Pressuring a privy pivot point

2 02 2023

It was recently reported that Thammasat University’s Sociology & Anthropology professor Anusorn Unno has submitted a letter of petition endorsed by 91 university lecturers, university students and others to Privy Council President Gen said Surayud Chulanontseeking his/palace intervention to save lese majeste political prisoners Tantawan Tuatulanond and Orawan Pupong.

He was “petitioned to immediately help put an end to a life-and-death crisis involving a couple of young women on a severe hunger strike.”

The act is said to be “unprecedented.”

Separate petitions including one endorsed with signatures of some 5,000 people have already been lodged in support of calls of human rights groups for reform of the judicial process and abolition of the lese majeste law in addition to the immediate, unconditional release of those political detainees.

It may seem odd to seek intervention from the very institution that is opposed by the hunger strikers. We guess that the idea is to point to the palace as the pivotal point in Article 112.





14 long years

22 01 2023

Sadly, PPT has been at work for 14 long and sometimes discouraging years. That said, we are amazed and gratified by the bravery of those in Thailand who oppose lese majeste and the monarchy-military alliance, and the voices for monarchy reform that refuse to be silenced.

Way back at our 2nd anniversary we had this:

In a very real way, the second anniversary of Political Prisoners in Thailand is not a birthday to be celebrated. When we began Political Prisoners in Thailand on 21 January 2009, we anticipated that it would be a temporary endeavor. Instead, two years later, we have grown exponentially in terms of writing and readership.

Unfortunately, we do not anticipate being able to end our work anytime soon. There are now more people jailed for a range of political crimes in Thailand today than there were in 2009.

If anything, things are worse today. There are at least 21 political detainees, but this number ignores others jailed on bogus charges. Worse, years of authoritarianism have changed institutions. Elections of a better regime is unlikely to mean that this embedded authoritarianism can easily be replaced. For us, fundamental political change begins with reform of the monarchy rooting out the monarchism that is the keystone of Thailand’s authoritarianism and its political and economic inequality.





Updated: Opening eyes

21 01 2023

Thai Newsroom and Thai PBS show that it takes considerable effort to get reporting of critically important news when it has anything to do with Kibosh and his family of Munsters.

It took self-bail revocation, a (limited) hunger strike, and student pressure to get them to take notice.

The Bangkok Post seems to still be avoiding the obvious:

The two stories mentioned above relate to large banners that were hung at Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus. The banners pushed:

“students to pay attention to politics, to not bow to unjust rules and to support the persistent call for freedom for the 21 political detainees, nine of whom have been prosecuted under the draconic lese majeste law, better known as Section 112 of the Criminal Code, whilst the others have been slapped with sedition charges.

The call was supported by the United Front of Thammasat & Demonstration and Thai Lawyers For Human Rights.

Update: Better late than never – the Bangkok Post has reported this story.





Brave women I

17 01 2023

Prachatai reports that activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong went to Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 16 January 2023 to file for bail revocation for themselves. Both are facing several charges, including lese majeste. The article states:

Clipped from Prachatai

The two activists stood in front of the Court entrance and poured red paint on themselves, before announcing their demand that every activist and protester detained for their involvement in the pro-democracy protest must be released within 3 days. They will also not be filing for bail again until their demands are met, and if no response is made by 18 January, other activists, including those still detained, will be taking further actions.

They called for a reform of judicial system so that human rights and freedom of expression take priority, and so that courts are independent and protect people’s freedom, as well as for judges to make decisions without intervention from their own executives.

They also called for all charges against those exercising their freedoms of expression and assembly to be dropped, and for every political party to back the repeal of the royal defamation law and sedition law to guarantee people’s right, freedom, and political participation….

The courts accepted these self-revocations.

These are determined and brave women. All power to them. Thailand’s best.

As usual, it is Prachatai reporting this, with not a peep – as far as PPT can see – in any of the English-language local media. That media seems not only frightened but cowed by the regime, the judiciary, and palace. Almost no news regarding the use of lese majeste appears in any of these outlets.





