Seeing red

21 03 2017

As the junta approaches the anniversary of its third year of military dictatorship, it is going through another phase of red shirt repression. The regime is again seeing reds under its beds and it doesn’t like it.

There are frantic junta imaginations of fantastical red shirt assassination plots, reds infiltrating Wat Dhammakaya, separatist rebellion and more.

This reaction appears to derive from two closely related perceptions: first, a view that any opposition is an immediate threat to the junta’s stability; and second, a desire for regime longevity, where “regime” is the broader elite military-monarchy-business alliance.

At least an element of this perception derives from yellow-shirted and anti-democratic grumbling about the junta having lost its zeal for “reform” – defined as rooting out the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. That grumbling has also been associated with some southern protests over ports and cola-fired power stations. It seems the junta felt its right wing was weakening in its support.

The result has been an intensification of both anti-Thaksinism and anti-red shirt repression.

The targeting of Thaksin has involved an effort to levy Thaksin for past taxes due (although we had somehow thought that the assets stripping case was part of the “tax’) and going after loyalists in a series of legal cases.

The anti-red shirt effort has been frenzied of late, with the Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee weapons and assassination stories and the earlier (and probably related in the minds of the junta) plots said to be originating in Laos.

At the same time, the courts have been at work, dealing with red shirt cases. The most recent of those sees the Appeals Court upholding a “lower court’s sentence of a four-year jail term each, without suspension, for singer Arisman Pongruangrong and 12 other red-shirts for leading protesters who forced their way into the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel in Pattaya, where the 2009 Asean Summit was being held.”

(What has happened with the yellow shirt occupation of airports in 2008?)

They were prosecuted “for defying an order prohibiting a rally of more than 10 people and causing unrest.”

(What has happened to all the yellow shirts who broke similar laws?)

In early 2015, they were sentenced to four years each in jail, without suspension, and a fine of 200 baht. Those sentenced were:

Arisman Pongruangrong, Nisit Sinthuprai, Payap Panket, Worachai Hema, Wanchana Kerddee, Pichet Sukjindathong, Sakda Noppasit, Pol Lt Col Waipot Aparat, Nopporn Namchiangtai, Samrerng Prachamrua, Somyot Promma, Wallop Yangtrong and Singthong Buachum.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, which sentences the 13 to four years each in jail without suspension. Bail may follow, but the threat is clear.

This is a pattern seen previously, although the junta does appear more frantic in its efforts at present.





Jatuporn needs protection from royalist judiciary’s threats

26 06 2012

The Office of the Constitution Court had said it was to hold a press conference yesterday to “explain” why it had petitioned the Criminal Court seeking revocation of red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan’s bail on “terrorism” charges laid by the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

The royalist judiciary threaten Jatuporn with more jail time

At The Nation it is reported that the Office of the Constitution Court cancelled the press conference “to avoid provoking further red-shirt action.” The court official also reportedly felt that the Criminal Court was already on the job, so there was no need for any “explanation.” Or, in their terms, the “Constitution Court had decided to refrain from acting in a way that could be viewed as attempting to interfere with the Criminal Court’s authority.”

We wonder if reporters burst into laughter on this statement. They should have. The Constitutional Court is frightened too:

The spokesman said yesterday that a request for police protection had been made by the court for Jatuporn’s planned visit today to seek the court’s explanation. “We are concerned he may bring his [red-shirt] supporters,” the spokesman said. He added, however, that the judges were not worried.

Jatuporn denies any threat.

In fact, it is Jatuporn who is threatened by a nakedly biased judiciary. He has been repeatedly investigated and charged under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, and the kangaroo courts have repeatedly done the royalist’s bidding.

