112 bail for Prasong

7 08 2021

Prachatai reports that Prasong Khotsongkhram, arrested on 8 July 2021 on a lese majeste charge, has “been granted bail after spending 27 days in prison.”

The Taling Chan Criminal Court granted bail on 4 August after three previous bail requests were denied. In seeking bail,

… Prasong told the court that he never received a summons before he was arrested. He also said that he did not resist arrest and therefore would not try to escape.

Prasong’s mother Supranee also testified to the court that she was present when Prasong was arrested at their home in Lopburi and signed as a witness to the arrest. She said that there is no one besides Prasong to take care of her. She said that she has kidney stones, high blood pressure and diabetes, which require her to take regular medications, and if Prasong is released, she would have someone to take her to doctor’s appointments.

The court allowed bail but requires that Prasong  wear  electronic monitoring and, continuing the judiciary’s role in lese majeste repression, “set the condition that he must not do anything that would damage the monarchy and must not leave the country without the court’s permission.”

Prasong had been detained “at the Thung Noi Temporary Prison, which is on the same premises as the Military Circle 11 Prison.”

The current count of people charged in the latest round of efforts to erase anti-monarchism, 113 people are facing lese majeste charges.





A deluge of 112 charges

23 07 2021

People might be dying in the streets but the regime has its eye on what it thinks is most important: more and more lese majeste and other charges. It is desperate, not to stem the virus, but to stem any notion that the neo-feudals should be reformed.

Thai PBS reports that 13 protesters were formally indicted by public prosecutors on Thursday for lese majeste and sedition. The charges stem from the march and rally at the German Embassy on 26 October 2020. It states:

Mind

Among the accused named by the public prosecutors are Passaravalee “Mind” Thanakitvibulphol, Korakot Saengyenphan, Chanin “Ball” Wongsri, Benja Apan, Watcharakorn Chaikaew, Nawat “Am” Liangwattana, Atthapol “Khru Yai” Buapat, Akkarapon Teeptaisong, Suthinee Jangpipatnawakit, Ravisara Eksgool, and Cholathit Chote-sawat.

12 protesters reported to prosecutors at the Bangkok South Criminal Litigation Office at about 9.30am to acknowledge the charges brought against them by Thung Mahamek police. The other was due to report … [today]. They were escorted by police to the Bangkok South Criminal Court for arraignment and have been granted bail.

Fellow activist Arnon Nampa and others showed up to provide support, while “[t]hree “Move Forward” MPs, namely Rangsiman Rome, Thongdaeng Benjapak of Samut Sakhon, Suttawan Suban Na Ayuthaya of Nakhon Pathom, were present at the court to offer their parliamentary status to secure bail for the protesters.” In addition”six lecturers also volunteered to offer their academic status to support bail for the protesters.”

The Bangkok Post reports that “[t]hree officials from the German embassy were also present as observers.”





Masters of repression I

14 07 2021

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights have published their June update. It makes for sorry reading, from using the virus emergency decree for political repression to the use of lese majeste against political activists.

According to the TLHR “at least 695 people in 374 cases have already been affected as a result of their political involvement and opinions since the ‘Free Youth’ rally on 18 July 2020 until the end of June 2021.” This includes “43 youths of under 18 years old…”.

In total, lese majeste charges have now been laid against more than 100 people.

Contempt of court and insulting the court cases case have grown. For the former, there have been at least 18 people in 14 cases “for participating in assemblies criticizing the judiciary since the Free Youth Rally until the end of May 2021.” Strikingly, “the Court can conduct a contempt trial and pass a judgment directly bypassing the investigation or prosecution process.”

TLHR also reports that the courts have routinely “imposed overly strict measures in courtrooms, including limiting the number of audience or requiring a preapproved permission. In all trials, the Court forbade notetaking claiming it was to keep order.” Such measures “were likely to undermine the principle of a free and fair trial.”

In addition to court and judicial processes, TLHR states that “[s]tate authorities continuously monitor and harass people who posted monarchy-related content and political activists…”. In June alone, the “authorities approached least 18 citizens who expressed monarchy-related or political opinions at their homes. These incidents occurred in all of the regions of the country…”.

TLHR also found that “at least 511 people in 162 cases had been accused of breaching the Emergency Decree provisions…”.

The regime may not be very good at virus mitigation, but it is highly skilled in acts of political repression.





Repressive bail and 112 illegality

1 07 2021

Readers might be interested in a report at Asia Democracy Chronicles on “Repressive bail conditions stifle basic freedoms in Thailand” by Anon Chawalawan from iLaw.

In an otherwise reasonable report, we wonder why Anon decided to begin the report with the usual lazy journalism: “In Thailand, the monarchy is revered.” Recent events have demonstrated that this is not true. The monarchy is contested.

Tyrant 112

Clipped from the linked report

One point worth repeating is on how bail comes with political conditions:

… the activists behind bars must accept certain conditions imposed by the court if they want their temporary freedom. The court will dismiss the petitions for bail of activists who do not agree to the conditions, such as the prohibition for them “to take part in any activity that may harm the monarchy.” The court is likely to dismiss said petitions until the activists agree to the condition. In this manner, the state uses the conditions for bail to limit anti-government protesters’ freedom of expression and movement.

The question is raised regarding the legality of this (not that the regime worries about legality). The law states:

In granting a provisional release, the official empowered to so grant or the court may stipulate any condition governing the residence of the person provisionally released or any other condition to be observed by such person, in order to prevent his abscondence or any possible danger or injury which might ensue from the provisional release (unofficial translation).

In some cases, the use of electronic tracking devices has also been part of the conditions for bail. As has been shown in two cases, other courts have rejected this requirement, suggesting that 112 bail conditions are illegal.

It is worth emphasizing that the application of the lese majeste law itself has involved courts making illegal decisions, applying the law to persons not covered by it.





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.