Dead king, dead dog, lese majeste case goes on

28 06 2017

Thanakorn Siripaiboon was arrested at his house in Samut Prakan Province on 8 December 2015. He was arrested by military and police officers who invoked Article 44 of the then Interim Constitution which gives The Dictator absolute authority to maintain national security. He was accused and then charged with violating the lese majeste law by spreading “sarcastic” content via Facebook which allegedly mocked Thong Daeng, the royal dog.

Both the king and the dog are now deceased.

In one of the most bizarre lese majeste cases ever heard in an increasingly bizarre royalist Thailand, Thanakorn, who has been on bail, sought to have his case heard in a civilian court.

But as Prachatai reports, his appeal was rejected and the “Court Jurisdiction Committee has decided that a lèse majesté suspect accused of mocking the late King’s favourite dog will be tried in a military court.”

He also faces charge under the Computer Crimes Act.

In a separate case, he has been indicted under the sedition law, for posting an infographic on the Rajabhakti Park corruption scandal on Facebook.





Updated: Torture and lese majeste

27 06 2017

Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists reckon that “Thailand had pledged 10 years ago to respect and protect the rights of all people to be free from torture and other ill-treatment by ratifying the Convention against Torture. But the organisations said they remained concerned that torture remains prevalent.”

We don’t imagine that the two NGOs are surprised. After all, Thailand’s military and police use torture regularly and as standard practice. They even use it when training their own recruits. It is just normal for the thugs.

One form of torture that seems relatively new relates to lese majeste. A few years ago, at about the time that the then government was “pledging” to end torture, royalist thugs came up with the idea of keeping those accused of lese majeste in jail until they confessed.

This form of torture has been refined. Now, those accused of lese majeste are kept out of courts until they confess. If they don’t confess, then court proceedings dragged out over months and even years, are secret. Sometimes not even family or lawyers know about the court date. Sometimes not even the defendant knows and courts take decisions without the defendant or a lawyer present.

Royalist courts are never going to provide justice in lese majeste cases. However, a guilty plea means the courts don’t even have to deal with the case. All they do is sentencing.

The most recent example of this kind of lese majeste torture involves a 59 year old man who has been locked up for three years until he finally entered a guilty plea.

The report says he faces up to 50 years in jail, but this is wrong (a point made later in the report) for it accepts that the sentence will likely reduced by half for his guilty plea and because Thailand “limits” sentences to 50 years. In fact, the nonsensical nature of lese majeste should be emphasized by noting that he could be sentenced to more than 100 years in jail.

On 26 June 2017, the “Military Court in Bangkok postponed the sentencing of Tara W., a 59-year-old seller of Thai traditional medicine accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, after he pleaded guilty.” He will now be sentenced on 9 August 2017.

Tara W. is one of the Banpot 6/8/10/14 (the number varied as arrests were made). He and another decided to fight the case (we don’t know any more about the other defendant). Tara sold traditional medicine but was accused of being the “owner of a tourism website, okthai.com, which is now blocked by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.” It is even blocked overseas. [Update: Not blocked. Thanks to a reader for directing us.] Blocking seems to mean taking down but maintaining a blocked notice. We hope the regime is paying for the domain name.

As the report states, a “tiny corner of the website allegedly contained a banner with a link promoting the programmes of Hassadin U., also known as ‘DJ Banpodj’, the head of the so-called Banpodj Network, which has allegedly produced podcasts criticising the monarchy.”

Tara faces six lese majeste charges and other charges under the Computer Crime Act.

He had claimed that he “only uploaded them [the clips] for their information on traditional medicine.” He was arrested on 25 January 2015 and has remained in jail since.

That constitutes torture. There’s several other human rights mangled by the case, but readers should understand that this is now standard practice in royalist Thailand.





What went wrong in 2475?

26 06 2017

There’s been a lot of discussion about 1932/2475 and what went wrong and what went right. One of the big questions asked is whether 85 years is a long time to wait for electoral democracy.

Academics can debate all kinds of things about 2475. How was it that a military faction gained the ascendancy?What was the commitment to democracy and equality? And so on.

But the real issue that needs to be recognized is that the People’s Party proved unable to rid itself of the royal family and royalists.

The path to a new society – and, yes, we do benefit from hindsight – is to establish a republic. Notice that we use the present tense.

Getting rid of royals and their hangers-on is arguably far more difficult now than it was in 2475, because the failure then has allowed them to be stronger now.

If the history of the royalist re-establishment is considered, it is clear that the royalists were far less squeamish in dealing with their foes than were the progressives of 2475. Today, as they have been over the last 85 years, royalists are vicious and retributive.





Release Pai XIV

26 06 2017

We are pleased to pass on the news that Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, or Pai Dao Din, is said to have “passed the last subject of his undergraduate course last Friday…”.

He’ll be celebrating in his jail cell where the military thugs have had him locked up for six months on a trumped up lese majeste charge.

