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.”





More on foodpanda 112 case

21 07 2021

Prachatai and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that Sitthichote Sethasavet, 25, stands “accused of burning a royal arch at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue during the 18 July protest. He is accused of royal defamation [they mean lese majeste] and arson…”.

He has denied all charges and was “released on bail with 100,000 baht as securities.”.

Sitthichok

Clipped from Prachatai

It is reported that Sitthichote “was arrested by plainclothes police at his house in Rangsit on Monday night.” Prachatai states:

Sitthichok’s arrest is related to the #banfoodpanda (#แบนfoodpanda) hashtag which trended on Sunday. A Twitter user mentioned the food delivery platform, saying its rider may have been involved in the arson attempt on a royal arch during the 18 July protest. Foodpanda responded by saying that it would look into the details and that the platform has a policy “against violence and all forms of terrorism.”

The comment angered many netizens for equating protestors with terrorists when the protesters faced violence from the police use of anti-protest measures. They criticized the platform’s stance which seemed to support authoritarianism and prejudice against its rider without any proper investigation. This led to users and restaurants themselves to call for a boycott of the Foodpanda service.

Foodpanda soon published “a letter apologizing for the disappointment that its message had caused among users and partners. The letter stated that the company is still carefully looking into the incident.”

Meanwhile, labor groups “published a statement condemning Foodpanda Thailand for violating their worker rights of political expression.”

The Nation reports that Sitthichoke has “denied charges of burning royal portrait during an anti-government protest on Sunday, claiming he was attempting to put out the flames.”

Police claim they “have evidence that proves the suspect burned a royal picture…”.

He also revealed that police officers were interrogating the 16 protesters arrested earlier for their role in Sunday’s rally.





Foodpanda lese majeste

20 07 2021

The Nation reports that a “foodpanda delivery staff, who allegedly took part in an anti-government protest on Sunday, was arrested in Pathum Thani province on Monday on several charges,” including lese majeste.

On 19 July 2021, police “arrested Sitthichote Setsawet [Sethasavet] following a Criminal Court warrant on charges that included defaming, insulting and threatening the King and Queen [they mean lese majeste], arson, and violation of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations…”.

Sitthichote “was allegedly seen in one of the videoclips that were shared online while wearing a foodpanda uniform.”





112 bail denied

16 07 2021

112Quoting Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Prachatai reports an the lese majeste case against Prasong Khotsongkhram.

The 26 year-old has “been denied bail for the third time after being charged with [lese majeste] for three Facebook posts made in May and June 2021.” This despite “using 250,000 baht as security and ask[ing] the court to allow him release while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet and for a supervisor to be appointed.”

As has been the case in about half of recent Article 112 charges, the complaint came from a royalist vigilante:

Thitiwat Tanagaroon

Royalist Thitiwat. Clipped from Reuters

The complaint against Prasong was filed by Thitiwat Tanagaroon, a royalist protester who was praised by King Vajiralongkorn for raising a portrait of the late King Bhumibol at a pro-democracy protest. TLHR reported that Thitiwat filed the complaint against Prasong after seeing three public posts on Prasong’s Facebook profile, one of which was made on 21 May 2021 and the other two on 7 June 2021, which Thitiwat said were insulting to the King.

This royalist complaint led to Prasong being arrested on 8 July by Bangplat Police Station. The following day, the court approved his continued detention, denying a bail request. A second bail request, lodged on 11 July, was also rejected.

As is all too often the case in royalist courts, the “Taling Chan Criminal Court ruled to deny him bail on the grounds that the charges are serious, that he might try to flee, and that there is no reason to change previous court orders” to deny bail.

Prasong “is currently detained at the Thung Noi Temporary Prison, which is on the same premises as the Military Circle 11 Prison.” Using the virus crisis, the Department of Corrections has ruled that Prasong “will have to be in quarantine for 21 days, during which time his family and lawyer will not be allowed to visit him. After he has completed his quarantine period, he will be transferred to the Thonburi Remand Prison.”

The royalist repression continues.





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.





Anchan’s absurd 112 sentence

11 07 2021

FIDH and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) have “petitioned the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to seek the release of Anchan Preelerd…”. Ancha, who is 65 years old, is serving 87 years in the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok for lese majeste.

