One of the bosses was Buddha Issara

9 03 2016

A few days ago we posted on the sentencing of the so-called popcorn gunman, which we updated to include recognition of the New Mandala post by Nick Nostitz on the same topic. At New Mandala is is quite common for a series of comments to appear that often degenerate into mudslinging. In this case, though, some quite reasonable points were made. Many of the questions asked there about the shooter remain unanswered, and that is probably how they will stay.

While all of that commenting was going on, however, the anti-democrat supporters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, made quite a different point. As Khaosod reports, the PDRC supporters “rallied Tuesday in front of Bangkwang Prison where Vivat Yodprasit recently began serving his 37-year jail term.” They did this because they know that, for them, the popcorn shooter is a hero. As the report puts it, the “demonstrators said they wished to express solidarity with Vivat, who, according to prosecutors, wrapped an assault rifle in a popcorn bag and shot at rival protesters …[leaving] a 72-year-old man paralyzed, before he died seven months later.”Popcorn hero

After the shooting incident, the popcorn gunman “received widespread acclaim from PCAD members. Many of the demonstrators at the prison today donned T-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘Popcorn Superhero’ as a show of support.” They took a group photo, appropriately in front of a banner for Princess Sirindhorn.

Of course, this political rally was not banned by the military junta. We imagine that the junta’s members consider the shooter a hero as well.

According to the report, the convicted shooter “still loves and respects PCAD leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” We do not doubt that it is this fascist monk who is going to gather the four million baht that the poor country boy will require for bail. It is widely said that the monk is providing money on a monthly basis for the shooter’s family as well.

Given that the shooting took place at a rally organized by Buddha Issara, it might be concluded that he was one of the bosses.





Updated: Who was the boss?

4 03 2016

Readers will no doubt have seen that the “Criminal Court sentenced a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ to 37 years and four months imprisonment for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public during the political violence in February 2014.”

Wiwat Yodprasit was convicted of “shooting at red shirt protesters during a confrontation between the anti-establishment red shirts and People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), anti-election protesters, at Laksi intersection in Bangkok on 2 February 2014…”.

Shooter 10Wiwat was said to have “used a popcorn sack to conceal an M16 and shot at red-shirt demonstrators…”.

Prachatai states that:

Four people were seriously injured in the shooting, one of whom, Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, who was allegedly shot by the suspect, died later in September 2014 after being paralysed for eight months.

It also says that there “are 21 other suspects on the case all of whom are still at large.” Wiwat stated that he was a People’s Democratic Reform Committee guard. The PDRC was commanded by Suthep Thaugsuban.

Wiwat will appeal and there was 3.7 million baht prepared for a bail request.

Our question is: who were his bosses? We guess some of Suthep’s people but we’d also guess some in the military. Wiwat might, eventually, do some time, but his bosses still have impunity.

Update: Readers might be interested in Nick Nostitz’s account of the case at New Mandala. He links to an early interview with the gunman and helpfully provides a translation. We do not know why Nostitz thinks this is an “outstanding interview.” Most of the interview is unconvincing about anything related to the case. Wiwat claims to have never been trained to use the gun (we are led to believe he is firing an automatic weapon for the first time), to have had it in the popcorn bag to carry it (rather than to collect spent cartridges) and to have not known his spotter. None of that makes much sense, and the interviewer does not ask any serious questions at all. That Wiwat was a stooge is clear, but not much else.





Media and bias

27 11 2013

Remarkably, the current anti-government protesters have not had to consider dealing with the foreign media, being content with the mainstream Thai media being largely in their camp and making their positions clear and even justifying their illegal actions as “legal protest.” Following the attack on German journalist Nick Nostitz, condemned by, amongst other, Human Rights Watch, however, the angry lot has decided that they need to make statements to the media.

