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.”





Stealing an election VII

6 05 2018

While the military junta runs wild, collecting support, campaigning vigorously and throwing funds at the electorate, its dependent institutions are working for it.

The Bangkok Post reports that “Pheu Thai Party caretaker secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai warned the Election Commission (EC) it should not assume that former leader Thaksin Shinawatra still dominates the party’s activity.”

While Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan declared that there was no breaking of any law if Puea Thai politicians met Thaksin and sister Yingluck in Singapore, his Election Commission chairman Supachai Somcharoen warned that “party members should be cautious when meeting party outsiders — those who fall outside official member or executive status.” He “they must not let outsiders influence the party’s agenda or accept their money to finance activity.”

No one doubts that Thaksin still wields great influence but the potential for the EC to dissolve the party is real. The notion of precluding “external” influence is a junta law that is designed to trump Puea Thai should the junta party/parties look weak in the junta’s “election.”

Screwing with Thaksin/red shirt parties is going to be a strategy for the junta going forward, so that even a minor party like Sombat Boonngamanong’s proposed Grin Party (or Krian Party) is to be expected. The EC has rejected his request to register his part, objecting to its name.

It is all about paving the road to “election” for The Dictator and his allies.





Further updated: Sparks beginning to fly

28 01 2018

Quite some time ago we said that, as in the past, the spark that lights a fire under Thailand’s military dictatorship might come from something quite unexpected.

We think we might have seen that spark and it may be two events that have begun to tip the political balance. One is Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury timepieces. It isn’t so much that he’s seemingly corrupt. After all the timid middle classes and the wealthy capitalist class “understand” corruption and it is a price they are ever willing to pay so long as they can continue to prosper. And, if the corrupt are “good” people, then it’s okay. What has led to a beginning of an unraveling of this political relationship is Prawit’s arrogance about his massive watch collection and the demonstration (so far) of cover-up and impunity. This taints the junta as self-serving, grasping and certainly not “good” people.

The second spark is the continual delay in the holding of an election that is neither free nor fair. The middle and capitalist classes were fully prepared to accept the junta’s manipulated constitution, its forcing of the constitutional referendum, the tinkering with the details, a senate that maintains military political dominance and human rights restrictions. However, as well as the political repression of the lower classes, they wanted something of a say in politics via that unfair election. By delaying numerous times, the junta is displaying arrogance and a craving for power “unsuited” to the middle and capitalist classes.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The peeling away of support even sees diehard yellow shirts, the boosters for the coups of 2006 and 2014, criticizing the military junta it bet on for turning back the lower class political tide. It also sees cracks appearing in the junta’s domination and control both in events and institutions. We have posted on the “We Walk” march and its court victory. Some of the NGOs involved in that event were those that were present at the birth of the People’s Alliance for Democracy in 2006. For some of those yellow shirts, there is disappointment in the regime for not doing sufficient political cleansing. More disappointment comes from the decisions by the junta to allow legal pursuit of PAD and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. Such legal cases are not just a disappointment but construed as a betrayal.

In this context, the re-emergence of political protest is telling. First We Walk and now the student activists. It isn’t that these students haven’t pushed the junta before. In fact, they have been regular opponents, but they have faced numerous legal cases, arrests, abductions and so on. The Bangkok Post reports their most recent event this way:

The Democracy Restoration Group, led by Sirawich “Ja New” Seritiwat and Rangsiman Rome, posted on Facebook on Friday asking people who share the same views to join them at 5.30pm at the BTS skywalk near the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre.

Pathumwan police said they did not try to stop the campaign so long as it did not block traffic.

Around 100 people came to the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre at 5.15pm while police stood by and took photos of the participants. Many of them showed the sign “Election 2018” or show its photo on their mobile phones.

Core leaders of the group took turns giving speeches.

Interestingly, the demonstrators emphasized not just elections but watches.

Update 1: A reader emailed us saying that we missed one of the most important bits of the linked Bangkok Post story. That reader is right that we should have specifically noted that the rally brought together stalwarts of both red and yellow shirts, with ultra-nationalist yellow shirt Veera Somkwamkid and red shirt iconoclast Sombat Boonngamanong. That is an unexpected alliance. Yet it is just this kind of unusual alliance that has underpinned anti-military movements in the past.

