case has involved the destruction of human dignity, the use of the law to silence people, and many other forms of injustice. As a person who has studied the law and who practices as a lawyer, and as one of the citizens who aim to reform the monarchy, the defendant cannot continue to participate in this process. The defendant whose name is at the end of this petition therefore requests to withdraw legal representation and refuses this process,” Anon wrote.





All about repression

8 04 2021

Yesterday, it was reported by the Bangkok Post that “[a]n adviser to the House Committee on Law …[had] filed a complaint with police against protest leader Jatuporn Prompan for allegedly violating the lese majeste law.”

The culprit is Sonthiya Sawasdee, who “asked police at Chana Songkhram station to look into Mr Jatuporn’s speech that he delivered on Sunday at the Santiporn Park … — where he held a mass protest for the Sammakhi Prachachon Pheu Prathet Thai (People’s Unity for Thailand) — to see if it violated the lese majeste law.”

The protest was in fact held to demand the resignation of coup leader and Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, and as far as we could tell, tried to avoid commentary on the monarchy.

Still, royalist “protector” and regime lackey Sonthiya said “he believed Mr Jatuporn’s speech violated the lese majeste law but added that it was up to the police to decide whether or not to press charges against him.” Quite oddly and in the face of all evidence, Sonthiya claimed “[t]he authorities enforced the lese majeste law out of good intentions to create peace in the country…”.

In fact, we all know that the use of 112 is as a tool of political repression.

That repression is the regime’s main task is is illustrated by another Bangkok Post today which has police summoning 36 people “involved in Sunday’s protest … to answer a slew of charges that could also include lese majeste.” The report states that:112

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, who organised the mass gathering on behalf of the “Thai Mai Thon (Impatient Thais)” group and Adul Khiewboriboon, leader of the Samakkhi Prachachon group, will be among 14 people summoned to meet investigators and answer charges next Thursday, Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau said on Wednesday.

The other 14 people will be summoned to answer charges the following day, he said.

Twelve other people who had a role in the rally at Santiporn Park that spilled over into Monday were also found to have violated several laws and will soon be summoned to face charges as well, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Piya “reiterated that all public gatherings are now considered unlawful under the emergency decree and the disease control law, being implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

This is an increasingly bizarre claim, but one that’s been made several times. In fact, it is ministers slipping off to bars for a bit of sexual stimulation and gratification is demonstrably a more serious virus threat, as is poor policy. and bizarre behavior.

In any case this emergency decree has mainly been used as another tool for political repression.

Police confirmed that they are “examining a recording of a speech Mr Jatuporn delivered at Sunday’s gathering to determine whether comments made violated Section 112 of the Criminal Code…”.

By our rough calculations, there are currently about 80 active lese majeste cases and another 30-40 “under investigation.”





Updated: Going for broke

31 03 2021

The regime apparently thinks it is strong enough to go for broke on lese majeste and nail its prime target Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. Given that it was actions against Thanathorn and the Future Forward Party more than a year ago that set off anti-regime protests, this move represents the regime’s victory lap.

ThanathornThanthorn has appeared before police to acknowledged the Article 112 charge filed by the regime.

Now chairman of the Progressive Movement, he “went to Nang Loeng Police Station in Bangkok on Tuesday morning to acknowledge the charge involving his Jan 18 Facebook Live criticising the government’s vaccine procurement plan.”

In speaking with reporters, Thanathorn said “he was confident he had not said anything that tarnished the institution and the clip was his effort to sincerely check the government.” He claims nothing he said contravened the Article 112.

Additionally, he faces “sedition and computer crime charges involving the clip.”

In reality, Thanathorn must be worried, even if the charge is fabricated. But fabricated lese majeste charges have been used to lock up and/or harass several others in the past. Who can forget the ludicrous 112 charge against Thanakorn Siripaiboon in 2015 for allegedly spreading “sarcastic” content via Facebook which was said to have mocked the then king’s dog. Thanakorn finally got off in early 2021, but had endured seven days of interrogation and physical assault at an Army camp and three months in prison.

Thanathorn is the main target of ultra-royalist hatred and fear, and they have been urging the regime to lock him up. They see him as the Svengali behind the anti-regime protesters and rising anti-monarchism, refusing to believe the protesters can think for themselves. The regime sees Thanathorn as a potent political threat. They have threatened and charged him with multiple offenses, disqualified him from parliament, dissolved the political party he formed, and brought charges against his family.

By targeting Thanathorn, the regime seems to believe that it is now positioned to defeat the protesters and to again crush anti-monarchism. But, it is a repression that remains a gamble.

Update: Rabid royalists are joining the regime in going after actress Inthira “Sai” Charoenpura and activist Pakorn Porncheewangkul “over donations they received in support of the protest movement.” They are “facing possible tax and anti-money laundering probes over their acceptance of public donations in support of the Ratsadon protests.” It is anti-democrat Watchara Phetthong, “a former Democrat Party MP,” who has “petitioned the Revenue Department and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) asking them to investigate Ms Inthira and fellow activist Pakorn…”.





Mad monarchists madder still II

30 03 2021

With the resurgence of protests and the regime intensifying its repression, the mad monarchists are increasingly agitated.