On 26 November, they sent out two statements. The two are so sadly contradictory that they are revealing of a lack of media savvy, a patronizing view of the foreign media, and the politics of hatred. The first announcement, looking a bit like Announcement 1 by the CNS on the day of the September 2006 coup, is below, with PPT emphasis added:

CMD Statement Number: 1Anti-gov

Issued: 26 NOV 2013

Statement for Immediate Release

Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD)

Rejecting the divisive, color-coded politics of recent years, the Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is a broad-based people’s movement committed to rooting out Thaksin’s regime and to building an inclusive Thai society based upon sustainable democratic principles.

This broad-based peoples’ movement was triggered by the government, with Thaksin’s younger sister as the puppet Prime Minister, passage through the Parliament of an Amnesty Bill which sought to give a blanket amnesty covering the last 10 years, including not only political and violent activities but also some 20,000 on-going and indicted corruption cases, involving Thaksin and many of his cronies. It was this outrageous attempt to pardon widespread corruption, rammed through parliament at 4am in the morning that has so incensed a broad spectrum of Thai people. The amnesty bill ignited a smoldering discontent that has been building over many years characterized by the worst levels of corruption in modern memory with no regard of check and balance.

By denouncing the constitution court’s verdict, the ruling Pheu Thai Party has in effect violated the Thai constitution, which in principle binds all democratic institutions. For this reason, on the 24th November the largest mass political gathering in modern Thai history took place. It was noted that this mass demonstration attracted people from all segments of society. Subsequently, the peaceful sit-in staged at the Ministry of Finance on the 25th November was organized as part of the CMD’s non-violent movement.

Today, the CMD calls on the government to take responsibility for their actions. We urge for comprehensive reforms to restore the values of true democracy in Thailand. We call on the government to respect and abide the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Most importantly, we will strictly adhere to the principles of non-violence in all of our actions.

We are staggered by some of these claims, more so by the apparent contradiction of several of them in the second announcement, reproduced below with emphasis by PPT:

CMD Statement Number: 2

Issued: 26 Nov 2013 (Time)

CMD leadership regrets incident involving German reporter

Bangkok, 26 November, 2013 – The leadership of the Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD), the broad-based peoples’ movement now pushing for the dismantling of the Thaksin Shinawatra controlled-government, today issued a statement regretting an incident involving a German reporter which took place yesterday at approximately 1:15pm (Monday, 25 November) outside the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau.

Speaking on behalf of the CMD’s collective leadership, spokesman Mr. Akanat Promphan said the CMD leadership regretted the incident involving German freelance photo-journalist, Mr. Nick Nostitz, who said he was punched by angry anti-government protesters. “In spite of the fact that the protesters recognized Mr. Nostitz as a well-known government supporter who has long since abandoned the principle of objectivity required by journalists, this was no excuse for the use of any level of violence and we apologise to Mr. Nostitz unreservedly,” said Mr. Akanat.

“We wish to emphasise we are attempting to maintain the principle of non-violence at all times and will do our best to make sure members of the media and outside observers from non-governmental organizations are able to perform their duties safely and without restriction at all times,” added Mr. Akanat.

Mentioning inaccurate descriptions of events issued by the Government’s public relations machine, Mr. Akanat said the protesters’ entry into the Finance Ministry’s compound yesterday morning did not involve the use of force or the damage of any government property, contrary to the Government’s claim.

Reading the two Announcements is an odd experience. We have rejected color-coded politics, they say, in No. 1. Then, in No. 2, they attack Nostitz as a “government supporter,” which matched the identification of Nostitz as a red shirt journalist. Announcement No. 2 is said to be an apology to Nostitz but is actually an attack on him, questioning his professional ethics.

Announcement No. 1 states that the protesters want “an inclusive Thai society based upon sustainable democratic principles.” Unfortunately, they provide no account of what this might be or why they reject the current constitution (which favors them) and the idea of electoral representation as it currently exists. There attention is to corruption, which is not a function of any particular form of government, and the “many years” seems odd when this government has barely completed two years. In fact, the mention of corruption is part of the mantra that only elected politicians are corrupt, which is a complete nonsense for Thailand. Jumping on another track, the announcement then claims that the reason for the demonstration is that the Puea Thai Party has (verbally) rejected the Constitutional Court’s recent judgement.

