Updated: Watana and protests

20 04 2016

Watana Muangsook, taken into custody on Monday, appears to remain under military detention at an undisclosed location, perhaps at a base in Kanchanburi. It was a busy day for Watana, activists and junta thugs.

In a recent post, we pointed out that when junta minion Wissanu Krea-ngam and and the junta’s General Prawit Wongsuwan talked about a law preventing discussion of the military’s draft constitution, we assumed they referred to the draft awaiting royal signature. In Watana’s case, however, the junta has another (non-)law in mind.

Prachatai reports that the junta has announced that Watana “may face two years imprisonment for violating the regime’s announcement [Announcement No. 39/2014].” Under the military dictatorship, an Announcement has the power of law.

This announcement – effectively a military decree – “states that people who have been released after detention by the authorities must strictly comply with the conditions set upon the release or risk being imprisoned for up to two years or fined up to 40,000 baht of both.”

Like many others, following the 2014 coup, Watana was “forced to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the regime, promising to steer clear from all political activities.” Under the military dictatorship, a forced undertaking can be considered law-like.

Watana has been “forced to sign several MoUs with the regime after h[e] was summoned for attitude adjustment sessions on many occasions. However, he never complied with the MoU, but continue to criticise the NCPO[ the junta].”

The junta now claims – the report says “clarified” – that the “latest detention of Watana is not related to his criticisms on the latest draft constitution…”. If that is so, then the junta needs to say exactly what it is that he is accused of. Frankly, we believe the military junta is making this up as it goes along.

Following Watana reporting to the military and being taken into custody, the Bangkok Post reports that a “lawyer Anon Nampa, a core member of the Resistant Citizen Group, posted a message on Facebook on Tuesday calling for supporters to rally in white at the Victory Monument at 6pm if former commerce minister Watana Muangsook was not released.” He wasn’t released.

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit immediately declared that “the rally would not be allowed.”

Dumpy and dopey, Prawit falsely declared: “We have not infringed on anybody’s rights. We have only asked for cooperation regarding the expression of opinions, as we are the holders of state power.” Prachatai reports that his “regime does not care about criticism from human rights groups and other nations.”

Perhaps he was referring to the fact that Watana’s daughter “has submitted a letter to the European Union office in Bangkok to push for her father’s release.” She also planned to “go to the US embassy in Bangkok on Wednesday morning and to other places until her father is released.”

Remarkably, the junta responded to the EU by media, with military puppet Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai at his condescending, racist and ridiculous best: “Westerners may not be familiar with Thai history. Therefore, they may not understand the country’s current situation…”. We aren’t sure the junta understand Thai history. We are sure the EU Office in Bangkok understands the military’s authoritarian puppetry.

Meanwhile, Khaosod reports that the “Pheu Thai Party on Tuesday issued a statement demanding Watana’s unconditional release…”. That will get no response from the junta. Delusional and dumpy Prawit was reported as whining about Watana and others criticizing the junta: “At this moment, 70 million people are happy…”. He lied again when he stated: “We aren’t using any double standard. Anything causing damage or conflict in this land cannot be done.”

Because Watana was not released, the call by activists to meet at Victory Monument saw people converge at the giant traffic circle.


Another Khaosod story reports that “[s]ecurity forces surgically removed several activist leaders gathered at Victory Monument this evening, effectively nipping a planned protest in the bud.”

Many protesters “wearing white T-shirts, had melded into the busy crowd of rush-hour commuters Tuesday but were apparently left without a clear plan of action after at least four organizers were whisked away by police.”

Junta thugs took away “Siriwith Seritiwat of the New Democracy Movement, Arnond Nampa of Resistant Citizens, Aramis Akahad and Wannakit Chusuwan…”.

Helpfully, Khaosod uploaded “three live broadcasts” emanating  from the protesters and activists, here, here and here. There are more photos at the Neo-Democracy Facebook page.


Using the three-finger salute “associated with defiance to the military regime, several dozen protesters shouted ‘Free Watana’ until they were cleared out by crowd control officers, who numbered in the hundreds, with numerous police vehicles waiting nearby. No uniformed military personnel were visible.”

