Updated: Thanapol arrested

30 06 2022

Thai Newsroom reports that on 29 June 2022, Technology Crime Suppression Division police arrested Fa Diaw Kan Publishing House editor Thanapol Eawsakul. He is charged with “disclosing documents and other material related to national security and violating the Computer Crime Act…”.

Clipped from Prachatai

The police took Thanapol to Technology Crime Suppression Division headquarters “without waiting for a lawyer to show up but a lawyer is now following up the case.”

In January 2022, “more than 30 policemen had brought a warrant to search the publishing house and in doing so went through the books and confiscated mobile devices and computers belonging to Thanapol.”

Later, on Facebook, Thanapol explained the situation (with apologies for hurried translation).

He explains that it has more or less been normal for the police to “visit” the offices of Fa Diaw Kan since the journal was established some two decades ago. Following the 2014 military coup, the “visits” increased, then dropped off around the time of the 2019 election, but then expanded again as the monarchy reform-democratization movement expanded. In this latter period, the police became interested in various books published by Fa Diaw Kan, most of them associated with aspects of the monarchy, historical and contemporary.

This heightened police “interest” meant that Thanapol was being closely monitored.

On 21 November 2020, Thanapol posted a message about a National Security Council document ordering to tracking down of a former ambassador. The police filed a complaint on 31 December 2020 and then went quiet.

On 20 January 2022, some 30 police and officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division searched the publisher’s office, seizing including Arnon Nampa’s The Monarchy and Thai society (which is not a Fa Diew Kan book), computer equipment and Thanapol’s mobile phone. The officers presented two search warrants and an order granting access to computer data, issued by the Nonthaburi Provincial Court.

On 18 April 2022, the Technology Crime Suppression Division said the earlier document seized was classified and disseminated illegally. An arrest warrant was sought even though Thanapol had agreed to report to police. He says: “On June 23, 2022, I made an appointment to go to the TCSD on July 4, 2022 at 1 p.m., but during that time, on June 28, the TCSD requested the court’s approval to issue an arrest warrant….  As a result of issuing an arrest warrant, The police came to arrest me today, 29 June 2022, when I was taken to the police station and to the TCSD…”.

Lawyers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and efforts by Move Forward Party, MP Rangsiman Rome led to bail being granted.

So far, few details of the charges are available.

Update: Thai Enquirer has a story on the arrest and bail.





The 1932 spirit

27 06 2022

For those interested in the non-governmental response to the 90th anniversary of the 1932 revolution, there are a few stories to notice, with brief comments below.

Of course, the royalist government response is to ignore the event as if it never happened.

Thai Enquirer has a photo essay on the rally to celebrate the day. Some of the photos are quite something, and together they show how 1932 is intimately linked with contemporary struggles for democracy and monarchy reform. All of our photos here are clipped from Thai Enquirer.

Thai PBS reports on a seminar at Thammasat University’s Pridi Banomyong International College on 24 June, held “to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 1932 Revolution.” Those attending and speaking included Sulak Sivaraksa and newly-elected Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt.

Various groups organized activities and events on June 24 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the revolution which turned the country from absolute to constitutional monarchy. While academics and politicians discussed the future of Thai democracy at Thammasat’s Tha Prachan campus, youthful groups and activists gathered at Lan Khon Muang Townsquare, calling for the restoration of the revolutionary spirit, reform of the monarchy, abolish the lese majeste law, as well as make June 24 the National Day….

Thammasat University student activist Parit Chiwarak told Thai PBS World earlier that students and political activists had grouped together under the name of People’s Party 2020 a couple of years ago to carry on the revolutionary spirit. Their objective was to remove the gulf between Thai citizens and the established elite.

“One of the six principles laid out by the 1932 People’s Party is equality, which has never been achieved,” he said.

The report notes that in 1960,Thailand’s National Day was changed by the then military dictatorship, and in concert with the king, from 24 June to the then king’s birthday on 5 December. That change was just one part of the restoration of the monarchy that continues through the 20th century.

