Tiwagorn’s 112 good news

30 09 2022

Some relatively good 112 news. According to media reports, the “Khon Kaen Provincial Court has dropped a lèse majesté case filed against Tiwagorn Withiton, whose picture wearing a shirt printed with “I lost faith in the monarchy” went viral in 2020.”

The lese majeste charge against Tiwagorn resulted from his “I have lost faith in the monarchy” t-shirt and his Facebook posts about it. His first appeared in the shirt on 16 June 2020 and wore it to the market and on the farm.

The ruling given on 29 September 2022, with the Court finding “that the evidence did not prove that the defendant intended to defame or express hostility to the monarch.”

After the ruling, Tiwagorn is reported as saying: “I’m also surprised because I really thought I would get it. This is beyond my expectation. Is this mercy?”

Tiwagorn was prosecuted for lese majeste, sedition, and computer crimes on 26 or 27 May 2021. His t-shirt statement caused a stir as he was not defaming or criticizing the monarchy, but declaring his own loss of faith.

This act initially confused the state’s monarchy police who tried to convince him to give up the t-shirt and not advertise his lost faith. When he refused, his mother was told lies by officials, and he was arrested, dragged from his home, and forcibly admitted to Khon Kaen’s Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital. Officials seemed to believe that anyone who had no faith in the monarchy was mad. In fact, though, they were concerned to prevent a social media blitz of other announcing this loss of faith in the corrupt institution.

He was discharged from the hospital following a public campaign demanding his release.

At the time, the police announced that they would submit the case to the Bureau of the Royal Household for their decision on further action.

Tiwagorn was re-arrested on 4 March 2021 and taken to Tha Phra Police Station in Khon Kaen on charges under Article 112, Section 116, and the Computer Crimes Act because of Facebook posts he made on 11 and 18 February 2021.

On 26 May 2021, he was informed that the public prosecutor had decided to proceed with the case. The Khon Kaen Provincial Court accepted a lese majeste case filed against Tiwagorn. He was granted bail using a security of 150,000 baht.

The court’s decision may still be appealed by prosecutors.





UK travel advisory

22 09 2022

Like many countries, the government of the United Kingdom has online pages of foreign travel advice. For Thailand, that advice includes a succinct section on “Safety and security“:

The political situation in Thailand can be volatile. In recent years, there have been instances of civil and political unrest. You should avoid any protests, political gatherings, demonstrations or marches.

Lèse-majesté (criticism of the monarchy in any form) is a crime, which can be interpreted broadly and carries a long jail sentence. Some foreign (including British) and Thai journalists, Human Rights Defenders and members of the public have faced criminal charges, including for defamation, sedition, and under the Computer Crimes Act for raising concerns, making political comments, and sharing articles online that could been seen as portraying Thailand negatively or making accusations about individuals.

That’s and accurate and pretty damning assessment.





Bent law enforcement and warped institutions

7 08 2022

Rotten to the core

The legal system from police to the highest court is rotten to the core.

Prachatai reports that after 7 years, “the public prosecutor has decided to indict activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the Dao Din group on charges of sedition for an anti-junta protest in front of Pathumwan Police Station on 24 June 2015.”

There were 17 people “charged for participating in the 24 June 2015 protest, including activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Chonticha Jaengrew, activist-turned-Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome, and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.”

On 4 August 2022, that the public prosecutor decided to indict 10 of the activists 7 years after the protest and 3 years after the charges were filed. They were later granted bail using a security of 70,000 baht each.”

Meanwhile, the well-connected rich and powerful get away with murder.

Prachatai also reports that the royalist judiciary via its Judicial Commission has unanimously ruled to remove judge Wichit Leethamchayo from the Supreme Court “after he was found to have joined pro-democracy protests…”.

It seems that “right-wing groups accused him of showing support for pro-democracy protests on at least two occasions in 2021.” Ultra-royalist Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah “filed a complaint with the Judicial Commission in March last year accusing Wichit of showing ‘anti-monarchy behaviour’ in front of the Supreme Court on 13 February. Rienthong also claimed that Wichit posted anti-monarchy comments on Facebook using the name Wichit Lee.”

The Commission agreed, with “judges on the Commission called out his ‘anti-monarchy’ stance.”

