What a story!

20 03 2017

The junta’s minions have come up with a remarkable story regarding the weapons “seized” in Pathum Thani.

In our earlier post we did express some skepticism about the report and added a note about Thai Rath saying the weapons were for an assassination plot. We expressed skepticism about that claim as well.

There has been a lot of skepticism, and not just from us. (The yellow-shirted royalists and anti-democrats believe all the stories.)

So the junta has come up with a story of a “plot” that suggests a remarkable effort to weave together a range of moral and political panics by the junta and among its anti-democratic supporters.

We cannot say that there is nothing in the “plot” claims – after all, all “plots” have to have some aspect to them that will convince true believers to believe. However, the royalists and anti-democrats have concocted a remarkable number of plots over the past decade to justify their political actions. Think of the Finland Plot, the infamous republican plot diagram and the “Khon Kaen model.” None of these has ever been shown to be other than a political concoction.

More recently, there was the claimed republican plot to murder The Dictator. We mention this, because it seems that the junta is using this to weave its current plot:

Police believe the huge cache of mostly military weapons retrieved on Saturday were intended to be used against authorities who had laid siege to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, including a plot to kill Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Add to this remarkable aggregation of Wat Dhammakaya and a plot to assassinate The Dictator, the weapons are located at a “house linked to hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee.” Then stir in a claim that “some of the seized weapons had been taken from soldiers during the violent red-shirt political rallies in mid-town Bangkok in 2010.”

Even the words in that quote are meant to reinforce the notion that red shirts are still “violent” and a political problem.

The cops reckon that the “weapons were being prepared for a potential attack against officers that had surrounded and were searching Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district…” and “were prepared to ‘harm or assassinate’ … Gen Prayut…”.

A police chief says that something he called “[a]n investigation” that “found people in Kotee’s group were preparing to use weapons to assassinate the government’s leading figures including Gen Prayut…. We found a rifle with a scope. We guarantee that this is not to shoot at birds but was going to be used to assassinate the leader of the country…”.

That’s a remarkably frivolous piece of evidence gathering and imaginative supposition.

He goes on: “If the government uses forces to suppress people in Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the armed group would be ready to help the temple and hurt officers.”

Evidence? It seems that “police and the DSI have always suspected that political groups have operated in Wat Phra Dhammakaya and intelligence from both agencies points to allegations they had tried to cause unrest.” Confirming this for the authorities, “[0]fficials found people in Mr Wuthipong’s network had been entering and leaving the temple prior to the siege and had been meeting him in the neighbouring country [Cambodia].” In fact, of the nine people so far arrested, the police say “[o]ne … was found to have showed up to the temple before…”.

It is a flimsy story. But there’s more: “Pol Gen Chakthip [Chaijinda] said Mr Wuthipong has played a role in inciting people to fight against the monarchy, and he is a supporter of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.”

And still more: The nine “suspects” had “joined the 2010 red-shirt political rally in central Bangkok.” The implication that the public is meant to draw from this is that the suspects might be “men in black.”

So far there’s red shirts, republicanism, Wat Dhammakaya, assassination, war weapons, men in black and monarchy involved in the plot. What more could there be? How about the frustration of the regime unable to extradite those they hate?

While Ko Tee has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014 (not since the coup as we said in our earlier post). “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.





Further updated: Another miracle of the law?

19 03 2017

Readers will certainly know that the supposed taxes now deemed by the military regime as due from Thaksin Shinawatra are to be collected by a secret measure officially described as a “miracle of law.”

Another miracle of law seems to have been seen. Immediately after the 2014 military coup, red shirt Wuthipong Kachathamakul also called Ko Tee took off, fleeing charges that included lese majeste. That latter charge originated from the period of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and under huge pressure from the military and royalists.

Prominent among those calling for Ko Tee’s arrest was General Prayuth Chan-ocha. He had been verbally sparring with Ko Tee for some time.

In the new “miracle,” the Bangkok Post reports that a military and police search of Ko Tee’s house resulted in a “large number of explosives, weapons, rounds of ammunition and other items were seized…”.

The media and the yellow-shirt anti-democrat social media lit up, expressing gratitude that the miracle provided further “evidence” of red shirt violence and skulduggery.

