The Dictator’s “human rights”

27 01 2018

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs thinks it can “refute” Human Rights Watch report on the dire situation of human rights under the military junta.

Junta toadies at the Ministry declare that the HRW report “generally contains sweeping and ungrounded allegations as well as politically biased accusations. Like last year’s report, the narrative missed the prevailing facts on the ground and intentionally ignored progresses, positive developments and efforts undertaken by the Thai Government.” They mean the military dictatorship.

The Ministry seems particularly miffed that HRW has not accepted junta propaganda:

In fact, since last year, the Foreign Ministry has set up a regular channel to interact with a number of civil society organizations, including HRW in Thailand. At the meetings, representatives from National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) as well as agencies concerned participated and sincerely exchanged views and information. Regrettably, information provided at those meetings which can readily clarify many points raised in the report have not found its way to HRW writers who may sit elsewhere across the world drafting the report, ignoring once again positive developments on the ground. Worse, in reality, it is more often than not disregarded.

The idea the Ministry toadies are purveying is that HRW doesn’t understand Thailand because it is not “on the ground” and its writers “sit elsewhere.” This is nonsense, but the minions are promoting Thai-ism.

And it is a Thai-ism that is promoted as a form of human rights. Presumably only Thais of the appropriate political color will recognize Thai-style human rights in a developing Thai-style democracy.

Then the Ministry propagandists provide instances of the military dictatorship’s promotion of human rights:

The new Constitution of 2017, which passed national referendum at 61% approval rate in August 2016, reaffirms Thailand’s human rights commitment by underlining the principles of equal rights and protection under the law, non-discrimination, prohibition of torture, and freedom of religious beliefs, among others. It also upholds the rule of law, stipulates the administration of justice and the provision of legal assistance to ensure better access to justice for all.

Need we say that the referendum was neither free nor fair? Should we point out that the regime banned any campaigning against the referendum? Should we add that some people are still in court and charged with offenses meted out to them for even reporting and observing opposition to the junta’s constitution? Is it necessary to point out that “on the ground”there is discrimination, torture by police and military and that the rule of law is a hastily cobbled together sham and joke underpinned by double standards? Is it necessary to observe that freedom of expression and assembly are highly and bluntly repressed?

The Ministry is right that cases previously before the “Military Court have all been transferred under the Judicial Court of Justice, if committed on or after 12 September 2016.” But that last phrase is important as military courts continue to hear cases from before that date. Military courts are often held in secret and are a travesty of justice.

The Ministry claims that:

… under the instruction of the Prime Minister, the Committee to Receive Complaints and Investigate Allegations of Torture and Enforced Disappearance was established in June 2017 with the mandates to receive complaints, perform fact finding, provide assistance and remedies, and protect the rights of people affected by acts of torture or enforced disappearance.

But it just doesn’t happen.The military repeatedly rounds up individuals and spirits them away. Even if this is only for a few days, it is a practice that reeks of despotism.

Worse than enforced disappearance is extrajudicial murder. The sad case of Chaiyapoom Pasae is just one where the military, involved in the murder, conceals evidence. We probably don’t need to mention the many cases of military recruits and serving junior soldiers being beaten, tortured and killed. For the military and the junta, such things are “normal.”

The toadies then talk about the “enactment of the National Human Rights Commission Act.” The NHRC is dismissed by most observers as a now meaningless institution.

We could go on and on, but let’s just observe that the junta and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs actually condone human rights abuses and that their record is deplorable. For an accurate account of the junta’s human rights abuses in 2017, supported with numerous examples, read the HRW report.





A consulate for the king

19 12 2017

In a rather coy report, Khaosod tells its readers that “Thailand’s diplomatic mission in Munich is slated for expansion, with a new Consulate-General to replace its honorary representative…”.

The “reason” provided by the equally coy Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai is that “We [Thailand] and Germany have been maintaining our friendship for a long time…”.