The Bangkok Post reports that the four activists “were detained for several hours…” and released without charge. Their response was to call for daily protests at 6 p.m. each day until Watana is released. They say the “daily protests will consist of people standing in a visible location to call attention to their complaints about the military’s use of secret detention against its critics.”

Update: It seems we were right in supposing that the military puppet Foreign Minister Don was condescending, racist and ridiculous when dealing with the EU. Prachatai reports that when he met with Jesús Miguel Sanz, the Ambassador of the EU to Thailand, Don’s “history” turned out to be reheated junta propaganda. Don apparently “explained to the EU Ambassador about latest detention of Watana … who is currently detained in a military base outside of Bangkok.” We would have liked to have heard that, for as far as the public is aware, the charge against Watana is that the junta is not happy with him.

The puppet Foreign Minister “told the EU Ambassador about crucial role of the military and the political reform roadmap of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [they mean the military junta] because the EU might not understand the whole situation…”. We are sure they understand very well the nature of the repressive and regressive military regime.

Like his puppet masters, Don stated that “Thailand has no problem with human rights.” If it weren’t so serious a matter, Don’s ventriloquist dummy act would be laughable.

Rejecting conscription

22 02 2016

Lee Yu-Kyung is writer, photographer and radio correspondent for Korean Broadcasting System, based in Bangkok. Readers may find the story about Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a 19 year-old high school student and a conscientious objector in Thailand.

He’s refusing the draft. He declares:

Military rule has dominated Thai society, not only now but also for a long time…. They controlled text books to promote nationalism and respect of the army. We know they want to make Thailand a military state….

The story is worth reading.

Coup not a crime

19 02 2016

In many places, and in Thailand’s 2007 constitution, seeking to overthrow a legal government is a crime and might even be considered sedition in some jurisdictions.

In Thailand, however, the military coup, marking the intervention of political thugs with guns, sometimes using them to gain power, is no crime. Even if the law is clear, the conservative judiciary is not going to rule against its military allies. They always have impunity, whatever the crime: coup, corruption, murder.

The Appeals Court has recently “upheld an initial court ruling to dismiss a treason suit against Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and four other colleagues [they mean The Dictator and his gang] for staging the coup on May 22, 2014.”

To make the decision, the “court relied on the interim charter’s amnesty clause for its ruling…”. Thailand’s courts pick and choose. We recall that certain decision are even applied retrospectively. Whatever the conservative elite wants, the judiciary delivers.The junta

The Appeals Court agreed, this time, “that any actions prepared and conducted for the coup by either the chairman [they mean The Dictator] or any subordinates or colleagues [they mean his military gang] shall be exempt from criminal punishment.”

This case was brought by the Resistant Citizen group, quite logically and legally arguing that the coup was a “rebellion in violation of Section 113 and 114 of the Criminal Code.” It was, but the judiciary prefers to polish the military boot.

The Resistant Citizen group plans to take the case to the Supreme Court, but they can not expect any support from the politicized judges there.

So why do it? As one plaintiff stated, “”We have to maintain the principle, if we give up our society will have no democratic values…”. Another, a brave young student said it was necessary “to remind society that overthrowing a democratically elected government was unacceptable.”

Quote of the day

29 01 2016

From the hardworking Nuengnuch Chankij, mother of Neo-Democracy Movement member Sirawith Seritiwat, at the Bangkok Post:

“I think of Jit Bhumisak’s mother. She must feel heavy-hearted. The difference is my boy is not in the jungle but fighting here.”

She does remain optimistic. “The world has changed and the military could not be as barbarian as they were in the past, people shouldn’t be brainwashed like they were in October 1976, when people hung others on trees and stuffed shoes in the corpses’ mouths.

“Thailand has some brave men and women here. And they just have to do what they have to. I just have to stand firm…”.

For friends and supporters

19 01 2016

The Dictator has been forced to back down twice in a week, here and here. He must be as peeved as hell. Yet he has had to fall in line with supporters.