This is “the longest prison sentence ever imposed under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code…”. She was convicted on

Anchan

Clipped from Prachatai

19 January 2021, on 29 counts of lese-majeste “for uploading and disseminating audio clips to social media platforms between 12 November 2014 and January 2015.”

FIDH and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) have “petitioned the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to seek the release of Anchan Preelerd…”. Ancha, who is 65 years old, is serving 87 years in the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok for lese majeste.

This is “the longest prison sentence ever imposed under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code…”. She was convicted on 19 January 2021, on 29 counts of lese-majeste “for uploading and disseminating audio clips to social media platforms between 12 November 2014 and January 2015.”

FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan declared: “Anchan’s outrageous prison sentence is effectively a death sentence for an act that constitutes a peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.” Khan demanded the “Thai government … immediately release her and end such extreme abuse of the lèse-majesté law…”.

In their statement, FIDH and TLHR said the consider:

… the prosecution of Anchan and her deprivation of liberty have been in violation of her right to a fair trial and her right to freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are guaranteed by Articles 14 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.

TLHR Head Yaowalak Anuphan stated:

Anchan has been subjected to unfair judicial proceedings in a military court, lengthy detention before and during trial, and an unprecedented prison sentence. The Thai government must right the wrongs suffered by Anchan and immediately release her….

FIDH and TLHR called for Anchan’s “immediate and unconditional release” and called for “the amendment of Article 112 to bring it into line with Thailand’s obligations under the ICCPR.” They also urged “the government to refrain from carrying out arrests, prosecutions, and detentions of individuals for merely exercising their fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression.”





Revoking 112 bail

8 07 2021

Via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Thai Enquirer reports that “the public prosecutor has asked the court to revoke the bail of [Wanwalee Thammasattaya or] Tee Payao, a student activist facing lese-majeste charges…”.

She was charged under Article 112 for a speech she made at a protest at Wongwian Yai on 6 December 2020. Later, after the Office of the Attorney General proceeded with the prosecution, the Thonburi Criminal Court sent her to pre-trial detention on April 27.

Wanwalee

Wanwalee. Clipped from Prachatai

After 11 days in detention, she was granted bail on the “condition that she not publicly insult or arrange any activity against the royal institution.” The latter is royalist-speak for the monarchy, but a term now widely used, demonstrating the continuing strength of the dominant royalist ideology.

On 6 July 2021, the Thonburi Department of Criminal Litigation told a court hearing “that Wanwalee had breached her bail conditions when she made a speech during a series of protests by the Ratsadon group, the main student led pro-democracy group, on June 24.”

Remarkably, the department invoked the virus emergency decree as one reason for revoking bail. This is telling as it highlights how authoritarian regimes have welcomed the virus as a way of embedding their rule. It is ironic in that the regime’s prisons have terrible record on the virus, which has raged through them.

The department alleges that on 24 June, “Wanwalee had made a speech about the [monarchy] and the content could be against the lese-majeste law.”

The prosecutor “handed … evidence of her speech to the court…”. On its part, the court said it would “rule on the possible revocation of Wanwalee’s bail on July 12.”

This is unlikely to be the end of real and threatened bail revocations – now used as a means of political repression – as the regime’s (political) police “have asked the public prosecutor to request for bail revocations for five protest leaders from the Ratsadon.”





Monk gets 112 summons

7 07 2021

Via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) , Prachatai reports that novice monk Saharat Sukkhamla, seen at some protest rallies, “has received a summons from Pathumwan Police Station on a[n Article 112, lese majeste] charge] … relating to a speech he gave at a protest on 21 November 2020.”

Saharat at a 2020 rally. Clipped from Prachatai

That summons was received on 5 July 2021. The summons states “the complaint against him was filed by Ratthanaphak Suwannarat, and that Saharat must report to Pathumwan Police Station on 12 July at 10.00.” Ratthanaphak’s complaint was about a “speech Saharat gave at a protest organized by the students’ rights group Bad Student on 21 November 2020.”

Earlier, “on 25 February 2021, special branch police officers tried to disrobe Saharat, claiming a consensus of the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand … and an announcement from the National Office of Buddhism” that permitted him to be disrobed. At that time, the police “claimed that Saharat’s actions insulted the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand … and that he caused conflict within the order.” However, they were unable to locate Saharat.

