More lese majeste horror

16 10 2015

Opas Charnsuksai, 67, was first arrested on 15 October 2014 and charged with lese majeste. He was convicted on 20 March 2015, by a military court, and sentenced to 3 years in jail, halved for the almost compulsory guilty plea required when the military court considers lese majeste cases.

The military court sent the elderly man to jail for writing messages defaming the monarchy in a shopping mall’s restroom. He had been arrested after soldiers were dispatched to Bangkok’s Seacon Square shopping mall and accused of writing allegedly anti-monarchy graffiti. Cleaning staff claim that Opas was seen writing the graffiti inside toilet stalls.

Now the military court has had him back before it. On 16 October 2015, it sentenced Opas to three more year of imprisonment for lese majeste. In a closed court appearance, the judges halved the sentence for the almost mandatory guilty plea. This sentence relates to another alleged instance of anti-monarchy wall scrawls at the same mall.

Opas now faces three years in jail. He cannot appeal the sentence as it was handed down by the military court.

Taking the two cases separately is a part of the torture associated with Thailand’s feudal judicial system under the military dictatorship.

Bathroom graffiti and lese majeste

21 03 2015

Yet another victim of the military junta’s use of the political and deeply feudal lese majeste law has been sentenced on 20 March 2015.

Prachatai reports that a military court has found Opas Charnsuksai, 67, guilty of writing lese majeste graffiti in a toilet in the Seacon Square shopping mall in Bangkok. He has been sentenced to three years in jail for “defaming the King” on the toilet’s wall. As is now “normal” in these cases, because Opas pleaded guilty, the jail term was halved.

Because of his poor health, Opas’ wife “wrote a letter asking for mercy of the court. The court explained that it cannot suspend the jail term because the message defamed the King and the given jail term is not severe.”

No mercy for graffiti seen to “defame” the precious and near death king. But did he defame the king? Prachatai states that the graffiti was:

The government of clowns that robbed the nation, led by f*** Prayuth [Chan-ocha]. They have issued ridiculous policies of amateur comedians. Their main job is to use the monarchy (uncle [censored by Prachatai*]). Their main weapon is Article 112. I’m sick of seeing your face [Prayuth] every day. It tells me that you [Prayuth] are near the end because of the looming internal conflict.

That sounds to us like a reasonable interpretation of The Dictator’s modus operandi.  It is pretty much criticism of the military dictatorship, The Dictator and the manner in which he uses lese majeste and the monarchy. That the palace ius a willing partner is left unsaid.

Opas has had bail requests repeatedly denied despite being a “diabetic and … battling with retinopathy.”

It is not over for Opas. He is “facing another lese majeste case for another message he wrote in a different restroom of the same department store on the same day. The case is now under investigation.”

Lese majeste bail

26 11 2014

A report in Prachatai states that lese majeste prisoner Opas Charnsuksai has been refused bail for a fourth time. He was first arrested on 15 October 2014 after being accused of posting anti-coup graffiti that was also claimed to be somehow anti-monarchy.

In chains - CopyMany readers will agree that there is nothing unusual in this for lese majeste cases. That is certainly true.

The grounds for refusal were the usual one in highly politicized cases: the charges are “serious” and the 67 year-old was a “flight risk.” While we might guess that the military courts and its “judges” are politically biased in any matter related to justice, they are just as politicized as the civilian court judges in lese majeste cases.

The refusal of bail is not necessarily illegal in a military court and under martial law, however, the refusal of bail is an infringement of human rights. In the case of lese majeste, a feudal law is enforced by a judicial system that is highly politicized and deeply royalist.

It is important that the international community take notice of the vast abuses of human rights and of law that are occurring in Thailand under the military dictatorship. The use of lese majeste to oppress and suppress has expanded hugely under the junta, but the international community is too quiet.

That an 67 year-old man is chained and kept in custody on charges related to a feudal institution is a disgrace.


Updated: Another bail refusal

14 11 2014

On lese majeste cases, almost no one charged ever gets bail. Sure, there are some cases, but these are a tiny minority of cases, with most having multiple bail applications rejected.

The most recent case reported is at Prachatai. A military court has refused bail to Opas Charnsuksai, a 67-year-old man, for a second time.

Charged with lese majeste for writing graffiti that lambasted the military dictatorship and The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha and which is also alleged to defame the king, the court wants the sick man locked up.

