Another cowardly attack III

29 06 2019

Prachatai reports “Activist Sirawith attacked in broad daylight.” The attack at about 11.30 am was by thugs in “a crowded area with a lot of witnesses who subsequently contacted his mother and called an ambulance.”

Sirawith was at first sent to Navamin Hospital with major head injuries. He was “unresponsive and unable to speak.”

At about 2 pm, Sirawith’s mother Patnaree Charnkij said he also “has a broken nose and eye socket. He was having difficulty breathing and was on oxygen, but MRI scans found no brain haemorrhage. Subsequent doctor’s examination also found that Sirawith is unable to see with his right eye.” He was transferred to the Mission Hospital. He was in intensive care.

Patnaree reported the assault to police and “gave investigators the clothes her son was wearing during the attack as evidence.” She also “filed a complaint with the police…”.

What wasn’t reported is that when she attended the police station, uniformed military also showed up. While we are sure that the junta has a “reason” to give for this presence, it seems to us that it is just more intimidation. It is mafia-like behavior. Unfortunately, this is not at all remarkable as the regime behaves in these thuggish ways.

Prachatai’s editorial team has released a statement. Part of it states:

This is the 11th political assault since 2018, and public sentiment is growing more intense as progress in all investigations is next to zero. Justice delayed is justice denied, and the Thai state’s failure to bring the perpetrators to justice only encourages impunity and a license to harm and kill.

We assume that this total does not include those anti-monarchy activists disappeared and murdered in neighboring countries.

It continues:

No matter who is responsible, this qualifies as terrorism, defined as the use of violence which aims to generate fear in the general public for political purposes. And when the Thai state fails repeatedly to prevent the assaults, the term ‘state-sponsored terrorism’ starts to become appropriate.

Reflecting on yellow-shirted cheering of attacks on activists, pointing to one by Siripong Rassamee, an MP for the junta’s Phalang Pracharat Party, who posted on Facebook saying “he [Sirawith] deserves more.” Responding to this barbarity, the statement adds:

… opinion which discredits the integrity of the activists or devalues their right to basic personal security makes it easier for complacent, and maybe complicit authorities to sleep at night and let the assaults continue. A culture of violence is allowed to ferment and this justifies the on-going impunity.

We think the junta knows exactly who is responsible for these barbarous attacks. And, it is responsible for unleashing the thugs. PPT has pointed this out some time ago. The regime’s silence condemns it.

Another cowardly attack II

28 06 2019

This is how Thailand looks today. Anti-junta political activist Sirawith Serithiwat was attacked and seriously injured “by four unidentified men in front in the Bang Chan area of Bangkok on Friday morning.” As has happened several times and to several activists, Sirawith was attacked by anonymous thugs. This time, they jumped him when he “emerged from the Soi at about 11am, the four men attacked him with wooden clubs until he collapsed and then fled on their motorcycles.”

Police claim to be “investigating.” We suggest they know where the orders for the attack came from. This is what a royalist-military regime looks like.

Royalists cheered the attack.

Another cowardly attack I

28 06 2019

Political activist Sirawith Seritiwat has again been attacked and hospitalized.

Khaosod reports that another “group of unidentified men assaulted pro-democracy campaigner … Ja New … on a street in northeast Bangkok today…”:

Sirawith’s mother said the 27-year-old activist was ambushed by four men wielding wooden sticks as he was leaving his home in Bangkok’s Kannayao district. The assailants reportedly fled the scene after bystanders saw the attack and rushed to help Sirawith.

He was taken to Nawamin Hospital.

An earlier attack occurred on 2 June. It is widely speculated that the thugs involved have regime support or represent the junta and/or military.

No change on repression

21 06 2019

While some media still delude themselves and readers that the junta’s “election” was about “returning to democracy,” The Diplomat has a story that shows that things haven’t changed and may be getting worse:

Weeks after the March election, the plainclothes officers that had become a familiar sight on college campuses under military rule were back at Ubon Ratchathani University in Thailand’s northeast.

“Things should have changed. But they came with an identical message” to five years ago, said political scientist Titipol Phakdeewanich about a second visit from the special branch police last week. “They were quite confident they could keep politicians in check. But they are very worried about universities and students.”

As the story observes, “[h]eavy-handed responses to even the mildest of criticism have been a defining feature of a junta that routinely threatened and prosecuted opponents…” since its illegal 2014 military coup.

As academic Titipol puts it: “Nothing has changed. But now Thailand is whitewashed by an election…”.

Is it getting worse? We think it is, with the mad rightists unleashed by the junta. Most noticeable is the use of lese majeste as a way to damage and repress.

