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.

We will kill you

18 07 2014

PPT has said several times that the military dictatorship is acting against political activists in provincial areas in a manner that seems different from its actions in Bangkok. Indeed, we know very little about a quite widespread and threatening repression that began on the day of the military coup. Of course, this repression is concentrated in red shirt areas.

Urban activists have had a relatively easy time of it. This is not to say that they haven’t been intimidated. One activist tells us that the military interrogators have threatened to go after their families. These urban activists have been detained, interrogated, threatened, and made to sign declarations that they will not be “political.” That is, they have to agree to be silent.

In provincial areas, widespread roundups have taken place. Some villagers refer to disappearances. It is unknown how many people are still held. It is not known if the roundups continue. It is known that there is considerable fear.

Prachatai now reports for the first time on the “degrading treatment of anti-coup protesters by the military…”. This is of the treatment of provincial men in Bangkok, and gives an indication of what may be happening there.

These male activists were “not summoned and the arrests had no media presence.”  They are “in their twenties from the North East who came to Bangkok for the examinations at an open university in Bangkok. Their names and affiliations are not revealed out of concern for their safety.”

Late at night, some two weeks after the coup,

the military arrested a male student, Mr A, at the campus. Upon arrest, Mr A stood still with no intention to flee, but the military officer held him by the neck, kicked his knee joint and then hit him in the back with an Uzi submachine gun. Mr A fell to the ground. The military searched and found 16 pieces of stickers read “No Coup, No Coup” and “Let the People Decide,” which had appeared on electricity posts around the campus in the past few days.

Two friends who rushed to the scene were also arrested….

The military later took them to their residences and searched for illegal objects. At the dorm of one detainee, the military found and took photos of a t-shirt with messages supporting Nitirat, a sticker supporting the amendment of the lèse majesté law and books on the Russian Revolution.

For the military this was incriminating evidence, and they sought to prove a conspiracy, interrogating the men with police on “who hired them, how much they were paid, and what their political ideology was.” The military wanted them to incriminate university lecturers. It is reported that the “interrogation lasted many hours.”

Almost 24 hours after the initial arrest, “the military put them in an old unlicensed van with no plates and blindfolded them…. In the van, the military hinted about having them killed.”

“The soldiers told us to fall asleep. Told us to think of our moms and dads,” one of them said. “They scared us while we were blindfolded. They instructed another soldier on the phone to prepare four dishes of rice, lotus flowers and holy threads and to dig four holes.”

In Thailand, a rice dish is an offering for a spirit while the holy threads are used to fasten a lotus flower to a corpse’s hands before burial/cremation.

More interrogation followed at “a temporary military camp…”. The questions were leading and pointed:

“They asked me if we knew what system of government existed before 1932. I replied that it was an absolute monarchy. The soldier said “Yes, absolute monarchy is the answer. When Thailand is democratic, there’s chaos and struggle. That’s why we have to take over.”

The interrogator also asked if Sombat Boonngam-anong, a prominent anti-coup red-shirt activist, was behind them.

More threats followed:

After the interrogation, they were allowed to rest. “The soldier told us if we couldn’t sleep, we should use a chair and rope. “String the rope up so that you’ll have a nice sleep.”

The picture is of intimidation and threats. That’s is the military and police modus operandi and has been for decades.


Updated: Lese majeste regime

13 07 2014

The Bangkok Post reports on the recent surge in “lese majeste charges following the May 22 coup has raised concerns that more lawsuits will only undermine political reconciliation sought by the junta…”.

Well, yes, there has been a surge, but reconciliation. Surely this is nothing more than buying into the propaganda of the military dictatorship! “Reconciliation” doesn’t come from repression and censorship.

According to the report, “[a]t least 13 people have been arrested or charged with lese majeste under the Criminal Code’s Section 112 since the coup took place.” In years gone by, that would be the total over 2-3 years, not in a few weeks. The report mentions these cases:

… former Pheu Thai Party MP Prasit Chaisrisa, cyber activist Kathawut Bunpitak; 24-year-old engineering student Akaradet Eiamsuwan; Red Sunday group leader Sombat Boonngam-anong; freelance writer Siraphop, aka Rung Sila; and Thanat Thanawatcharanont, aka Tom Dundee.

Other high-profile people facing lese majeste charges who have had arrest warrants issued for them but have failed to report in include a hairdresser based in England, Chatrawadee Amornphat; former PM’s Office minister in exile Jakrapob Penkair; and Thammasat University historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul.

Readers might note that PPT does not have some of these cases listed. We are having trouble keeping up with the rash of charges.

Niran Pitakwatchara, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, said: “The more arrests and charges are made, the more the revered institution will be politicised…”.

