Intimidate, repress, and control II

30 01 2022

The repression of heavy suppression of protesters and activists has been intense. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights recently published a report that states “at least 1,747 people in 980 cases have been prosecuted due to political protests and expression since the Free Youth Rally on 18 July 2020 until 25 December 2021.”

Only 150 of these cases have been concluded, meaning that hundreds of people are tied up in various legal procedures or are being held without bail. This reflects the regime’s use of lawfare.

In 2021 alone, “1,513 new people in 835 cases have been politically accused, accounting for an almost 7-fold increase compared to the number in the second half of 2020.”

Notably, there was a sharp rise in arrests and prosecutions “during the three-month period between August to October. The period coincided with a heightened political tension as a result of car mob events in various provinces, almost daily protests by various groups in Bangkok, and series of “Talu-Gas” protests at Din Daeng Intersection and the surrounding areas.”

Lese majeste charges were filed against at least 127 “new” people in 104 cases, while sedition charges were filed against at least 55 “new” people in 16 cases. As for the “key political leaders accused between 18 July 2020 and 25 December 2021 …[TLHR] found that:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak has 43 cases.

Panupong “Mike” Jadnok has 30 cases.

Anon Nampa has 24 cases.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has 24 cases.

Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa has 19 cases.

Benja Apan has 19 cases.

Another TLHR report states that “at least 291 activists and citizens, 39 of whom concerned youths under 18 years old, received house visits or were summoned for talks by authorities. These numbers do not include cases where authorities went to deliver summon warrants or make an arrest as part of a prosecution.” Most of this surveillance was in the northeast.

The repression continues and deepens.





Royalist regime fighting for the past

24 01 2022

While not a new revelation,

He explains:

Self-crowned

On a recent visit to a cinema in Bangkok, I was reminded of the dual role that movie theaters play in Thailand. One, of course, is to show films, local and foreign. The other is to reinforce in the audience a belief that their monarch serves as a unifying pillar in the Southeast Asian kingdom. That lesson plays out just before the main feature, when the screen in the darkened auditorium displays a message requesting the audience to stand as the strains of the king’s anthem fill the hall, accompanied by images of the king’s achievements….

The response of audiences — standing up for the anthem — was almost universal until the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in late 2016 ended a 70-year reign.

We think this is something of an overstatement. We recall that in the mid-1970s, when the royal stuff came on at the end of the film, many bolted for the exits to escape the hagiographic kitsch. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, audiences at movies and concerts often waited outside until the royal propaganda was finished and then rushed to their seats. But back to the story today:

But something quite different is now going on in cinemas….

[A]t Siam Paragon, a high-end mall in Bangkok’s upmarket shopping district…, [w]hen the familiar request to stand flashed across the screen to the strains of the royal anthem, only a middle-aged Thai couple stood up. The rest of the audience, which mostly consisted of younger Thais, sat impassively through the entire anthem as if it were perfectly normal.

… The display of silent defiance has gathered momentum in recent months; it has been noted by many Thais on social media and is discussed openly….

For the moment, the government appears at a loss on how to respond to this discreet but public challenge to the cinema reverence ritual. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the ex-army chief and former junta leader, has appealed to young people not to give in to peer pressure.

Yet, Thai cinemas have emerged as a new frontier for a generational zeitgeist. They have given a decisive answer to the question of whether or not to stand, something that seemed inconceivable just two years ago. From this perspective, Thai cinemas provide an inflection point in which the simple act of going to the movies becomes a political statement.

The royalist response to this anti-monarchism – or at least the rejection of the palace propaganda – is deepening. As they have for many years, it is the regime and the military are taking the lead.

Former red shirt, now paid turncoat, Seksakol/Suporn Atthawong, a vice minister attached to the Office of Prime Minister continues his boss’s conspiracy theory-inspired campaign against NGOs. Amnesty International is his main target. He claims – and it is a lie – that “NGOs that are supporting the three-hoof mob [he means the 3-finger salute] to destroy the country’s stability and abolish the royal institution…”. He means the monarchy.

