Back to “normal”

5 12 2021

After months and months of calls for monarchy reform, the arrest of hundreds, plenty of political prisoners, the massive use of repression, and hundreds of lese majeste, sedition, and several other charges, what has changed?

If we look at King Vajiralongkorn’s behavior, we guess he’d be content to answer that nothing much has changed. He’s back to his erratic, self-centered “best.”

Readers will recall that when the students first made calls for monarchy reform, the king eventually had to interrupt his long residence in Europe to return to Thailand and engage in a bit of royalist rabble-rousing. That involved a mobilization of his daughters and wives. The king had to spend an extended period in-country, more than he’d done for years.

At the same time, the regime deepened it political repression, emphasizing lawfare.

By early November, it appeared that king and regime figured that they had seen off anti-monarchism, and the king sent a huge number of people, dogs, and royal stuff to Germany. He jetted out in secret in the second week of November. As the the SCMP had it: “He’s back and is feeling at home with his poodles in his favourite kingdom of Bavaria,” Bild wrote, adding he had brought 30 poodles with him from Thailand. The Guardian adds that the king and entourage “booked an entire [4th] floor of the Hilton Munich airport hotel for 11 days.”

The king has quickly re-established his old pattern of quick trips back to Thailand to perform “important” kingly tasks. As far as we can tell, he was back in Thailand, for about 24 hours, when he was required at Wat Phra Kaew, just a few days after arriving in Germany.

And, today, he’s back, again for about 24 hours. This time it is for his dead father’s birthday where he is “scheduled to plant a tree at 4pm on Sunday in a ground-breaking ceremony for a monument to King Rama IX in Bangkok’s Princess Mother Memorial Park.”

We have no idea how much this costs the long-suffering taxpayer. But Metropolitan Police Bureau spokesman Pol Maj-Gen Jirasan Kaewsaengaek revealed that “some 1,300 police officers will be deployed to provide security and control the traffic around the area.” One tree, one king, 1,300 police.

Lots of roads closed and plenty of encouragement for royalists to show up and show support the itinerant monarch.

All pretty “normal.” Obviously, regime and palace feel they can get back to fleecing taxpayers for the royal house.





Further updated: Pushing back against absolutism II

15 11 2021

The pushback continues, with protesters taking “to the streets of Bangkok on Sunday to voice their disapproval and anger over efforts to curb the campaign for royal reforms…”. As Deutsche Welle put it: “On their way, they marched to the German embassy in an attempt to send a signal to Thai King … Vajiralongkorn, also called King Rama X, who frequently travels to Germany on lavish trips.”

It explains that “hundreds of people took to the streets of Bangkok’s main shopping district to criticize the [Constitutional Court] ruling…”.

Protesters occupied Pathumwan intersection rejecting the Constitutional Court’s absurdity and demanding reform of the monarchy.

At the rally, Thatchapong Kaedam told fellow protesters: “We are not overthrowing this country. The reform is to make it better…”. DW reported that may of those rallying had signs asserting “reform does not equal overthrow…”. Others “tossed effigies of Constitutional Court judges off a bridge, later burning them…”.

Clipped from VOA News – a Reuters photo

As the protesters “began moving toward the German embassy in the Thai capital. Police tried to stop protesters from nearing the embassy, with authorities firing rubber bullets…. Three people were injured, and at least one protester sustained significant wounds and was brought to a local hospital…”. Even so, three representatives from the rally “were allowed into the embassy premises to hand in the [anti-absolutism] statement.”

VOA reported that a statement made when the demonstrators reached the German Embassy insisted: “The king’s increased powers in recent years are pulling Thailand away from democracy and back to absolute monarchy…. This is a fight to insist that this country must be ruled by a system in which everyone is equal.”

This may be just the start of renewed confrontations.

Update 1: Several outlets, including The Nation, report 2-3 injuries, including: “At 5.10pm, a gunshot sound was heard. One male protestor was reportedly shot at the chest with a rubber bullet. He was rushed to the hospital by medic staff.” There was some debate about the bullet – rubber or lead.