Monarchy reform and democracy activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul “said in a phone interview that she and her associates continued to demand reforms to the monarchy, despite being prosecuted for lese majeste under Article 112 of the Penal Code.”

In another event, former red shirt leader and Puea Thai politician Nattawut Saikua, in a talk show hosted by the Pridi Banomyong Institute, “said the people’s movement which fought for democracy before and after the 1932 Revolution shared the same spirit — to have equality and democracy.” He added: “I do believe that such a fighting spirit has been transferred from generation to generation,” acknowledging that “red shirts admired and expressed their gratitude to both People’s Parties, in 1932 and 2020.”

There’s more in the article.

Meanwhile, at Khaosod, there’s an op-ed by Pravit Rojanaphruk, commenting on the long period of divisions between royalists and anti-royalists. He begins:

The 90th anniversary of June 24, 1932 revolt, which ended absolute monarchy, was only celebrated by those who believe Thailand has yet to achieve genuine democracy and aspire for more freedom and rights.

Conspicuously absent were the government, including Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, and royalist conservatives who did not observe the day and probably would rather forget that June 24, which falls on Friday this year, was not just arguably the most important day in modern Thai political history once a national day and a public holiday celebrated from 1938 to 1960….

For royalists who wish to see the monarchy … play a greater role in Thai society, to see the military continue to act as the state within a state, to limit the powers of politicians and the electorate whom they distrust, June 24, 1932 was a day of infamy….

Pravit notes that other countries “settled their differences through a bloody revolt.” He prefers a peaceful road to a democracy that provides for and accepts differences.

That’s all fine and good, but Pravit does not mention that the military has been all too willing to spill the blood of those who stand in their path and those who they consider challenge the monarchy and their Thai-style democracy. It has killed hundreds and jailed thousands.





Updated: 90 years after 1932

24 06 2022

On this day, like may others, PPT remembers 24 June 1932. On that day, the People’s Party (khana ratsadon) executed a well-planned Revolution to end the absolute power of the monarchy.

The inspiration of 1932 for the monarchy reform movement of recent years is crystal clear.

The palace, royalists and military have worked long and hard to erase it from the national historical memory. Indeed, much of the 9th reign was about erasing this memory and Vajiralongkorn and his regime cronies have obliterated statues, changed names, and more in an effort to bury memory of a time when monarchy wasn’t paramount.

Back in 2009 on 24 June, PPT marked the 1932 Revolution by reprinting the first announcement of the khana ratsadon or People’s Party. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Banomyong. We have done it on most anniversaries since then. We won’t today, but readers can click the link above to see it.

That proclamation recalls the thirst for democracy that is the essence of today’s anti-monarchism.

The 24 June used to be celebrated. Now, the event is barely noticed in any official way. After all, democracy is the antithesis of the monarchy in Thailand.

This point is made by social critic and intellectual Sulak Sivaraksa in an interview with BenarNews. He states: “Before 1932, the monarch was above the law, and he was the only one. After the 1932 [revolution], everybody became equal, everybody was under the law, and that was the first victory…”.

But, looking back, Sulak is despondent: “In these 90 years, we are currently [at] the lowest point…”. He adds: “Gen. Prayuth [Chan-ocha] claims this is a democracy, but it’s a sham democracy…”.

He points to the military takeover in 1947 as an inflection point, where Thailand turned back towards monarchism: “the coup leader praised the monarch, who was until then still under the constitution. They turned the monarch to God-like and above the constitution because they thought only the monarch could fight against the communists…”.

Any hope Sulak has is with the young: “I’m only an old man, looking forward to young generations. I’ve seen young generations who are so brave to fight against dictatorship…. I hope that Thailand, while celebrating 100 years of democracy, will go forward and not backward as is happening nowadays.”

One of those associated with the contemporary monarchy reform movement is Arnon Nampa. He affirms that the 1932 revolution “was the beginning of the call for democracy and the start of the fight for democracy. It was precarious because those involved in the 1932 revolution risked their lives…”. Today it is Arnon and other activists and thousands of sympathizers  who “are willing, too, to risk losing their freedom or lives…” in the struggle for democracy and the reform of the monarchy.

