Deadly serious III

19 08 2021

The Nation reports that, yesterday, “activists headed to the district court in Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani … to submit bail requests for Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and other Ratsadon members who have picked up Covid-19 in jail.”

The (In)Justice Ministry said “that four protesters had picked up the virus in jail but their condition is fine and they are being given Favipiravir pills for treatment.” In addition to Parit, the Ministy listed them as: Sirichai Nathuang, Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree, and Thanapat Kapeng.

Four other jailed protesters “have tested negative though they are being quarantined…”.

The activists’ mothers – Ratsamoms – joined with others pushing for bail and release from prison for their kids.

In another report, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, said that

for three days Parit … coughed and had a headache, body pains and excessive phlegm, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level remained normal. He was breathing normally and was able to sleep and eat.

Sirichai … had headache, body pains, eye pain and fever for three days, but was able to breathe normally. His pulse and oxygen saturation level were also normal, the deputy director-general said, and he could eat and sleep.

Promsorn … suffered from headache, excessive phlegm, fever, fatigue, a sore throat and a cough for three days. He also lost his sense of smell, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level were normal.

Despite these health problems and the Department’s poor reputation for virus mitigation and treatment, the Thanyaburi Court rejected a bail request “for Parit … and seven others charged in connection with a protest in front of the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district on Aug 2.”

As expected the vicious, royalist court saw “no reason to reverse the detention order.”  The courts have a reputation for “teaching lessons” to those charged with lese majeste. Deaths in custody are seen as part of the “lesson.”





Updated: The rising toll

10 03 2021

While most of the world watches Myanmar and counts the toll of dead, injured and arrested, the regime in Bangkok is quietly and ruthlessly decapitating its opponents.

There are several efforts by local NGOs to tally the arrests and charges, but it is a difficult task as the police and military often operate secretly and not all cases come to public attention.

Prachatai has tried to bring this together. It says Amnesty International has released a statement claiming the arrest and/or charging of “382 protest leaders and demonstrators in 207 cases since 2020…”. This, it says, is “tantamount to systematic suppression of freedom.” We are unsure whether this total includes “another 47 We Volunteer (WeVo) members [arrested] by a SWAT police team who used force and did not produce an arrest warrant on 6 March prior to the protest at the judicial court complex.”

PPT had thought there were at least 10 protest leaders are held without bail, some of them now for a month. However, as of 8 March, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported 18:

  • 7 leading figures of Ratsadorn, one of the protest organizing groups: Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Patiwat Saraiyaem, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Jatupat Boonbattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok. The first 4 have been detained since 9 February.
  • 5 people who have been charged with damage to police vehicles in October 2020: Nathanon Chaimahabut, Thawat Sukprasoet, Sakchai Tangchitsadudi, Somkhit Tosoi and Chaluai Ekasak. They have been detained since 24 February.
  • Chaiamorn ‘Ammy’ Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer of the The Bottom Blues band, detained for allegedly burning a portrait of King Rama X in front of Klong Prem Central Prison.
  • Parinya ‘Port’ Cheewinkulpathom, a member of the self-exiled band ‘Faiyen’, charged under the lèse majesté law over his Facebook post in 2016 and detained since 6 March.
  • 3 people detained since 29 January for allegedly throwing a homemade ‘pingpong’ bomb at the protest at Samyan Mitrtown on 10 January. .
  • Piyarat Chongtep, arrested on 6 March and detained 2 days later.

Add in those arrested and/or charged in the second half of 2020, and we’d guess the figures are nudging 1,000. So many, in fact, that the Ministry of Justice is reportedly considering a special prison for political prisoners!

Update: Turns out speculation about the special prison for political prisoners. AP reports that the regime is going to split up the political prisoners, integrating them with regular prisoners. The idea seems to be to prevent them supporting each other and to make them less of a focus for rallies for their release.

Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister for (In)Justice, concocted a story that “Bangkok Remand Prison and Klong Prem Central Prison, where most recently detained political prisoners are held, [had] become congested when families and supporters come to visit.”

He then lied, saying: “Everyone should be treated equally…”. That’s observably false in royalist Thailand.





Further updated: Three more 112 complaints

2 03 2021

Thai PBS reports that the Corrections Department has lodged lese majeste complaints with police, “seeking legal action against a group of people who torched the portrait of … the King in front of Khlong Prem prison early Sunday morning.”

An official cabal of 112 accusers was composed of Justice (yes, we know, there’s no real justice when it comes to king things) Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, Director-general of the Corrections Department, Ayut Sinthoppan, and Pol Col Panudet Sookwong, deputy commander of Second Division of Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Somsak said there are “three suspects, two men and one woman, after they examined footage from the CCTV system in front of the prison, which shows a white MPV at the scene at about 3.10am Sunday morning.” He added that the three had been tracked down “and further investigation shows that the trio have political connections…”. He did not explain.

