Hactivism

26 10 2015

With the recent spate of stories regarding alleged lese majeste cases, the jailing of Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp and Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha, and the “death in custody” of the latter, PPT hasn’t provided any attention to the actions being taken to contest the military dictatorship’s “single gateway.”

Fortunately, there are several reports that do focus on this attempt by the junta to more broadly censor the internet.

Siam Voices has a round up of recent reports, beginning with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak telling business leaders: ”We will not talk about this [the single gateway] any more. If we say we won’t do it, we won’t do it…”. But what would he know. He’s only a civilian and he was soon over-ruled and contradicted by The Dictator.internet-monitoring

Sending internet traffic through a single gateway, will allow “officials to filter and block undesirable content.” This is usually defined as kids gaming, a bit of porn and some gambling sites, but the real aim is to support “the military junta’s ongoing efforts to monitor and censor dissenting voices…” on the monarchy and those who oppose the junta.

Following outcries, the junta tried to “sell” its plan as some kind of effort to make Thailand a regional digital hub. No one believes that a bunch of toady generals has any interest in business unless to enrich themselves.

Meanwhile, VICE News has a story that outlines opposition to the single gateway from the international hacker collective Anonymous. It apparently began by bringing down “the website for CAT Telecom, the state-run telecommunications company tasked with implementing the gateway…”.

Thailand F5 Cyber Army, reportedly an activist group opposed to the gateway,” tweeted images saying that thousands of CAT Telecom customer logins and passwords had been compromised.”

The state telecom agency denied that it had been hacked, but nobody believes them. Like the junta itself, CAT deals in falsehoods.

Given that the military has been anxious to more closely control its population since the 2006 coup, we assume that it will continue to bumble and stumble towards its Great Thailand Firewall.

Anonymous released a statement on Thailand:

#OpSingleGateway

Greetings citizens of the world, we are anonymous.

Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, it has come to our attention that you have decided to disregard your citizens, the people of this country, and have persisted to project an unique Gateway to the Internet, in running a system which only benefits yourselves and the giant corporate bodies operating.

We saw the situation in Thailand for the past months going too far, restricting basic access to freedom of speech, protests and basic human rights against anyone who criticized the Thai Junta.

The latest project of the Thai military government is to deploy a single gateway in order to control, intercept and arrest any persons not willing to follow the Junta orders and your so called moral.

No interception systems ever stopped any terrorist attacks, neither any national security threats in Asia or any western countries. It only allows greedy governments and large corporations to get more profits and less freedom of speech for the people of this country.

The land of smile will soon be similar to China, North Korea or any tyranic country providing intrusive electronic systems to spy and prosecute their own citizens having different ways of thinking.

It is unacceptable that you promote your own people, army executives at the Head of the largest Telecommunication operator: CAT Telecom. Any Corporations or individuals helping to deploy this single gateway will be targeted by any electronic means.

We will not only fight against the single gateway project but will expose your incompetence to the world, where depravity and personal interests prevail.

More than 6,000 people died and 10,000 injured in south of Thailand you have no budget to end this daily terrorist genocide killing innocents, but find 15 million USD budget to censor your own citizens. Our Thai brothers will understand what ความไม่สงบในชายแดนภาคใต้ของประเทศไทย means.

Together we stand against the injustice of your Government, tomorrow you will pay the price of your oppression against your own people.

You can arrest us, but you can’t arrest an idea.

We are anonymous.
We are Legion.
United as ONE.
Divided by zero.
We do not forgive Censorship.
We do not forget Oppression.
Expect us.

Anonymous

 





Lese majeste in the news

24 10 2014

As PPT has been pointing out, the royalist military dictatorship is demonstrating its “loyalty” through repressing political opponents and dampening dissent through its vigorous use of the draconian lese majeste law.

In this short post we want to point out two reports that also reflect on the increased lese majeste repression.

The first is at Siam Voices. We begin by disagreeing that it is only under the junta that things are “more strict” on lese majeste. In fact, the refusal of bail and even in-camera courts have been seen in the recent past. That said, we do agree that “complaints have been politically motivated, either to attack a political opponent or because an individual is perceived as a threat to Thai ultra-conservatism…”. We also agree that “[t]hings have gotten considerably worse since the coup in May 2014…”.112

The second is at Global Voices. It states that pizza can get you arrested!

