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.





With 3 updates: Students vs. the rotten system

13 09 2021

In recent posts, here and here, PPT has mentioned the increasingly aggressive tactics adopted by the regime’s police in confronting mostly young protesters. The police now face determined protesters.

The South China Morning Post reports that police face thousands of protesters – “young, angry and desperate for radical change – [who] come out to oppose a state they have lost all faith in.” Some are as young as 12. These protests are now daily and have a degree of predictability:

Protesters, some armed with paint bombs – the more hardcore among them, sling-shots and glass bottles – retreated then returned, a daily dance on Bangkok’s streets which is now threatening to spill out of control.

Protests now almost inevitably end in tear gas, broken bottles and rubber bullets.

The protesters speak to power and call for change: “No one in power has heard us, no one listens to us, they only intimidate and suppress…. So we will keep coming back.”

Their targets are not just the regime, but the rotten system: “… deepening inequality in a country where a tight-knit establishment of tycoons, military and monarchy dominate the economy and politics.” The quoted protester – aged 16 – says: “Inequality comes from these structural issues, everything is tied up here by monopolies of business and power…”. Her observation is testament to the alienation felt by many in the young generation.

Academic Kanokrat Lertchoosakul observes that:

This generation are a totally different species of political, active citizens that we have never seen before in Thailand…. They are a generation with mass awareness of their political rights and have superior analytical skills to their elders.

Prachatai provides another example of youth activism, reporting on the Bad Student activist group that has “launched a strike campaign to protest against the continuous use of online classes during outbreaks of Covid-19, which has been detrimental to students’ mental health and deprived many of an education.”

They are “demanding that the government provide students, education professionals, and members of the public with high efficacy vaccines as soon as possible so that the education system and the economy can continue.” They also want the Ministry of Education to “reduce tuition fees or impose a tuition fee moratorium, and provide whatever welfare is needed by students and their parents to keep young people in school.”

The group encouraged students “to stop attending [online] classes between 6 – 10 September 2021…” and the brief boycott was quite successful.

Bad Students have also joined the ongoing demonstrations and were there almost from the very beginning, saying: “We don’t want this rotten education system. We don’t want this stinking Minister. But we want our future back, and even better, is an education system that truly improves us…”.

Meanwhile, Thai PBS reports on students and other protesters still held without bail, including “seven core leaders of the anti-government Ratsadon group, who have been held on remand for about a month.” These detainees include Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa.

As the SCMP says, “Thailand is on a precipice … its politics once more a tinderbox of anger.”

Update 1: Sorry, we should have noted that the SCMP article was from August whereas the photos are more recent.

Update 2: Three stories at the Bangkok Post add to the analysis of the present moment in protest. In one story, police have said they will bring numerous criminal charges protesters. A second story says that police data is that 509 protesters have been arrested and a further 250 are being sought since the rallies began in July. That story also carries an important quote from Thalugas, welcoming the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and the Thalufah group as rally “witnesses at the rally by young demonstrators in Din Daeng that evening.” Thalugas “said they should not be left to fight alone.” A third story is about a member of the older generation of protesters, Sombat Boonngamanong. He says: “We are at a crucial moment in democracy development…. This is a time when the ruling authoritarian establishment is trying to suppress the young, democratic generation.” His view is that “the nature of social movements has changed — because more people, especially younger generations, respect democratic values…. They do not tolerate authori­tarianism.”

Update 3: Prachatai reports on arrests in recent clashes. It has also produced a video on Bad Students:





Faking fake news

11 09 2021

The regime’s efforts to stifle dissent and anti-monarchism has long targeted online discussion. Because of the way that international apps and sites work, this now involves loyalist, royalist courts issuing orders under legislation that delineates so-called fake news. This resort to the courts has been a constant since the 2014 military coup, deepening since the rise of student-led protests.

Prachatai, using work by The Reporters, show that “between 16 – 22 August, the MDES [Ministry of Digital Economy and Society] reported that they have found 44 URLs which they claimed to be spreading fake news, and that they are in the process of requesting a court order to block at least 145 URLs.” Of course, this is in additon to hundreds and thousands already blocked.