Atiya Achakulwisut at the Bangkok Post reports on the latest political accommodation. She begins:

It must have taken an exceptionally strong force to make a feisty character like Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha flinch.

What is more remarkable is the strong-minded prime minister did not just recoil but that he apologised, deeply, three times in a row.

The words he chose to use, krab khor aphai, conveyed not just regret but expressing it in a most respectful way, as if he would prostrate himself in front of the person to show how sorry he was.

That is quite a remarkable step down. Atiya states that “Gen Prayut took people by surprise when he made a U-turn and told the remaining board members of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) to get back to work.”

Prayuth’s about turn followed the “strongest reproach” from “senior doctor Prawase Wasi, considered the brains behind ThaiHealth.” Readers may recall PPT’s comments about Thai Health and Prawase in earlier posts, here and here.

Prawase declared that “the military government’s move to dismiss Thai Health’s seven board members and accuse them of corruption was a ‘strategic mistake’ that will dissatisfy a wide range of people.” That’s a warning of a potential loss of important supporters and friends of the military dictatorship.

Another reproach came from “former health minister Mongkol na Songkhla who said he had made a grave mistake in joining protests to oust the Yingluck government.” He declared: “The situation now is much worse but we do not have an opportunity to go out and protest because of fear of military power…”. That’s a warning of a political ally.

Atiya makes a point we tried to make:

the ThaiHealth fiasco has exposed the military regime’s weakness. Right-wing conservatism may be the only force prevailing in the country right now. But under the same ideal, there are still shades of difference.

The military regime may have based its power on a coalition of conservative forces that seeks to maintain certain social orders that suit their interests. The truth, however, remains that this is a coalition of expediency.

The … ThaiHealth saga has shown the united front of right-wing conservatism will last only as long as their interests remain aligned….

The bickering at ThaiHealth has shown the only force that can make Gen Prayut flinch, that will stand any chance to rock the regime that has kept such a tight grip on the country, is the coalition of right-wing conservative groups that set conditions for the coup to happen and has served as its support base.

Atiya makes an final observation:

It is ironic, and deeply sad, that there is no real force in the country, be they political parties, leading figures or organisations, that can mount a serious challenge to the military dictatorship which at the end of the day may be curbed only by its own undoing. The lack of spirit to fight totalitarianism does not bode well for Thailand after the military regime, if such a scenario ever happens.

She’s not entirely wrong, although we need to point out the relentless acts of opposition. We can point to the brave members and supporters of the Neo-Democracy Movement and some academics.

Resistance matters

18 01 2016

Resistance to the military dictatorship has been constant. Yet the regime has also been quite successful in repressing opponents.

Maintaining pressure on the regime is critical for Thailand’s future. Time and again in the past, students and academics have been important in opposing authoritarianism. Things are challenging this time, with these groups having been split by the red-yellow divide.

Yet it is heartening to see the neo-democracy students being so brave in facing down the military dictatorship. According to a story at Khaosod, academics are following suit.

The report states that “[p]ro-democracy academics want to shift to a proactive stance in an attempt to restore some political rights amid concerns the junta may attempt to remain in power much longer.”

They are right to be concerned for Thailand’s political future.

The report is about a group of “[s]ome 30 academics and NGO activists organized as ‘Thai Academics for Civil Rights’ [which] will meet Thursday through Saturday to review their role and come up with strategies and measures to push back against repression by the military junta against students and scholars.”

Anusorn Unno, the dean of Thammasat University’s Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, asked: “What can we do to steal the agenda from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)?” He said:

his group is counting on the growing disillusionment of groups which used to support the coup-makers, including medical doctors, NGO workers, rubber farmers and some members of the movement created to oust the former civilian government, the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy with the King as Head of State, or PCAD.

These people increasingly recognize that paving way for the military to seize power didn’t enable [the country] to progress…. It wasn’t that clear in the first year since the coup, but the dust has now settled.

In fact, it was clear from day 1, but we agree that a wider group is beginning to see the failures and strategies of the dictatorship for embedding royalist authoritarianism.

Anusorn observes that: “The support base of the regime is eroding and simmering conflicts which have been suppressed await to be reignited…”. He mentioned Corruption Park.

