Tales of the rich and the exploited

16 10 2021

As the king’s vaccine producer Siam Bioscience seems to still be underproducing AstraZeneca, the regime continues to beg and borrow AZ from elsewhere. With just over 30% of the population double-dosed, the General’s government continues to move towards opening.

But the double standards are gross. Take movie stars arriving with crew being lauded by the military PM:

The arrival of Hollywood star Russell Crowe to make a movie in Thailand, and his tweeted pictures and messages about Thais, the food and scenery brought pride to the nation….

That particular star seems to have also benefited from Australia’s double standards on international travel.

But look at migrant workers, still languishing with limited access to vaccine. Prachatai reports that

On 5 October 2021, Coordinator and lawyer of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) has gone to the Bang Khen Immigration Detention Center to pick up Ms. P, a female migrant worker from Myanmar, who had been remanded in custody being accused of being an alien and worked without the permit, an offence against the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment 2017.

She could face up to a fine of 50,000 baht and be barred from working in the Kingdom of Thailand for the period of two years.

She appears to have been charged way back in June and kept in detention since. But guess what?

After reviewing concerned information and documents, HRDF has found Ms. P was a legally registered migrant worker recruited through the Government-to-Government MoU and her work permit had expired on 20 February 2021. She has since applied to renew her work permit with the Bangkok Office of Employment Region 2 before the expiry date of her permit. The renewal could not be completed, however, since the official could not retrieve her information from the depository of migrant workers.

That should not bring pride to the nation.





Anti-corruption lapdog

15 10 2021

In an editorial, the Bangkok Post chastises the completely hopeless National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for being a regime lapdog. The sad thing is that this editorial could have been written years ago. The NACC is not worth the heat off buffalo manure.

In this case – only the most recent of a score of such cases – the Post focuses on the clearing  of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s brother, Gen Preecha, on charges of concealing assets.

On Monday, the NACC commissioners voted 8-1 to clear  against Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, when just a few months ago “the NACC had a different view with all nine commissioners in June unanimously agreeing there were grounds to summon Gen Preecha for questioning.”

Gen Preecha, now appointed by his brother as a senator, “was accused of falsely declaring his assets and liabilities while serving with the National Legislative Assembly” that served the military junta.

Quite simply, Gen Preecha failed “to include his house in Phitsanulok and bank accounts belonging to his wife, Pongpuan, in the couple’s assets list.”

Very basic stuff. He’s either a stupid duffer or, more likely, a creep who thinks he has impunity to do what he wants.

The NACC seems to have decided he’s a stupid duffer, ruling this week that he “had no intention to hide his wealth, and did not gain any benefits from doing so.”

Clean hands?

The now allegedly stupid Gen Preecha had, says the NACC, “misunderstood the asset declaration rule simply because the house in question was under construction at that time.” He still owned it, but the NACC seems to think he just “forgot” it was an asset.

The Post urges the NACC to become “more transparent and, by way of example, it can answer some questions about what criteria it used in judging Gen Preecha’s intentions.” But, of course, the NACC seems likely to refuse to its “investigation.” That’s what it usually does when protecting the regime and its members.

And who can forget that the NACC has still refused to “comply with the Administrative Court’s order for it to release details about its probe into the luxury watches case involving Gen Prawit [Wongsuwan], with the NACC explaining that it cannot disclose details of witness accounts because it might prompt lawsuits.”

Or, it might have to conjure an unbelievable story to cover its tracks and those of regime bosses.

The Post says that: “By failing to be accountable, the commission will become part of the problem it’s trying to solve.” It has been a part of the “problem” for years. It is a joke permitting “good” people/crooks/creeps to feast on the taxpayer.

For that, presumably the commissioners have been or will be rewarded.





Defeating and defending the young

12 10 2021

With the mainstream media becoming increasingly quiescent under the current regime, for English readers, Prachatai and Thai Enquirer are critical sources of reliable information on Thailand’s politics. In this post, PPT looks at two recent Thai Enquirer pieces. Each reflects on the current political crisis.

In the first article, Erich Parpart and Cod Satrusayang observe that:

General Prayut Chan-ocha and his military-backed government are jailing the country’s future leaders for their own benefit. There is no use denying it anymore. But in doing so they are jeopardizing our country’s future while protecting themselves from criticism.