In this latest bunch, most are Facebook pages. While it is no surprise, many of these pages are by political activists. What is something of a surprise is that well-established online news sites and those of journalists are also being targeted. This suggests a growing appetite to further censor the media. We would guess that the confidence to take such steps is to bolstering the regime’s more aggressive street-level tactics to repress demonstrators.

Among them is Prachatai’s own Thai language Facebook page and the Facebook profile of their reporter Sarayut Tungprasert. Other media included are “Voice TV’s Talking Thailand Facebook page and the Progressive Movement’s Facebook page.” Other pages listed are:

The Facebook pages for academic in exile Pavin Chachavalpongpun, photographer Karnt Thassanaphak, actor and pro-democracy protest supporter Inthira Charoenpura, and activist Parit Chiwarak are all included on the list, as well as the Facebook pages for activist groups Free Youth, United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), Dome Revolution, and Thalufah. The Facebook group [belong to Pavin] Royalist Marketplace is also listed.

17 Twitter accounts appear, including those of human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa, Thalufah and UFTD, as well as @ThePeopleSpaces, an account which often runs discussions relating to politics and the pro-democracy movement on Twitter’s Spaces platform.

Prachatai states that it “does not know which piece of news led to the Facebook page and Sarayut’s Facebook profile being included on the list.”

While the king has not been seen for several weeks – is he in Thailand or holidaying in Germany? – his minions are hard at work erasing anti-monarchism.





Royalist university censors students

29 08 2021

University World News reports that administrators at Thailand’s most royalist of universities, Chulalongkorn, have declared that they will “take disciplinary action” against student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, who is President of the Chulalongkorn University Student Union. The “disciplinary action” will extend to other leaders of the university’s student union “for organising an orientation for incoming students that featured outspoken critics of the Thai monarchy.”

Netiwit in 2017. Clipped from The Nation

That “disciplinary action” follows pressure from royalist “alumni groups” that were supposedly outraged by the 20 July orientation that “featured three well-known figures as speakers: Thammasat University student leaders Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak and Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul from the pro-democracy movement and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an academic and critic of the monarchy, now in exile and teaching at Kyoto University…”. All three face lese majeste charges.

The university’s Office of Student Affairs states that “the content of the orientation was considered ‘radical’ and ‘rude’ and was not approved by the university.” Apparently, “student handbooks published by the student union, which included critiques on certain university traditions and interviews with liberal student activists, were ‘not appropriate’ for new students and their guardians to refer to.”

It is known that university leaderships have been made royalist over the past few decades and that, like the corrupt police and murderous military, prefer hierarchy and paternalism.

Netiwit “said he received a letter from the deputy dean at Chulalongkorn reprimanding him for inviting the activists as speakers, as well as for producing and distributing the student handbooks,” while a deputy dean has reportedly “submitted the case to a university committee for investigation and to decide on the punishment against the student organisers involved.”

The activist chastised the university’s royalist leadership:

Instead of being the last fortress to defend freedom, the university is assisting in the decline of freedom. If Chulalongkorn actually takes disciplinary action against us, not only are they refusing to defend freedom, but they also set a norm for other universities to follow, diminishing liberty in this society and affecting young people’s future….

Who pressured the university? According to the report, it was Chaiphat Chantarawilai, who claims to lead a conservative royalist alumni group, “Defending the Honour of Chula.” Defending the university is defined as “protecting” the monarch and monarchy. On 26 July, Chaiphat “submitted a letter to the university’s dean calling on administrators to take action against the student organisers of the orientation, including a demand to involve the police in a formal investigation.”

In other words, the royalists are hankering for lese majeste charges.

Chaiphat threatened the dean if no action was taken against the students.

After several clashes with university authorities in the past, Netiwit and his colleagues “won in landslide votes in April 2021” when standing for the student union.





Updated: Reflecting the regime II

27 08 2021

Continuing with our posts about  things that define the regime’s royalist Thailand, there have been several reports in the last few days that do just that.

The Thai Enquirer’s Cod Satrusayang responded to the release of a video showing a senior police officer suffocating an alleged drug dealer while demanding a large bribe.