We are reminded of earlier 112 arson cases.

The Bangkok Post reports that they will also be charged with ” charged with arson, trespassing on state property…”.

Somsak ordered tightened security and warned officials to “never let a similar incident happen again.” That should stand as a call for the burning of royal portraits across the country.

Update 1: We should have added the observation that the Bangkok Post decided headline arson charges rather than lese majeste cases. The Post is becoming an ever less reliable newspaper because of its bending to royalism. We think there are now 62-63 persons charged with lese majeste is the latest round of anti-royalist repression.

Update 2: Reports soon appeared that one of those being tracked by the police was Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, better known as Ammy The Bottom Blues. There was considerable apprehension when Ammy was reported arrested on social media but saw police denying this. Later, it was confirmed that he was arrested in Ayutthaya. He now faces several charges:

The charges carry severe penalties — 5-20 years, life in prison or death for arson; 3-15 years for royal insult; and five years each for trespassing on a state office and for computer crime.





Wealthy judge

13 06 2020

We noticed a short report in the Bangkok Post on the “National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday released a list of assets and liabilities of two former Constitutional Court judges and three new ones.”

It caught our attention that former judge Jaran (sometimes Jarun) Pukditanakul was the wealthiest of the five.” The report states that:

Jarun

Jaran and his spouse [Teepsurang Pukditanakul] have assets worth 206.1 million baht and debts of 22 million baht. Their assets include land plots in Songkhla’s Hat Yai worth 93 million baht while the debts include 14.9 million baht in loans from a woman identified as Jinda Sunthornpan.

The other judges, including a former president of the Constitutional Court, declared wealth much lower than this. We wondered why one judge and former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice was so much wealthier than his colleagues. We suppose there could be family reasons for this or he might have won the lottery. But it set us thinking.

Jarun came to his position at the Ministry of Justice following the 2006 military coup and was renowned not so much for his legal qualifications but for being anti-Thaksin Shinawatra. When it came to becoming a judge, a 2008 Asia Sentinel article had this:

In selecting the first four of the court’s nine judges, the Supreme Court this week chose Jarun Pukditanakul. He became permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry after the coup and was instrumental in drafting the military’s 2007 constitution that he will be tasked to uphold.

Jarun was involved in several cases that did the amart’s work on Thaksin and his parties, causing much conflict with the pro-Thaksin groups, including the Puea Thai Party. Jarun wasn’t in the court at the time of the dissolution of Thai Rak Thai, but he was one of those who publicly justified the application of a new law retrospectively. On justifying that at a briefing for the diplomatic corps, a US cable explained:

Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Jaran Pakdithanakul, who also serves as deputy  chair of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC), followed [Ministry of Foreign Affairs … Permanent Secretary Virasak Futrakul] by offering a detailed defense of the court case. Jaran explained that the Constitutional Tribunal was widely viewed as impartial and professional. No outside pressure or intervention influenced the judges’ decision. The charges against both TRT and the Democrat party were filed before the September 2006 coup. According to Jaran, the judges were unanimous in their finding of the facts of the case: that TRT leaders violated election law.

… Jaran acknowledged debate within the legal community–and the Tribunal–over TRT’s punishment. While election laws under the 1997 constitution provided for the dissolution of a political party guilty of legal violations, the revocation of certain political rights (voting, running for office) from 111 members of TRT’s executive board was established after the coup by the military leadership. Jaran admitted that this was a retroactive application of the law, but argued that, since this was not a criminal legal issue, it did not violate international legal norms.

This feeble “explanation,” justifying the unjustifiable, set in motion the double standards that have come to define Thailand’s judiciary.

This reminded us of the allegations of corruption at the court involving Jarun, money, relatives, commissions, covering-up and more, some of it caught on video and posted to YouTube. We won’t go back over it all, but we have added several links for those who are interested.

Of course, we wouldn’t dare say that all of this might be linked and that a pliant and supportive official-cum-judge might have been rewarded. Just saying that the links are interesting.





Military termites

8 07 2019

While it is right and appropriate that anti-junta activists should target the junta’s constitution for “reform” – it would be even better to trash it – two things need to be considered.

First, constitutional “reform” has been a flashpoint for royalists and other anti-democrats who oppose people’s representation and sovereignty. Those wanting to erase the junta’s rigging of the rules of the political landscape need to be aware that they will face considerable and (likely) vicious opposition from royalists and anti-democrats.