The Post “revealed” that “Wuthipong was not there when a combined team of police and soldiers searched the two-storey house, which also serves as the office of Thai Max Group Co, run by the red-shirt leading member in this central province…”. Well, yes, but….

Later the Post “reveals” that for “three years, Ko Tee, a hardcore red-shirt co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), has not been living in the Pathum Thani house where he reportedly ran a community radio station.”  Well, yes, but….

Finally: “He has been on the run since the May 22, 2014 coup and was wanted on a number of charges, including lese majeste.” Well, yes, that’s quite a long-winded way of getting to the point.

The police and military “detained a man who was a caretaker of the house for questioning.”

As can be seen in this photo, clipped from the Bangkok Post, it can be seen that the authorities, in displaying the weapons and explosives they claim to have discovered have a link to red shirts.

Why a miracle now? Why three years after Ko Tee fled?

Is it that the authorities got new “intelligence”? Nothing stated so far.

Is it, as has been the case in the past, the junta feels a little pressure, and feels the need to “remind” people of the reason for the coup?Almost certainly.

Is it because the junta has faced an excoriation for its human rights failure?Perhaps.

Is it because the anti-democrats have been complaining about the junta’s failures? Perhaps.

Men in black are back? Perhaps.

Do they want to show that red shirts are still threatening to the elite and anti-democrats? Almost certainly.

It really is a miracle.

Update 1: We can now more or less express disbelief on this story. Thai Rath reports that the military is saying that the cache of “newly discovered” weapons were meant to be used against The Dictator. Forgive our incredulity, but if one was an assassin, such a cache of arms would hardly be required unless a rebellion was planned. If a rebellion was planned, the “rebels” must be as dumb as they come, hiding weapons in a red shirt’s house, which they might assume is under surveillance. If it wasn’t under surveillance then the cops and military are as dumb as they come. But, who would be planning rebellion? We could hope, but there’s been no obvious reason for hope.

Update 2: The junta has been forced to deny that this “discovery” of weapons was a set up. Junta flunkie Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd stated that “the operation followed a lengthy investigation and intelligence operation.” When reporters noted how new many of the weapons seemed, Sansern reckoned this was because they had been well protected and well hidden. Right….

Sansern declared that “the seized items would be  kept and used whenever the regime needed another set up as evidence for further investigations to nail the culprits because possessing such war materials was detrimental to national security.”

Then, somewhat compromising his “explanation,” Sansern “said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed officials to look for those who were involved and take appropriate legal action.” So we should assume that the “lengthy investigation and intelligence operation” followed weapons but failed to finger those responsible for the weapons cache? Right….





The political story of men in black

6 02 2017

Despite courts finding differently, the military has never admitted to killing red shirt protesters in 2010.

The military and the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime-cum-Democrat Party repeatedly blamed a mysterious group of armed men in black who they claimed mingled with protesters and shot down soldiers.

We say “mysterious” because despite claims and arrests, as far as PPT can recall, no alleged man in black has been convicted of murder.

There are photos of balaclava-wearing men with weapons during the events of April and May 2010, but precious few, although each of them is circulated again and again on yellow-shirted and anti-democratic social media.snipers

This lack of evidence is surprising given the number of reporters covering events, the rewards offered and the military and the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime claiming there were perhaps dozens and maybe hundreds of men in black.

PPT doesn’t doubt that there were some red shirts who took up arms to fight against the vast firepower superiority of the military and police, including the use of snipers. However, if there were large and organized forces, it is remarkable that the evidence is so very thin.

Thailand PoliticsYet, Abhisit once claimed “that the loss of lives occurred because the men in black attacked troops.” He added that his troops could not disengage because “they were surrounded by black-shirt fighters.” And, the current regime’s bosses have repeatedly blamed men in black for the deaths, saying soldiers were innocent.

Hence, getting a conviction against red shirts claimed to be men in black is important for the royalist elite’s narrative on the murders of 2010.

This is why the reaction to the recent Criminal Court sentencing of two “men in black” to 10 years in jail by the junta was ebullient.

The Nation reported that the “recent court verdict … has confirmed claims that armed ‘men in black’ were among the red-shirt protesters.”

That the convictions were for possession and carrying weapons rather than anything more serious and that three others were acquitted for lack of evidence seems tangential rather than central.