Of course, the video went viral, with an investigation launched. But there was a here-we-go-again feeling. We’ve been here before. We’ve seen and heard it before. And there was cynical resignation as many on social media predicted another cover-up. As Cod says, “we should be more surprised and shocked at the footage rather than nod along grimly.

After all, police and military enjoy impunity and the levels of corruption are legendary. Just think of the Red Bull hit-and-run case, the Korat killings, the Saudi Blue Diamond saga, the 2010 murder of red shirts, the forced disappearing and murder of numerous political figures, the shooting of Chaiyapoom Pasae, the Tak Bai deaths, and we could go on and on.

Cod puts it this way: The time has come to ask whether officers like this murderer is the exception or the rule.” He adds: Given the reality of things and given how endemic corruption is within the police force maybe the time has come to consider not just reforming the police but dissolving the force altogether.”

AP adds on this story, detailing the crimes. Police Col Thitisant “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari” who was caught on camera suffocating a man to death. It was Joe who tortured Jeerapong Thanapat, a 24-year-old drug suspect, attempting to extort two million baht from him. Like Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, Joe is on the lam.

It isn’t just murderous police who define the “good people” regime, but this regime is defined by failed/compromised institutions.

The police are hopeless, with allegations of police brutality and corruption common. The video was leaked to lawyer Sittha Biabangkerd who “received a complaint from a junior policeman in Nakhon Sawan…”. That policeman reported the usual cover-up:

When the suspect died, Thitisan allegedly ordered his men to take the body to the hospital and tell the doctor the death was caused by a drug overdose. The junior policeman said the woman was released but told not to say anything about it, and that Thitisan paid the victim’s father to remain silent.

The Bangkok Post reported that the “junior police officer … sought … help in forwarding the clip to the national police chief.” More revealingly, that junior officer and his fellow officers feared they would be killed!

The Royal Thai Police is a failed institution, operating more as a criminal gang than a police force.

But what about the rest of the bureaucracy which abet the police (or fear them)?

The “state-run Sawanpracharak Hospital, which issued a death certificate for the dead drug suspect, have defended their finding that ‘methamphetamine poisoning’ was the cause of death.” This after a “forensic examination.” Police told was “a private hospital that the man fell down and lost consciousness while he was running away from police who were chasing him during a drug crackdown.” Corruption? You bet.

How big is the corruption? Huge. Found at Pol Col Thitisan’s 60-million-baht house in Bangkok were 29 luxury cars worth more than 100 million baht. It is impossible that this great wealth could have been missed by anti-corruption agencies. After all, Ferrari Joe boasted about it on social media.

But, the hopeless NACC is now on the job, belatedly “probing the unusual wealth of Pol Col Thitisan…”.

A police source said Pol Col Thitisan wasn’t this rich from the beginning but he has built his own wealth out of some grey area businesses including trading edible bird’s nests while he was a deputy sub-division chief at Narcotics Suppression Division 4, overseeing drug suppression operations in the South.

The photos below are from the Bangkok Post, showing just some of Joe’s assets.

The story continues:

He later moved on to making money out of suppressing the smuggling of luxury cars and supercars in the South. He earned a lot of money from rewards offered for seizing such cars — 45% of the value of the car confiscated — and handing them over the Customs Department for resale through an auction….

Not bad for a cop earning less than 50,000 baht a month. But no one should bat an eyelid, for there are dozens of army generals, navy admirals, air force air marshals, and police generals who have declared unusual wealth to the NACC, and it has done nothing, zilch. That was in 2014.

So there’s a range of corrupt institutions. The NACC is at the pinnacle, rejecting any number of cases against the regime.

Thai Enquirer points out the obvious:

Somehow the Office of the Inspector General, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) keeps missing these high-earning cops and generals.

Do we trust these organizations to investigate the case further? See if this is part of something bigger? Doubt it.

The NACC repeats is compromised inaction again and again. As The Nation reports, it can’t “reveal Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam’s assets…” despite being “asked by the Official Information Commission to reveal what assets had been declared by Prayut and Wissanu when they took office.” According to Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, NACC president, “the commission can only store information and investigate if there are any discrepancies, but cannot reveal details.”

