The political police expand and threaten

31 12 2010

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has been effectively made into a political police force under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. Hence, it should be especially worrying for all that the DSI is being expanded in size and reach. In the past, DSI had bureaus that handled fraud, drugs and human trafficking and, the area that became highly politicized, “special cases assigned by the DSI chief…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that the DSI has “created 300 positions and two new bureaus to take up terrorist and special criminal cases in the provinces.” These posts are mainly to be filled by “officers from other agencies such as the military and police…”. The link with the military is important in making the DSI part of regime maintenance. It is also not unique to Thailand.

DSI chief Tharit Pengdit said “only those in specialist fields were considered for the new posts.” These are specialist spies, snoopers, censors and the ideologically sound. They are to deal with “national security cases and the investigation of special criminal cases in the North, Northeast, East and lower South.” New bureaus have been created for “cases which constitute major threats to national security including terrorism.” For all but the deep south, read this as being policing and spying on red shirts, republicans and other opponents of the regime. This is beginning to sound a lot like Department A.

It is reported that “DSI figures show the department handled 1,059 cases in 2004. The DSI has concluded investigation of 596 of them.” Given that thousands of red shirts were arrested, killed, wounded and investigated in 2010, PPT guesses that the DSI’s main role is as an ant-red shirt agency.

It proclaims one of its big cases for 2011 to be the pursuit of “the prosecution of an online group as part of its platform to ‘Stop Lese Majeste’. The group uploaded audio files and visual images and messages offensive to the monarchy.”

Such an expansion of an already political police to protect a royalist regime should be of concern to all those who are interested in political freedom in Thailand. This expansion fits the model of an authoritarian regime embedding itself.





Silencing Jatuporn

28 12 2010

Our headline is the same as that at the Bangkok Post’s website. When PPT posted on the attempt by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and its political police to silence red shirt critic Jatuporn Promphan we concluded: “In other words, Jatuporn must be silenced, and the way to do this is to have him jailed. Tharit [Pengdit of DSI] tried to have bail revoked earlier in the month but this move failed. So he is trying again.”

We noted that the court hearing refused to hear Jatuporn’s witnesses and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban statement that he considered Jatuporn had “acted inappropriately with the on intention of creating unrest in the country while on bail.” Touchy Thai courts have claimed such comments contempt when made by red shirts.

When we updated that post we added this: DSI and the government can claim a partial success in getting the courts to shut up Jatuporn. The Bangkok Post reports that the “Criminal Court on Tuesday dismissed the Department of Special Investigation’s(DSI) request to withdraw bail for United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship core member Jatuporn Prompan.” That’s the reason for “partial” as they didn’t get him locked up. However, the court has “prohibited Mr Jatuporn from any involvement in a political gathering of five and more people and from disseminating political information which may cause damage to legal cases involving UDD protests.” This means that Jatuporn can only speak of matters political in parliament. Another red shirt leader is effectively silenced by a repressive regime.

At the time we relied on a “Breaking News” link that has now been elaborated at the Post. That link has more details. noting that the “request for the court to withdraw bail for Mr Jatuporn was filed by DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit, who said Mr Jatuporn had meddled with witnesses and evidence, committed additional offences and revealed what he claimed were DSI reports concluding that the military was responsible for the deaths of some UDD supporters. The DSI has denied the reports are genuine.”

PPT may have missed something, but we think this is a claim that has gone through a process of change over a couple of weeks, from admission, to partial denial to now complete denial (PPT includes the first two pages of one of the leaked reports in this post; the whole report is available here).

In this updated report, DSI chief Tharit states that:

he was satisfied with the Criminal Court’s order prohibiting Mr Jatuporn from any involvement in political gatherings of five or more people and effectively gagging him. Mr Tharit said the court’s order means that from now Mr Jatuporn cannot give press interviews on these legal cases, take part in a political rally of five people or more, appear on stage to speak, or distribute a document intended to disseminate distorted information.

