Bogus 112 case dropped

30 01 2021

A couple of days ago, Prachatai’s Facebook page reported that on 28 January 2021, the Nonthaburi Provincial Court dismiss a lese majeste charge against Nattathida “Waen” Meewangpla.

Her case was always a fake one, concocted by the military to cover up its murder of red shirts.

When she was arrested, Nattathida was a 36 year-old volunteer nurse, accused by the military junta of terrorism and lese majeste.

She was essentially abducted by the military some time in mid-March 2015 and was held incommunicado for six days. She was then charged with “terrorism,” and was later accused of lese majeste.

Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC) pressed the charges and said Nattathida copied a text that insulted the monarchy from one chat room and posted it in two other chat groups.

This charge was simply meant to get her jailed as quickly as possible. Her particular threat to the regime was that she is a witness to the murder of six individual at Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple by soldiers during the crackdown on red shirts on 19 May 2010.

The court dismissed her 112 charge for lack of evidence. It said the only evidence provided “was a picture of the messages, and the person who was talking to Natthathida does not know her.”

As had been the case with all of her court appearances, the court met in secret: “The Court did not let anyone into the room when the ruling was read but Natthathida, claiming that it is a Covid-19 prevention measure.”





Further updated: Yuletide lese majeste

22 12 2020

There’s been quite a lot of commentary on the protests, some motivated by the avalanche of lese majeste cases and some by the fact that the end of the year begs for reviews.

One that caught our attention is by Matthew Wheeler, Senior Analyst for Southeast Asia at the International Crisis Group. It is quite a reasonable and careful rundown of events prompting the demonstrations and the call for reform of the monarchy.

The lese majeste cases pile higher and higher. In a Bangkok Post report on people turning up to hear lese majeste charges, eight are listed: Arnon Nampa, Intira Charoenpura, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, Nattathida Meewangpla, Shinawat Chankrachang, Phimsiri Phetnamrop, and Phromson Wirathamchari.

We can’t locate the latter two on the most recent Prachatai graphic that listed 34 activists charged under 112, but that graphic does include five with names withheld. For us, this brings the total charged to 34-36, but it may well be more.

There was some good news on lese majeste. It is reported that, after more than 4.5 years, a ludicrous 112 charge against Patnaree Chankij have been dismissed. The mother of activist Sirawith Seritiwat, the Criminal Court on Tuesday dismissed the charge. Her one word “jah” in a chat conversation was said to be the cause of the charge but, in reality, going after her was the regime’s blunt effort to silence her son.

A second piece of reasonable news is that the Criminal Court also dismissed charges of sedition brought by the military junta against former deputy prime minister Chaturon Chaisaeng on 27 May 2014 six years ago under Section 116 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crimes Act. This was another junta effort to silence critics.

As seen in recent days, equally ludicrous charges have been brought against a new generation of critics.

Update 1: Thai PBS reports that the Criminal Court acquitted nine members of the Pro-Election Group who had been charged in late January 2018 with poking the military junta: “Section 116 of the Criminal Code, illegal public assembly within a 150-metre radius of a Royal palace and defying the then junta’s order regarding public assembly of more than five people.”

The defendants were Veera Somkwamkid, Rangsiman Rome, currently a party-list for the Kao Klai party, Serawit Sereethiat, Nattha Mahatthana, Anon Nampa, a core member of the Ratsadon Group, Aekkachai Hongkangwan, Sukrit Piansuwan, Netiwit Chotepatpaisarn and Sombat Boon-ngam-anong.

The court ruled that:

… protesters complaining about the postponement of general elections cannot be regarded as incitement to public unrest. It also said that the protesters had no intention to defy the ban against public assembly within 150-metres of the Royal palace.

Of course, the charges were always bogus, but the junta’s point was to use “law” for political repression.

Update 2: The Nation reports that there were, in fact, 39 defendants who were acquitted.





Further updated: It is still a military regime VIII

28 06 2020

Perhaps the most concerning story we have seen for a while was in the Bangkok Post today.

