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.





Another poem from prison

22 04 2021

A couple of days ago we posted a poem by political prisoner Parit Chiwarak, known as Penguin. Ann Norman has now sent us a second, more recent Penguin poem:

บทอาศิรวาทถวายแด่ประชาชนผู้สร้างชาติ

Verses of Blessings Offered to the Citizens, People who Create the Nation

ในโอกาสวันจักรี

On the Occasion of Chakri Day

วันที่ 6 เมษายน 2564

April 6, 2021

 

กรุงเทพเทพเสกได้ เองฤา

Can Krungtep be created by the magic spell of an angel?

ล้วนแต่ตีนแต่มือ ไพร่สร้าง

All the feet, all the hands . . . commoners create and build

เวียงวังวัดสะพรั่งคือ ใครก่อ ขึ้นนา

The towns, royal palaces, and temples in blossom, who built them up?

ใยเทพฉวยชื่ออ้าง ว่าตั้ง กรุงเอง

Why does the angel snatch the name, claiming he built it himself?

 

ปราสาททองอร่ามเรื้อง เรืองสมัย

Golden palaces glitter and gleam for ages

ทองรีบเร้นจนใคร ขื่นกล้ำ

The gold was seized until someone is bitter

โอ้ว่าทิพยาลัย สรวงสถิตย์

The palaces where monarchs lived

งามวิสิทธิ์วิเศษล้ำ ก็น้ำตาใคร

Magnificently and splendidly built on whose tears?

 

เหงื่อไพร่พรูพรั่งพื้น พสุธา

The sweat of commoners pouring to the ground

ข้าวจึงเหลืองเต็มนา ทั่วด้าว

The rice therefore fully yellows the fields throughout the territory

ใช่โพสพเทวดา ใดเสก ประทานแฮ

Not the Goddess of Rice casting a spell, granting [it]

ผองไพร่ไป่ปลูกข้าว ฤาเจ้า มีเสวย

If the farmers don’t farm rice, will the monarchs have rice to eat?

 

เลือดใครไหลหลั่งป้อง ปฐพิน

Who shed blood to protect the motherland?

เลือดแน่เลือดไพร่ริน พิภพกว้าง

Certainly the blood of commoners flows [across] the wide world

เลือดดินย่อมย้อมดิน แดงเดือดค

The blood of the land is likely stain the ground red

ใช่เลือดบนหลังช้าง ที่ล้าง ธรณี

It’s not the blood [of the one] on the back of the elephant that washes the Earth

 

บุญแรงราษฎร์หล่อเลี้ยง โลกา

The virtue and power of the citizens nourishes the world

เป็นหลักค้ำผืนนภา แผ่นหล้า

It’s a principle that holds up the sky and the land [that is, the country]

เหลือยิ่งเอกบุญญา มหาราช ใดเลย

Even greater than the principle and merit of any great king

ขอนบคำนับอ้า ไพร่ฟ้า จงเจริญ

Now let me salute with the words, “Long live the people!”





Penguin to Rung

20 04 2021

In October 2020, Penguin (Parit Chiwarak) wrote a poem for Rung (Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, whose name means Rainbow). Penguin and Rung were in jail at the time, and both are now in jail again, each on a dangerous hunger strike. Penguin wrote several striking poems from prison, evoking Jit Phumisak, a progressive-cum-communist revolutionary who also wrote at least one poem from prison and who died young, killed by the Army. Ann Norman translated Penguin’s first poem:

ข้อความจากเพนกวิน
A Message from Penguin
Penguin and Rung

Clipped from The Nation

แด่รุ้ง และเพื่อนผู้ต้องขังทางการเมืองทุกคน
To Rung, and all of my political prisoner friends
 
ฟ้าขื่นค่ำคืนหนาว
The sky is bitter, the night is cold
ยะเยือกร้าวกระดูกไข
Shivering to the bone
ลมพัดโหมซัดไอ
A gust of wind blows
ละอองฝน กระเซ็นสาย
mists of raindrops
 