The government has now detained at least 20 pro-democracy protest leaders and activists. Most have been charged with lese-majeste and denied bail or have had their bail revoked while waiting for trial.

In fact, we’d argue that while there is clearly benefit to the regime, the real benefit is to the monarchy and the monarch. It is the military scratching the king’s back for the protection his position provides to a broad ruling elite. So when the regime claims attacks on the monarchy are a threat to national security, they mean to their security and that of the business-monarchy-military ruling elite.

That’s what they imply when they say: “Keep in mind, these jail sentences and arrests aren’t done to protect the public good…”, but protect a rotten regime, populated by those who should be in jail and some who have.

The article notes that many of those jailed are among Thailand’s best and brightest; indeed the country’s future. But now it is they who are rotting in jail.

The authors yell: “Free them, free the shackles that bind our thinking, it’s the only option.”

If Erich and Cod look at the leaders of the future, Caleb Quinley looks at the Thalugas protests, emphasizing the economic interests that drive them.

Firecrackers and ping pong bombs versus armed police, “dressed head to toe in black body armor carrying nonlethal firearms…. The sound of their boots echoed through the narrow halls of Din Daeng’s slum community…”.

Violence escalating: “It’s dangerous now…. But how else are they [the government] going to hear us?”

The young demonstrators have set fires to glittering massive portraits of the Thai King scattered throughout the city,  targeted police bunkers, and fired large fireworks into the dark.  In response, police have implemented a zero tolerance policy for unrest, unleashing rubber bullets, water cannons, and tear gas, detaining hundreds since September.

Caleb states: “The economic fallout from Covid is at the heart of the anger.” It is Thalugas “doing whatever it takes for the government to hear them.” Some want “respect” from the regime; to be heeded. They feel “they have been neglected for far too long.”

There are “increasing arrests and police brutality,” but this “group of young men are still raging on.” Many of them are “facing extreme economic difficulty [and] say they have nowhere else to turn. It’s ultimately all about raising the pressure to help their communities.”

Communities are always split, but for many locals, “these young men are white knights taking on an unfathomably powerful enemy.”





Protests and protesters

27 09 2021

There’s been a flurry of articles and video about recent protests and the tactics used.

Prachatai has a story focusing on Thalufah. It “organised a protest on 25 September, with 4 demands: the unconditional resignation of PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha; a new constitution; monarchy reform; and reform of the judicial system to ensure the right to bail of detained activists.” It has several pictures of the protesters tactics, showing young men and women standing up to the police.

The Guardian had a story on protest too. Focused on working class kids or as the report prefers, “mostly students from vocational colleges and poorer neighbourhoods…”. Some of the quotes are revealing:

[Chai]: “We don’t have a choice, we have to come out; my family is suffering…”.

Chai’s mother and father, a food seller and an electrician respectively, have both lost work because of the pandemic. Chai says he has also been forced to give up his part-time job because his college course has been moved online and now doesn’t finish until later in the day. He is training to be an electrician, but is on the brink of dropping out. One of his friends, who leans in to talk, has already done so. They are struggling to learn from home, and say there has been no support to cover the internet costs….

At Din Daeng, protesters say they have run out of patience. “It’s as if they look at us not like a citizen, it’s as if they see us as slaves,” says Chai’s friend, who is 17….

Police violence won’t deter him [Chai], or his friends. “It will even spark us to go out, we will get even more angry,” he says. “It’s going to be like this until Prayuth gets out.”

A SCMP video is worth viewing too:





Military godfathers and the corruption of parties and politics

26 09 2021

Thai PBS reports on continuing ructions in the Palang Pracharat Party that has Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s underlings pitted against Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. It turns out that the failed plot to unseat Gen Prayuth during the recent censure debate was only round 1 of this fight.

The start of the second round came when plotter and convicted heroin trafficker and “influential person” Thammanat Prompao retained his Party post. It is presumed that General Prawit was behind this. Prawit then doubled-down, appointing “a former Army rival of the PM” as the Party’s new chief strategist. Gen Vitch Devahasdin Na Ayudhya took this “powerful post previously held by the current party leader, Deputy Premier General Prawit…”.

Previously, in 2010, Gen Vitch was assistant Army chief and “was appointed to the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation, which was tasked with handling the red-shirt protests against Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government.”