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The Nation continues:

Politically speaking, the court ruling proved the existence of armed men among red-shirt protesters. Government spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the verdict, which came after a trial lasting years, could help refute the claim by political groups that soldiers opened fire at one another, which led to the deaths of many people in the dramatic April 2010 clashes.

In fact, the “trial” has not gone on for “years,” as these “suspects” were only arrested and paraded by the police a couple of months after the 2014 coup. The first set of charges failed and the prosecutors tried again.

Sansern went further: “That means the claim by some political group that the demonstration on April 10, 2010, was peaceful and unarmed proved to go against the truth. They seemed to distort the facts…”.

In fact, it is Sansern and the military that have distorted the facts, and their impunity continues with those primarily responsible now holding power as a junta.

Even The Nation states, on this case,

However, in the court verdict the convicted men were not clearly identified as assailants in the deadly shootings in April 2010. None of the five defendants in that case were charged with murder. So, nobody has been punished for the deadly shootings.

Unaccountably, it adds: “Certainly, a lot of armed men in black responsible for shooting at protesters and military officers taking part in the crackdown have escaped punishment.”

Evidence? None. Except for a claim that “public prosecutors accused 24 people of being involved in acts of terrorism. The defendants include UDD leaders, red-shirt guards and politicians from the Pheu Thai Party.”

That the courts have identified the military as responsible for dozens of murders seems to be forgotten….





Red, black and yellow

1 02 2017

Thailand’s “justice” system continues to work on political cases that the military junta has pursued.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced two ‘men in black’ to 10 years in jail for having in possession and carrying weapons during the 2010 red-shirt political violence while acquitting three others due to lack of evidence.”

The five were arrested and paraded by the police a couple of months after the 2014 coup. The police dressed the detainees in a kind of MiB uniform of black clothing, red armbands and ribbons, forcing them to wear balaclavas.  It then made the detainees “re-enact” alleged “crimes,” including taking them to the streets and having them pose with grenade launchers and assault weapons. (Our earlier posts are here, here and here.)

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The five defendants are “Kittisak Soomsri, Chamnan Phakeechai, both 49, and a 43-year-old woman, Punika Chusri. The other two are Preecha Yuyen, 28,… and Ronnarit Suricha, 37…”.

The prosecution alleged that:

the five defendants and other suspects who are still at large or died carried weapons, ammunition and explosive devices such as M79 grenade launchers, M16 and HK33 assault rifles at Khok Wua intersection and on Tanao Road and Prachathipatai Road in Bangkok on April 10, 2010 when security forces clashed with the red-shirt protesters at the intersection. Five soldiers and 21 civilians died, including a Reuters journalist.

In the court, Kittisak and Preecha were convicted on charges of being armed without licenses. Earlier terrorism charges were dropped. The two received sentences of eight years in jail for having weapons and explosives and two years for carrying firearms in public places without permission.

The court heard witnesses and considered evidence that “Kittisak, the first defendant, played a role in supplying weapons to the protest site held by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on April 10 [2010].”

His sister told the court she saw Kittisak with a black bag with a rifle barrel coming out of the top “in a room.” He then took the bag and left for the red shirt protest. Another witness was a soldier who stated that he saw “a rifle inside the slowly moving van when Kittisak opened its door near Democracy Monument.” Another report has the soldier saying Kittisak had the rifle in his arms.

Kittisak claimed “he was tortured by authorities to confess but the court found his arguments groundless.”

As for Preecha, the court heard testimony from two plainclothes police officers. They said they:

saw a group of black-clad men armed with AK assault rifles and wearing balaclavas walked into the rally area. The red-shirt security guards asked to see their ID cards but the men said they did not bring any with them. The policemen then removed balaclava from one of the men in black and seized his gun. They later identified Preecha as him.

The officers were about to remove balaclava from another man when an explosion went off and all the men in black ran away. Preecha argued the photo of him in black attire and after his balaclava was removed was doctored but the court was not convinced.

Another report states that in Preecha’s case, the “judges cited as prime evidence photos claimed to be of Preecha wearing a stocking cap taken by police officers in plainclothes and the fact that Preecha admitted that he was a red-shirt guard.”

That all seems like pretty flimsy evidence, but these are Thai courts. Given that the court acquitted the others for lack of evidence, we can only guess that that evidence is virtually non-existent.