But celebrate he should. This young man, through his stoicism, intellect and commitments, makes the knuckle-draggers in the junta look more ridiculous each day they lock him up. He’s no threat to them or to the monarchy. Indeed, the monarchy and military are more dangerous for each other than a new graduate in Khon Kaen can ever be.

Jatupat’s father, Viboon, also a lawyer, pondered “what his son would do if or when he is released.” He thought:

Perhaps he will go into the field to collect information about human rights violations. Or perhaps, he will return to Loei province where he will offer legal assistance to local communities….

Well, we guess he is a threat to some. By helping the downtrodden he threatens the elite and their comfortable lifestyles, built on the backs of good working people, exploited mercilessly for decades.

Viboon “gathered with dozens of others at Chit Lom BTS station on Thursday to call for the release of Mr Jatupat.” That effort was broken up by 50 thug-police.

With his son, the family remains determined to “be strong and fight for [Jatupat] in the way we know best…”. After all they have faced, it is remarkable that the family still thinks that there is a better Thailand, buried below the injustice muck and detritus of the military dictatorship.

The only way to be sure is to get rid of this corrupt military regime that goosesteps in time with the monarchy.





Taking and “giving”

24 06 2017

A recent story at The Nation is useful for displaying how palace propaganda works.

Princess Sirindhorn has is reported as “graciously” granting (they mean she’s given) “30 tonnes of rice to the government for use during the Royal Cremation ceremonies of late King Rama IX.”

That means she’s handing over quite a pile of rice to be given away to spectators at the royal cremation. The family is supposed to do this. Its one of those  propagandized “traditions” that is meant to show the fabulously wealthy royals are “generous.”

The Dictator threw himself on the floor before her photo and dragged along a legion of his minions to a taxpayer-funded “ceremony at Government House to accept the rice from the Princess.”

How nice. But then the report explains that the “rice was previously collected by Community Rice Centres nationwide and was presented to the Princess when she presided over an annual Rice and Farmers Day event early this month.”

This is rice collected from others and given to her. The nonsense is that she’s not generous at all, she’s just passing on stuff she collected for being a princess who regularly collects gifts, checks and bags of cash.

Thirty tons is nothing and it cost her nothing. But that’s how palace propaganda works.

Meanwhile the taxpayer is forking out real money to pay for her father’s funeral. You’d think that as multi-billionaires the royal family might fork out a bit, but it seems not as they are deserving of propaganda and praise.





Childish Dictator

22 06 2017

The Dictator often has tantrums, likes being heard, shouts other down and bullies others. If those sounds a bit like a schoolyard bully, then you are getting an idea about General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s psychological disposition. Of course, he’s far more dangerous than your average school bully, having control of a huge gang of thugs (the RTA) and lots of weapons.

Prayuth as bully

His most recent outing has seen him acting even more like a child by yelling “shut up” you guys. I can’t accept this challenge. The king of the playground is a lot like a pre-teenager telling his enemies to say these things in Thailand. Face the music here he dares them.

According to the Bangkok Post, The Dictator has “lost patience with critics ‘scolding’ the military government from abroad…”. Of course, like a pudgy schoolkid, he’s got it wrong. The “critics” tend to focus on the monarchy, not his military junta.

Unfortunately, his childishness has produced equally childish responses. We think it far better to keep needling Prayuth, exposing the regime’s brutishness, plans and corruption. It clearly bothers him. More importantly, opponents need to organize and get rid of this bunch of useless thugs.





1932 will be erased

16 06 2017

Remember that plaque, commemorating the 1932 Revolution that, for the first time, reduced the absolute power of the monarchy? It was either stolen or semi-officially removed (in secret) at about the time that the junta and the king came up with the idea of making the junta’s constitution a royal constitution by proclaiming it in a royal ceremony on Chakkri Day.

The two events appear related, which seems appropriate as the removal of the plaque was a symbolic rejection of constitutionalism as law and people’s sovereignty and the junta’s constitution similarly rejects those principles.

With the anniversary of the 1932 Revolution coming up on 24 June, activists were planning to mark that event, as they had previously, at the site of the (now missing) plaque.

In anticipation, the police have “warned democracy activists … that they will be arrested if they gather to mark the upcoming anniversary of the revolution that ended absolute monarchy, a historical moment that has taken on renewed significance.”

In particular, police said “they would not tolerate any attempt to gather at spot on this year’s anniversary…”.

The police, who are remarkably dull and mainly focused on managing their own corrupt incomes, are probably acting at the direction of the junta.

One of their spokesmen “explained” the “thinking” behind the ban: “This year we will not allow activists to come to lay flowers at the Royal Plaza because this is palace ground and it violates the NCPO (junta) order banning gatherings for political purposes…”.

That is a perfect illustration of how the monarchy and military have been intertwined in opposing electoral democracy and popular sovereignty. It is a statement that acknowledges the rollback of politics to a royalist authoritarianism that seeks to establish a royalist political system that is anti-democratic.