Update: A reader writes about expanding authoritarianism in the West, noting examples of censorship of social media and harassing Julian Assange for showing the US state as murderers – and worries for his daughter’s future.





Using 112 against the mentally ill

23 06 2022

Prachatai, using information from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, reports that a man named Punyaphat (last name withheld), 29, “has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for posts he made in the Facebook group Royalist Marketplace about King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida’s popularity and the King’s trips to Germany.”

Like several others who have been sentenced under Article 112, Punyaphat is said to suffer “mental illness.”

TLHR say that, on 20 June 2022, “the Samut Prakan Provincial Court ruled that the 4 posts Punyapat made on Royalist Marketplace, a Facebook group where people discuss the monarchy, on 9 and 10 May 2020 were intended to cause hatred against the King and Queen, and that the content of the posts is false and defamed the King.”

The Court “sentenced him to 12 years in prison for royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The sentence was reduced to 4 years and 24 months because Punyaphat confessed.” [This is an accurate quote, but the reduced sentence details must be wrong or lacking details. We guess 6 years, as a reduction is usually 50%.]

Punyaphat’s mother has stated that her son “suffers from attention deficit and shows obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She also said that he can only communicate on a limited basis and is unable to control himself in stressful situations or if he is afraid, and that he is not able to work or leave the house by himself and must be under the care of his family at all times.”

However, the royalist Court claimed “Punyaphat was capable of contesting the charges and there was no need to send him to a psychiatrist, since he is able to talk about himself.”  The court and its officers ignored all claims about Punyaphat’s mental condition, including by his lawyers.

While Punyaphat and his family live in Kamphaeng Phet, because the complaint “was filed by Siwapan Manitkul …  at Bangkaew Police Station in Samut Prakan, Punyapat and his family had to travel at least 5 hours from  for each court appointment.”

Siwapan is reported to have filed “at least 9 royal defamation complaints filed against other citizens for social media posts in 2020.”

Following the verdict, “Punyaphat’s lawyers posted bail for him in order to appeal the charges, and also stated that sending him to prison would prevent him from receiving proper treatment for his mental condition. He was released on bail using a 225,000-baht security.”





Piyabutr accused of lese majeste

18 06 2022

The Nation reports that the Progressive Movement’s secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul “will meet police investigators on June 20 about a lese majeste accusation levelled against him.”

Piyabutr posted on Facebook “that police had initially summoned him for questioning on June 12. However, he and his lawyer were busy and asked to postpone the meeting to next Monday [20 June] at 10am.”

Apparently, the summons results from “a complaint filed by independent historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom accusing Piyabutr of insulting the monarchy under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.” We are not entirely sure what “independent historian” means. In any case, we do know that he’s an ultra-royalist.

Piyabutr “has maintained that his comments about the Thai monarchy and calls for reforms were purely aimed at helping the institution survive modern-day challenges.” He stated: “None of my comments suggested transforming [the Thai political system] into that of a republic. No insults were levelled against the monarchy…”.

Piyabutr was referring to commentary he has provided about the monarchy and reform for over a decade. He added: “None of my comments can be seen as violating Article 112…”. This is the first time he’s been accused of lese majeste.

He claimed that this complaint by “those hyper royalists and ultra-royalists” was only “aimed at discouraging him from commenting on reforms of the monarchy…. They want to make me stop speaking, but they can’t…”.





Updated: Lazada madness

17 06 2022

Back in May, royalists went berserk over a TikTok advertisement produced for the Chinese firm Lazada, screaming lese majeste.

On 16 June 2022, the police arrested Aniwat Prathumthin, aka “Nara Crepe Katoey”, Thidaporn Chaokuwiang, aka “Nurat”, and Kittikhun Thamkittirath, aka “Mom Dew,” and charged all three with Article 112 offenses. Aniwat has also been charged under the computer crimes law.