The Assembly of the Poor is involved, with Barame Chairat, a coordinator, observing: “I agree that we need to launch an offensive because we have been on the receiving end so far… If we don’t do this, more will suffer.”

Activist hunting

15 01 2016

A few days ago, Prachatai reported that a “military court has issued arrest warrants for six young anti-junta activists calling for an investigation into the corruption allegations surrounding the construction of Rajabhakti [Corruption] Park.”

The six are among the 11 activists accused of breaching the military junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015 on “political gatherings.” The activists have denied all charges. Prachatai records that six of the activists went to a police station on 8 January 2016, but “refused to report, saying that they did nothing wrong and were only exercising their rights as active citizens.”

Yesterday, Prachatai reported that military thugs searched the house of Sirawit Seritiwat, one of these anti-junta student activists.

Some “5-6 military officers from an unidentified unit” searched the house. They did not have a warrant. They declared that if Sirawit did not report, he would be refused bail.

Further updated: Democracy, closing corruption park and Gilles Garachon

7 12 2015

With student activists saying they will undertake a “study tour” of “the scandal-plagued Rajabhakti Park,” as the Bangkok Post describes it, the military junta “has warned against any attempt to stir up political unrest” over park corruption.

When that report came out, “Government spokesman [Maj-Gen] Sansern Kaewkamnerd said everyone is free to visit the park, but they must also ensure no one has ulterior motives.”

Referring to “a planned trip by a pro-democracy student group calling itself Prachathipatai Sueksa (democracy studies) to visit the park, apparently to shed light on some of the fraudulent schemes put in place during the construction of the park,” Sansern sounded rather like the new French Ambassador, but hardly “moderate.”

Sansern stated that “he believed the entire country is aware of what a politically-motivated gathering aims to accomplish.” He claimed certainty that “most people were fed up with activities set out to cause disturbances.” His view, and that of the military dictatorship, is that if visitors to the park “are there to break the law or ruin the peaceful state of the country, they will have to face legal action.”

Sounding anything but the “moderate” regime claimed by new ambassador Gilles Garachon, Sansern declared:

They should be warned never to smear, with their dirty minds, the park that has been built with the faith and loyalty that all Thai people have for the monarchy…. “Everyone, except those with the foul intention to destroy the nation, should visit the park at least once in their lifetime….

These are the threats by a regime that the gullible ambassador says he sees and moderate when he claims he “had not noticed events that were worrisome during this transition [to democracy] period.” We are sure the mad monarchists will love such nonsensical claims as they do the threats by the fascist-monarchist regime.

Over the weekend, the military packed the park with soldiers in uniform.

Army at the park

Gilles, take note that the military junta used its Order No 3 that “authorises security officials to summon people for questioning only in cases of suspected acts of lese majeste, internal security infringement, illegal weapons possession or violations of instructions of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) or its chief.”

Gilles, you are supportive of a draconian regime that came to power over the bodies of protesters and that has discarded a constitution, overthrown an elected government and trampled on democracy. Recall that France is one of the first democracies. Have you forgotten?

Later in the day, as reported at Khaosod, “the military has intercepted a group of activists who attempted to travel to the army’s historical park said to be rife with corruption.” The report states:

Sirawith Serithiwat, co-founder of the pro-democracy group Resistant Citizens, and dozens of his supporters were arrested aboard a train en route to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province Monday morning….

iLaw, an NGO group that tracks legal prosecution of anti-junta activists, said on Twitter that they were told 33 people have been arrested so far.

Gilles, the same report states that your “moderates” had “employed several drastic measures to intercept the group, including cutting off the train car that Sirawith was riding, closing down the historical park ‘for maintenance’ and threatening Sirawith’s mother on Sunday to convince her son to call off the trip.”

Update 1: Social media reports are of 37 arrested. Apparently, a second team of activists is approaching the park.