If you are in Thailand and you suddenly crave pizza, it is highly likely that you will be referred to The Pizza Company, the largest pizza fast food chain in the country. And when you dial the company hotline “1112”, be aware that there are some activists in Thailand who use the word pizza to refer to the notorious Article 112 of the criminal code.

Sandwiches, books, silence and now pizza delivery can get you in trouble in royalist Thailand.





Polishing The Dictator II

27 09 2014

Our last post was about honoring The Dictator by buffing his posterior ego. In this short post PPT wants to draw attention to an important post at Siam Voices.

There, Saksith Saiyasombut deconstructs the opinion polls that have regularly had the military dictatorship’s approval rating at unbelievably stellar heights. While the run-of-the-mill polling companies and agencies in Thailand are described as using “dodgy methodology and phrasing, small sample sizes, questions about representation etc.,” Saksith points to even dodgier polling.

He points to Master Poll surveys conducted by the Thai Researchers in Community Happiness Association (TRICHA). Neither group has much information available, although the Master Poll website says it was founded in May 2014. Now what else happened in May 2014??

Saksith’s research also reveals that Noppadon Kannika, the person behind the organizations, claims some interesting connections:

1. Research Advisor to the Commander in Chief, the Royal Thai Army.

2. Research Advisor to the Permanent General of the Ministry of Justice.

3. Advisor to the Secretary General of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission.

4. Advisor to the Police Commissioner-General (Police Chief), Royal Thai Police.

5. Advisor to the Immigration Police Bureau.

6. Research Project Director and Advisor to the Office of Narcotics Control Board, the Ministry of Justice.

7. Research Project Director of the Thai Health Promotion Office.

8. Research Project Director and Member of the Government’s Working Group for Solving the H1N1 Flu Epidemic Problems in Thailand.

9. Research Advisor the Thai Consultant Database Center, the Ministry of Finance.

It seems likely that this polling agency is nothing more than a military-backed propaganda agency. That would explain its unlikely results giving the military dictatorship and General Prayuth Chan-ocha.





Ignorant misogynist

18 09 2014

PPT was about to post on Thailand’s great leader, The Dictator and General with sundry other high titles, Prayuth Chan-ocha and his misogynous claptrap of recent days, when Saksith Saiyasombut at Siam Voices wrote all we could say and more. Well, almost. As ever, PPT has something to add.

As Siam Voices explains it:

The murder of two British tourists on the southern Thai island of Koh Tao has raised questions about tourist safety in Thailand. [Two tourists] … were found dead on Monday morning half-naked and with severe wounds to their heads. Local police initially (without any substantial evidence) suspected migrant workers on the island of the crime, before turning their attention to a British backpacker, who was a roommate of one of the victims and another British man, who has been asked not to leave Thailand before the investigation is complete.

As usual, Thailand’s incompetent cops have made a mess of what should be professional police work. Thailand’s police are mostly bumbling and unprofessional, more used to shaking down criminals and taking bribes than in anything like the investigation of crime. One of the best examples of this is the Saudi gems scandal. In this case, the other usual incompetence is displayed by the media.

Yet this usual incompetence and unprofessional behavior is topped by the crass misogyny of the country’s leader, boss, prime minister and dictator. His first comment was disturbing:

I have been following this matter very closely,” Gen. Prayuth told reporters as he arrived at Government House this morning. “We also have to look into the behavior of the other side [the tourists]. (…) This case should not have happened in Thailand at all. I think it will affect foreign opinion of our country.

His second comment was even worse:

There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also the army chief, told government officials. But “can they be safe in bikinis… unless they are not beautiful?” he said, addressing the issue of tourist safety in a speech broadcast live on television.

Blaming the victims and being misogynist is a trait of Thailand’s ruling elite. When he was deputy premier, the anti-democrat leader Suthep Thaugsuban blamed red shirt protesters for being killed by the Army. His view was that they ran in front of bullets. Misogynist rants were common at the elite-dominated anti-democrat rallies. In this context, Prayuth is speaking in exactly the same terms that much of Thailand’s elite does.





On the election

2 02 2014

Some thoughts on the election from across the Web:

Andrew Walker at ANU: “Respecting the electorate’s judgement may be an impossibly bitter pill for the anti-government forces to swallow. But it would be in their interests to do so.”