As the report notes, this judiciary is biased. Judge Methinee Chalothorn, who was appointed President of the Supreme Court in September 2020, has been seen in published photos attending “a right-wing anti-government PDRC protest which led to the military coup in 2014.” Of course, she’s not been censured as supporting the right, ultra-royalists is second nature for most judges. In fact, it is revealed that:

the Judicial Commission’s minutes confirming that it had acknowledged Methinee’s participation in the anti-democracy protest in July 2020, 3 months before the appointment of a new President of the Supreme Court in October. Yet the Commissioners voted 13-1 to approve her appointment with several judges giving the opinion that being at a protest site does not mean that she showed support for the protest. Worasit Rojanapanich, an external examiner for the Commission, said that her participation was “graceful” for a judge because she acted out of love for the nation and the monarchy.

Clearly monarchism and the monarchy has crippled the judiciary. Its royalism is the reason for denied bail, the avalanche of 112 convictions, and endless double standards.

And royalism is infecting other institutions, with Prachatai reporting that the “unelected Senate has voted 146-38 not to appoint Prof Arayah Preechametta to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). The meeting minutes are confidential, but Isara News cites an anonymous source in the Senate claiming that the candidate was not approved because his ideas were contrary to the conservatives.” By “conservatives” is meant royalists, ultra-royalists, and supporters of the military/monarchy-backed regime.

Isara News cited an anonymous source in the Senate claiming that during the meeting it was mentioned that a person filed a complaint against Arayah because he had political ideas in opposition to the conservatives. The Senate eventually voted to reject Arayah on the basis that he was insufficiently right-wing. Presumably the unelected swill want “trusted” compatriots making the “right” decisions.





The legal blitzkrieg

21 07 2022

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has provided its June update for the blitzkrieg of charges and arrests that the regime uses to repress political and monarchy reform activists.

TLHR’s documentation of cases (which may not be complete), between 18 July 2020 and 30 June 2022, “at least 1,832 individuals in a total of 1,095 cases have been prosecuted due to their expression and participation in demonstrations. This includes 282 individuals under the age of 18.”

It totals “at least 3,641 prosecutions based on political activism, with many of the accused being prosecuted in multiple cases.”

The main prosecutions can be categorised as follows:

Modern Thailand has never before seen such a crop of Article 112 charges.

The report adds that of the 1,095 cases, just 197 have reached a verdict. The regime is tying people up in legal cases, keeping some locked up, and generally extending political repression in ways that might be considered lawfare.





Dangerous, barking mad royalist

17 07 2022

Thaiger reports that Tossaporn Srirak a former Puea Thai Party MP faces a sedition charge following a complaint made to police by ultra-royalist Sonthiya Sawasdee, a saying he is “former adviser to the House committee on law, justice, and human rights.” By our reckoning the quite looney Sonthiya knows nothing of justice or human rights, but is an active lawfarist.

He believes that wondering aloud if the troubles on the streets of Sri Lanka, due to food and fuel shortages, forcing the nation’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee for his life and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s troubles was facing Thailand under the General amounts to sedition, “whipping up hate against the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha…”.

The mad monarchist “urged police to launch an investigation into Tossaporn because he believes his Facebook post ‘Do you want it like the UK or Sri Lanka?’ could be interpreted as a call for unlawful insurrection against PM Prayut and his government.”

Of course, Sonthiya has a long record of taking up royalist and rightist causes. Back in 2015, Sonthiya, then reported to be “a representative of a political group called the Federation to Monitor the Thai State,” filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against then US Ambassador Glyn Davies for a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand where he expressed concern about “the lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences handed down by Thai military courts against civilians for violating the lese majeste law…”. He added that “[n]o one should be jailed for peacefully expressing their opinion…”. Sonthiya screamed lese majeste.

In 2018, it was a madder Sonthiya who demanded the Election Commission to investigate the newly-formed Future Forward Party and whether it might amend the lese majeste law.He said Article 112 was off limits.

He was especially “busy” in 2021, trying to see off the calls for reform, including to the feudal monarchy. In April, Sonthiya urged police to investigate Jatuporn Promphan for lese majeste following a speech to a protest for the Sammakhi Prachachon Pheu Prathet Thai (People’s Unity for Thailand). The protest was about ousting the General, but Sonthiya thought anti-monarchism was at work, presumably because Gen Prayuth is a royalist and his regime a lackey for the palace.

