Rallying for Tantawan and Orawan

26 01 2023

There has been a strange and limited social media argument that Tantawan Tuatulanon (Tawan) and Orawan Phuphong (Bam) should not be on a hunger strike. It seems that some middle class liberals feel that this action is akin to political violence.

Frankly, events show that this view is perverse. The brave stand by Tantawan and Orawan has quickly reignited protest and discussion of lese majeste. They deserve huge credit for their brave stance.

Over the past 24-48 hours, things have developed quickly. Here, PPT summarizes from social media posts. To follow events, look for Khaosod and Prachatai on Facebook.

Tantawan and Orawan were taken to Thammasat University Hospital on Tuesday. They are now in their 9th day of dry hunger strike.Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that a lawyer who visited them at Thammasat University Hospital yesterday (25 January) said that the two activists have lost a lot of weight, to the point that they can see the shape of Tantawan’s skull.

The lawyer said that, when the two activists arrived at the hospital, it was found that Tantawan has low potassium level and was at risk of cardiac arrest, so she was given a potassium supplement. However, the two activists insist on continuing their hunger strike, and will not be receiving IV fluids or other vitamin supplements.
The pair are staying in the same hospital room, and are constantly guarded by 4 corrections officers.

Food delivery rider Sitthichok Sethasavet, convicted of lese majeste on 17 January 2023, accused of setting fire to a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida and detained pending appeal has gone on a hunger strike to protest his detention.

Today, protesters gathered at the Pathumwan Skywalk in support of activists Tawan and Bam.

Clipped from Khaosod FB page

The Chiang Rai Provincial Court has thrown gas on the 112 fire by sentencing Mongkol Thirakhote or “Bass” to a mammoth 42 years in prison, reduced from 28, for 27 seditious and lese majeste FB posts on Thursday. A bail application is pending.

Monarchy-reform protest co-leader Arnon Nampa called for a major demonstration in front of Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre at 5.12pm Thursday in support of lese majeste detainees Tawan and Bam. People are marching out from Chulalongkorn University (CU) to Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) to show their support. The judiciary is criticized for bias on lese majeste cases.

Jail for (not) burning a royal propaganda portrait

20 01 2023

TLHR photo clipped from Prachatai

Prachatai reports on the lese majeste conviction of Sitthichok Sethasavet on 17 January 2023.

The 26-year-old Foodpanda delivery rider was found guilty and sentenced to prison for “allegedly attempting to burn a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida during a protest” on 18 July 2021.

In addition to Article 112, he faced charges of “arson, destruction of property, and violation of the Emergency Decree.”

The portrait involved was one of the ubiquitous photos of the king and queen that haunts many cities as a standard feature of royalist propaganda. This one was on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue in Bangkok.

Sitthichok argued that he he came across the fire while on a delivery. He was trying to put out the fire, not light it:

He told iLaw that, while he was spraying water onto the base of the portrait, a police officer came to tell him to get down from the arch and that the officer would get a water cannon to put out the fire. But when he get off the arch, the fire had already been put out, so he went to deliver his order and then went home.

That evening, “a picture of Sitthichok standing by his motorcycle was posted on Twitter, along with a claim that he set fire to the King and Queen’s portrait.”

Foodpanda went royalist nuts:

Because the photo also showed a pink Foodpanda delivery box, the company’s official account replied to the tweet saying the platform has a policy “against violence and all forms of terrorism” and that the rider in question would be fired immediately. It also said that the platform is willing to help the authorities in pressing charges against the culprit.

Of course, at this point, there were no charges, let alone an investigation. But that’s how mad royalism works. In this case, it became corporate vigilantism. Foodpanda later apologized but said the “company was investigating the incident.” As far as we know, Foodpanda had not investigative skills. But then again, neither do the corrupt police when it comes to 112.

The latter sprang into action, and arrested Sitthichok at his Rangsit house on 19 July 2021. He was released on 20 July on bail of 100,000 baht.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said:

the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court found Sitthichok guilty on all charges on the grounds that there is no evidence he was trying to put out the fire, and because the prosecution witness testified that the fire grew stronger when Sitthicok sprayed a bottle of purple liquid on the royal arch.