Update 2: Prachatai has a detailed report on Sunday’s rally that deserves attention. One element of it that caught PPT’s attention related to shootings:

As the march moved through the Chaloem Phao Intersection, it was reported that a protester was shot in the chest while standing near the Institute of Forensic Medicine on Henri Dunant Road. The protester was reported to be around 20 years old and was taken to Chulalongkorn Hospital.

It is unclear who shot the protester and which type of bullet had been fired. However, according to a member of the We Volunteer protest guard group, gunfire was seen coming from inside the police headquarters, and a protester retrieved a casing of what seems to be a 12 gauge shotgun bullet.

Meanwhile, former Pheu Thai MP Dr Tossaporn Serirak said that he saw a crowd control officer raising his gun, after which there were several loud bangs and the protesters dropped to the ground. Hearing a shout that someone has been shot, he went to the scene and found that 2 protesters were shot. He said that the protester who was shot in the chest could not breathe as the bullet had penetrated his lung, and that both were taken to the Chulalongkorn Hospital and are in stable condition.

iLaw reported that a total of 3 people were shot at close range, and at least 2 were injured. One person was shot in the chest and another in the shoulder….





Pushing back against absolutism I

14 11 2021

Student councils across the country have rejected the Constitutional Court’s ruling that pro-democracy leaders aimed to overthrow the system of government. Their joint statement said:

The 23 student organisations disagree with the court’s ruling. We insist that the 10-point manifesto for reforms of Thailand’s monarchy will help the monarchy remain in Thailand graciously under the democratic regime. Proposals for the reform of the royal institution [monarchy] will also help free it from criticism that would otherwise tarnish it.

Contrary to the kangaroo court’s statements, the students insisted that “protesters were exercising their right to freedom of expression and demonstration, which is protected by the Constitution.”

Pointedly, the statement observed: “The protesters never had any intention of overthrowing the government like the coups d’etat in the past…”.

A Bangkok Post editorial observed that the Constitutional Court’s decisions are politicized:

It’s undeniable that such a verdict, which has intensified sentiments against the court, has raised fears about what comes next as both royalists and factions in the opposite political spectrum roll up their sleeves as divisiveness grows.

Interestingly, that editorial turns on Article 112 and challenges royalist interpretations and cheering about the court’s ultra-royalist decision:

The court verdict should by all means not derail a motion to amend Section 112 or lese majeste before parliament that is being pushed by the Move Forward Party.

The highlight of the party’s proposal is the removal of the infamous law from the chapter of national security to a new chapter on the King’s honour, which if effective, will see the penalties significantly reduced.

The court verdict, stringent as it is, should not hamper the right to freedom of expression, as mentioned in the constitution.

As change is unavoidable, it’s necessary all involved parties realise the need for mechanisms that allow healthy and constructive debates over the amendment of Section 112 and also reform of the monarchy.

Like it or not, all, including the royalists, must realise the lese majeste law in its original form, not bare-handed activists, is a threat to the revered [sic] institution.

Of course, royalists, the current palace (albeit mostly based in Germany), and the military-backed regime all know that their political dominance demands political repression based on monarchy.

Actions demanding political and monarchy reform are indeed likely to continue. As ever, these activists test the waters of repression before plunging in.

Immediately after the court’s ridiculous decision, someone hacked that court’s website, labeling it a kangaroo court. The site was quickly taken down, and the last time we looked, was still offline. Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn “said that the Court outsourced its website maintenance to a private company, which may not have set up adequate security measures, allowing outsiders to obtain the site username and password.” He added that “the authorities know who is behind the incident…”. Another account by the minister was less sure: “We believe the hacking was done to discredit the court and had been planned in advance…. The investigators are checking on the IP addresses of those who logged into the system during that period.” They soon arrested a man in Ubol who they alleged was responsible.

Immediately after the court’s decision, small rallies and actions began.

Protesters gathered in front of the Criminal Court under the name “Ratsadon” on Friday to “push their demands for reform of Thailand’s monarchy” and to demand the release of protesters held in custody without bail. They “read a statement in English, in an attempt to communicate with the international community. It highlighted their desire to reform the royal institution’s budget allocation, to allow criticism of the monarchy and to reform the country’s controversial lèse majesté legislation.”