But what about all those generals? Nothing. What about the fabulous wealth of convicted drug dealer/deputy minister Thammanat Prompao? Nothing.

Of course, “nothing” protects the “good people.”

And another related story. why is it that cabinet “approved the proposal by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to amend the prime minister’s order regarding the procurement of antigen test kits (ATK) by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO)…”.

That order “stipulated that the antigen test kit the GPO would purchase must be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by the Thailand Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

That’s now ditched so that Chinese kits can be purchased from Beijing-based Lepu Medical Technology. That contract is for about 600 million baht for kits “banned in the United States due to a high risk of false results.”

The regime is rotten to the core.

Update: The murdering cop story gets worse by the day by the actions of the most senior police. Those bosses are appointed by the regime because of their political positions and based on links to powerbrokers, including the palace.

Joe Ferrari has been taken into custody. As usual, he was not tracked down, but negotiated a surrender to police in one of the most corrupt jurisdictions, Cholburi.

Startingly, national police chief Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, himself worth almost 105 million baht, then gave the murderer a national stage. In allowing the suspect to speak to the nation via national television, Gen Suwat appeared to support Pol Col Thitisan when he “said social media had been reporting that Thitisant was trying to extort the dead drug dealer so he wanted people ‘to hear what happened from the mouth of the person who had committed the crime’.”

Parts of Thitisant’s speech to the nation is reported in the linked post.

What was Gen Suwat thinking? Cod Satrusayang provides something of an answer, suggesting that Thailand is “an alternative Nazi-inspired universe”:

You see Joe Ferrari is one of the good people. Despite murdering an alleged drug dealer in cold blood, with a plastic bag, while his men held the guy down, he is a good person. Never mind that this is the kind of scene you’d expect to see in a Nazi movie, Joe is a good person.

You see Joe is a good person because he is a “relentless crime fighter,” because he volunteers with royalists, because he is polite and clean cut. He is a good person.

He is not a bad person like the unruly protesters who do not know their place, who dare to question the establishment.

He adds, that the contrast with anti-monarchy/pro-democracy protester Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak:

I was in the newsroom when police arrested Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak in the middle of the night, put him in an unmarked van, and sent him to a police station in the suburbs for processing.

There was no press conference, there was no fanfare, it was the Thai deep state working efficiently to suppress, gag, and detain those that would question the current establishment.

It was chilling, frustrating, Kafkaesque.

It made me question how I ever bought into the land of smiles lie, that Thailand’s paternal autocracy was built to work for and protect its people.

The regime is loathsome, rotten to the core, festering, bloated, and putrescent.





Further updated: Royalist courts doing their duty

23 08 2021

Update 1: Apologies. We posted an unedited version earlier. Fixed it now.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reports that on 18 August 2021, lawyers submitted a bail application for the nine activists detained in recent days by the royal police. At least two of the detainees are COVID-19 infected.

Arnon Nampa is detained on another lese majeste charge, while the others – Sam Samat, “Penguin” Parit Chiwarak, “New” Sirichai Natueng, “Fah” Promsorn Viradhammajari, Nutchanon Pairoj, “Mike” Panupong Jadnok, “Boy” Chatchai Kaedam, and Panudda Sirimassakul or “Tong Thalufah” – faced a number of charges: “Section 215 of the Thai Criminal Code, [an] assembl[y] of ten persons [and] upwards, … violation of the Emergency Decree, and the Communicable Disease [decree/act]. Some of them were charged with causing d[amage] and [assaulting police].”

Bail was denied, with the royal courts “citing no reasonable cause to change the order.”

In prior, the lawyer had submitted bail motions on 9 August 2021 after the submission of detention motion made by the inquiry officers. The Court denied bail citing that the alleged offenders had no fear of the law. If they were to be released, they could commit further harmful acts. Therefore, the lawyers appealed the court’s order on 13 August 2021. As a result, “Poon” Thanapat (surname withheld) was released on bail citing that he surrendered himself and just passed the age of minor.