The truth is that the king, when crown prince, spent most of his time in and around Munich. Using official planes and Thai Airways first class, he an his large entourage jetted back and forth from Bangkok. His son with the ditched Princess Srirasmi was put in school there, the then prince bought a villa [we assume he paid for it, but who knows] just outside the village of Tutzing on Lake Starnberg where he kept his favorite mistress, now a sort of consort. He was also seen there with other concubines. Most of this used bags of taxpayer’s money.

Since he’s become king, he’s spent more time in Bangkok, but still jets off to Munich as often as possible.

That’s why the honorary consulate is being replaced by an official consulate-general.

The military junta’s cabinet approved the new Consulate-General’s office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “is tasked with furnishing personnel and funds to make it happen…”. That’s the taxpayer again.

Germany “was extended a reciprocal offer to expand its diplomatic presence in Thailand” but has no plans to do so.

The cost of the monarchy for the Thai taxpayer keeps increasing and under the junta the budget seems to be hidden away in a range of ministries.





Tales of political asylum

5 11 2017

The Nation has a short article trying to explain political asylum in the U.K. It does this because there’s lots of speculation suggesting that Yingluck Shinawatra is seeking asylum there.

The bit that caught PPT’s attention was where Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai. We were very surprised to read that he claim that:

The UK said that if Yingluck came to stay in the UK, there would not be an issue of political asylum. If she wanted to stay, she would need to follow the normal immigration process….

We find this astonishing. It implies that Yingluck has not arrived in the U.K. and has not applied for asylum in the U.K., which may be true. However, it would be a staggering attack on U.K. law if a decision had been made in advance of an application, which is what Don claims.

Don seems to be concocting this.

Thailand can kick rule of law down the drain, but that is not usually true of British officials in the area of asylum. As far as we know, they do not discuss these cases when they are in process or before a claim is made, especially if this makes a decision before a case can be considered.

For details on the process, see the U.K. government’s web page. We can assume that U.K. officials will follow the law, unlike Thailand’s junta.





Updated: Military propagandists to the world

9 09 2017

The Thailand National News Bureau has reported that Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has held a ceremony to send off – the report uses the military term, “deploy” – a batch of 27 “military diplomats” to the rest of the world.

These propagandists for the military dictatorship seem to be an additional “diplomatic” resource, supplementing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its ambassadors and military attaches. (We note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is deeply yellow and has worked hard to “justify” Thailand’s descent into military authoritarianism.)

Gen Prawit, who is also Minister for Defense and responsible for Shinawatra hunting, declared that the “military diplomats” will “foster a clearer understanding among foreigners of the current situation in Thailand.”

The Deputy Dictator “told the diplomats to inform their host governments of the role of Thailand’s reform plan, roadmap to democracy, and the monarchy.” As we said, these are propagandists for the dictatorship. (At the same time, it is a reward for military posterior polishers and enhances loyalty in the senior ranks.)

Update: Alan Dawson at the Bangkok Post also picks up on the military propagandist plan:

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who knows more about staging successful coups d’etat and clutching power than almost anyone in the world, has just done an Orwellianism.

He has dispatched messengers around the world — 27 military attaches and deputy attaches — with instructions to change the story.

The May 22, 2014 putsch was not to reform government laws. It wasn’t to bring about reconciliation. That old story is invalid, air-brushed as surely as a North Korean propaganda photo. It was merely an act of benevolence by the green shirts to stop red shirts and yellow shirts from mayhem and murder.

As he points out, the real story of the 2014 coup. It was:

to take the country back to a simpler time, and events now taking place are the main part of it. The slogans and policies are in place. “Democracy isn’t for everyone” and “Freedom of speech is a good idea but …” and “Elections will eventually occur after it is clear peace can be assured”.

Dawson observes that this reactionary path means:

What is factual is a lack of true reform that would bring freedoms and rights, along with a mass of new laws so great that no one alive can list them, let alone provide details.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha positively bragged in July: “The government has already issued 401 new laws.” Not enough, though. “More than a thousand more need reform.”

Junta law and justice under the junta and into the future means rule by “law,” injustice and double standards.





