Bail double standards

26 02 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on the limp response on bail by one who should do better. The observations there become even more stark as yellow shirts, found guilty of sedition, stroll away with bail while four lese majeste defendants are repeatedly refused bail and may be kept in jail “indefinitely.”

The former People’s Democratic Reform Committee leaders, including three serving ministers, given their posts as “repayment” for paving the way to the coup in 2014, were sentenced on Wednesday. As Khaosod had it, those convicted were:

… former Democrat Party executive Suthep Thaugsuban and five others on charges of insurrection for their roles in street protests against the elected government back in 2013 and 2014.

Suthep was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the protests, which culminated in the military coup that toppled Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration in May 2014. The court declined to suspend their sentences, though it is not clear as of publication time whether Suthep and others would be granted a bail release while they appeal the verdict.

Defendants who were given jail sentences alongside Suthep include Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam.

Buddhipongse and Thaworn were sentenced to 7 and 5 years in prison, respectively, while Nataphol got 6 years and 16 months.

In all, 25 PDRC leaders and members were sentenced for treason and sedition. Other key PDRC leaders were given jail sentences were:

  • Issara Somchai – eight years and four months
  • Suwit Thongprasert, formerly Buddha Isra – four years and eight months
  • Chumpol Julsai – 11 years
  • Suriyasai Katasila – two years

Today, the Appeals Court granted bail to at least eight: “Suthep Thaugsuban, Issara Somchai, Chumpol Julsai, Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, Suwit Thongprasert and Samdin Lertbutr.”

But, for those who have not been convicted of anything remain in jail as further charges are piled on. They are detained pending trial which means they are detained indefinitely until the trial is over or until bail is granted.

Double standards? You bet.





Maintaining the monarchy’s secrets

12 12 2020

As lese majeste charges pile up, Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta – one of Suthep Thaugsuban’s People’s Democratic Reform Committee men – seems to think that the best way to douse the flames of anti-monarchism is to cut off sources of information.

That’s about what we’d expect from a rightist with a track record of censorship for the monarchy. His last effort was against Pornhub, where Buddhipongse declared “that the decision was not related to a clip featuring an important Thai personality that was posted on the website.” Everyone knew he was talking about the king and his former wife, the latter having been treated loathsomely by the former, and that the clip of her near naked was the reason for the ban.

This month, Buddhipongse is seeking to censor critics of the monarchy and those who provide information on the monarchy that the regime and palace would prefer remained secret.

DES claims to have sent “evidence” to police and to be seeking “legal action against social media platforms that fail to remove URLs deemed inappropriate.” The PDRC minister said “the ministry has asked the Royal Thai Police’s Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) to take action against a total of 496 URLs which violated the Computer Crime Act and security laws between Oct 13 and Dec 4.”

Marshall

Of these, “284 URLs are on Facebook, 81 on YouTube, 130 on Twitter, and the rest on other platforms,” with DES identifying “19 account owners — 15 on Facebook and four on Twitter…”.

The ministry is after “Andrew MacGregor Marshall, who faces 74 court orders to block 120 URLs; Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who faces 50 court orders to block 66 URLs, and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who faces 194 court orders to block 439 URLs.” This time, the PDRC minister is also going after anti-government protesters, with court orders to block two of Arnon Nampa’s URLs and four of Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak.

Pavin

Um, that’s already 631 URLs…. Something is wrong with the numbers, but let’s just say that the regime reckons these social media activists are lighting the fire under the protesters, so dousing them, they mistakenly think, will put out the anti-monarchism. In a sense, to mix metaphors, the DES and the regime are trying to put the horses back in the barn after thousands of them have bolted.

This time, the PDRC minister is also going after anti-government protesters, with court orders to block two of Arnon Nampa’s URLs and four of Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak.

Somsak

The ministry’s public cyber vigilantes are continuing to report anything and everything. Last month alone, these royalist screenwatchers reported, via the “Volunteers Keep an Eye Online” webpage, 11,914 URLs. Of these, even the ministry could only deem 826 of them “illegal” while the pliant courts found 756 were to be blocked. The ministry and police must be inundated with work for the monarchy.