Oddly, because we usually agree with Walker’s commentary, we find this piece a bit shallow. The election is important for the symbolic support of voting and elections in the face of threats to them. We do not think that anyone will “respect” the outcome for much more than this. Blame the Democrat Party and their monied supporters for that. Ironically, money has become a symbol of opposition to Thaksin-backed parties.

Money and noA Bangkok Post editorial is lukewarm at best: “Set against a background of tumultuous political conflicts and held despite strong opposition from many parties including the Election Commission (EC) itself, the general election today will be mired in controversy and will likely yield more questions than answers to the ongoing political strife….  Still, the poll is being held as decreed by law and no matter how imperfect it has been, voters nationwide have a duty to cast their ballots.”

At The Nation: It shows its royalist anti-democrat colors by having an editorial on Syria…. It did have an election editorial the previous day: “Whether you are for or against the election, we all a share common duty in preventing violence. ” The editorial seems to diminish the act of voting and to want to scare potential voters.

Prachatai had an election story a couple of days ago: “In many countries, an expression of political will through voting, despite inconveniences and danger, is seen as an admirable act: a fulfilment of a civic duty…. But here in Thailand, voters who fought obstructions and risk their safety to cast the ballots last Sunday were given different labels: ‘traitors’, ‘buffalos’ and ‘the uneducated’.”

Siam Voices made useful points: “As Thailand holds what is considered the most controversial elections in its recent history Sunday, the battle over the country’s future is being fought anywhere but at the ballot…. The anti-election thuggery of last Sunday spoke volumes, when mobs obstructed advance voting in all of Bangkok and parts of the South and thus denied their fellow Thai citizens their right to vote. And we have to expect more of that on election day…. Granted, this coming election won’t solve the political stalemate. But to deny your fellow countrymen the right to vote and to paint everybody who does cast their ballot as ‘traitorous’ is not the way forward…. We’re still battling over how we are going to define the future of our country – and more people should have more freedom to have their say, not less.”





With two updates: Using lese majeste to maintain the social order

17 09 2013

Siam Voices has an account of the university uniform campaign at Thammasat University. That story begins:

The ongoing debate on student uniforms takes a racy turn, as one student’s poster campaign challenges the necessity of uniforms at Thammasat University.

It seems that campaigning against uniforms can lead to lese majeste charges!

These are the posters:

Thammasat_unif

Prachatai recently interviewed Aum Neko, a nickname for a 20 year-old transgender Arts student majoring in German. She’s the student in high heels in two of the three images above.

It is now reported at Khaosod that Aum Neko is the subject of a lese majeste complaint. This complaint has been made by “Ponnipa [Pontipa] Supatnukul, 41, the host of a talk show called “Best of Your Life” which is broadcast on a satellite TV channel, filed the complaint to the police in Nonthaburi Province, invoking Article 112…”. Her complaint relates to events three months ago.

Aum was allegedly interviewed for Pontipa’s talk show. The host claims that Aum “shocked everyone” by “talking outside the topic” and “insulting the higher institution…”. She further claims that Aum′s was “so shocking we could not broadcast the show”, however Pontipa “stored footage of the interview.” She handed the video to police.

So why now, three months later, shout lese majeste? Pontipa says “she decided to pursue a legal action against Ms. Aum because she was incensed by the student′s continued defamation of the monarchy. Ms. Pontipa also alleged that Ms. Aum is encouraging other students to commit similar crimes.”

The royalist Manager ASTV reports that Pontipa told police that “a lecturer in Thammasat University had informed her that Ms. Aum′s student network in Thammasat is funded by unknown sponsors.” Aum says it is “a free group with no name.”

In the Prachatai interview, Aum is asked:

Prachatai: So where is your Thammasat identity? If not in student uniforms, where is it?

“Aum”: It’s in respect for others’ freedom, adherence to democracy, and no support to any form of dictatorship, in particular coups d’état.

The main identity of Thammasat is the 24 June 1932 revolution. Then we had the first constitution on 27 June 1932. Next we had the establishment of Thammasat on 27 June 1934. Therefore, our stance should be preserving the constitution. But these days as it turns out the [university] management is preserving authoritarian power, even making us wear student uniforms; they are preserving the sacredness and power instead of rights and freedom according to the philosophy of the university.

