Weapons against women

26 11 2022

Academic Aim Simpeng has a powerful article at Rappler. It begins:

Chonticha “Lookkate” Jangrew regularly experiences online abuse, intimidation, harassment, and name-calling. As a young political activist and one of the leaders of pro-democracy groups in Thailand, she has been constantly subjected to public humiliation and persecution. Lookkate faces more than 30 charges for her political activism. She stands accused of violating Article 112 of the Thai criminal code, which prohibits anyone from defaming members of the royal family, which, if she is convicted, could land her in prison for up to 15 years per count. She has already spent time in jail, been strip-searched, been sexually violated in detention, received multiple physical and death threats, and been the target of various “fake news” attacks. She has been called a drug addict, a ghost, a witch, a prostitute, a traitor — in attacks weaponizing personal characteristics such as her looks in addition to those against her political beliefs. Despite all this, Lookkate — as Jangrew is popularly known in Thailand — is contesting a seat in Thailand’s upcoming national election.

This situation is not exceptional. Lookkate is a modern-day female political leader.

The article is a broader look at rising violence against female political leaders in Southeast Asia. Read it all.





A recent history of lese majeste

20 10 2022

Readers may be interested in an article by Sulakshana Lamubol of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights for the Southeast Asia Globe. The article is something of a history of recent Article 112 cases.

It observes that “Thailand has the harshest royal defamation laws in the world, which punishes offenders with three to 15 years imprisonment.” Add to this the fact that an individual may face several charges and the result is sometimes mammoth sentences.

The recent use of Article 112 has become ever more politicized: “Since the military coup in 2006, lèse-majesté has become a perfect political tool for the authorities, as well as ultraconservative citizens, to silence those who criticise the government, the role of the monarchy, or even this law itself.”

The result is that, since 2020, “at least 215 individuals – including 17 minors – in 234 cases, have been charged and/or prosecuted with the law.” 10 individuals have been found guilty of this political crime since 2020.

TLHR explains “that the court’s judgments establish dangerous precedents for the country’s freedom of speech and assembly amidst heavy calls from the people demanding historic political changes.”

Sulakshana concludes: “The more the Thai state uses royal defamation to suppress the people’s freedom of speech to maintain ‘reverence,’ the result will be the opposite. Respect and faith of one’s public institution must be earned from the people — not forced.”





Jatuporn gets bail II

15 09 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on Jatuporn Sae-Ung’s case and bail.

It adds some detail on the royalist court’s decision:

Having examined 14 prosecutor’s witnesses and two defendant’s witnesses during June 2022, the Bangkok South Criminal Court acquitted Jatuporn of all charges with the exception of those brought under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code and the Public Assembly Act. Considering the totality of circumstances at the time of the fashion show on 29 October 2020, the court ruled that Jatuporn intended to impersonate, mock, and dishonor the Queen. This was tantamount to defamation against the Queen.

It also adds commentary on Jatuporn’s important statement to the court:

Jatuporn affirm[ed] … her belief to the court stating that dressing up in Thai National Dress is a right that any individual can choose to do so and if one chooses to dress up, it is not a crime. The fact that her dressing up on the day of the incident is a violation of section 112 is purely a vague interpretation by the plaintiff and her witnesses.

“Your honor, today I am wearing Thai national dress, is there something wrong with me here? I do not intend to mock anyone.”

A lawyer commented:

“In a polarized society, Lèse-majesté law becomes a tool used to harm those who think differently. In this case, the individual who accused her (Jatuporn) was of the opposite political view.”





Jatuporn gets bail I

14 09 2022

Clipped from Coconuts Bangkok

It is reported that activist Jatuporn Sae-ung, sentenced to two years in prison for, the court believed, defaming the monarchy by dressing up as Queen Suthida , has been released on bail.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights confirmed that an appeals court had set a bail of 300,000 baht.

Jatuporn, 25, was due to be released sometime on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, after being held since Monday.

The activist will be free on bail while the appeals court deals with her case.

The report states that Jatuporn’s:

… conviction is the latest in a wide-ranging crackdown by the Thai authorities to stifle the pro-democracy movement, which staged massive protests in mid-2020 that sparked a public debate on the role of Thailand’s all-powerful monarchy in society.