That is a false line that has been used by many as a means to make the proponents of the law feel somehow shamed because they bring the monarchy into disrepute. PPT finds this naive and politically daft, for those using the charge use it to repress these very persons and the palace supports the law in times when they feel threatened, as they surely do at present.

Update: It is worth adding two pieces of related news here. The first is about academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who has had his passport cancelled for failing to show up when the military dictatorship demanded it. The hopeless ThaiPBS has reported it this way:

Singapore-based Thai academic’s passport revoked
The Foreign Ministry has revoked the passport of Singapore-based Thai academic Pawin Chatchavalpongphan who is facing criminal charges in Thailand and has defied the order to report to the National Council for Peace and Order.

The decision to have Pawin’s passport revoked was based on the recommendation of the National Police Office.

Foreign permanent secretary Sihasak Puangkatekaew explained that the Foreign Ministry simply acted in accordance with procedure after it was recommended by the police.

Pawin who is a researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore has vigorously campaigned for the amendment of lese majeste law in Thailand or Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He is also the man who initiated the “Ah Kong’s Palm” sign – a symbol of defiance against the lese majeste law.

There’s a couple of things to note here. First, the emphasis on lese majeste is politically significant in the current context. Second, ThaiPBS and the junta seem to think that Pavin is in Singapore. He moved many, many months ago, and this is no secret.

The second piece of news is kind of good news but based on the bizarre. Prachatai reports that the dopey police have released Chaowanat Musikabhumi without charge. She was arrested for her “Long Live USA Day” placard considered potential lese majeste for parodying the propagandistic “Long live the king” slogan. She isnow  banned from political activity.

She was released on Friday 11am. Similar to other detainees, she was forced to sign an agreement that she will stop all political activities.

Sombat bailed

2 07 2014

Several outlets, including Prachatai, report that Sombat Boonngamanong was bailed on Monday evening and released on Tuesday.

He was released in Roi-et following an interrogation on lese majeste charges. Sombat was taken to Roi-et “to acknowledge the charges and for interrogation.”Sombat  He is accused of “disseminating a doctored image defaming the monarchy.”

Sombat’s wife reportedly “put 300,000 baht in cash as security to bail Sombat.”

Sombat is feared by the military as an activist who is able to mobilize anti-coup opposition.

Updated: Intolerance

22 06 2014

Thailand’s military dictatorship tolerates not a word or action that is considered dissident. The weekend has demonstrated that this is a regime that expects obedience and operates to instil fear through repression.

Prachatai continues to report the junta’s activities. On Friday it reported that minister in the Yingluck Shinawatra government Chaturon Chaisaeng could now face up to 14 years in jail on a series of charges related to his initial refusal to comply with the dictatorship’s illegal orders. No dissent is to be tolerated when the Dictator makes demands, especially when the refusal comes from people considered capable of intelligent dissent. Chaturon’s new charge relates to the Computer Crimes Act for Facebook posts of his statements opposing the coup and the junta. In demonstrating that it brooks no opposition, the junta indicates its fear of Chaturon.

Another opponent feared by the military is red shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen. She has been missing for many days. She was presumed to be in military custody, prompting Human Right Watch to issue a special call for her to be located. As Prachatai now reports, the military junta has failed to produce her, but has made a statement that “the army is detaining an anti-establishment red-shirt activist at an undisclosed location so she can meditate without any distractions from the outside world.” This raises the specter that the junta is running an Abu Graib-style detention camp. Because “Kritsuda ha[d] a prominent role in providing legal and humanitarian assistance to red-shirt supporters who were affected by political violence” in the murderous 2010 Army-led crackdown on red shirts, she is despised by the Dictator. The junta should be required to produce Kritsuda immediately and release her or lay charges.

In its refusal to accept even silent dissent, the military dictatorship expended huge resources on the weekend capturing anyone considered to be showing such dissent. In one police action, police made it apparent that a red shirt/United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship Buddhist ceremony to remember the people murdered by the military at Wat Pathum Wanaram in 2010 could  barely be tolerated. This meant that only 30 people arrived. One of those, was Usanee Sedsuntree who wore a Respect My Vote t-shirt. For that apparently dastardly act, she was taken off by the police for a “talk.” It is not known how many were prevented from attending the ceremony.

A further large police action was conducted at shopping malls to prevent any displays of anti-coup sentiment. Police reportedly detained eight activists “from the Thai Student Center for Democracy group, just half an hour before their planned activity to hand out sandwiches as symbolic protest against the coup at Siam Paragon Mall.” No free sandwiches as this violates the junta’s demands and edicts. Subway is apparently not suspect as it charges for its sandwiches. It is unclear where the students have been detained and for how long they will be detained. Not long after, a lone and well-dressed student, sitting alone, eating a sandwich and reading “1984” was literally jumped on by police and dragged off.