Perhaps this is what is so threatening to the powers that be. The wearing of uniforms is a demand made to enforce and maintain the social order, its hierarchy and the authority of the royalist regime. Those who benefit from this system see a threat to uniforms as another challenge to their power, where the keystone is the monarchy.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post reports that the police have accepted the case.

Update 2: Siam Voices has a useful post on this lese majeste case, with some additional information. First, it is noted that Pontipa seems to have publicized her accusations:

The complainant made sure that the filing of her charge was well-documented as she let somebody film the process at the police station and posted it later on Facebook. She also had a few press members in tow.

Second, an unnamed lecturer at Thammasat has apparently disclosed considerable data from Aum’s university record to Pontipa. Third, it seems that a part of the accusation relates to a Facebook post that “criticized the pre-screening of Royal tribute movies at cinemas, where standing up is mandatory.”





Updated: SEAPA and Asian Correspondent on monarchy debate

22 03 2013

Readers may find the Southeast Asia Press Alliance statement on the royalist panic over intelligent debate about monarchy and lese majeste of some interest. There’s nothing particularly new in the statement, but a useful summary of events.

The note on the lese majeste investigation is worth repeating:

Police said that the show concerns a matter of national security, and warned that persons reposting remarks of the show’s panellist may also be breaching the law.

The police chief has also ordered authorities to monitor whether the program was posted online and also ordered all stations to accept lese majeste complaints filed in relation to the case.

Police investigators reviewing the series have found content that violated the lese majeste law, according to a police spokesman.

Update: Siam Voices also has a useful summary of events,including the royalist reaction, mentioning the usual suspects. Described as another low-light, Deputy Prime Minister and troglodyte royalist Chalerm Yubamrung stated:

“Don’t they have anything better to do than criticise the monarchy? It is their right to do so but there must be some limit,” he continued. “Thailand has a population of 64 million. Why give so much attention to the opinions of a small group of people?”

The quote from Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha is revealing, as ever:

The hawkish general has been previously quoted saying that victims of the lèse majesté law “should not be whining” because “they know it better.” He has also said the following (as previously blogged here), which kind of foreshadows his own words from this week and may should adhere to his own advice then:

“(…) คือกฎหมายเราและประเทศไทยก็คือประเทศไทย ผมไม่เข้า(ใจ)ว่าหลายๆคนอยากจะให้ประเทศไทยเป็นเหมือนประเทศอื่น มีเสรีทุกเรื่อง แล้วถามว่ามันจะอยู่กันยังไงผมไม่รู้ ขนาดแบบนี้ยังอยู่กันไม่ได้เลย” พล.อ.ประยุทธ์ กล่าว

“(…) Our laws are our laws and Thailand is Thailand. I don’t understand why so many people want Thailand to be like other countries – to have freedom in everything – how can we live? I don’t know… I can’t live even like it is now already!” said Gen. Prayuth

‘ประยุทธ์’แจงปิดวิทยุชุมชนหมิ่นยันทำตามกฎหมาย“, Krungthep Turakij, April 29, 2011

 

 





Debating lese majeste and responses to it

4 02 2013

Saksith Saiyasombut at Siam Voices has a very useful post summarizing the debates that have arisen regarding lese majeste since the sentencing of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.

He mentions the strong international reaction, including one by the U.S. State Department that PPT hadn’t previously seen. Also mentioned is the spineless response by those in Thailand who should be concerned, including the  such as the National Human Rights Commission and the Thai Journalists’ Association.

Football Somyos

Picture from Siam Voices, where the credit is: via Twitter/@Anuthee.

He also mentions some of the domestic reaction, including the widely publicized demonstration at the:

… football match between the universities of Thammasat and Chulalongkorn on Saturday, students (including Somyot’s son) from both sides were seen showing a large banner in the stands saying “FREE SOMYOT” and protesting around the stadium. The public protest happened in the opening ceremony – from which they were forbidden to participate – where giant paper-mache figures lampoon political figures, which was obviously this year prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Add to this the actions by Chiang Mai students similarly demonstrating and a range of other protests, including a constant barrage of events and actions seen at Facebook and other social media, and it is seen that outrage is being expressed quite vigorously.

