Monarchy and (more) repression

16 06 2020

With repression being deepened, the prime minister who seized power in the 2014 military coup and who remains in power through military might, his junta’s constitution and rigged elections, has issued a stern warning about anti-monarchism.

Of course, it is no coincidence that this warning comes after the enforced disappearance of Wanchalaerm Satsaksit, the piling on of lese majeste-like computer crimes charges for young social media figure “Niranam_” and ongoing protests in Europe against the king.

With a minion when the king was once in Thailand

As in the past, the regime imagines a plot and a movement led by some unnamed anonymous puppet-master.

Gen Prayuth lamented that what he thinks are “violations” of the lese majeste law “had increased since its use ceased 2-3 years ago.” He reportedly said the king “has … instructed me personally over the past two to three years to refrain from the use of the Law…”. While we already knew this from the king-supporting Sulak Sivaraksa, this is, we think, the first time an official has acknowledged this instruction.

(As an aside, we want to emphasize that under the previous king, royalists defended him on lese majeste by saying he was powerless to do anything about the law. Vajiralongkorn showed what a pile of buffalo manure that excuse was.)

The unelected PM saw anti-monarchism as doubly troubling as he believed that the king, by not using Article 112, had shown “mercy,” and this was being “abused.”

Gen Prayuth called for “unity” by which he means that royalists must defend the monarchy: “Everyone who loves the nation, religion, and monarchy must come together.” Oddly, he warned about the danger of “violent revolutions.” And, Reflecting a broader royalist concern, he worried that “anti-monarchists may use the upcoming anniversary [24 June] of the 1932 democratic revolution to defame the monarchy.”

And he warned that people should “disregard any messages that aim to harbor hatred in the society.” He means anti-monarchism. He added a pointed remark that PPT thinks is a threat:

Those who are operating from abroad should think about what they should or shouldn’t do, where else could if they faced problems in that country? I feel pity as they are Thai citizens.

In what appears as a coordinated warning, the Watchman, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said “security officials” – that usually means the military – were already “investigating those involved” in this alleged anti-monarchist plot.

He was warning: “Once we get the list of names, we’ll prosecute them” using lese majeste-like laws including computer crimes and sedition.

Prayuth seemed to want Article 112 back, complaining that “[t]here were no such problems when Section 112 was in use,” which is actually buffalo manure. When the junta came to power, it repeatedly claimed republican plotting and used the lese majeste law more than any other regime, ever.

He went on to pile on lies and threats:

As a Thai, you must not believe distorted information or news from hatemongers because it’s not true. You must look behind [their motive] and see what they really want. … Why would you become their tool?

Targeting the young, he “urged people not to disseminate such information or click to read it, referring to social media.” It is easy to see why the regime has targeted “Niranam_”. They are making an example of him as a way to (they hope) silence others.

There’s also a hint that the regime is coming under pressure from royalists and perhaps even the palace itself to do something about the protests in Europe and criticism from exiles:

Regarding exiled people in neighbouring countries and Europe, he said the government had already sent letters asking those countries to send them back to Thailand if they caused trouble. “But when they don’t send them back, what do you expect the government to do?”

It seems clear that enforced disappearance and torture and murder is one outcome of displeasure with these dissidents.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

One response to these warnings has been social media disdain for the regime and the generals. Another response came from former Future Forward MP Pannika Wanich who called for the lese majeste law to be abolished: “they should get rid of this section of the criminal code as the MPs of the Move Forward Party have been saying in Parliament…”. For good measure, she also called for the Computer Crimes Act be amended.





Piling on computer-cum-lese majeste charges

11 06 2020

About a week ago, PPT posted on the prosecutor’s delay in the computer crimes-cum-lese majeste case against “Niranam_”, a Twitter name (meaning “Anonymous”). He is a 20-year-old Twitter user, accused of insulting the country’s monarchy.

Since Vajiralongkorn took the throne there has been a winding back of the use of the lese majeste law and, for the last couple of years, no cases that anyone has reported on. However, this change coincided with a rise in computer crimes and sedition charges against those accused of “insulting” the monarch and a string of enforced disappearances and murder of exiled anti-monarchy critics

In congruence with these trends, Prachatai reports that already arrested over a tweet about King Vajiralongkorn, “Niranam_” is now slapped with “7 more charges over tweets about the late King Rama IX and the King Rama X, seen as a threat to national security.”

The “threat” seems to be that “Niranam_” had tens of thousands of followers and especially teenagers.

The report states that “[i]f found guilty on all 8 charges, Niranam_ faces a maximum of 40 years in prison (maximum 5 years for each charge).”

He is now charged with uploading “false data” that included “photos of the two kings.” The charge is that there was “photo doctoring with the intention of undermining the monarch … tantamount to an offence against national security.”

Police are reportedly still investigating and then the state prosecutor will decide on which cases will go to court.

With the regime facing rising discontent and the absent king facing protests in Germany it seems that the knee-jerk regime/palace response is demonstrate its capacity for terror and repression through making examples of people like “Niranam_” and Wanchalearm Satsaksit.





Niranam in court on royal “insults”

4 06 2020

The king’s absent, but the repression continues. On 24 February, a 20 year-old called Niranam, accused of lese majeste-like computer crimes, was granted bail of 500,000 baht after being arrested on 19 February and having a couple of earlier bail requests rejected.

“Niranam_” is a Twitter name meaning “Anonymous,” and his more than a hundred thousand followers avidly read his posts that were critical of military politics. His comments on the monarchy saw him detained at the Pattaya Special Prison.

Thai Enquirer reports that as Niranam’s court appearance approached, the “hashtag #นิรนามต้องได้กลับมา (Anonymous must come home) was trending early on Thursday morning as a 20-year-old twitter user, accused of insulting the country’s monarchy, was set to go on trial in a court in Pattaya.”

When Niranam got to court, as is common for lese majeste and lese majeste-like cases, the prosecution is dragging the matter out. In the past, this has been an effort to get the accused to plead guilty.

Yesterday, it was reported that “the court postponed his trial because public prosecutors have not yet issued an indictment against him for an unspecified reason.”





Niranam gets bail

2 03 2020

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported a week ago that, on 24 February, a 20 year-old called Niranam, accused of lese majeste-like computer crimes involving the monarchy had been granted bail.

While his first two bail applications had been refused, and appeal against the second refusal finally resulted in bail being granted.

“Niranam_” is a Twitter name meaning “Anonymous,” and his more than a hundred thousand followers avidly read his posts that were critical of military politics. His comments on the monarchy saw him detained and then imprisoned at the Pattaya Special Prison.

His bail was apparently crowd-sourced to assist his parents make the guarantee.