มองเดือนก็เดือนดับ
Watch the moon, it’s a setting moon
มองดาวอับลับแสงพราย
Look at the stars, their sparkling faint and muted
คืนนี้นอนเดียวดาย
This night is so lonesome
ในกรงขัง อันวังเวง
In a lonely cell
 
เงี่ยหูฟังสุ้มเสียง
Lend an ear and hear the sound
หาใช่เสียงดนตรีเพลง
It’s not the music of a song
คือถ้อยร้อยบรรเลง
It’s a string of words making music
แห่งคืนมืดประโคมขาน
in the dark night, proclaiming and calling out
 
ที่ฟาดคือฟ้าร้อง
What beats is thunder
ใช่เสียงกลอง ย่ำโมงกาล
Not the sound of a drum [telling] the evening hour
ที่ดัง แว่วกังวาล
What loudly resounds in the distance
ใช่กระดิ่ง คือโซ่ตรวน
is not a bell but the sound of a chain
 
ที่หวีดมาหวิวหวิว
The whistling sound
ใช่ขลุ่ยผิวหากลมหวน
is not not a flute but the moaning wind
ที่ขับคันธัพครวญ
What calls out [in an ancient musical style] and croons,
คือเสียงเพรียกของผู้คน
It’s the cries of the people
 
เสียงคนผู้จนยาก
The sound of impoverished people
ได้ยินจากทุกแห่งหน
Heard from every place
เพลงเข็ญยังเล่นวน
A song of suffering plays and circulates
ระงมเลื่อนมิเลือนหาย
Loud and tumultuous, not dying out
 
คืนนี้แน่คืนยาก
This night is certainly difficult
ดังใจพรากพลัดจากกาย
As if the mind was separated from the body
ความเป็นคนมลาย
Your humanity melts away
พายุห้ำกระพือโหม
The storm rages
 
เธออาจจะหวาดหวั่น
You may be scared
เมื่อฟ้าลั่นประจัญโจม
When the sky rumbles and rushes in
หากฟ้าที่ถาโถม
If the sky that swoops down
ย่อมวัดมาตรขนาดใจ
is going to measure the size of your heart
 
เหล็กกล้าที่แกร่งดี
Steel that is good and strong
ต้องถูกตีและผ่านไฟ
Must be struck and go through fire
คนกล้ายิ่งกว่าใคร
Bold people more than anyone
ต้องผ่านภัยใจจึงทน
Must pass dangers, the heart therefore endures
 
มีสู้ย่อมมีเจ็บ
Where there is struggle, there is pain
และหนาวเหน็บในบางหน
And shivering sometimes
แต่เพื่อประชาชน
But for the people
จงทนทุกข์อย่างทนทาน
[one] must suffer and bear it
 
เพื่อเกียรติภูมิมั่น
For a reputation/dignity that is secure and certain
จงยิ้มหยันอย่างอาจหาญ
We must boldly give a mocking smile
แสนปืนทั้งหมื่นมาร
A hundred thousand guns, all ten thousands obstacles
ฤ จะสู้เพียงหนึ่งใจ
We fight only with one heart
 
ที่ยืนหยัดในศรัทธา
In standing fast in [one’s] faith
ทนงกล้าบนทางไกล
Bravely enduring on the long path
อำนาจทมิฬใด
no cruel power of any kind
มิอาจข่มให้ก้มหัว
may force [us] to bow [our] heads
 
แม้ฝนกระหน่ำฟ้า
Even though the rain pounds
จงเชิดหน้าอย่าเกรงกลัว
[you] must raise your head, don’t be afraid and cower
ประกาศให้รู้ทั่ว
Let everyone everywhere know
ว่าฟ้าใหม่คืบใกล้มา
That the New Sky is inching closer
 
ถึงวันที่แสงส่อง
Until the day that the rays of light shine
อำไพผ่องทั่วท้องนภา
Bright and beautiful throughout the whole sky
ผองคนบนผืนหล้า
All the people on the land, then
จะลั่นกลองอย่างเกรียงไกร
Will rumble drums, mightily
 
