Concern for Penguin

12 04 2021

A couple of weeks ago PPT posted on increasing concern for political prisoner, Parit Chiwarak or Penguin, who has been on a fast in protest against the repeated refusal of bail on lese majeste charges. He has now been on this partial hunger strike since mid-March.

Over the past few days, several alarming posts have been seen on social media, with the regime denying the worst of these. The prison says “ParitParit was able to stand up, walk, sit up and perform daily activities.”

Even so, Penguin’s condition is such that he requires close monitoring by nursing staff, 24 hours a day.

On April 10, those nursing staff were said to have declared Penguin, to be “in good condition.” The details tend to suggest otherwise; he has “slight exhaustion and slightly dry lips,” and “itchy rash on the chest and back” and “still receives intravenous infusion…”.

With virus cases exploding across the country, all detainees are now in grave danger.





MP wants 112 suspects locked up

2 04 2021

Palang Pracharath Party MP Sira Jenjaka has decided that prison is the best place for those charged with violating Article 112.

Earlier in the week, as chairman of the House committee on law, justice process and human rights, Sira “visited the Bangkok Remand Prison … where three of the leaders — Arnon Nampa, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattaraksa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok — are being detained on charges including lese majeste.

Sira made the outrageous claim that these detainees are living the high life and their rights are not infringed: “It’s like living in a five-star hotel,” he said. Such a claim is quite deranged. Bangkok’s prisons are overcrowded, unpredictable, dank and dangerous.

And, only recently, in an unusual decision, acting on a complaint made by Arnon, that fellow political prisoners Jatuphat and  Panupong were mistreated, the Criminal Court “found the wardens failed to fully protect the rights of the detained protest figures.”

It seems Sira’s self-appointed task was to lie. No human rights abuses in prison and life was good. What a clown! His performance continued as he went from MP to medical practitioner. Untrained in medicine, Sira determined that Jatuphat, seen in a videolink, was “in good health…”.

Sira claimed the detainees’ supporters “who are worried shouldn’t be…”. He then got to his main point: “Let them [the protest leaders] be and don’t try to get them out. They are fine where they are.”

Presumably the odious Sira wants even more political prisoners.

Of course, Sira may lose his own position as an MP for a previous fraud conviction, which legally means he should not have been a candidate in the rigged election. But given that a deputy minister has a heroin conviction, we wonder if Sira doesn’t feel safe so long as he leeches around the regime bosses.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Thanakrit Jitareerat, stated that:

the ministry would support any request by Mr Parit’s mother Ms Sureerat Chiwarak, to have her son moved to a Corrections Department hospital where his care could be monitored more effectively and which would have more medical resources than doctors at the Pathum Thani Detention Centre where he is currently incarcerated.

Not on your life. A couple of days later, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Department of Corrections and also its spokesman, “rejected a request by Mr Parit’s mother to refer him to a private hospital, saying if hospitalisation was required, detainees would be transferred to well-equipped prison medical facilities.denied Mr Parit was suffering serious health issues from going on a hunger strike in protest at the justice system.”

The whole regime appears full of liars, leeches, and charlatans.





Updated: Counting the detainees

27 03 2021

Thai Enquirer has posted an updated list of political prisoners. Even so, it remains a mixture of estimates and known cases rather than a definitive list. Important points:

After eight months of protests, more than 400 people are being prosecuted for alleged violations ranging from littering and obstruction of traffic to sedition and lese-majeste.

Of those, 77 have been charged with violation of Section 112…. 112[S]ix [112 charges] are against people younger than 18.

Nineteen people are incarcerated awaiting trial with their bail requests repeatedly denied. Most of those are protest leaders charged with sedition and lese-majeste….

In the lese-majeste cases, 28 were brought by civilian plaintiffs, six by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, and the rest were filed by the police.

Many of the protest leaders are facing multiple charges.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, now on his 12th day of hunger strike for his right to bail, faces 20 counts of lese-majeste.

Far more lese majeste and lese majeste-like cases are likely to follow as protests continue. Most recently, prosecutors have decided to indict protesters “for blocking … the Queen’s motorcade during an anti-government protest last October…”. This is a buffalo manure set of cases as a sightseeing queen and prince had their minions drive them to the protesters location, and while they copped some invective, their motorcade was not blocked in any significant way. The notion that they aimed to “commit violence against the Queen and [h]er liberty” is a fabrication.

We can expect further charges from Wednesday’s rally.

Update: Related to our last comment, the Bangkok Post reports that police are “taking legal action against 11 rally speakers and 10 other protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration at Ratchaprasong Intersection for allegedly violating the lese majeste law…”. That would bring the known total to somewhere close to 100 charged with lese majeste.





