Targeting Move Forward

29 06 2022

The military-royalist regime rigged the 2019 election. As its political stocks plummet, the regime and its allies are continuing to work on yet another unlikely election victory.

While the Move Forward Party has been cleared of serious charges that might have led to its dissolution, there is still much effort going into a ban before the next election.

As Thai PBS reports, the Election Commission somewhat unexpectedly rejected former adviser to the Ombudsman Natthaporn Toprayoon’s fabricated complaint “accusing Move Forward of taking actions between August 2020 and January 2021 that were aimed at overthrowing Thailand’s rule of democracy with the King as head of state.”

According to the report, Natthaporn’s “petition outlined 10 actions by the party’s MPs and executives, including party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon, that he claimed had breached Articles 45 and 92 of the Political Parties Act, which prohibits political parties from encouraging or supporting anyone to create unrest, undermine social order or oppose the laws of the country.”

Natthaporn essentially accused Move Forward of anti-monarchism. He blasted “party MPs [for] using their positions to bail out arrested protesters accused of lese majeste or sedition” and he complained that “the party’s support for NGO iLaw’s draft bill to amend chapters in the Constitution regarding the monarchy and integrity of the Kingdom, as well as the party’s resolution seeking amendments to Article 112 of the Penal Code or the lese majeste law” were moves against feudalism the monarchy.

He was following up on his earlier successful petition that the Constitutional Court accepted, making monarchy reform treasonous.

The quite mad Natthaporn’s response to the complaint being ditched was to threaten “to sue the election commissioners and seek a ruling on whether their decision to dismiss the complaint was lawful.”

But there’s more to come:

Along with pressure from Natthaporn, Move Forward is also facing other complaints seeking its disbandment, including one filed by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a politician from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party. In August last year, he filed a petition with the EC to disband Move Forward on grounds that its proposal to reduce the budget allocated to the crown for 2022 was a hostile act against the Thai democratic regime with King as head of state.





The 1932 spirit

27 06 2022

For those interested in the non-governmental response to the 90th anniversary of the 1932 revolution, there are a few stories to notice, with brief comments below.

Of course, the royalist government response is to ignore the event as if it never happened.

Thai Enquirer has a photo essay on the rally to celebrate the day. Some of the photos are quite something, and together they show how 1932 is intimately linked with contemporary struggles for democracy and monarchy reform. All of our photos here are clipped from Thai Enquirer.

Thai PBS reports on a seminar at Thammasat University’s Pridi Banomyong International College on 24 June, held “to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1932 Revolution.” Those attending and speaking included Sulak Sivaraksa and newly-elected Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt.

Various groups organized activities and events on June 24 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the revolution which turned the country from absolute to constitutional monarchy. While academics and politicians discussed the future of Thai democracy at Thammasat’s Tha Prachan campus, youthful groups and activists gathered at Lan Khon Muang Townsquare, calling for the restoration of the revolutionary spirit, reform of the monarchy, abolish the lese majeste law, as well as make June 24 the National Day….

Thammasat University student activist Parit Chiwarak told Thai PBS World earlier that students and political activists had grouped together under the name of People’s Party 2020 a couple of years ago to carry on the revolutionary spirit. Their objective was to remove the gulf between Thai citizens and the established elite.

“One of the six principles laid out by the 1932 People’s Party is equality, which has never been achieved,” he said.

The report notes that in 1960,Thailand’s National Day was changed by the then military dictatorship, and in concert with the king, from 24 June to the then king’s birthday on 5 December. That change was just one part of the restoration of the monarchy that continues through the 20th century.

Monarchy reform and democracy activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul “said in a phone interview that she and her associates continued to demand reforms to the monarchy, despite being prosecuted for lese majeste under Article 112 of the Penal Code.”

In another event, former red shirt leader and Puea Thai politician Nattawut Saikua, in a talk show hosted by the Pridi Banomyong Institute, “said the people’s movement which fought for democracy before and after the 1932 Revolution shared the same spirit — to have equality and democracy.” He added: “I do believe that such a fighting spirit has been transferred from generation to generation,” acknowledging that “red shirts admired and expressed their gratitude to both People’s Parties, in 1932 and 2020.”

There’s more in the article.

Meanwhile, at Khaosod, there’s an op-ed by Pravit Rojanaphruk, commenting on the long period of divisions between royalists and anti-royalists. He begins:

The 90th anniversary of June 24, 1932 revolt, which ended absolute monarchy, was only celebrated by those who believe Thailand has yet to achieve genuine democracy and aspire for more freedom and rights.