The accusation that Jatuporn was a “terrorist” was made formal on 11 August 2010 when, with 25 suspects including Thaksin Shinawatra, Arisman Pongruengrong, Karun Hosakul, Veera Musigapong, Weng Tojirakan, Natthawut Saikua, Kwanchai Sarakham, Phayab Pankate, and Nisit Sinthuprai, Jatuporn was named in a case brought to court by the public prosecutor. All who were located were jailed, although Jatuporn and Nisit were kept in jail longer than the others as “special punishment”, and only bailed following the July 2011 election.

Jatuporn has been accused by Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha of lese majeste. He laid a complaint of lese majeste with the police following speeches by Jatuporn on 10 April 2011. On 18 April 2011, along with 18 other red shirt leaders were summoned by the political police at the Department of Special Investigation to acknowledge charges of lese majeste.

In mid-May that the Constitutional Court came up with a bizarre ruling to have Jatuporn stripped of his status as a party list MP.

The Constitutional Court now wants to have Jatuporn locked up in a stinking jail again.

Not only is the continuing pattern of the court’s bias readily seen, but Jatuporn is really the one being threatened! He needs to be protected from this biased royalist judiciary!





Yingluck is PM and Jatuporn has bail

5 08 2011

This is mainly a post of record, noting the expected rise of Yingluck Shinawatra to the premiership and the long-awaited release on bail of red shirt leader and Puea Thai Party MP Jatuporn Promphan.

The Bangkok Post states that a “total of 296 MPs voted in support of Ms Yingluck, the country’s first female prime minister, while three MPs voted against her, with 197 abstentions by the opposition, including the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties.” It adds that the “opposition did not nominate a candidate for the top job.”

Amongst other things we hope that Yingluck’s administration will seek to promote long-neglected human rights issues, including the reform/abolition of the lese majeste and computer crimes laws. Indeed, her administration must undo much of the degradation of human rights that took place under the military-backed, royalist regime fronted by Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The Post also reports on the position of Jatuporn, released on bail, with another red-shirt leader Nisit Sinthuprai. Jatuporn reported for duty at parliament. He continues to face charges of terrorism and lese majeste.

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship chair Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn led other red shirts in demanding “that remaining red-shirt leaders and supporters in detention over last year’s protests be released on bail if the government was serious about achieving national reconciliation.”

Thida said that the UDD “would monitor red shirt MPs’ performance in the House to ensure they adhere to the democratic principle.”





A DSI accounting

18 07 2011

Prachatai has an important post, reproduced in full below, on the Department of Special Investigation’s political cases under investigation and completed:

The Department of Special Investigation has been investigating 258 cases involving protest rallies of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and 29 cases of offences against the monarchy.

The 258 cases include 147 cases of terrorism and sabotage, 22 cases of threats made against the government, 69 cases of attacks against the public and authorities, and 20 cases of abuse of state weaponry.

One terrorist case, for example, involves 25 suspects including Thaksin Shinawatra, Arisman Pongruengrong, Karun Hosakul, Jatuporn Phrompan, Veera Musigapong, Weng Tojirakan, Natthawut Saikua, Kwanchai Sarakham, Phayab Pankate, and Nisit Sinthuprai. All except the first two have been arrested or have turned themselves in. The case was brought to court by the public prosecutor on 11 August 2010. The case against Maj Gen Khattiya Swasdiphol has been dismissed as he died.

Another terrorist case involves 8 suspects who have been arrested or have turned themselves in and 5 more who are still at large. The court has merged this with the previous case at the request of the public prosecutor.

Among these 258 cases, suspects have been arrested in 58 cases, are still at large in 21 cases, and are unknown in 179 cases. So far the DSI has completed investigations into 91 cases.

Among 62 cases of arson — 49 in Bangkok and 13 in other provinces — the DSI has arrested suspects and completed investigations in 14 cases, all of which have been brought to court by the public prosecutor.

64 cases of terrorism/sabotage — 53 in Bangkok and 11 in other provinces — involve 642 suspects; 274 have been arrested, 366 are still at large and two have died including Gen Khattiya and Samai Wongsuwan, who was killed in a bomb explosion in an apartment in Bang Bua Thong, Nontaburi in October 2010. Among those still at large, 74 have been identified while 292 are sought based on photographs.

