Incessant double standards

7 08 2017

In his weekly column at the Bangkok Post, Alan Dawson looks at the double standards that define the military dictatorship’s (in)justice system.

In it, he mentions national deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul’s chagrin at not being able to arrest Yingluck Shinawatra supporters last week that “he has their transport dead to rights. He captured 21 taxi and van drivers who drove the fans to the court because they were not licensed to drive in Nonthaburi province where the court is.” He suggests this action was vindictive and petty.

He turns to lese majeste:

On Thursday, the first witness hearing was held in the case of The Regime vs Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka Pai Dao Din. The prosecutors call him “that man who liked a Facebook post”.

Which he did, of course. He fully admits it and it’s there on the BBCThai.com website if you need prove it. The “like” was for a biographical news report. It’s a report on which 3,000 other people in Thailand clicked like — but aren’t being prosecuted for lese majeste and computer crime with 30 years of free room and board at state expense in the balance.

As others have, he compares this with the situation of hugely wealthy and influential Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya:

That’s a double standard [Pai’s case]. But the pursuit and persecu… we always get that word wrong, the prosecution of Pai is in stark, massive contrast to the case of a playboy and bon vivant from a family with 10 dollar billionaires. The chase doesn’t even rise to the description of trivial pursuit.

In just a few more days, the rich guy’s case expires. Cop dead, run over and his body dragged along the road by the expensive car, but never mind, attack rural students for being a political activist.

Dawson could have gone on and on.

What of those accused of lese majeste and sentenced for “crimes” against royal personages not covered by the law? Then there are the political activists picked off by junta using lese majeste charges.

Then there are those sent to jail, like Jatuporn Promphan, for defamation of leading anti-democrats, while anti-democrats defaming their opponents remain free. Then there are those who are slapped with sedition charges for pointing out some of junta’s failures (of which there are many).

What of those identified as opponents who are prevented from meeting when “allies” like the members and leadership of the People’s Alliance for Democracy can. And we hardly need to mention the jailing of red shirts for all manner of “crimes” while PAD leaders walk free.

And then there are the double standards when it comes to corruption. The junta is considered squeaky clean, always. “Evil politicians” are always considered corrupt.

Finally, for this post, there is impunity, which is the grossest of double standards. Who stole the 1932 plaque? No investigations permitted. Chaiyapoom Pasae’s murder has disappeared into official silence, so that usually means impunity via cover-up by simply ignoring it as a case against soldiers. The enforced disappearance of Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee is unlikely to be mentioned much at all as the military junta quietly congratulates itself on a “job” well done. It seems a bit like the murder of Kattiya Sawasdipol or Seh Daeng by a sniper in 2010.

Not only is the junta operating with double standards, its sanctions the murder of its opponents. Meanwhile, the justice system in Thailand is broken.





No remembering allowed I

13 05 2017

The junta continues to try to censor and repress, several times going into royalist overload in its efforts.

Part of its work is to effectively change history. Whether it wanted to or not, the theft and vandalism of the 1932 plaque caused the dictatorship to line up with their king in saying the past is best forgotten (in fact) and replaced with mythical legends about good kings and the current one (the silk purse-sow’s ear notion).

Other facts are simply ignored. What happened to the murdered Chaiyapoom Pasae? Best forgotten and swept under a military tarpaulin. And so on, ad infinitum.

While on history and this regime, or at least the devils running it, those people killed in 2010. Either they were republican dupes of a Svengali or they can be swept aside as deserving of death as bad people (or both).

It is no surprise to learn from The Nation that the military junta has prevented a “commemoration of late Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdipol…”.

Known as Seh Daeng, he was murdered with a single sniper shot to the head “during the 2010 red-shirt demonstrations against the Abhisit [Vejjajiva] government…”. As the high buildings were occupied by government troops, it may be assumed that the shooter was ordered to take out Seh Daeng by the Abhisit regime and military leaders including General Prayuth Chan-ocha and General Anupong Paojinda.