The bail application for the eight activists cited the following:

Prior to the detention on 9 August 2021 according to the warrant issued by the Court, eight alleged offenders were in good health condition. However, during the detention, Parit, Sirichai, and Promsorn were found … to be COVID-19 infected after getting tested on 14 August 2021. In addition, several correctional officers were reported to be infected. Therefore, the detention is unnecessary and causes them vulnerability to be infected without ability to protect their own lives. Although, the alleged offenders were charged with similar allegations to the current case, it remains an allegation made by the inquiry officers. The alleged offenders were not convicted by the court. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that the alleged offenders had no fear of the law and it is not admissible with the reason citing “if they were to be released, they could commit further harmful acts.”

In addition, the reason citing the alleged offenders, which are Parit and Panupong, had breached bail conditions of the other court, therefore, they should not be released on bail in this case, is not admissible. The Court had not examined the alleged offenders for facts and had not given a chance to the alleged offenders to make an objection or show an evidence.

They added that the detainees had not resisted arrest and did not pose a flight risk.

The bail application for Arnon also cited the risk of COVID-19 infection and proposed a 200,000 baht surety.

All applications were dismissed.

That’s how the royalist regime operates.

Update 2: Thai Enquirer reports that Sureerat Chiwarak, mother of jailed activist Parit has “demanded an investigation into the delays in transferring her Covid-19-stricken son and other detained protest leaders to hospital for treatment.” Speaking for other parents, she stated: “We have requested this transfer since August 16, but to no progress…. We are now very concerned and scared, and want to know what happened to those requests.”





Deadly serious III

19 08 2021

The Nation reports that, yesterday, “activists headed to the district court in Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani … to submit bail requests for Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and other Ratsadon members who have picked up Covid-19 in jail.”

The (In)Justice Ministry said “that four protesters had picked up the virus in jail but their condition is fine and they are being given Favipiravir pills for treatment.” In addition to Parit, the Ministy listed them as: Sirichai Nathuang, Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree, and Thanapat Kapeng.

Four other jailed protesters “have tested negative though they are being quarantined…”.

The activists’ mothers – Ratsamoms – joined with others pushing for bail and release from prison for their kids.

In another report, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Corrections Department, said that

for three days Parit … coughed and had a headache, body pains and excessive phlegm, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level remained normal. He was breathing normally and was able to sleep and eat.

Sirichai … had headache, body pains, eye pain and fever for three days, but was able to breathe normally. His pulse and oxygen saturation level were also normal, the deputy director-general said, and he could eat and sleep.

Promsorn … suffered from headache, excessive phlegm, fever, fatigue, a sore throat and a cough for three days. He also lost his sense of smell, but his pulse and oxygen saturation level were normal.

Despite these health problems and the Department’s poor reputation for virus mitigation and treatment, the Thanyaburi Court rejected a bail request “for Parit … and seven others charged in connection with a protest in front of the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district on Aug 2.”

As expected the vicious, royalist court saw “no reason to reverse the detention order.”  The courts have a reputation for “teaching lessons” to those charged with lese majeste. Deaths in custody are seen as part of the “lesson.”





Deadly serious I

17 08 2021

Readers may recall that the regime’s jailers say that lawyers can’t visit their clients when they are first taken into custody because of virus restrictions and quarantine.

It turns out that being taken into custody coukd amount to a death sentence. But, then, we suspect that the judges who refuse bail or revoke bail and the jailers know this.

The Nation reports that

The Department of Corrections announced on Monday that pro-democracy activists Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree and Sirichai Nathuang have tested positive for Covid-19.

They are among the eight protesters detained in Thanyaburi prison in Pathum Thani early this month and are now under quarantine. All eight protesters underwent a PCR test for Covid-19 on Saturday, while Parit and Promsorn were tested again on Monday for confirmation. Sirichai’s infection was confirmed on Sunday.

All three are said to be “perfectly fine…”.