Conspicuously absent were the government, including Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, and royalist conservatives who did not observe the day and probably would rather forget that June 24, which falls on Friday this year, was not just arguably the most important day in modern Thai political history once a national day and a public holiday celebrated from 1938 to 1960….

For royalists who wish to see the monarchy … play a greater role in Thai society, to see the military continue to act as the state within a state, to limit the powers of politicians and the electorate whom they distrust, June 24, 1932 was a day of infamy….

Pravit notes that other countries “settled their differences through a bloody revolt.” He prefers a peaceful road to a democracy that provides for and accepts differences.

That’s all fine and good, but Pravit does not mention that the military has been all too willing to spill the blood of those who stand in their path and those who they consider challenge the monarchy and their Thai-style democracy. It has killed hundreds and jailed thousands.





Letter from the Central Women’s Prison

26 06 2022

A few days ago Practatai posted on a demand by the 24 June Democracy group that demanded the Ministry of Justice investigate a prison doctor’s alleged harassment of Nutthanit Duangmusit or “Baipor,” a monarchy reform activist currently detained pending trial on Article 112 charges.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said “that Nutthanit told her lawyer that she was threatened by a prison doctor named Chatri, who was performing a physical exam on her and Netiporn, another detained activist.”

That was dismissed by the Ministry of Justice.

Netiporn or Bung (l) and Nutthanit or Baipor (r), clipped from Prachatai

TLHR then published a letter from the two, which Tyrell Haberkorn has translated online. The letter written by Netiporn or Bung Sanesangkhon and Bai Por on the 90th anniversary of the 1932 revolution. They are detained without bail on lese majeste charges “after peacefully conducting a public poll.”

The two have “been denied bail five times during their 53 days in detention [as of 24 June 2022]. They are both on hunger strike[s] in protest of the denial of bail. Haberkorn’s translation is pasted below:

Letter From Bung and Bai Por, on hunger strike in Central Women’s Prison after Fifth Denial of Bail

Today, 24 June 2022, is the 90th anniversary of the transformation of rule [from absolute to constitutional monarchy], but it is seems as if our country has not changed at all.
Today, there are still 22 political prisoners being detained. And today is the 23rd day that Bai Por and Older Sister Bung are on hunger strike. Prior to this, Older Sister Bung could not consume anything other than water and her condition gravely deteriorated. Yesterday, we submitting our fifth petition for bail, but it was denied just as each prior petition has been denied. The court gave the reason that the prison has the capacity to look after us well. Yet in addition to the condition of our physical bodies, our mental state under detention has not improved at all.
Prior to this, Bai Por still drank some fruit juice and milk. But after learning of the denial of our request for bail, Bai Por decided to only consume water and to refuse further treatment.
Now, Older Sister Bung can only consume water and must take medicine to treat her condition. Otherwise, she will vomit and faint on a daily basis. Today is the 53rd day that we are imprisoned. We yearn for freedom in the world outside. We yearn for the people we love. And we still fight in every second of every day.
Thank you for all of the encouragement and actions you have taken for us. Bung and Bai Por hope that we will be released and will see one another and continue the struggle together.

Bai Por and Bung, Thaluwang

Central Women’s Prison

24 June 2022





Using 112 against the mentally ill

23 06 2022

Prachatai, using information from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, reports that a man named Punyaphat (last name withheld), 29, “has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for posts he made in the Facebook group Royalist Marketplace about King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida’s popularity and the King’s trips to Germany.”

Like several others who have been sentenced under Article 112, Punyaphat is said to suffer “mental illness.”

TLHR say that, on 20 June 2022, “the Samut Prakan Provincial Court ruled that the 4 posts Punyapat made on Royalist Marketplace, a Facebook group where people discuss the monarchy, on 9 and 10 May 2020 were intended to cause hatred against the King and Queen, and that the content of the posts is false and defamed the King.”

The Court “sentenced him to 12 years in prison for royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The sentence was reduced to 4 years and 24 months because Punyaphat confessed.” [This is an accurate quote, but the reduced sentence details must be wrong or lacking details. We guess 6 years, as a reduction is usually 50%.]

Punyaphat’s mother has stated that her son “suffers from attention deficit and shows obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She also said that he can only communicate on a limited basis and is unable to control himself in stressful situations or if he is afraid, and that he is not able to work or leave the house by himself and must be under the care of his family at all times.”

