Seeing red

21 03 2017

As the junta approaches the anniversary of its third year of military dictatorship, it is going through another phase of red shirt repression. The regime is again seeing reds under its beds and it doesn’t like it.

There are frantic junta imaginations of fantastical red shirt assassination plots, reds infiltrating Wat Dhammakaya, separatist rebellion and more.

This reaction appears to derive from two closely related perceptions: first, a view that any opposition is an immediate threat to the junta’s stability; and second, a desire for regime longevity, where “regime” is the broader elite military-monarchy-business alliance.

At least an element of this perception derives from yellow-shirted and anti-democratic grumbling about the junta having lost its zeal for “reform” – defined as rooting out the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. That grumbling has also been associated with some southern protests over ports and cola-fired power stations. It seems the junta felt its right wing was weakening in its support.

The result has been an intensification of both anti-Thaksinism and anti-red shirt repression.

The targeting of Thaksin has involved an effort to levy Thaksin for past taxes due (although we had somehow thought that the assets stripping case was part of the “tax’) and going after loyalists in a series of legal cases.

The anti-red shirt effort has been frenzied of late, with the Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee weapons and assassination stories and the earlier (and probably related in the minds of the junta) plots said to be originating in Laos.

At the same time, the courts have been at work, dealing with red shirt cases. The most recent of those sees the Appeals Court upholding a “lower court’s sentence of a four-year jail term each, without suspension, for singer Arisman Pongruangrong and 12 other red-shirts for leading protesters who forced their way into the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel in Pattaya, where the 2009 Asean Summit was being held.”

(What has happened with the yellow shirt occupation of airports in 2008?)

They were prosecuted “for defying an order prohibiting a rally of more than 10 people and causing unrest.”

(What has happened to all the yellow shirts who broke similar laws?)

In early 2015, they were sentenced to four years each in jail, without suspension, and a fine of 200 baht. Those sentenced were:

Arisman Pongruangrong, Nisit Sinthuprai, Payap Panket, Worachai Hema, Wanchana Kerddee, Pichet Sukjindathong, Sakda Noppasit, Pol Lt Col Waipot Aparat, Nopporn Namchiangtai, Samrerng Prachamrua, Somyot Promma, Wallop Yangtrong and Singthong Buachum.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, which sentences the 13 to four years each in jail without suspension. Bail may follow, but the threat is clear.

This is a pattern seen previously, although the junta does appear more frantic in its efforts at present.





Bangkok 18 becomes Bangkok 19

23 05 2011

Apologies for again being slow with this post. PPT is continuing to experience difficulties in keeping up with the volume of material on lese majeste.

The Bangkok Post reported on 21 May that the political police at the Department of Special Investigation “will summon 19 red shirt leaders to hear lese majeste charges related to remarks made during a rally early last month.”

PPT earlier posted on this and added a Bangkok 18 post to our page of pending cases. We’ll need to change that to the Bangkok 19 as DSI chief Tharit Pengdit added Payap Panket to the list of those to be charged.

The other 18 are: Weng Tojirakarn, Nattawut Saikua, Korkaew Pikulthong, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, Karun Hosakul, Yoswaris Chuklom, Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Veera Musigapong, Chinawat Haboonpat, Wichian Kaokham, Suporn Atthawong, Kwanchai Sarakham (Praiphana), Nisit Sinthuprai, Prasit Chaisisa, Worawut Wichaidit, Laddawan Wongsriwong, Jatuporn Promphan and Somchai Paiboon.

Tharit said a “summons will be issued on Monday [23 May] and sent to the red shirt suspects by mail. They will have 10 days to prepare prior to appearing before authorities on June 2.”

While he can’t complete investigations into the deaths and injuries of April and May 2010, the puppet-like Tharit can get lese majeste cases sown up in a jiffy (as long as they are against the regime’s opponents).

DSI plans to “take the suspects to the Criminal Court to request their detention. The DSI will also go to Bangkok Remand Prison to file charges against red shirt leaders Jatuporn Prompan and Nisit Sinthuprai, who are detained there.”

Tharit also revealed that the DSI is taking over yet another lese majeste case that “involves six community radio stations which allegedly broadcast Mr Jatuporn’s April 10 remarks which were deemed offensive to the monarchy.”