It seems clear that getting infected in prison is almost guaranteed. Even if infected prior to being taken into custody, being in jail increases health risks for political prisoners.





fidh appeal

14 08 2021
The following is an appeal by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture:

THA 002 / 0821 / OBS 083
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Thailand
August 12, 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 eight pro-democracy activists, namely: Anon Nampa, prominent human rights lawyer; Parit ChiwarakNutchanon PairojSirichai Natueng, Thammasat University student activists; Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Ratsadon Mutelu member; Panupong Chadnok, Eastern Youth for Democracy member; Thatchapong Kaedam, Free Youth member; and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, Dao Din member….

On August 9, 2021, police officers arrested Anon Nampa after he surrendered himself to the Pathumwan police station in Bangkok after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Mr. Anon was charged with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) and the Emergency Decree for his participation in a peaceful protest on August 3, 2021, in Central Bangkok. During the protest, Mr. Anon made a speech in which he reiterated the pro-democracy movement’s call for the reform of the Thai monarchy.

On August 10, 2021, police denied Anon Nampa’s bail request arguing that he would present a high risk of re-offending, if released. After spending two nights in custody at the Pathumwan police station, on August 11, 2021, the Bangkok South Criminal Court approved the police’s request detention for Mr. Anon and denied him bail. The court argued Mr. Anon was accused of a serious offence, had breached previous bail conditions, and was likely to re-offend, if released. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Anon was being detained at Bangkok’s Central Special Treatment Centre, where he was undergoing COVID-19 testing and a 14-day quarantine. The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time that Mr. Anon faces charges under Article 112 and, if convicted in all the “lèse-majesté” cases pending against him, he could be sentenced to a total of 195 years in jail. Earlier this year, Mr. Anon was detained for 113 days on charges under Article 112. Similarly, Messrs. Parit and Panupong were detained for 92 and 85 days, respectively, on lèse-majesté charges. Mr. Parit was conditionally released on May 11, 2021, and Messrs. Anon and Panupong on June 1, 2021.

The Observatory notes with concern that between November 24, 2020 and August 9, 2021, 116 individuals, including Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, and many other human rights defenders, were charged under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”).

On August 8, 2021, Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, and Phromsorn Weerathamjaree were arrested in front of the Police Headquarters in Bangkok in connection with their participation in a peaceful protest on August 2, 2021, in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province. Protesters had gathered to demand the release of 32 fellow activists who had been arrested and detained in connection with another protest at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok earlier the same day. Later on August 8, 2021, Messrs. Parit, Nutchanon, Sirichai, and Phromsorn were taken into custody to the Khlong 5 police station and then to the the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province.

On August 9, 2021, Panupong Chadnok and Thatchapong Kaedam were arrested after they reported themselves at the Khlong 5 police station in Pathumthani Province in relation to the August 2, 2021 protest. All six pro-democracy activists were charged with violating Article 215 of the Criminal Code (“leading an illegal assembly of more than 10 people” ), the Emergency Decree, and the Communicable Diseases Act. Three other protesters who accompanied Messrs.Panupong and Thatchapong at the Khlong 5 police station were also arrested and detained.

On August 9, 2021, the Thanyaburi Provincial Court approved the temporary detention request for Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Panupong Chadnok, and Thatchapong Kaeda and denied them bail on the grounds that they acted without considering the society’s safety, peace, and order during the COVID-19 pandemic and that they would likely commit the same offenses if released. The six activists were then taken to the Rangsit Temporary Prison in Pathumthani Province, where they remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal for a quarantine period of 21 days after which they would be transferred to the Thanyaburi Prison.

On August 9, 2021, police arrested Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa after he surrendered himself at the Thung Song Hong police station in Bangkok. Mr. Jatuphat was charged with violating the Emergency Decree and Article 215 of the Criminal Code, in connection with a protest held in front of the Thung Song Hong police station on August 3, 2021. Mr. Jatuphat, who was detained at Bangkok’s Central Special Treatment Centre at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, had no access to a lawyer until the afternoon of August 10, 2021.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of the eight above-mentioned human rights defenders, 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 eight 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 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 Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok,Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Thatchapong Kaedam, 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 Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Thatchapong Kaedam, 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.