Lawyers said those convicted would also appeal. Those acquitted were detained pending the state’s appeal.

In another Bangkok Post report the Civil Court ruled that “five leaders of anti-Thaksin [anti-democrat] groups [had] to pay more than 95 million baht for damages caused by occupying the Energy Ministry’s compound during a 2014 mass protest.”

A pittance in the scheme of things and a sentence designed for political impact rather than punishment.

The defendants were Rawee Maschamadol, Thotsaphon Kaewthima, Itthabun Onwongsa, Thawatchai Phromchan and Somkiat Pongpaiboon, the latter being a leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

They led People’s Democratic Reform Committee protesters in actions that cut power to state offices and occupied state properties.

An appeal is likely.

The report adds:

In a similar case in 2015, the Appeal Court ordered 13 former co-leaders of the yellow-shirt PAD, to pay 522 million baht to Airports of Thailand after being found guilty of leading a number of demonstrators to close Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports during their protest in 2008.

Does any reader recall if any payment was made?





Thawil’s lies continue

29 04 2015

Some may have been surprised to read at Khaosod a couple of days ago that Thawil Pliensri, “who served as director of the National Security Council under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,” has declared before the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) that the “military operation that dispersed Redshirt protesters in 2010 and left more than 90 people dead was not a ‘crackdown’…”. But don’t be. Thawil has a long history of such claims. He has never produced any evidence for his position on the events of 2010.

It is more striking that the newspaper describes Thawil as a “key witness in an ongoing legal case over the incident,” because he was deeply involved in the team that planned and ordered the crackdown that left dead and injured strewn across Bangkok’s streets, many killed by the military (as several court inquests have independently determined).

Thawil repeated his claims in testimony to the NACC to defend the regime he gladly served and his former boss Abhisit Vejjajiva. The NACC is “seeking to retroactively impeach Abhisit and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, for authorizing the military operation on Redshirt protesters in April – May 2010.” They are “charged … with abuse of power for excessive use of force against civilians in the operation.” They should be charged with murder.

Thawil’s testimony is the same story as that provided by Abhisit, Suthep and the military dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha. All claim that “security officers were forced to respond to the protests because armed militants had infiltrated the demonstrators and launched attacks on troops, police, and important buildings.”

Thawil went a little further when he “also contested the use of the word ‘crackdown’…”. He concocts a position that there “was no use of force or crackdown on the protests…”.

No, none. All of those pictures and videos and all the court inquests area all somehow wrong or misused and that all of the use of snipers, live fire zones, armored personnel carriers, hundreds of thousands of live rounds and so on were simply actions against the mysterious men in black. His blatant lies include his “admission” that “live ammunition was used in the military operation, [but] he insisted that security officers resorted to using firearms only after they were attacked by Redshirt-allied militants on the night of 10 April 2010…”. The evidence of that night is clear that Thawil is concocting this.

As we noted above, none of this is new. Back in 2012, PPT posted this:

Who could possibly be surprised when Thawil Pliensri defends the Army’s murderous assault on red shirt protesters in 2010. After all, Thawil was secretary-general of the National Security Council at the time of the sniper orders and secretary of the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations set up by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government to crush the protests by the red shirts. He says that “the operation to retake areas in Bangkok occupied by the protesters was a legitimate one.” Of course he does. He claims that “[s]ome information has been distorted and tampered with,” but seems to provide no evidence. Ultra-royalists will believe him. He, like the Army boss, declares: “state officials who risked their lives to disperse unlawful protesters deserved praise and should not be accused of killing people.”

Thawil was also one of those behind the fabricated anti-monarchy plot diagram that the Abhisit regime used to threaten and repress opponents.

Of course, it was Thawil’s transfer by the Yingluck Shinawatra government that eventually led to the Constitutional Court’s ousting of Yingluck in a move that set the groundwork for the May 2014 military coup. Read more on that successful judicial plot here.





Red shirts, black shirts

20 04 2015

PPT read with interest a Khaosod story that states that the military dictatorship has released “Narin Ambuathong, aka M Redshirt, was arrested by military officers on 11 April on suspicion of plotting a car bomb at Central Festival Samui shopping mall…”.

Readers will recall that the military nabbed Narin after the blast, which they immediately blamed on red shirts or political powers of the past, while discounting southern insurgents. Anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban, hiding in a monastery, going further and fingering Thaksin Shinawatra.

