Anti-monarchy = freedom, balance, equality and democracy

27 07 2014

A couple of days ago PPT posted on a VICE story about the monarchy and the threats imagined by the military dictatorship. The following is an English-language translation of the highly confidential Thai document featured in the VICE story:

[Highly confidential]
Undermining the Royal Institution
(27June 2014)

Groups undermining the Royal Institution have attempted to exploit the 72nd anniversary of the change in government structure [1932 Siamese revolution] (24 June 2014) by revealing their organisation to oppose the National Council for Peace and Order. They plan to undermine the Royal Institution, referring to freedom, balance, equality and democracy as their main justifications. Their methods have included the revelation of concealed history connecting the Royal Institution to political events, and they have attempted to distribute reports of royal deaths in an effort to reduce the community’s faith in the Royal Institution.

The establishment of “The Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy: FT-HD” includes Mr Jarupong Ruangsuwan as the Presidential Secretary and Mr Jakrapob Penkair as the Managing Secretary. On 24 June 2014, a videoclip was released providing a declaration from the organisation, criticising the political changes made by the National Council for Peace and Order as having broken Thai and international law, causing Thailand to return to an extreme system of dictatorship. The choice to use the phrase“Seri-Thai” [Free Thai] on the website http://www.youtube.com with the username “FreeThai Organisation”, and on the page “Seri-Thai Organisation” (องค์กรเสรีไทย), is said to refer to the freedom and rights of the common people, suitable for use while fighting to reclaim their human rights and democracy.

The opinions of most of the general Internet community oppose/do not agree with the above-mentioned proceedings. They see the establishment of such an organisation as being connected to the undermining of the Royal Institution, and spread information regarding the differences between “Seri-Thai” during the political changes caused by the revolutionaries in 1932 and the present. Concerning the groups that are undermining the Royal Institution, they have promoted and joined in sharing the above-mentioned declaration, as well as inviting each other to use the tag “#FreeThai”. They have stated that they are releasing the country to freedom and update each other with information on the page “Followers of the Thai Freedom Against the National Dictator Movement” (แนวร่วมขบวนการเสรีไทยต่อต้านเผด็จการแห่งชาติ). Interestingly, Mr Anon Numpa, a lawyer, has requested that Mr Jarupong or others involved in this organisation clearly provide a statement concerning the existence of the Royal Institution.

Regarding the movements of individuals attempting to undermine the Royal Institution, during the reporting period it was found that some have returned to using Facebook or have reopened their Facebook accounts, such as Mr Thanthawut Taweewarodomkulor “Noom Retanont” (หนุ่ม เรศนนท์), who has become active on Facebook again and has confirmed his refusal to report to the National Council for Peace and Order, including rejecting the order as a denial of his rights and freedom. In addition, it was found that individuals attempting to undermine the Royal Institution living overseas, who were asked to report to the National Council for Peace and Order, displayed their passports to show that they have received a different nationality rejecting their Thai nationality and include: Miss Chatwadee Amornpat or “Rose” (England), Mr Lerpong Wichaikhammat or “Joe Gordon” (USA) and Pavin Chachavalpongpun (Japan).

Overseas Situation

Mr John William Oliver, a comedy actor known for parodying English politics, discussed the issue of Crown Prince Filipe of Spain’s inauguration, criticising it and referring/connecting it to other countries with monarchs, such as Queen Elizabeth II, by means of showing sections of and criticising ‘the poolside clip’ broadcast on HBO, 23 June 2014.

For Consideration

The declaration of actions/establishment of the “Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy” by Mr Jarupong, which Mr Saneh Tinsaen (Piangdin Rakthai) had previously (on 21 June, 2014) provided information regarding the establishment of this organisation, shows that this organisation is connected/it may contact or join in an attempt to undermine stability.





With a major update: Remembering the 6 October 1976 attack

6 10 2013

The Bangkok Post reports:

A ceremony to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the October 6, 1976 bloodshed was held at the historic park at Thammasat University on Sunday morning.

Assoc Prof Udom Rathamarit, deputy rector of Thammasat University, presided over the opening of the ceremony which was attended by relatives of those who died in the incident and some leading political figures who were part of the then student movement for democracy.

Thai Rath Newspaper

Thai Rath Newspaper

A statement was read out in memory of the “heroes” who sacrificed both in the October 6 event and the October 14 student uprising which took place earlier in 1973.

To be honest, that seems a pretty scant report for one of modern Thailand’s most significant royalist-monarchy massacres of democracy protesters. Perhaps the royalist nature of the killing and burning of protesters at Thammasat is the reason for so much silence. Should any reader think the king and palace were anything other than rightists bent on pushing extremists for murderous action, read this post from a few months ago.

