Intimidate, repress, and control II

30 01 2022

The repression of heavy suppression of protesters and activists has been intense. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights recently published a report that states “at least 1,747 people in 980 cases have been prosecuted due to political protests and expression since the Free Youth Rally on 18 July 2020 until 25 December 2021.”

Only 150 of these cases have been concluded, meaning that hundreds of people are tied up in various legal procedures or are being held without bail. This reflects the regime’s use of lawfare.

In 2021 alone, “1,513 new people in 835 cases have been politically accused, accounting for an almost 7-fold increase compared to the number in the second half of 2020.”

Notably, there was a sharp rise in arrests and prosecutions “during the three-month period between August to October. The period coincided with a heightened political tension as a result of car mob events in various provinces, almost daily protests by various groups in Bangkok, and series of “Talu-Gas” protests at Din Daeng Intersection and the surrounding areas.”

Lese majeste charges were filed against at least 127 “new” people in 104 cases, while sedition charges were filed against at least 55 “new” people in 16 cases. As for the “key political leaders accused between 18 July 2020 and 25 December 2021 …[TLHR] found that:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak has 43 cases.

Panupong “Mike” Jadnok has 30 cases.

Anon Nampa has 24 cases.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has 24 cases.

Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa has 19 cases.

Benja Apan has 19 cases.

Another TLHR report states that “at least 291 activists and citizens, 39 of whom concerned youths under 18 years old, received house visits or were summoned for talks by authorities. These numbers do not include cases where authorities went to deliver summon warrants or make an arrest as part of a prosecution.” Most of this surveillance was in the northeast.

The repression continues and deepens.





Criticism, monarchy, and lese majeste torture

29 12 2021

Jatuphat in jail on an earlier 112 charge

Khaosod reports that monarchy-reform protesters Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok “will no longer apply for bail after repeated refusals to grant them bail while they face multiple lese majeste charges.”

Their attorney, Krisadang Nutcharus said that it is “now be up to the criminal court to consider whether to let the four be released so they could have a fair chance to fight the cases or not.”

Krisadang explained: “The court has the power to end the temporary detention. I will continue to assist [the defendants] but they think the court no longer wants to let them out on bail…”.

The four state that the repeated bail denials means that they are unable to “prepare themselves to fight a fair trial and goes against the international obligations Thailand has to the international community.”

The report quotes former lese majeste political prisoner, Akechai Hongkangwarn. He believes the four now know that:

Penguin during an earlier period in jail. Clipped from Prachatai

they won’t be released before the verdicts are handed [down]. They have requested for bail many times and the repeated denials left them with bitterness. They will probably spend next year in prison if not longer. I understand them and those outside the prison must carry on. If they don’t come out onto the streets, the chance of the four being forgotten would increase…”.

That’s exactly what the regime, palace – with the spendthrift and erratic king back in Thailand – and courts wants: to silence them and to keep them locked up so that the protests lose momentum and leadership. It is also the well-used tactic of keeping those accused of lese majeste locked up until they plead guilty, thus avoiding a proper trial. Several former political prisoners suffered under this neo-feudal system for several years.

Clipped from The Nation

Meanwhile, Thai PBS has a year-ender on criticism of the monarchy and calls for change. It gets some things wrong. For example, it claims: “Before the birth of the youth-led protest movement in 2020, criticism of the monarchy and calls for changes to the institution [monarchy] were only limited to academia.” Only the historically dimwitted could make such a claim. It demeans earlier criticism of the monarchy. Think of some of the red shirts and the students of 1973-76 as two examples. At the same time, it should be noted that academics calling criticizing the monarchy were thin on the ground.

In many ways, as they acknowledge themselves, the current reformers draw on a legacy going back to 1932. And, it is true that this round of questioning the monarchy has meant that the monarchy has been “widely discussed in Thai society.” That’s a real achievement but has come at great cost to the reformers as the lese majeste and other repressive laws have been used and police have attacked and arrested demonstrators (and others).