However, the royalist Court claimed “Punyaphat was capable of contesting the charges and there was no need to send him to a psychiatrist, since he is able to talk about himself.”  The court and its officers ignored all claims about Punyaphat’s mental condition, including by his lawyers.

While Punyaphat and his family live in Kamphaeng Phet, because the complaint “was filed by Siwapan Manitkul …  at Bangkaew Police Station in Samut Prakan, Punyapat and his family had to travel at least 5 hours from  for each court appointment.”

Siwapan is reported to have filed “at least 9 royal defamation complaints filed against other citizens for social media posts in 2020.”

Following the verdict, “Punyaphat’s lawyers posted bail for him in order to appeal the charges, and also stated that sending him to prison would prevent him from receiving proper treatment for his mental condition. He was released on bail using a 225,000-baht security.”





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:





Mad, dumb, and more

21 06 2022

Now that the police have arrested Aniwat Prathumthin, aka “Nara Crepe Katoey”, Thidaporn Chaokuwiang, aka “Nurat”, and Kittikhun Thamkittirath, aka “Mom Dew,” and charged all three with Article 112 offenses, the Royal Thai Army has lifted restrictions on trade with Lazada.

If we weren’t so used to dumb-assed “explanations” from the lot in green, the statement by Army Deputy Spokesperson Col Sirichan Ngathong “said yesterday (Monday) that the lifting of the boycott was … in line with the further relaxation of restrictions, to allow business to resume normal operations and reopen the country to overseas arrivals.” What’s that got to do with monarchy and Article 112? We can only imagine that there may have been pay-offs, whispers in ears emanating from the Chinese Embassy, or orders from the boss. Or maybe all of them. We will never know.

Senate Speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai is supposed to have legal training. But he’s also a “good” person, meaning he enjoys being a dumb-ass with impunity. He’s defended his Senate colleagues – also “good” people – who employ dozens of their relatives. He says it “is not illegal.”

Pornpetch says “certain positions in public office may require someone, who the senators can trust, to fill.” We recall that Alexander MacDonald reported similar nepotism and the same “explanation” back in the 1940s (look for his Bangkok Editor on Library Genesis). Thai Enquirer has him saying: “[Nepotism] is not wrong because it is not against the law.” Taken aback, “reporters acknowledged that even though nepotism was not technically illegal, wasn’t it still morally wrong?” No, Pornpetch retorted, “nepotism, in government, is not morally wrong.”

Having trusted relatives means they are not likely to blow the whistle on their relatives as they supp at the public trough. It’s a family protection racket.

While on “good” people, we must mention a letter to the SCMP by Wiwat Salyakamthorn, said to be president of the World Soil Association and former vice-minister of agriculture and cooperatives of Thailand. You might have thought the sufficiency economy fertilizer might have leached away. But you’d be wrong. There’s now an effort to attribute everything that’s ever happened in Thai agriculture to the dead king and his “idea.” More, there’s an effort to transfer sufficiency economy to King Vajiralongkorn.

Wiwat claims: “Much of Thailand’s resilience in food security is due to … King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s development projects for the betterment of the Thai people’s livelihoods based on his philosophy of sufficiency economy.” Yes, farmers are all Thaksin-voting dolts. Only the royals know, and although Vajiralongkorn would have trouble growing a flower, Wiwat comes up with this guff: “Building upon his father’s legacy, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua has guided the Thai people in applying the Khok Nong Na model to ensure that resilience of the food system remains one of Thailand’s crowning achievements in the years to come.”

That’s enough for today!





Updated: 18 months and 200 lese majeste cases

19 06 2022

The International Federation for Human Rights has issued a press release on the rise in Article 112 arrests and prosecutions:

According to information complied by TLHR, between 24 November 2020 and 16 June 2022, 201 individuals – including 16 children – have been charged under Article 112, which imposes jail terms for those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Those found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years for each count. Some lèse-majesté defendants face numerous prosecutions and prison sentences ranging from 120 to 300 years.

It goes on to observe:

Various United Nations (UN) human rights monitoring mechanisms have repeatedly expressed concern over Thailand’s lèse-majesté prosecutions and the severe application of Article 112. They have also called for the amendment or repeal of Article 112.

Since August 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has declared the deprivation of liberty of nine lèse-majesté detainees to be “arbitrary” because it contravened several provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party. Eight of those detainees were released after serving their jail terms, while the ninth, Anchan Preelerd, remains incarcerated.