In that year, Gen Vitch was competing with Gen Prayuth to “succeed outgoing Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda. However, the post was eventually handed to Gen Prayut instead.” This despite Gen Vitch’s long connection with Gen Prawit.

Readers can read the whole story for the details or plow through the most recent post at Secret Siam, which posits a deep and long struggle, including speculation regarding parts played by none other than Thaksin Shinawatra.

One thing is clear: that the rise and rise of the unsavory Thammanat demonstrates how “a powerful political broker” with a criminal past (who knows about the present?) can float to the top through links built through equally unsavory characters in the military (and higher).

The story of Thammanat’s rise is like a Thai version of “The Godfather,” but most of the protagonists are military mafia.

Thai PBS says “Vitch has been close to Gen Prawit since their early years in the Royal Thai Army three decades ago, and reportedly introduced Thammanat to Prawit.” It goes on to say that it was Thammanat who “helped Vitch to get into the ruling party.”

Gen Vitch is open regarding his links to “dark influences,” saying:

he has known Thammanat since the latter worked for his long-time friend Gen Trairong Intarathat. Also known as “Seh Ice”, Trairong once served as an adviser to then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and was described as an influential figure.

So mafia-connected military figures have swirled through various governments for several years. For those who don’t know Seh Ice, his brief obituary says this:

Gen Trairong was born on Sept 1, 1949, the fourth of the four sons of Maj Phone Intarathat, a former director of the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, and ML Kanyaka Suthat.

He was a Class 10 student of the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School and Class 21 cadet of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in the cavalry division.

His classmates at the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School included Thaksin, Gen Anupong Paojinda, the current interior minister, ACM Sukumpol Suwanathat, a former defence minister, and Gen Prin Suwanathat, a former transport minister.

He held several important positions in military service, including specialist attached to the Supreme Command, chief of the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence, an army specialist, and chief of staff officers for the defence minister (Gen Thammarak Issarangura Na Ayutthaya).

Not long before he died in 2016, he was identified, along with Thammanat, Seh Ice was identified in a military report as an influential mafia boss:

Two of four people reportedly named as “influential criminal figures” on a military document deny any wrongdoing, saying there is not a shred of truth to the allegation.

“That’s ridiculous, and I’m wondering which [security] people think like that,” former army specialist Gen Trairong Intaratat, better known as Seh Ice, said yesterday….

The three others named in the document are Karun Hosakul, a former Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok’s Don Muang district; Capt Thammanat Prompao, a former close aide to Gen Trairong and said to be involved in several enterprises including lottery ticket distribution; and Chaisit Ngamsap, who is alleged to be connected to illegal activities in the Mor Chit area of Bangkok.

Capt Thammanat, a former military officer, said he had contacted 1st Division commander, Maj Gen Narong Jitkaew, to ask him about the document and was told the information came from an intelligence report and there were no plans to summon him.

And, here’s an AFP report from 1998, with Thammanat playing a lead role:

BANGKOK, Sept 9 (AFP) – Eighteen middle-ranking Thai military officers are being investigated for links to an international heroin trafficking operation, the supreme commander of Thailand’s armed forces said Wednesday.

General Mongkol Ampornpisit said the officers had been re-admitted into the military in the past two years and the scandal, the latest in a series to rock the Thai military, had prompted him to order that all recently re-admitted officers have their backgrounds checked.

“I have submitted the names of all re-admitted officers for the last two years to have their criminal backgrounds checked with the police,” General Mongkol told reporters, without elaborating on the heroin trafficking allegations.

He said he hoped the move to vet officers would help contain one of the biggest scandals to hit the Thai military establishment in many years.

The revelation of the heroin investigation follows another scandal involving an army captain at the centre of a murder probe, who had previously served a jail term in Australia for drug trafficking.

Mongkol conceded the military had been lax when re-admitting Captain Patchara [Thammanat] Prompao into the armed forces after he was fired twice and convicted of narcotics trafficking.

Patchara is now in detention awaiting trial in a civilian court after he surrendered to police on Monday to face charges that he raped and then beat a male academic to death.

In June, amid a drive was to make the armed forces more accountable, the government demanded the military disclose the contents of secret bank accounts they had been allowed to keep.

Earlier this year the armed forces were accused by opposition politicians of involvement in vast illegal logging operations in northern Thailand.