Former deputy prime minister Chalerm Yubamrung “claimed in 2012 that a group of senior police officers were behind the assassination…”, although we’d bet it was military snipers.

Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesperson for the military junta “insisted that there was no attempt to thwart the family’s commemoration plan, but the event could be considered politically motivated,” so it was banned.

Seh Daeng’s daughter is unimpressed with the junta’s call for “cooperation” and forget about the commemoration of his murder.

She “insisted she would today go to Sala Daeng intersection on Silom Road in the capital to lay flowers and light candles to commemorate her father at the location where he was fatally wounded by a sniper.”

Ms Khattiyaa said she received a phone call from a police officer on Thursday, who said he was instructed by the army to ask about what she intended to do to mark the seven-year anniversary of her father’s death.

She “questioned why authorities want to prevent her and her sister from expressing gratitude and commemorating their father.”

Military dictatorship spokesman, and probably involved in the planning of the sniper attack, Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said “in ordinary merit-making ceremonies, the NCPO [junta] always gives permission if the activities have no political implications.”

We assume he means ceremonies already deemed “political” for we doubt other merit-making  needs junta approval. But perhaps we have missed another expansion of the use of the junta boot.

Junta spokesman Winthai reckoned the fire-breathing anti-red shirts at the 1st Army Region are the ones swinging the boot in this case.

You get the picture. A couple of women are considered political threats to the junta because they might just challenge the junta’s history of Thailand or cause people to remember.





Prayuth and Suthep dissemble (again)

11 08 2013

Many readers will know that, last week, a Criminal Court declared that six persons killed on Wat Pathum Wanaram on 19 May 2010 were shot by the soldiers. The court states that five were shot by the soldiers situated on the BTS sky train track above the temple, with the sixth shot by soldiers stationed on Rama I Road.

That seemed pretty clear, but not for Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The outspoken general is reported at Khaosod as insisting “that the military was not involved in the deaths of 6 civilians shot dead as they sought shelter inside a temple during the 2010 military crackdown.”Prayuth locked and loaded

In one sense this should not be surprising as the military has repeatedly “denied any involvement, despite stacks of evidences and witness′ accounts.”

Prayuth “insisted that he never gave order to kill civilians. None of his commanding officers ever admitted they had shot any civilian…”.

Adding to the the mood of rejection of courts, evidence and reality, Prayuth is joined by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. Also reported at Khaosod, The newspaper points this out:

… the more mind-boggling denial of what happened in 2010 appears to rest with the Democrats, who have repeatedly argued that the military operating under Mr. Abhisit [Vejjajiva]′s government have not killed any civilian or protester throughout the crackdown….

Continuing this mind-boggling denial, with Suthep speaking in parliament, again “denied that the military ever used excessive violence against the protesters.” His explanation was appropriately royalist:

Suthep Thaugsuban (Bangkok Post photo)

“The soldiers were loyal to His Majesty the King. They knew they were the nation′s troops. They acted according to my orders within the lawful power.” Mr. Suthep announced to the Parliament. He said a group of unknown individuals was responsible for any death.

Remarkably, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, Suthep claimed (again) that there were no snipers at work shooting down red shirts.

Puea Thai Party MP Khattiyar Sawasdipol, whose father, Seh Daeng or Khattiya Sawasdipol, was cut down by a sniper’s bullet, declared: “Mr. Suthep is lying right inside the Parliament…”.army-snipers

Even more remarkable and showing not a shred of normal human emotion or sense, Suthep reportedly responded: “Maybe your father was shot by one of your own people?”

Such responses derive not just from reprehensible elite arrogance but from the history of impunity for state officials who murder citizens.





Bangkok Post misleads (again)

17 10 2012

At the Bangkok Post website, the headline is “B1m bounty put up for men in black,” followed by this: “DSI offers cash lure to solve five key cases.” As far as we can tell, both are wrong, and the first is probably deliberately misleading and reflective of the Post’s political bias.

The first line of the story is also misleading and biased: “The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has offered a bounty of 1 million baht for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of ‘men in black’ suspects linked to the 2010 political violence.”

