Updated: The royalist rubble that was human rights

22 07 2015

Readers will know that PPT has little time for the ridiculous National Human Rights Commission. In the period since Amara Pongsapich has been chair of the organization it has been a joke. Being responsible for human rights should never be a joke, but working with the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, Amara made the NHRC a biased and useless organization.

Amara and friends

Amara and friends

The only current commissioner who has made a public effort to do anything remotely serious about human rights abuses, of which there are many, was Niran Pithakwatchara.

So PPT expected the worst when the names of the proposed new commissioners for the NHRC. We were surprised to see one high-profile activist, being Angkhana Neelaphaijit, who has criticized the military at various times. Most of the rest are loyal royalist bureaucrats.

More significant for the future of this useless organization, however, is the nomination of ultra-royalist Boworn Yasintorn. Both Khaosod and Prachatai have stories regarding the nomination of this campaigning yellow shirt.

Boworn, as well as supporting anti-democrats campaigning against elected governments, has formed and led several royalist groups that not only promote the monarchy but actively hunt those they consider anti-monarchists or republicans, seeking to have them jailed. His Thai Facebook page provides a vivid illustration of his ultra-royalism.

At various times, Boworn has been described as a leader of the “multicolors” who were yellow shirts without their royal colors and organized to support the Abhisit regime and oppose red shirts and the electoral prospects of any pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Party. Later, he was reported as forming the “Students Centre of Thailand” that was made up of adults and former student activists rather than current students. Its role was as a “disorganizer” and spoiler organization to undermine the Students Federation of Thailand.

He was behind other groups, mostly royalist vigilantes, including being reported as President of the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook and Citizens Volunteer For Defence Of Three Institutes Network. Both groups have brought lese majeste complaints against political opponents.

In fact, as we think about it, Boworn is probably the most suitable appointment to this hopeless organization. He is a living, breathing symbol of its destruction.

Human rights in Thailand are a pile of royalist rubble.

Update: Prachatai has another perspective on the demise of the NHRC.


Further updated: Nitirat pushes reform

16 01 2012

The various royalist and ultra-royalist groups have been preparing for it for weeks, and it has now happened: Nitirat have held their meeting to activate a campaign for amending the lese majeste law.

The revised proposals by Nitirat are available at Prachatai.

At The Nation it is reported that the Nitirat law scholars group “called yesterday for the amendment of Section 112 of the Criminal Code relating to lese majeste, saying the law is outdated and in need of an overhaul.” The proposals include legal protections for royals as well as reduced penalties. In addition, it urged that “only the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary be granted the authority to file complaints against violators,” and wants “exemption from punishment of those who honestly express a political opinion, as well as those whose allegations are proven to be true or useful to the public.”

Nitirat wants to collect “10,000 signatures in support of the amendment within 112 days.” That will likely prove difficult as the ultra-royalists are likely to make signing a measure of “loyalty,” thus threatening potential signatories.

Nitirat claims its campaign is a “first step toward reforming the monarchy to ensure the institution continued in Thai society…”.

Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Post it is reported that Nitirat’s campaign is officially “The Campaign Committee for the Amendment of the Article 112 (CCAA112).” In addition to Nitirat, several other “academic and activist groups” are involved: “Midnight University, Nitimon, Nitirat, People’s Poets, Red Siam, Sang Sumneuk Writers, Santi Prachadham, Silpakorn Community for the People and Student Federation of Thailand.” Nitirat drafted the proposal.

As expected, the ultra-royalists immediately opposed to the proposal. The Nation reported that yellow-shirted Tul Sittisomwong, leader of the so-called multi-coloured group, vowed to oppose any change to Article 112. He was sure that the “proposal for a lighter punishment will cause the number of lese-majeste offenders to rise…”. So much for the great love for the monarchy amongst all Thais.

Update 1: Readers may be interested in a Businessweek report that contextualizes the Nitirat meeting and program. PPT thought it noteworthy that: “Hundreds of people in a standing-room only crowd at Bangkok’s Thammasat University cheered yesterday as the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 listed proposed changes to the law…”.

Update 2: Readers will be interested in these photos and story (in Thai) on yesterday’s meeting.

Updated: The danger and fear in lese majeste

16 01 2011

Pravit Rojanaphruk and Napaporn Jamtaptim have an interesting article in The Nation outlining the debate on student organization that has emerged with the December formation of a yellow-shirted Students Centre of Thailand (SCT).

The Students Federation of Thailand (SFT) is considered pro-red shirt, so a bunch of well-known yellow shirts have decided to form their own student organization. This is the SCT. A well-known SCT founder is Boworn Yasinthorn, “a leader of the multicoloured movement that became active … last year…”.

The article says that “most members of SCT are adults and former student activists” rather than current students. Interestingly, and not unexpectedly, the SCT has an “explicit goal of protecting the … monarchy…”. They also claim to support “democracy.”