Wassana Nanuam produced yet another of her regular propaganda pieces for the military. In among all the buffalo manure about what a great job the military has been doing (sans creating Thailand’s largest virus cluster, a mass shooting in Korat, trying to jail whistleblowers, destroying historical monuments, overthrowing elected governments, murdering civilians, etc.), there’s a note that Deputy Defence Minister Gen Chaichan Changmongkol has declared the ongoing need “for the military to assist the government in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus…”. That there’s essentially no local virus transmission seems not to be an issue in deciding that the the military should be in control. The general was meeting with the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the armed forces.

Clipped from Straits Times

Really worrying, though, is the decision to have military personnel “provide support to schools when they reopen on Wednesday, in ensuring social distancing and disease control measures laid down by the Public Health Ministry are observed.” The idea of soldiers being embedded in schools is just another step in establishing the dominance of the military over all of society.

Update 1: Not on schools, but on the military-backed regime’s repression, we were interested to read that the regime’s thugs continue to stalk political opponents. Such measures are threats. When the threats are considered to have failed, the regime’s next step has tended to be to have the thugs bash the opponent.

Update 2: Continuing the military thugs’ stalking of political opponents, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on Nattathida Meewangpla. The story they tell is remarkably similar to that in Update 1. It seems that the military thugs have not left her alone – that is, unthreatened – since she was finally bailed out of prison in 2018.





Two interesting reads

12 11 2018

For quite different reasons, PPT recommends two recent stories as worthwhile reads:

The first is a story at The Nation on the “cool responses and sometimes heated confrontation” that Suthep Thaugsuban is getting.

The second story is at Prcahatai and concerns Nattathida Meewangpla, charged with lese majeste and being a part of a “bomb plot.” This is an account of her arrests and detention, and while the English is not always easy to follow, it is revealing of much about “justice” under the military dictatorship.





Reporting lese majeste

3 10 2018

Two recent articles in The Nation reflect on lese majeste and both deserve some attention.

The first story is a poignant account of Nattathida Meewangpla’s case and the personal impact it has had. Nattathida’s misery over a lese majeste charge cannot be separated from the fact that she is a “key witness in the 2010 killings at Bangkok’s Wat Pathum Wanaram…”. She is currently on bail on the lese majeste case.

Being held in prison and without bail since March 2015 until her recent successful bail application was a form of lese majeste torture that has been repeatedly used by this regime and others before them.

She refers to fellow inmates who “knew how long they had to serve in prison before they could return home. But I didn’t have any hope. I had no idea what the punishment would be.”

Now also accused of lese majeste, she walked free on bail last month but has no idea when she’ll be back in jail.

Described as “a successful businesswoman, the mother of two boys and a part-time volunteer nurse” the charges she faced related to “terrorism” and lese majeste meant “her world collapsed almost overnight.”

In jail, she was harassed “for being a red-shirt supporter.” But it was when she was initially bailed on “terrorism” charges and then abducted by unknown officials even before she had left the gates of the prison and banged up again, on a concocted lese majeste charge, that she really struggled with the deliberate effort to break her. The military didn’t want a witness to the Wat Pathum Wanaram massacre talking.

She says she “became mentally unhinged,” adding: “I was shattered. It was beyond anger what I felt. It was intensely frustrating…”.

What would you do if you were me? Everybody at some point got to go home but I had to stay. What in the world? Why was did the trial go so slowly? What was I supposed to think when other inmates were suggesting I was being buried in the forgotten cell? There was no hope.”

Nattathida “knows she could be returned to prison at any moment. She refrained from talking about any mistreatment or discrimination because of uncertainty over her future.”

The second story is not particularly new but makes a point about the regime’s current lese majeste strategy. As we have noted, the military dictatorship, probably prodded by the palace, has decided to ease up on its use of lese majeste, replacing it with other charges like sedition and computer crimes.

