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.

 





Royalist “scum”

4 08 2021

A Reuters report explains that “103 people from Thailand’s youth-led anti-government protests now charged with insulting or threatening King … Vajiralongkorn or his immediate family, a crime punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Hundreds more face other criminal charges.” Knowing the exact numbers is difficult because not all cases come to public view.

Arnon on the left

Commenting on the charges and jail time, one of those charged, lawyer Arnon Nampa commented “I think it has been worthwhile. Now the society can move forward and people can talk about the monarchy…”.

While some might say that nothing much has changed and the king remains politically and economically powerful, a crack in the royalist hegemonic discourse has been established and anti-monarchism is more widespread than royalists wish to admit.

Indeed, royalists are fighting a battle seeking to paper over the cracks in the kingdom.

Thai Enquirer reports that an “ultra-royalist group [has] asked the criminal court to revoke the bail of pro-reform leaders … saying they are repeatedly breaking the conditions of their release by continuing to speak out against the monarchy.”

Jakkapong Klinkaew, the leader of the People’s Centre Protecting the Institution, says “The protestors have caused chaos within society, affecting the private sector and damaging public property…”. He added that “many business owners and royalists” consider the protesters “scum.”

Jakkapong went into a meltdown-like rant, admitting the regime was pretty hopeless, but railed against protesters causing “social conflict” and “unrest,” being “violent,” and spreading “fake news” and the virus (the latter being fake news).

His group demanded that courts revoke the bail of:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Arnon Nampa and Jatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpattararaksa, who have all been charged with lese-mejeste and sedition for organizing pro-democracy rallies since June 2020.

The letter said the protest leaders have continued to join protests and making speeches against the royal institution in breach of their bail conditions.

The group is panicked by the support being gained by protesters, even in the lockdown.





Failure upon failure

2 08 2021

One of the things about a military and palace-backed regime is that, except in the most dire of circumstances, it tends only to get shaky when it loses the support of the upper crust. Is the regime led by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha reaching that point? It should be as failure after failure piles up, while the regime concentrates on political repression rather than virus suppression.

As infection numbers look set to go over 20,000 a day in the official tally, the government stumbles along like a drunk without shoes. Just this weekend, it has extended the lockdown after earlier extending emergency powers. The problem for many is that these powers seem to do nothing to stem the virus but do seem to add to repression. In addition, the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed swell by the day. The regime seems to lack a plan for any other measures to mitigate the virus or to help those impacted.

But the failures and fumbles keep increasing. The botched vaccine rollout continues to suffer supply constraints – thanks in part to the failures at the royal Siam Bioscience. On the weekend, a “shortage in supplies of Covid-19 vaccines led to the weekend closure of 25 vaccination centres in Bangkok, while the “Mor Prom” app also cancelled all bookings scheduled for Friday and Saturday and has yet to resume offering new appointments.”

This horrid effort is made worse by corruption. Most recently, it is reported that “[a]t least 7,000 people have bought Covid-19 vaccination slots at Bang Sue Grand Station that were illegally acquired through a loophole in the the national vaccine recipient’s database…”. Forgive our cynicism, but the cops said several days ago that they had cracked the case, so should anyone be surprised if this isn’t a higher-ups scam? It seems 7,700 shots have been sold at 1000 baht each.

Despite the increased repression, nationwide protests were held on the weekend, mainly involving people in cars and on motorcycles. On protester spoke for many:

“We can barely make a living now, all of my family members have been affected,” said a 47-year-old protester speaking from his car who only gave his first name “Chai”, for fear of government repercussions.

“The government failed to provide vaccines on time and many of us haven’t had any vaccine yet,” he said. “If we don’t come out to make our calls, the government will simply ignore us.”

Red shirts back. From Thai PBS

According to Thai PBS, the “car mob” rally saw:

the gathering together of well-known leaders of anti-government and anti-establishment groups, such as Nattawut Saikua, former secretary-general of the now defunct United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or the Red-Shirt movement, Ratsadon leaders Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Anon Nampa, Chatupat Boonpatthararaksa, aka Pai Daodin of the “Thalu Fah” group, Sombat Boon-ngarmanong of Sombat Tour and Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, leader of the We Volunteer (Wevo) guards.

Nattawut said “the Red-Shirt movement is back in business and demanding the ouster of the prime minister.”

What will the powers-that-be do as the movement gains support as the government flails in failure?





Masters of repression III

18 07 2021

A couple of days ago, Thai PBS reported on the ongoing efforts to suppress anti-monarchism and political opposition. It reported that public prosecutors “have decided to indict 14 core members of the anti-establishment Ratsadon group, in connection with the mass protest at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok in July last year.” It seems to us that “decided” is the wrong word here, for this is a concerted lawfare campaign to silence critics.