Buddhipongse is furious that the social media platforms don’t follow his orders, with Facebook blocking 98 of the 487 links he wanted blocked. Twitter removed 8 of 81 URLs. YouTube is far more pliant, blocking all 137 links the ministry flagged.

It is deeply concerning that these social media giants take seriously court orders from a judiciary that is a tool of the regime in political cases and on the monarchy’s poor PR. All the same, the information and the monarchy’s secrets are out there, and the regime will not be able to sweep it away.





Memes, communism, and a republic

8 12 2020

Thailand’s social media and its mainstream media is awash with hysterical commentary about ideas, logos, and republicanism. We will present some examples.

At the usually sober Khaosod, Pravit Rojanaphruk is worried about what he thinks are “drastic ideas.” One such idea comes from the mad monarchist

Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of royalist Thai Phakdee group, made a counter move. The former veteran politician proposed that absolute power be returned to the king, “temporarily.”

“Isn’t it time for royal power to be returned temporarily in order to design a new political system free from capitalist-politicians for the benefit of the people and for real democracy?” Warong posted on his Facebook page.

In fact, though, Pravit spends most of his op-ed concentrating on “Free Youth, a key group within the monarchy-reform protest movement, [that recently] sent out a message to its followers on social media urging them to discuss the idea of a republic.”

Pravit thinks that both sides are getting dangerous:

It’s clear that the majority of the Thai people, over 60 million, have not expressed their views on the on-going political stalemate.

It’s time for them to speak and act. Continued silence would be tantamount to forfeiting their role as citizens in determining the future course of Thai society. If the silent majority do not speak or act soon, there may be no other options but to allow demagogues of different political stripes to dominate and plunge Thailand deeper towards conflicts and confrontations.

In fact, conflict is normal in most societies, and in Thailand it is mostly conservatives who bay for “stability,” usually not long after slaughtering those calling for change and reform. And, neither Warong’s monarchical rule nor the call for a republic are new. They have been regularly heard in Thailand over several decades. But we do agree that one of the reasons these ideas have resurfaced now is because of the political stalemate, bred by the refusal of the regime to countenance reform. We might also point out that when the silent majority has expressed its preferences in recent years – say, in elections that were not rigged – their preferences have been ignored by those with tanks.

Republicanism has been a topic for a considerable time. Academic Patrick Jory states: “republicanism is deeply ingrained in Thailand’s political tradition. In fact, Thailand has one of the oldest republican traditions in Asia.” Republicanism was around under the now dead king as well. In the late 1980s Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was disliked in the palace and was believed to be a republican for his statements about Thailand’s need of a “revolutionary council” (sapha patiwat) in 1987.

For PPT, republicanism has been regularly mentioned in our posts from almost the time we began in early 2009. Often this was in the context of royalists and military-backed regimes accusing Thaksin Shinawatra of republicanism. This was a theme during the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, with Suthep Thaugsuban often banging this drum. Back in February 2009, it was said that “Bangkok swirls with rumours of republican plots.” There was the Finland Plot and, later, the Dubai Plot.

One statement of plotting and republicanism came from royalist scholar and ideologue, the now deceased Chai-Anan Samudavanija. Presciently, he worried in 2009 that if the republicans expanded, the monarchists have little in their arsenal [army, tanks, guns, prisons, judiciary, lese majeste??] with which to counter-attack. He considered the monarchists’ arguments as only holding sway with the older generation, while the under 30s seem uninterested in nation and monarchy. He seemed to think the regime was a house of cards.

There was considerable debate about republicanism in Thailand in 2009. Nor should we forget that, in 2010, there was a spurt in republican feeling, a point obliquely made by Pravit back then. Republicans have cycled through PPT posts: Ji Ungpakorn and Rose Amornpat are examples. And no one can forget the idea of the Republic of Lanna.

Perhaps ideologues like Veera Prateepchaikul, a former Editor of the Bangkok Post, could recall some of this long and important debate and conflict. No doubt that his “it can never happen” was also a refrain heard around Prajadhipok’s palace (or maybe they were a little smarter) and in Tsarist Russia.

