2022 IPA Prix Voltaire

28 09 2022

This exciting announcement from the International Publishers Association, with PPT’s emphasis added:

The International Publishers Association’s Freedom to Publish Committee has selected Thai publishing house Same Sky (Fah Deaw Kan) to receive the 2022 IPA Prix Voltaire. The Bangkok-based company was chosen from a shortlist of five nominees, who have all been recognized for their exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and enabling others to exercise their right to freedom of expression.

Same Sky Publishing House was founded in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2002 by three ex-student activists, Thanapol Eawsakul, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and Chaithawat Tulatol. Since then, Samesky Publishing has published a large number of academic journals and books in social science and the humanities, mainly from a critical perspective. Some suggest this critical position has disturbed those who uphold the political and social status quo. The last two decades of volatility in Thai politics has impeded freedom of speech in Thailand, particularly with regards to the abolition of the monarchy – something Same Sky’s work seeks to address. As a result, Eawsakul, Same Sky’s executive editor, has had to endure monitoring by state officials attempting to persecute him for sedition.

Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee added: Same Sky Publishing is a perfect example of a publisher demonstrating their bravery by standing up to intimidation and continuing to publish works they believe in.

A representative of Same Sky Publishing will receive the Prix Voltaire in person at 33rd International Publishers Congress in Jakarta, on 11 November.

About the 2022 Prix Voltaire

This year’s shortlist also included independent VK K arthika (India), Raul Figueroa Sarti (Guatemala), Nahid Shahalimi (Afghanistan/Canada), and Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association (Ukraine).

Prix Voltaire nominees are publishers – individuals, groups or organizations – who stand firm on freedom to publish, be it as longstanding defenders of these values or having recently published works despite pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment from various sources.

Nominees have typically published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of ‘publisher’ is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.

The IPA Prix Voltaire, which comes with a CHF 10,000 prize, is made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire recognizes.

The current sponsors of the IPA Prix Voltaire are, in alphabetical order:

Albert Bonniers Förlag (Sweden)
Bonnier Media Deutschland (Germany)
Holtzbrinck (Germany)
Penguin Random House
Norstedts (Sweden)
Samlaget (Norway)
Verlag C. H. Beck (Germany)

More 112 indictments

23 01 2022

UCA News reports on the raid on Same Sky publishing, concluding: “Thai authorities appear to be stepping up their campaign against pro-democracy activists, especially those who are advocating monarchy reform…” adding that “[t]his week alone, police have launched crackdowns including [the] raid on [Same Sky] and the issuing of new indictments for royal defamation.”

An anonymous commentator is quoted: “This is what repressive regimes do — try to outlaw honest and open debate…”.

Clipped from Prachatai

On the lese majeste indictments, it reports:

On Jan. 18, police in the northern city of Chiang Mai charged two university students with violating the royal defamation law, which prohibits any criticism of the monarchy and prescribes up to 15 years in prison per charge.

The two students at Chiang Mai University were indicted over an artwork they exhibited last year at the university’s gallery depicting the Thai national flag with the blue stripe, which represents the monarchy, absent in the tricolor, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.

In their artwork the two students also condemned the royal defamation law, which is Article 112 of the Criminal Code, by using an expletive.

Another anonymous comment: “More political prisoners? More lives and voices stifled?”

Further updated: “The end of Thailand as an open society”

21 01 2022

Referring to the regime’s efforts to control and delete NGOs it despises for their independent political line, a Bangkok Post editorial states the obvious: “NGOs in society might be entering a dark age.”

It observes:

The government is jumping on the bandwagon of nationalist governments, like the one in China, or those increasingly looking inward, like India’s, to tighten monitoring of foreign NGOs….

Like it or not, the anti-NGO sentiment might signal the end of Thailand as an open society, too….

So far, society has tolerated NGOs. Even if some of their campaigns touch on politically sensitive issues, the government has never expelled any NGO.

Yet the bill — which is to be tabled in parliament for its final reading soon — will become a game-changer that turns Bangkok into a second Beijing…. If passed, it will give the authorities the power to further audit and regulate NGOs.

Under military and military-backed regimes, political space has always been limited and controlled. In general terms, these regimes – including the current despots – have concentrated on locals identified as enemies of regime, status quo and monarchy. At times this has let to massive bloodletting in order to maintain the status quo of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras.