The court ruled that 2.5 million baht as a bail guarantee in a lese majeste case against an aged man. Claiming that he is a “flight risk,” the court also chains, but only the “light” chains because he is sick. Chains - Copy

Prachatai states:

Arriving at the military court with a fever and cold, Opas has been suffering from hypertension and visited the hospital regularly before being detained. The Bangkok Remand Prison recently moved him from Zone 1 or the Entry Zone to Zone 5, which is a lot more crowded and where conditions are much worse.

His custody, now exceeding 30 days, is claimed to be extended a third time because “the Crime Suppression Division … need to interrogate four more witnesses and [because it has] … not finished inspecting the suspect’s fingerprints.”

The CSD might be incompetent, but the detention of lese majeste detainees without bail is a standard punishment of suspects presumed guilty by the warped justice system.

Update: There is confusion in the reporting at Prachatai. We think this is the third refusal of bail.

10,000 lese majeste cases

1 11 2014

As most of readers would be aware, the number of lese majeste cases has seen a remarkable increase over the past decade, associated with the ongoing political conflict, where lese majeste has been used, almost exclusively by royalists, to silence critics and to maintain the political ascendency of the royalist elite.

Since the May 2014 coup, the military dictatorship has used the lese majeste law extensively to repress political dissent and to harass those it considers dangerous red shirts and anti-royalists. The military junta has claimed there is a widespread anti-monarchy movement that it has to suppress. In fact, as the cases brought to public attention indicate, there is no plot, just an awakening that the monarchy is the lynchpin of anti-democratic politics.

Just yesterday there was yet another example of the junta’s use of lese majeste against those who have had their eyes opened wide in recent years. Prachatai reports that a “military court in Bangkok on Friday rejected bail request of the man accused of writing messages defaming the King on restroom walls of a shopping malls, despite his illness” that threatens the 67 year-old’s sight.

Opas Charnsuksai was arrested for allegedly writing messages that were “anti-monarchy.” In fact, the graffiti he is accused of writing was an attack on The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and his use of monarchy and lese majeste.

The message of the graffiti appears accurate of the political situation, and says nothing libelous of the monarchy, but obviously angers The Dictator. The arrest of Opas really makes the point. Speaking and writing the truth is no defense when facing the self-declared royalist military dictatorship.

The extent of the lese majeste dragnet and the huge fear it creates has been revealed when The Nation reports that Police Colonel Somporn Dangdee, deputy commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, told an Chulalongkorn University seminar that the police have “dealt with more than 10,000 cases of lese majeste in recent years…”.

This number of “cases” was not explained, but the action began under the previous government. The thought-control cop stated:

“Police have monitored illegal behaviour continuously. We have not just become serious after the National Council for Peace and Order took over control of the country. We started since the previous government. Until now, we have dealt with more than 10,000 cases…”.

He added that “more arrests had been made after the coup, particularly in cases where the offence was committed through social media and the Internet. More cases have been brought to court since martial law was imposed.”

The lese majeste terror is unlikely to be scaled back. The military’s coup in 2014 is simply another royalist coup, and the dictators will continue to use the monarchy to bolster its rule and lese majeste to batter its opponents.


Lese majeste repression heightened

22 10 2014

PPT isn’t really sure how much deeper and tighter the repression of the lese majeste law can get. The military dictatorship’s crude use of this form of political repression has exceeded that of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. That regime’s wanton use of the draconian law spurred PPT into life in 2009. Things are far worse today.

Usually, the use of lese majeste to censor and repress tells us two things. The first is pretty obvious, and that is that the regime using the law is seeking to demonstrate its ultra-royalism/ultra-“loyalty”. Second, the use of the law is a measure of the regime’s fear. For the military dictatorship, the fear is palpable. The fear is that the royalist regime is not just facing  deep crisis but is in terminal decline. That existential crisis is so great that the corrupt, unimaginative and intellectually inept military regime can only lash out at those perceived as opponents.

Prachatai has three examples of the royalist military dictatorship thrashing about and lashing out.

The first story at Prachatai explains that a military court has decided to conduct two lese majeste trials in secret, “claiming that the charges were related to the monarchy and hence to the national security…”. The report states that “the trials of Kathawut B., a red-shirt radio host whose programs allegedly contained lese majeste contents, and a man who asked not to be named would be proceeded in camera.”