The story cites iLaw’s documentation center head, Anon Chawalawan on the declining use of lese majeste. We do not necessarily agree with iLaw’s count of lese majeste cases, but there was a peak in cases in 2014 following the coup and into 2015, and then a decline following that.

Anon is correct in noting that immediately after the 2014 coup the military was clearing up cases, but not exactly as expressed in the article. The junta was using the law to attack mainly red shirts and others it considered “republicans.”

Anon stated that “during the military-led rule from 2014 to 2015, at least 61 people were prosecuted under Article 112…”. That’s a significant under-estimate. Our case lists suggests it was closer to 200 cases filed.

That makes the fact that there have been no reports of Article 112 cases this year all the more notable. That charges have been dropped, sometimes without any stated reason or explanation, is suggestive of high-level direction being given to the judiciary.

In this report, Anon is not quoted as saying anything about the use of other, “replacement” charges.

What we see, reading between line, that the junta feels that the anti-monarchists have been defeated or at least silenced (at least in country). It also seems that the argument that mammoth sentences and a huge number of cases does damage to the regime’s international reputation and to the monarchy may have been accepted for the moment. The change of practice also suggests that the military-royalist regime feels confident it can control politics going forward.





Waen gets bail

4 09 2018

When she was arrested by the military – in fact, abducted – on 11 March 2015, Nattatida Meewangpla, also known as Waen, was a 36 year-old volunteer nurse, accused by the military dictatorship of both terrorism and lese majeste.

On lese majeste, the Internal Security Operation Command alleged Nattatida copied a text that insulted the monarchy from one chat room and posted it in two other chat groups.

While the other three “terrorism” suspects were released on bail in July 2017, the Bangkok Military Court kept Waen in jail on the lese majeste charge. Her lawyer implied that this charge was fabricated, alleging that the postings were made a week after she

Her lawyer argues that her devices were confiscated on her arrest on 11 March 2015, “but the alleged message was uploaded about a week later.” It is not unusual for the police and military to plant “evidence.”

Earlier posts at PPT are here, here, here, here and here.

The moderately good news is that the military court – meeting in secret – allowed bail, on a bond of 900,000 baht.





Lese majeste used by the junta to silence a witness

22 07 2018

When she was arrested, Nattatida Meewangpla was a 36 year-old volunteer nurse, accused by the military dictatorship of terrorism and lese majeste. She was abducted by the military on 17 March 2015 and held incommunicado for six days, then charged with “terrorism,” and was later with lese majeste.

Not so uncommon you might think. Especially since the 2014 coup, as the military wanted to crush all anti-monarchy speech and thought, lese majeste victims were usually dragged off by the junta’s uniformed thugs.

But the arrest and continued jailing of Nattathida was unusual. The lese majeste complaint was made by Internal Security Operation Command Col Wicharn Joddaeng, who claims Nattatida copied a text that insulted the monarchy from one Line chat room and posted it in two other chat groups.

Who knows if she did anything of the kind, but this charge was devised to have her jailed as quickly as possible as a threat to the military dictatorship. The threat she posed was as a witness to the murder of six individuals at Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple by soldiers during the crackdown on red shirts on 19 May 2010.

More than three years later, still in jail and never allowed bail, Nattathida’s trial has begun. On 20 July 2018, a “first witness hearing was held behind closed door[s]…”.

Secret trials are not unusual for lese majeste, where laws and constitutions are regularly ignored, but in this case, the military wants nothing said in court to be public for fear that it may incriminate them.

The Bangkok Post’s editorial on her cases is a useful effort to get some media attention to this case of cruel incarceration and the military junta’s efforts to suppress evidence of its murderous work in 2010 under the direction of then military-backed premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, Army boss Gen Anupong Paojinda and the commander of troops Gen Prayudh Chan-ocha.

The Post describes Nattathida as “a key witness in the deaths of six people killed during the military’s dispersal of red-shirt protests in 2010…”.

