Updated: Dark business, wealth and the king

15 01 2022

At the end of last year, PPT posted on an odd story on dark power, the navy and self-punshment. We pointed to a whiff of royalism.

Now, Prachatai reports that Lt – Prachatai says he’s a Captain – Alongkorn Ploddee, the director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, is potentially facing lese majeste charges.

Capt Alongkorn is accused of claiming that “the King … knew him well.” In the past, several police and military officers claiming such links have been convicted under Article 112, been dismissed, and some have died.

Alongkorn “has been dismissed from service effective from 7 January.” In addition, it is stated that he “has been detained at a military camp in Sattahip, Chonburi, facing four charges and at risk of being charged with lèse majesté in a military court.”

He made his claims at a restaurant in Sattahip and earlier at a restaurant in the Ekkamai area. There, he claimed to he was in “Rama IX’s guard for 18 years. Rama X knows me well, just so you know that you are losers. I can remove you any time. No need to call anyone. I won’t go anywhere. I sit here. I’m the biggest in this country…”.

The navy also revealed that, as expected, Alongkorn was wealthy, having “at least 12 vehicles including one Isuzu, six Toyota, one Honda, one Porsche, one Ford, and two Mercedes Benz.” Reminiscent of Pol Col Thitisan “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari,” caught on camera suffocating a man to death. Whatever happened to that case?

It is stated that the “Sattahip Police Station has set up a committee to consider whether to charge him under the lèse majesté law.”

Interestingly, continuing the whiff of royalism, no relatives have come forward to provide bail. If things travel as they have in the past, little more may be heard of this case or of Capt Alongkorn.

Update: In another story, a similar effort to use royal connections, real or concocted, has come to light. It is reported that a complaint has been lodged “with Region 8 Police yesterday [12 January 2022] over police in Nakhon Sri Thammarat not taking any action to investigate a member of a “volunteer foundation” accused of misusing a royal insignia and a Royal Thai Police badge.” It is claimed that the unnamed “volunteer foundation” used a royal insignia, “called the ‘Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut’, and the police badge to stage checkpoints and force local residents to comply with other instructions given…”. The report adds: “The ‘volunteer foundation’ was not named in the report … but the actions described match those usually conducted by Civil Defense Volunteers, or ‘OrSor’.” PPT has posted on similar uses of royal connections previously. Several led to lese majeste convictions.





Abolish Article 112

13 01 2022

We highly recommend Kritsada Subpawanthanakun’s Prachatai piece “Abolish Section 112: A call that gets louder as time passes.” It is important and should be read in full. It is time to get rid of this feudal law.





112 manure

3 01 2022

When we read a recent report at Thai PBS we thought we’d been transported back in time.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved a proposal by the KLA Party to set up a special panel of experts to screen lèse majesté complaints filed with the police, to determine whether they should proceed, said KLA Party Secretary-General Atavit Suwannapakdee today (Sunday)….

If the panel rules that the cases should not proceed, they should be dropped, said the KLA party secretary-general.

Atavit, from the ridiculously named party that congeals around the rancid Korn Chatikavanij, reckons a “seven-member special panel will consist of two experts in the law and political science, as well as one representative each from the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General’s Office and the Royal Thai Police.”

He says Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin confirmed that Gen Paryuth “has endorsed it.”

Why deja vu? Back in 2010, then military-backed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva claimed to have done this. Whether that committee ever operated is an open question.





Arbitrary 112 detention

1 01 2022

Prachatai reports that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has urged the royalist regime to immediately release lese majeste detainee Anchan Preelerd.

Anchan, who is 65, is serving a prison sentence of 43 years and six months for violating Article 112. In fact, she was sentenced on 19 January 2021, almost six years after her arrest, to a mammoth 87 years in prison, with the sentence reduced because she finally agreed to plead guilty because she had already spent three years in prison pending her trial – what PPT calls lese majeste torture, waiting for her to plead guilty.

The “reduced” sentence was said to be the longest sentence ever under Article 112.

