Updated: No crying for the northeast

17 09 2019

The huge floods in the provinces “began last month, [with] 32 provinces — mostly in the North and Northeast — hav[ing] been hit by the flooding, affecting more than 418,000 families and killing 32 people. The impact in the northeast has been devastating. Khon Kaen was heavily flooded and Ubol looks like a lake. Some people have had to scramble onto their house roofs to avoid the surging waters.

Ubol. From the Straits Times

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan visited Khon Kaen on other business on 3 September and “inspect[ed] the flood situation…”.

Gen Prayuth has preferred cooking and visiting with political allies like Suthep Thaugsuban in the south. While he made a very brief visit to Ubol, he has seemed largely unconcerned. Back when he could make political capital from floods in 2011, he did so enthusiastically. Not now.

Almost a week ago, Ubol was under water, with Khaosod reporting that “[n]etizens are pouring their support to a northeastern province, more than half of whose area is under floodwaters.” It reports discontent:

“The flood is affecting us badly, but why the doesn’t the government help? Many houses are now submerged and Warin [Chamrap] District has been cut off from the city,” @kpkimmm tweeted on Thursday. “They sent everything they had to rescue the 13 Wild Boar, but no one cares about the whole of Ubon being immersed in water.”

Ubol governor Sarit Withoon “declared 17 districts as disaster zones and allocated 200,000 baht to each district for immediate disaster recovery operations…”. Seriously? 200,00 per district! Really?

The Bangkok Post reports that Gen Prayuth is “[s]tung by heavy criticism of its slow response to severe flooding in Ubon Ratchathani and other Northeast provinces…”. The response? The “government is stepping up efforts to help several thousand victims with a televised charity programme.”

It almost seems that the regime is punishing the northeast and its voters. The military-backed regime’s political constituency is centered on Bangkok.

Update: A Bangkok Post editorial criticizes Gen Prayuth:

As people in Ubon Ratchathani and other flood-ravaged provinces in the Northeast suffer and grieve, the least they can expect from the prime minister is sensitivity to their plight. They should also be able to anticipate adequate emergency relief measures from his administration.

But Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has failed them in both of those respects. Instead, the premier has been busy in the past few days defending himself and rebuking those who have criticised his government’s slow response.

Such knee-jerk leadership is a dismal response at a time when the government is facing credible accusations that its failure to remain vigilant and offer timely public warnings exacerbated the flood crisis….

Since Monday, the premier’s chief response appears to have taken the form of anger at his critics….

The core lesson of this calamity … is that people in the flood-ravaged areas need an efficient leader, not an angry, defensive old man.





Red shirts engaged in political struggle

15 08 2019

Khaosod reports that the Court of First Instance has acquitted 24 red shirt leaders of terrorism charges related to protests in 2010.

Most significantly, in its ruling, the Court “stated that the Redshirt leaders engaged in ‘a political struggle and not an act of terrorism’.” However, one of the defendants, Weng Tojirakarn, said that “the prosecutor will likely appeal the lower court’s decision.

In fact, it was state officials who have been found by several courts to be responsible for most of the murders that took place in April and May 2010. Independent reports tend to agree.

Those who ordered the bloody crackdowns in 2010 – Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban – got off (but have been ruthlessly punished by voters) and their eager military accomplices murdered with impunity, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha and General Anupong Paojinda.





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.





No justice

19 05 2019

Human Right Watch has issued a statement on the anniversary of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s bloody military crackdown on red shirt protesters in 2010. We reproduce bits of it here.

Thai authorities have failed to punish policymakers, military commanders, and soldiers responsible for the deadly crackdown on “Red Shirt” protests in May 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 4, 2019, the military prosecutor decided not to indict eight soldiers accused of fatally shooting six civilians in Bangkok’s Wat Pathumwanaram temple on May 19, 2010.

“Despite overwhelming evidence, Thai authorities have failed to hold officials accountable for gunning down protesters, medics, and reporters during the bloody crackdown in 2010,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The military prosecutor’s decision to drop the case against eight soldiers is the latest insult to families of victims who want justice.”

The military prosecutor dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no evidence and no witnesses to the killing. This decision contradicted the Bangkok Criminal Court’s inquest in August 2013, which found that the residue of bullets inside the victims’ bodies was the same type of ammunition issued to soldiers operating in the area at the time of the shooting. Based on information from the Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI), witness accounts, and other evidence, the inquest concluded that soldiers from the Ranger Battalion, Special Force Group 2, Erawan Military Camp fired their assault rifles into the temple from their positions on the elevated train track in front of Wat Pathumwanaram temple….

According to the DSI, at least 98 people died and more than 2,000 were injured….

The high number of casualties—including unarmed protesters, volunteer medics, reporters, photographers, and bystanders—resulted in part from the government’s enforcement of “live fire zones” around the UDD protest sites in Bangkok, where sharpshooters and snipers were deployed….