วันนั้นคือวันพรุ่ง
That day is tomorrow
ย่อมเห็นรุ้งอร่ามไกล
We will see A Rainbow glittering far [across the place]
มวลชนจะมีชัย
The masses will have victory
และเป็นใหญ่ในแผ่นดิน
And be most important on the land
 
เพนกวิน พริษฐ์ ชิวารักษ์
Penguin Parit Chiwarak
ผู้ต้องขังทางการเมือง ณ เรือนจำพิเศษกรุงเทพ
Political prisoner at Bangkok Remand Prison
29 ต.ค. 2563
October 29, 2020





Updated: More protest arrests

29 03 2021

Protesters who had been “camping” outside Government House since 13 March and known as the “Baan Thaloo Fah village,” were detained by the police in a dawn raid on Sunday. They were “bussed to the Region 1 Border Patrol Police (BPP) Command in Pathum Thani province for ‘questioning’.”

Estimates of the number arrested vary in press reports, but the most reliable reports are of 99 detained.

This action by police “is the latest escalation by Thai security forces as they continue to carry out operations against pro-democracy demonstrators,” arresting, charging and detaining anti-regime protesters.

The Nation has a series of photos and Thai Enquirer has video links of the “violent arrest of the protesters was completely unprovoked as the demonstrators did not engage in any violent conduct and merely sat on the ground as they were manhandled and carried away by the police.”

arrested

Clipped from Bangkok Post

It adds that some of those detained minors and observes that the regime is now “much more comfortable now to use violence against peaceful protesters.” It considers that it may be that the regime is “emboldened by the atrocities carried out by their contemporaries in Myanmar, [with] the Thai security forces and the government … feel[ing] that anything they do will pale in comparison.”

But the violence we are seeing being used by the security personnel must not be allowed to be come the norm. These are not normal actions by a normal government.

These are extraordinary measures carried out by a government that is arrogantly flexing its muscles knowing that there will be little international condemnation to follow.

These actions are being conducted with the impunity that defines military-backed government in Thailand (and elsewhere).

Thai Enquirer worries that “the escalation in violence will only continue and it will be a matter of time before lives are lost.”

Update: The Bangkok Post confirms that 99 protesters were arrested. 67 were arrested in the morning and the rest in the afternoon. Police said those arrested “would initially be charged with violating the Communicable Disease Control Act and the emergency decree…”. In addition, “[t]wo monks who joined the protest were apprehended and disrobed at Wat Benjamaborphit…”. It isn’t clear if the monks were charged. Those arrested included groups associated with Ratsadon and others from the “Save Bang Kloi Coalition of ethnic Karen people from the Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi.” The police managed to concoct all kinds of allegations against the groups – see the story for the details.





Another year of PPT

20 01 2020

Eleven years have passed for Political Prisoners in Thailand. We admit our disappointment that we remain active.

By this, we mean that PPT should have gone the way of the dinosaurs, being unnecessary as Thailand’s political prisoners, its military dictatorship and political repression would have been a thing of the past. But political dinosaurs flourish in Thailand’s fertile environment filled with fascists, royalists and feudalists. Sadly, the political climate in  the country is no better following last year’s March “election,” which was rigged to return a junta-based regime.

When we began PPT on 21 January 2009, we hoped it would be a temporary endeavor, publicizing a spike in lese majeste cases to an international audience. Instead, a decade later, we are still at it and dealing with the outcomes of royalist politics gone mad.

We now face the repressive reality of the continued dominance of a military dictatorship-turned-military-backed regime, initially brought to power by an illegal military coup in 2014. This regime is underpinned by a nonsensical royalism that protects an anti-democratic ruling class and efforts by the king to enhance his political and economic power, cheered on by the regime. This royalist state lavishes privilege, wealth and power on a few.

In “protecting” monarchy, regime and ruling class, the military junta and its “elected” spawn have used a politicized judiciary, a rigged constitution and blunt military and police repression to maintain power.