Meanwhile, on “11 November, 4 people were arrested for attaching a ‘Reform does not equal overthrow’ sign and a ‘Repeal 112’ sign to the shop door of Sirivannavari Siam Paragon.” This is a pointed linking of royal wealth and privilege to the Constitutional Court’s absurd ruling and a rejection of the base use of taxpayer funds for subsidies to royal businesses.

Another rally begins shortly in central Bangkok.





Updated: Another lese majeste debate

10 11 2021

The king seems to think the threat to his throne has been seen off. According to reports from Andrew MacGregor Marshall at Facebook, the king and his extensive entourage of women, servants, minions, and other hangers-on, he’s back in Germany.

Yet, it is reported that, in under a week, more than 120,000 people have signed a petition to parliament calling for the repeal the infamous and draconian lese majeste law (see also a Prachatai story on this petition).

That will cause consternation among the military leadership and the former military leaders leading the regime but we suspect that they also feel that their lawfare approach has worked, with several leaders of the protests jailed without bail and thousands of others, arrested, harassed and repressed.

But an ongoing debate on lese majeste strikes at the heart of the regime’s political ideology.

Khaosod’s Pravit Rojanaphruk writes that last week’s “unprecedented flurry of reactions both in support and opposition to amending the controversial lese majeste law” means it is likely to “turn the next general elections into a de facto referendum on the law…”. That’s the last thing the palace wants – as Thaksin Shinawatra quickly determined – and it isn’t what the regime and its shaky party want.

Despite facing multiple lese majeste charges, Thaksin has always sucked up to royals; it seems in the genes of big shots brought up during the last reign. That’s why it was a surprise when, “just hours after the renewed major protest by monarchy-reform groups [to] reiterate their year-long call and started a signature drive for the abolition of the law … the opposition Pheu Thai Party’s chief of strategic committee Chaikasem Nitisiri issued a statement … saying the party supports pushing for the proposal to be debated in parliament.”

Thaksin nixed that. Regime and its associated parties were suitably unimpressed, standing up for the status quo.

The royalist Democrat Party declared Article 112 unproblematic, blaming the students and other protesters for the debate that is not needed. It is what is expected of a party founded by vindictive royalists and populated by royalists today. One of them babbled:

The lese-majeste law is not problematic as distorted and claimed by those calling for the amendment by the parliament… If it’s tabled for the parliament we shall fight. We support strict enforcement of the law….

The opposition parties, like Move Forward talk amendment rather than abolition, but the activist fire under them wants the law gone.

Pravit is enthusiastic about the debate:

To amend or not amend the lese majeste law, or even to abolish it, is a much needed debate and we can start on the right foot by trying to be more honest about where the different groups stand. The perpetuation of a state of self-denial will not do Thailand any good.

Royalists are livid and want no debate, no changes, no nothing (as usual).

The Bangkok Post reported that Suwit Thongprasert, better known as the fascist former monk and political activist Buddha Isara, has “submitted a petition to the parliament president to oppose any moves to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.”

He and representatives of the so-called People’s Army Protecting the Monarchy claim 222,928 signatures supporting their ultra-royalism. They also oppose amending Article 116, the sedition law. Articles 112 and 116, along with computer crimes laws are the main lawfare statutes used by the regime to stifle political dissent.

Like all royalists and the regime itself, the fascist former monk “insisted that the monarchy has been one of the main pillars of the country, a source of Thai culture and tradition, and a unifying force for the Thai people.” Blah, blah, blah palace and rightist propaganda.

The royalists face off against the Progressive Movement which is campaigning “for people to sign an online petition seeking to amend Section 112.”

According to Thai PBS, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is predictably opposed to any amendment:

Deputy Government Spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek said today (Thursday) that the prime minister told his cabinet that his government will not amend the law and will run the country by upholding the three main pillars, namely the Nation, the Religion and the Monarchy.

She said that the prime minister would like to assure the Thai people that this is the administration’s position.

He was quoted to have said about this controversial issue yesterday, “Every country has longstanding cultures and traditions. No one thinks all the good in our past should be erased in favour of the new, created without rules. We shouldn’t be destroying what all Thais hold in high regard.”