We are left to conclude that the reason for the demonstration has to do with the politics of hatred rather than any particular principle or philosophy.

Finally, No. 1 “calls on the government to take responsibility for their actions. We urge for comprehensive reforms to restore the values of true democracy in Thailand.” What does this mean? The leadership of the protesters has already stated that it will only be satisfied with the overthrow of the government and the rooting out of the so-called Thaksin regime. Given that pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2000, the protesters need to say what their demands really are.





With 3 updates: The violence begins

25 11 2013

With Suthep Thaugsuban urging protesters to occupy various sites, including the Ministry of Finance, The Nation reports that German photojournalist Nick Nostitz, a accredited journalist who has written two red vs. yellow books and numerous other photo essay, was attacked and punched at an anti-government rally.

Nick Nostitz

Nick Nostitz

This attack might be written off as a rogue attack except that he was apparently identified as a “red shirt” at a rally by a speaker on stage. This identification seems to have triggered the violent attack.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand expressed concern that the incident was also featured on Democrat Party-sponsored “Blue Sky TV, and Internet comments continued to target the journalist.”

Update 1: A reader sent us the link to Blue Sky Channels Facebook page where Nostitz is targeted with racist and violent comments, apparently before the physical attack on him. We insert two screen captures below, following Update 3, and there are plenty more nasty comments, egged on by the Democrat Party channel.

Update 2: Asia Sentinel’s correspondent has also noticed the violent turn in the demonstrations. Much in this report matches things PPT has posted on. This comment is worth repeating:

… Thailand’s opposition Democratic Party, having tasted some success in gaining public support to kill the much-despised blanket amnesty that would have allowed fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return from his years of exile, are turning to the violent tactics of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the ill-famed Yellow Shirts, who brought the country to a standstill in 2007 and 2008.

Update 3: Prachatai has more on the attack on Nostitz and there is some brief video available as well, grabbed from Blue Sky Channel. It reports that “Jumpol Chumsai, a Democrat MP and protest leader,  identified him as ‘red shirt journalist’ through loudspeaker.” The yellow shirts are unapologetic: “… After the incident, Suthin Wannaboworn, former journalist and supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, or the yellow shirt, said in an interview on pro-Democrat Bluesky channel that he believed that Nostitz was a journalist who was ‘organized’ by the red shirts.” Most of the crazed royalists, who are unable to distinguish between propaganda and journalism accuse Nostitz of being in the pay of Thaksin Shinawatra.

Nostitz attacksNostitz attacks 2





Nostitz, HRW and 2010

26 10 2012

PPT was scrolling through some of the posts at New Mandala earlier today and noted a brief exchange on an old posting, with an intriguing recent comment from photojournalist Nick Nostitz.

Readers will know Nostitz as the author of two books on recent street politics in Thailand. His most recent post at New Mandala was on the Democrat Party’s “men in black” sham rally. It will also be recalled that Human Rights Watch released a much debated and criticized report on the events of 2010 about a year after the military crackdown was concluded. That report is available here.

The genesis of Nostitz’s comment on the HRW report is a poke he receives from one of the yellow-shirted antagonists who regularly comment at New Mandala, Vichai N. This Vichai asks about Nostitz and the HRW, sort of implying that Nostitz was unreliable [reliable we fixed a typo here] as he wasn’t cited in that rather biased and incomplete report. For PPT, Nostitz’s response is revealing of the methods used by HRW, and should come as no surprise to those who follow HRW’s side-taking in Thailand.

Nostitz reveals that “HRW investigators” interviewed him.” He then explains that HRW:

decided not to include my accounts, especially over the killing zone incident, as the believed another person who wasn’t even there during the incident and at the day, and had very little background knowledge or contacts (we had quite an argument during the interview over this, which pissed me off tremendously, especially as this was only a very short time after this whole mess, when i was psychologically still very stressed).