Updated: Concern for 112 detainees

26 03 2021

There is reason to be concerned for the safety of those accused of lese majeste and currently detained without bail in several prisons.

The Bangkok Post reports that these members of the Ratsadon group “are being detained at five prisons while police prepare the cases against them…”. The report lists some of them:

Six were being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, he said. They are Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Piyarat “Toto” Jongthep, Patiwat “Bank” Saraiyaem, Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpatararaksa, Arnon Nampa and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.

Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, alias “Ammy The Bottom Blues”, is being held at Thon Buri Prison, and Panusaya “Rung” Sitthijirawatanakul at the Central Correctional Institution for Women.

In Pathum Thani province, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak is detained in Pathum Thani central detention centre, and Promsorn “Fah” Veerathamjaree of the Ratsadon Mutelu group is in Thanyaburi Prison in Thanyaburi district.

Release our friends

There are several reasons for concern for the safety of these political detainees. First, Corrections Department deputy director-general Veerakit Hanparipan has revealed that his department lacks coordination and standard operating procedures. Second, it is a “policy” to separate the detainees as a means to break their spirit and to prevent them from supporting each other. Third, lawyers and families are having great difficulty visiting the detainees. Fourth, political detainees are being treated as common criminals. Fourth, Thonburi Prison is said to be a problematic location due to it being in a high-risk Covid zone.

All of this amounts to lese majeste torture.

There is special concern for Parit, “who is on a partial hunger strike…”. Veerakit told reporters that Penguin “continued to refuse solid food.” He added that he has become “weakened from refusing food” and that “Parit was instead given bread, milk, sweet drinks and mineral water to prevent his blood-sugar level falling too far.” Veerakit also revealed that “Parit had a rash on his chest. Prison officials had given him medication.”

Update: Concern for Penguin is increasing. He’s “been on hunger strike for over two weeks,” and is experiencing weakness. He has “allowed doctors to conduct a blood test for the first time on Saturday night, after suffering from fatigue, increased dizziness and dehydration.” As a result, he’s now being administered glucose and fluid intravenously.





Warong wrong

21 03 2021

Royalist politician and ardent coup promoter Warong Dechgitvigrom gets much wrong. In one of his recent tirades, he’s again looking for external links to domestic political opposition to his beloved military-monarchy regime.

He claims to have found a conspiracy to “discredit the Thai monarchy, military and judiciary…”. He believes that Parit Chiwarak’s tirade against the injustice of lese majeste is a conspiracy mounted via “author Andrew MacGregor Marshall, who is wanted in Thailand for lese majeste offences, [and who] tweeted photos of Parit reading [his] statement” in the courtroom.

Warong’s complaint about discrediting the monarchy, military, and judiciary is way off mark. Each of these bodies is already largely discredited. The monarchy is widely seen as erratic, neo-traditionalist, corrupt, and out of step with the modern world. Across the globe, the king has been lampooned for his very odd behavior. The military is a fascist organization that specializes in repression and murder of political opponents. The judiciary is a legal joke and a partisan institution, doing the bidding of the monarchy and military.

Parit’s rehearsing of a statement showed that his is a political trial. Nothing more, nothing less.

Warong’s search for a conspiracy is misguided and quite mad. No doubt his audience of mad monarchists will cheer but that makes him no less bonkers.





Neo-traditionalism and fascists

18 03 2021

Prachatai has a couple of stories that are about a theme – political repression. In our view, they also appoint to the entrenchment of neo-traditionalist, royalist, fascism.

The first report is about complaints made by the so-called People’s Network to Protect the Monarchy to Anek Laothamatas, who seems to spend some time as Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. They demanded that the former communist now mad royalist and failed politician investigate the lecturers who have used their positions to stand bail for arrested protesters. The fascist Network “claims that their bail requests for Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak and Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, students at Thammasat and Mahidol universities, constitute behaviour that infringes upon the monarchy.”

Clipped from Prachatai
The Network submitting a petition to the MHESI representatives, Duangrit Benjathikul Chairungruang and Jak Punchoopet (Source: Facebook/ Center for People Protecting the Monarchy).

Immediately, the ministry sprang into action: “Jak Punchoopet, Advisor to the Minister … said … the Ministry is preparing to summon deans and chancellors of the universities of 8 lecturers who offered bail to 3 student activists detained while awaiting trial for royal defamation and other charges.” Jak previously participated in People’s Democratic Reform Committee efforts to foment a coup against an elected government.

The Network claimed it is “unethical for teachers as they are protecting students who have clearly and publicly defamed and infringed upon the King, Queen and the Chakri dynasty, which the Network has denounced.”

Jak quoted Minister Anek as stating that “academic freedom must not infringe on the … monarchy.”