The Post seems to get the date of her 2015 lese majeste charging wrong, but these charges and their details are murky, and meant to be. It reports:

Ms Nathathida was in March 2015 charged as a suspect linked to the blast and had been held in prison until July 24 last year when she was finally granted bail. But the police filed a lese majeste charge, an offence under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, against her on the same day resulting in immediate custody without bail.

The editorial notes that her “trial for another case involving a 2015 bombing at the Criminal Court is also moving at a snail’s pace,” describing the slow pace as “questionable.” It thinks the deliberate foot-dragging suggests the charges are based on shaky grounds. It adds:

The cases yet again raise doubts about the legitimacy of the prosecution of many politically-driven cases in the post-2014 coup era, especially lese majeste cases.

Her lawyer Winyat Chartmontri has told the media that “many witnesses, who are government officials, in the blast case had postponed court hearings several times resulting in the case being delayed.”

As the editorial noted, these “two cases not only kept her in jail but may also have reduced the credibility of her as a witness in court over the six deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram near Ratchaprasong intersection.” More though, they prevent her testimony being heard.

Why is the military so concerned? As the Post observes:

In 2012, she testified at the South Bangkok Criminal Court as a paramedic volunteer stationed at the temple, giving a vivid account of how she saw from close range gunshots being fired from the Skytrain tracks where soldiers were on guard. She did not hear gunshots fired back by protesters, she said.

The editorial makes the mistake of believing that “criminal prosecution requires solid proof of both motive and the scale of damage their act could have caused,” but that is never the case when it comes to lese majeste. And, under the military dictatorship, the courts have generally acted as a tool of the regime, often ignoring law.

The Post knows this, limply proclaiming that “[l]aw enforcement officers should not overlook … universal legal rules when handling cases that could send someone to prison.” Yet in “politically motivated” cases under the military junta, law and procedure goes out the window.

In concluding, the editorial also mentions “that tragic day at Wat Pathum Wanaram,” noting that the courts are “supposed to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

The problem with puppet law courts is that they work for the perpetrators.





Silencing witnesses

28 04 2018

Lese majeste, computer crimes, terrorism and sedition laws have been wielded by the military junta as a means to strangle and snuff out political opposition. Thousands have been arrested, detained, charged and many hundreds have spent time in jail.

This repression is about silencing dissent on the established social order and its institutions, as well as the military dictatorship itself.

Prachatai reports on one of the most odious of uses of these laws. The United Lawyers For Rights & Liberty “has initiated crowdfunding for the bail of a lèse majesté suspect who witnessed the 2010 military crackdown on the red-shirt protest and has been in detention for over three years.”

The lawyers are planning to submit another bail request for Nattathida Meewangpla or Waen who is also held on a terrorism charge. Earlier posts at PPT are here, here, here, here and here.

A volunteer nurse, Waen is an important witness in the murder of six individual at Wat Pathum Wanaram Temple by soldiers during the crackdown on red shirts on 19 May 2010.

For more than three years, she has been imprisoned by the regime having been arrested for terrorism and lese majeste, the courts have consistently denied her bail.

The impression is that the regime, led by generals responsible for the massacre, wants he silenced. Certainly, they have not been in any rush to proceed with her trial. Her first hearing is scheduled for May this year. The terrorism case has made little progress.

Waen was accused of being involved in the 2015 Bangkok Criminal Court bombing with the evidence being a transaction record of 5,000 baht to her by another suspect.

While the other three “terrorism” suspects were released on bail in July 2017, the Bangkok Military Court, Waen was kept in jail, accused of lese majeste sharing a message in a private Line chatroom.

The lawyer essentially argues that her devices were confiscated on her arrest on 11 March 2015, “but the alleged message was uploaded about a week later.” It is not unusual for the police and military to plant “evidence.”

The ULRL is now seeking “900,000 baht to bail her out of the two charges — 400,000 baht for the terrorism charge and 500,000 baht for the other [lese majeste].” Prachatai has details on donations for Waen and ULRL.