Future Forward’s spokesperson, Pannika Wanich is one target, accused her of lese majeste. She says: “It’s a witch hunt. Progressive politicians have frequently been accused of being anti-monarchy…”. It is also the yellow-shirted tactic that is used against democrats or anyone considered too pro-Thaksin. Future Forward has scared the bejesus out of the political dinosaurs and the ruling class.

After the assault (clipped from Matichon)

The story also points out rising “systematic violence,” including murders and enforced disappearances.

It cites Anon Chawalawan from iLaw, who says: “We are seeing rising numbers of violent attacks against democracy activists, often by masked attackers, since the election. But there have been no arrests…”.

One recent case is Sirawith Seritiwat (left).

No arrests. Probably because these are officially-sanctioned thugs.

More on assaults

6 06 2019

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights has a couple of posts well worth reading.

The first provides a detailed account of the 2 June attack on Sirawith Seritiwat. Read on down and there’s an interesting account of another activist being threatened:

… another activist Parit Chiwarak, a student at Thammasat University, who goes by the nickname Penguin, said he that he had previously been warned by an important person that both he and Ja New [Sirawith] would be attacked.

The details are worth reading before moving to the second post, which continues the story of the threats against Parit. But what’s different is that one of those doing the threatening appears to have outed himself. In a story taken up by various newspapers, Uthai Yodmanee is reported as threatening Parit.

One reason for taking the threat seriously is because Uthai is a rightist thug. He was a leader of the neo-fascist Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (see here, here, here, here, here and here). While he claims that someone else has used his Twitter account, his track record is of an extremist and his pedigree suggests he’s capable of organizing such attacks.

Uthai is close to Suthep Thaugsuban and stood for his Action Coalition for Thailand.

Updated: Another activist assaulted

3 06 2019

Matichon reports that political activist Sirawit Serithiwat was assaulted on the evening of 2 June. He is said to have sustained minor injuries to his head and face, consistent with being beaten up. It is reported that he was attacked by a group of about five men at a bus stop.

After the assault (clipped from Matichon)

There’s a pattern emerging. Under the junta, police and military were used to intimidate, detain, arrest and charge political activists. In recent months, more or less coinciding with the junta’s need to allow political activity prior to the election, the pattern appears to have shifted to violent attacks. These are never seriously investigated by police, suggesting the involvement of the authorities in the attacks.

Add this to the murder and/or enforced disappearance of activists in neighboring countries, and the political landscape is looking increasingly dark.

As an aside, as the death of Gen Prem Tinsulanonda has had us looking back at the 1980s, it is noticeable that similar means of intimidation were used back then. We noted reports of with several activists being murdered or disappeared as well as assaults of others. In most cases, none of these attacks were seriously investigated.

Update: The Bangkok Post has reported this assault. Sirawith is reported to be asking “police to file attempted murder charges against the people who attacked him.” He added, “I will not forgive them…. I never thought they could be so cruel.”

Anti-junta politicians including “Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai and Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit posted messages on social media condemning the attack…”.

Phumtham observed: “This country is difficult to live in…”. Anti-democrats and yellow shirts will be cheering and hoping they leave the country. Those on the right seem to enjoy watching the military repress, assault and murder. They cheer it.

The king’s forces and their X-men

20 01 2019

The noise level on the king’s failure to sign the royal decree that is required for an election is beginning to increase. Much of the increased volume seems to have to involve the military.

An AP report on last week’s Armed Forces Day parade has Army Commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong making what is said to be “routine exhortations of loyalty to the king and the country.” It might be “routine” but the times are anything but routine and Gen Apirat is the king’s man.

His “routine” speech could have been made in 1885: “We will sacrifice our physical and mental strength to protect the country and revere the king, and look after the people…”. Royalist, paternal and completely ignoring government.

The report also recalls that it has been Gen Apirat threatening those demanding an election date.

This is important given that the military seems to have (re-)mobilized groups to oppose the pro-election activists.

On this, the Bangkok Post reports that pro-election activists were “denounced” by “students” at Ramkhamhaeng University. Some of the pro-election activists were fearful and backed away, while others moved the rally to Thammasat University from the area of the Democracy Monument.

A group calling itself “Unity Before Elections was attempting to organise a rival demonstration in a bid to silence…” the pro-election activists.

Groups with military links, the “Council of Ramkhamhaeng University Students and the Network of Ramkhamhaeng Students Protecting the Institution [monarchy] and the People” demanded that the pro-election activists cease “fomenting conflict…”.

Invoking the monarchy, Kittipong Thaenkhun, described as being president of the Council, said pro-election activism was wrong “as the country prepares for the coronation of Rama X…”. He added that: “Imposing a deadline for the royal decree to come out…” was “inappropriate.”

Another Bangkok Post report says the group’s statement declared that “no one should be trying to stir unrest as the country was about to witness a very important royal ceremony — the coronation…”. It added that the “royal decree was the prerogative of … the King and it was highly inappropriate for anyone to demand to know when the decree would be issued.”