Update 2: Dr J Taylor, of Australia’s Adelaide University, sent this letter to Gilles Garachon:

Dear Ambassador, your recent comments on the “moderate’ness” in Thailand under the dictator Prayut is astounding as it is absurd. We must be looking at different countries unless you have an ulterior motive in making this remark. There is no place for neo-fascism in today’s world, sanctioned and supported in Thailand by social elements since 2006. The immense power of persisting propaganda in the hands of extreme right-wing pro-monarchists has been worrying. They have generated a well-orchestrated vilification of Thaksin, Thailand’s truly popularly elected Prime Minister; they could have been saying “Thaksin is Jewish”! – The hatred created and perpetuated is the same as in 1930s Germany. Fascists need to vilify in order to mobilise their support, particularly among the petty bourgeoisie and urban middle classes. The control of information, censorship and the immense reach of the monarchy network into all stratums of society (like a computer virus or worm) have been factors in regulating society and the economy under new fascism. There is no middle ground remaining in Thailand, no platform for dialogue or impartiality. Following the fascist dictate, the Thai regime created disorder on the streets and insecurity (e.g. setting the violent PDRC mob out in the streets before coup/s) in order to recreate a semblance of their own constructed and self-interested order. The radical royalists established a compact with corrupt social elements all the while using 112 to silence political opponents with the myth of the “good” or “moral people”; now placed in absolute dominance while any democratic opposition and critics are taken away and silenced…This situation should not be allowed to continue or supported by democratic countries such as France.


23 06 2015

It has been widely reported that the military dictatorship is harassing and seeking to grab the seven Dao Din students. The students are apparently planning to report to the police tomorrow. They have been provided support and solidarity by the Resistant Citizen group (พลเมืองโต้กลับ).

The translation is here, but if it is deleted or blocked, this is it:

นานแค่ไหนแล้ว ที่พวกเขาได้ริบเอาสิทธิเสรีภาพของพวกเราไป ด้วยข้ออ้างว่า จะคืนความสุขให้คนทั้งประเทศ
How long have we been stripped of our rights and liberties on the pretext of returning happiness to people across the country?

นานแค่ไหนแล้ว ที่ต้องสยบยอมต่ออำนาจเถื่อน ซึ่งพวกเขาเอาปากกระบอกปืนจ่อมายังเรา
How long have we had to bow down to illegitimate power that emanates from the barrels of the guns that they point at us?

They claim that they have the consent of the people,

พวกเขาโฆษณาถึงความนิยมจอมปลอม จากผลสำรวจที่อุปโลกน์ขึ้นมายกยอท่านผู้นำ
while they publicize manufactured survey results that afford a bogus popularity to the leader in order to flatter him.

พวกเขาอ้างถึงภารกิจเพื่อประมุขของชาติเพื่อที่จะได้ใช้อำนาจเถื่อนนั้นตาม อำเภอใจ
They refer to their duty to the head of the nation in order to exercise this illegitimate power as they please.

พวกเขาฉีกทึ้งทำลายกฎหมาย แล้วเขียนกฎเผด็จการขึ้นมาชี้หน้าคนอื่นว่าไม่เคารพกฎหมาย
They have torn up, thrown away, and destroyed the law and written up a set of dictatorial edicts, which they use to point accusing fingers at others who they claim do not respect the law.

อาศัยกฎเถื่อนลายพรางมากดข่มคุกคาม ตั้งข้อหา และจับกุมคุมขังผู้คนที่ไม่เห็นด้วยกับอำนาจอันไม่ชอบธรรมนั้น
They rely on unlawful orders clad in camouflage to bear down upon, repress, threaten, charge, arrest and imprison people who do not agree with this illegitimate authority.

นาน แค่ไหนแล้ว ที่พวกเรายอมให้พวกเขากระทำชำเราบ้านเมืองนี้ซ้ำแล้วซ้ำเล่าแล้วจากไปโดยไม่ ต้องรับผิดอะไร
How long have we allowed them to violate our country again and again without having to be accountable?

They have not had to be responsible for causing society to be mired in backwardness.

They have not had to be accountable for making our lives and living conditions plummet and disappear.

They have not had to be responsible for causing the status of the nation to fall until the international community no longer accepts it.