Nostitz goes no to explain that HRW “decided to believe the massive discrediting campaign that at the time was launched by the DP [Democrat Party-led] government against me, and decided not to listen to the people who supported me [his account]…”. He adds that the HRW account of the killings at Wat Pathum Wanaram was shallow and accepting of “simplistic” media stories.

Nick Nostitz

On the HRW report, he concludes: “It has merit, but also some weaknesses which could have been avoided.”

As an aside, Nostitz comments on the role played by HRW’s Sunai Phasuk, claiming that “contrary what many believe, was not part of the HRW report.” Given that Sunai is an employee of HRW and their designated “researcher,” this assertion demands more detail, especially as Sunai was reporting to HRW throughout the period the report discusses. Nostitz claims that “Sunai is one of the very few people here who are extremely knowledgeable, factual and objective, and do walk neutral ground.” Nostitz is simply wrong to claim that Sunai is “neutral.” While we agree that he is knowledgeable, PPT has demonstrated Sunai’s pro-coup bias (found here, here, here, here, here and here).





More lese majeste accusations by ultra-royalists

18 04 2011

Two items of interest are reported indicating the rightist/rightist mobilization of ultra-royalists for another round of battles with the red shirts and Puea Thai Party, including Thaksin Shinawatra.

The first item is in the Bangkok Post, in the same report we used in this post. It reports that a group calling itself Motherland Protection has met the chief of the political police known as the Department of Special Investigation, Tharit Pengdit, and called “on him to take legal action against the red shirt leaders for allegedly offending the monarchy during the rally [on 10 April].” The group seemed to be led by Monchai Rabruentaweesuk, who “accused the red shirt leaders, particularly Mr Jatuporn [Promphan], of offending the monarchy during their speeches at the rally.”

Tharit reponded that the DSI would “ask the Office of the Attorney-General to withdraw bail for the nine red shirt leaders who face fresh charges of lese majeste laid by the army.” See our earlier post on Tharit’s crazed interpretation of lese majeste. Political copper Tharit says this action “follows the DSI’s study of taped speeches by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leaders who addressed crowds that gathered last Sunday.” He added: “the DSI had made considerable progress in its inquiry into lese majeste allegations against 18 red shirt leaders who attended the rally.”

The second report is at New Mandala by Nick Nostitz, reporting on the arrival of red shirt leaders as a police station to file counter-charges against Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha. (See PPT’s earlier post on this here.) Nostitz reports on ultra-royalists being at the police station, apparently organized and waiting for the red shirts. He says:

… just in front of the police station about 200 to 300 “Monarchy Protection Volunteers” were protesting. Most of them were dressed in pink. They held portraits of the King and the Queen, and s[a]ng royalist songs…. The Monarchy Protection Volunteers announced their demands: the protection of the monarchy, to sponsor democracy, to keep the lese majeste laws in place, to call on people to protect the monarchy, and to ask journalists and the people to protect the monarchy. The name of their group was “Sahaphan Khon Thai Pok Bong Sathaban” (Federation of Thais Protecting the Monarchy), and their leader Rachen Trakulwieng claimed that they came from local Monarchy Protection Volunteer groups of several districts.

One of several photos by Nick Nostitz at New Mandala

Nostitz reports that the Monarchy Protection Volunteers were joined by “a few members of Dr. Tul’s group filed another lese majeste case against the Red Shirt leaders.” We assume that Nostitz refers to Tul Sitthisomwong, of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine. PPT has posted on Tul here previously, when he was busily organizing yellow shirts as pink shirts. Back then, Tul and his group were opposing an election (the red shirt’s demand) and the date of their mobilization is significant, being just a few days before the army’s first blundered attempt to suppress the red shirt rally. Tul’s group are reported to have said they had simply decided to join the Monarchy Protection Volunteers.