In addition, as reformers note:

changing the charter would be an uphill task as it was written in such a way that amending it is almost impossible by following the normal process…. The only way to successfully amend the charter is to raise awareness and gain people support to change it….

Second, constitutional reform is likely to be insufficient for eliminating the military termites. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s junta has done far more than any recent military regime to embed the military at all levels of administration. These military administrators and its parallel administration have undermined and now dominate civil administration.

A story at the Bangkok Post emphasizes this:

Since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) seized power in 2014, several military top-brass officers have been appointed to head several key ministries. And changes have also been observed in many agencies whose work deals with national security, particularly organisations under the Justice Ministry.

The story focuses on changes at the Justice Ministry that amount to a politicization of the Ministry that can be used to undermine political opponents. If the opposition in parliament gets too uppity, think of the damage that this Ministry could inflict on them, neutering them.





The heiress, a scam and the public purse

7 07 2018

In an earlier post, PPT commented on Singha beer heiress Chitpas Kridakorn aka Boonrawd seeking assistance from a taxpayer-funded Justice Ministry fund for defendants to meet court bail and costs as a low-income earner. Despite the fact that she’s heir to a fortune that currently stacks up to some $2.4 billion, she cried poor to apparently pay a bail surety in cases arising from her high-profile activities with the anti-democratic People’s  Democratic Reform Committee in the street protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

In a report at The Nation, it now appears that this application may have been little more than a smart-assed legal ploy to delay the case: “It has been speculated that she had applied for financial assistance to stall for time in the criminal cases against her.” This is because she “had postponed a meeting with public prosecutors, citing the pending application to the Justice Fund.”

It is now reported that the Justice Ministry “has set aside a request for financial assistance from … Chitpas … to contest a treason charge after she failed to verify her suitability within the given time.” The Ministry stated that the Fund “had requested that she submit her tax documents to prove she should be a priority,” but that the letter sent had not been accepted or signed for and it had been returned to the Fund.

While this might seem to confirm a legal scam, the “fund managers chose not to scrap her request, and “Chitpas was eligible to re-apply anytime…”. That might be a legal position for the Ministry but sounds suspiciously like collusion in a legal scam.





The royal(ist) mess that is Thailand

3 04 2018

The success of palace propaganda, reinforced by decades of fascist-military domination, promoted by a royalist lapdog media, both state and private sector, and buttressed by draconian laws and belligerent royalist agencies like the military and ISOC, has been so sweeping that there’s little overt opposition these days (we note the linked article is no longer free to download). That which does exist has been firmly under the military boot in recent years.

Some wondered if the succession would temper there would be some cutting of the strings that tie Thais to the palace. Wonder no longer. Almost nothing has changed. As evidence, we cite two news stories from the last day or so.

The Nation reports that “Thai Heritage Conservation Week” is upon us. Like the recent noe-feudal celebration of the repression under pre-1932 absolute monarchy, this week royal posterior polishers get another chance to dress in feudal style – “traditional costumes.”

The useless Culture Ministry “kicked off the week with Thai Heritage Conservation Day on April 2…”. That day “has been celebrated annually since 1985, honouring … Princess … Sirindhorn, who was born on April 2, 1955, and her contributions to the conservation of the nation’s heritage.”

We can’t immediately recall her “contributions” but there must be plenty claimed for her by palace propagandists.

More worryingly, The Nation also reports on the kerfuffle in Chiang Mai over the mansions being built on forested – now deforested – hills that will be handed out to judges and others in the Ministry of Justice.

What do the people opposing this project do to protest? They “will petition … King … Vajiralongkorn for help.”

A network of those opposed to the project will gather signatures before petitioning the king.

Why? Get publicity? Look doltish? Look loyal? Who knows and who can blame them in the current ideological straitjacket of royalism.

Apparently they “would also lodge a complaint with the Administrative Court in early May,” which seems far more grown up.

Yellow shirts among the opponents blame Thaksin Shinawatra and his clan for the problem. Perhaps that says something about the feudal fawning.





Rehearsing lies

9 03 2017

A story at Khaosod tells much about the military dictatorship that currently rules Thailand by dint of military boot and Article 44.

The story reports Pitikarn Sithidej, who works for the little known Rights and Liberty Protection Department in the Ministry of “Justice.” (We gave up looking for it on the Ministry website, which is a tangled mess.) We imagine they don’t have much work to do.

Pitikarn proudly declares that “Thailand is ‘fully prepared’ to defend its record and obligations on human rights next week when they are discussed in Geneva before the United Nations…”.