So many connections, so many charges – none of which have held up in the Thailand. That’s what a mafia system is about and this is how it works. More tellingly, the military continues to reward crooks who slither to the top.

As the Bangkok Post reports, the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School has recognized Thammanat as and outstanding alumnus:

The controversial soldier-turned-politician was nominated for the award this year, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the usual annual ceremony to present the award to him and other outstanding Afaps alumni has been postponed until next year….

It is said Thammanat has declined the award, but the “honoring” of one of its most corrupt alumni is a telling indictment of a corrupt organization. The military (and police) cannot tell right from wrong, and instills this “value” in its new officer cadets.





Cracking down IV

23 09 2021

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has “hailed progress in Thailand’s campaign against ‘fake news’…”.

Translation: The regime is getting rid of news it doesn’t like. Its own fake news is okay.

The Nation adds that this cheering from The Dictator comes as “critics accuse the government of an unprecedented clampdown on internet freedom.” Indeed, “fake news” is a term “being weaponised by the government to crack down on its critics and protesters.”

The unelected general praised “state agencies after the latest Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) report showed fake news … stories in 2021 had dropped by 26.43 per cent, following a 6.69 per cent decline in 2020.” Meanwhile, it reported that “the number of genuine news stories had risen by 28.66 per cent…”. Fake statistics.

The Ministry “said 158 cases of fake news were prosecuted last year. So far, 135 cases have been prosecuted this year…”. Almost all of these cases are likely to be about  “online content critical of the government, military or Royal Family, amid rising anti-establishment protests.”

The crackdown targeting political activists has again swept up Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul. She was arrested on Wednesday “and charged with sedition due to her involvement with the Facebook page of the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD).” Much of the mainstream media has been quiet on this, reflecting the regime’s pressure.

This followed the arrest of Niraphorn Onkhao a few days ago.

Plainclothes officers from the Technological Crime Suppression Division presented an arrest warrant “… issued by the Criminal Court and signed by judge Sakda Phraisan. It stated that Panusaya is charged with sedition under Section 116 of the Thai Criminal Code and with entering into a computer system data which is an offense to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.”

Panusaya was taken to the TCSD headquarters in a police van.  They immediately sought her detention.

As in Niraphorn’s case, the cops were acting on a “complaint filed by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims [sic.], an online royalist group…”.

According to the dutiful cops, the UFTD “Facebook page contains what they consider to be seditious messages calling for people to rebel against the authorities, and accusations that police have used excessive force against protesters.”

You get the picture. No criticism or protest permitted. The authoritarian pit is a deep and dark one.

She was granted bail on 35,000 baht security.





Reflecting the regime IV

10 09 2021

Beyond the headlines, what does Wednesday’s sacking of Deputy Minister for Agriculture Thammanat Prompao tell us about the regime’s rotten political system?

He was sacked as deputy minister, along with Deputy Labor Minister Narumon Pinyosinwat, via an announcement in the Royal Gazette on Thursday following a “royal command” issued on Wednesday, that “stated that the prime minister said it would be appropriate if some ministers were removed for the sake of government.”

When asked, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said “he had his own reasons for the changes.” Thammanat remains, for the moment, secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, but that is unlikely to last long.

Thammanat released a “resignation” letter just before the official announcement that he’d been sacked.

Was he booted because of his shady background as a convicted heroin trafficker. Nor for his unusual wealth. Nor for lying about his education credentials. Nor for his underworld links via the lottery. Nor for links with a murder.

No, Thammanat was sacked for insufficient loyalty to Gen Prayuth:

Speculation is rife that the sackings have something to do with the alleged campaign to challenge the prime minister’s power. The campaign’s aim was said to replace Gen Prayut and rebuild a government that would result in a cabinet reshuffle, where certain key politicians in the PPRP, who are now deputy ministers, would be elevated to full ministers of A-grade ministries.

As one of those ministers, Thammanat “stands accused of manoeuvring the ouster campaign which allegedly involved a number of PPRP heavyweights and renegade members of micro-coalition partners and politicians in the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.” Thammanat wanted to be Minister of the Interior, which carries immense power and handsome rewards.

Clipped from Khaosod

It seems that Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan is another target as the two sacked ministers were close to Prawit. A party source said that Prawit’s position “hangs in balance following the dismissal of the pair who are his close aides.”