That the Post is concocting its headlines is seen in the detail of the story, where it is stated that, first, there are seven cases, not five. Second, when the the cases are listed, the very first one is: “The case of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, who was shot to death near Silom subway station…”. PPT has never heard any suggestion that “men in black” acted as snipers to kill Seh Daeng. Nor has any claim of “men in black been associated with the murder of Fabio Polenghi, another of the listed cases.

While a couple of the other six cases have been linked in various reports to the mysterious “men in black,” certainly, this story is not about a reward that is solely about cases related to allegations of “men in black.” The Bangkok Post is allowing its yellow colors to be clearly seen in this a politicized beat up.

 





500 black shirts

27 06 2011

Prachatai has a wonderful summary account of a story at Matichon online that presents the views of one military officer on the events of April-May 2010, in which he participated.

The account carries considerable weight as it reports an article that “ appears in the Army Training Command’s Senathipat Journal, Vol 59, Issue 3, September–December 2010, as part of the army’s guidelines and case studies on military operations to solve urban unrest.”

In its reproduction of the first part of the article, Matichon helpfully posts the first part of the article and highlights “several interesting points…”.

The first relates to Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban claim at the Democrat Party’s Rajaprasong election rally last Thursday that it was he and not Teflon Mark – Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva – who “gave the order” for the crackdown on red shirt protesters.

However, “the article clearly states ‘the Prime Minister gave orders at the CRES meeting on 12 May for the military to start the operation as planned’.” We imagine that Suthep is dissembling or is saying something about the official chain of command. If Abhisit wasn’t giving orders, it would seem very strange. First, he was at the military base for a very long time and presumably wasn’t just hiding under the bed. Second, Abhisit made claims that he was in charge and so got little sleep as he was deeply involved in operational matters.

The second important point the article makes is that “the government always had a clear policy to use military measures to pressure the red shirts, and the policy of ‘tightening the circle’ was to end the demonstrations, not to open a dialogue.” It adds that this policy contributed the rejection of “a group of senators to offer themselves as mediators on the night of 18 May…”.

Third, the article claims that “part of the reason for the successful military operation was the withdrawal of Chair of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship Veera Musigapong and the death of Maj Gen Khattiya Swasdipol or Seh Daeng, because the UDD was deprived of its political and military strategists.”

Veera’s withdrawal has never been adequately explained. Other sources are less sure of Seh Daeng’s role, but if the military identified him as the red shirt military strategist, then Suthep’s bizarre claim that the red shirt leadership did him in makes no sense at all (not that it ever did for PPT). Suthep’s credibility has sunk below zero.

A fourth note of interest relates to the deployment of military units. Many commentators seem to have forgotten that this began with “sniper units … deployed in high buildings on Wireless Road, including the Kian Nguan and Bangkok Cable buildings.” Given the predominance of head and chest shots amongst the murdered, the use of military snipers is pretty clear.

A fifth claim about so-called black shirts is remarkable. It is stated that “CRES intelligence” had it that “there were about 500 armed terrorists among the red shirts, and they were equipped with war weapons including M79s, M16s, AK47s and Tavor-21s.”

Given the very low death and gunshot injury toll that is reported for the military, figures like this are startling. Were more military killed than the government has reported? If not, where are the weapons and the dead black shirts with their weapons? Wouldn’t the military snipers have had ample targets?

The report makes fascinating reading.

 

 





Democrat Party at Rajaprasong

23 06 2011

PPT went to see the Democrat Party’s much-hyped “rally” at Rajaprasong. All we can report is that it was a fizzer.

We arrived right on time as those on stage gave their rendition of the national anthem in drizzling rain. The rain cleared up and Suthep Thaugsuban stepped onto the stage to deliver his promised revelations.

At this point we reckon there were between 3000 and 5000 present, and we are being generous, “counting” the 500 cops (including snipers on roofs nearby) and interested shoppers. The number might have gone up by a thousand or so by 8.30 p.m. The audience was spread out over about half of the plaza area in front of Central World, most of them under cover. PPT expected that the Democrat Party could have mustered far more than this.