Then in May, by then Palang Pracharath Party member, Sonthiya demanded that the Criminal Court review its decision to free lese majeste detainee Parit Chiwarak on bail after the protest leader was accused of violating his bail conditions in a social media post.

By July, Sonthiya was working a tag-team with red shirt traitor and now regime flunky Seksakol [Suporn] Atthawong to bring charges against opposition politician Sudarat Keyuraphan for “wrongly accusing the government of poorly managing the Covid-19 crisis.” This was deemed not a fact but defamatory.

And, in November Sonthiya was (barking) mad that Miss Universe Thailand Anchilee Scott-Kemmis for standing on what looks like a Thai flag in a picture released online in a promotional campaign before Anchilee competed in the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel. Sonthiya wnated her investigated for breaching the 1979 Flag Act and a PM’s Office announcement banning the use of national flags for commercial purposes.

The problem with mad monarchists is that they are often taken seriously by royalist regimes, police, judges, and prosecutors.





Journalism, “national security,” and lese majeste

14 07 2022

Back when PPT was on a break, there were two significant lese majeste arrests reported. The report stated:

Worawet (last name withheld), who runs the Facebook page Free Our Friends, and Nui (pseudonym), who runs the YouTube channel “Sakdina Sua Daeng,” reported to Pathumwan Police Station yesterday (22 March) after receiving a summons on royal defamation and sedition charges under Sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code.

In addition to the two charges, they were also charged with resisting officials and refusing to comply with an officer’s order.

These charges resulted from reporting the “activist group Thaluwang’s royal motorcade poll at Siam Paragon on 8 February.” Police considered they “participated” in the event:

The inquiry officer said they were live broadcasting the event, and that participants in the poll were trying to push through a police blockade near Sa Prathum Palace. Nui was also accused of shouting profanities at police officers trying to take hold of a female activist and charged with insulting an official on duty.

The police “did not say how their actions constitute an offense under Sections 112 and 116.”

They were “granted them bail on a security of 200,000 baht each and set the conditions that they do not repeat their offense in a manner that could damage the monarchy, join activities which can cause public disorder, or post on social media invitations to people to join protests. They must also wear electronic monitoring bracelets.”

Photo by Ginger Cat. Clipped from Prachatai

The reason we were reminded of this case was because Prachatai reports a leaked list of activists and reporters who are being “monitored” by the police. This includes a Prachatai journalist. “Monitoring” means police follow those on the list, contact their families, visit their homes, and generally make life as difficult as possible.

That report includes a claim that “at least 6 citizen journalists are now facing charges for livestreaming protests,” and that includes the two mentioned above, facing Article 112 and sedition charges.

The authoritarian shadow is long and dark.





No bail for political prisoners

8 07 2022

Prachatai reports on the (repeated) failed bail efforts for Netiporn and Natthanit, using information from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The two have been jailed since 3 May 2022.

Netiporn (l) and Baipor (r), clipped from Prachatai

On 7 July, the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court again denied bail to the two young monarchy reform activists who are in pre-trial detention.

Part of the bail application was regarding health matters, where, after 36 days of hunger strike, both detainees “are exhibiting signs of seriously deteriorating health.”

The presiding judge decided “that the Correctional Hospital is still capable of seeing to the activists’ health needs.” It is reported that a “prison officer and nurse testified that they have just ‘lost some weight’ but [that the two detainees] remained in good spirits.”

It is stated that the “Court considered the request for more than 6 hours, summoning prison nurses and witnesses, before announcing its decision on 7 July.”

Netiporn and Natthanit had their bail revoked on 3 May when the South Bangkok Criminal Court ruled that they had violated bail from previous lese majeste charges when they caused “public disorder at Victory Monument on 13 March 2022 when they organised a poll on land expropriation. During the incident, a small altercation arose between Thaluwang supporters and members of a royalist group that had gathered nearby.”

Their article 112 charges, supplemented by charges of sedition and refusing to comply with a police order when “they conducted a poll on 8 February 2022 at Siam Paragon shopping mall about royal motorcades.”

Other lese majeste charges were brought against them and fellow activist Supitcha Chailom for another survey “on whether it was acceptable for the government to let the King use his powers as he pleases.” That arrest was on 28 April 2022.