Last year we argued that the junta’s rigging of an “election” that would embed a military-royalist constitution and lead to a political nightmare, maintaining military political domination for years to come. Sadly, we were right.

A better, more representative and more democratic politics remains a dream.

When we sputtered into life it was as a collaborative effort to bring more international attention to the expanded use of the lese majeste and computer crimes laws by the then Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and his anti-democratic Democrat Party. That regime’s tenure saw scores die and thousands injured in political clashes and hundreds held as political prisoners.

The royalism and repression that gained political impetus from anti-democratic street demonstrations that paved the way for the 2006 military coup and then for the 2014 military coup have become the military state’s ideology. Those perceived as opponents of the military and the monarchy were whisked away into detention, faced threats and surveillance and some have died or been “disappeared” in mysterious circumstances.

This royalism and repression has also strengthened the monarchy. The junta supinely permitted King Vajiralongkorn to assemble greater economic and political power. It colluded with the palace in aggregating land for the monarch that was previously set aside for the public. It has colluded in destroying symbols of the 1932 revolution, emphasizing the rise of neo-feudal royalism that leaves democracy neutered.

On this anniversary, as in past years,  we want an end to political repression and gain the release of every political prisoner. Under the current regime – as military junta and then “elected” regime – hundreds of people have been jailed or detained, subjected to military courts and threatened by the military.

The 2006 and 2014 coups, both conducted in the name of the monarchy, have seen a precipitous slide into a new political dark age where the lese majeste law – Article 112 – has been a grotesque weapon of choice in a deepening political repression.

From 2006 to 2017, lese majeste cases grew exponentially. Worse, both military and civil courts have held secret trials and handed out unimaginably harsh sentences. And even worse than that,  the definition of what constitutes a crime under the lese majeste law has been extended. Thankfully, since 2017 we were unable to identify any new lese majeste cases and some in process were mysteriously dropped. There remain several persons held or charged with lese majeste and cries of lese majeste still emanate from royalists and ministers.

These days, other charges, including sedition, are used to repress political opponents.

As for PPT, we have now had more than 6.5 million page views at our two sites (one now closed). PPT isn’t in the big league of the blogging world, but the level of interest in Thailand’s politics has increased. We are pleased that there is far more attention to political repression and lese majeste than there was when we began and that the international reporting and understanding of these issues is far more critical than it was.

Tired after all these years, we did take a break in late 2019, but we are now back.

We want to thank our readers for sticking with us. We trust that we remain useful and relevant and we appreciate the emails we receive from readers.

As in the past we declare:

The lese majeste, sedition and computer crimes laws must be repealed.

Charges against all political activists must be dropped.

All political prisoners must be released.

Royalism and neo-feudalism must be opposed.





Update on PPT at 10

2 03 2019

In a post back in January, marking a decade of posting, we made a mistake that we want to correct. Back then, we stated:

As for PPT, despite heavy censorship and blocking in Thailand, we have now had more than 3 million page views at our two sites. The blocking in Thailand has been more extensive in 2018 than in past years.

That number was incorrect if we include both our pages (PPT and PPofT). Including both means we have had 6 million page views.





With 3 updates: Regime fails

5 02 2019

In the last few days there have been several events and announcements that point to failures by the military junta. They are among many regime failures since 2014.

First, the regime has failed on corruption. Of course, it came to power, like several past military regimes, to end corruption. As in the past, as now, this has not meant corruption by the military and regime itself.

Second, now shackling and dressing him in prison garb, the regime has failed to end the detention of Hakeem al-Araibi. A recognized refugee, for still unexplained reasons, Thailand is pandering to the monarchy in Bahrain in dealing with Hakeem. He would be a political prisoner in Bahrain, and that’s why he is a designated refugee. Thailand’s regime has failed to comply with international law. He’s now detailed for another few months in a Thai jail when he should be living freely in Australia.