There’s not much academic freedom in Thailand anyway, with the 2020 Academic Freedom Index grading Thailand as an E, “the lowest grade, with a score of 0.13 out of a maximum of 1.  Other countries with and E grade include China, North Korea, Cuba, Lao, Iran, Rwanda, and South Sudan.”

Preventing academics standing bail would be a major change to previous and longstanding practice.

Of course, neither the fascists of the Network nor the dolts at the Ministry ever pause to think that none of these political prisoners have yet been found guilty. In any case, none were allowed bail.

An equally concerning report is about constant harassment of independent media:

The Isaan Record, an online media organization based in Khon Kaen Province, is under surveillance by police officers. This is not the first time, and it occurs after they report on monarchy reform and anti-dictatorship activities which other media find distasteful.

The effort to silence The Isaan Record is clear and follows a pattern:

On 10 March, Hathairat Phaholtap, the Isaan Record editor, told Prachatai English that police officers came to their office 4 times in one day. She was informed by vendors close to the office that police had asked them about the agency. The police did not approach staff directly.

This took place after the agency reported on an activity organized on 8 March by Femliberate, a feminist activist group, who shrouded the statue of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat with women’s sarongs with a banner reading “Justice died 8 March 2021,” a symbolic action against the oppression of women and the court decision to keep in detention Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul and Panupong Jadnok, 3 leading pro-democracy activists.

Police intimidation sometimes leads to arrests but can also lead to attacks by royalist thugs – more often than not these are police and military men in plainclothes. Such attacks are never investigated.

Unsurprisingly, these royalist, fascist interventions are coordinated. Prachatai reports:

… Manager Online for the northeast region reported news with the headline “Don’t stand for it! Khon Kaen people love the institution [of the monarchy]. Attack KKU [Khon Kaen University], ask its position on whether they want the monarchy or not after allowing gangs who want to abolish the monarchy to hang out there,”.

The news item reports that a pro-monarchy group blames the Progressive Movement, from the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, for being the mastermind behind the student movement in Khon Kaen in the past year. They also questioned Khon Kaen University for letting public figures who spoke about democracy and monarchy reform give lectures to the students.

You see the link between Manager Online and the People’s Network to Protect the Monarchy. When fascism takes hold, the country usually falls into a deep and dark abyss.





Updated: Political prisoners and political trials

16 03 2021

A mass hearing of 22 political prisoners took place yesterday at the Criminal Court.

Thai PBS reports that Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak made the it clear that it was a political “pre-trial” meeting. It states that the defiant Parit “caused a brief commotion during a hearing … when his request to make a statement was rejected by the court…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that “Parit read a prepared statement in which he criticised the role taken by the courts in the conflict.”

The judge “interrupted him and warned that if he continued, the court would order a meeting behind closed doors with Mr Parit alone. He then ordered the defendants out of the courtroom and suspended the hearing.”

Court officials tried to rush Parit out of the court room, “causing a commotion as other defendants tried to shield the defiant protest leader.” He stood on a chair to ask “why the court didn’t grant him bail while is still not convicted of a crime…”.

He “announced his intention to go on hunger strike in prison until his request for bail is granted…”. In fact his demand referred to all 22 prisoners.

Parit’s statement is at Prachatai.

The court did agree “to requests by Panupong Jadnok, alias Mike Rayong, Chatupat Boonpatthararaksa, alias Pai Daodin, and Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep to be transferred from Thonburi remand prison back to Bangkok remand prison.”

Parit’s defiance is brave but may well lead to an intensification of lese majeste torture.

Indeed, last evening, detainee Arnon Nampa wrote a letter through his lawyer saying he was in fear when officials and others tried to take detainees out of their cells at midnight for a “COVID test.” These thugs were armed guards, some with no identification. He ended his letter: “Please save our lives…”.

Update: We see that the authorities at the Bangkok Remand Prison have concocted a half-baked story about Arnon’s concerns. Krit Krasaethip, commander of Bangkok Remand Prison, said the prisoners returned from Thonburi Prison – Pai and Mike – were “being moved to isolate them.” He said they had to be “quarantined in isolation units” because “Thon Buri Prison … is in a high-risk Covid zone, so [the prisoners] were required to have Covid-19 tests and be quarantined in Zone 2.” He added that the “pair were to be moved from their quarantine room on the ground floor to another quarantine room on the second floor but refused to leave, so prison guards agreed not to move them to avoid problems.”

Does any of this make any sense? Why were they transferred to a high-risk area in the first place? Why put prisoners from a high-risk area in the wrong kind of cell? Why not take them directly to quarantine? And why decide to do this in the middle of the night?