The total number of people now charged since last November is claimed by TLHR to be at least 103, eight of them minors. Saharat seems to be the first monk charged under Article 112.





Targeting Facebook on anti-monarchism

5 07 2021

About three weeks ago, it was reported that the regime’s No. 2 had ordered the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to crack down on “fake news.” We assume he got his orders from higher up because the DES immediately ordered dozens of URLs closed within 48 hours. Many of the sites were not really fake news sites, but gambling or pornography sites. But the real target anti-regime and anti-monarchy sites.

Three weeks later and not much has happened apart from the regime getting ever more twitchy, again suggesting that there’s very high-level pressure on them.Facebook-Dislike-Button

As Thai PBS has reported, the regime has resumed its battle with Facebook, over the content it still deceptively claims is “fake news” when they mean sites that provide information about the monarchy:

These accounts – all operated from overseas – are registered to Pavin Chachavalpongpun, his discussion page Royalist Marketplace – Talad Luang, Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Suda Rangkupan, Pixel Helper, DK Ning, Aum Neko, and Kon Thai UK. Several of the account owners are wanted in Thailand for lese majeste.

Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn is flustered, saying: “Despite negotiations, Facebook has refused to follow orders to block eight accounts. I will bring legal action against Facebook in Thailand and its headquarters…”.

He demanded that Facebook “show responsibility towards Thailand’s issues and comply with the country’s regulations, given the fact that Facebook has many users in the Kingdom.”

There’s two things to note here. First, the minister demands that the whole of Facebook follow royalist norms and the regime’s illegitimate use of draconian laws. In other words, he seems to be going beyond the usual demand for geo-blocking of popular anti-monarchy  sites. Second, he seems to be threatening Facebook with exclusion from the Thai market, which would require that the regime descend further down the Chinese road and come up with state-approved, state monitored social media platforms.





Vigilante 112

4 07 2021

In a deepening of Thailand’s fascism, ultra-royalist vigilantes continue to lay complaints against netizens, which police convert into charges.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report on another such case. We do not think we have previously posted on this case. TLHR states:

On 22 June 2021, at 08:00 am, Ms. Kanlaya (Pseudonym), a 27-year-old employee of a private company in Nonthaburi province, close to Bangkok, reported to Su-ngai Kolok District Police Station in Narathiwat province, Thailand’s Deep South, to acknowledge her charges under the “lese majeste” provisions of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, as well as Article 14(3) of the Computer Crimes Act. Mr. Pasit Chanhuaton filed these charges against her with the inquiry officer at this police station due to four of her online activities in which she posted, shared, and commented on Facebook about the monarchy.

The report does not provide further details regarding the alleged offenses.

Police state that Pasit “has accused at least five persons of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code and filed the charges at this police station in Su-gnai Kolok.” This suggests that he may be in the employ of state agencies, a member of a vigilante cyber-spy group funded by the state or an eager ultra-royalist.

Whatever his particular location as a snitch, police say they “have gradually started to issue summonses for these accused persons to acknowledge their charges.”

Kanlaya’s summons was “from Acting Pol. Maj. Natee Chansaengsri, an inquiry officer from Su-ngai Kolok District Police Station. Dated 17 May 2021, the summons required her to acknowledge her charge in person on 7 June 2021.” She managed to postpone this given that her abode was hundreds of kilometers away in Nonthaburi and her official residence in Phayao. She reported on 22 June 2021.

Snitch Pasit claimed to have been “using Facebook when he came across one Facebook user posting images and four messages referring to the monarchy. The messages include a criticism of the monarchy’s role in relation to the political protests…”. Pasit also claimed Kanlaya shared a post from another Facebook user which urged that Article 112 be revoked to permit free expression on the monarchy.

An outraged Pasit “claimed that these messages maliciously referred to the King in an accusatorial manner.”

Kanlaya has denied all charges.

The police requested that the Narathiwat Provincial Court remand Kanlaya in custody. The court did this but granted a bail application on a surety of 150,000 baht.

Kanlaya is  scheduled to report to the Court again on 9 August 2021.

According to TLHR, there are now “at least 101 persons have been charged under Article 112 in 98 cases since the enforcement of this article has resumed in late November 2020.” Fully 45 of these cases result from vigilante-like complaints.