The arrest and prosecution of children under Article 112 is also inconsistent with Thailand’s obligation under international law. Article 13(1) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Thailand is a state party, stipulates that children have the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds. Article 37(b) of CRC states that children should not be deprived of their liberty arbitrarily and that the arrest, detention, or imprisonment of children should be used as a measure of last resort.

Update: A reader comments:

Regarding the last sentence: I think that the powers that be are at the point of thinking that this is their last resort to maintain in power. They are increasingly feeling threatened and they will resort to ever increasingly irrational methods to stay in power.





Piyabutr accused of lese majeste

18 06 2022

The Nation reports that the Progressive Movement’s secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul “will meet police investigators on June 20 about a lese majeste accusation levelled against him.”

Piyabutr posted on Facebook “that police had initially summoned him for questioning on June 12. However, he and his lawyer were busy and asked to postpone the meeting to next Monday [20 June] at 10am.”

Apparently, the summons results from “a complaint filed by independent historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom accusing Piyabutr of insulting the monarchy under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.” We are not entirely sure what “independent historian” means. In any case, we do know that he’s an ultra-royalist.

Piyabutr “has maintained that his comments about the Thai monarchy and calls for reforms were purely aimed at helping the institution survive modern-day challenges.” He stated: “None of my comments suggested transforming [the Thai political system] into that of a republic. No insults were levelled against the monarchy…”.

Piyabutr was referring to commentary he has provided about the monarchy and reform for over a decade. He added: “None of my comments can be seen as violating Article 112…”. This is the first time he’s been accused of lese majeste.

He claimed that this complaint by “those hyper royalists and ultra-royalists” was only “aimed at discouraging him from commenting on reforms of the monarchy…. They want to make me stop speaking, but they can’t…”.





Updated: Lazada madness

17 06 2022

Back in May, royalists went berserk over a TikTok advertisement produced for the Chinese firm Lazada, screaming lese majeste.

On 16 June 2022, the police arrested Aniwat Prathumthin, aka “Nara Crepe Katoey”, Thidaporn Chaokuwiang, aka “Nurat”, and Kittikhun Thamkittirath, aka “Mom Dew,” and charged all three with Article 112 offenses. Aniwat has also been charged under the computer crimes law.

The three were arrested by Technology Crime Suppression Division police, Thidaporn in Ayutthaya, Aniwat at Don Muang airport, and Kittikhun in Bangkok’s Wang Thong Lang district. Each was released on bail of 90,000 baht.

The charges stemmed from a “Lazada clothes shopping clip features Thidaporn in traditional Thai costume and sitting in a wheelchair, while Aniwat was seen accusing Thidaporn, who plays her aristocratic mother, of stealing her clothes.”

The video immediately drew criticism from ultra-royalists who claimed the video mimicked royals, including Princess Chulabhorn who is sometimes seen in a wheelchair. The royalists also reckoned the advertisement mocked the disabled, but that was a smokescreen for their real complaint based on their own hypersensitivity on things royal. Their immediate reaction led to a hashtag campaign on Twitter to boycott Lazada, a call taken up by the Royal Thai Army, Royal projects and foundations, among others.

Clipped from Thai PBS

Lazada issued an apology, as did “Intersect Design Factory, the company which hired the influencers to promote the Lazada sales campaign…”. It was serial campaigner and royalist activist Srisuwan Janya who lodged a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division police, “accusing Aniwat of offending a member of the royal family.”

Aniwat refused to “issue a public apology or show regret has only added fuel to fire.” Quite correctly, but further angering ultra-royalists, in a television interview, Aniwat said that “anyone has the right to wear a traditional costume,” and that “the so-called reference to a Royal was imagined by the netizens.”

Army chief Gen Narongpan Jitkaewtha quickly announced “that he has banned members of all military units to stop buying goods from Lazada. He also banned all Lazada delivery trucks and motorbikes from entering Army compounds.”

Joining the royalist pile-on, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his “concern about the clip on May 7 and noting that Thais love and respect the monarchy.” Meanwhile, the “Digital Economy and the Society Ministry also instructed the Police Technology Crime Suppression Division to check if the TikTok clip violated any laws.”

Aniwat had earlier gained online followers “among youngsters fed up with General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s style of governance. She has openly pushed for the PM’s resignation and often criticized his supporters.”

Of course, Princess Chulabhorn is not covered by Article 112 but that has never stopped bizarre lese majeste cases in the past.