The murders of 1976 were in the monarchy’s name and supported by the palace. The most dramatic and horrible event was the royalist-inspired attack on people – mostly students – damned as “disloyal.” Just days after the bloodshed, the crown prince distributed awards to paramilitary personnel involved. The massacre at Thammasat University has never seen any state investigation. Impunity was the rule because the state’s troops and rightist gangs were doing the work of the royalist state. The main perpetrators of the massacre are claimed to be the Border Patrol Police who trained many of the rightist gangs in the name of the monarchy and with considerable U.S. funding. The BPP was (and remains) close to the royal family.

The regime that was put in place following the massacre and a coup was headed by a palace favorite. Thanin Kraivixien remains a Privy Counselor even today, considered “respected” because of that. Yet the fact is that his administration was one of the most right-wing, repressive and brutal regimes in Thailand’s modern history.

In other words, the massacre at Thammasat University was intimately linked to palace political machinations.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a longer article about one of the remembrances of 6 October. PPT was aware that there was a split between “Octobrists” with some now red shirt activists with another group having continued to support the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its political progeny. The Nation reports that the 14 October Foundation is now “seen as part of the yellow shirts, as it is under Dr Wichai Chokwiwat.”  The latter is quoted as complaining that “capitalists have played a bigger role in Thai politics.” He explains his perspective:

Since the … [14 October 1976] uprising, people have become more aware of their rights. They fought [for] elections. But elections…are not the answer … as the representatives do not aim to solve the country’s problems, [they aim] to maintain their power and benefits. This is…not a real democracy…”.

The yellow shirt disdain for elected representation is clear.

At the Bangkok Post, the red shirt-related group is discussed. It is led by human rights activist and red shirt Jaran Ditapichai, who proclaimed that the “protests [of 1973-76] had paved the way for greater freedom of speech and assembly.”

Two recently released lese majeste convicts attended. Surachai Danwattananusorn was only released from prison last Friday but attended. Also there was Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, released a couple of months ago. He praised the October Generation: “Without the courage and contributions of the October Generation, nobody else would have fought for democracy in subsequent years…”.

Writer Watt Wallayangkoon observed that “the victories earned by the … “October Generation” were short-lived and were counteracted by ultra-royalist elements and a fear of communism within wider society.” He added that  “The red-shirt struggle [for democracy] is not yet finished…”.





Visiting a lese majeste prisoner

16 09 2013

This is a post we should have had up earlier but PPT was waylaid by several other events.

Khaosod reported last week on a group of about 100 red shirts visiting Papatchanan Ching-in who is imprisoned in Nakorn Ratchasima for lese majeste. The group was reportedly “led by Mr. Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, aka Noom Red Nont, who had been imprisoned for lese majeste and released earlier this year.” Tanthawut stated “that he planned many more activities to raise awareness about individuals who are serving jail term for lese majeste, which he views as a political, rather than a criminal, offence.”

The group reportedly “gathered in front of the prison. Dozens of police officers and plainclothes agents stood nearby to observe the event.”

One thing that surprised PPT in the short report was this: “Ms. Sudsawat Sansern, commander of the prison, said prison regulation exempts Ms. Paphachanan from wearing the manacles at her ankles because she is over 60 years old.” We were surprised because we had not imagined that women were subject to these medieval rules.

 





Da Torpedo to seek pardon

25 07 2013

Prachatai reports that long-serving lese majeste convict Darunee Charnchoensilpakul is to finally seek a pardon.

After more than fiver years of incarceration, this stoic woman, mistreated by the justice system and arguably jailed in circumstances that repeatedly violated her constitutional rights and certainly her human rights, has agreed that she will drop her appeals against her grubby conviction.da torpedo

It will be recalled that her last appeal was declined in mid-June this year. At the time, PPT reiterated that it was the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy and its supporters who originally brought media attention to Darunee’s fiery speeches at an anti-coup rallies, baying for her incarceration on lese majeste charges. Repeatedly refused bail and dragged through secret trials and a series of appeals, the royalist courts have repeatedly made it clear that Darunee is to be punished. At the same time, it is noted that the charges were laid – under huge political pressure – by the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra government led by the late Samak Sundaravej.

In her last appeal, the royalist court reportedly “saw that Daranee’s behaviour had caused damage to the reputation of Their Majesties and she deserved to be punished to warn others not to follow her example.” The current report acknowledges that there is no hope that any other appeal will elicit a fairer result. In addition, it explains that prison conditions are harsh, and that Darunee’s health has been poor.

On the day of this announcement, Darunee was visited by Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, who received a pardon on 5 July this year, seven months after he lodged his request for a pardon.





Released

5 07 2013

Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul (also known as Num) was arrested on 1 April 2010 for allegedly being involved with a video program called “Thailand’s Way Out” (“ทางออกประเทศไทย”) on the www.norporchorusa.com website. It was considered to constitute lese majeste. The program ran on red shirt-related television and the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime had him arrested, making Tanthawut a political prisoner.

The charges against him, however, related to the website listed above that included considerable anti-monarchy material and the case sought to warn Thais who posted to overseas-based websites or provide information to such sites.