The three were arrested by Technology Crime Suppression Division police, Thidaporn in Ayutthaya, Aniwat at Don Muang airport, and Kittikhun in Bangkok’s Wang Thong Lang district. Each was released on bail of 90,000 baht.

The charges stemmed from a “Lazada clothes shopping clip features Thidaporn in traditional Thai costume and sitting in a wheelchair, while Aniwat was seen accusing Thidaporn, who plays her aristocratic mother, of stealing her clothes.”

The video immediately drew criticism from ultra-royalists who claimed the video mimicked royals, including Princess Chulabhorn who is sometimes seen in a wheelchair. The royalists also reckoned the advertisement mocked the disabled, but that was a smokescreen for their real complaint based on their own hypersensitivity on things royal. Their immediate reaction led to a hashtag campaign on Twitter to boycott Lazada, a call taken up by the Royal Thai Army, Royal projects and foundations, among others.

Clipped from Thai PBS

Lazada issued an apology, as did “Intersect Design Factory, the company which hired the influencers to promote the Lazada sales campaign…”. It was serial campaigner and royalist activist Srisuwan Janya who lodged a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division police, “accusing Aniwat of offending a member of the royal family.”

Aniwat refused to “issue a public apology or show regret has only added fuel to fire.” Quite correctly, but further angering ultra-royalists, in a television interview, Aniwat said that “anyone has the right to wear a traditional costume,” and that “the so-called reference to a Royal was imagined by the netizens.”

Army chief Gen Narongpan Jitkaewtha quickly announced “that he has banned members of all military units to stop buying goods from Lazada. He also banned all Lazada delivery trucks and motorbikes from entering Army compounds.”

Joining the royalist pile-on, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his “concern about the clip on May 7 and noting that Thais love and respect the monarchy.” Meanwhile, the “Digital Economy and the Society Ministry also instructed the Police Technology Crime Suppression Division to check if the TikTok clip violated any laws.”

Aniwat had earlier gained online followers “among youngsters fed up with General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s style of governance. She has openly pushed for the PM’s resignation and often criticized his supporters.”

Of course, Princess Chulabhorn is not covered by Article 112 but that has never stopped bizarre lese majeste cases in the past.

Update: Coconuts Bangkok reports on the arrest of Kittikhun “a transgender blogger and  model known as Mom Dew, [who] was being held Thursday afternoon at the Technology Crime Supression Division in Bangkok’s Lak Si over a complaint that she impersonated the Queen Mother Sirikit in an ad campaign that was quickly pulled after it aired last month.”

Like Chulabhorn, Sirikit is not covered in Article 112. To refresh memories, Article112 of the Criminal Code states, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”





No equality, no freedom

10 06 2022

If readers haven’t seen it, the video story on an interview with Thai rapper Elevenfinger of Rap Against the Dictatorship at Aljazeera is worth watching:





Using 112 against Thanathorn

7 06 2022

One of the most obvious efforts to use Article 112 to silence critics involves Progressive Group leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Back in October 2021, it was reported that police had submitted a lese majeste charge against Thanathorn to the Office of the Attorney-General on 12 October 2021. The charge was lodged for Thanathorn’s livestreaming of talks in January 2021 on the government’s vaccine mismanagement when vaccines were being sourced.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

It was alleged that the talks included remarks thought to offend the monarchy, which arose when Thanathorn questioned the regime’s AstraZeneca vaccine strategy, where most of it was delayed in production by Siam Bioscience, a Crown company.

This 112 charge was initiated by Apiwat Khanthong, said to be the chairman of the government-appointed committee investigating the spread of alleged anti-regime “disinformation.”

Reportedly, Phahonyothin police station lodged a second lese majeste charge, also in connection with his Facebook livestreaming. He also copped a computer crimes charge.