As the Thai PBS article observes, the judiciary has become crucial in opposing the reformers. Not only does it lock them up, but the “Constitutional Court verdict last month seemed designed to silence the discussion [about the monarchy and reform].”

In a ludicrous verdict, the court ruled that speeches on monarchy reform “amounted to attempts to overthrow the country’s democratic system with the King as head of state.” But the threat of lese majeste charges against those reporting accurately about monarchy and reform has silenced critical voices and made the media compliant. So much so that the mainstream media barely even reports on lese majeste cases.





Another year of repression

27 12 2021

Even with the virus, most people have been celebrating the holidays. But, as Prachatai reports, nothing of the sort is possible for those jailed without bail on lese majeste charges.

Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa have again denied bail in an act of lese majeste torture. The four have already spent some 3-4 months in jail pending trial.

Of course, in line with lese majeste torture protocols, the courts are in no hurry to get these political prisoners into a trial.

Clipped from VOA News – a Reuters photo

A bail request was submitted to the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court on 17 December.  As expected from the royalist courts, on 24 December the court “ruled to leave its former order unchanged out of concern that the four, if released, would commit the same offences again.”

The court rejected an undertaking by the “four detainees [who] affirmed that, if released, they would abide by previous Court conditions to not engage in any activities damaging to the monarchy, take part in protests causing public disorder, flee the country, or violate Court-mandated travel restrictions.”

The regime and, we assume, the absent monarch, prefer to keep these young people locked up. They fear the anti-monarchism that has grown and that is (temporarily) repressed.

From Prachatai’s Facebook page

Protesters had gathered at the Court to support the political prisoners. After bail was refused, the protesters “burned a judge uniform and the Criminal Code textbook and sprayed paint all over the Court entrance area.” Meanwhile, “Thatchapong Kaedam, another prominent figure in the protest movement, said that next year, the people will continue to call for change and the intensity of the demonstrations will escalate.”

This is now the normal court contribution to political repression: at least another 16 people “are being detained pending trial or police investigation of their participation in political protests and confrontations with the police over the past year.”

Over the longer period from July 2020 to October 2021, according to the Thai Enquirer, 1,636 people in 896 cases have faced lawsuits for their political participation and expression, including 258 minors.

Of that, 1,337 are being prosecuted for alleged violations of the emergency decree which came into effect in March 2020, 107 are being prosecuted for the alleged violations of the Public Assembly Act, 97 for alleged violations of the Computer Crime Act, 112 for sedition and 154 for lese-majeste.

In addition to the politicized judiciary, the royalist regime has also used violence to repress anti-monarchism. According to a report by the Thai Enquirer, in 2021, more than “500 people were injured from protest-related violence in 2021…”. Dozens of them were children, with one 15 year-old was killed.

Of the total, 347 civilians, including 88 minors were injured. Reflecting the regime’s attempts to also suppress the media, 29 journalists were injured, including several who were targeted with rubber bullets. In addition, three medical volunteers and two bystanders were injured. Many more injuries went unreported.146 police officers  and one soldier were injured.

The police have become especially aggressive, having replaced the military as the frontline troops in repressing protest. Emphasizing this, as Prachatai reports, another “20 protesters and activists have been charged with violation of the Emergency Decree for participating in the 28 November 2021 rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection to call for marriage equality.” They are also charged with obstructing traffic.

LGBTQ protesters are now seen as threatening and in need of repression. Of course, pro-monarchy and pro-regime groups face no such police action,

The activists of the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality say “that the rally was an exercise of their legal rights and freedoms, and that the charges against them amount to a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP.”

They add that they are “willing to fight the charges to show that they are free to think and are protected by the civil rights enshrined in the Constitution. They are also considering filing complaints against the officers who file charges against them.”

For a perspective on Thailand’s authoritarianism, see this article.





Anti-112 rally

13 12 2021

Protesters from a range of groups rallied in Bangkok on Sunday at the Ratchaprasong intersection to oppose the use of the lese majeste law. Groups mentioned include Talu Gas, Talu Fah, the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration, the Feminist Liberation Front of Thailand, We Volunteer and the 24 June Democracy Group.