Update: Coconuts Bangkok reports on the arrest of Kittikhun “a transgender blogger and  model known as Mom Dew, [who] was being held Thursday afternoon at the Technology Crime Supression Division in Bangkok’s Lak Si over a complaint that she impersonated the Queen Mother Sirikit in an ad campaign that was quickly pulled after it aired last month.”

Like Chulabhorn, Sirikit is not covered in Article 112. To refresh memories, Article112 of the Criminal Code states, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”





Drop lese majeste charges

9 06 2022

CIVICUS, an international civil society advocacy and monitoring group, has issued a statement on Article 112 pre-trial detentions and related charges. PPT reproduces it in full:

Thailand: Government must immediately and unconditionally drop royal defamation charges against youth activists

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Asia Democracy Network are alarmed by the ongoing judicial harassment against youth pro-democracy activists in Thailand for exercising their rights to expression and peaceful assembly.

As the State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Thailand should guarantee an enabling environment for the public, including human rights defenders and activists, to convey their legitimate criticism instead of criminalising them.

Two youth pro-democracy activists, Netiporn ‘Bung’ Sanesangkhon and Nutthanit’ Bai Po’ Duangmusit, were detained on 3 May 2022 after the Court revoked their bail for their involvement in conducting two polls on the monarchy in February and March 2022. Their requests for bail have been denied.

Recently, the Court granted bail for two other youth activists facing royal defamation charges (Section 112 or Lese Majeste). Activist, Tantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatulanon, was granted bail on 26 May 2022 but ordered to wear a monitoring device and not leave her house premises without a court order. Tawan is known for her affiliation with the pro-democracy Draconis Revolution group, continuously advocating to abolish Section 112 (Lese Majeste). She was detained in March 2022 for questioning the monarchy in a live streaming broadcast on social media and faces five counts of resisting officers in the execution of their duty, violating the Computer Crimes Act and royal defamation. While she was initially given bail it was revoked on 20 April 2021 after the police claimed that she had attempted to commit a similar offence following a Facebook post commenting about a royal motorcade and going near the motorcade. Following the prolonged detention by the Court, she went on a 30-day hunger strike. On 20 May, the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court denied her bail again after prosecutors said they had just received a case file.

The other activist, Sophon ‘Get’ Surariddhidhamrong was arrested on 1 May 2022 for giving a critical speech during a protest march in the Ratchadamnoen area 10 days earlier. He was denied bail by the South Bangkok Criminal Court and was in a hunger strike for 22 days before the bail granted on 31 May. He faces two other royal defamation charges for his speeches in the Chakri Memorial Day Protest in April and the Labour Day rally on 1 May. Despite being granted bail, the royal defamation charges against Tawan and Get remain.

The cases add to the long list of prosecution under Section 112, which the Thailand Prime Minister revived in 2020 after not being used for three years. Statistics from the Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR) have revealed that at least 190 individuals had been subjected to royal defamation charges between 18 July 2020 and 30 April 2022. At this time, apart from the activists mentioned, at least 5 others are still detained awaiting trial – namely Weha Sanchonchanasuk (since 10 March), Kataporn (since 10 April), Kongphet (since 10 April), Parima (since 11 April) and Pornpoj Chaengkrachang (since 11 April). Also, two activists, Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Sombat Thongyoi, who have sentenced to imprisonment are currently in the appeal process.

The royal defamation charges are not the only law the Thailand government has used to stifle fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Other draconian provisions used include sedition charges under Section 116, charges under the Emergency Decree, charges under the Public Assembly Act, Computer Crime Act, and Contempt of Court, to name a few.

The prolonged pre-trial detention under the royal defamation charge violates Thailand’s international human rights obligation under the ICCPR. Article 9 of the Covenant stipulates the State Party’s obligation to conduct a trial on criminal offences within a reasonable time. Detention for those awaiting trial should not be mandatory for all defendants charged with a particular crime. Further, the state is obligated to re-examine if the pretrial detention has to be continued, whether it is reasonable and necessary for lawful purposes in the light of possible alternatives. The arrest or detention of legitimate activities of exercising guarantees rights, such as freedom of expression, is considered arbitrary.

Our organisations call for the immediate and unconditional release of these activists and for the government to guarantee a safe and enabling environment for Thai people to express their opinion without fear of reprisal. This includes abolishing provisions and laws, including on royal defamation and sedition charges which are often used to stifle critics.








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