Thanathorn livestream talk, titled “Royal Vaccine: Who Benefits and Who Doesn’t?” urged the regime and Siam Bioscience to publicly reveal the vaccine-production agreement. At the time, Siam Bioscience, an opaque company due to its royal connection, seemed to have failed monumentally, causing the regime to import millions of AstraZeneca doses.

Thanathorn concluded that “the government has been careless in negotiations for the vaccine…”. He pointed out that Siam Bioscience was “tasked with producing 200 million doses per year. Of this, 176 million will be sold to other countries in the region, while the remainder will be sold locally.” He added that the regime “has announced it will give Siam Bioscience Bt1.44 billion for the project.”

He claimed Siam Bioscience was only “established in 2009 with an authorized capital of Bt48 billion, but over the past 11 years, the corporation has made losses worth Bt581 billion…”.

And, he “pointed out that Siam Bioscience was only added to the plan in the second quarter of 2020 – when anti-establishment protesters began holding their rallies.” This, he said, may make the “AstraZeneca-Siam Bioscience deal is politically motivated.”

The politically-motivated charges are going ahead. The Criminal Court will hear 54 witnesses in the case, with 42 of the witnesses being “viewers who watched the stream on Jan 18 last year and will be testifying for public prosecutors who filed the case…”. There would be 12 witnesses for Thanathorn.

Thanathorn pleaded not guilty, “noting that Section 112 has from time to time been exploited by the [Gen] Prayut-Chan-o-cha administration to silence political opponents and anti-government protests.” He stated the obvious: “A large number of people have faced Section 112 cases. All of these cases were aimed at protecting the power of Gen Prayut at the cost of people’s freedom of expression…”.

Of course, the charge is also used to protect the monarchy and make opaque royal affairs.





On 112

4 06 2022

Readers will be interested in a recent post at 112Watch. In “A View from Australia on Article 112” the University of Queensland’s Patrick Jory is interviewed. It is a long piece, so we suggest reading all of it.

Jory asks if “the Thai monarchy can be reformed, and survive. If one thinks about it carefully, at a bare minimum, reform of the monarchy would have to mean the reform or abolition of the lèse-majesté law.”

PPT has added 112Watch to our blog roll. It is said to be “a coalition of people and an organisation that value human rights and democracy. 112Watch aims to halt the Thai authorities’ escalating use of Article 112, Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, which is used to punish, to sideline and to silence citizens.” It appears that the organizing force in it is Pavin Chachavalpongpun.

In addition, PPT has been adding 112 cases to our Pending & acquitted page. We are still a long way behind on this, including for major activists who face multiple charges, but we are doing our best to catch up.

Readers may also want to look at our Lese majeste and the monarchy page, which we have also updated.





International Anti-Monarchy Conference

2 06 2022

Republic is a membership-based British pressure group campaigning for the abolition of the monarchy and its replacement with a directly elected head of state.

On 4 June 2022, Republic is hosting the International Anti-Monarchy Conference online, to reach audiences and involve great speakers from around the world. The International Anti-Monarchy Conference coincides with Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee weekend in the UK. Republicans from around the world will be highlighting common issues and the reasons for an end to monarchy in favor of democratic republics. Speakers are from the UK, Commonwealth, Europe and Asia. Speakers for Thailand are Suda Rangkupan and Nanthida Rakwong.

The conference flyer states:

There is a growing momentum away from monarchies around the world. Movements across Europe and the Commonwealth in particular are growing and monarchies in places such as the UK, Netherlands and Spain are losing support. In the Caribbean there has been a seismic shift in the remaining Commonwealth realms to ditch the Crown and become republics. Australia is likely to revisit the question in the near future, which is likely to trigger others to do the same.

In Canada support for retaining the monarchy has fallen sharply in recent years, with support falling further when polls ask about King Charles. With Barbados already making the switch to a parliamentary republic and Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas and others announcing their intention to do so, the number of monarchies around the world is set to fall dramatically.

All this is likely to have an impact on other monarchies too. There is growing opposition to the Thai monarchy, which is far worse than anything Europeans have to tolerate, just as there is opposition to royal dictators in Africa and the Middle East.








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