Just to make it all more odd, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said the incident prompted him to order “prison authorities to install more surveillance cameras to monitor cell block activities.” How does the prison story fir with that?

 





Lese majeste and cruelty III

13 03 2021

Yet again, the royalist courts have “rejected the bail applications by four core leaders of the anti-establishment Ratsadon group on the grounds that there is no justification for changing the court’s previous order to remand them in custody.” This refers to Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, and Piyarat Chongthep.

The new applications for bail “were filed today by Mr. Krisadang Nutcharat, a lawyer from the Centre for Human Rights Lawyers, and a group of lecturers from Thammasat and Mahidol universities.” Krisadang said “that he and the lecturers were seeking bail for the three students, namely Parit, Panusaya and Chatuphat, because they are about to take examinations.” The case of Piyarat has to do with “pre-emptive” arrest (as far as we know he has not been charged with 112).

In another report, it is stated that “Kritsadang also complained about Mr Parit’s transfer to Area 5 of the prison, usually designated for inmates already convicted.” He condemned this action, making an argument of the presumption of innocence. We doubt the royalist courts even know what this is as they take orders from the top.

The pattern emerging is one of lese majeste torture, seen in several earlier lese majeste cases. Keeping them locked up and seeking to separate them from their fellow political prisoners is a way to break their spirit and solidarity. It is also reflective of the nastiness seen in other cases involving those who “cross” the king.





Concocting “victory”

9 03 2021

With three more pro-democracy campaigners locked away on lese majeste charges, the regime seems confident it has a royalist political victory in sight.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatuphat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – were each charged with 112 and other “crimes” and denied bail for the Thammasat University rally back in September 2020. Along with 15 other pro-democracy protesters, they also face sedition charges.

Some of those locked up. Clipped from France24

The other 15 were bailed, marking the regime’s 112 strategy as now involving lengthy jail stints waiting for a trial before royalist judges and potentially very heavy sentencing. The regime and palace – which gives the orders on 112 – want to stamp out all signs of anti-royalism.

They join Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem who have already been held for about three weeks without bail on similar charges. Also banged up on 112 charges is Chai-amorn Kaewwiboonpan, aka Ammy the Bottom Blues.

Jatuphat called on followers: “Fight on everyone…”, while Panusaya, “who is facing eight other royal defamation charges, believes the pro-democracy movement will continue to exist although most of the leaders could be locked behind bars”: “No matter how many people are locked up, people outside will continue fighting, they do not need us…. “I am not concerned at all that the movement will stop.”

The regime thinks it has them beaten. With its carefully managed violence and targeted arrests, these detentions signal that the regime believes that the leaders will not get broader support.

The mainstream local media does not challenge regime stories of violence and weapons, although some of the international media has a different reporting. We conclude that the local media has come under enormous pressure to follow the regime’s lead and that corporate owners are willingly propagandizing for the regime. Why else would the Bangkok Post be interviewing and publishing outlandish conspiracy manure from anti-democrats? The media that lambasted the protesters for allegedly straying from the path of non-violence have been regime pawns too.

Such concocted claims have been seen from royalists many times in the past – from Pridi shot the king to the Finland Plot and more – and they continue. We can but speculate that these claims will lead to a deeper repression across the country, as they did in the past.





Lese majeste and cruelty II

28 02 2021

The Bangkok Post has a story about yet another bail refusal for lese majeste defendants and monarchy reform advocates Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem.

The Post says this is a “[t]hird setback in efforts to secure release of foursome awaiting lese majeste trials.” We know it is difficult keeping up with the number accused of lese majeste (is it 59 or 60?), but the number of bail applications and repeated refusals by royalist courts should be easier to count.

Going by the information in the story, we count five, including the most recent that begins the Post story:

Clipped from Khaosod

They have been in the Bangkok Remand Prison since Feb 9 when they were formally indicted on charges including lese majeste in connection with rallies at Sanam Luang on Sept 19 and 20 last year. The Criminal Court rejected their initial bail request.

The Court of Appeal on Feb 15 upheld the Criminal Court decision, citing the defendants’ disrespect for the monarchy and saying they posed a flight risk. Subsequent requests to the Criminal Court on Feb 17 and Feb 22 were also rejected, with both decisions upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The grounds for the appeal were entirely reasonable:

The first was a cash bond of 400,000 baht for each defendant, which was higher than the previous bail request. Charnvit Kasetsiri, a former rector of Thammasat University, and Panas Tassaneeyanon, a former dean of the university’s Faculty of Law, had agreed to act as guarantors for the defendants, said the lawyer.

The three other issues were that the defendants posed no flight risk, they had not yet found been guilty by a court and thus they were considered innocent, and all had permanent residences…

All to no avail. The establishment is busy protecting the king and punishing its opponents.