นาน แค่ไหนแล้วที่ พวกเราได้แต่เพียงกดเก็บความไม่พอใจไว้ภายใน
How long have we simply repressed and kept our dissatisfaction inside?

ทำได้แต่เอาใจช่วยเพื่อนๆ ของเราที่ออกมาท้าทายต่ออำนาจเถื่อนเหล่านั้นเพียงลำพัง
How long can we only encourage our friends who go out to challenge this power on their own?

เป็นอีกครั้งที่ผู้ที่แสดงออกซึ่งสิทธิเสรีภาพอันชอบธรรมโดยสงบและปราศจาก อาวุธ ผู้ที่โดนโจรในเครื่องแบบรวมทั้งนอกเครื่องแบบทำร้าย จะต้องไป “รายงานตัว” ต่ออำนาจเถื่อนในข้อหาขัดคำสั่งคณะรัฐประหาร มั่วสุม และชุมนุมทางการเมือง
Once again, unarmed people who have peacefully expressed their opinions, as is their legitimate right, have been attacked by criminals in and out of uniform.

24 มิถุนายนนี้ พวกเขาจะต้องไป “รายงานตัว” ต่ออำนาจเถื่อนในข้อหาขัดคำสั่งคณะรัฐประหาร มั่วสุม และชุมนุมทางการเมือง
This 24 June, they must “report themselves” to the illegitimate authorities on the accusations of violating the junta’s orders, assembling, and engaging in political demonstrations.

ไม่รู้ว่า จะเกิดอะไรขึ้นกับเพื่อนของเราอีก
We do not know what else will happen to our friends..

ไม่รู้ว่า เพื่อนของเราจะโดนตั้งข้อหาเพิ่มอีกกี่ข้อหา
We do not know how many more accusations will be pinned upon our friends.

ไม่รุ้ว่า พวกเขาจะได้กลับเข้าห้องเรียนหรือกลับไปหาครอบครัวอีกหรือไม่
We do not know if they will be able to return to their classrooms and families.

รู้แต่ว่า ครั้งนี้ พวกเราจะอยู่เคียงข้างพวกเขา
All we know is that this time, we will stand side-by-side with them.

24 มิถุนายน 2558
On 24 June 2015,

แล้วพวกเราจะเดินไปด้วยกัน คล้องแขนเอากำลังใจไปมอบ มุ่งสู่ สน.ปทุมวัน
We will link our arms and walk together to offer them fortitude as they head for the Pathumwan police station.

เอาไง เอากัน
We will be together until the end.

Updated: The junta celebrates the coup

22 05 2015

How does a military dictatorship “celebrate” a coup? The answer seems that it celebrates the way it began, by arresting and threatening those it sees as opponents.

Prachatai reports that:

military officers arrested anti-junta activists on their way to file a criminal charge against the Thai junta leader [General Prayuth Chan-ocha, The Dictator] for staging coup d’état against the 2007 constitution during the first 2014 coup anniversary.

According to Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group, the police and military officers in uniform and plainclothes on Friday at around 3 pm, arrested Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist and taxi driver, key members of Resistant Citizen, at Lat Phrao Bangkok’s Metro Station.

It seems they were able to submit their complaint and then taken to the police station. They were released without charge.

In another report, Prachatai tells us that “police have detained about 20 activists after they gathered and about to commemorate the first anniversary of the coup.” The report continues:

The first arrest occurred about 6pm after a group of students gathered at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (BACC), Siam Square. As about a hundred of police officers and about 20 plainclothes officers deployed the area, the students sat peacefully for a few minutes before the police arrested them.

Two of the seven students detained are Natchacha Kongudom, a transgender student activist, arrested before for flashing three-fingered salute, an anti-coup symbol, and Rangsiman Rome, a student activist from Thammasat University.

They were taken to Pathumwan Police Station. The gathering at the BACC ended when large group of protesterd arrested.

On Friday morning, seven students from Dao Din group, based at Khon Kaen University in the North East, have been detained.

That’s how military dictatorships do it.

Update: Looking at several reports it looks like almost 50 people, mostly students, have been arrested or detained for protesting military rule.

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