This is exactly the kind of party system that the military junta designed. This is how it works. Multi-party coalition governments mean there is always maneuvering for position and fortune. Allies fall out and become opponents. Money and power make the cement that holds coalitions together. Leaders must always watch their back, wondering whether friend or foe will stab them; usually the former.

Political instability in such a rotten system defaults power to the military chief and palace.

The system is corrupted and encourages criminals and other “dark influences” to seek power for the funds that inevitably flow from ministerial position.

This is the junta’s legacy for Thailand’s political system.





Authoritarians flock together

8 09 2021

What’s the collective noun for draconian authoritarians? Perhaps a Falange of authoritarians. Whatever the noun, it’s happening now in Southeast Asia. More to the point, the authoritarian, military-backed regime in Thailand is providing strong support for the murderous military junta in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s opposition, as a government in exile, known as the National Unity Government, formed mostly by elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy and their ethnic allies, has recently called for the uprising against the military junta to continue.

The response of the authoritarian twin in Thailand is telling and damning.

The Irrawaddy reports that “Thai police have been alerted to arrest anyone related to Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) found to be staying in Thailand.” The terrible twin in Myanmar must be very grateful that Thai authoritarians are doing their repression.

Intelligence sources in Thailand say an “alert was issued a few months ago” and that police and military have been “ordered to raid places suspected of sheltering NUG members—especially ministers and deputy ministers—who have been opposing Myanmar’s military regime.”

From Ugly Thailand

So far as we know, none of the leaders have been arrested. But, not long ago, “journalists and their associates from Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), a Myanmar online news site outlawed by the regime, were arrested for illegal entry by Thai authorities after they were found to be staying in … the country’s north. They were later deported to a third country.”

As usual, the threat is there and the fear created.

The Irrawaddy states that “Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is close to Myanmar coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and his government’s policies favor the junta.”

Rotten regimes Falange together.





A violent interlude II

15 08 2021

Sunday saw another of the now almost daily protests against Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime. In recent days, the locus for police crackdowns on rallies has been the Din Daeng area. The Bangkok Post reports:

Violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police resumed around the Din Daeng intersection on Sunday evening to round off the biggest day yet of “car mob” rallies.

Some of the protesters riding motorcycles and cars arrived at the intersection after joining the car mob rallies which converged at key locations including the Ratchaprasong and Lat Phrao intersections.

Around 5pm, a group of mostly young protesters broke away from the main parade rallies and gathered at Din Daeng intersection where confrontations with police have occurred over the past week.

The Post states that protesters initiated clashes. PPT wasn’t there, but that’s not what we saw on live broadcasts. It is true that perception of incidents depends a lot on where reporters are during an event.

That said, the Post generally presents regime perspectives and seems keen to present the protesters as violent.

Other reports present a different perspective. For instance, Prachatai, reporting on Saturday’s protest states:

What promised to be a peaceful march to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s house by the Talu Fa (Pierce the Sky) group made no more headway than other protests earlier this week. The protesters withdrew after police used force to keep them from reaching their destination.

At that protest – a series of multiple events – it is reported that when “some of the protesters tried to tear down the [now usual] container blockade, police responded with tear gas, affected many of those marching.”

Clipped from Prachatai

In all of this, the issue of political violence is being widely discussed among activists. Interestingly, it is reported that:

Red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, who co-organised Sunday’s car mob rallies, arrived at the scene amid boos and jeers as he tried in vain to persuade the protesters to go home.

Earlier in the day, Mr Nattawut promised the movement’s wider rallies would be peaceful. He also said protesters would avoid confrontations with police and stay away from politically sensitive places, including Government House and the prime minister’s residence.

There’s clearly a generation gap on what matters, with the younger generation of activists more clearly focused on the anachronism that it the monarchy and more clearly identifying their opposition to the monarchy-capitalist-military alliance that has been dominant for decades. As well, there is a festering resentment of an older generation that has already capitulated several times over.





fidh appeal

14 08 2021
The following is an appeal by Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture:

THA 002 / 0821 / OBS 083
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Thailand
August 12, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and ongoing judicial harassment of eight pro-democracy activists, namely: Anon Nampa, prominent human rights lawyer; Parit ChiwarakNutchanon PairojSirichai Natueng, Thammasat University student activists; Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Ratsadon Mutelu member; Panupong Chadnok, Eastern Youth for Democracy member; Thatchapong Kaedam, Free Youth member; and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, Dao Din member….