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
· Gen Apirut Kongsompong, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Email: webadmin@rta.mi.th

· Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Email: info@royalthaipolice.go.th
· Mr. Prakairat Tanteerawong, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: Prakairatana@nhrc.or.th/ Prakairatanao@yahoo.com
· H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

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





Back in prison

10 08 2021

Several bailed protest leaders have been re-arrested and locked up.

Thai PBS reported that Ratsadon  leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Nutchanon Pairote, who “reported to the police at the Royal Thai Police HQ in Bangkok” on Sunday were arrest ed on warrants issued “for alleged offences committed in front of the Region 1 Border Patrol Police Command while demanding the release of 31 members of the ‘Ban Talu Fah’ group held inside…”.

Both were “charged with illegal assembly in public of more than five people, in violation of the Emergency Decree, while participating in activities which risk spreading COVID-19, in violation of the Communicable Disease Control Act.”

The Bangkok Post added that Parit was summonsed “over his role behind the graffiti that appeared outside the Region 1 office of the Border Police…. On arrival, police presented him with an arrest warrant…”.

Parit told supporters:

Today, I came with the courage to stand and face unjust power… I insist I have done no wrong. We demand democracy. We demand freedom and civil liberty. We demand a way out for the people.

But it’s okay, as the police must follow the boss’s order. They have more strength as they have more power.

However, I would like for everyone to save our strength… on 10 August, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group and allies will organize the largest car mob ever.

The Bangkok Post also reported that another leader, Jatuphat Boonpathararaksa and three other protesters also “turned themselves in to police on Monday to fight a charge in connection with an anti-government rally last Tuesday.”

They “were charged with defacing the Thung Song Hong police station sign with red paint during a protest on Aug 3.”

Jatuphat denied the charge against him and three other protesters: “What we did was not harmful to other people. It was a peaceful act…”.

Prachatai’s added details reporting that Parit, Nutchanon, Sirichai Natueng, and Phromsorn Weerathamjaree were arrested at the police headquarters on Sunday. They were also charged with violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Diseases Act, and the Sound Amplifier Act, matching earlier charges used against other protesters.

Parit stated that “as he noticed police officers following him, he would be going to the police headquarters on Sunday (8 August), and if the police would like to arrest him, they could do so there.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) “said that Parit, Sirichai, and Phromsorn requested to have a trusted person with them while they are questioned, but the police denied their request, so the three activists refused to take part in the inquiry process.”

Meanwhile Thatchapong Kaedam and Panupong Jadnok “went to Khlong Ha Police Station and were taken into custody.” Another three other activists were reportedly arrested.

At 21.00 on 9 August, the “Thanyaburi Provincial Court approved the temporary detention request for the 9 activists, and later denied them bail on the ground that the activists act without fearing the law and without considering the society’s safety, peace, and order during the Covid-19 outbreaks.” They were forcibly “taken to the Rangsit Temporary Prison for a 14-day quarantine period, after which they will be detained at the Thanyaburi Prison.”

Later, Thai Enquirer provided a list of activists who were in detention:

  • Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak – a co-founder of the main student-led protest group, the Ratsadon
  • Natchanon Pairoj – the current chairperson of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD)
  • Sirichai “New” Natueng – a co-leader of the UFTD
  • Phromsorn “Fah” Weerathamjaree – a protest leader from the Ratsadon
  • Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok – a co-founder of the Ratsadon
  • Tatchapong Kaedum – a protest leader from the Ratsadon
  • Thanapat or “Poon” (last name omitted) – an activist from the Ratsadon
  • Panadda or “Tong Thalu-Fah” (last name omitted) – an activist from the Ratsadon
  • Jatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpattararaksa – a co-founder of the Ratsadon

Many of these detainees are already facing multiple charges, including sedition and lese-majeste.

The Bangkok Post later reported that the “Criminal Court approved a prosecution request to withdraw bail for Mr Parit in a case where he was involved in placing a plaque symbolising democracy at Sanam Luang on Sept 20 last year.”

The court is also considering revoking bail for Anon Nampha and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

There’s a clear pattern emerging that sees bailed activists being taken back to jail as protests are reignited.