The weight that is 112

6 07 2022

Article 112 is stifling not just dissent, but Thailand itself. The weight of Article 112 is felt by the young, the innovative, and just about everyone who is interested in a more open politics. Blame the regime. Blame the royalist drivel taught in schools and paraded through the media. Blame ultra-royalists and their infantile attachment to symbols of a feudal path. Blame a judiciary that has lost its way as it protects neo-feudalism.

Of course, as everyone knows, there are attempts to change things. Such efforts are usually met by repression doled out by a blood-thirsty military.

The most recent effort to change things and to roll back neo-feudalism began two years ago. La Prensa Latina has an article about this anniversary and meets up with some of the leading protesters and the manner in which the military-monarchist regime has sought to silence them with lawfare and the legal weight of lese majeste and other serious charges.

Clipped from Prachatai

The article begins with Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul. She now attends university classes wearing an electronic monitoring (EM) device on her ankle. The 23 year-old has been charged with 10 counts of violating the lese-majeste law and a 16 other charges.

The regime’s idea is that semi-house arrest, EM, a 9pm to 6am curfew, and a myriad of legal cases means she’s got no time or opportunity for much else.

Maynu Supitcha, a 20 year-old university student from Thaluwang “has conducted street surveys on the monarchy, and other peaceful protest actions, for which they said authorities handed them three lese-majeste charges.” Maynu also has EM.

Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jardnok, “said he has been slapped with more than 40 charges, including 16 related to lese-majeste, which could see him spend nearly a lifetime in jail.”

 

According to recent data there are now some 210 Article 112 cases since November 2020.





Despair and resentment towards the dictatorship

22 06 2022

We are PPT are not really up with contemporary music in Thailand, and especially not with its punk bands. But we sometimes see a report that refers to the politics of this music. Just such a case is BLUNT, and its report “Powerviolence trio Speech Odd spit in the face of oppression with ‘Control’,” where punk is associated with “the language of resistance,” and suggesting that “powerviolence is its sternest tone.” Speech Odd are a Thai powerviolence punk band

According to the BLUNT report, Speech Odd’s new single “Control” is as “blistering” and “bone-breaking” as it gets. It’s also highly political, drawing on themes of years of struggle against the status quo. As the band explains

This song is the story of despair and resentment towards the dictatorship that oppresses people…. [The dictatorship] is still alive, even through elections by using unfair methods. That is a story that we present with ‘Control’. The cover art was drawn by Speech Odd’s singer Pam, inspired by Nuamthong Praiwan, who sacrificed his life to resist the dictatorship.”

Praiwan was the taxi driver who in 2006 drove his vehicle directly into a tank as a protest against the 2006 military coup. Praiwan later committed suicide as a political statement.

The report continues:

The youth of Thailand continue to struggle against the oppressive regime, with no guarantees other than things only becoming more dangerous. Protests have become an everyday part of life in Thailand as the government continues to crack down on those who speak out. Making matters more complicated is Thailand’s infamous Article 112, which sees anyone who speaks out about the countries monarchy facing three to fifteen years in prison. In the past two years alone, over 120 Thai citizens have been charged with lese majeste….

Watch Speech Odd:





Criticism, monarchy, and lese majeste torture

29 12 2021

Jatuphat in jail on an earlier 112 charge

Khaosod reports that monarchy-reform protesters Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok “will no longer apply for bail after repeated refusals to grant them bail while they face multiple lese majeste charges.”

Their attorney, Krisadang Nutcharus said that it is “now be up to the criminal court to consider whether to let the four be released so they could have a fair chance to fight the cases or not.”

Krisadang explained: “The court has the power to end the temporary detention. I will continue to assist [the defendants] but they think the court no longer wants to let them out on bail…”.

The four state that the repeated bail denials means that they are unable to “prepare themselves to fight a fair trial and goes against the international obligations Thailand has to the international community.”

The report quotes former lese majeste political prisoner, Akechai Hongkangwarn. He believes the four now know that:

Penguin during an earlier period in jail. Clipped from Prachatai

they won’t be released before the verdicts are handed [down]. They have requested for bail many times and the repeated denials left them with bitterness. They will probably spend next year in prison if not longer. I understand them and those outside the prison must carry on. If they don’t come out onto the streets, the chance of the four being forgotten would increase…”.

That’s exactly what the regime, palace – with the spendthrift and erratic king back in Thailand – and courts wants: to silence them and to keep them locked up so that the protests lose momentum and leadership. It is also the well-used tactic of keeping those accused of lese majeste locked up until they plead guilty, thus avoiding a proper trial. Several former political prisoners suffered under this neo-feudal system for several years.