All those criminally responsible should be held to account whatever their political affiliation or official position. But over the past nine years, there have been a series of cover-ups that have ensured impunity for senior government officials and military personnel. Successive Thai governments charged UDD leaders and supporters with serious criminal offenses but ignored rights abuses by soldiers. Under pressure from the military, deliberately insufficient investigative efforts have been made to identify the soldiers and commanding officers responsible for the shootings. Criminal and disciplinary cases were dropped in 2016 against former prime minister Abhisit, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, and former army chief Gen. Anupong Paojinda…. Thai authorities have targeted for intimidation and prosecution witnesses and families of the victims who demand justice.

It is outrageous that the military has been allowed to walk away scot-free from deadly crimes committed in downtown Bangkok,” Adams said….





Political murder and impunity

5 05 2019

Many readers will have already seen the Khaosod report that sadly but not unexpectedly tells of another coronation gift: “Soldiers who killed six people at a temple during a 2010 protest will not stand trial in the military court…”.

Phayao Akkahad, who lost a daughter, Kamonkade, when the nurse was treating the wounded at the “safe zone” at Wat Pathum Wanaram. Kamonkade was shot dead by soldiers, probably firing from the Skytrain elevated railway. They shot others in that so-called safe zone as well.

“Investigators” have now told Phayao “that the military prosecutors decided to drop charges against the eight soldiers…” a court inquest earlier held responsible. They  cited “a lack of evidence,” but as everyone in Thailand knows, this is buffalo manure. In fact, the military is just doing what it always does when it tortures or kills civilians. That is, granting impunity.

Phayao said the “military prosecutors announced there won’t be indictment…. The prosecutors reasoned the no-indictment that there was no evidence, no circumstantial evidence, and no eyewitnesses.”

This is simply false. There are still photos and video evidence of the soldiers involved. PPT has posted some of this evidence several times.

The Khaosod report has video reporting from the time showing soldiers firing into the temple.

The evidence is clear but no soldier is held responsible. More importantly, those who ordered the murderous crackdown – Suthep Thaugsuban, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Gen Anupong Paojinda and current military dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha – get away with murder.

To date, not a single person has been held responsbile for the more than 90 deaths in April and May 2010. Sadly, in royalist Thailand, that is normal.





Huh?

23 03 2019

With more than 90 official complaints of cheating already filed with the Election Commission, it looks like being a long “election” in the sense that all these things will take a long time to play out, and all of this “playing out” will be done under the junta government. Talking with a small group of rapidly assembled and ill-prepared election monitors, “EC commissioner Wiroj Kowattana told the representatives that the Thai EC was an independent organisation and it was not under anyone’s order to organise the polls.” Huh?

Meanwhile, a reader who has always provided us with accurate information from the Northeast has told us that in two villages he was visiting late today saw money be handed out to villagers, encouraging votes for Palang Pracharath. Huh? Will the EC be interested? Probably not.

We await further reports. Tonight is the night the dogs used to howl in the 1980s and 1990s.

But rest assured, whatever the outcome of the “election,” Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has said there will be no coup, even if the Thaksin Shinawatra parties do very well in the “election.” Huh? Maybe Prawit is not the one making that decision.

In any case, Suthep Thaugsuban of the anti-democrat Action Coalition for Thailand promised instability, saying: “If [voters] choose these ‘Pheu’ parties, see you on Ratchadamnoen…”. We think that’s illegal to say in the campaign, but we doubt the EC cares.

But back to Gen Prawit. He was remarkably candid when asked “whether he would play a crucial role in forming the government on the night of the election day on Sunday, Gen Prawit said he didn’t know nor had he been contacted to do so.” Huh? That seems like an affirmation.

Apart from the really big news – Thaksin-Ubonratana and Rap Against Dictatorship – there’s also the story that the rally-shy Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha turned out for his manufactured Palang Pracharath Party to beg for votes. He declared: Vote for me!  I will die for the country! But he said little of substance just that Thailand needed a strong leader. Ho hum.

What was interesting in the Bangkok Post story was an estimate of numbers at the rally. They reckon 10,000 showed up. Huh? But if you look at the Post reporter’s video of part of his speech, it is a very quiet “10,000” and looks less than half that in the social media videos that are widely available.





Post-“election” disruption II

20 03 2019

We just posted on pro-junta disruption following the “election.” It seems we were rather too sanguine. The great fear that the junta may not fiddle its way to extending its regime has caused former People’s Democratic Reform Committee whistler Benya Nandakwang, a candidate for tiny Action Coalition of Thailand Party, founded and led by anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban, to use the coup word.

She “slammed anti-junta factions’ dream of winning at the polls as wishful thinking, since the government already has the stage set to its advantage.” She scribbled on:  “Do you really think you can just ‘pick up a pen and kill the dictatorship?’ [referring to a slogan of the pro-democracy camp] … Dream on. Do you know how to play chess? Look at the game. They already have their pieces set on the board.”

Then she got into the anti-democrat uniform of 2013-14, declaring that Thaksin Shinawatra’s money is “hell money” and warning that if the “democracy faction wins the election, eventually there will be another coup.”

There has been a social media storm about her comments. Yet she’s only saying what many of her ilk are thinking. And they have all put their money on Gen Apirat Kongsompong, yet another Army commander who has refused to rule out a coup and stated that he will not provide his or the military’s loyalty to a government he considers “disloyal.” The latter being his code for anti-junta.

Of course, a coup will be the ultimate disruption for the junta’s “election.”