In its investigation into 89 deaths, the DSI has concluded that 13 were caused by the authorities who claimed to be acting in the line of duty, 12 by the UDD and 64 unknown.

The 29 cases of offences against the monarchy include, for example, a case in which the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation lodged a complaint against Thaksin and 39 others for disseminating materials offensive to the monarchy either directly to the public or through the internet between 19 September 2006 and 3 May 2010 within and outside Thailand.

In this case, the DSI is now investigating the connections among individuals and groups of individuals based on evidence acquired through investigation process.

The DSI has been seeking international cooperation under the International Cooperation in Criminal Cases Act on cases involving Giles Ungphakorn for his article posted on the internet on 29 October 2009, Jakrapob Penkair for his public speech made in the US on 10 November 2007, and Thaksin Shinawatra for his statement in English distributed to international press (no specific date reported).

The department has contacted the AFP news agency for information and interrogation in the latter case.

Thaksin also faces another case involving his video-link address to a red-shirt rally at a Chiang Mai sports stadium on 22 March 2009.

Kokaew Pikulthong, a UDD leader, is involved in a case for his speech at the same event.

Surachai Danwatthananusorn, or Sae Dan, who has been arrested and detained without bail since 22 Feb this year for lèse majesté for a public speech during a red-shirt activity on 18 Dec 2010, faces another two cases involving speeches at Doi Saked, Chiang Mai, on 11 September 2010 and in Udon Thani on 29 October 2010.

Veera Musigapong’s case involves his speech at a UDD rally in Sanam Luang on 6 May 2008.

Jatuporn Phrompan, now on remand on terrorist charges, also faces another case for his remarks during a UDD rally at the Democracy Monument on 10 April this year.





Still locked up

27 06 2011

The Bangkok Post has this small report: “The Appeals Court on Monday upheld the Criminal Court’s decision to reject a request for the release on bail of Jatuporn Prompan and Nisit Sinthuprai, who have been charged with terrorism in connection with the April-May violence last year. The court ruled that the charges against the two are serious and they could disturb peace and order if released. Winyat Chartmontree, a lawyer for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said he was preparing another request to the Criminal Court, seeking permission for Mr Jatuporn to be taken out of jail to vote on July 3.





Forget the election

21 06 2011

It is probably already time to move beyond the election. Why? It seems that while the Democrat Party has seemingly descending into a negative campaign, this is not simply a desperate attempt to turn the flow of votes to the Puea Thai Party. Rather, this approach is part of a campaign to destabilize any pro-Thaksin Shinawatra government that results from the election.

The past few days have indicated the broad shape of this campaign. First, the military brass have shown that it won’t countenance a Puea Thai government for long.

Second, the attacks on red shirts that are unceasing and the provocations directed to them are attempting to provoke more violence. Keeping senior red shirts locked up continues as Jatuporn Promphan and Nisit Sinthuprai have again been denied bail. Keeping your opponents locked up may be a pathetic strategy, but it does show where the courts stand.

Third, there is a broad and coordinated attack on Yingluck Shinawatra and Puea Thai. PPT has mentioned the Election Commission investigating “heckling.” The EC has now even encouraged Suthep Thaugsuban to lodge an official complaint. This approach is now going further, with the People’s Alliance for Democracy petitioning the EC to dissolve the Puea Thai Party. The reason given is that the party is said to be “under the directives of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is under a five-year political ban.”

We don’t expect that this will go far as the EC would probably also need to dissolve Bhum Jai Thai and several others. PAD might like that, but we suspect it isn’t desirable to throw out potential political allies. Even so, we think the dissolution route is likely.