The court heard that the royal portrait was not damaged by the fire, “which only damaged decorative fabric at the base of the royal arch.” The royalist court decided that “even if the portrait did not catch fire, spraying the liquid at the base of the portrait, which was already on fire, meant that Sitthichok intended to burn the portrait.”

This made him guilty of lese majeste.because “a prosecution witness testified that the Thai society sees a portrait of the King as being the same as the King himself.” The royalist court agreed. It “also said that he was guilty because Thailand is a democracy with the King as the head of state, and therefore people should not exercise their freedom in a way that is against the monarchy.”

Sitthichok was sentenced to a total of 3 years and 6 months in prison, but because “he gave useful testimony, his sentence was reduced to 2 years and 4 months.”

His lawyer requested bail with an additional security of 100,000 baht. Prachatai reports that:

On 19 January 2023, the Court of Appeals has denied bail request from Sitthichok Sethasavet, a food delivery rider who had been found guilty and sentenced to prison yesterday on a royal defamation charge, arson, and others.

The order stated that Sitthichok’s bail was denied due to the gravity of the punishment and that his offence showed a sign of not afraid of law. Moreover, his offence affects the “feeling and good moral of the people”. Hence, releasing him might result in him repeating the wrongdoing or flee.

Article 110 trial to begin

15 11 2022

On 14 October 2020 during #14OctMob of “Khana Ratsadorn” rally, a group of protesters found themselves close to an unannounced royal motorcade, with a car carrying Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. The car appeared to drive through the protesters, who shouted anti-royal slogans.

Several of the protesters were charged under the almost never used Article 110, which states:

Whoever commits an act of violence against the Queen or Her liberty, the Heir-apparent or His liberty, or the Regent or his/her liberty, shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of sixteen to twenty years. Whoever attempts to commit such offence shall be liable to the same punishment.

If such act is likely to endanger the life of the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, the offender, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life.

Whoever makes preparations for committing an act of violence against the Queen or Her liberty, the Heir-apparent or His liberty, or the Regent or his/her liberty, or does any act to assist in keeping secret any intention to commit such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of twelve to twenty years.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports that the “Criminal Court starts the witness examination of Black case number Aor.778/2564 on November 16, 2022. Five defendants are charged under Section 110 of Thailand’s Criminal Code on the ground of ‘violating the liberty of the Queen’.”

The five defendants include Akechai Hongkangwarn, Bunkueanun Paothong, Suranath Paenprasert
“and two other civilians who were indicted by the public prosecutor…”.

Of course, none of them violated the queen’s person or safety, but this is royalist Thailand.

All five defendants have denied all charges.

With the case now about to begin, there “are 51 prosecution witnesses and 11 defendant witnesses.” The trial is scheduled to run through the end of January 2023.

As TLHR explain:

This case is considered one of the most important case in Thailand’s political sphere as the penalty of this case is severe that the defendants could face 16 to 20 years, life time imprisonment or even death penalty for allegedly violating the Queen’s liberty and her well-being.

Royal motorcade lese majeste

19 10 2022

Social media reported a scuffle at the revamped Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) when King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida attended for the opening ceremony.

Prachatai has now reported on this incident.

It says Atirut (last name withheld), a 25-year-old programmer, was arrested on Saturday 15 October 2022 and “charged with royal defamation [they mean lese majeste] for refusing to sit down and shouting as King Vajiralongkorn’s royal motorcade went past.”

A witness saw the arrest, at around 18.15, with some 10 officers detaining the man, “putting him in a chokehold and carrying him inside the QSNCC by his arms and legs. An officer also put a hand over the man’s mouth.”

The witness “was told that the man had been taken to Lumpini Police Station, but officers at the station denied that anyone had been sent there when activists went looking for the man.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights later said Atirut “was being detained at Lumpini Police Station. According to the arrest record, he was arrested and charged because he refused to sit down and shouted ‘Going anywhere is a burden’ as the royal motorcade went past.”

TLHR also said that he “received minor injuries, including scratches on his left ankle and both elbows and a torn nail on his right hand. He was also reported to have been handcuffed after being carried inside the QSNCC.”

Atirut “was taken to court this morning (17 October) for a temporary detention request,” with the South Bangkok Criminal Court granting the police request to temporarily detain Atirut for 12 days. However, after “his lawyer filed a bail request, he was granted bail with a 200,000-baht security and released.”