Clipped from Prachatai

The report states:

The WGAD opinion was issued in response to a complaint filed jointly by FIDH [International Federation for Human Rights] and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) to the UN body on 7 July 2021. In its opinion, the WGAD found the deprivation of liberty of Anchan under Article 112 to be “arbitrary” and called on the Thai government to “release her immediately,” taking into account the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in places of detention, and to “accord her an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

… The WGAD expressed its grave concern about the pattern of arbitrary detentions under Article 112, particularly those involving online expression, and the “serious harm to society” caused by the enforcement of the law.

The WGAD also called on the Thai government to bring Article 112 into conformity with Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law….

The WGAD declared Anchan’s imprisonment arbitrary because it contravened Articles 3, 8, 9, 10, and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 2, 9, 14, and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party. The referenced provisions of the UDHR and ICCPR guarantee the fundamental right to liberty, the right to a fair trial, and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

… The WGAD found that Anchan’s deprivation of liberty lacked legal basis, because it stemmed from an arrest without a valid arrest warrant issued by a competent, independent, and impartial judicial authority. Anchan’s initial detention at the military base without being brought before a judge was also in violation of her right to challenge the lawfulness of her detention, guaranteed under Articles 8 and 9 of the UDHR and Articles 2 and 9(3) of the ICCPR. In addition, Anchan was detained pursuant to Article 112, a legislation that the WGAD has consistently found it “expressly violates international human rights law.”

The WGAD also ruled that Anchan was detained as a result of her “peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.” The WGAD considered the audio clips concerning members of the Thai royal family that Anchan uploaded onto social media platforms to “fall within the boundaries of the exercise of the right to freedom of expression” under Article 19 of the UDHR and Article 19 of the ICCPR.

FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan stated:

The UN opinion on Anchan’s case underscores the supreme injustice to which she has been subjected and the recurring and serious human rights violations associated with the enforcement of Article 112. It’s time for the Thai government to break the chain of lèse-majesté arrests, prosecutions, and detentions and heed the growing domestic and international calls for the reform of Article 112….

FIDH and TLHR called “for the immediate and unconditional release of Anchan and all other individuals detained under Article 112.”

This is the ninth time since 2012 that the WGAD has found that lese majeste detainees were arbitrarily deprived of their liberty.





Updated: Welcome back I

29 12 2021

From Prachtai’s Facebook page:

On 19.00, three activists, one of whom is 17 year old, raised banners stating ‘abolish Section 112’ among the crowd that were welcoming the royal procession of King Vajiralongkorn and entourages at Wongwian Yai.

They were subdued by people with yellow shirt and scarf of the royal volunteer service, being injured during the process.
Originally, 5 people were arrested but only 3 activists nicknamed Sainam, Baipor and Tawan were brought to the nearby Bupharam Police Station. The other two had been released.

According to a video footage of the event, there was a woman ran into the King as he got out of the car before being immediately held by guards. It is still unclear whether the released two were the same people or not. Their hair colors are black, unlike a woman activist that has a blond hair.

As of 22.00, the three are still at the police station with lawyers from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

It is reported that the police is conducting a meeting over what charge should be pressed upon them despite originally charging them with causing a commotion in the public which carries a light penalty of paying fines.

A brief interview with Pol Lt Col Seksan Pa-taesang from Buppharam station reported that a woman who ran to the King was sent to Somdej Chao Phraya mental hospital. He hung up while we tried to ask on about the charge of the arrested.

On 23.00, it is reported that the two are also activists. The woman who was sent to the hospital are not in this group. There are 6 characters in the incident as of now: 2 released,3 being held, 1 at hospital.

On 00.30 of 29 December, the three had been released. They were charged with two light penalties of causing commotion in public and not complying with the authorities. The were fined 1,000 baht for each person.

The three said to the media that they would make physical checks to keep records of the injuries and would proceed to filing lawsuit against those that injured them.

Thai Enquirer reports these events. It notes that one video “that circulated on Tuesday night appears to show a woman sprinting towards the royal procession to reach the king himself.”

Of the broader protest, it observes:

Five political activists, including a 17-year-old boy, were arrested and allegedly beaten on Tuesday night for allegedly conducting protests near a crowd of royalists celebrating the royal procession of King Vajiralongkorn and other palace members at Wongwian Yai.