While the crowd was larger than the authorities expected, the reporting in the mainstream media is sparse. Self-censorship and regime pressure appears to be stifling reporting.

Clipped from The Nation

While Thai PBS and The Nation have shirt reports, the most extensive report we saw is at Thai Newsroom.

Speakers included political activist and former lese majeste detainee Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, leader of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration Natchanon Pairoj and Natpakorn Nammuang from the Internet Law Reform Dialogue or iLaw.

In his speech, as well as criticizing the Constitutional Court’s outlawing of reform, Somyos stated that over 230,000 people had so far signed a petition on repealing Article112.

Protesters also offered support for jailed pro-democracy leaders Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak and Panupong Jardnok.





Updated: Arbitrary detention

2 12 2021

On 26 November 2021, law NGO Destination Justice (Facebook page) filed an Urgent Action to the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Thai activists Parit Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

The submission asks the Working Group to “declare Parit and Panusaya’s current arrest and detention as arbitrary and in violation of international law.” In addition, Destination Justice “called upon the United Nations to request the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Parit and Panusaya and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them.”

From Destination Justice

Here’s the information from Destination Justice:

GENEVA, Switzerland, Friday, 26 November 2021 // Destination Justice has today filed an Urgent Action to the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Thai human rights defenders Mr. Parit Chiwarak (also known as “Penguin”) and Ms. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul (also known as “Rung”).

The Urgent Action requests the United Nations body to declare Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s current arrest and detention as arbitrary and in violation of international law.

Destination Justice has also called upon the United Nations to request the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya are amongst the highest profile, most outspoken protesters in a mass protest movement in Thailand calling for socio-political change, including monarchic reform.

They have been repeatedly arrested and detained for participating in peaceful protests, expressing opinions, and otherwise exercising fundamental freedoms protected under international law.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya are currently being detained pending trial on charges including for lese-majesty under Criminal Code section 112, which has a sentence of up to 15 years.

Overall, Mr. Parit faces 43 trials and up to 300 years’ imprisonment and Ms. Panusaya faces 25 trials and up to 135 years’ imprisonment.

Moreover, a recent Thai Constitutional Court decision means that they may eventually charges of attempted insurrection for their human rights work, a crime which carries the death penalty.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a Special Procedure of the United Nations Human Rights Council that investigates deprivation of liberty around the world. It can also intervene urgently where a person is detained arbitrarily in dangerous conditions or where there are other unique circumstances.

The Urgent Action has also been sent to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and opinion, and human rights defenders. All of these officials, together with the Working Group, have already expressed concern over the treatment of Thai protesters participating in the ongoing movement.

ENDS //

For media inquiries, contact info@destinationjustice.org.

ANNEX: Executive Summary of the Urgent Action

Mr. Parit Chiwarak and Ms. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul are 22-year-old Bangkok-based Thai university students. They are being detained over their peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms as amongst the highest profile, most outspoken protesters in a mass protest movement in Thailand calling for socio-political change, including monarchic reform.

Both have been arrested and indicted on charges including lese-majesty for participating in a protest on 19-20 September 2020 at Sanam Luang, with Ms. Panusaya also being detained over a 20 December 2020 protest at Siam Paragon that Mr. Parit also attended. For breaching bail conditions prohibiting them from exercising fundamental freedoms, they were detained and remanded in custody while their trials are ongoing. This is scheduled to be until at least December 2022. Taking into account past periods of detention, Mr. Parit has now been detained for 219 days overall and Ms. Panusaya for 81 days.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s human rights activities are situated within a broader movement of mass civilian protests. The Thai authorities have responded by shrinking the space for fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly (including by using Covid-19 as a pretext), which many States remarked upon at Thailand’s recent Universal Periodic Review.