The regime’s party is uniting against change. The Bangkok Post reports that Thipanan Sirichana, who is attached to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat Office says it is “impossible to repeal Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, both in technicality and spirit, and doing so runs counter to the constitution…”. Thipanan insists that Section 6, “that the monarch holds a position of reverence which is inviolable” translates to an impossibility of amending or ditching the law.

That’s looney, but in this atmosphere being mad is a credential for ultra-royalism.

Interestingly, though Thipanan sees campaigning against the law as a campaign tool, suggesting that she knows there’s considerable support for change and reform.

Bangkok Post’s Chairith Yonpiam, an assistant news editor, writes that:

Right-wing conservative factions will have to learn, albeit with a sense of disappointment, that demands to change Section 112 will remain a key point in the drive to reform the monarchy, in what appears to be a long-haul political endeavour.

The calls to modify Section 112 are nothing new. They surfaced in the latter period of King Rama IX’s reign, and have now become predominant.

Sensibly, Chairith reminds readers of earlier efforts to reform or abolish 112, focusing on Nitirat which also had a lese majeste reform petition to parliament back in 2012. Back then, dark forces were unleashed against the university lawyers. One of the major voices denouncing Nitirat and threatening reformists was, of course, Gen Prayuth, then army commander.

Charith is correct to observe that:

The abuse of democratic rule with the launch of the military-sponsored 2017 charter by Gen Prayut and conservative elites, who branded themselves as staunch royalists, propelled calls for the reform of the monarchy, which have become louder in parliament and on the street.

He notes that “politics as we used to know it has changed, as it is no longer dominated by politicians. This is because people are aware that political conflicts have affected all elements in society and reform is necessary.”

His view is that: “Amending Section 112 is absolutely necessary to prevent the abuse of this draconian law.”

Amending this feudal law is not enough. Too many have suffered. Get rid of it. Vajiralongkorn and his mad monarchists are facing determined and growing opposition. Intimidation will be the royalist response, but that is likely to further expand the opposition to royalism and the regime.

Update: Thaksin has said more on lese majeste, seemingly contradicting his earlier position that 112 was “problem-free.” Now he’s saying “the 15-year maximum jail sentence for violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code is too harsh. The law must be amended to lower the punishment as a matter of urgency.” He stated: “We need to figure out how to keep the punishment from being too heavy,” adding that those detained under the law “must be granted the right to bail.”





Further updated: Buffalo manure human rights

8 11 2021

The Thai Enquirer reports that the military-backed regime, headed by a coup plotter as unelected prime minister has made the absurd claim that “Thailand is ready to commit to promoting and protecting human rights in the country and abroad…”.

This regime, constructed on the military murder of scores of protesters in 2010, on the bodies located and still missing of those forcibly disappeared, and which has detained and jailed thousands, made this outrageous claim “ahead of the UN’s upcoming Third Cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR)…”.

Ratchada Thanadirek, the regime’s deputy spokeswoman lied: “The government is committed to working with the international community to voluntarily declare its commitments, consider feedback and listen to proposals…”.

How high?

Ratchada built a pile of stinking buffalo poo, saying the “current administration is working to revise its laws to match the international human rights instruments, including anti-torture law, laws against inhumane punishments, and laws that protect against enforced disappearance.”

These are all crimes that this regime has engaged in, regularly. It is a false claim, it is a gross untruth. It is made as it continues to lock up protesters and jail people under Article 112, a draconian law that “protects” the monarchy from criticism and scrutiny and permits the jailing of political dissidents.

As the article explains:

The statement comes at a time when the Thai government is being criticized at home and abroad for its arbitrary arrest and detention of pro-democracy protesters.

Over a dozen student protesters have been arrested and denied bail for leading street protests against the Prayut Chan-ocha administration and calling for reform of Thailand’s conservative institutions.

Films, art exhibitions, and even nationally recognized artists have been punished and/or censored by the government for speaking in support of the demonstrators or on political issues….

The Prayut administration has implemented a Covid-related state of emergency protocol that bans large-scale gatherings. This emergency act has been used to detain, arrest, and crack down on unarmed protesters.

Built on murders, lies, deceit, rigged laws and elections, and repression, this is a corrupt regime.