Meanwhile, at the Thai Enquirer (and across social media) there’s a collective pile-on to point out how silly/dangerous/childish/unsophisticated the the pro-democracy Free Youth were to come up with a new logo that uses a stylized R (sickle) and T (hammer) for Restart Thailand. Many of the armchair commentators, including local and foreign academics, suddenly become experts on protest strategy and many of them seem very agitated.

Fortunately, Prachatai has the equivalent of a calming medicine, showing how the young protesters have played with symbols, redefining, re-engineering and using irony and parody. We recall, too, that red shirts and other opponents of the military-monarchy regime are regularly accused of being communists – think of 1976 and that the current opposition, attacked as communists in 2019.

Put this together with threats and intimidation: lese majeste, intimidation, lese majeste, gross sexual assault and intimidation, lese majeste, and royalist intimidation and maybe, just maybe, you get a better picture of what’s going on.





On a few things royal II

6 12 2020

Yesterday’s events memorializing the dead king get special treatment in the media, including faux details regarding public support for them.

The Bangkok Post headlines: Thousands gather to commemorate late king” and adds “Sea of yellow in Sanam Luang as Their Majesties preside.” Yes, there were probably a few thousand diehards, including notable monarchy maniacs like

… actors including Duantem Salitul and Methanee “Nino” Buranasiri. Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban was also spotted, and activist Suvit Thongprasert (the former monk once known as Buddha Issara) was seen handing out drinking water and snacks to attendees.

But a sea of yellow at Sanam Luang? Only if you ignore the large islands of lawn. The photos (right) may not be directly comparable, but you get the picture.

Thai PBS headlines: “Thais across country commemorate late King Bhumibol’s birthday anniversary.” Well, sort of. As usual for such propaganda events, the regime brought in people in yellow shirts for “celebration” events, even ordering officials to round up attendees, in some cases, fishing them out of flooded provinces (see clips left).

As ever, the media tends to quote the usual monarchy tropes mouthed by some of the “regular” people attending. One is diligently reported as stating: “The king has always been there to take care of people’s happiness, and without the king there would be chaos…”.

In line with recent palace PR efforts, these “celebrations” were an opportunity for the king, his wife, consort and various other royals to show off how happy they all are to suddenly have become “of the people” and Hello!-style celebrities. Again, it is the palace women who are leading that charge.

Yesterday, we mentioned the the RID’s royal projects – almost 4,000 of them, all taxpayer funded. Today, the Bangkok Post reports on even more royal projects. We are not sure if the RID projects are included in the longer list, but we can probably assume some overlap.

The Post (and others) have pumped out similar reports for the palace propaganda effort for several decades, and they are always exercises in providing information that is never entirely clear. The numbers seldom add up and they never refer to the cost to taxpayers.

This report is about explaining that the dead king’s legacy is likely receiving huge state investment. This is hinted at when it is stated that “… royal initiative projects and sufficiency economy projects” are being “deepened … thanks to six state organisations”:

the Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Interior Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and Office of the Royal Development Projects Board.

We may be wrong, but it appears to us that the  Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation is government-initiated and funded. Some of the information is simply recycled from earlier Foundation propaganda exercises. But what interested PPT is the scale of activities. There are Covid job schemes in nine provinces, claiming 450 water projects using at least 777 million baht, so far.

Over the past decades, the Foundation claims to have “developed 6,259 small dams and reservoirs … benefiting 80,247 families.” That’s about 12-13 families per project. It claims to have a large “economic forest” project, and fund management projects. There’s no information provided on cost and who pays.

The Office of the Royal Development Projects Board is quoted as claiming it is “developing 4,877 royal initiative projects…”.

It seems that the country has a thousands and thousands of royal projects, and as far as we are aware, it is the taxpayer that pays for these, successful or not, and with little transparency or accountability.





With several updates: Royalists, recycling and ratbag rightists

31 08 2020

Watching the ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee group “rally” on Sunday was reminiscent of some of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee events. There was some yellow, some whistles, old head and arm bands, and the white, flag-themed t-shirts all seemed recycled from Suthep Thaugsuban’s efforts to overthrow an elected government and/or provide the political space for a military coup.

Thai PBS reports that mostly aged royalists rallied in support of the absent monarch and the junta’s constitution and to demand strong legal measures against student and pro-democracy activists. It was a full bag of rightist demands, recycled from earlier movements going back to the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the military-backed rightists of earlier decades.