Natthanit was also arrested on 22 April 2022 and charged under Article 112 and computer crimes “for sharing a Facebook post about the monarchy budget.”





Intimidate, repress, and control II

30 01 2022

The repression of heavy suppression of protesters and activists has been intense. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights recently published a report that states “at least 1,747 people in 980 cases have been prosecuted due to political protests and expression since the Free Youth Rally on 18 July 2020 until 25 December 2021.”

Only 150 of these cases have been concluded, meaning that hundreds of people are tied up in various legal procedures or are being held without bail. This reflects the regime’s use of lawfare.

In 2021 alone, “1,513 new people in 835 cases have been politically accused, accounting for an almost 7-fold increase compared to the number in the second half of 2020.”

Notably, there was a sharp rise in arrests and prosecutions “during the three-month period between August to October. The period coincided with a heightened political tension as a result of car mob events in various provinces, almost daily protests by various groups in Bangkok, and series of “Talu-Gas” protests at Din Daeng Intersection and the surrounding areas.”

Lese majeste charges were filed against at least 127 “new” people in 104 cases, while sedition charges were filed against at least 55 “new” people in 16 cases. As for the “key political leaders accused between 18 July 2020 and 25 December 2021 …[TLHR] found that:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak has 43 cases.

Panupong “Mike” Jadnok has 30 cases.

Anon Nampa has 24 cases.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has 24 cases.

Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa has 19 cases.

Benja Apan has 19 cases.

Another TLHR report states that “at least 291 activists and citizens, 39 of whom concerned youths under 18 years old, received house visits or were summoned for talks by authorities. These numbers do not include cases where authorities went to deliver summon warrants or make an arrest as part of a prosecution.” Most of this surveillance was in the northeast.

The repression continues and deepens.





Precious courts I

21 12 2021

Prachatai has a report on the judiciary that is worth considering.

Joseph (not his real name) protested the denial of bail for detained activists – some of them held for more than 4 months now. He cut his arm in front of the judge on 11 October 2021 to protest the denial of bail for activists Arnon Nampa and Benja Apan. They are held on lese majeste and other charges.

Now Joseph “has been sentenced to 2 months in prison on a contempt of court charge…”.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) report that Joseph was sentenced by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 17 December. Because he “confessed and said to the court that his action was symbolic and that he has no intention of hurting anyone, the court reduced his sentence to 1 month in prison and a 250-baht fine. His sentence is also suspended for 6 months.”

Clipped from Prachatai

TLHR calculates “that 26 people have been charged with contempt of court in 16 cases since July 2020. Of these cases, 14 resulted from protests demanding the right to bail for detained activists.”

Joseph is also reportedly:

one of the 13 protesters facing royal defamation and sedition charges under Section 112 [lese majeste] and 116 [sedition] of the Thai Criminal Code, as well as using a sound amplifier without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act for either reading a statement or giving speeches during the protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020, in which they submitted a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany. Joseph is facing charges for reading out a statement in English.





More 112 charges urged II

9 12 2021

A pattern has emerged. In our last post, we noted that national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk had urged police superintendents to give even more attention to “national security” cases involving lese majeste and sedition.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, and the leaders of the armed forces came together for an ISOC meeting “that was held to sum up its performance over the past year and to announce its action plan for 2022.”

Three army generals in 2019. Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The Internal Security Operations Command has arguably been the most critical agency collecting intelligence on the regime’s and the monarchy’s opponents. It has a nationwide organization that mirrors the civil bureaucracy. It also arranges “fake news,” including “plots” against the monarchy and builds royalist “movements” to face down “threats” from regime opponents.

It is reported that Gen Prayuth “laid down polices for the command to focus more on regional security and tackle threats to national security.” Those latter words are the code for the monarchy.

Bizarrely, Gen Prayuth described this most politicized of agencies as “not a political unit but a body supporting other agencies’ efforts to solve problems besetting the country.”

ISOC’s political role was further emphasized when Gen Prayuth urged “… Isoc and the interior minister to work together closely to address problems through democratic means, adding that dated laws and regulations should be amended to boost efficiency.”

They already do, but little of what they do can be realistically described as “democratic,” except in regime doublespeak.

The pattern being set is a division of roles, with the military and ISOC working on intelligence, using “counterinsurgency” techniques to control the provinces, while the police crack heads and wage lawfare, arresting protesters while the courts lock them up








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