While reporting on Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon and her recent speech targeting the monarchy and other reforms, Thai PBS spends space on enraged monarchists and their bizarre claims.

Mind

Mind

Already facing a lese majeste charge, on 24 March, Mind made three calls on the monarchy, calling on the king to cease interfering “in the military, in politics and in public assets.”

As a result of these reasonable demands of a monarchy meant to be constitutional, Mind probably faces additional lese majeste and other charges. She says she is “bracing for jail…” and vowed to “continue her fight even if she was jailed during the court trial.”

The rabid royalists given space are alleged “scholar” Arnond Sakworawich and political aspirant Warong Dechgitvigrom. It is interesting how each royalist repression of protesters since 2005 has seen a new bunch of royalist spokespersons promoted as the “defenders” of the monarchy.

Arnond claims Mind is “mistaken in alleging the King has ‘his own army’, independent of the Thai armed forces.” His view is that the “King’s Royal Guards were simply transferred from the military and police to form the royal security unit.” He doesn’t explain how it is that this “unit” is under the direct command of the palace or why it was necessary to vastly expand the “royal security unit.”

Arnond’s rebuttal of Mind’s observation of the king’s political interventions – preventing his elder, non-royal, sister stand in an election – seems to confirm Mind’s point. Arnond ignores other interventions, including the king’s demands for constitutional change.

Royalist Arnond’s defense of royal wealth and the king’s assets is just loopy and ignores the king’s own changes to the law that allowed him to take total control of all assets associated with the monarchy, while rolling back decades of legislation.

Warong Dechgitvigrom relied more on the concoction of a conspiracy, a royalist strategy that has been used repeatedly since 2005 to smear and repress.

He claimed Mind is manipulated “by a hidden hand bent on defaming the King with distorted facts.” He declared:

It’s a pity that you didn’t do your homework before reading the statement. The person who prepared the statement for you is so cruel. Without supporting truth, they sacrifice you just to incite people….

This conspiracy claim is repeated and expanded by the maddest of the Bangkok Post’s monarchists, Veera Prateepchaikul. Agreeing with the yellow-shirt conspiracies and cheers the detention without bail of those accused of lese majeste.

Like Warong, he believes that Mind and other protesters are manipulated and the tools of dedicated anti-monarchists. He pours accelerant on the royalist fire, repeating scuttlebutt that her “demands for reform of the monarchy was allegedly given to her by someone believed to be an anti-monarchist.”

He demeans and diminishes all the young protesters, preferring to believe they are misled and tricked. His claims are a familiar refrain. It was only a few years ago that yellow shirts demeaned red shirts, considering them uneducated buffaloes, led around by the nose, and or paid by Thaksin Shinawatra. Obviously, the kids protesting aren’t “uneducated,” but there is still a search for a political Svengali.

In an attempted political assassination, Veera names and seeks to shame “Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of the Progressive Movement Group and anti-monarchist lecturer at Thammasat University…”. Veera decries Piyabutr’s view that the protesters are agents of change, who “will not change their mind on the monarchy” by jailing them.

Veera peddles more royalist tripe by questioning why several academics have been willing to post bail for those jailed.

Veera states that “many students have been exploited,” and claims that Mind is manipulated: “What if she is thrown behind bars for reading the script in question while the actual writer remains scot free? That is unfair, cold-blooded and sheer exploitation of a young mind.”

Yellow shirt ideology is conspiratorial and displays a remarkable penchant for patriarchal nonsense, diminishing the views and actions over many months of demonstration. Clearly, the students understand that reform to the monarchy comes with a diminution of patriarchy and other hierarchies that keep old royalist men in charge of the country.





Updated: Counting the detainees

27 03 2021

Thai Enquirer has posted an updated list of political prisoners. Even so, it remains a mixture of estimates and known cases rather than a definitive list. Important points:

After eight months of protests, more than 400 people are being prosecuted for alleged violations ranging from littering and obstruction of traffic to sedition and lese-majeste.

Of those, 77 have been charged with violation of Section 112…. 112[S]ix [112 charges] are against people younger than 18.

Nineteen people are incarcerated awaiting trial with their bail requests repeatedly denied. Most of those are protest leaders charged with sedition and lese-majeste….

In the lese-majeste cases, 28 were brought by civilian plaintiffs, six by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, and the rest were filed by the police.

Many of the protest leaders are facing multiple charges.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, now on his 12th day of hunger strike for his right to bail, faces 20 counts of lese-majeste.

Far more lese majeste and lese majeste-like cases are likely to follow as protests continue. Most recently, prosecutors have decided to indict protesters “for blocking … the Queen’s motorcade during an anti-government protest last October…”. This is a buffalo manure set of cases as a sightseeing queen and prince had their minions drive them to the protesters location, and while they copped some invective, their motorcade was not blocked in any significant way. The notion that they aimed to “commit violence against the Queen and [h]er liberty” is a fabrication.

We can expect further charges from Wednesday’s rally.

Update: Related to our last comment, the Bangkok Post reports that police are “taking legal action against 11 rally speakers and 10 other protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration at Ratchaprasong Intersection for allegedly violating the lese majeste law…”. That would bring the known total to somewhere close to 100 charged with lese majeste.