Former Democrat Party member, former Action Coalition for Thailand member, and long-term yellow shirt Warong Dechgitvigrom led the rally, and denied he planned and “confrontation” with rallying students and other pro-democracy groups. He did not say that his assigned task is to rally support from the right and royalists and to provide a potential base for further military-backed intervention, should that be deemed necessary by the powers that watch over him and his ilk.

Like his predecessors, Warong blamed all of Thailand’s “troubles” on “politicians,” accusing them of “plunging Thailand into deeper political divide, separating the old and new generations.”

His claim was that his ragtag ratbags had:

come together to protect the [m]onarchy, to retain the Thai identity, to do away with all forms of monopoly, to attain career equality for all Thai people, through the application of technology, and to enhance national prosperity via a sufficiency economy.

He also called for the “Education Minister and all university rectors” repress the student-based activism by not allowing space for rallies and to stop “lecturers, who may harbor anti-[m]onarchy leanings, from ‘brainwashing’ their students.” In this, he is recycling rightism from the 1970s.

In addition, Thai Pakdee planned to recycle rightist demands on the Japanese Embassy to stop Pavin Chachavalpongpun criticizing the monarchy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s Jatuporn Promphan, who has sounded rather royalist of late, said Thai Pakdee had “an extreme right-wing agenda, similar to a combination of the former Nawaphol, Red Guard and Village Scout groups.” We are not sure how Red Guards get into the mix, but his reference to Thai rightist heritage is apt.

The recycling of rightists and their rhetoric is dangerous, often leading to the unexplained/uninvestigated bashing of regime critics, probably by rightists working with the authorities.

It is dangerous also for regime and monarchy critics who live in exile. Rightist rhetoric gives cover and justification for the several enforced disappearances in Laos and Cambodia. These are very likely black ops by the Thai military operating on orders from the regime and the palace.

These acts of violence have been meant as “warnings” to anti-regime and anti-monarchists, to instill fear and to silence them.

Getting away with abduction, torture and murder in “brother authoritarian” regimes is relatively easily arranged, often a quid pro quo for similar operations by those regimes in Thailand.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

But it seems that this is not enough. The regime’s panic about anti-monarchy exiles in Japan, the USA and Europe is heightened, probably provoked by recent activism targeting the king in Germany.

The Nation reports on recent efforts to threaten those overseas based critics. Jom Petpradap, a “journalist living in exile in the United States has accused the Thai government of making veiled threats to his life and safety.” He has received a “package sent to him from Thailand [that] contained threatening materials” that made it clear that he is under surveillance and being followed.

Other exiles and outspoken monarchy critic Andrew MacGregor Marshall have reported similar packages and/or stalking.

Rightists in Thailand are also recycling Alt-Right inspired propaganda.

Thisrupt has a limited report on this development, noting that these conspiracy-based “revelations” of “plots” against the right’s Thailand mirror efforts in the 1970s to link student movements to international communism and efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

Something called “Thailand Vision” has been claiming a “plot,” backed by the USA – claimed to be promoting a “color revolution” in Thailand – and funded by Thai and international billionaires and capitalists. Like racists and rightists elsewhere, George Soros is identified as one of the culprit. Soros is remembered by Thai rightists as a culprit in the 1997 economic crisis. But his real “crime” is support for liberal causes.

In an elaborate concoction, Thailand Vision actually recycles claims made in earlier years by a self-exiled American, yellow-shirted conspiracy theorist who has been writing for one of Russia’s propaganda outfit, the New Eastern Outlook, which provides links to a range of alternative media sites, some of them anti-Semitic, others climate change deniers and many libertarian. Some of the co-authors have links to the extreme right in the U.S., including Lyndon LeRouche. and with connections to Alex Jones and much of the anti-imperialist alt-right.

In earlier times, it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the “culprit” in motivating the international liberal/globalist conspiracy to bring down the monarchy. Now it is Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and international capitalists “behind” NGOs and international “co-conspirators” like the German newspaper Bild (for its tabloid journalism n the king in Germany), Business Insider, PixelHELPER, Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and even Netflix!