Update 1: For something far more realistic and factual, try the CIVICUS and the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) call for UN member states to raise serious concerns about Thailand’s civic freedoms.

Diplomats in training

Update 2: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been a useful tool for the regime. Populated by royalists, for decades it has polished royal posteriors, often with amazing contortions that make its people look like pretzels. The latest official contortionist is Nadhavathna Krishnamra, a Foreign Ministry representative speaking to the UN Human Rights Council.

Facing questions from Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, among others, about those charged with lese majeste, including more than a dozen children, Nadhavathna defended lese majeste. It was asserted that the law “protects the monarch and therefore national security, and that royal insult cases were carefully handled.” Everyone knows this is buffalo manure. Nadhavathna trotted out more of the regime’s buffalo poo: “It reflects the culture and history of Thailand, where the monarchy is one of the main pillars of the nation, highly revered by the majority of Thai people…. Its existence is closely linked to safeguarding the key national institutions and national security.” Blah, blah, blah excrement.





Never ending “emergency”

30 10 2021

On Friday, “[s]tudent activists Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul and Seksit Yaemsanguansak filed a lawsuit with the Civil Court … against the Prime Minister and the military commander-in-chief to repeal emergency decree order 15 on the grounds that the ban on public gatherings unlawfully limits people’s rights and freedoms.”

The petitioners rightly state that “the ban, which was ostensibly imposed to prohibit unnecessary gatherings that risk the spread of disease during the pandemic, has been used instead to limit freedom of expression and assembly.”

Hundreds have been charged.

Panusaya observed that:

while the Emergency Decree has been repeatedly used to end pro-democracy protests, pro-establishment groups have been allowed to hold their gatherings without interference from the authorities. She noted that although pro-democracy protesters have always been peaceful, their protests have been blocked by means such as razor wire and shipping containers, which are not listed as part of the legal protocol.

“The country is reopening in three days. Why are you still prohibiting us from gathering? If you reopen the country, there will be gatherings all over the country. People will come out to live their lives normally, so we think that there is no reason to continue banning gatherings,” Panusaya said.

The activists petitioned the court to “impose a temporary injunction suspending the ban ahead of the protest this Sunday, 31 October, at the Ratchaprasong Intersection.” The court, however, quickly dismissed the request “on the ground that the 31 October protest still risk spreading disease and the order is still needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19…”. Nothing else could really be expected of the regime’s courts.

At about the same time, in the Royal Gazette, the regime “issued a fresh order banning rallies and activities deemed at risk of spreading Covid-19 across the country ahead of the kingdom’s upcoming reopening to international travellers.” The order takes effect on Monday and “was issued under Section 9 of the Emergency Decree and signed by Gen Chalermpol Srisawat, chief of defence forces, in his capacity as the person responsible for solving security emergencies.”

Tourism trumps freedom of expression.

We at PPT have lost track of how long the regime has been operating with emergency powers, but it seems that it has been pretty much since it seized power in 2014. Since then, the country has been defined as in a state of emergency so that the regime can bolster its position and repress political activists.





Regime vs. students

20 10 2021

Over the past 18 months, political conflict has revolved around students opposing the regime and its royalist supporters. The student challenge has waned, in part because of the virus, but also because of the regime’s repression strategy, which has included virus emergency provisions used mostly for political purposes.

Much of the repression has been delegated to the purged police. Of course, the military has also been involved and continues to provide its backing for the regime and monarchy.

Political repression has extended from the streets to universities and to the judicial system. The latter has made heavy use of laws on lese majeste, sedition, computer crimes, public health mandates, and some charges dredged from a feudal Thailand.  For example, in a case from a year ago, several protesters were accused of violating Article 110 of the Criminal Code, which has to do with attempts an act of violence against the queen or the royal heir.  Those charged face 16-20 years’ imprisonment, making this an even more serious crime than lese majeste.

Of course, not one of those charged attempted any violence. But the repression of using the law hangs on, as one of them, Bunkueanun Paothong, explained in a recent op-ed.