Khaosod reports that “[i]t is unclear who’s behind the group.”

However, pro-election protest leader Sirawith Seritiwat said he “believes the counter-protesters are agent provocateurs organized by the military to incite violence.” He linked them to the Internal Security Operation Command.

The Unity before Election group is led by Pansuwan Na Kaew, “a former leader of a faction supporting the People’s Democratic Reform Committee…”.

These self-proclaimed X-men are doing the military’s work.

Nonsensical charges

2 11 2018

The military junta claims that there will be an election. It is letting it be known that the best chance of that election will be for 24 February.

Back on 27 January this year, a group of political activists demonstrated to demand an election.

But as the Bangkok Post reports, the activists “have been indicted in court for illegal assembly…”.

Those indicted by prosecutors are:

Rangsiman Rome, a Thammasat University law student; Sirawith Seritiwat, a political science graduate from Thammasat; Arnon Nampa, a lawyer; Ekachai Hongkangwan, a regime critic; Sukrit Piansuwan, a former Thammasat economics student; Netiwit Chotepatpaisal, a Chulalongkorn University political science student; Nuttaa Mahattana, an activist and moderator; and Sombat Boonngam-anong, an activist for an anti-coup group called Wan Arthit Si Daeng (Red Sunday).

The Post thinks it important to report that way back then, these protesters were “about 150 metres from Sra Pathum Palace.” The Post doesn’t explain why this is significant to anything associated with the action.

The Post does not say anything about the nonsensical charging of persons demanding an election that the junta seems keen to grant at roughly about the time that the protesters wanted it.

The court “promptly accepted the case for hearing. All of the accused denied the charges and applied for bail.”

Sedition as the new lese majeste

28 09 2018

According to the Bangkok Post, “[p]rosecutors have charged six pro-election activists who rallied on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in February with sedition.”

The six were Sirawith Seritiwat, 25; Anon Nampa, 33; Chonthicha Jaengreo, 25; Sukrit Piansuwan, 24; Nattaa Mahattana, 39; and Karn Pongprapapan, 25.

Under the junta, sedition now means ” violating an NCPO order banning political assembling of more than five.” Sedition can mean 7 years in jail. Clearly, the junta thinks itself inviolable. How very monarchical!

These six just happened to be singled out from about 400 who rallied “for an early general election at the Democracy Monument on Feb 10.” 50 were “charged with violating the assembly ban but the co-leaders also faced the sedition charge.”

The Nation reports that there are now 15 political activists who “face sedition charges in six different cases in connection with their pro-election gatherings.”

Sedition is the new lese majeste for the junta when it suppresses its opponents.

May Day and the military boot

1 05 2018

State enterprise unions played significant roles in both sets of yellow-shirt uprisings in 2005-06 and 2013-14, siding with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. In both instances, the idea of unions of any ilk joining forces with royalists and the military seemed somewhat odd.

But having done so, you would think that the military would cut them some slack for May Day marches. It seems the junta has done just that, picking and choosing which workers get support.

Khaosod reports that “[h]undreds … took part in the state enterprise union’s rally … without any interference from the authorities”

However, at other rallies, soldiers “seized banners from marching workers demanding democracy today in northern Bangkok, while a union leader was detained at a downtown police station for staging a protest in front of the United States embassy.”

Labor rights campaigner Sripai Nonsee said her group in Pathum Thani was held by police and soldiers who “demanded to see the banners they were carrying. Banners that mentioned elections and democracy were confiscated…”. She added: “[t]hey looked for words like election and democracy, especially election…. They told us to give them up.”

The activist said soldiers and police met with her yesterday to discuss today’s rally, and allowed them to carry the banners as long as they didn’t hold them up. Security officers reneged on that promise today, she said.

Meanwhile, union activist Boonyuen Sookmai “led General Motors workers to hold a rally in front of the US embassy on Wireless Road earlier this morning. He said police took him to Lumpini Police Station after he submitted the workers’ complaint to an embassy official.”

The GM workers rallied “to protest the automobile firm’s expulsion of 300 union members in November.”

State enterprise union leader Chalee Loysoong “explained” that his people celebrated “National Labor Day,” a hangover of the despotic past and of the despotic present and “not the international spirit of May Day.” Chalee claimed the workers preferred a fair to anything that highlighted worker rights and grievances.

The picture is clear: the state enterprise unions remain puppets of anti-democrats and the fascist regime.

In fact, though, “scores later joined a demonstration down Ratchadamnoen Avenue organized by the Labour Confederation of Thailand.” This rally saw activists take turns “condemning the military government and calling for an election within this year on a truck as they marched down the historic avenue. Speakers included anti-coup activist leader Sirawith Seritiwat.”

That’s more like it!