In Thailand, “co-conspirators” include almost all of the NGOs and other organizations that are not rightist and sufficiently royalist, including the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, Thai Volunteer Service, Asian Network for Free Elections Foundation (ANFREL), Union for Civil Liberty, Prachatai, 101.world and The Isaan Record.

This might all sound bizarre, but in the recent past, such conspiracy nonsense has gained traction among former leftist yellow shirts like the late Kraisak Choonhavan and the regime/junta.

Recycling propaganda is about promoting notions of “threat” and mobilizing rightist reaction.

Update 1: We missed a Khaosod story about the ultras on Sunday. As well as one rally speaker – the youngest – seeming to incite violence and, later, calling for military dictatorship, coupled with a “Down with Democracy” screech, “speakers dish[ed] out conspiracy theories that implicate the governments of the United States and other Western countries in the ongoing anti-government protests.” Celebrity Hatai Muangboonsri said onstage: “Western powers want us to be divided. They encouraged a mindset that hates the pillars of our country…”. The reaction from the US Embassy was predictable. There’s also a strain of pro-China agitation from the ultras, who have mostly opposed Hong Kong democracy protesters.

Update 2: Two stories at The Nation deserve some attention. The first is about a street sweeper attacked outside the Thai Pakdee rally at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng. He was allegedly beaten up “because he was wearing a red shirt.” The story states: “It is assumed that the guard of Thai Pakdee royalist group may have assumed that Sukhon [the man beaten] had worn red to show he was associated with the anti-coup red-shirt movement.” The second story is a most unconvincing “denial” by Warong. Yellow social media is denigrating the cleaner as a “red buffalo” who got what he deserved as a Thaksin supporter. Fascism is on the march.

Update 3: In another story at The Nation, Student Union of Thailand spokesperson Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul insisted that the only people “behind” the student protests were the students themselves. She was logical in pointing out that the use of social media to raise political awareness among students and the young generation means that the students have a lot of supporters: “It wakes up many people. There are a lot of people who think like us.” She added: “It is human nature that if we know that many people share our views, then we have the courage to speak out … our fear is lessened…”. She added that she doesn’t even know all of the groups who associate themselves with Free People. Unlike Russian-paid trolls and yellow-shirted dolts, she’s brave, smart and appears (rather too) innocent.

Update 4: We added a link to Update 1 and corrected a point there.

Update 5: The Nation reports that Warong has “denied that the 15-year-old who posted a message on Facebook Live encouraging dictatorship was a member of his group.” He declared:  “he is not our member. I don’t know. Go ask him. He’s just a kid”.

Clipped from Khaosod

As the above picture shows, Warong is dissembling. He’s shown pulling a Thai Pakdee shirt over the lad’s yellow shirt. He’s applauded and lauded. Warong is trying to mislead people because he doesn’t want Thai Pakdee portrayed as it really is: an undemocratic, pro-military, pro monarchy mob that promotes the dictatorship.





Domestic and foreign ultra-royalism

21 08 2020

Whenever political attention turns to the monarchy, the ultra-royalists get rolling.

A pattern has emerged since the mid-2000s.  Emphasizing that the current wave of anti-monarchism is not new, in the past, the ultras respond to rising anti-royalism with ragtag and aged ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists holding small rallies. As the broader establishment lumbers into action, these royalists tend to sprout like weeds and the military and other security agencies tend to choose the most viable for support. Ultras usually seed acts of violence, often with support from these agencies. Before that sharp response, however, there is usually a media blitz of ultras and other rightists and conservatives promoting royalism and “Thainess.” Often that includes trusted foreign commentators who are mobilized to “explain” royalism to a foreign, mainly Western, audience. Of course, the extremist version is peddled by other contractors.

Warong

In recent days, these initial moves have been in evidence. The Bangkok Post recently reported that some “200 Thai right-wingers launched a group on Wednesday to counter student-led protests…”. The so-called Thai Pakdee (Loyal Thai) group of mostly middle-aged wealthy ultras was predictably launched at a Bangkok hotel. Its proclaimed leader is ultra-royalist and “prominent right-wing politician Warong Dechgitvigrom, who said His Majesty the King’s monarchy was under attack.”