Making stuff up

17 05 2017

Two reports in Khaosod and one at The Nation should serve as reminders that Thailand under the military boot is a kingdom of lies.

The first Khaosod report is about infamous police chief Lt. Gen. Sanit Mahathavorn. He’s the one who produced an assets declaration that stated he received a hefty monthly payment from beer magnates. Then he denied this. It was a mistake. And, anyway, he didn’t fill out the form himself, but had minions do it. Presumably they made it up? Hardly. But, no one in the junta was bothered. Such payments are the norm and apparently not illegal, not corrupt and not unethical. Just normal for this bunch of corrupt bastards.

The Bangkok police commander has now lied again and covered it up with a wholly unbelievable story that suggests that he continues to believe that the public are a bunch of clowns and dolts.

As the story has it, the policeman “visited the site of an explosion that wounded two people and told reporters it was not an explosion at all, but a ‘explosive-like loud bang’ caused by a malfunctioning water pipe.” Not long after, “a police leak burst his implausible claim of an injurious water pipe, [and] Sanit admitted that he made up his original version of events. The lie was necessary to deceive the perpetrators, said the lieutenant general…”.

Equally unbelievable, this latest claim from this fraudulent official is remarkable for displaying his own lack of intelligence, coming up with “stories” about as believable as a grade school student blaming the dog for eating his homework.

This person is a serial liar and a disgrace. But he’s got plenty of company.

The second Khaosod report is about the still unexplained extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae. Two months after his death, the police say the Royal Thai Army has finally handed over video footage of the events. The Army says the kid was a drug smuggler and “resisted.” No evidence of any of these claims is available, but top military and police say the video footage “proved” their claims.

Yet it took almost two months for the video to be handed over. And, then, as a hard disk that the police say they can’t view because of a software issue. What software? They can’t say.

But if they do view the footage, what then? Police Maj. Gen. Thawatchai Mekprasertsuk says “the Official Information Act prohibits information disclosure if it can affect others…”. Presumably he means official killers might be affected.

They just make stuff up.

The final story is from The Nation. On 2 May the Thai Ambassador in Seoul sent an official letter to the chairman of the May 18 Memorial Foundation seeming to complain that lese majeste detainee Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa had been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

In that letter the ambassador lied that Jatuphat was guilty of certain crimes. Of course, he hasn’t (yet) been convicted by one of the kingdom’s feudal courts.

Jatuphat’s parents demanded an apology and retraction by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Getting the junta to correct its lies is problematic, not least because the junta seems unable to discern fact from fiction.





Reflexive denial I

5 03 2017

We earlier posted from the annual US State Department’s human rights report on Thailand.

These days, the military dictatorship responds to negative human rights allegations and reports in a reflexive way. It denies and lies.

A report at the Bangkok Post is the latest example of this unthinking and deceitful response. This time it is from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which operates now at the level equivalent with the official spokesmen of the junta.

The Foreign Ministry covers for the regime’s failures, stating:

The report is an exercise carried out unilaterally by the United States of America to present the situation in Thailand from an outside perspective. Many of the concerns, statistics and case studies cited in the report come from unidentified or unverified sources….

The Ministry is saying believe us and our military dictatorship over any other sources.

The “unidentified or unverified sources” are mainly reports from local NGOs with long experience of the issues they deal with. As far as we can tell, almost all points made in the US report have been reported in the local media as well (for how the dictatorship is screwing the media, read this report).

The Ministry engages in propaganda for the military regime:

The government is committed to the implementation of the roadmap towards achieving sustained democracy, social harmony and lasting stability … Laws and orders that have been issued by virtue of the Interim Constitution have the objectives of preserving public order and solving problems that have been long overdue and could not otherwise be addressed with ordinary legislation….

Actually, they mean “sustainable democracy,” which is a non-democratic political system controlled by the military, the royalist elite and the monarchy itself. Using “laws and orders that have been issued by virtue of the Interim Constitution” is acknowledging that the military dictatorship makes up its laws that mean it can do anything it wants and call it “lawful.”