The list of the 14 is:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panupong Jadnok, alias Mike Rayong, Anon Nampa, Juthathip Sirikan, Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, Nattawut Somboonsap, Korakot Saengyenphan, Suwanna Tarnlek, Thanayut Na Ayutthaya, Baramee Chairat, Tossaporn Sinsomboon, Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, Tanee Sasom and Panumas Singprom….

This group is targeted with charges of sedition (Article 116) and Article 215 of the Criminal Code as well as breaching the Emergency Decree “for their leading role in the mass protest, organized under the ‘Free Youth’ umbrella.” Article 215 states:

Whenever ten persons upwards being assembled together do or threaten to do an act of violence, or do any thing to cause a breach of the peace, every such person shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding six months or fined not exceeding one thousand Baht, or both.

Noraseth Nanongtoom, a lawyer of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, provided “35,000 baht in cash for each of them, to be used as bail surety. There are also five Move Forward party MPs and lecturers at Thammasat University who are willing to lend their status to bail them…”. There were 11 who attended, and as we understand it, all were bailed.

Several of the activists face scores of legal cases. The regime’s aim is to tie them and their supporters up in a myriad of legal proceedings while making their freedom conditional on the actions of royalist courts.





20 lese majeste cases

18 06 2021

At one time it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the military and royalists considered the devil and faced the most lese majeste charges. We think that he faced somewhere between four and six charges and several more accusations and investigations.

The record for lese majeste charges is, as Prachatai reports, now held by Parit Chiwarak or Penguin. He is “now facing 20 counts under the lèse majesté law, after complaints were filed against him for Facebook posts he made about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse [Yuvadhida Suratsawadee], and the use of Sanam Luang for funerals.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) are the source for information on the new charges. They report that “Parit went to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday (15 June) to hear the charges…”.

These charges resulted from complaints by “Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens…”.

Readers will recall that it was only a few days ago that the same group of royalist, right-wing, fascists showed up at the very same TCSD more charges against those they claimed  violated lese majeste and computer crime laws. AT the time, police said Nangnoi Assawakittikorn and her royalist minions were  calling for charges against another 90 individuals. The new report adds that these 90 all made posts that they claim insulted Queen Suthida on her recent birthday.

Prince, Yuvadhida, and kids in earlier times

The complaints against Parit, however, “were filed on 11 January 2021 and are related to two Facebook posts he made in December 2020. The first was on 8 December 2020 about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, who now lives in the United States in exile with her four sons.”

He also stands accused of “called for Princess Sirivannavari, the King’s younger daughter, not to use taxpayer’s money to promote her fashion brand…”. She’s not covered by Article 112. However, it is also alleged that Parit “included in the post a link to a voice clip rumoured to be that of the king saying ‘I know I’m bad’.” We guess if he’s convicted on that, then the rumor is proven.

In another post on 31 December 2020 it is alleged he “mentioned how funerals are allowed to be held at Sanam Luang but people are not allowed to sell shrimp, referring to the shrimp sale organized by the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer on 31 December 2020 which was dispersed by police.”

In addition to the 20 lese majeste charges Parit now faces, he also has outstanding charges under the Computer Crimes Act, sedition, and more.

In these two most recent cases, Parit denied all charges. Startlingly, he reportedly “requested that Sujarinee and her sons be brought in as witnesses and to have them testify on why they had to leave the country, who is involved in their exile, and whether they wish to return to Thailand.” That may result in more charges.





Threatening Penguin

9 06 2021

To get bail, Penguin – Parit Chiwarak – had to give the court certain undertakings that prevent him from questioning the monarchy and engaging in political protest. The regime and its pliant judiciary considered they have worked a fix that keeps the protesters quiet and compliant.

As would be expected from this repressive regime and its royalist vigilantes, they been patrolling Penguin’s social media.

Thai PBS reports that the “parents of Ratsadon anti-establishment protest leader … Penguin … and a Thammasat University lecturer were warned by the Criminal Court today (Monday) that it may revoke the anti-establishment [anti-monarchy] political activist’s bail if he is found to be in breach of his bail terms.”

They were “summoned as Parit’s caretakers to the Court today for a special hearing over a complaint in which Parit is accused of posting a message on his Facebook page deemed to be a breach of the terms of his release on bail…”.

During the hearing, “caretaker” Dr. Adisorn Juntrasook explained that Parit was “just exercising of his freedom of expression within the terms of the bail.” Parit’s “parents also explained that their son did not do anything which could be considered a breach of the bail terms.” Adisorn promised “to remind Parit to comply strictly with the court’s requirements.”