The group of activists raised the three-finger salute not far from the royal motorcade before violence broke out.

A mass of royalists approached the group of young activists and began beating them, grabbing their faces, ripping their banners from their hands.

Several police officers then removed the protesters from the area where the royal procession was taking place.

Thai Enquirer spoke with one of the protesters who complained “that the police were quick to use violence despite the fact that they were protesting peacefully.” She says they were opposing Article 112.

Police “charged the protesters with causing a public nuisance and violating public decency,” which “carry the maximum penalty of up to 1,000 baht in fines…”.

There may be more charges.





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.





Precious courts I

21 12 2021

Prachatai has a report on the judiciary that is worth considering.

Joseph (not his real name) protested the denial of bail for detained activists – some of them held for more than 4 months now. He cut his arm in front of the judge on 11 October 2021 to protest the denial of bail for activists Arnon Nampa and Benja Apan. They are held on lese majeste and other charges.

Now Joseph “has been sentenced to 2 months in prison on a contempt of court charge…”.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) report that Joseph was sentenced by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 17 December. Because he “confessed and said to the court that his action was symbolic and that he has no intention of hurting anyone, the court reduced his sentence to 1 month in prison and a 250-baht fine. His sentence is also suspended for 6 months.”

Clipped from Prachatai

TLHR calculates “that 26 people have been charged with contempt of court in 16 cases since July 2020. Of these cases, 14 resulted from protests demanding the right to bail for detained activists.”

Joseph is also reportedly:

one of the 13 protesters facing royal defamation and sedition charges under Section 112 [lese majeste] and 116 [sedition] of the Thai Criminal Code, as well as using a sound amplifier without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act for either reading a statement or giving speeches during the protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020, in which they submitted a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany. Joseph is facing charges for reading out a statement in English.





Anti-112 rally

13 12 2021

Protesters from a range of groups rallied in Bangkok on Sunday at the Ratchaprasong intersection to oppose the use of the lese majeste law. Groups mentioned include Talu Gas, Talu Fah, the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration, the Feminist Liberation Front of Thailand, We Volunteer and the 24 June Democracy Group.

While the crowd was larger than the authorities expected, the reporting in the mainstream media is sparse. Self-censorship and regime pressure appears to be stifling reporting.

Clipped from The Nation

While Thai PBS and The Nation have shirt reports, the most extensive report we saw is at Thai Newsroom.

Speakers included political activist and former lese majeste detainee Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, leader of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration Natchanon Pairoj and Natpakorn Nammuang from the Internet Law Reform Dialogue or iLaw.

In his speech, as well as criticizing the Constitutional Court’s outlawing of reform, Somyos stated that over 230,000 people had so far signed a petition on repealing Article112.

Protesters also offered support for jailed pro-democracy leaders Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak and Panupong Jardnok.





Silencing reformists and media

12 12 2021

Activists Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Attapon Buapat of the Ratsadorn Group for Abolition of Section 112 have submitted a petition to the Office of Attorney-General calling on it to “consider taking steps to rescind the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the sustained calls for monarchical reform, specifically pertaining to the sought-after abolition to the Criminal Code Section 112, better known as the lese majeste law, were allegedly designed to ‘undermine democratic rule with the monarch as head of state’.”

Attapol observed that the Court’s “ruling would be merely used as a legal, political tool against any opponents to those who may have been supportive of the lese majeste law, which, he said, has obviously stifled the people’s freedom of expression and violated the human rights for them to take part in peaceful gatherings and demands for an end to it.”

He’s right, but it does far more than that.

Former Constitutional Court president has recently stated that:

the media can be considered as an accomplice in crime if they published messages about the monarchy that are outlawed. However, t[h]e question of intent would also be taken into account when considering the case.

So he suggested that the media avoid reporting what may be regarded as illegal. The ten demands for monarchy reform can be reported with care. The parts that infringe the monarchy will have to be censored.

The mainstream media is likely to be tamed and silenced even further, with the regime relying on self-censorship by journalists, editors, and media companies. It is already happening.





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








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