Third, on political prisoners, activist and lese majeste detainee Jatupat Boonpattararaksa has had two charges of illegal assembly dropped by a military court. Similar charges against six other activists were also dropped. The court had no option as these charges became unenforceable several weeks ago. However, others continue to languish in prison on lese majeste and political assembly charges. The justice system under the junta has failed.

Update 1: The Hakeem al-Araibi case has become so bizarre for the regime that it is coming up with completely ridiculous stories to justify its inability to behave according to international norms and law.

First, there’s Thailand’s head of immigration Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, known by his real nickname, “Big Joke.” He’s dissembled on how Hakeem’s case is different from that of Rahaf Mohamed. It is, but his explanation is ridiculously daft. He says Hakeem’s case is different “because Hakeem had an arrest warrant out for him… [and] Hakeem was the subject of an extradition request…”. Of course, under international law, neither is legitimate. In other words, Thailand’s junta and its officials are acting for Bahrain, but not saying why they are doing this. Our guess is that they cannot say because the explanation leads to the king’s palace.

Second, the “Australian government … urged Thailand to exercise its legal discretion to free a refugee football player who lives and plays in Australia and told a Bangkok court that he refuses to be voluntarily extradited to Bahrain.” Ridiculously and breaching international law, Thai foreign minister, Don Pramudwinai, again stated that “Australia and Bahrain should resolve the issue in discussions between themselves…”. Minister Don seems to ignore the fact that it is Thailand that arrested Hakeem and now holds him. It is Thailand’s responsibility to make a correct and legal decision.

Such a ludicrous statement by a minister would be inexplicable for any normal administration. It is unbelievable that the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has to point out that “Thailand’s office of the Attorney-General has publicly confirmed that Thailand’s Extradition Act allows for executive discretion in such cases. This was also confirmed by the prosecutor in the context of yesterday’s hearing…”.

Dressing and shackling Hakeem is a part of the junta’s effort to portray him as a criminal rather than a refugee. How much deeper can this regime dig itself into a royalist quagmire?

Update 2: And it gets worse for the junta. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said “he was ‘disturbed’ to see Araibi with shackles on his feet when he arrived at the Criminal Court on Monday.” Talking on national television, he added: “I thought that was very upsetting and I know it would have upset many Australians, and I respectfully reminded the Thai prime minister that Australians feel very strongly about this…”.

Update 3: A potential football boycott of Thailand has begun:

Football Federation Australia announced Wednesday it had scrapped the game against China, a scheduled warmup ahead of next month’s qualifiers for the Asian under-23 championships.





Human rights gone

3 02 2019

The record on human rights under the military dictatorship has been worse than abysmal.

Both accredited refugees and those seeking refuge have been “disappeared” or have been returned to the countries they fled. In most cases, it seems likely that deals have been done between the dictatorship in Thailand and dictatorial regimes in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China.

Uighurs have been deported back to China, sometimes chained and hooded, and en masse. Chinese dissidents have suddenly “disappeared” in Thailand to reappear, in China, in the custody of officials, suggestive of deals being done between regimes to allow foreign forces to operate with impunity on Thai soil. Cambodian dissidents have been deported back to prisons in their country.

The there seem to be deals done that allow Thai hunter-killer squads to operate in Laos, torturing and murdering.

Recently, Thailand has cooperated with Bahrain’s monarchy is arresting and seeking to extradite a dissident footballer who has refugee status in Australia. Thailand doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Bahrain, but they still plan to send him back. Rightist officials in Australia seem to have facilitated this situation.

And, now, the news that former Vietnamese political prisoner, Truong Duy Nhat, has “gone missing” in Bangkok.

There’s a pattern emerging regionally. Presumably the reason for dictatorial regimes cooperating is to allow them to threaten and silence all dissidents, at home and abroad.





Updated: A decade of PPT

21 01 2019

A decade has passed for Political Prisoners in Thailand. We admit our huge disappointment that we are still active after all these years.