Just because there is a bit of reformist lese majeste static about doesn’t mean that the political police aren’t on the job. Thailand remains a dangerous place for opposition activists. The royalists are keen to crush them.





Stories worth reading

14 03 2011

There are a bunch of useful stories worth reading, although PPT is having trouble getting to them. So we thought listing them for readers might be a way of ensuring that attention is given to these accounts:

MCOT: “Four more leaders of the red-shirted United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Monday surrendered to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) after being on the run for nine months with outstanding arrest warrants for terrorism, and were later granted releases on bail. Suporn Atthawong, Payap Panket, Chinnawat Haboonpad, and Waipoj Arpornrat turned themselves in at DSI headquarters Monday morning but denied all charges and posed Bt600,000 as bail bond for each.” They seem keen to stand in any upcoming election. Jim Taylor has more on this at Prachatai.

MCOT: “Police have withdrawn from the protest site of Thailand’s yellow-clad activist movement, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Rajdamnoen Nok Avenue after their deployment there stirred fears among demonstrators that the police might try to disperse their months-long rally.” The story on the massed police attempt to clear PAD toilets is quite funny.

Bangkok Post: “Thailand is well suited to democracy, thanks to its extensive civil society and a high level of social trust, a renowned American professor said…. Robert D Putnam, of Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government, was speaking at a seminar titled “Community and Democracy: Why Civil Society is Essential to Democratic Reform” held at Chulalongkorn University yesterday…. Mr Putnam said democracy required a lot of work, time and strong social capital or civil society. He pointed out how the United States saw rapid political changes during the 1910s due to intense social capital interactions and at other times on the ups and downs of social capital, including the Great Depression, the country’s longest period of high unemployment and poverty.”

PPT is not aware that Professor Putnam knows anything at all about Thailand. We think he confuses social capital and political activism and largely ignores political power and ideology as a driving forces behind civil society organizations. Bringing in the “experts” is a long tradition when Thailand faces crisis and doesn’t often lead far. Recall the junta government bringing in a bunch of experts to “discuss” sufficiency economy.

Asia Provocateur by Andrew Spooner has a story on a death threat received by Jitra Kotchadej, who was involved in a protest against Abhisit Vejjajiva a few days ago.

AHRC has a Forwarded Press Release on “Angkhana Neelaphaijit, the chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF), released a statement on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) during the presentation of the joint report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention during meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. In the statement, the JPF and the ICJ called for the Thai government accept the request to visit by the Working Groups and for the Working Groups to work with the Thai government to end arbitrary detention and to bring to light the fate of people who have been disappeared.”





The continuing hunt for Red Shirts

17 06 2009

The Bangkok Post (16 June 2009: “Arrest warrants for red-shirt leaders”) reports that the relentless hunt for red shirt leaders continues.

It is reported that the “Criminal Court has approved arrest warrants for eight more leaders of the red-shirt protest movement, including a police lieutenant colonel, on charges of illegal assembly and instigating unrest” during the Songkhran Uprising.

Senior police have apparently “presented evidence to support the application to the court” that includes “tapes of speeches made by leaders of the red shirts on April 13 at Chamai Maruchet bridge.”

The eight suspects are said to be: Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Suporn Atthawong, Surachai Danwatananusorn, Somchai Paiboon, Pol Lt-Col Waipot Arpornrat, Payap Panket, Methi Amornwuthikul and Pichet Sukchindathong.

The police call on the suspects to surrender to fight the charges.

The report states that the police had earlier issued a warrants for the arrest of 14 leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and that 12 of these later surrendered to police. The two who had not surrendered were Thaksin Shinawatra and Jakrapob Penkair.

In fact, PPT is not sure that this is correct. Readers can go back through our posts and will find that far more red shirt leaders than this were arrested, including in places like Chiang Mai. Earlier, the government had claimed that 10 red shirt leaders had fled the country. If any reader has an accurate count of UDD arrests and/or charges, please let PPT know.

PPT again points to the failure of the Democrat Party-led government to seriously pursue any charges against the yellow-shirted, royalist, anti-Thaksin and Democrat Party supported PAD.