On August 9, 2021, police officers arrested Anon Nampa after he surrendered himself to the Pathumwan police station in Bangkok after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Mr. Anon was charged with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) and the Emergency Decree for his participation in a peaceful protest on August 3, 2021, in Central Bangkok. During the protest, Mr. Anon made a speech in which he reiterated the pro-democracy movement’s call for the reform of the Thai monarchy.

On August 10, 2021, police denied Anon Nampa’s bail request arguing that he would present a high risk of re-offending, if released. After spending two nights in custody at the Pathumwan police station, on August 11, 2021, the Bangkok South Criminal Court approved the police’s request detention for Mr. Anon and denied him bail. The court argued Mr. Anon was accused of a serious offence, had breached previous bail conditions, and was likely to re-offend, if released. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Anon was being detained at Bangkok’s Central Special Treatment Centre, where he was undergoing COVID-19 testing and a 14-day quarantine. The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time that Mr. Anon faces charges under Article 112 and, if convicted in all the “lèse-majesté” cases pending against him, he could be sentenced to a total of 195 years in jail. Earlier this year, Mr. Anon was detained for 113 days on charges under Article 112. Similarly, Messrs. Parit and Panupong were detained for 92 and 85 days, respectively, on lèse-majesté charges. Mr. Parit was conditionally released on May 11, 2021, and Messrs. Anon and Panupong on June 1, 2021.

The Observatory notes with concern that between November 24, 2020 and August 9, 2021, 116 individuals, including Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, and many other human rights defenders, were charged under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”).

On August 8, 2021, Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, and Phromsorn Weerathamjaree were arrested in front of the Police Headquarters in Bangkok in connection with their participation in a peaceful protest on August 2, 2021, in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province. Protesters had gathered to demand the release of 32 fellow activists who had been arrested and detained in connection with another protest at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau in Bangkok earlier the same day. Later on August 8, 2021, Messrs. Parit, Nutchanon, Sirichai, and Phromsorn were taken into custody to the Khlong 5 police station and then to the the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province.

On August 9, 2021, Panupong Chadnok and Thatchapong Kaedam were arrested after they reported themselves at the Khlong 5 police station in Pathumthani Province in relation to the August 2, 2021 protest. All six pro-democracy activists were charged with violating Article 215 of the Criminal Code (“leading an illegal assembly of more than 10 people” ), the Emergency Decree, and the Communicable Diseases Act. Three other protesters who accompanied Messrs.Panupong and Thatchapong at the Khlong 5 police station were also arrested and detained.

On August 9, 2021, the Thanyaburi Provincial Court approved the temporary detention request for Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Panupong Chadnok, and Thatchapong Kaeda and denied them bail on the grounds that they acted without considering the society’s safety, peace, and order during the COVID-19 pandemic and that they would likely commit the same offenses if released. The six activists were then taken to the Rangsit Temporary Prison in Pathumthani Province, where they remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal for a quarantine period of 21 days after which they would be transferred to the Thanyaburi Prison.

On August 9, 2021, police arrested Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa after he surrendered himself at the Thung Song Hong police station in Bangkok. Mr. Jatuphat was charged with violating the Emergency Decree and Article 215 of the Criminal Code, in connection with a protest held in front of the Thung Song Hong police station on August 3, 2021. Mr. Jatuphat, who was detained at Bangkok’s Central Special Treatment Centre at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, had no access to a lawyer until the afternoon of August 10, 2021.

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of the eight above-mentioned human rights defenders, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.

The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the eight human rights defenders and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them and all other human rights defenders in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok,Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Thatchapong Kaedam, and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Panupong Chadnok, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Thatchapong Kaedam, Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country;

iv. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Addresses:

· Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: spmwebsite@thaigov.go.th
· Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: complainingcenter@moj.go.th
· Gen Apirut Kongsompong, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Email: webadmin@rta.mi.th

· Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Email: info@royalthaipolice.go.th
· Mr. Prakairat Tanteerawong, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: Prakairatana@nhrc.or.th/ Prakairatanao@yahoo.com
· H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.








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