Free Pai XVI

16 07 2017

The military dictatorship’s jailing of  Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (or Pai) is an example of how the junta engages in selective political repression.

The first political activist to be charged and jailed on lese majeste charges during the reign of the loathsome King Vajiralongkorn, his arrest was a act of political repression, singling out Pai among thousands who shared a BBC Thai story about the king. Pai has now been held in jail for more than six months awaiting what will surely be a conviction.

Of course, the “authorities” want him to plead guilty so that they can jail him without a trail.

The junta’s regime is interested in repression and uses the law as a gangster uses a gun.

In this story of repression, double standards and manipulation of the law, as The Nation reports, international activists are now working to bring attention to Pai’s sad and sorry case.

These activists have launched a campaign called “Bring the World to Pai” to tell the stories of Jatuphat and other political prisoners, while telling the world about the political situation in Thailand under the military dictatorship.

The brave young activists, “identified as Cat, Chris, Austin, Jay, and Effy from Australia, England, Canada, Malaysia, and Vietnam” actually “visited Pai at Khon Kaen Central Prison on Friday.”

Pai was said to be “in good spirit and told his international friends, with one of his fists up in the air, to encourage young people everywhere to carry on their struggle for freedom and democracy.”

This expression of “solidarity with Thai activists opposed to the military-backed regime” puts the conference delegates at the International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai to shame. So far, PPT hasn’t heard a peep from these academic tourists about the grave political situation or about political prisoners in Thailand. There’s still time for some kind of statement from them, but so far it has been silence, which the junta must appreciate.





Enforced amnesia

17 06 2017

The efforts to erase history from the brains of Thais continues.

A widely-circulated Khaosod report is of junta thug-soldiers and police going to two art galleries in Bangkok and ordering the removal of “three photographs from an exhibition without citing any reason.”

In fact, thug-soldiers working for the military dictatorship doesn’t need any reason for doing what it pleases. Yet, in this case, the notion seems to be to prevent people from remembering.

One of the exhibitions depicts the “lives and memories of political prisoners while the other was an homage to the 2010 military crackdown on Redshirt protests which left more than 90 people dead.”

The soldiers reportedly showed up under a misapprehension that lese majeste convict Pornthip Munkong, was hosting the exhibition. In fact, many of the photos had already been removed from the exhibition following a complaint by Pornthip.

By chance, the soldiers wandered across to the other exhibition and were aghast that the exhibition “contrasts images of the bloody 2010 crackdown with pictures of everyday life.” The soldiers demanded that three collages be removed.

The military junta seems intent on countrywide lobotomy.





Shackling and chaining political prisoners

16 06 2016

The military dictatorship continues to treat its political prisoners – most especially those charged with lese majeste – as dangerous criminals. This is reflective of both the feudal mindset of royalists and their cruel desire to torture and belittle those with whom they do not agree.

Shackled and chainedPrachatai reports that two junta critics Harit Mahaton and Natthika Worathaiwich have been taken, shackled and chained, to a military court. For a fourth time, the court rejected bail for the two civilians, accused of lese majeste.

As usual, the royalist court refused bail because lese majeste is considered a major crime in royalist Thailand and because it thought the two were flight risks. (The courts, both civil and military, almost always say this as they repeatedly refuse bail for those being victimized under the lese majeste law.)

On “15 June 2016, the Bangkok military court rejected one million baht bail for the [two], … accused of lѐse majesté for sending messages deemed defamatory to the Thai [m]onarchy in their private Facebook chat.”

The court did urge “authorities to finish the case’s investigation before the end of current custody period. The two have been detained for almost two months.” (Slow investigations are part of a process of wearing down the defendants, repeatedly demanding that they plead guilty.)





“Loosening up”

4 06 2016

There has been quite a lot of media discussion of the military dictatorship “loosening up.”

This picture, we assume recent, shows several political prisoners being marched to appear before a military court.

Shackled

Shackled and made to walk barefoot, these political prisoners are degraded by the process of parading them to court. None of them is dangerous or likely to flee, but they are shackled nonetheless.

Loosening up? Well, the shackles are now lighter than those used previously, which belonged to the 18th century. The picture below is of lese majeste victim Joe Gordon, forced to wear leg irons.