Others have also defended the undefendable and usually it has been the skilled liars from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who have led the teams defending torture, lese majeste, political repression, enforced disappearance, the murderous military, impunity, military courts, massive censorship, restricting speech and assembly, rule by decree and martial law, and many more.

Apparently, on Monday and Tuesday next week, in Geneva, “an 18-member body of independent experts chosen by UN member states will review Thailand’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

In fact, this is an open-and-shut case. The junta simply doesn’t defend civil and political rights; it mangles them.

Still, perhaps thinking that the rest of the world is moving in Thailand’s direction, the Rights and Liberty Protection Department’s Pitikarn says it has been rehearsing responses: “We have staged a question-and-answer drill and anticipate what questions will be asked by the committee. We are fully prepared, and our report will be based on the facts…”.

Facts? We get it, she really means “junta lies.”

Oddly, although perhaps part of the “rehearsing,” Pitikarn appeared at a forum with Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch. He revealed that “his organization would focus on the use of Article 44 under the military’s interim constitution, which he said has widely undermined human rights and lacks any accountability. ”

He added: “All [international human rights] obligations can be discarded by Article 44 and many times it’s been used to violate rights…”.

Sunai also said HRW “will call next week … for the military government to abolish it to demonstrate its commitment to restoring democracy.”

Seriously? Just that? That’s the best HRW can come up with? Square that with National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit saying: “There must be an assurance they will not sue those speaking in Geneva.”

Yes, those going to speak at Geneva – apart from the official bearers of rehearsed junta lies – are already fearful!





The lese majeste ploy I

27 10 2016

When the military regime declares that it is going after lese majeste suspects overseas it is a political ploy.

The latest use of this ruse is seen in a report from the Bangkok Post a few days ago. “Justice” Minister Army General Paiboon Khumchaya bellowed that “he had signed letters to the ambassadors of seven countries that 19 lese majeste suspects had fled to, asking for their cooperation in regard to extradition requests.”

General Paiboon knows that this act is nonsensical but he does it for the political resonance it has with the broad royalist constituency for the junta. He also knows that it will get him good press during the mourning period.

Still, that hardly accounts for his lie that he had had a “positive response” to letters his ministry “sent to the ambassadors of seven countries where lese majeste suspects are sheltering…”. He was rejected. It won’t happen.

The “Justice” Ministry said  “the seven countries included the United States, France, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.” Cambodia was also approached.

General Paiboon also lied when he said he remained hopeful that there would be extraditions. He knows there is no chance, with one possible exception. That is Cambodia.

Thailand’s junta may have a bit more political muscle in Cambodia on extradition, which The Phnom Penh Post says “Cambodian authorities are ‘processing’ a request from Thailand’s military government to extradite three Thai citizens for the crime of insulting the monarchy…”.

Extraditing Thais from Cambodia to Thailand on lese majeste would involve remaking Cambodian law. The extradition treaty between the two countries “outlines that an extraditable offence is one that carries a jail term under the laws of both countries. Insulting a king is not a criminal offence under Cambodia’s Penal Code…”.

So all the huff and puff is for domestic consumption, buffing the junta’s royalist credentials.





Any justice?

26 03 2011

It may come as a surprise for some to see the Bangkok Post reporting criticism of the judiciary. After all, those who criticize the  judiciary have been warned that they face jail. The critics reported in the Post maintain, with PPT, that “injustice and inequality remain the norm in Thai society…”. Of course, the Ministry of Justice thinks things are not so grim.

Somkiat (Bangkok Post)

One of the critics is an orthodox economist. Somkiat Tangkitvanich, the vice president of the Thailand Development Research Institute, who says the “justice system but it was inefficient.” He also referred to the fact  that “people did not have equal access to the justice system…”.

Goodness, could this be even lead to a view that double standards are common? Partly, it seems, as he adds that: “The cases in which the poor are wrongdoers are judged quickly while those of the rich proceed slowly…”.

Somkiat also refers to another important issue: Thailand’s judicial system is “overloaded.” True, but judges have been under-worked as well, mainly because they have been lazy and corrupt.

Somchai

Secretary-general of the Human Rights and Development Foundation Somchai Hormlaor does go to double standards, when he observes that “criticism of double standards in the justice system reflected injustice in Thailand.” He added that the justice system and law “did not bring about fairness and well-being for ordinary people.”

Somchai is moving quite a distance in political terms and deserves credit for this. He adds: “If justice existed, the courts would not accept a coup and any law that coup makers issued because that severely violates the constitution which is the highest law.” In the report, he also notes that “the prisons were occupied by the poor who had no access to justice…”.

For the first time in several years, we have to agree with Somchai and congratulate him for his willingness to identify real and long-standing issues and problems.

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