As the (usually hopeless) National Human Rights Commission points out, this backward-facing regime has made the so-called justice system a political weapon. The NHRC reports that “violations of people’s rights in the judicial process were the most common form of complaints lodged with the … NHRC … last year.” It added that the “complaints concerned the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Corrections and the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).”

We are unsure how the military-political agency ISOC fits into to a justice system. But this is the military’s and royalists’ Thailand.

On the ground, repression continues unabated, mostly in the name of the keystone of the ruling class, the monarchy. A recent example is the police raid on one of the truly independent publishing outfits in the country, Same Sky, publisher of Fa Diaw Kan.

Some 30 police – yes, 30 – “raided the Same Sky publishing house on Thursday, but failed to find a book deemed a threat to national security.”

They mean the monarchy.

The police were desperate to find a book “Sathaban Phra Maha Kasat and Sangkhom Thai” (The Monarchy and Thai Society). The “book contains the speech human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa delivered at a rally at the Democracy Monument on Aug 3, 2020 calling for reform of the [monarchy].”

Yes, that’s a book the authorities fear is somehow threatening to bring down the whole ruling class and its state. All very Nazi-like, or borrowing from the Post above, rather more like the Chinese Party-State versus the independent media in Hong Kong.

The hordes of brown-shirted cops “did seize mobile phones and editor Thanapol Eawsakul’s computer, to search for incriminating evidence.” Maybe they’ll just put this evidence on his machines, as they have been known to do in the recent past.

Same Sky stated: “The publishing house does not distribute the book…”. But Same Sky is popular among those who oppose the military-backed regime and has a history of critical and well-researched analysis of the monarchy.

Add this to recent efforts to further constrain the already cowed media and Thailand’s future looks like a dark age, and not just for NGOs.

Update 1: This post marks PPT’s 13th Anniversary. It is not an anniversary to celebrate. Things are getting worse and there are more political prisoners than when we began this blog. PPT remains dedicated to those who are held in Thailand’s prisons, charged with political crimes.

Update 2: Prachatai has posted on the raid targeting Same Sky and Thanapol Eawsakul. PPT has posted the English version of the book the police want here.

Legal harassment continues

6 11 2020

The military-backed regime and its minions continue to see the hand(s) behind the latest round of protests as being that of the Progressive Movement.

This has resulted in Pannika Wanich, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul having to front the Phaya Thai police to “acknowledge sedition charges filed against them by a former yellow-shirt co-leader.”

Clipped from Thisrupt

The yellow shirt making the complaint is none other than Suwit Thongprasert, the former People’s Democratic Reform Committee activist monk Buddha Issara. This is not just any PDRC clot, but the one who has been seen a couple of times having things whispered in his ear by the king.

King, queen and ex-Buddha Issara

In Piyabutr’s case, the complaint “against him involved posting in social media his academic work, including his lectures, while he taught law at Thammasat University.” Some of this goes back a decade. Those old posts were connected with more recent “posts supporting solutions to the ongoing political crisis” where he “suggested that the three demands of youth protesters, including the monarchy reform, be brought to a safe zone by setting up a House special committee to hear their grievances.”

To an outsider, all of this must seem rather odd, but the fascist former monk sees it as sedition for commenting on the monarchy.

The allegations against Pannika appear to be “centred around her Facebook Live sessions from rally sites,” while Thanathorn is “accused of his role in connection with Samesky, a publishing house specialising in Thai politics,” a connection that also goes back many years. Apparently, the fascist former monk also found discussing the allocation of huge dollops of taxpayer funds to the royal family to be seditious.

The fascist ex-monk and other neo-Nazis are desperately trying to put the monarchy genie back in the sealed bottle. In other words, the rightists are using sedition as they previously used lese majeste.

Pannika “urged Gen Prayut to stop using the same old weapon he has been relying on for seven years.” She said: “Prosecution of dissidents no longer works. These bullets are blank— they not only fail to stop the rallies but also escalate them…”.


7 06 2016

On 4 June 2016, Same Sky Books or Fa Diaw Kan live streamed a seminar on the launch of a new book on constitutions (เสวนา “รัฐธรรมนูญ” ในโอกาสจัดพิมพ์หนังสือ รัฐธรรมนูญ: ประวัติศาสตร์ข้อความคิด อำนาจสถาปนา และการเปลี่ยนผ่าน).