Silent dissent

Update: Adding to this picture of total intolerance is the report that the “Bangkok Military Court on Monday approved a police request to detain Sombat Boonngamanong, leader of the Red Sunday group and founder of the Mirror Foundation, for another 12 days for further questioning.” Sombat is perceived by the military dictatorship as more of a threat to them than Chaturon. This is because Sombat is a canny organizer who has been critical in mobilizing opposition to military fascism in the past, and has a huge following. The excuse for locking him away is that he has violated the Computer Crimes Act, a quasi-lese majeste charge.

A Sunday miscellany

15 06 2014

*A while ago PPT linked to a set of news clippings on the coup posted by Michael Nelson. We have noticed that he has now posted a second set of clippings. They are useful.

*PPT has seen several YouTube compilations showing the Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s “song” for “reconciliation,” happiness and unity and parodying them. One of the most revealing we have seen is this one:

*TIME magazine on truth or the lack of it: It’s not a coup says the dictatorship, but: “Since seizing power, Thailand’s military has crushed all forms of dissent, imposed a nightly curfew and imposed severe curbs on civil liberties, and taken over all government departments….. That’s pretty coup-like. So are the junta’s ham-fisted attempts at buying off the masses. The military has … unleashed a wave of populist policies…. Supporters of the coup long objected to the Shinawatra government for populist policies they considered tantamount to vote-buying…. Curiously, though, the military’s new ramped up infrastructure plans include a seaport, the expansion of the capital’s two airports and dual-track railways along six routes. And that’s just to start with. Presumably the junta will have another term for this than ‘vote-buying,’ just as it shrinks from the word ‘coup.’ But with apologies, gentlemen, the c-word really does suit you.” We guess they mean “coup,” but we can think of others.

*A very interesting article at the Bangkok Post has some revealing information on several items. One item is the denial of an earlier statement on extradition of people overseas accused of lese majeste. Previously official sources said Rose Amornpat was subject to extradition. Now it is reported that “Spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said at this point, the NCPO has not yet asked foreign governments to extradite fugitives who are on the list of summonsed people.” A second item in the story states that “[m]ore than 500 people have been summonsed to report to the regime. Of them, 214 have been detained and 25 are facing charges.” We had not seen the number of detentions elsewhere. And, a third item provides figures on the number of lese majeste cases: “the most recent figures available indicate that 1,414 lese majeste cases were sent to trial between 2005 and 2012, an average of 177 per year. Judgements were handed down in 469 cases.” While international agencies sometimes refer to 6-7 persons held on lese majeste charges and convictions, these data suggest that there are perhaps hundreds held. The malicious royalists of the current dictatorship are sure to lock up many more.

*A reader advised PPT to search นคร สุขประเสริฐ in Google and see what we came up with. This is Major-General Nakorn Sukprasert, who turns out to be quite a favorite at the deeply yellow ASTV/Manager. He turns out to be a military commander in Roi-et. Now, let’s think, who else comes from Roi-et. None other than นายวิพุธ สุขประเสริฐ. That’s Wiput Sukprasert the serial lese majeste complainant, who most recently, after some 14 or 15 other complaints, had his accusation against Sombat Boonngamanong taken up by the military dictatorship. Maybe these two just have the same family name by coincidence? Maybe not.

Sombat charged with lese majeste

14 06 2014

As the military dictatorship rolls out its lese majeste dragnet, Prachatai reports that jailed democracy activist Sombat Boonngamanong has been charged under an Article 112 complaint lodged by serial lese majeste complainant Wiput Sukprasert.

The report states that police from Roi-et Province arrived in Bangkok to charge Sombat on Friday. Roi-et is where the monarchy lusting Wiput, said to be a yellow-shirt businessman, lodged the complaint in January 2014.

Wiput is a crazed ultra-royalist who throws around serious charges for political impact and to boost his own persona as a mad monarchist. Prachatai reports that he has “filed at least 15 lèse majesté cases against prominent academics and journalists, including Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior reporter at The Nation, Surapot Taweesak, an academic and columnist for Prachatai, and Prachatai director Chiranuch Premchaiporn.”

The ultra-royalist accuses Sombat of “disseminating a doctored image defaming the monarchy.” That material is a “doctored image of the 2006 coup makers.” Prachatai states:

In the image, the photos of Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and a woman replace those of … the King and Queen, while the faces of the then Army Chief, Navy Chief, Air Force Chief, Police Chief and Supreme Commander are replaced by those of key figures of the PDRC and the Democrat Party.

Sombat says he did not create the photo and that he has always been “very careful with the issue of the monarchy…”.

When crazies like Wiput are taken seriously it is a clear message that politics in Thailand is at its most base level.

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