The court “instructed them to make sure that Parit strictly follows the bail terms and refrains from posting any messages on social media which may constitute a violation, or the court may revoke his bail.”

No anti-regime or anti-monarchy language will be tolerated.





Targeting Penguin

15 05 2021

Readers will probably have noticed that the recently bailed Penguin is in the sights of Palang Pracharath Party member Sonthiya Sawasdee.

On Friday, the execrable Sonthiya “asked the Criminal Court to review its decision to free Parit … Chiwarak on bail after the protest leader was accused of violating his bail conditions in a social media post.”

Sonthiya petitioned “Sitthichote Intharawiset, the Criminal Court chief justice, asking the judge to look into the post and decide on the matter.”

It seems this is the brave and challenging post, translated by Thisrupt:

Penguin

Clipped from Prachatai

The 93-day imprisonment and 57-day hunger strike to protest against injustice are now over. Yesterday, the court returned my and Ammy’s right to receive bail, even if there are some bail conditions. It’s self-evident these conditions are meant to obstruct the struggle for democracy. I believe the court is political, and the court must examine whether it stands for justice. In any case, there is now a legal precedent on the right to bail in Article 112 cases. In the past, bail was never granted. Also, I believe this barbaric law should be abolished soon.

I have no issues with the bail conditions because I don’t see how I commit royal defamation. I don’t think there’s defamation when the people speak the truth, whether it’s the demand to abolish Article 112, the request to return royal assets (such as SCB shares), or the call to cancel personal royal armed forces. I don’t see how these things defame the royal institution. If the call for the king to be under the constitution is defamation, then the question becomes: is Thailand a democracy with the king as the head of state or an absolute monarchy?

As such, for me, the struggle for monarchy reform continues.

Regarding the condition barring me from participating in protests that lead to social chaos, I insist I have always upheld peaceful resistance throughout my struggle. Every protest I participated in or organized has been peaceful and without weapons. There have only been nonpeaceful actions by the authorities and government supporters as far as I can see. Therefore, this condition is not an obstacle in my struggle. I am ready to participate in every activity after the current COVID crisis (which occurred because of government incompetence) has passed.

The struggle for democracy continues with strength and conviction. Our struggle is built on the foundation of truth. There is no power greater than truth. Like the stars, truth never dies. No matter which corner of the sky, the stars shine bright, just as the truth. No matter the cage, the torture chamber, or the execution chamber, the truth remains powerful and eternal.

In the immediate step, we must help release others who speak the truth that remains unjustly imprisoned: Lawyer Anon, Brother Mike Rayong, Frank, Natchanon, and others. We who love democracy must continue our struggle to prove speaking the truth is not wrong; lies cannot forever hide the truth.

I am still who I am. I still have faith in the truth. No one can turn back the clock, and soon the wind of change will sweep us into the other side of the sky.

For now, I must rest my body and eat before I march again with my brothers and sisters. I am the same person. I fight for the same ideals. I am more resolute than ever before.

Death to feudalism. Long live the people.

Penguin Parit Chiwarak

12 May 2021 (1 day after freedom)





Penguin and Ammy bailed

12 05 2021

Prachatai reports the good news that the Criminal Court approved bail requests for activist Parit Chiwarak – Penguin – and singer Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan – Ammy the Bottom Blues.

The court issued a press release stating that:

Penguin and Rung

Parit with Panusaya in an earlier photo. Clipped from The Nation

the pair were released on Tuesday on a security of 400,000 baht for Parit and 250,000 baht for Chaiamorn on condition that they report to the court as assigned, they do not commit, or attend any activity that may cause public disorder or damage the institution of the monarchy, and they do not travel abroad without the court’s permission.

According to the report:

Parit’s bail security covered in equal amounts 2 cases from his participation in the protests on 19 September 2020 and 14-15 November 2020. 200,000 baht of the security for Chaiamorn covered the 19 September protest and 50,000 baht covered the case of setting fire to the King’s portrait at Klong Prem Prison.

Bail was granted at 18.20, some three hours after the court finished its hearing of the applications for Chaiamorn and Parit. Such delays continue to suggest that the courts are taking orders from elsewhere.

Ammy

An earlier photo of Ammy

Parit has been in pre-trial detention “for 92 days before being released on bail at the tenth attempt.” He had been on a hunger strike for 57 days, protesting the refusal of bail.

Chaiamorn had been detained for 69 days and released on his eighth bail application.

Penguin was released from the prison hospital. Prior to that “police officers from Mueang Roi Et Police Station showed up to arrest him on another charge. The lawyers managed to secure 200,000-baht police bail.”