While all in Thai, we thought readers might be interested, including the participation of Nitirat-connected academic lawyers and other academics. It is a 4 hour video…. There are individual clips for each of the speakers also available.


Dopes, censorship and repression

21 10 2014

The military brass has again declared its loyalty to its boss. Why these dolts bother beats us, but there’s always a chance that one of the dopes gets sick of the dopes above him and tries to change things. But declaring loyalty means nothing for when they do decide to act, they are unlikely to declare it. What they did declare was: “We not only give our support and encouragement to the prime minister, but we will also translate his orders into actions. We will do our best.” Their “best” may be everyone else’s “worst” as the military brass engages in a political feeding frenzy.

At Prachatai it is reported that the military has “ordered the editor of anti-establishment socio-political Same Sky journal to delete a Facebook status which states the military’s attempt to censor the publishing house.”

The military ordered editor Thanapol Eawsakul “to delete the Facebook status on the conversation with Prajak Kongkirati, a renown[ed] political scientist from Thammasat University, at the annual Book Fair in central Bangkok.” Apparently the dunderheads in the military “mistook the fan meeting [with author Prajak] as [a] political seminar and requested the book fair organizer to videotape … the event which the book fair organizer declined.”

The deleted post “stated that the night before the opening of the fair, the military officials came to search the Fah Deaw Kan’s booth, claiming that some of the books have contents that could be deemed as defaming the …. Thai monarchy.” We deleted a word at … to protect our readers from royalist nonsense.

It is reported that “Same Sky … deleted the status and said it was forced to delete the status because the military felt ‘upset’.”

Also at Prachatai, it is reported that the military arrested and detained a red shirt who attended Apiwan Wiriyachai’s funeral. Military officers arrested Nueng Katesakul for allegedly taking part “in the anti-coup protest at the Victory Monument on 28 June…”.

The repression and censorship continues.

With a major update: Infantile politics

17 12 2013

The Bangkok Post reports that a “former Pheu Thai MP for Lop Buri on Monday lodged a lese majeste complaint against Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government [they mean anti-democratic] People’s Democratic Reform Committee.” This is about as dumb as it gets in Thailand’s politics. The report is that:

Suchart Sainam and his lawyer Singthong Buachoom argued that Mr Suthep had defamed Thailand’s monarchy by calling on the public to boycott the general election and demanding that the caretaker government step down and the poll be deferred.

Apparently the “complaint was received by Crime Suppression Division deputy chief” who said they would investigate.

Now, Suchart might be a mad monarchist or may just think it is a bit of reverse royalism to hit Suthep with a charge he happily bandied about in the past against his political opponents. But, really, isn’t it time that politicians became adults on lese majeste and assigned it to the dustbin of history.

Update: Of course, it is the mad monarchists who use lese majeste most often to attack, threaten and frighten opponents. Not long after we criticized the Puea Thai politician above, the rabid royalists have another charge to lay. Khaosod reports that the “coordinator of an anti-government network has urged the government to prosecute a Redshirts student activist for allegedly insulting the monarchy.” A related story is available at Prachatai.

The report is that:

Uthai Yordmanee, leader of Student and People Network For Political Reform of Thailand, said in a press conference that Mr. Ekkaphob Lueangra, a self-described vocational student who supports the Redshirt movements, has gravely defamed the monarchy in his speech at Rajamangala Stadium, where the Redshirts were holding mass rallies, on 28 November 2013.

PPT doesn’t know why, but while not identifying any particular item of lese majeste in the press conference, he “called on Mr. Jarupong Ruangsuwan, chairman of Pheu Thai Party, and Mr. Chaturon Chaisang, Minister of Education, to take legal responsibility for Mr. Ekkaphob′s remarks.” Guilt by association, perhaps, using the very broad and nasty lese majeste brush to smear many. Uthai seems to think that the two politicians allowed Ekkaphob to speak, so if he is committing lese majeste as alleged, then they are guilty too.

Of course, the yelling yellow also demanded that “Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra would also have to show her responsibility for the incident…”. Again, Uthai seems to be bonkers on this, but even the raving loonies can use lese majeste for ill purposes; and Uthai seems ill-tempered and ill of purpose.

Prachatai reports that:

police have charged an anti-establishment red-shirt supporter with lèse majesté for his coded speech at a red-shirt gathering at Rajamangala stadium on Ramkhamhaeng Road in late November.