This is not the first time that lese majeste trials have been secret political trials (see here and here).

Representatives from the European Union and the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights who were to observe the trials were turned away.

Prachatai reports taht the next court sitting for both cases “will be around end of November.”

A second report at Prachatai notes that a military court has “rejected a bail request of a man [Opas Charnsuksai] who wrote messages mainly criticizing the junta and allegedly making reference to the king in a shopping mall’s restrooms.” Refusing bail is the norm in lese majeste cases and infringes human and legal rights.

Finally, the third Prachatai story again involves Fa Diaw Kan/Same Sky, where the military harassment is unending. This time the military has banned the publisher’s “t-shirts, one of which has the image of a dinosaur, with possible charges of lèse majesté.” The shirts, which the military thugs took away “for inspection” are described:

A white t-shirt with a Jurassic Park logo and the message “The Lost World of Monarchical Absolutism.” The image was derived from the theme of the issue of the Same Sky Journal published in 2012.
A blue t-shirt with a tree in the middle. The root of the tree reads “Constitutional Monarchy” that grows into a tree formed from the text “Absolute Monarchy”. It is an image from the journal published in 2011.
The last one is the cult symbol of “Khun Sab Sueng” or Mr Grateful with his mouth zipped shut. The symbol of Khun Sab Sueng, normally shown crying, has been used by the anti-establishment to mock the ultra-royalists.

The fear in the royalist regime is palpable.

Updated: Lese majeste in the toilet

18 10 2014

It is widely reported that a gang of soldiers dispatched to a Bangkok shopping mall has arrested a man identified as Opas Charnsuksai for anti-monarchy graffiti.

Cleaning staff at Seacon Square claim that Opas was “seen writing anti-monarchy graffiti inside toilet stalls in several of the mall’s bathrooms.” Opas was arrested on 15 October and will face trial in military court.

Opas, paraded before reporters, told them “he wrote the remarks because was angry about the coup and wanted to express his discontent. He said he wanted to leave anonymous messages because he was unable to air his opinions openly due to lese majeste laws.”

According to a Prachatai report, the alleged messages “mainly criticized the junta leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Democrat [Party] government which ruled the country from 2011 to 2013 [they mean 2008 to 2011]. They condemned the two governments for abusing Article 112.”

According to Prachatai, one of the pieces of graffiti read:

The government of clowns that robbed the nation, led by f*** Prayuth. They have issued ridiculous policies of amateur comedians. Their main job is to use the monarchy (uncle [censored by Prachatai is allegedly a reference to the King, merely describes a physical description of a person]). Their main weapon is Article 112. I’m sick of seeing your face [Prayuth] every day. It tells me that you [Prayuth] are near the end because of the looming internal conflict.

Naturally, under arrest with military and police pressing him, Opas said he “now regrets his actions and ‘incorrect’ thoughts about the monarchy.” He added that his opinions were “based on what I read in the media…. I want to caution the public … to carefully consider which media information is right and wrong. Don’t jump to conclusions.”

According to a military officer, Opas “regularly listened to a community radio station” blaming this for “an incorrect understanding about the monarchy.” Presumably the royalist military thugs have told Opas to say this as it smears community radio associated with red shirts.

The same royalist military thug stated: “I don’t want the people to have incorrect understanding about the Higher Institution…. [he means the monarchy] Listening to information can lead to misunderstanding. I want the people who still think and act in this way to stop their behaviour before they are arrested.”

The problem for the military is that many people now have a far more realistic view of the monarchy, its politics and its fabulous wealth than the royalist propaganda permits. The military’s alliance with the monarchy in the 21st century has been toxic for democracy, human rights and equitable development.

Update: Anti-coup graffiti-ist Opas told Prachatai that “the community radio station has actually been defunct for two years and that Burin [the Army Lt. Col.] instructed him to say that he was brainwashed by the radio station.” The dopey and royalist Lt. Col. Burin Thongpraphai “told reporters that “the comments that the suspects made were clear. He can criticise the government, but not the monarchy. There will be many people like this if people consume news without filtering.” Well, we hope people get out there and criticize the military dictatorship! But, of course, this is just more lies from the military, who seem to think that the public in Thailand are as daft as the military is as an institution and individually, at least at the top.

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