That’s what military dictatorships do.

It then states: “the government [they mean the junta] exercises this power only when necessary, with prudence and in the best interest of the nation.” Article 44 has been used umpteen times to do minor things like make administrative changes to a broader use to repress regime opponents and to run operations against “seditious” monks. It uses its self-granted powers to repress and to give itself and its minions impunity.

That’s what military dictatorships do.

Oddly, while rejecting that which it deems anti-regime, the Ministry “saw a bright side to the report, saying it recorded advancement in several areas such as gender equality, combating trafficking in persons, and lifting of prosecution of civilians under military jurisdiction.”

Presumably those bits of the report weren’t “carried out unilaterally” or from “an outside perspective” and did not use “statistics and case studies … from unidentified or unverified sources.”





HRW chastised by military junta’s toadies

14 01 2017

The Nation reports that the junta’s government has “contested claims in a summary on the human rights situation in Thailand released by Human Rights Watch (HRW)…”. The junta reckons the “allegations were outdated and unfair.”

The junta’s toadies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared: “The authors have expressed their views with no updates of the latest status of each issue and, therefore, without taking into consideration progress and efforts made in the country…”.

The MFA’s lamentable statement continues:

There has been significant progress regarding the Government’s [they mean the military junta] efforts on the Roadmap towards restoring a strengthened and sustainable democracy [they mean the much delayed “election”], social harmony [they mean jailing opponents] as well as political stability [they mean repression]. Thailand is now in the second phase of the Roadmap where the Government is currently forging ahead [they mean delaying] with comprehensive reforms to lay a strong foundation in order to achieve a genuine democracy [they mean a Thai-style non-democracy] as well as undertaking legislative reforms. Over 190 laws have been promulgated with a view to addressing chronic problems from the past, including inequality and human rights issues such as gender equality, human trafficking, illegal fishing and labour rights. Such foundation will facilitate the proceeding to the third phase of the Roadmap, whereby the general elections will be held [they mean may be held], and ensure long-term political stability after the new Government [they mean a junta-friendly regime] takes office.

We’d like to be able to say that the folks at MFA are forced to make such silly and untrue statements because they are under the thumb of the junta. Unfortunately, we know that the MFA is populated by royalists and other anti-democrats who support the junta to the hilt.

Human Rights WatchThe HRW account is from its recently released World Report 2017. It begins:

Thailand’s military junta increased its repression and failed to restore democratic rule in 2016…. A new constitution, adopted in an August referendum that was marked by a crackdown against its critics, effectively entrenches unaccountable and abusive military rule.

That seems a reasonable summary of those events. It goes on, quoting HRW’s Brad Adams:

Thailand’s human rights crisis has worsened over the year as the military junta has tightened its grip on power and led the country deeper into dictatorship…. Rather than leading the country back to democratic rule, the junta has increasingly persecuted critics and dissenters, banned peaceful protests, censored the media, and suppressed speech in the press and online.

Again, there’s no argument on these points. The report continues, discussing the junta, saying it:

has banned political activity and public gatherings, made expression subject to criminal prosecution, censored the media, conducted hundreds of arbitrary arrests, and detained civilians in military detention.

That’s all certainly true and it adds that there remain 1,800 cases awaiting trial in biased and unfair kangaroo courts run by the military itself. Further,

The junta has arbitrarily and aggressively used the lese majeste … laws to prosecute people for any expression deemed critical of the monarchy. Since the May 2014 coup, Thai authorities have charged at least 68 people with lese majeste [we think this is too low an estimate as it seems to leave out all of the palace-related machinations associated with the prince-cum-king].

There is much more: “zero justice for past state-sponsored abuses,” the “killing and enforced disappearance of human rights defenders and other activists” and the increased use of “defamation lawsuits under the Penal Code and the Computer Crimes Act to retaliate against those reporting human rights violations.”

And the MFA bleats about “improvements.” The Ministry is a sad joke. The junta is further entrenched and human rights are down the drain. Thailand remains in a very dark and scary place.