A video clip of the speech was widely circulated on social media sites before it caught the attention of the law. A group of Internet users also disclosed his photo, home address and phone number as an act of political cyber bullying. They also found that he worked for a motor company and pressured the company via its Facebook page to punish him to show its “moral and social responsibility”.
The report states that the speech was at “a sideline red-shirt stage around the Rajamangala stadium…”, and that: Eakachai [note the different name used in the two reports] told a story of a family headed by “Uncle Somchai and Auntie Somjit” and the offspring of the couple. The speech attracted a loud acclaim and applause.At the end of the story, Eakachai spoke to the audience. “You guys feel a thrill of fear, but also like [the story]. But for me, I’d have to ask myself if I’ll be able to get through this. But I don’t care, because I didn’t refer to anybody. My speech isn’t illegal.” Apparently the police do not think so. Prachatai goes on to note that:
The fictional characters of Uncle Somchai and Auntie Somjit first appeared on the hard-core anti-establishment Same Sky web forum around 2010. The characters are known among people critical to the monarchy as code names used in a society where a speech can land a person in jail for several years or get them fired from their job because of political cyber bullying. The couple also feature in a song of Faiyen, an anti-establishment red-shirt pop band. The song is very popular among red shirts.
We think that Same Sky / Fa Diaw Kan is hardly more anti-establishment or hard core than Prachatai itself, so we are unsure why Prachatai chooses this description.
The anti-democratic movement has reason to hate Ekkaphob / Eakachai because he is a member of the progressive Red Siam group and “recently founded Gear of Red, which is a group of red-shirt vocational students and former vocational students.” The anti-democratic group has relied heavily on vocational students as their fighters, in the front line of demonstrations by rubber “farmers” in the south and in recent actions in Bangkok.
Vocational students are known for their violent clashes between schools and for their access to hand guns. THey are remembered for their brutality in the 6 October 1976 massacre at Thammasat University.

The National Library, Fa Dieu Kan, and State Censorship

17 09 2010

In  a recent article, Prachatai noted that Ms. Wilawan Sapphansan, director of  the National Library of Thailand, has contacted the police to bring a case against ฟ้าเดียวกัน/Fa Dieu Kan magazine. The alleged charges? Failure to register under the 2007 Print Registration Act and for possibly committing crimes of lèse majesté.  Apparently, this has been lauded by the  Minister of Culture, Niphit Intarasombat, who commented that:

“And I have ordered the Director of the National Library and Directors of 15 Fine Arts Offices all over the country, as the competent authorities, to check all print media in all provinces and have them registered.  Even with registered media, they have to look at the contents and pictures, and not allow lèse majesté materials.  If they find such content, they have to press charges with the police immediately.  At this initial stage, I have been informed that there are a lot of print media which have not been registered.  After all checks have been done, the National Library will report the exact number to me.”

The message seems clear: there can be no unlicensed thought in Thailand.  Or certainly no unlicensed printing of thought in Thailand.

In particular, PPT is dismayed that a librarian would act to censor and criminalize writing and ideas. Are libraries not meant to protect the printed word? The American Library Association (ALA), along with others, is a primary sponsor of Banned Books Week, which is 25 September — 2 October 2010. The ALA notes that Banned Books Week is based on preserving intellectual freedom, by which they mean

” … the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week (BBW).  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.”

We at PPT will be reading banned books, questioning established notions, and imagining a less constricted future. Join us.

Da’s Court Decision/คำพิพากษาของคุณดา

18 02 2010

A few months ago, PPT reported that the Thai-language magazine Under the Same Sky/ฟ้าเดียวกัน had published the full text of the court decision against Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul, also known as ‘Da Torpedo.’ In recent weeks, parts of the court decision have been translated and disseminated by the blog New Mandala (see Aladdin, 20 January 2010, “On the Judgment of Da Torpedo” and Elizabeth Fitzgerald, 29 January 2010, “The Evidence of Intention”).

Today, Under the Same Sky/ฟ้าเดียวกัน posted an English-language translation of the court decision. It is currently available by going to their homepage, and clicking on the images of the court decision. Should this be inaccessible, the English version is also available in PDF form here.  The Thai-language version/ฉบับภาษาไทย is available in PDF form here.

Read. Disseminate. Protest.

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