Nostitz observes:

This new group of the Monarchy Protection Volunteers was most definitely not People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and/or their many sub- and splinter groups, other than Dr. Tul’s group…. None of the color and professionalism of the PAD events was visible, and none of the regular participants of the PAD were there…. The organization of this group reminded me of Interior Ministry sponsored events I have seen previously, also several of the participants might have been soldiers out of uniform.

PPT has the same impression. It seems that the Army and Bhum Jai Thai Party-Ministry of Interior – probably masterminded by Newin Chidchob – are intent on driving up the political tension through the use of ultra-royalist “protesters.” We wonder if the pink shirts are recycled from earlier yellow shirt/pink shirt/no color mobilizations. As seems common for April, the political temperature is rising as the dinosaurs of Thai politics maneuver to get their way, trampling on democratic rights and political freedoms.





Further Updated: Tanthawut gets 13 years for lese majeste

15 03 2011

Nicholas Farrelly at New Mandala tells us: “Today Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul (ธันย์ฐวุฒิ ทวีวโรดมกุล, details on his case are here) learned his unlucky fate: he was sentenced to 13 years for transgressing Thailand’s draconian lese majeste law and breaching the Computer Crimes Act. A previous New Mandala post on his predicament, with a relevant picture, is available from the archive.”

Photo by Nick Nostitz

The Nation simply reports: “The Criminal Court Tuesday sentenced a man to 13 years in jail for offences relating to lese majeste. Thatawut Taweewarodomkul, the webmaster of www.norporchuusa.com, put messages deemed offending to the king on the web site between March 13 and March 15 last year. His pseudonym was Red Eagle. The court found this 38-year old man guilty of violating lese majeste and computer laws.” (**see Update 3 below)

Update 1: AP reports: “A Thai court has sentenced the administrator of an anti-government website to 13 years imprisonment on charges of defaming the monarchy and violating the computer crime act. The Criminal Court on Tuesday gave Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul 10 years on a charge of defaming the monarchy known as lese majeste. He received another three years after being found guilty of breaching a broadly defined Computer Crime Act. The 38-year-old ran a website affiliated with the anti-government Red Shirt movement whose aggressive street protests last year deteriorated into violence and were quashed by the army. Thailand’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech but the government has blocked access to thousands of web pages it considers subversive.”

The Bangkok Post reports: “The Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced the webmaster of a United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) website to a total of 13 years imprisonment for lese majeste and violating the Computer Crimes Act. The court found Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul, who was in charge of the website <www.norporchorusa.com>, guilty of lese majeste for posting articles which were deemed insulting to the high institution between March 13 and 15 last year. Thanthawut given a 10 year jail sentence for lese majeste and three years for violating the Computer Crimes Act.”

Update 2: Prachatai has reported that Thantawut’s 12-year old son wept when he heard the verdict. Thantawut’s lawyer, one of the lawyers based at the สำนักกฎหมายราษฎรประสงค์, which is taking on many new cases, immediately petitioned for temporary release and offered 1.3 million baht in cash as bond and noted that they would be appealing the case.

On the website of สำนักกฎหมายราษฎรประสงค์, Thantawut’s lawyers have posted accounts of observations of the trial. Well worth a read — and too beautifully written for PPT to attempt a translation. If you read Thai, check them out.

Update 3: Freedom Against Censorship Thailand has a post worth reading where a good point is made: “Let’s get something straight—Tantawut was not the NorPhorChorUSA’s webmaster which makes his conviction spurious in the extreme. We attended some of Tantawut’s trial last month and, from our own commonsense observation, we find his conviction beyond belief. In the trial sessions we attended, Tantawut’s defence clearly proved he was not the webmaster for the NorPhorChorUSA website—he had no administrator or password access to the site. Tantawut was only hired as the website’s designer and provided no content to the site. Police and govt witnesses proved no evidence to the contrary.” The report at FACT concludes: “Shame on Thailand!” PPT is in complete agreement.