Update 2: An updated Bangkok Post report has more from Veera. He declared: “There are no colours right now…. It’s all about joining hands and removing corruption from the country.” He added: “The problem is we cannot rely on the government because they are in fact the ones who are not transparent.” The principal organizers, the New Democracy Movement declared “it will continue to pressure the government and Gen Prayut to dismiss Gen Prawit and to keep his promise to holding the election this year. They will gather again in the same spot on Feb 10.” Meanwhile, in Songkhla, “members of 19 civic organisations walked from Hat Yai municipality to Sena Narong army camp in Hat Yai to voice their grievances over several state projects in the South and to support the [People Go Network/We Walk group].”





Election Commission thuggery I

11 06 2016

A couple of days ago we posted on anti-democrat and anti-election Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn and his self-contradictory claims about constitution and referendum songs.

The clownish Somchai said the the EC’s ditty, that denigrated northerners and northeasterners in terms that echo of the infamous “uneducate” and “red buffalo” taunts of the military-backed and supported anti-democrat People’s Democratic Reform Committee, was just fine. He declared that “people are sometimes too sensitive and pay attention to trivial issues.”

Almost in the same breathe, he then damned another ditty, available on YouTube, charging that the “clip is … using rude words and influencing people in how to vote in the referendum.” He declared that the EC was after those responsible for the clip – the anti-coup Resistant Citizen group. Apparently, the EC and puppet Somchai was not “too sensitive” and that this was not a “trivial issue.”

Double standards? You bet! But puppets like Somchai can’t see this because, as well as being groveling bootlickers, they are not interested in law, logic or justice but loyalty, hierarchy and class privilege.

Prachatai reports that the junta’s EC thugs have been thwarted in their initial efforts to attack Resistant Citizen’s and the more than 20 people involved, including “Anon Nampa, Sirawit Serithiwat, Sombat Boonngamanong, Parit Chiwarak and Nattapat Akhad,” who are seen in the video.

Key members of Resistant Citizen, a well-known anti-junta activists group, and other leading pro-democracy activists might be charged with Computer Crime Act over performing in a music video on the draft constitution referendum.

Somchai has wallowed in sorrow as he revealed “that from the investigation the video clip was posted on YouTube from the first time on 13 April 2016, which was before the Draft Refere[du]m Act was enacted.” Much to his disappointment, this means that the “people involved in its production and those who posted the video for the first time will not be charged with the Draft Referendum Act.” That is, under the Referendum law that is meant to speed the junta’s military charter to a vote without citizens hearing any detailed criticisms.

But such legal barriers are not about to hold back determined anti-democrats like Somchai. He knows that the law is simply a tool for the junta and its minions to use in repressing opposition.

He gleefully announced that they “might instead be charged under the 2007 Computer Crime Act or for violating the orders and announcements of the National Council for Peace and Order …[he means the military junta] instead.”

Somchai also threatened thousands of others, saying that those who had shared the music video after 23 April 2016 “might be charged for violating the referendum act…”.

The military’s thugs are everywhere, threatening, oppressing and suppressing.

 





More and more repression

4 05 2016

PPT is playing catch-up on our posting. The military dictatorship has become so aggressively repressive that we simply can’t keep up with all of its machinations. Here are a couple of stories we think were important over the last couple of days, and we’ll try to post a little more to report on the repression.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military brass is planning even “[t]ougher steps … to deal with anti-coup elements,” to support is bosses in the junta. Army chief General Theerachai Nakawanich says he and the regime are intent on arresting red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan and independent red shirt Sombat Boonngamanong. Also on their list is Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae.

The general makes the claim that “coup critics are bent on causing public unrest,” states that Jatuporn and Sombat are behind the eight Facebook users arrested last week accused of lese general, lese majeste, poking fun at the military junta, sedition and computer crimes.

The conspiratorial military dictatorship has even come up with another of its pathetic diagrams of plots and plotters. The general claimed that the “anti-coup chart was based on the suspects’ statements given to police,” but is yet another junta concoction.