Warong is a former member of the Democrat Party, People’s Democratic Reform Committee member and now runs with Suthep Thaugsuban’s pro-military/pro-junta micro-party Action Coalition for Thailand,

He reckons the “father of the country is being harassed…”. Well, maybe, but it is an absentee father. The king lives in Germany and is being harassed there. In Thailand, the call is for reform.  But he then makes the usual call for rightist support: “How can Thai people stand by?” Despite his claims to the contrary, Warong is effectively encouraging violence.

Young

Speaking for his “new” group – all who seem to have a pedigree in PDRC and the broader yellow shirts, Warong made three demands: “No dissolution of parliament, maximum legal action against anyone who seeks to topple the monarchy, no change to the constitution except via the proper channel.”

On the token foreigner wheeled out to support the ultras and the status quo, it is again Stephen B Young, recycling his old and tired lines about “Thainess.” Previously a favorite at The Nation, this time it is the Bangkok Post that carries his babbling. As we have commented previously on Young and the things he recycles now, we’ll just link to those earlier posts.

 





Rising rightists

30 07 2020

As predicted, the rightists are rising in opposition to student calls for change. The Bangkok Post reported that an unknown “right-wing group calling itself Archeewa Chuai Chart will hold a rally on Thursday [today] in what is seen as a bid to support the government in the wake of protests by student activists.”

Suthep thanks the Army

On social media, this group is widely seen as having been created by groups associated with the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee and Suthep Thaugsuban, who led the rallies that paved the way for the 2014 military coup. Indeed, the group claims to have formed in 2013 to support Suthep’s attacks on the elected government.

This new rightist group” criticised the Free Youth group and the Student Union of Thailand…”. It claimed the “student activists used fake news and false information to cause misunderstanding about the monarchy…”. They vowed to “defend the monarchy.”

Why royalists want to “protect” a monarch who lives in a foreign country is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they hope that another member of The Munsters can take over.

Khaosod adds that many have expressed concern that the rally could be a precursor to political conflict. Even Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has expressed concerns (see more below).

We are not convinced by Prayuth’s alleged concern, especially when he warned: “I have ordered police to prevent them from confronting each other…”.

As Khaosod reports, this is just one element of a broader rightist and ultra-monarchist denunciation of the students as part of a “plot” to bring down the monarchy. This includes the Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong. Last week saw the first counter-protest, at Army headquarters.

As Thai PBS reports, critics include all of the “usual suspects” who have organized all manner of “protests” and groups to “protect the monarchy.” It lists several of them, all yellow-shirts since the days of the People’s Alliance for Democracy:

Senator Somchai Sawaengkarn voiced concern at the presence of protest placards with veiled and direct references to the monarchy.

Sondhi

Sondhi Limthongkul, a media mogul and former yellow-shirt protest leader, said he was convinced the mastermind behind the placards aimed to provoke violent clashes between police and protesters. [We thought he was in jail….]

Academic [Is he? Really?] and media personality Seri Wongmontha said he was convinced that “people pulling the strings” behind the anti-monarchy placards wanted to incite violence between the protesters and angry royalists….

Rienthong

And, as Khaosod reports, fascist maniacs like Mongkutwattana Hospital director and Army officer Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah is back at work, seeking to mobilize ultra-royalists. He declares that he will support those who “report” student activists to companies, government agencies, universities, and other educational institutes, demanding they never be employed. He called on supporters to “quietly infiltrate [the student protests] and take the photos of these people who joined the god damned protests. Try to make sure the photos have detailed faces that can be traced their identity.” He wanted these photos posted on Facebook, making the protesters political targets and illegally discriminated against.

More worrying are the regime’s moves. Khaosod has reported that “[r]iot police were ordered to mobilize and prepare detention facilities to accommodate student protesters arrested by security officers…”. Most threatening for the student activists, it is the notorious, royalist and heavily armed Border Patrol Police who were mobilized:

Two companies of riot police would be housed at the regional Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district north of metro Bangkok, while about a 100 protesters would be held at a separate building inside the base, the letter wrote.

A “guest house” is also prepared to accommodate 5 protest leaders….

Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, the leader of the Free Youth Movement, suggested the memo might have been intentionally leaked by police as part of their psychological operations.

“They just want to threaten protesters,” Tattep said. “Our movement is not against the law or causing harm to anyone.”

Given the BPP’s murderous history, it is not an idle threat.

As Thai Examiner explains/warns: “there is no denying that conservative forces have now been mobilised by this protest wave which they infer, carry with it, criticism of the monarchy and Thailand’s traditional values.” Those conservatives already have a lot of blood on their hands.





No accountability

20 05 2020

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) have called on “the Government of Thailand to re-activate its investigation into the [murderous military] crackdown [in 2010], and ensure transparent proceedings and due process for all involved.”

The joint statement demanded:

The Government must ensure that activists fighting for justice for victims of this massacre are protected from reprisals. The Government should take genuine and impartial steps towards ensuring justice for all if it is to gain the trust of its people….

The good old days at the Army Club

The groups wants the government to conduct “a reliable and transparent investigation to assure its people that such forms of violence would never recur, and to ensure the protection of advocates pushing for accountability.”

Those responsible would “need to be held accountable, regardless of position or political affiliation. Without this accountability, the right to fundamental freedoms, and the ability of the public to trust its Government remains compromised.”

While PPT supports such calls, it must be acknowledged that accountability, transparency and impartiality are simply not possible from the current regime.

The military crackdown was ordered by then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, leading a Democrat Party coalition government. That Democrat Party was supportive of the 2014 military coup, the resulting junta and is now a part of the pro-military/military-dominated ruling regime. It is never going to be a part of any effort to establish accountability, transparency and impartiality on 2010.

More obviously, the military assaults on red shirt protesters, including the use of snipers, were led by Gen Anupong Paojinda and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, among others, many of who were a part of the junta regime after the 2014 coup and remain at the apex of the current regime. Such a government is never going to be a part of any effort to establish accountability, transparency and impartiality on 2010. In any case, these former military leaders, who still conduct themselves as soldiers, expect impunity for their actions that protect the ruling class.





Updated: No one forgets 2010

19 05 2020

There’s a trend in academic work that emphasizes memory, memorialization and memory. As it has translated in Thailand, several very smart academics have argued that Thais have forgotten important events, including 1976 and 2010. And, there’s discussion of how to remember. As an example, see one of the several op-eds at the Thai Enquirer today.

We feel this is too academic and too detached from the reality of the almost two-month long Battle for Bangkok. No one who was involved has forgotten. Nor do they need “advice” on how to remember. But, it is a decade ago, and many of those talking of memory, forgetting and remembering were too young, too class-disconnected, too bookish or too coddled to be involved and therefore, it is their memories that are constructed, distorted or reoriented. For examples, see the other op-ed at the Thai Enquirer by reformed/reforming/rethinking/unreformed yellow shirts (here, here, here, and here). And, do look at the real effort that this newspaper put into trying to understand 2010 (here, here, here, and here). We don’t agree with everything that is said, but applaud the effort made.

The 19th of May 2010 marked the end of the red shirt struggles. April and May 2010 again revealed the utter brutality of a military that views electoral democracy and people’s sovereignty as a threat to the order it prefers and defends.

It must be recalled that the leadership of today’s regime is born of the military dictatorship – Generals Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prawit Wongsuwan, Anupong Paojinda, and Apirat Kongsompong – together with former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban have never been held accountable for the protesters shot down, injured and killed in those bloody events. These men, blood on their hands, remain at the center of yet another military-backed regime.

These pictures are from both sides of the battle as the military gradually surrounded and then cleared the Rajaprasong area. Blood flowed and no one has been held responsible. Unfortunately, while no one involved forgets, it is Jatuporn Promphan who captures the essence of “remembering” for those defeated by the military’s armed excess:

“The truth is that this is the deadliest fight for democracy in Thailand…. Over the past 10 years, the Redshirts have been living humbly because we know that there is no way for us to fight. We can only seek for justice, but it will not be delivered.”

Update: It was at Wat Pathum Wanaram that – according to the courts and eye witnesses – the military gunned down people, including medics, in a zone they had declared “safe.” Since those murders, the military has gone to extraordinary lengths to silence witnesses and silence campaigners. Of course, the military has a lot to hide. Sadly, the military has also used the virus to close the temple on the anniversary of its murderous assault.