The choice of the name SCT has caused considerable controversy “because its name in Thai is almost identical to a now-defunct left-leaning student body, which existed back in the 1970s.” That is the National Student Centre of Thailand.

The controversy, mainly online, has Thammasat University lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul ridiculing Boworn’s claim that the NSCT was “leftist, but was also royalist.”

The SCT’s “first public symposium to discuss what students and citizens could do to protect the monarchy and how democracy would work with His Majesty as head of state.” Is that an admission that it doesn’t work now? Of course, it doesn’t, but we find it unbelievable that the SCT would even need to discuss the issue. If they do, it indicates that the yellow shirts believe that students are not finding all the royalist propaganda attractive.

Boworn has been busy forming pro-monarchy groups, “to protect the monarchy,” seems to acknowledge this, claiming that “most students were too busy playing computer games and having fun” but identifying “the few engaged in serious activities face allegations of disseminating ‘anti-monarchist propaganda’. The former student activist, who fought back in the 1970s, has accused some left-leaning academics and anti-monarchist websites of feeding students ‘false information’.” False information is considered anything that isn’t promoting palace propaganda.

More disturbingly, Boworn is resurrecting other images of the 1970s by urging “rectification” that is an attack on alleged “leftists” in the academy. He shouts that “Many students who do not like such [leftist, anti-monarchist] academics don’t know what to do, but the SCT will help rectify that. Some academics are leftists who lost the battle in the 1970s and want to get even. We must change history and make it right…”.

Surprisingly, Boworn also claims that  the “younger generations do not really know about His Majesty’s contribution to society and are exposed to distorted information.” We can only wonder how students don’t know of the claims of the king’s super-human efforts that gush out of every crevice of Thailand’s mainstream media, educational institutions and government offices.

PPT guesses that they are simply sick of hagiography.

Update: For a somewhat humorous take on lese majeste, with a serious intent, readers will be interested in this from FACT.

Students challenge Abhisit

11 09 2010

While the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime has been working assiduously to repress and silence all opposition, a group of  about 100 students from 14 universities, members of youth groups and the Students’ Federation of Thailand, has refused to be cowed.

From Matichon

The Nation reports that a “special Government House meeting … with university students in which goodwill gestures were expected…”. Indeed, Prime Minister Abhisit planned to record the event and to use it in his weekly television broadcast.

Instead, Abhisit found himself “faced with difficult questions from them over deaths during the red-shirt protests in May in addition to calls for him to resign.” One of the brave students “asked Abhisit to step down and prove his innocence in the deaths of anti-government demonstrators through the justice system, drawing applause from all students.”

He was also challenged “on several acts by the authorities considered intimidation against those on the opposite side of the government…”. In a revealing response, Abhisit told how “it felt strange for him to keep reminding government officials to use only non-violent measures with ‘the people who threatened to kill me and my family’.” The personalization of the conflict by the man ultimately responsible for 91 deaths is remarkable.

Abhisit also talked of investigations into the deaths and injuries, adding that he “had never ordered an all-out suppression of the protests.” Who did then? The last few days have seen everyone on the government side engaging in Schultzian-like denials of responsibility for everything and knowledge of anything related to the deaths and injuries.

Indeed, Abhisit apparently referred to “mysterious murders in Wat Pathum Wanaram.” He did, however, link these murders to  a “reported … firefight between armed men and soldiers escorting fire trucks that were putting out fires at CentralWorld and other shops.” Abhisit claimed: “This firefight occurred along Rama I Road and could have later resulted in the shooting in the temple.” (But see PPT’s posts on these murders.)

PPT applauds the students. We also expect that they will now be subject to vile yellow-shirt attacks.

Updated: More on cyber censorship and lese majeste

7 05 2010

The Bangkok Post (6 May 2010) reports on a seminar discussing enhanced efforts by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government to protect itself and the monarchy from criticism and opposition.

The Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) “blockade” of websites is adding “to the already-problematic lese majeste and cyber laws and their application which has in the past few years curbed the people’s basic rights and has ushered the society into the climate of fear…”. PPT could not agree more.

CRES is said to have officially shut down more than 200 sites and has asked internet providers to shut many more as well as demanding more “surveillance and self-censorship” from providers. All of this – and the other 17,000+ URLs blocked – is in the name of “national security” defined in terms that protect the government and the monarchy and provides the authorities with arbitrary powers.

Academics also questioned the government’s “intensifying and spreading the lese majeste plots”  and argued that this was detrimental for democratization and national reconciliation.

Anuthir Dejthewaporn, the outgoing secretary general of the Students’ Federation of Thailand, said “he and his two other friends were called in Monday for questioning in relating to the “lom chao”(overthrowing the royal institution) chart distributed by the CRES to the public. Mr Anuthir said the lese majeste accusation along with terrorism charge was perhaps the last tool the government could come up with to eliminate political opponents such as the red-shirted movement.” He added that “mindful and sensible people are not buying the plot. It’s the discourse that once worked, but no longer produce a desirable result like the history…”.