Updated: Political prisoners denied bail (again and again)

23 07 2022

The courts are working hard maintaining the monarchy, its ruling class and its royalist-military status quo.

Prachatai reports that 31 political prisoners now detained without bail.

That milestone in political persecution was achieved through the denial of bail for the 7 Thalufah activists for a rally at Democrat Party headquarters on 30 July 2021 and another man named Boonma, detained pending an appeal on his conviction for computer crimes “after he was accused of running an anti-monarchy Facebook page…”.

Five of the 31 “are detained on royal defamation charges.”*

Reproduced from Prachatai, this is the list of the five:

  • Private Methin (pseudonym), 22, a soldier detained at the 11th Military Circle Prison since 19 March 2022 after he was accused of mentioning King Vajiralongkorn while arguing with another person who hit his motorcycle with their car. TLHR reported that Methin was held at the 11th Military Circle for 30 days while facing disciplinary action, before being arrested by officers from Bangbuatong Police Station and detained at the military prison.
  • Nutthanit, 20, an activist from the monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang. She has been detained pending trial on charges of royal defamation, sedition, and refusing to comply with an officer’s order filed against her for conducting a public poll on royal motorcades in February 202 She has been denied bail 7 times and has been on a hunger strike for 50 days to demand the right to bail.
  • Netiporn, 26, another activist from the monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang. She is detained on the same charges as Nutthanit, has been repeatedly denied bail, and is also on a hunger strike to demand the right to bail.
  • Sombat Thongyoi, a former Red Shirt protest guard sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act over 3 Facebook posts he made in 2020. Sombat has been detained pending appeal at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 28 April 2022.
  • Pornchai Yuanyee, a Thalufah activist, who was accused of burning a royal ceremonial arch in front of Ratchawinit School during a protest on 19 September 2019. He has been detrained pending trial at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 7 July 2022.

At present, three of these detainees are on a hunger strike, demanding the constitutional right to bail, and several detainees have engaged in self-harm, also protesting their continued detention.

*PPT gain points out to Prachatai that “royal defamation” is the wrong term, risking a “normalization” of Article 112. It is Article 112 and lese majeste. “Royal defamation” has no meaning as in defamation only the injured party can initiate a legal suit.

Update: This graphic is from TLHR:

 





Further updated: Suicide attempts

28 06 2022

Readers will be well award that a series of political prisoners, denied bail, have been on hunger strikes. Some of those continue.

Shockingly, yesterday it was revealed on social media that one political prisoner had attempted suicide. It is now revealed that three Talugas protesters, also denied bail and “being held on remand, have tried to commit suicide, but were rescued and are now safe…”. That’s according to Corrections Department Director-General Aryut Sinthoppan.

He stated “that one of the protesters, detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison, swallowed over 50 paracetamol pills, which he had gathered from friends in the prison, while the other two slashed their wrists with a sharpened tool of unknown origin.”

The three protesters reportedly “told prison officials that they were stressed, missed their families and wanted bail.”

He also “insisted that, while the prison has CCTV to monitor the activities of all prisoners at all time, he will order an investigation into how the trio managed to attempt suicide without detection by prison guards.”

At present there are some “11 members of the Talugas protest group are being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, pending trials on multiple charges” all related to protests.

Bail is necessary. But so too is the prison designated for political detainees. In 2014 there was an effort to separate political prisoners from the general prison population.

Update 1: A Thai Enquirer op-ed comments:

If nothing else can convince the authorities to grant bail to young pro-democracy protesters (who should not be jailed in the first place) languishing in prison while awaiting trial than the latest news that one of them tried to commit suicide while in prison should force them to change their minds.

Given that this is Thailand and the Prayut Chan-ocha administration, it should come no surprise that no bail is forth coming and once again the pro-democracy political prisoners are being punished to the extremes to frighten them into silence.

Update 2: Prachatai reports that it was one prisoner who attempted suicide. The other two engaged in protest using “the lid from a can of fish to cut themselves on the face and arms over 10 times from the wrist to elbow to protest their detention and denial of bail.” Another is on a hunger strike. All the detained protesters “are stressed and anxious.”