In other words, he is satisfied that Jatuporn’s political rights have been officially removed.

Chief political policeman Tharit also asserted that “DSI would take legal action against anyone who distributes any comments or documents containing false information on behalf of Mr Jatuporn.” That is yet another attempt at censorship of criticism and political debate. Nothing can be permitted to sully the “official narrative.”





Covering up, blaming everyone else

28 10 2010

On 23 October, when examining the manner in which the Democrat Party, its leaders and the Constitutional Court were burying the true nature of the video evidence of apparent actions to (further) corrupt the judiciary, PPT predicted: “By the beginning of next week, the story may well be the hunt for those ‘criminals’ who shot and posted the videos of the judges and Democrat Party organizing a court decision of national significance.”

Unfortunately, PPT has been proven correct.

The latest report in the Bangkok Post illustrates just how the burying of the allegations has taken place, under a maze of counter-allegations and the use of the police to blur the true nature of the allegations, replacing them with a search for “criminals” who made secret video tapes. The report says that “Crime Suppression Division police investigators are preparing a case to support an application for arrest warrants for people who were involved in the making and release of video clips involving the Constitution Court’s handling of the dissolution trial of the Democrat Party for alleged misuse of a political party development fund…”.

The police appear to accept all Democrat Party claims regarding a set-up, without examining how it is – even accepting this claim – that senior Democrat Party officials could be “set up.” Hence the police say “Pasit Sakdanarong, the sacked former secretary to Supreme Court president Chat Chonlaworn, might have violated Article 198 of the Criminal Code, for contempt of court and obstructing court procedure…. They want to know how he was involved and who else were responsible for the shooting and release of the five video clips posted on YouTube, which was at violation of the Computer Crimes Act…”. It is not stated how these clips offend the Act. The only way would be to accept Democrat Party claims, except for a claim that “audio on the clip showing Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda at a function, in particular, had clearly been clearly falsified.” It is pretty clear that the palace is pushing this case as well, trying to prevent claims that it is (again) involved in shady deals with the judiciary.

The political police claim that “many people were involved in the release of the five video clips” and they appear keen to sheet home these allegations to opposition Puea Thai Party politicians as well.

It seems the police and Democrat Party are working together in these actions: “A Democrat Party source said yesterday the videos were found to have been uploaded to the YouTube website from a location in Hong Kong at 10pm on Oct 15. A police source told the Bangkok Post yesterday that a person in Thailand downloaded and disseminated the videos through emails soon after they were uploaded. Police have identified the person who downloaded the videos and taken legal action against him, although they refused yesterday to reveal his identity.”

To further bury the real allegations and foreground the Democrat Party counterclaims, the “Information and Communication Technology Ministry has asked to seek a court order banning showing of the clips…”.

The clear discourse is cover-up.

 





Another royalist claim of lese majeste

31 08 2010

Prachatai includes a report of rabidly royalist group Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook having met with the Director of the political police – the Department of Special Investigation – to demand an investigation of country and blues singer Tom Dundee for speaking at a red-shirt rally in a manner that they claim constitutes lese majeste.

Here’s a video of Tom at a red shirt rally and this is him on stage at a rally, singing. There are more at YouTube.

Prachatai states that “Boworn Yasinthorn, President of the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook met Tharit Pengdit, Director-General of … DSI…, urging him to prosecute singer and actor Tom Dundee for his public speech at a red-shirt rally in Ratchaburi province. The group submitted as evidence a clip of Tom Dundee’s speech which had been posted on the Youtube website…. They also asked the DSI to prosecute those who had disseminated the clip.”

Ever reliable on lese majeste, Tharit told the royalists “that the DSI would accept the case and investigate whether this can be construed as a conspiracy or not.  The information will be added to the database of the DSI team investigating the plot to overthrow the monarchy…”, meaning that Tom joins PPT’s ever growing list of pending cases.