Clipped from The Nation

Meanwhile, Thai PBS has a year-ender on criticism of the monarchy and calls for change. It gets some things wrong. For example, it claims: “Before the birth of the youth-led protest movement in 2020, criticism of the monarchy and calls for changes to the institution [monarchy] were only limited to academia.” Only the historically dimwitted could make such a claim. It demeans earlier criticism of the monarchy. Think of some of the red shirts and the students of 1973-76 as two examples. At the same time, it should be noted that academics calling criticizing the monarchy were thin on the ground.

In many ways, as they acknowledge themselves, the current reformers draw on a legacy going back to 1932. And, it is true that this round of questioning the monarchy has meant that the monarchy has been “widely discussed in Thai society.” That’s a real achievement but has come at great cost to the reformers as the lese majeste and other repressive laws have been used and police have attacked and arrested demonstrators (and others).

As the Thai PBS article observes, the judiciary has become crucial in opposing the reformers. Not only does it lock them up, but the “Constitutional Court verdict last month seemed designed to silence the discussion [about the monarchy and reform].”

In a ludicrous verdict, the court ruled that speeches on monarchy reform “amounted to attempts to overthrow the country’s democratic system with the King as head of state.” But the threat of lese majeste charges against those reporting accurately about monarchy and reform has silenced critical voices and made the media compliant. So much so that the mainstream media barely even reports on lese majeste cases.





More 112 charges urged II

9 12 2021

A pattern has emerged. In our last post, we noted that national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk had urged police superintendents to give even more attention to “national security” cases involving lese majeste and sedition.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, and the leaders of the armed forces came together for an ISOC meeting “that was held to sum up its performance over the past year and to announce its action plan for 2022.”

Three army generals in 2019. Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The Internal Security Operations Command has arguably been the most critical agency collecting intelligence on the regime’s and the monarchy’s opponents. It has a nationwide organization that mirrors the civil bureaucracy. It also arranges “fake news,” including “plots” against the monarchy and builds royalist “movements” to face down “threats” from regime opponents.

It is reported that Gen Prayuth “laid down polices for the command to focus more on regional security and tackle threats to national security.” Those latter words are the code for the monarchy.

Bizarrely, Gen Prayuth described this most politicized of agencies as “not a political unit but a body supporting other agencies’ efforts to solve problems besetting the country.”

ISOC’s political role was further emphasized when Gen Prayuth urged “… Isoc and the interior minister to work together closely to address problems through democratic means, adding that dated laws and regulations should be amended to boost efficiency.”

They already do, but little of what they do can be realistically described as “democratic,” except in regime doublespeak.

The pattern being set is a division of roles, with the military and ISOC working on intelligence, using “counterinsurgency” techniques to control the provinces, while the police crack heads and wage lawfare, arresting protesters while the courts lock them up





Updated: Rung jailed

16 11 2021

As we posted recently, the Constitutional Court’s absurd ruling made it clear where Thailand is heading: down the royalist rathole.

And so it begins….

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Criminal Court on Monday denied bail for Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul on a lese majeste case involving her crop top outfit.” She had, with others, shown up on 20 December 2020, in front of the royally-connected Siam Paragon shopping center, in front of the Sirivannavari shop, owned by the king’s second daughter. In crop tops, the protesters held signs attacking the lese majeste law.

Not Rung, but the fellow in Germany

The result was a lese majeste charge, apparently for the crop top.

The court immediately denied bail, saying Rung “had repeatedly committed similar offences since she and four others were indicted by public prosecutors on June 29.” It claimed she had “violated the conditions set by the court in other cases…”.

She was sent to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution for detention.

We expect further efforts to lock up protesters.

Update: Prachatai has a detailed report on Rung’s case.





Lese majeste hits another teen

24 09 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that Akkarasorn Opilan, 17, a “niece of Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, [has] reported to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) yesterday [23 Sept] to answer a lese majeste charge.”

The charge against her “related to a Feb 13 social media post concerning clashes between police and anti-government protesters in front of the Criminal Court.”

The post had been removed but was captured by internet vigilantes and it was again the ridiculously monikered Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online ultra-royalist group, that made the complaint to police. In almost all recent cases of recent lese majeste and sedition cases, it has been this group, headed up by extreme rightists Nangnoi Assawakittikorn and Nopadol Prompasit, that had run to the police.

No further details are currently available.








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