With Narin cleared, what does the regime now say? According to the report, Pol.Lt.Gen. Prawut Thawornsiri, spokesperson of the police, says the “police are close to arresting the perpetrator of the car bomb.” He adds:

“We cannot identify the perpetrator, but we are close to issuing an arrest warrant,” Pol.Lt.Gen. Prawut. “I cannot say whether the perpetrator is still in Thailand, because we have not detained the person. But I am confident that we will be able to arrest all perpetrators involved in the attack.”

He added, “We are looking at the evidence to expand the investigation. I cannot divulge in-depth information to you right now, because it may affect the case.”

We can hardly wait to read the next installment.

Meanwhile, those accused by the military junta’s top cop of being black shirts or men in black, have had their court appearance delayed for a fourth time. Why? According to the report citing the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the “postponement is due to a disagreement between the public prosecutor and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), who is overseeing the investigation of the case…. The prosecutors found that the evidence to file terrorism charges against the five is insufficient, but the … DSI … decided to press these charges.”

In earlier reports, initial police claims were retracted, even after the police attempted to fit the suspects up and link them to red shirt activists.

We can hardly wait for the next installment.





His lies

11 04 2015

A long time ago it was said that there are simple liars, damned liars, and experts. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is certainly not an expert at anything except arranging repression, so we leave it to readers to decide if he is a simple liar, a damned liar or a combination of the two.

As is well known, Prayuth has repeatedly and consistently claimed that soldiers did not shoot anyone in April and May 2010.

At Khaosod he is reported as taking this claim further, again revealing his deep political hatred of red shirts, his fears about freedom and the ways in which military bureaucrats can simply make stuff up.

The report states that Prayuth “is considered an architect of the 2010 crackdown…” and that he banned red shirts from commemorating the brutal deaths in 2010. At the same time, he called on the media “to help tell” what he says is the “true” story “of the violence that claimed more than 90 lives.” Prayuth demanded that the media “help” him: “Don’t throw away the evidence. I saw you taking many photographs…”. He observed: “Hundreds of you reporters walked behind soldiers, you dodged the bullets with them…. Why don’t you help me by speaking out? Okay?”

Of course, the media has never been silent, and thousands of photos, accounts and videos have been made available, along with several reports and the evidence to the inquests. While there are disputes about some of the evidence, none of it exonerates the military or its commanders like Prayuth.

What Prayuth wants is for the media to accept his version of events and exonerate the murder of citizens by the military. As a commander of the crackdowns, he wants to sanitize these military murders. His view, historically balmy, is that those who used “weapons of war to shoot at demonstrators” were not the military, but the same groups in 2010, 2013, and 2014.

He’s making this up. There were some armed elements amongst red shirts – the so-called men in black – yet it is not clear who they were, who they represented, how many there were, and whether they were involved in any killings. Certainly, the courts have not found them responsible in the inquests conducted to date. More significantly, the courts disagree with Prayuth. There have been 27 inquests where judges have ruled that military gunfire was responsible for the deaths of 18 victims. The other cases returned inconclusive rulings.

Apart from his call to the media – 5 years after the events – Prayuth added to his story, entering the realms of the bizarre and ridiculous. One claim he made is that “the military had no intention of harming civilians.” This is a lie that Prayuth has long repeated. A military that has no intention  of harming citizens does not use 2,120 sniper rounds and use less than 7,000 blank rounds while firing 117,923 live rounds at protesters.

He goes on, slipping deeper into the slime of intentionally false statements: “Who would want to harm the people? Soldiers, police, officials, they have hearts too, you know…”. This is the former commander of a military that has organized 12 successful coups, is notoriously corrupt, regularly uses torture and is responsible for the deaths of perhaps tends of thousands of its citizens whom it has considered terrorists or insurgents or simply as political opposition. It is a military that has burned opponents alive, engaged in forced disappearances, fired on protesters from helicopters and more.

Defending his ban on the commemoration of the dead red shirts, Prayuth explains: “When I use my legal power, you say I restrict freedom, but how has freedom fared in the past?… Can it [freedom] run the country? Were there protests?” In other words, freedom is rejected in favor of order enforced by the murderous military in the interests of the royalist elite.