A further attack is the revived Securities and Exchange Commission investigation that we mentioned in an earlier post. It is now clear that the pressure on the SEC was not just from PAD’s Tul Sitthisomwong and the rabid anti-Thaksin lawyer Kaewsan Atibhodhi. The Bangkok Post reports that the pressure has come from caretaker Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij. He is said to have “demanded the Securities and Exchange Commission clarify within one week the legal position of Pheu Thai No.1 list candidate Yingluck Shinawatra.” Korn is apparently urging the SEC to reconsider the legality of Ms Yingluck’s shares report in the asset concealment case against Thaksin.” He stated: “The SEC has not clarified all questions…. My legal team inspecting the case has found evidence of possibly illegal acts.”

There are two items in this report that demand attention: (1) should a caretaker minister be making political orders? and (2) Korn is back in bed with his PAD buddies. Expect much more of this linking of the Democrat Party and its allies from 2005, even if some reckon PAD has gone off the party.

This is clearly the beginning of a campaign to render a Puea Thai government – if there is one – weak, prior to getting rid of it. If Thailand had ground hogs, it would feel like the movie and Bill Murray would play Prem Tinsulanonda.

 





Bangkok 19 case delayed

3 06 2011

According to MCOT News, while it was expected that the Bangkok 19 – all red shirt leaders – were to be charged this week, it seems the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has agreed to “postpone the appearance date for 19 top members of the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the Red Shirt movement, for lese majeste charges to July 7…”.

Top political police chief Tharit Pengdit “said DSI earlier summoned 19 leading UDD members to hear lese majeste charges today, but the Red Shirt activists asked for a postponement, saying they must take part in political activities related to the July 3 general election considered crucial for them under their practice of democratic principles.” Ten of the 19 are standing in the election.

It seems odd that the DSI agrees to this while keeping Jatuporn Promphan and Nisit Sinthuprai locked up at the Bangkok Remand Prison. Perhaps the DSI’s definition of democracy has several different standards.

 





Bangkok 18 becomes Bangkok 19

23 05 2011

Apologies for again being slow with this post. PPT is continuing to experience difficulties in keeping up with the volume of material on lese majeste.

The Bangkok Post reported on 21 May that the political police at the Department of Special Investigation “will summon 19 red shirt leaders to hear lese majeste charges related to remarks made during a rally early last month.”

PPT earlier posted on this and added a Bangkok 18 post to our page of pending cases. We’ll need to change that to the Bangkok 19 as DSI chief Tharit Pengdit added Payap Panket to the list of those to be charged.

The other 18 are: Weng Tojirakarn, Nattawut Saikua, Korkaew Pikulthong, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, Karun Hosakul, Yoswaris Chuklom, Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Veera Musigapong, Chinawat Haboonpat, Wichian Kaokham, Suporn Atthawong, Kwanchai Sarakham (Praiphana), Nisit Sinthuprai, Prasit Chaisisa, Worawut Wichaidit, Laddawan Wongsriwong, Jatuporn Promphan and Somchai Paiboon.

Tharit said a “summons will be issued on Monday [23 May] and sent to the red shirt suspects by mail. They will have 10 days to prepare prior to appearing before authorities on June 2.”

While he can’t complete investigations into the deaths and injuries of April and May 2010, the puppet-like Tharit can get lese majeste cases sown up in a jiffy (as long as they are against the regime’s opponents).

DSI plans to “take the suspects to the Criminal Court to request their detention. The DSI will also go to Bangkok Remand Prison to file charges against red shirt leaders Jatuporn Prompan and Nisit Sinthuprai, who are detained there.”

Tharit also revealed that the DSI is taking over yet another lese majeste case that “involves six community radio stations which allegedly broadcast Mr Jatuporn’s April 10 remarks which were deemed offensive to the monarchy.”

Just because there is a bit of reformist lese majeste static about doesn’t mean that the political police aren’t on the job. Thailand remains a dangerous place for opposition activists. The royalists are keen to crush them.