A battle of ideas

21 05 2022

Thai Enquirer counts that Tantawan Tuatulanon has been in prison for 30 days. The newspaper declares her a “prisoner of conscience.”  She is indeed. She’s yet another political prisoner kept in the regime’s prisons.

She’s a prisoner of conscience because she wants change and believes change is impossible until Article 112 is gone: ““For me, I want to engage in a battle of ideas…. But for that to happen, we have to abolish 112.”

She’s a 20 year-old woman challenging a hierarchical regime of old men. Those old men deem that she must be punished as  disrespectful and, indeed, dangerous.

The newspaper wobbles as it discusses Tantawan’s work. They say she’s been involved in “provocative street surveys on sensitive matters including taboo topics in Thai society.” What they are trying to say is that the group has been running surveys in public places asking questions about the monarchy.

Thank the Constitutional Court – a court of old men – for this self-censorship.

“Even the group name we discussed, and what kind of legal charges we could face for the name,” Tawan said.

Tantawan’s critical views on the monarchy are no longer unusual: they “echo many other Thai youths who demand change to a system that has seen opportunity move abroad and an education system stuck in the past. Thousands of young Thais view her as a non-threatening individual who has merely gone into the public space to ask questions.”

Her arrests, jailing and “the rejection of her bail requests …[are] an indictment of Thailand’s judicial system.”

In detention, “Tawan still protests today from behind prison walls. She has been on hunger strike since April 20.”

The report adds that “three other women who represent Tawan’s group have also been detained without bail, including a 17-year-old girl. ”

They are brave and the hope of a better Thailand.





Brave and proud

15 05 2022

Prachatai states:

In a new surge of detentions, six people are in jail in connection with the royal defamation law – five of them denied bail to contest the charges outside prison. A human rights lawyer said the move illustrates the authorities’ obsession with smothering any public criticism of the monarchy.

Add to that obsession the absurdity of the Lazada stuff, where it is the royalists who identify that it is about one of The Munsters royal family they think is being portrayed and, once having outed the royal family then rushes to “protect” it.

In among all of that, we find another political prisoners on a hunger strike. Tantawan Tuatulanon is one of the brave kids bringing attention to absurd, obsessional monarchism among some. She began her hunger strike a day after she was sent to jail on 20 April. Watch this Prachatai video about her and her protests:





The virus and political prisoners

31 01 2022

Several times it has been pointed out that political prisoners detained by the junta have become ill in prison. The regime couldn’t care less as these are people they prefer to torture.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on this cruel treatment, determining that at least “30 political prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 in the prison while being held in custody” since late March 2021. It must be remembered that “[a]ll of them are ‘innocent people’ who have been detained pending the trial.”

Some have been bailed, but the regime won’t release the rest until they plead guilty or agree to stringent and repressive bail conditions.

Some of the detainees have been reinfected while in the prison, including the Panupong Jadnok and Sam Samet.

Sakchai “Hia Song” Tangchitsadudi “was only allowed to post bail when the virus had penetrated his lungs after having tested positive for Covid-19 due to his comorbidity. As a result, he had to received treatment in ICU in a hospital outside the prison.”

This is an inhumane regime.





Authoritarianism and virus repression

18 01 2022

Several countries, and with regimes of several political orientations, have used the virus as a means to extend measures that amount to a global growing of authoritarianism. Thailand’s repressive royalist regime has used an emergency decree, meant to be about public health, to oppress political activists seeking a democratic politics and monarchy reform.

The Nation recently reported that the police have again warned those who regularly rally in support of imprisoned political prisoners that they will be arrested “under Covid restrictions.”

Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner and spokesman Jirasan Kaewsangek stated “it is still illegal to hold a protest or gathering…. He cited the emergency decree, anti-Covid guidelines and the Communicable Diseases Control Act…”. He directed this at those who he said were gathering peacefully.

To date, Bangkok police say they have “investigated 814 cases relating to protests since July 2020. Of these, 409 cases have been brought to court while the rest remain under police investigation…”.








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