The difference this time is that the “conspirators” are political opponents who have been ridiculing the regime and gingerly opposing the coup. None of them have attempted to hide their activities, so even the dopiest of police and military knuckle draggers could “identify” them. Some of the claims made about the Facebookers goes back before the coup, when ridiculing military thugs was legal.

The general promised no more “attitude adjustment” because “it’s hard to talk to them now.” More repression is the promise.

The regime has stated that it is also chasing down Panthongtae Shinawatra, claiming he is also “linked to the eight suspects.” The police, however, that they need to concoct more evidence.

In another Bangkok Post story, a “nationalist group with unknown backers” – that usually means the military itself – “petitioned the Crime Suppression Division to investigate whether someone is providing financial support for student anti-coup activists rallying under the New Democracy Movement banner.”

This is just the military’s claim that Thaksin is funding every critic, warmed over by yet another fascist group.

As far as we can tell, the Neo-Democracy group’s most expensive actions have involved train tickets to Hua Hin and Post-it notes. But such claims are just another aspect of the repression of political opponents. Given the history of the military’s creation and use of right-wing groups this new group adds to the fear and intimidation.





Updated: Coup anniversary

19 09 2015

After first attempting to prevent a commemoration of the 2006 overthrow of the Thaksin Shinawatra government by a military coup, the military dictatorship permitted the Neo-Democracy Movement to conduct a panel discussion and a rally.

The movement had ignored a written warning to call the rally off. The authorities stated that it would “not allow any activity which may affect peace and order.” They stated that only events inside the Thammasat campus would be permitted.

Speakers at the commemoration were to include activist Sombat Boonngamanong, “who was among one of the first who protested the 2006 coup nine years ago, and political scientist Puangthong Pawakapan.”

The members of the Neo-Democracy Movement “are still facing criminal charges for an anti-junta march in June at the Democracy Monument.”

Some reports of the discussion at Thammasat are included in a Khaosod report.

The demonstrators marched from the Thammasat Tha Prachan campus to the Democracy Monument. As well as the video below, Prachatai has a collection of pictures of the march and rally.

Banners carried by marchers included messages such as “Return power to the people!” and “Down to dictators!”

While there were no clashes or arrests reported, it is unclear if charges await the protest leaders.

Update: The Bangkok Post has more details on the discussion at Thammasat, noting that the police prevented the use of the room originally booked, forcing a move to another building. One speaker observed: “Nine years and two coups later and we’re still stuck, with no light at the end of the tunnel…”.





Judiciaries against justice

25 01 2015

Several times in recent years, courts in Thailand have demonstrated a disregard for the law.

As well as their capacity for repression and murder, military regimes in Thailand use the law but are not governed by it.

no-justiceIn addition to being highly politicized and royalist, the judiciary is prone to bribery and corruption, undue palace influence and operates on blatant double standards, including a bias for the rich. When it comes to lese majeste cases, the application of the “law” is inexplicable except by reference to the judiciary’s complete subservience to royalism. For example, despite the fact that Article 112 is specific on who is covered, judges have extended its application to long dead kings and have heard cases in secret.

When it comes to military courts these issues are compounded. Military courts sometimes don’t even appear to know the laws of the land.

In this context, a report at Prachatai is of interest. Bangkok’s Military Court has reportedly “dismissed a petition submitted by a prominent red-shirt figure [Sombat Boonngamanong] questioning whether the jurisdiction of the military court over civilian cases violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

PPT wouldn’t think that the military court would agree with the claim, but its response was even more emphatic than we expected.Sombat

Sombat is charged with twice failing to report to the junta, “instigating rebellion against the coup-makers under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, and importing computer content related to offences against national security under Article 14 (3) of the Computer Crime Act.”

The Military Court rejected the notion that it allow “the Constitutional Court to interpret whether the junta’s Announcements No. 37/2014 and 38/2014 on the jurisdiction of the military courts violate the ICCPR.”

The court “simply dismissed the request.” Parading those accused of political crimes before military courts makes Thailand a banana republic monarchy.