He salivates over the AI target:

Amnesty International is an illicit organization that must be held accountable for its actions, and must be prosecuted to the fullest…. We should not give in to organizations that undermine national security.

Here, by national security, he means the monarchy. What did happen to his lese majeste charge? Oh, yes, he sold himself to the military rightists.

As in so many other places struggling with authoritarianism,

Seksakol’s gambit is typical of Thai ultra-royalist fringe politics. But as his position in the prime minister’s office attests, the fringe has migrated gradually to the center and the top of the Thai governing establishment since the military coup led by Prayut 2014. Facing a legitimacy deficit, Prayut’s current military-backed administration (direct military rule technically ended with the holding of a flawed election in 2019) has relied heavily on the blunt force of Thailand’s controversial lese majeste law, which outlaws any critical comment about the king or the monarchy, to silence critics and quash protests.

The regime is planning to stay. Forget all of the parliamentary realigning. This is about maintaining the political status quo well into the future through another rigged election. And just to help it along, the regime has extended its state of emergency. Thailand has been under this kind of draconian control for most of the period since the 2014 coup. This situation allows the military, police, ISOC and the judiciary to keep a lid on anti-royalism.

How it deals with the more passive rejection of the monarchy and the regime requires more propaganda, more surveillance and more repression. It means keeping Thailand in its past and rejecting the future. All in the name of the monarchy.





More 112 indictments

23 01 2022

UCA News reports on the raid on Same Sky publishing, concluding: “Thai authorities appear to be stepping up their campaign against pro-democracy activists, especially those who are advocating monarchy reform…” adding that “[t]his week alone, police have launched crackdowns including [the] raid on [Same Sky] and the issuing of new indictments for royal defamation.”

An anonymous commentator is quoted: “This is what repressive regimes do — try to outlaw honest and open debate…”.

Clipped from Prachatai

On the lese majeste indictments, it reports:

On Jan. 18, police in the northern city of Chiang Mai charged two university students with violating the royal defamation law, which prohibits any criticism of the monarchy and prescribes up to 15 years in prison per charge.

The two students at Chiang Mai University were indicted over an artwork they exhibited last year at the university’s gallery depicting the Thai national flag with the blue stripe, which represents the monarchy, absent in the tricolor, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.

In their artwork the two students also condemned the royal defamation law, which is Article 112 of the Criminal Code, by using an expletive.

Another anonymous comment: “More political prisoners? More lives and voices stifled?”





Lese majeste indictment

22 01 2022

Saharat at a 2020 rally. Clipped from Prachatai

Prachatai reports that former novice monk “Saharat Sukkhamla, 21, has been indicted on a royal defamation charge resulting from a speech he gave during a protest organized by the students’ rights group Bad Student on 21 November 2020.”

The complaint against Saharat was filed by Ratthanaphak Suwannarat. After Saharat reported to police, it was “more than 5 months before the public prosecutor decided to indict him.”

The public prosecutor decided that Saharat’s speech insults the king:

The indictment gave examples of the offending parts, such as when Saharat ask[ed] why we can only discuss the King’s good deeds but cannot discuss his bad side, and when he said that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s statement that the authorities will use every law against the protesters, even the royal defamation charge, will make the King break his promise, since the King said that the royal defamation law will not be used against citizens.

The public prosecutor said that Saharat’s speech could cause misunderstanding concerning the King, such as making him seem like someone who could harm the country or someone who is dishonest and does not keep his promise or that he will intervene in law enforcement. The public prosecutor also claimed that Saharat intended to harm the monarchy and cause a loss of respect for the monarchy.

It is reported that “Saharat left monkhood in November 2021, saying that he faced pressure from both the Buddhist order and state authorities.”

He has been allowed bail: “The South Bangkok Criminal Court granted Saharat bail on a 200,000-baht security and set the conditions that he may not join a gathering which may cause public disorder, participate in activities which can harm the monarchy, or leave the country without permission.”





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.








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