Saksith also mentions the debate over lese majeste at and about the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. On the debate held there, a useful link is made to a transcript of the statement by the self-lampooning royalist Tul Sitthisomwong. On the raging controversy regarding the FCCT itself, Saksith states:

There’s been some controversy that the FCCT did not issue a statement on the Somyot verdict – understandable, since the club board has been targeted with a lèse majesté complaint in the past that was utterly politically motivated. However, the club itself defended their decision on the night of the panel discussion by saying that the FCCT is a club and not a journalist’s association.

For PPT the most basic point is that the FCCT has sidestepped its own claims on freedom of expression. Being part-time defenders of this freedom sets a dangerous precedent and, as royalist Tul explains in his comments linked above, it gives succor to the lese majeste defenders:

I am Dr. Tul Sittisomwong from the group of „Citizen Protecting Homeland“ including the monarchy that the Thai people love…. I want to be here, invited by the FCCT and (I am) so relieved that the FFCT [sic]. won’t have any statement about this sensitive issue. That will be a big thing after the EU.

The debate on the FCCT continues at New Mandala and at ZenJournalist, where even PPT is chastised for recalling that “the FCCT bravely put on talks by lese majeste opponents,” while posting about the FCCT sadly ducking the issue of freedom of expression and the draconian sentencing of Somyos.





Some commentary on lese majeste after the Somyos verdict

24 01 2013

David Streckfuss, a Thailand-based independent scholar and lèse-majesté expert: The lèse-majesté law works against the long-term interests of the Thai monarchy…. To a society that is becoming ever more politically conscious, the holding and trying of defendants seems arbitrary, petty and a clear violation of human rights.

Saksith Saiyasombut, at Siam Voices: The general chatter of the crowd was interrupted by an all too familiar sound from the back of the room: metal being dragged on the ground, the sound of the shackles the defendant was wearing as he walked barefoot into the courtroom.

At the time of writing, there were no reactions from national organizations like the National Human Rights Commission or the Thai Journalists’ Association, as they haven’t made a statements during the entire length of Somyot’s incarceration.

This is indeed a worrying verdict for free speech and the press in Thailand, which is progressively going backwards. Not only is it possible to be charged based on an ambiguously worded law; not only can anybody file a lèse majesté complaint against anybody else; not only are prosecutors determined to prove the intention of the accused (despite the lack of evidence in some cases); but now it is also possible to be held liable for other people’s content. This is especially true with online content thanks to an equally terrible Computer Crimes Act, where a culture of denunciation is state-sponsored and self-censorship is the norm.

Sunai Phasuk at Human Rights Watch: “So, now there is a new standard in Thailand that for Lese Majeste offenses nothing can be used in the defense as constitutional guaranteed freedoms to shield and to assure protection of basic rights.  So, this is a very worrying moment…. The conviction of Somyot is a very worrying step that freedom of expression in Thailand is under very serious attack. [PPT: Sunai is quoted as speaking of the present. In fact, since the demise of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, charges have been substantially reduced. That said, every lese majeste/computer crimes charge is a serious attack on freedom of expression.]

Duncan McCargo from Leeds University: Unfortunately, the failure of this government to review the lese majeste law is entirely predictable…. Yingluck Shinawatra is performing a delicate balancing act to preserve the political deal which keeps her in office – and doing so involves keeping the country’s conservative institutions, including the palace, the judiciary and the military onside. [PPT: not sure which particular “deal” McCargo means. But, yes, predictable, for deal or no deal, Yingluck and Thaksin want to maintain the government, at almost any cost.]





If in doubt, convict on lese majeste

21 01 2013

PPT wishes to draw attention to a recent blog post at Siam Voices on the “implied lese majeste” conviction of Yoswaris Chuklom or Jeng Dokchik. Amongst several important points made, this passage struck us as significant:

This is indeed a new dimension of how arbitrarily lèse majesté is being applied here, on top of an already ambiguously written law (“insulting, defaming or threatening”): As many other lèse majesté (e.g. Ampon’s) or similar cases (e.g. Chiranuch’s) have shown, the principle is actually “in dubio contra reo” (“when in doubt, decide against the accused”) for many different reasons. Since the presumption of innocence doesn’t apply here, the prosecution is mostly not interested in the actual evidence (or the lack of in some cases), but rather in the “intent” of the alleged crime.