Joe Gordon in chains in 2011

Joe Gordon in chains in 2011





US still wrong on lese majeste

29 06 2015

PPT has, each year, been critical of the U.S. State Department’s report on human rights for failing to acknowledge that the lese majeste law is a political law and that almost all of those held under this law are political prisoners. This year (referring to 2014), the report moves a little closer, but still can’t accept that lese majeste is used for explicitly political purposes and for political repression. This is what the report says:

Political Prisoners and Detainees112
Prior to the May 22 coup, there were no government reports of political prisoners or detainees, but sources estimated that 20 persons remained detained under lese majeste laws that outlaw criticism of the monarchy (see section 2.a.). Some of the cases involved persons exercising their rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Following the May 22 coup, the military government opened at least 15 new lese majeste cases for investigation as of September, while authorities also revived other cases in which officials had not previously filed charges.





Military dictatorship vs. democracy

28 02 2015

Pisan Manawapat is Thailand’s ambassador to the United States. He read the Washington Post’s editorial “Thailand’s ineffective rule by force” (19 February 2015) and was ordered or decided to respond. His is an official response and thus represents the military dictatorship’s position.

He writes of a make believe kingdom located at the bottom of The Dictator’s garden, full of fairies and other imaginaries.

Pisan writes:

The Feb. 20 editorial “Thailand’s rule by force” grossly misrepresented the situation in the country.

In fact, any fair reader would look at the Post’s editorial and think it rather mild. It could have said more about the draconian lese majeste law and the dozens of people in jail based on flimsy evidence and mad monarchists’ claims. It could have said more about the corruption of the generals and their flunkies. It could have said more about Prayuth’s role in murdering protesters in 2010. More could have been said about the dysfunctional monarchy.

Thailand has not wavered in its commitment to democracy. Progress is being made, and the new constitution’s drafting and consultation process must, by law, be completed by September. After its enactment, Thailand will hold multiparty elections early next year. To prejudge the constitution’s contents or even to presume a referendum will not be held is not appropriate. The talk of election delay was in anticipation of the time needed to organize a referendum.

The Ambassador has lost his marbles and cannot find them. Democracy? Even in its limited electoral format, the military dictatorship and its puppet assemblies has moved to allow an unelected senate and an unelected prime minister. “Democracy” will be controlled by the military, which is winding the clock back to the 1980s and ineffective and incapacitated parliaments dominated by generals and bureaucrats. This will not be democracy.

As with every country, Thailand has to balance its national security with respect for civil liberty. Martial law is necessary to maintain public safety. Fed up with prolonged street protests and random violence, the Thai public is not affected by this deterrence. Martial law will, however, have to be lifted before elections to allow vibrant and participatory campaigning.

Here the Ambassador seems quite mad. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people have been arrested or detained. The rest of the population is repressed. Censorship is standard practice. Farmers are thrown off their land. Martial law protects the military dictatorship, the monarchy and crony business interests.

There are no political prisoners in Thailand, and former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be accorded due process in our Supreme Court.

Completely bonkers. Dozens of political prisoners languish in squalid jails charged with lese majeste.

Thailand’s goal is to achieve democratic rule, where key principles such as good governance, transparency and accountability are respected. Further, anti-human trafficking and anti-child pornography bills to further improve human rights protections are being pushed into law.

Mad as a hatter. Human rights protections are non-existent. The National Human Rights Commission is a sad joke. “Thailand” does not exist politically. Where the Ambassador says “Thailand” he means the military dictatorship, and its goal is anything but a functioning democracy. Its goal is a political system controlled by the royalist elite under military leadership. Their aim is to retain power for the old ruling classes.





5,000 posts

20 10 2014

PPT was staggered to discover that our last post was the 5,000th at this blog. We were staggered because, when we began in early 2009, we actually thought that we’d only be a relatively short-lived blog.

We began when the Democrat Party-led government of that time began to expanded censorship, blocked tens of thousands of web pages it considered offensive to the monarchy and presided over numerous new charges and arrests under the lese majeste law that makes critical discussion of the monarchy a political crime. All of this in the defense of some ill-defined notion of “national security.”

We mistakenly thought that people would come to their senses and end lese majeste nonsense.

Of course, lese majeste is much more than a political nonsense. It is a political tool to maintain the royalist regime and its social and economic order.

 

As it happens, things have only gotten worse. So PPT continues….