Back to Suthep and his purported revelations. None as far as we could tell. He spent too much of his time preaching about Thaksin Shinawatra to the already anti-Thaksin. His discussion of new information was nothing other than a few YouTube videos, not even edited into a presentation, that most interested people would have already seen.

That he claimed that every single person killed on 10 April was shot by Black Shirts in the pay of Thaksin is hardly new. One claim we hadn’t heard previously, although it fits with the long-standing claim that the authorities killed not a single person, was the bizarre claim that Jatuporn Promphan had Seh Daeng killed. He even says he has no evidence for this brazen assertion. And, as Abhisit has said several times, Suthep declared that no-one died at the Rajaprasong Intersection. They are being geographically specific in this claim and morally reprehensible. All in all, Suthep was boring and said nothing new.

Abhisit whined about Thaksin and his “brush with death: at the hands on red shirts at the Ministry of Interior back in April 2009. He claimed this gave him the right to “phuut mak.” Abhisit’s performance mirrored Suthep’s in that there was nothing new. At the same time, Abhisit is showing the pressure and becoming increasingly self-centered in his approach, repeatedly calling the opportunity to lead for another four years.

Among the notable differences between the Democrat Party “rally” and those by the red shirts was the lack of shared emotion, the lack of entrepreneurialism in the area (not a trader in sight) and the lack of any atmosphere.

At least the rumors of a third hand were false. Then again, the crowd was small and there was little opportunity for mischief.

We are not surprised that the Bangkok Post’s claim that there were 17,000 in attendance. If we accept that, then we need to revise earlier estimates of the red shirt rallies in March-May 2010 up to about 750,000. Nor are we surprised that several television stations spent several hours repeating all of Suthep’s and Abhisit’s statements, even if they are repetition of a government line since the events of 2010. The bias is pretty easily seen, again.





“Non-political bomb” in Bangkok

5 11 2010

The Nation has one of its straightman reports that beggar belief but say a lot if one is cynical and adept at reading between the lines:

A home-made bomb on Friday exploded from inside a postbox located near the Labour Ministry in Din Daeng, police said. There was no casualties reported.

The explosion damaged the postbox and forensic officials found two letters – one addressed to the prime minister and another to the Democrat Party. Police were checking for any linkage between the letters and the explosion.

Metropolitan Police Region 1 commander Maj General Wichai Sangprapai said he suspected young hooligans were the culprits.

Wichai said the incident was not a politically-motivated attack.

So we have bombs in a postbox where there were also letters addressed to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and to the Democrat Party and the police say they are “not a politically-motivated” and the work of “hooligans.” Could that make sense? One reading could be conspiratorial and suggest that the authorities have been well aware of the bombers in previous instances, most of which have not been resolved by the police.

Then put that report together with one in the Bangkok Post. The government behind the government known as the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation “has warned all security agencies to be on high alert for possible violence – including attacks on important people – from now until the New Year…”.

CRES spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd made the point that his agency is getting reports from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that “from the month of November until the New Year certain groups of ill-intentioned people may instigate violence in crowded areas and attack important people to erode the public’s confidence in the safety of their lives and property.”

The result is that CRES has “instructed all intelligence agencies including the National Security Council, armed forces and police to keep watchful eyes on activities of groups under suspicion.” Now who could be under suspicion? Probably not “hooligans.” Of course, it is “especially” the “activities of the red-shirts on Nov 13 to mark since six months the death of Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol (Seh Daeng), who was shot on May 13, and on Nov 19 to mark six months since the May 19 military crackdown on United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protesters at Ratchaprasong.”

Security units would be on high alert as the “NIA also received reports of suspicious movements of chemicals and explosives which can be used as precursors for making bombs. These activities would also be under watch…”. Was the postbox bomb a teaser? Who knows, but it is an interesting coincidence, perhaps.