Jailing opponents

13 05 2011

As many readers will already know, the Criminal Court on Thursday revoked the bail of United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders Jatuporn Promphan and Nisit Sinthuprai, sending them to jail. The two were among the nine UDD leaders charged with “terrorism” following the April and May 2010 uprising.

The Abhisit Vejjajiva government has been trying to jail Jatuporn since last year, but have been thwarted by his status as a parliamentarian. This is the first opportunity that the regime has had to silence the outspoken critic as his MP status lapsed when the election was called.

One of the claims by state prosecutors is that the speeches they made on a UDD’s stage on 10 April constituted lese majeste. The Court appears to have ruled that parts of the speeches made by Jatuporn and Nisit “could lead to chaos in the country and were in breach of the bail conditions. As a result, the court handed down a verdict to withdraw bails for both of them but dropped petition of bail revocation against the seven others.”

The Bangkok Post states that lese majeste was recognized by the Court in this decision, stating that their speeches “were dangerous and a threat to national security.”

Jatuporn and Nisit were promptly taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison which will not receive visitors until 17 May, adding two more political prisoners to the list of those locked up for political “crimes” in Abhisit’s royalist Thailand.

Jatuporn is a popular MP and a candidate for the Puea Thai Party and the arrest can be seen as yet a further attempt to manipulate the outcome of the polls so that they favor the royalist Democrat Party. Some prefer to see the detention as “an attempt to provoke red shirt supporters with the aim of preventing the election from taking place.”

Others in the Puea Thai Party remain concerned about the propaganda value to the government by this linking of Jatuporn to the anti-monarchy movement.

PPT tends to think that the abhorrence of Jatuporn amongst the elite backers of the Democrat Party is only a tad below the hatred they have for Thaksin Shinawatra. At the same time, Jatuporn is admired and popular amongst grassroots red shirts, and his jailing may increase Puea Thai votes. The Democrat Party are probably calculating that this spike in support will be in areas where red shirts will already dominate. PPT thinks that they may well be mistaken.

One area where the impact of this arrest will be especially important will be in driving more into the anti-monarchy movement. Jatuporn’s popularity and arrest will be yet another “eye-opening” moment for many at the grassroots. The already declining status of the monarchy is likely to be accelerated by this move. The royalist elite simply cannot understand the nature of this change.





18 red shirts charged with lese majeste

18 04 2011

From Prachatai

In an expected update to PPT’s many posts on this topic post-10 April, 18 red shirts have been summoned by the political police at the Department of Special Investigation to acknowledge charges of lese majeste.

As PPT understands it, the 18 charged are: Weng Tojirakarn, Nattawut Saikua, Korkaew Pikulthong, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, Karun Hosakul, Yoswaris Chuklom, Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Veera Musigapong, Chinawat Haboonpat, Wichian Khaokham, Suporn Atthawong, Kwanchai Sarakham (Praiphana), Nisit Sinthuprai, Prasit Chaisisa, Worawut Wichaidit, Laddawan Wongsriwong, Jatuporn Promphan and Somchai Paiboon.

The Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been heavily criticized going nuclear on lese majeste. The Post says this:

Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha had acted within his authority when he ordered the Judge Advocate General Department to file lese majeste charges against Mr Jatuporn, Puea Thai MP for Udon Thani Wichian Khaokham and former Puea Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima Suporn Atthawong.

“Soldiers act in line with the constitution, which says the army is duty-bound to protect and uphold the institution of the monarchy,” Col Sansern said.

In a sign of how politicized the Army is, the Post adds:

An army source said yesterday more than 1,000 soldiers attached to the army’s st Division (Royal Guards) will today gather for military training at the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bang Khen district, in what is seen by observers as a show of support for the army commander.

PPT thinks we’ll just refer to these 18 as the Bangkok 18 and list them at our Pending Cases. The same report in the Post lists one further complaint of lese majeste. We will report that in a separate post.

We are having trouble keeping up with the mad use of lese majeste to repress opposition.