In universities, administered by royalists doing the bidding of the regime, struggles continue. Prachatai reports on the royalists at Chiang Mai University where students from the Media Arts and Design Department in the Faculty of Fine Arts have been prevented from showing their final arts projects allegedly because “some pieces deal with social and political themes.” The censorious and fearful royalist Faculty administrators even locked students out of buildings. Some students and their parents are worried that the kids will not be allowed to graduate.

Such actions are common at universities across the country. Thasnai Sethaseree, an artist and Faculty of Fine Arts lecturer observed:

What happened during the past week is a common occurrence in Chiang Mai University, but the people who are affected have never spoken out…. Things like this happen in Chiang Mai University every day. This case like a volcano that will make the lava in other places erupt….

Back in Bangkok, where working class kids are facing off against police, Talugas protesters continue to be pushed into prisons. Thalugas, is causing a royalist stir:

Soldiers will step in to handle political protests only when the situation is considered a rebellion or a riot, Defence Forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawat said on Tuesday.

He said the announcement by the Thalu Gas group, now renamed the People’s Revolutionary Alliance (PRA), about aiming to overthrow the constitutional monarchy was a lawful expression of the group’s opinion.

The responsibility of the police is to ensure law and order, he said. So if the group were to act in any way that threatens Thailand’s sovereignty, it would then be time for the military to take action, he said.

While the statement that issuing an anti-monarchist statement is legal might bring some relief, the military defines the monarchy as a matter of “national security,” suggesting that the general’s statement is really a threat. Indeed, the police are already “investigating” a “Facebook page operated by the Thalu Gas group over content related to the monarchy…”.

The police admit they cannot eliminate anti-monarchism. The plan seems to be to silence it with thousands of legal charges and the jailing of hundreds.

The struggle continues.





Police vs. the people

17 10 2021

The regime’s political “strategy” for controlling anti-government and monarchy reform movements involves repression and arrests, with the latter involving jail time.

Police Maj Gen Jirasan Kaewsangek, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, recently stated that “since July 2020, 683 anti-government protests have been held in Bangkok, and 366 of the cases are still under investigation.” Independent sources have the figure topping 800. Not a few of them are children.

Many scores of these protesters are being kept in detention.

The regime couples these mass arrests with targeted harassment of those they think are leaders. Thai Enquirer reports that the most recent student leader to face “a flurry of legal charges for his political activism” is Hudsawat ‘Bike’ Rattanakachen, 22, a critic studying political science at Ubon Ratchathani University. He is “facing multiple charges from the police including the violation of the Emergency Situations Act and violation of the Communicable Disease Act.”

He says: “I think the government charged me because they want to slow down the pace of our movement and make things more difficult…”.

The impact for him and others facing charges is that become entangled in time-consuming legal actions and responses.

He went on to explain that the regime “is raising the bar when it comes to suppressing regional movements like his in Ubon Ratchathani. He fears the authorities are increasing their level of surveillance.”

Academic Titipol Phakdeewanich “agrees that the state is exercising a dangerous campaign of legal harassment, one that clearly violates the rights of students.” He added that “there are a significant number of cases like this where ordinary people, villagers, rural people, people defined by the government as opposition, have told me stories that they’ve been monitored or followed as well…”.

Titipol observes that the regime “hang these cases over them indefinitely as a way to control students…”.

Hudsawat explains the sad fact that “we live in a society where the process of law or justice in Thailand is not normal,” adding, “anyone can be accused of having a different opinion from the government’s and then it’s decided that they pose a security threat to the state.”

Another facing charges is Sitanun Satsaksit, the sister of missing activist in exile Wanchalearm Satsaksit. She’s now “charged with violation of the Emergency Decree for giving a speech at a protest on 5 September 2021 at the Asoke Intersection.”

She’s one of a dozen now “charged with violation of the Emergency Decree for participating in the same protest…”. Her case is tragic:

Sitanun said that she feels hopeless that not only are the Thai authorities not helping her find her brother and bring the perpetrators to justice, they are also trying to silence her by filing charges against her, even though she is fighting for the rights of her brother and other victims of enforced disappearance.

She adds:

Is it such a threat to national security that I join the campaign for the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance bill that you have to file charges to silence a victim? I am just calling for justice for someone in my family, but the government sees me as an enemy….