By this, we mean that PPT should have gone the way of the dinosaurs, being unnecessary as Thailand’s political prisoners, its military dictatorship and political repression would have been a thing of the past. But political dinosaurs flourish in Thailand’s fertile environment filled with fascists, royalists and neo-feudalists. Sadly, the political climate in  the country is regressing faster than most pundits could have predicted.

When we began PPT on 21 January 2009, we hoped it would be a temporary endeavor, publicizing a spike in lese majeste cases to an international audience. Instead, a decade later, we are still at it and dealing with the outcomes of royalist politics gone mad. We now face the repressive reality of the continued dominance of a military dictatorship, brought to power by an illegal military coup in 2014. This regime is underpinned by a nonsensical royalism that masks and protects an anti-democratic ruling class. Royalists have fought to maintain a royalist state that lavishes privilege, wealth and power on a few.

In “protecting” monarchy, regime and ruling class, the military junta has continued the politicization of the judiciary and is now rigging an “election” that may, one day, be held, if the king finally decides that he will allow an election. That “election,” embedded in a military-royalist constitution, will potentially be a political nightmare, maintaining military political domination for years to come.

A better, more representative and more democratic politics remains a dream.

When we sputtered into life it was as a collaborative effort to bring more international attention to the expanded use of the lese majeste and computer crimes laws by the then Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and his anti-democratic Democrat Party. That regime’s tenure saw scores die and thousands injured in political clashes and hundreds held as political prisoners.

The royalism and repression that gained political impetus from anti-democratic street demonstrations that paved the way for the 2006 military coup and then for the 2014 military coup have become the military state’s ideology. Those perceived as opponents of the military and the monarchy were whisked away into detention, faced threats and surveillance and some have died or been “disappeared” in mysterious circumstances, and continue to do so in recent months.

This royalism and repression has also strengthened the monarchy and the new monarch. The junta has supinely permitted King Vajiralongkorn to assemble greater economic and political power. It has colluded with the palace in aggregating land for the monarch that was previously set aside for the public. It has colluded in destroying several symbols of the 1932 revolution, emphasizing the rise of neo-feudal royalism that leaves democracy neutered.

On this anniversary, as in past years,  we want an end to political repression and gain the release of every political prisoner. Under the current regime, hundreds of people have been jailed or detained, subjected to military courts and threatened by the military. The military regime is not only illegal but is the most repressive since the royally-appointed regime under Thanin Kraivixien in the mid-1970s.

The 2006 and 2014 coups, both conducted in the name of the monarchy, have seen a precipitous slide into a new political dark age where the lese majeste law – Article 112 – has been a grotesque weapon of choice in a deepening political repression.

From 2006 to 2017, lese majeste cases grew exponentially. Worse, both military and civil courts have held secret trials and handed out unimaginably harsh sentences. And even worse than that,  the definition of what constitutes a crime under the lese majeste law has been extended. Thankfully, in 2017 we were unable to identify any new lese majeste cases and some in process were mysteriously dropped. We don’t know why. It could be that the military’s widespread crackdown has successfully quieted anti-monarchism or it might be that the king wants no more cases to get public airings and “damage” his “reputation.”

The last information available suggest that there are at least 18 suspects accused of violating Article112 whose cases have reached final verdicts and who remain in prison.

As for PPT, despite heavy censorship and blocking in Thailand, we have now had more than 6 million page views at our two sites. The blocking in Thailand has been more extensive in 2018 than in past years. This is our 7,999th post.

PPT isn’t in the big league of the blogging world, but the level of interest in Thailand’s politics and the use of lese majeste has increased. We are pleased that there is far more attention to political repression and lese majeste than there was when we began and that the international reporting and understanding of these issues is far more critical than it was.

We want to thank our readers for sticking with us through all the attempts by the Thai censors to block us. We trust that we remain useful and relevant and we appreciate the emails we receive from readers.

As in the past we declare:

The lese majeste and computer crimes laws must be repealed.

Charges against political activists must be dropped.

All political prisoners must be released.

The military dictatorship must be opposed.

Update: We completely botched the number of views at PPT. We have amended above to 6 million, not 3 million as we originally had.