In addition to the charges on which he bailed, Parit faces at least another 20 more lese majeste charges.





Further updated: “Justice” kills

6 05 2021

There’s increasing concern about hunger strikers and political prisoners Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, including well-meaning calls from some for them to not die when seeking justice.

Sadly, it is becoming clear that the regime is callous and savage. More, we know that the king has a say in whether the lese majeste is used or not. We also know that he is savage in dealing with those he thinks have been disrespectful – look at how he has treated his various wives and Vajiralongkorn’s mad and furious tone in his official declarations when he sacks people.

It gets worse. It is now confirmed that another political prisoner, Arnon Nampa, has fallen ill with the Covid virus “and been moved for medical treatment” at the Medical Correctional Institution. The virus appears to be infecting many inmates and may be out of control.

Coronation 1

Arnon is the second political prisoner to have contracted the virus while incarcerated. The first was Chukiat “Justin” Saengwong.

All prisoners are now under threat, but that these political prisoners are at risk is yet another example of the politicization and monarchization of the (in)justice system. After all, the junta’s constitution states at Article 29:

A suspect or defendant in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent, and before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.

In lese majeste cases, there is a presumption of guilt.

The question must be asked again and again: why is that these activists are not receiving justice? What is it or who is it preventing justice? WHo is it who doesn not care if they die? Who is it that relishes this savage and feudal treatment of young Thais?

No wonder hundreds of thousands of young Thais have joined a Facebook group that displays their dismay and that they have lost faith in many of the country’s institutions.

The military, the mafia regime, and the monarchy are destroying the country while they and their friends eat it.

Update1 : Some good news: “The Criminal Court has approved bail for the temporary release of Rassadon co-leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul on condition that she must not get involved in activities deemed to dishonour the monarchy.” Who knows what the latter condition means.In addition, “she must not join any activity that may cause unrest in the country, leave the country without permission and must report to the court as scheduled.”

The court appeared unable to make a decision without getting advice-cum-orders from on high: “After an inquiry into her bail request on Thursday morning, the court first scheduled handing down the decision at 3pm but later rescheduled it twice to 4pm and 5pm.” We take that delay as confirmation that the court gets it order from the regime and/or the palace.

Update 2: Despite the virus outbreak in prisons and at least two political prisoners already infected, Parit Chiwarak has been transferred “from Ramathibodi Hospital back to prison … after his health improved.” The danger to him is made clear by the courts themselves, which refuse to hear these defendants for fear of the virus. Parit’s court appearance, and that for Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, have been postponed “because the two defendants will not complete their 14-day quarantine until tomorrow. Prison officials said both have to be screened again, to make sure they are clear of the virus, before they will be allowed to attend the hearing.” This amounts to protecting judges and other officials – which is reasonable – but keeping political prisoners in dangerous conditions.





Bail protests

3 05 2021

Frustration, sadness, and anger are common responses to the repeated denial of bail for protest leaders, most of them charged with political “crimes.” The continued use of the lese majeste law to silence political protest and the repeated use – over many years – of a cadre of “lock-them-up” judges who take orders from higher authorities heightens those emotions.

On Sunday, all of these emotions were on display, heightened by the political prisoner Parit’s mother displaying her frustration and deep sadness:

Sureerat Chiwarak … shaved her head yesterday (30 April) to protest against the court’s decision to repeatedly deny bail for her son, whose health is reported to be rapidly declining after being on a hunger strike for the past 46 days.

She’s begging for her son to be bailed.

One result of the callous and savage actions of the military-monarchy regime was the frustration of:

Hundreds of Thai protesters hurled red paint, tomatoes and eggs at a Bangkok court Sunday, demanding the release of all political detainees, including an activist who was hospitalised after a hunger strike.

The protesters rallied outside “Bangkok’s Criminal Court to demand Penguin’s release — and that of other detained activists involved in the pro-democracy movement,” demanding justice and not the rubbish dished out by the regime:

They sloshed red paint all over the court’s entrance, where they had plastered posters of the judge who protesters believed had denied Penguin’s bail.

Protesters also hurled eggs and tomatoes into the compound as police stood guard with plastic riot shields.

Meanwhile, long-time anti-coup and labor rights activist Patchanee Khamnak, who joined the rally “began a hunger strike in front of the Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek Criminal Court at 4pm on Sunday, demanding release on bail of all anti-establishment Ratsadon leaders and followers indicted on lèse majesté charges and being held on remand.”

Protesters also rallied at the Victory Monument, where they railed against politicized judges.

The police responded with more of the same. They made arrests, “dispersed” protesters, lied about the actions of protesters and promised more arrests.








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