The junta’s inhumane use of lese majeste

26 07 2017

Reports yesterday of the bailing and immediate re-arrest of Nattatida Meewangpla give another insight into the inhumane nature of the lese majeste law and its (mis)use by the totalitarian military regime.

Prachatai reports that on 24 July, Bangkok’s Military Court bailed Nattatida, along with “Nares Intharasopa, Wasana Buddee, and Nuttapat Onming, suspects in the 2015 Criminal Court bombing…”.

Nattatida is “a key witness of the 2010 military crackdown” and the murders at Wat Pathum Wanaram.

When “arrested” in 2015, she was abducted by military thugs and The Dictator then lied about it.

The four who were initially bailed this week “were among at least 15 people charged with terrorism and criminal association for alleged involvement in the court bombing on 7 March 2015. The four have been imprisoned for more than two years.”

At the time of the arrests, PPT posted on how the arrests seemed bogus.

Despite being bailed, “police refused to release Nattatida and Wasana. Nattida is currently detained at the Crime Suppression Division while Wasana is being held at Chokchai District Police Station in Bangkok.”

Nattatida is apparently detained as “she was also accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, over a message posted on 17 March 2015 on the Line chat application.” Yet she was taken into military custody on 11 March 2015.

As Khaosod reports, and as we have on our short page on her case, back in March 2015, she was “charged in two separate cases: conspiring with a terror group behind an alleged bomb plot at Bangkok’s Criminal Court and insulting the monarchy.”

We can only guess that denying her freedom is because she has “failed” to plead guilty to the lese majeste charge, so that her detention must continue. That’s the inhumane pattern.





Lies and lies

22 03 2015

When you repeatedly lie others come to the conclusion that everything you say is likely laced with untruths. So it is with the military’s top brass.

Readers will recall that the military recently abducted Nattathida Meewangpla, who was a witness to murders by soldiers at a Bangkok temple during the 2010 crackdown on red shirt protesters. The junta’s spokesman denied that the military could possibly have been involved. Within just a few hours, the military handed her over to police. One lie demonstrated.

Remarkably, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha then demonstrated his disdain for the intelligence or Thais and/or demonstrated his own thick-headedness by saying that the military hadn’t arrested her, just invited her to join them in what we might describe as their secret abduction headquarters. A second lie.

Then, having “invited” her, and then not charged her with anything, the brass quickly arranged for her to be slapped with both “terrorism” and lese majeste charges. We count that as lie number three.

Three lies over one abduction-arrest is a relatively low count if one considers the thousands of lies the military has told involving the tens of thousands of citizens it has abducted, tortured, disappeared and murdered over several decades. Of course, the lies are unnecessary because the military has impunity from prosecution in these instances of violence.

So when Army boss General Udomdej Sitabutr gets all huffy and puffy because the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Center claims the military tortured four men arrested as part of an alleged “terrorism network” plotting bomb attacks in Bangkok or of having carried them out, and then produces photographic evidence seeming to back up the claim, we wonder about his counter claims.Udomdej

Army boss, the suspiciously dark-haired General Udomdej “has threatened to take legal action against anyone who accuses the military of torturing four terror suspects arrested earlier this month.” That is not a lie. Under martial law, he can pretty much threaten and arrest/abduct any one he pleases.

The the General gets into the untruths. He “insisted that the allegation was untrue, and stressed that all security officers performed their duties without violating human rights.” That’s clearly a lie. And not just a little one. The military violates human rights on a daily basis; the links above are to just a few of these in recent days.

It gets into the deeper, almost pathological category of lying when he states: “Especially the action of harming suspects. We strictly do not do that…”. Of course, there’s ample evidence of the military using torture over a long period. Just look to the South to see confirmed cases of torture.

And Udomdej then contradicts himself, admitting, “Whoever does a wrong thing, they have to be investigated and punished.” But, dear General, if you say it doesn’t happen, how could you ever investigate it? Another lie.