He was convicted on 15 March 2011 and sentenced him to a total of 13 years in prison, with 10 years for lese majeste and 3 on computer crimes. This was a remarkably severe sentence even for the lese majeste mad courts, meant by the Abhisit regime to protect the then military and palace-backed government and the royalist ideology that underpinned it.

In August 2012 he asked for a royal pardon. He finally got it on 5 July 2013.





Inquests

5 05 2013

Several inquests recent political deaths are continuing. Three recent reports on these caught PPT’s attention.

The first was at Prachatai a few days ago and is a report on the inquest into the death in custody of lese majeste victim Ampol Tangnopakul in May 2012. The inquest began in February 2013. This report recounts evidence provided by fellow lese majeste convict Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, who provided great support to Ampol when in jail together.

Tanthawut’s testimony included details of overcrowding and work assignments that were beyond Ampol’s capacity as a sick and aged man. For example, he was assigned “to produce 5 kilograms of paper cups or about 2,500 cups each day.” However, he never reached the target.

He also commented on medical facilities and pointed out that the Bangkok Remand Prison has extremely limited medical capacity, with doctors visiting twice a week. Only “20 prisoners are allowed to go to the medical facility, and each prisoner is allowed to go there only once a week.” Ampol told Tanthawut that:

when he went to the medical facility for the first time, the doctors did not diagnose his illness, but gave him painkillers for his stomach pain. Only when he cried out the second time did the doctors examine him, but with some contemptuous remarks about his alleged offences to the monarchy.

His condition worsened and he was eventually sent to the Corrections Hospital on 4 May 2012, and died four days later.

The second report is about a “friendly fire” death of a soldier. Back in 2010, the BBC and other outlets reported a case of a soldier being killed by what seemed like “friendly fire.” The inquest found that “Private Narongrit Sala from the Second Battalion of the Ninth Infantry Division in Kanchanaburi was killed by a high-velocity bullet fired from one of the troops operating in the area [Don Muang]…” on 28 April 2010. A high-velocity bullet hit Narongrit at “his left elbow, travelled through to the skull and destroyed brain tissue…. The court concluded that the bullet was fired by a soldier operating in the area.”

MCOT reports that he “was fatally shot by a high-speed bullet which passed through his upper left eyebrow to the skull…. The bullet was fired from a military weapon.” There seems there was no doubt that Narongrit was killed by “friendly fire” as the inquest was concluded quickly with none of his relatives at the hearing and no “plaintiff and related military officials.”

The third report is of an inquest into the deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram. A senior police officer has testified to the court that “military personnel were acting suspiciously when he and his men investigated Pathumwanaram Temple, where 6 civilians were murdered during the crackdown on Redshirts protest on 19 May 2010.”

Pol. Lt. Col. Sutad Chaiprom explained that

… he and his bomb squad were sent to collect evidences at Pathumwanararm Temple … on the morning after the incident. He said he found a number of automatic rifles at the temple, but they were all clearly army-issued firearms, and the soldiers were already stationed inside the temple when his team arrived.

He provided examples of military interference with his investigation saying that when “his men requested a closer investigation at a pond inside the temple, but they were refused by the military officials.”





Updated: Political prisoners

15 03 2013

Update: This post is also available in French.

For those who haven’t seen it, Red Shirts blog includes a post regarding the official red shirts calling on the government to make an “immediate transfer of 10 Red Shirt and lèse majesté prisoners to Laksi prison which is reserved for political offenders. The list includes noted 112 prisoners Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Thantawut Thaweevarodomkul, and Daranee Chanchengsillapakul, who are currently imprisoned alongside violent criminals.”

This call is made as the amnesty “discussion” drags on and as requests for royal pardons seem to be ignored.

While this call is appropriate, it is a measure of how odd Thailand’s politics has become when UDD leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn,  has to express the request in these terms:

The manner in which Thailand is treating its political prisoners is contrary to basic democratic principals. Even the Sarit [Thanarat] dictatorship recognized a distinction between political offenders and other prisoners. Now that we are more democratic we can’t even meet such low standards.

In fact, it goes against democratic principles to have any political prisoners at all. Realistically, and sadly, PPT notes that some democracies have held political prisoners and some still do.

Thida argues that “while political prisoners are deprived of their freedom, they still have the right to information, education, health care, and fair visiting hours.”

She also “called on the National Human Rights Commission to fight for the bail rights of prisoners that are trying to fight their cases from behind bars.” This right is one that is regularly abused in lese majeste cases, but apparently not when political crimes are committed by yellow shirts; they regularly get bail for all kinds of alleged crimes.

On the amnesty issue, the comment attributed to Jatuporn Promphan is worth repeating:

Thaksin and the Red Shirt leaders will not be granted amnesty, but the democrats [Democrat Party] are still playing stupid. They keep claiming that it’s for Thaksin. This has nothing to do with Thaksin or UDD leaders. It’s for the people. Releasing political prisoners is essential for progress in Thailand.