His view is that the alleged plot shows how flawed government intelligence gathering is: “They just want more names to link up with the Red-Shirted group so that they could have good excuse to wipe them up.”

PPt wonders where the government can go to from here. Abhisit’s demand that protecting the monarchy be a part of the “road map” means that the monarchy will remain a powerful force for politically repressive action.

Update: And to add more to this, Prachatai reports that is continues to be blocked and blocked again by the government.

Land of smoke and mirrors

5 05 2010

Justin Alick has a piece available at Austria’s FM4 web site on media and censorship in Thailand related to the 10 April events, with several pictures. Worth reading for its perspective on these events, including the red shirt confrontation with hospital authorities at that time.

The protesters then, fearing that the government might again be able to claim “no deaths” – as they had in April 2009. Alick then reports on the changing “story” of the Battle for Bangkok. He tells of how the “official story” of the events had to change as “recorded images and videos of the massacre … began to flood the internet…”.

Alick refers to the failure to – until Abhisit Vejjajiva’s recent offer of an early election – the failure to consider an  independent investigation into the events. He adds: “Thailand is many things, but a bastion of transparency it is not. The modern Thai state was born out of an unsolved murder over sixty years old, which still cannot safely be spoken or written about from within the country…”.

On this, he says:  “I have witnessed history being written and then unwritten before my very eyes. I have taken part in events that never officially happened. I have seen footage of protesters being shot or beaten by soldiers disappear behind censorship notices, later denied by authorities as ever having actually existed. This is a country where internet speeds have been reduced to a crawl due to the sheer volume of web sites being blocked, where people who speak their minds get put away with murderers and rapists.” The latter comment is about lese majeste.

Alick refers to “another war going on in Thailand, fought not with machine guns or grenades or even sticks or stones- but with camera phones, an internet connection, and a good proxy server.” It is, he asserts, “a war over what will and will not be in tomorrow’s newspapers, television shows, and history books, setting those who expose the uncomfortable truths about Thailand against those who wish to cover them up. It is nothing less than a war over reality itself – over what is truth and what is lies; what is real and what isn’t.” He notices that the “most potent weapon … is censorship…”.

The current Abhisit Vejjajiva government has used this weapon “with great enthusiasm…”. He again refers to lese majeste and adds the Computer Crimes Act as a second potent weapon. Others are the Internal Security Act, the Emergency Decree, and threats by the security apparatus, noting the recent case of the Student Federation of Thailand whose leaders were summoned to appear before the military. Alick points out that these students were amongst many who have been summarily told to appear to face unspecified charges.

Read the whole article.

Statement of the Students’ Federation of Thailand on a Possible Coup

3 02 2010

A reader forwarded us this statement of the Students’ Federation of Thailand — and we are posting it here for your information. As with other statements posted here, posting does not necessarily reflect the position of PPT.


1 February 2010

A Forewarn of “People’s War”

Due to the recent movement of the army, there exists a concern that it will eventually lead to a coup and a demolition of demonstration for democracy. Threats and intimidations, direct as well as indirect ones, towards people movement have dispersed widely among the army. These are nicely done through expressing political opinions to call for peace and defending the country but behind those words are a cruel message to the people not to build up any movements with the same old excuse about ‘national security’, even though the dispute and the unstable situation right now are all caused by the inappropriate role of the army by supporting the bureaucratic elites into the power. People movement who are fighting for democracy can absolutely not tolerate this.

Until today, the army still insists their old role to defend the ‘security’ of the bureaucratic elites more than that of democracy and the people. They even claim in harmony their readiness to protect the bureaucratic elites and demolish the people who call for democracy all over the country that can come to be an obstacle. These actions leave us interpret no other but that they have made themselves clear that they are ready to do everything even a coup.
To this situation, the Student Federation of Thailand holds a concern towards the country, the democracy, the people and even to the army themselves that if a coup really happens again, ‘people’s war’ or the resistance of the people all over the country who want democracy will occur for certain and it will be a war which continues until the very end until the army has to surrender.
Accord to this concern, we would like to call the army and declare our intention towards the current situation and in the future as following:
1. We would like to the army to concern about the consequences that will follow if there is a coup to demolish the people. The consequences will not be as convenient as the previous coups in the history. People whose moral and conscience are lifted have crossed beyond the point of ignorance like before and will therefore object until the absolute.
2. We, the Student Federation of Thailand, together with our student networks all over the country, have a clear stand to act against the coup and stand besides the people’s struggle for democracy, including the ‘red shirts’. If there is eventually a coup, we are ready to mobilize students and people who want democracy to fight with the coup until the end.

Forewarning to the People’s war
Democracy will eventually win!

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