King seen, but not Sineenat

9 10 2022

AFP – Agence France Presse – reported on the “visit by Thailand’s king to see survivors of a nursery massacre,” noting that it was “a rare recent public outing” by Vajiralongkorn.

AFP then goes through some squirms and calisthenics to suggest that the current monarch is “officially regarded as semi-divine but who came in for unprecedented criticism during street protests in 2020.” Presumably, the “official” bit is to imply that this position is demonstrably buffalo manure.

King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida visited hospitals treating the victims of the tragic Nong Bua Lamphu massacre. As far as we can tell from reporting, the royals steered clear of the site of the massacre. This is probably for fear of bad karma rubbing off.

As usual, a handful of “royalist supporters, some wearing the king’s official colour yellow, waited outside the hospital ahead of the monarch’s visit.”

And, as always, those viewed by the royals were placed in subordinate positions.

The report is right to observe that the king no longer goes out much: “The palace stepped up public appearances in late 2020 and early 2021, including one occasion on which the king visited prisons, sweeping floors alongside his [then] official consort.” Since the regime arrested and charged hundreds with lese majeste, “he has been seen less in public since the protests ebbed away in 2021.” Presumably he feels his position has been fortified.

Perhaps the AFP might have asked why he’s stopped spending most of his time in Germany. Tax issues? An incapacity under German law to take government decisions?

Helpfully, though, AFP does mention Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi. But she has completely disappeared, without a trace. What has happened to her?

Jatuporn gets bail II

15 09 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on Jatuporn Sae-Ung’s case and bail.

It adds some detail on the royalist court’s decision:

Having examined 14 prosecutor’s witnesses and two defendant’s witnesses during June 2022, the Bangkok South Criminal Court acquitted Jatuporn of all charges with the exception of those brought under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code and the Public Assembly Act. Considering the totality of circumstances at the time of the fashion show on 29 October 2020, the court ruled that Jatuporn intended to impersonate, mock, and dishonor the Queen. This was tantamount to defamation against the Queen.

It also adds commentary on Jatuporn’s important statement to the court:

Jatuporn affirm[ed] … her belief to the court stating that dressing up in Thai National Dress is a right that any individual can choose to do so and if one chooses to dress up, it is not a crime. The fact that her dressing up on the day of the incident is a violation of section 112 is purely a vague interpretation by the plaintiff and her witnesses.

“Your honor, today I am wearing Thai national dress, is there something wrong with me here? I do not intend to mock anyone.”

A lawyer commented:

“In a polarized society, Lèse-majesté law becomes a tool used to harm those who think differently. In this case, the individual who accused her (Jatuporn) was of the opposite political view.”

Jatuporn gets bail I

14 09 2022

Clipped from Coconuts Bangkok

It is reported that activist Jatuporn Sae-ung, sentenced to two years in prison for, the court believed, defaming the monarchy by dressing up as Queen Suthida , has been released on bail.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights confirmed that an appeals court had set a bail of 300,000 baht.

Jatuporn, 25, was due to be released sometime on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, after being held since Monday.

The activist will be free on bail while the appeals court deals with her case.

The report states that Jatuporn’s:

… conviction is the latest in a wide-ranging crackdown by the Thai authorities to stifle the pro-democracy movement, which staged massive protests in mid-2020 that sparked a public debate on the role of Thailand’s all-powerful monarchy in society.

Updated: Mimicry 112

12 09 2022

Clipped from Coconuts Bangkok

112Watch reports that on On 12 September 2022, a royalist court sentenced transgender activist, Jatuporn Sae-Ung, to 3 years on a 112 charge, reduced to 2 years in prison for her cooperation with the court. She stood accused of dressing to mimic Queen Suthida on 29 October 2021 during a political demonstration known as the “Runway for the People.” She dressed in what is now termed a traditional Thai costume of pink silk. She walked on the red carpet while other protesters prostrated in front of her, an act deemed to be insulting the monarchy under the Article 112.

The Court considered her act to violate the so-called dignity of the monarchy and, hence, lese majeste.

Jatuporn is seeking bail to appeal.