Human rights defenders who peacefully call for socio-political change are also being judicially harassed through strategic lawsuits against public participation initiated by public and private actors. Mr. Parit faces 43 trials and up to 300 years’ imprisonment and Ms. Panusaya faces 25 trials and up to 135 years’ imprisonment (for lese-majesty alone). Moreover, following a 10 November 2021 Constitutional Council decision, future attempts by Mr. Parit or Ms. Panusaya to exercise fundamental freedoms may be met with charges such as attempted insurrection, which is a capital offence. Therefore, Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya could face the death penalty over their human rights work and a real possibility of actual execution.

Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s arrest and detention are arbitrary as they result from lawful exercise of fundamental freedoms of expression and opinion, assembly and association, and public participation (category II arbitrary detention). Their detention is also arbitrary due to partial non-observance of their right to a fair trial, including violations of the principle of legality, presumption of innocence, right to confidential communications with counsel, and right to adequate time to prepare a defence (category III arbitrary detention). Moreover, their arrest and detention are arbitrary as they represent discrimination based on their political opinions and status as human rights defenders advocating views deemed offensive by the authorities, for which they have been discriminatorily persecuted (category V arbitrary detention).

Finally, there are three unique circumstances warranting your intervention in this case as an urgent action. First, Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya may be imminently charged with capital offences, for which they could be expeditiously tried and even executed, posing a serious danger to their lives and representing an irreversible and egregiously unjust outcome. Second, their physical integrity is in danger due to detention conditions which expose them to the risk of contracting Covid-19 (which both have contracted in prison previously) and to attacks, surveillance, and harassment. Third, the apparently State-sponsored campaign of judicial harassment against them and prospect of interminable litigation and constant uncertainty over one’s fate also creates a significant threat to their psychological integrity amounting to inhumane treatment.

For the above reasons, Destination Justice calls on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, together with other relevant UN special procedures, to, among other things, declare Mr. Parit and Ms. Panusaya’s detention arbitrary and ask the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them.

Update: Panusaya has been granted bail. On 30 November 2021, “the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 19 – 20 September 2020 protest and the 2 December 2020 protest at the Lat Phrao Intersection.” During her bail hearing, “Panusaya told the court that she is still enrolled at the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, and is required to complete class projects and take her final examinations between 2 – 17 December 2021. She also said that in the next semester, she will have to complete an independent research project in order to graduate…”. She had been held for 17 days.

The Criminal Court granted bail on strict conditions and for a limited period:

… on the grounds that her education has been damaged by her detention, and set the conditions that she must not leave her residence without court permission unless for a medical emergency, to go to classes or take exams, or to contact the courts.

She is also prohibited from participating in activities that are damaging to the monarchy or cause public disorder and from leaving the country. She must also wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

The Criminal Court’s temporary release order is also only valid until 12 January, coinciding with the final exam period at Thammasat University.

This was a coordinated effort by several courts:

Today (1 December), the South Bangkok Criminal Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 20 December 2020 crop top protest at Siam Paragon, while the Ayutthaya Provincial Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 21 August 2020 protest in Ayutthaya. Both courts also set her the same conditions as the Criminal Court.

Five other activists remain in the regime’s dungeons, denied bail.





Arbitrary detention of Panusaya

20 11 2021

From the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH):

Thailand: Arbitrary detention of Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul
Urgent Appeal
Human Rights Defenders
THA 004 / 1121 / OBS 120
Arbitrary detention / Judicial harassment
Thailand
November 18, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, aka Rung, a student and prominent pro-democracy activist with the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) [1].

On November 15, 2021, the Bangkok South Criminal Court denied bail to Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul and ordered her detention in relation to charges under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) [2] . These charges stem from her participation in a peaceful protest by a small group of activists who called for the repeal of Article 112 on December 20, 2020, at Siam Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok. Authorities accused Ms. Panusaya and the other activists of mocking King Rama X by wearing a crop top. [3]

The Bangkok South Criminal Court justified its decision to deny bail to Ms. Panusaya by arguing that the defendant had committed similar offenses and violated the conditions previously set by the Bangkok Criminal Court for her temporary release on May 6, 2021 [see below]. Ms. Panusaya is currently facing at least nine lèse-majesté charges, and could face 135 years in prison, if tried and found guilty in all cases. Ms. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul is currently detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul is arbitrarily detained for her legitimate human rights activities. On October 15, 2020, Ms. Panusaya was arrested and detained for 16 days after reading a 10-point manifesto calling for monarchy reform at a pro-democracy protest on August 10, 2020, at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus in Pathumthani Province.

Ms. Panusaya was again detained from March 8 to May 6, 2021, in relation to another lèse-majesté case filed against her for calling for the reform of the Thai monarchy during a peaceful pro-democracy protest on September 19-20, 2020, in Bangkok. During that period of detention she was denied bail numerous times until she was granted temporary release by the Bangkok Criminal Court.

The Observatory underlines that the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Panusaya and other human rights defenders in Thailand contradicted recent statements and commitments made by the Thai government. During the latest Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Thailand, which took place on November 10, 2021, the Thai government claimed that “human rights defenders have been highlighted as a specific group that needs appropriate protection” and that it “worked to create better understanding about the important role of human rights defenders.” The government accepted five recommendations that called for measures to guarantee civil society space, the protection of human rights defenders, and investigations into acts of harassment and attacks against them.

The Observatory also notes that between November 24, 2020, and November 16, 2021, 156 people, including many human rights defenders, were charged under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. In addition to Ms. Panusaya, five other human rights defenders – Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa and Benja Apan- are currently detained on lèse-majesté charges pending trial.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Benja Apan, Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa,which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.

The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the six human rights defenders and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them and all other human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul and all human rights defenders in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Benja Apan, Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa,since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Benja Apan, Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country;

iv. Guarantee in all circumstances the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

v. Refrain from using Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists and amend all provisions of the Criminal Code used to repress fundamental rights and freedoms, and bring them into line with international human rights standards.

Addresses:

· Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: spmwebsite@thaigov.go.th
· Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: complainingcenter@moj.go.th
· General Narongpan Jitkaewthae, Commander in Chief of the Army, Email: webadmin@rta.mi.th
· Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, Commissioner-General of the Police, Email: info@royalthaipolice.go.th
· Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarinte, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th, info@nhrc.co.th
· H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: thaimission.GVA@mfa.mail.go.th
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: thaibxl@thaiembassy.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, November 18, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

Footnotes
[1] The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) is a student pro-democracy group from Bangkok’s Thammasat University, which was formed amid the wave of nationwide student-led pro-democracy demonstrations that began in Thailand in February 2020. Since then, UFTD has played a key role in organising pro-democracy protests and continued to make open criticism of the monarchy and calls for the reform of the institution.
[2] Article 112 of the Criminal Code imposes jail terms for those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Persons found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years for each count.
[3] In July 2016, photos were circulated online of then-Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn appearing to wear a crop top in a shopping mall in Germany.





The regime’s courts

3 11 2021

Thai PBS recently reported that Thammasat University engineering student, Benja Apan, a member of the United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration”was sentenced to six months in prison today (Monday) for contempt of the court and for ‘causing disunity’ in the country.”

It adds: “The six-month imprisonment is the heaviest penalty for such offence.”

Clipped from Khaosod

Benja’s charges stemmed from a rally “in front of the Criminal Court on April 29th to demand the release of Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, a leader of the Ratsadon group, who was being held on multiple charges, including lèse majesté.”

Benja also faces lese majeste charges.

It was alleged that, during the protest, Benja “read a poem over a loud hailer, criticising the court for its handling of Parit’s case…”. Poetry can indeed be dangerous.

It was further alleged that she “breached a barricade.”

The court babbled that, “even though the accused has the right to free expression and to demonstrate peacefully under the Constitution, the exercise of such rights must be within the confines of laws enacted to preserve national security, protect public safety and the rights of other people.”

It is unclear how she breached such provisions.

It is then reported that the court “cited provisions in the Constitution requiring that individuals do not do anything which may cause ‘disunity’ in society and respect, without infringing upon, the rights of other people.”

The Criminal Court is not the Constitutional Court, so this seems curious to us at PPT.

We don’t know for sure, but assume that this refers to Chapter III of the 2017 Constitution where the Rights and Liberties of Thais are set out. We couldn’t see anything on disunity, but did notice that the regime is arguably in breach of almost all of the provisions in that chapter.

As the courts sink ever deeper into the murky depths of unbridled politicization, we can only ponder how difficult it is going to be for any reasonable government to reform military, police, and judiciary, let alone the horrid monarchy.





Abolish 112

26 10 2021

Between July 2020 and September 2021, “at least 1,458 people are now facing charges for participating in pro-democracy protests…”. Further, “at least 145 people are facing [lese majeste] charges…” [but see below]. In addition, “[a]t least 111 people are facing sedition charges under Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code, while at least 1,171 people are facing charges for violating the Emergency Decree.” And, a handful continue to face charges under Article 110, accused of trying to harm the queen.

Clipped from the linked report

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that, “as of 14 October, 23 people are currently in detention for participating in protests: Parit Chiwarak, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Anon Nampa, Huad, Thawee Thiangwiset, Chitipat, Chakri, Panupong Jadnok, Nat, Nawapol Tonngam, Wachirawit Limthanawong, Pawaris Yaemying, Paitoon, Suksan, Naruebet, Pichai, Jittakorn, Tha, Sith, Thu, Benja Apan, Kachen, and Kajornsak.”

The Citizens for the Abolition of 112 has been organized to seek people’s signatures to support the abolition of Article 112. Their campaign begins on 31 October, with a press briefing held on 24 October in front of the Supreme Court.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul “said the group aimed to abolish Section 112 of the Criminal Code, generally amend the laws regarding defamation and slander, and abolish prison sentences for defamation.” She said:

On Sunday 31 October 2021, I ask everyone to gather at Ratchaprasong intersection. The activity will run from 16.00 to 21.00. If we succeed in gathering signatures this time, what will happen is that the Section 112 will be abolished. The defamation law system will be completely amended, with only fines instead of prison sentences…. This is the mission that all Thai people must carry out together….

The group says “that at least 151 people have been charged with Section 112 between November 2020 and 19 October 2021 for their actions and online statements.” Remarkably, Parit faces at least 21 charges. If found guilty on all charges and given the maximum sentence, Parit will go to jail for 315 years.

It pointed out the obvious: “The existence of Section 112 is like a threat to the rights and liberties of the people…”. It added that 112 “distorts the judicial system. … It makes the authorities choose to limit their role in protecting the rights of suspects such as the right to bail and the right to an open and fair trial…”.





Updated: Problematic courts

22 10 2021

The courts have long demonstrated double standards and this has been especially the case for the Constitutional Court. That court’s latest decision is another example of its politicization.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court ruled “that Paiboon Nititawan, a former MP of the dissolved People Reform Party … retains his parliamentary status, on the grounds that he has not violated any provisions of the Constitution, as claimed by opposition MPs.”

Rightist Paiboon dissolved his party immediately after the rigged 2019 election and teamed up with his political buddies in the junta-formed Palang Pracharat Party. As Thai PBS has it:

The court took note that the People Reform Party resolved to dissolve on August 5th, 2019 and notified the registrar of political parties. This was followed by an announcement from the Election Commission on September 6th of the dissolution, published in the Royal Gazette.

Paiboon, according to the court, joined Palang Pracharat on September 9th, 2019 and the House of Representatives was notified by its leader on October 7th of the same year.

The court also ruled that Paiboon, in his capacity as the leader of People Reform Party, was legally bound to undertake the liquidation process to legally dissolve his party.

On the issue of “Paiboon’s obligation to the People’s Reform Party, post-dissolution, [which] was referred to the Constitutional Court by Parliament Speaker Chuan Leekpai,” the court “ruled that Mr Paiboon’s MP status was not affected by the issue and so remained intact on account of the legal dissolution of the People’s Reform Party.”

The long and the short of this is that opposition parties get dissolved on precious little evidence and on skimpy grounds, while a regime fellow traveler can stand for election in one mini-party, ditch the party and its “members,” and can get a free pass to transfer even when he was a party-list member for the dissolved party.

Of course, this provides an avenue for small parties to now merge with the regime party, something likely required for the next election. The court has paved the way.

Compare the brazen political favoritism of the Constitutional Court and the nastiness and political bias of other courts:

  • Yet more anti-democrats are let off. Sure, one copped jail, but that means nothing as those who violently blocked voters get a free pass.
  • Sitanan Satsaksit, sister of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who was abducted and disappeared in Cambodia, and who, for obvious reasons, has had no information, support, or anything else from the regime that knows what happened, has been “charged for allegedly hosting an activity in breach of Covid curbs.” More buffalo manure charges to silence and threaten critics.
  • Young protesters continue to rot in jail, refused bail.
  • Penguin “Parit” Chiwarak now faces 21 lese majeste charges (and more to come). He’s held without bail.
  • The Bangkok South Criminal Court on Thursday ruled that Benja Apan, a Thammasat third-year student charged with lese majeste, cannot have bail.

See a pattern? It is contemporary authoritarianism.

Update: For more on the third rejection of Benja’s bail, see Prachatai.





The rotten system II

17 09 2021

The smell from the rotten system is overpowering.

Remember the case of Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and his two dozen luxury watches? He said he had borrowed the watches from a former classmate, Patthawat Suksriwong, who was dead, but that he had returned them. Remember how the National Anti-Corruption Commission exonerated him on unexplained – some might say, bogus – grounds?

That smelly story is back. Thai PBS reports that the “The Central Administrative Court has ordered Thailand’s anti-graft watchdog, the … NACC…, to reveal its findings from an investigation into the expensive wristwatches seen being worn in public by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit…”.

The court seems to recognize that the NACC is so politically-biased that it is widely viewed as a regime tool when it “ruled that, the disclosure of the findings…, including witness testimonies and Gen Prawit’s own testimonies, will demonstrate the transparency and accountability of the NACC and will enhance public trust and confidence in the agency.”

The NACC says it is considering what to do. We might guess that it is seeking advice from the likes of regime legal fixer Wissanu Krea-ngam and Gen Prawit himself.

Remember Pol Col Thitisan Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari,” recently caught on camera suffocating a man to death with plastic bags while “interrogating” a suspect and trying to extort money? You might think that Joe learned his plastic bag trick from watching gangster movies. But it seems he may have been trained by the police. Prachatai reports on “the case of Somsak Chuenchit and his 12-year effort to bring the police officers who tortured his son by beating and suffocating him with plastic bags during an interrogation.” The report states:

On 28 January 2009, Ritthirong ‘Shop’ Chuenchit ,18, was returning from a cinema in Prachinburi Province with a friend when he was stopped by the police. His clothing and motorcycle helmet reportedly fit the description given to police by a woman who had earlier been the victim of a gold necklace-snatching.

At the police station, the woman identified Ritthirong as the person who had taken her necklace. Ignoring his assertion of innocence, the interrogating officers beat the handcuffed youth and then suffocated him in a bid to determine where the necklace was hidden. Whenever Ritthirong chewed holes in the plastic bags to breathe, more were placed over his head.

Chuenchit survived but was framed and traumatized.

Remember the activists kept in jail for months when arrested and refused bail? Prachatai reports that the Court of Appeal granted bail to activists Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Jadnok, Thatchapong Kaedam, and Nutchanon Pairoj on 15 September, after having been denied bail several times. Several other activists continue to be detained without bail, including Arnon Nampa and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa. A rotten regime prefers that its opponents remain in jail, face never-ending repression and under threat.

The regime is rotten, the system is rotten.








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