 





Updated: Appalling Abhisit

18 05 2020

Like the military, the appalling Abhisit Vejjajiva and the (Anti)Democrat Party have been spooked into responding to the illuminations of sites in Bangkok that remembered and questioned the military’s crackdown on red shirts in 2010.

As we previously posted and is widely known, the crackdowns were ordered by then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban. The murderous military assaults, including the use of snipers, was led by Gen Anupong Paojinda and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, among others, many of who were a part of the junta regime after the 2014 military coup and remain part of the current regime.

In a Bangkok Post report, Abhisit reportedly claimed:

he thinks the country has yet to recover from the decade-old wounds despite several legal cases connected to the red-shirt mass protest having been settled in court and an independent panel shedding light on what happened.

Like his “book,” called The Simple Truth – a travesty of untruth – Abhisit’s observation here is misleading. The “independent” panel was, in fact, appointed by his regime and almost none of the cases that matter have been “settled in court.” In fact, as Khaosod reports, despite courts finding that the military murdered red shirts and bystanders, “[t]en years after a military crackdown that left about 90 people dead, no army personnel has ever stood trial over the killings…”.

Abhisit and Suthep have never been held accountable. When they were charged they defended themselves with spurious accounts and by claiming the police could not investigate them. They claimed that the charges were a subterfuge by political opponents, insisted that most of the deaths were the work of terrorists – men in black – and that the use of weapons and lethal force was justified by terrorist attacks on the military. Supporting them, the military leadership repeatedly claimed that it did not kill any protesters. Then Deputy Army Commander General Prayuth stated: “My subordinates did not kill anyone, but they were shot at…”.

The good old days at the Army Club

The charges failed because the lapdog of military and royalist regimes, the NACC rejected malfeasance allegations against Abhisit, Suthep and Anupong. Following the defendant’s script, he NACC considered the red shirt protests were not peaceful with armed militants among the demonstrators. Because of this, the NACC agreed that regime had acted legally in authorizing armed personnel to reclaim the demonstration sites and that they had to protect themselves and did so in accord with “international standards.” All allegations and charges against Abhisit, Suthep and Anupong were dismissed.

No one seriously expects justice in royalist Thailand.

This year, Abhisit continues to blame Thaksin Shinawatra and his parties.

Let’s have that coup!

Startlingly, Abhisit now says: “We all should look ahead and work together with an open mind to prevent the preconditions for military coups…”. He apparently thinks all Thais are morons and have short memories. Arguably, Abhisit ranks second behind Suthep in the stridency of calls for a military coup. In allowing his Democrat Party to repeatedly sabotage parliamentary politics and in taking to the streets several times to hasten a coup, Abhisit would be better advised to shut his mouth and avoid the buffalo manure drivel that emanates from that aperture.

He’s supported in his avoidance of justice when the Democrat Party avers:

“The allegation [against Abhisit] has been already disproved by contests in the justice system, whether a court of justice or an inquiry by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which already proved that the crackdown was in accordance with the law…”.

“The allegations [against Abhisit] are distortions to defame him.”

The Democrat Party now supports a regime that came to power via the 2014 coup. The credibility of the justice system has been destroyed by the military and its puppet regimes and associated parties.

Abhisit then attacked the illuminations: “The movement’s search was launched with rhetoric that was bent on pointing fingers, which is not the way to attain the truth.” If there’s one thing the appalling Abhisit has shown that he can avoid, it is the truth. And, he reckons Thailand can’t handle the truth (unless it is his truth).

Update: The renewed attention to the murderous events of April and May 2010 have pricked the military-supporting Democrat Party. According to Khaosod, the anti-democratic party “will take legal action against anyone who accuses its former leader of illegitimately ordering a military crackdown on Redshirt protesters that left about 90 people dead 10 years ago.” The unpopular party claims that such “accusations” are libelous. In Thailand, the libel and defamation laws and threats to use it is often used by criminals, liars and the powerful to silence whistleblowers and critics. Truth is often suppressed by such actions.