The regime protects the monarchy and its own position for fear that even individual protesters can bring the whole corrupt system down. Both police and military are now little more than the regime’s political police. THe enemies are the people, democracy, and proposer representation.





Cracking the media

20 09 2021

Thailand’s regime is seeking to limit reporting on the actions of its police against demonstrators. Recent actions against the media are reported here, here, here, here, and here.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand has issued a statement, reproduced in full:

FCCT STATEMENT ON THAI POLICE THREAT TO ARREST JOURNALISTS COVERING PROTESTS

The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand wishes to express its deep concern over a threat by the Royal Thai Police to arrest journalists caught covering protests after the 9pm curfew.

The police have issued a list of preconditions for journalists to obtain permission to report on the protests, which some will be unable to meet. The police want journalists to provide them with a letter requesting coverage after the curfew, stamped by the Metropolitan Police, a copy of a PRD press card, and a letter of assignment from their news agency asking for post-curfew reporting.

This is an onerous set of requirements for what should be routine media work. Some legitimate journalists do not have PRD-issued press cards, and some freelancers cannot get all these documents. It is unacceptable that journalists should face the threat of arrest and prosecution while doing their jobs, simply because they cannot meet all these bureaucratic conditions.

The FCCT urges the police to review their rules for post-curfew reporting, and to recognise that there are genuine journalists reporting on the streets who may not be able to get all the documents they are asking for, and who should not be arrested face any criminal charges.

17 September 2021





Cracking down III

19 09 2021

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has recently reported statistics on people arrested or detained, accused of involvement in protest activities during the first three weeks of August:

It is found that from 1 to 25 August 2021, at least 260 persons have been arrested. This number includes at least 13 children younger than 15 years old, 57 youths within the age range from 15 to 18 years old, and 190 adults. However, it excludes the key protest leaders and activists who reported to the authorities per their arrest warrants.

Arresting and detaining 57 kids under 18 may seem excessive, but the point of these operations is to frighten and repress.

So it is that the cops harass:

Clipped from The Nation

All the arrested persons had been detained and interrogated in different places, depending on the authorities’ order each day. The documented detention venues included the Region 1 Border Patrol Police Headquarters (BPP 1) in Pathum Thani Province, the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) inside the Royal Thai Police Club, and other police stations across Bangkok. The majority of detention was unlawful because the police officers often did not bring the arrested persons to a police station in the locality of where they were arrested or the station in charge of processing the arrested persons’ charges in line with the Criminal Procedure Code.

Unlawful arrest and other unlawful activity seems to define police operations.

Read more on these arrests here.

Meanwhile, the regime’s thuggish police are running dragnets across the protest movement. Prachatai reports that on 17 September, “police officers raided the house of members of the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), confiscating mobile phones and computers and arresting one person.” According to TLHR, the arrest warrant did not say why it was issued.

That’s probably unlawful as well, but these thugs have become the law; whatever they do seems okay.

According to Thai PBS, Deputy Police Spokesman Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen stated that the cops “have 20 targets of investigation, including the UFTD leaders, who are suspected of committing illegal acts related to national security.” That’s usually code for lese majeste and/or sedition.

Pol Col Krisana claimed “[s]imilar raids and searches have been conducted outside Bangkok and at least five suspects have already been arrested…”.

Clipped from Prachatai

The person arrested was university student Niraphorn Onkhao, a third-year liberal arts student at Thammasat University, on charges of sedition and computer crimes. TLHR say the arrest warrant did not say why it was issued and contained the wrong citizen ID number. Niraphorn also protested during the arrest that she had never received a summons.

Niraphorn denied all charges and refused to sign the arrest record and was later released on bail of 25,000 baht.

TLHR reported that the complaint leading to Niraphorn’s arrest was filed “by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens and activists…”. Ultra-royalist Nopadol claimed the student was “involved with running the UFTD’s Facebook page, which contain messages calling for people to join protests, which said were not peaceful protests and at risk of spreading Covid-19.”

Showing how close the links are between regime cops and ultra-royalists, police claimed they “found that the Facebook page contain[ed] what they consider to be seditious messages calling for people to rebel against the authorities, as well as accusations that officers used excessive force on protesters.”

Thailand’s political space narrows by the day.








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