UpdatePrachatai has the long story on Jatuporn’s case. The Bangkok Post has a story too.

Koi is gone

4 08 2022

Andrew MacGregor Marshall has a new Secret Siam post “Koi gone.” Marshall doesn’t answer the burning question: What has happened to Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, known as Koi, the king’s official concubine?

She’s been gone from public view since 5 December 2021. No one is saying what has happened to her. She was there one day and then she disappeared. Her unexplained disappearance is not something usually associated with “celebrities” in the modern world. It is strange. But so is the Thai royal family.

If he can’t say what has happened to her, Marshall puts together the story of Koi as it is currently known. It will be of interest for many who follow the erratic Vajiralongkorn. Here’s some of the conclusion to Marshall’s account:

The royals finally returned to Europe in November 2021, taking over much of the airport hotel in Munich for their mandatory two weeks of coronavirus quarantine. They made day trips to Thailand on November 20 for the changing of the clothes of the Emerald Buddha, and on December 5 for the birthday of the late King Bhumibol.

The December 5 visit was the last time Koi has been seen in public. She has been missing for eight months. Here is the last image we have of her.

It remains unknown what happened during December last year between Vajiralongkorn and Koi….

The king flew back to Bangkok via Zurich on December 28 for Taksin Day, bringing [Queen] Suthida but — very unusually — not Koi, who stayed in Bavaria. He planned to stay in Thailand less than two weeks.

We are PPT don’t think it is certain that Koi remained in Bavaria.

But the plans were repeatedly changed…. Clearly there was some turbulence in the palace, with plans being changed so frequently.

Eventually, Vajiralongkorn decided he was not going to return to his pleasure palace in Bavaria for now. He has not been back to Germany since December and has not seen Koi since then.

The real reason [for Koi’s disappearance], royal sources say, is that Koi’s ambitions were causing so much conflict that Vajiralongkorn became increasingly angry and bored of the drama. Surprisingly, Suthida seems to have won the power struggle for now, with the help of Bajrakitiyabha and Sirivannavari….

On July 28 [2022], the royals gathered to mark Vajiralongkorn’s 70th birthday. It was exactly three years since he had anointed Koi his royal noble consort, but she was nowhere to be seen.

For the moment, Koi is gone.

Using 112 against the mentally ill

23 06 2022

Prachatai, using information from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, reports that a man named Punyaphat (last name withheld), 29, “has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for posts he made in the Facebook group Royalist Marketplace about King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida’s popularity and the King’s trips to Germany.”

Like several others who have been sentenced under Article 112, Punyaphat is said to suffer “mental illness.”

TLHR say that, on 20 June 2022, “the Samut Prakan Provincial Court ruled that the 4 posts Punyapat made on Royalist Marketplace, a Facebook group where people discuss the monarchy, on 9 and 10 May 2020 were intended to cause hatred against the King and Queen, and that the content of the posts is false and defamed the King.”

The Court “sentenced him to 12 years in prison for royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The sentence was reduced to 4 years and 24 months because Punyaphat confessed.” [This is an accurate quote, but the reduced sentence details must be wrong or lacking details. We guess 6 years, as a reduction is usually 50%.]

Punyaphat’s mother has stated that her son “suffers from attention deficit and shows obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She also said that he can only communicate on a limited basis and is unable to control himself in stressful situations or if he is afraid, and that he is not able to work or leave the house by himself and must be under the care of his family at all times.”

However, the royalist Court claimed “Punyaphat was capable of contesting the charges and there was no need to send him to a psychiatrist, since he is able to talk about himself.”  The court and its officers ignored all claims about Punyaphat’s mental condition, including by his lawyers.

While Punyaphat and his family live in Kamphaeng Phet, because the complaint “was filed by Siwapan Manitkul …  at Bangkaew Police Station in Samut Prakan, Punyapat and his family had to travel at least 5 hours from  for each court appointment.”

Siwapan is reported to have filed “at least 9 royal defamation complaints filed against other citizens for social media posts in 2020.”

Following the verdict, “Punyaphat’s lawyers posted bail for him in order to appeal the charges, and also stated that sending him to prison would prevent him from receiving proper treatment for his mental condition. He was released on bail using a 225,000-baht security.”

%d bloggers like this: