The 112 virus

14 06 2021

The number charged with lese-majeste has reached 100.

That’s the count by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). They say that the “overwhelming majority of these cases have stemmed from online political expression and the participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations that took place between August 2020 and March 2021.”

FIDH Secretary-General Adilur Rahman Khan states:112

“The vigorous enforcement of Article 112 to criminalize the actions of pro-democracy activists, protesters, and critics of the monarchy has resulted in blatant violations of the rights to liberty, freedom of expression, and fair trial. The Thai government must end this abuse and immediately heed calls for the amendment of Article 112.

The two organizations made a call for “Thai authorities to end legal prosecution against individuals exercising their right to freedom of expression and to amend Article 112 to bring it into line with Thailand’s human rights obligations under the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights]…”.

We at PPT fear that the number charged may exceed 100 as some cases are kept secret or are held in places where the news doesn’t get out. It should also be remembered that there are many other cases where charges have yet to be brought.

TLHR reports that, between 24 November 2020 and 11 June 2021, with 100 individuals charged, “eight are children (i.e. individuals under the age of 18).” And, several “[p]rominent pro-democracy activists have been especially targeted. Some of them face numerous prosecutions under Article 112 in connection with multiple cases, which could result in very long prison terms.”

Worryingly, as this call is made, right-wing fascists and other royalists are calling for more charges and jailings. The Nation reports that the execrable Nangnoi Assawakittikorn “led an army of royalist ‘Minions’ to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), where they urged police to crack down on violators of the lese majeste and computer crime laws.”

Clipped from The Nation

Calling themselves “the Thailand Help Centre for Cyber-bullying Victims…”, it is Nangnoi’s group that are the bullies, including of children.

Making herself snitch-in-chief of the royalist minions, Nangnoi “handed what she said was evidence of lese majeste to the police. Most of it consisted of comments posted on media websites such as The Standard, Channel One News, Workpoint Today, Nation TV and TikTok.” Police said she was calling for charges against another 90 individuals.

It seems likely that the regime will listen to their rightist allies rather than to those calling for constitutional human rights to be observed.





Updated: Blind 112 complaint

11 06 2021

Longtime readers of PPT might remember a lese majeste case from 2016, where Nurhayati Masoh, a then 23 year-old unemployed Thai-Malay Muslim from Yala who was convicted on 4 January 2018 and sentenced to three years in jail.

At the time, we commented that, under the military dictatorship, lese majeste cases had become increasing bizarre and cruel. Students, journalists, academics, workers, red shirts and many more have been charged and sentenced. In recent months this purge has included juveniles and the aged. 112 logo

Nurhayati ‘s case marked another sad milestone in that she is blind. Worse still, she had been reported by Pipathanachai Srakawee, President of the Thailand Association of the Blind and a fervent royalist. Not only did he lodge his complaint, but he repeatedly and obsessively pursued senior officials, police and prosecutors to ensure that she was charged, tried and convicted. She was eventually sentenced to one year in jail for violating the Computer Crime Act.

As Prachatai reports, Pipathanachai (now Phatanachai) and still President of the Association is back, “protecting” the monarchy. In this case, the king’s fourth wife Queen Suthida.

Phatanachai told the Thungmahamek Police in Bangkok to report “an allegedly lèse majesté comment posted by someone older who also has a visibility impairment.” Prachatai reports:

Khumklao Songsomboon of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the lawyer in the new case, said on 9 June that the police summons had been delayed until 25 June because the notice was too short and the suspect was a blind person in another province.

Khumklao said that he could not reveal any details without the permission of the suspect. Prachatai is trying to reach the person for more detail.

All Khumklao could say was that TLHR received a request for help from a blind person. And apart delaying the police summons, he was preparing a bail request in case of detention.

The evil Phatanachai “told Prachatai that the suspect was his senior when he was studying in a school in Surat Thani.” He claimed to have been motivated to snitch “because in 2020 the suspect shared a comment critical of Queen Suthida in a post by Nipit Intarasombat, a former MP of the Democrat Party.”

Remarkably this royalist snitch went on to “explain” his perspective on Article 112:

He thought that criticism of the monarchy, including calls for monarchy reform, was okay, but it should also have boundaries. He agreed that 3-15 years in jail was long, but the jail term should be reduced in proportion to the criticism of the monarchy – that is it should be based on reasons, facts, and politeness.

Making the regime’s and palace’s point for them, he added that 112 “has no effect to people who keep quiet…”.

Presumably he also thinks that snitching and vigilantism is rewarded.

Update: Prachatai has a lengthy article that reflects more on Phatanachai’s perculiar perspective on lese majeste. In it he claims “he is not keeping track of this complaint” as he did in the previous case he instigated. He also compares prison for the blind as being “just the same as boarding school…”.





Ammy and Phromsorn face more 112 charges

9 06 2021

Ammy

An earlier photo of Ammy

Prachatai reports that Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan or Ammy, the lead singer of band The Bottom Blues, is facing yet “another royal defamation charge for singing a modified version of his song ‘1 2 3 4 5 I love you’ at a protest in front of the Thanyaburi Provincial Court in January 2021.”

Along with the already reported case against and activist Phromsorn Weerathamjaree

, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that Ammy faces another lese majeste charges for “participation in the 14 January 2021 protest in front of the Thanyaburi Provincial Court to demand the release of student activist Sirichai Natueng, who was arrested in the middle of the night on 13 January 2021,” also for lese majeste involving the “spray-painting portraits of members of the royal family.”

It seems that this may also be a second case against Phromsorn for participation in this event – one for a speech and this one for joining Ammy in singing the song where the “I love you” is replaced with “Fuck you Too [Prayuth Chan-ocha]” or “Free our friends.” This time, however, the police claim the words were replaced with words against the king:

TLHR reported that according to the police, participants during the 14 January 2021 protest replaced “I love you” with “Fuck you […].” TLHR did not disclose what the final word was, but said the police deemed that the modified lyrics were insulting to the king.

Phromsorn

Phromsorn

Phromsorn reported to Thanyaburi Police Station on 7 June and denied the charge and Ammy reported on 8 June, also denying the charge.

The public prosecutor has now filed 112 cases against the two activists.

It is stated in the report that this “is the 17th royal defamation case in which the public prosecutor has ordered an indictment since the law began to be used against pro-democracy protesters in November 2020.”

The Thanyaburi Provincial Court granted bail to both men, “with a security of 300,000 baht each. The court also required them to sign a letter promising not to run or tamper with evidence.”

Ammy stated that this is “the first pop song to be charged under Section 112” and “that he was notified of the charges while he was still being detained pending trial in another royal defamation [lese majeste*] charge at the Thanyaburi Remand Prison.” He was detained for 69 days before being bailed on 11 May 2021 “on condition that he does not participate in activities which are damaging to the monarchy…”.

So far, Phromsorn is “facing a total of 3 counts of royal defamation [lese majeste] relating to political expression…”.

*PPT is becoming concerned that reporting of lese majeste is replacing the term with “royal defamation.” That plays into the arguments of the military-backed and royalist regime that argues for the draconian lese majeste charge being just another defamation charge. Clearly it is not.





Royalist child abuse

2 06 2021

PPT has posted previously on what we called juvenile lese majeste (see here and here). But reading a Prachatai report that details a lese majeste case against a 14 year-old girl, it seems the regime and its supporters have descended into political child abuse.

This child was served with a summons by the Phitsanulok police on 28 May 2021. She was due to appear at the police station on 1 June.

The complaint was filed “by former Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) MP candidate Nangnoi Assawakittikorn. A dedicated royalist and fascist, Naengnoi “has previously filed complaints under Section 112 against activists Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, and Parit Chiwarak.”

Naengnoi

Royalist child abuser Naengnoi

Not long ago, she “also filed a libel complaint against a Facebook user for calling her a ‘slave of the dictator’.”

Going after a child is a new low, even for the horrid Naengnoi.

The girl Naengnoi is abusing states “she does not know why the complaint was filed and does not know Nangnoi personally.”

She believes that Naengnoi has stalked her for her comments about royalists who opposed protests in Phitsanulok in 2020. she made comments about the royalist groups who were against the protests.

Police officers had earlier contacted her and told her that an Article 112 complaint had been made against her, but “she decided not to speak to the officers until she received the summons last Friday (28 May).”

Special Branch police had “also contacted the girl’s mother on 23 February, asking to discuss with her about sharing Facebook posts about the monarchy. The officers wanted the girl to delete the posts, saying that she would face no charges if she did so.”

The girl has “said that she is surprised that an adult would press a politically motivated charge against a minor…. However, she said that she will enter the judicial process and has already contacted a lawyer.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights say that “the girl is the 7th person under the age of 18 to face charges under Section 112.”





More on Port Faiyen

28 04 2021

Port FaiyenThai Lawyers for Human Rights has more information on Port Faiyen, Parinya Cheewinpatomkul, a lese majeste political prisoner.

Listen to the Life Song of Port Faiyen, an Artist Who Uses Music and a Pen as a Weapon to Fight the Dictatorship” is based on an interview with his mother, father, and his best friend. It clarifies how sick he is and reveals that not even his parents are allowed to visit him. There is no word on how he is doing.





Two charged

24 04 2021

112Two are bailed, two are charged.

Two further lese majeste cases have been sent to investigation. Both seem part of an official and vigilante effort to drive people away from Pavin Chachavalpongpun’s commentaries that criticize and poke fun at the monarchy.

In the first case, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has filed a complaint against a transgender woman for sharing a Facebook post by Pavin.

On 19 April 2021, Patchara, a pseudonym for a 22 year-old woman, attended the Technology Crime Suppression Division to hear the charges over her sharing of a Pavin post “that criticized the work of King Rama X…”. Her re-posting was on19 November 2020.

The police allege the re-posting constitutes an offense under Article 112 and was a breach of the Computer Crime Act. It was claimed that uploading information by Pavin criticizing the king was a threat to the kingdom’s security.

Patchara reportedly “denied the charge and will give further documentary testimony on 19 May. She also refused to sign the register for hearing the charge.”

According to Prachatai, “Patchara’s case is the 8th case of royal defamation filed by the MDES since the moratorium on using Section 112 ended in November 2020.”

The second case involves Pipat (surname withheld by request), a 20 year-old man who had to travel from his home in Lopburi to hear charges at the Bangkaew Provincial Police Station in Samut Prakan on 20 April 2021.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Pipat was charged for a post in Pavin’s Royalist Marketplace Facebook group. That group has over two million followers, almost all of them in Thailand.

The charge dates back to 28 May 2020, when someone named Umaphon Sunthonphot:

saw Pipat’s post on the Royalist Marketplace, a satirical Facebook group established by Pavin Chachavalpongpun. The post consists of a photograph of King Rama X and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti with a 2-sentence caption to the Prince’s photo, which Umaphon views as defamation, infringement or an expression of hostility against the King and the Crown Prince.

The police charged Pipat under the lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act.

Pipat has also denied the charges and “will submit documentary testimony within 30 days.” In addition, he asked:

…police to summon the plaintiff to give further details about how his post damaged her and how it was deemed wrongful according to the Section 112 of the Criminal Code. The police said that they would do so.

Police took Pipat to Samut Prakan Provincial Court for a temporary detention order. Pipat’s lawyer asked for bail “with 150,000 baht as security, citing the principle of presumption of innocence, the accused’s good cooperation with the police, and the effect that detention would have on his career and family’s wellbeing.”

The court granted bail, which was posted by “Ratsadorn Prasong, a donation fund used for bailing out pro-democracy protesters or sympathizers.”

Prachatai adds that “at least 87 people have been charged” with lese majeste since last November. We at PPT think it is more than this, but accurate information is difficult to come by.





Virus of double standards II

11 04 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that at least 22 “detained on charges related to the protests,” mostly using Article 112.

While the Criminal Court has granted bail to Patiwat Saraiyaem, on the basis that he “pledged not to breach Section 112 … and also stay away from political rallies…”, it refused bail for to other political prisoners, Somyos Pruksakasemsuk and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa.

The report adds that Somyos and Jatuphat “joined other protest figures in signing a letter expressing their intention to withdraw their lawyer from their Section 112 trial,” but did not detail the complaints made by the detainees.

Thai PBS states that the “court said that it doubts the credibility of the two Ratsadon leaders’ pledge not to mention the revered institution in future protests, after they refused to recognize the trial process.”

Prachatai provides an account of the withdrawal of defense lawyers, based on Thai Lawyers for Human Rights:

22 people facing charges relating to the protests on 19 – 20 September 2020, including 7 protest leaders facing lèse majesté charges, have withdrawn their legal representation in protest at court measures and treatment by prison officials which deny them the right to a fair and open trial.

The 22 are listed as:

The 23 defendants in the case are Chinnawat Chankrachang, Nawat Liangwattana, Nattapat Akhad, Thanachai Aurlucha, Thanop Amphawat, Thanee Sasom, Phattaraphong Noiphang, Sitthithat Chindarat, Suwanna Tallek, Anurak Jeantawanich, Nutchanon Pairoj, Atthapol Buaphat, Adisak Sombatkham, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Panupong Jadnok, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Chukiat Saengwong, and Chaiamorn Kaewwwiboonpan.

The defendants “requested to withdraw their legal representation and their lawyers requested to be released from their duties.” They consider the “courtroom has been made into a prison.”

The defendants and lawyers say they are not receiving a fair and open trial and their rights are not being respected. According to TLHR the defendants:

  • have not been allowed to speak to their lawyers individually and confidentially, as they were always under the control of prison officials
  • who are detained pending trial and those granted bail have not been allowed to discuss the case with each other
  • family members and other individuals have been prevented from observing the proceedings, with some family members initially forbidden from even entering the court building and told by court police that they do not have permission to enter the courtroom
  • family members have been prevented from personal contact with the political prisoners, and at times they have been prevented from handing over personal items and food

Political prisoner and lawyer Arnon Nampa wrote a declaration to the court saying:

… he would like to withdraw all legal representation on the ground that he has been denied bail and treated in ways which are degrading, that he cannot participate in a judicial process which is “carried out with fear and without taking human dignity into account.” He also wrote that the law has been used to silence the demands of the younger generation, that violence has been used to suppress protests, and that their detention will lead to fear in society and no one will dare to speak the truth.

“In this trial, our right to fully fight the case has been violated,” he wrote. “The courtroom has been made into a prison.” He then went onto say that the process is unconstitutional, and that the defendants and lawyers agreed that if they continue to participate in the procedure, they would be promoting a process of injustice.

“This case has involved the destruction of human dignity, the use of the law to silence people, and many other forms of injustice. As a person who has studied the law and who practices as a lawyer, and as one of the citizens who aim to reform the monarchy, the defendant cannot continue to participate in this process. The defendant whose name is at the end of this petition therefore requests to withdraw legal representation and refuses this process,” Anon wrote.





Phromson’s 112 arrest

25 03 2021

As we listened to interviews yesterday with several youthful demonstrators the gravity of the current round of lese majeste repression became clear. Almost every protest speaker and leader has several 112 charges hanging over them. Keeping up with the avalanche of repression via lese majeste is almost impossible Hence we are thankful for Prachatai’s reporting.

A recent Prachatai story reveals that on 17 March, “Phromson Wirathammachari, a protester well-known for his speeches, went to hear a charge of lèse majesté at Thanyaburi Police Station but the police suddenly handed him over to the court, with a request to detain him.”

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, “the court denied Phromson bail, citing the gravity of the charge, the severe penalty, and the likelihood that he would either flee or repeat the offence.” He is reportedly detained at Thanyaburi prison, despite suffering injuries from a traffic accident.

Sasinan Thamnithinan, a TLHR lawyer, states that Phromson went “to the [police] station with his injuries to prove that he had no intention to flee, [but] the deputy superintendent (investigation), after the regular investigation stage, suddenly decided to take him to court before the court closed.” Phromson’s lawyer was given just two minutes with her client before hurriedly preparing a bail request.

The court denied bail.





Updated: Another 112 incarceration

24 03 2021

The Bangkok Post reports on yet another lese majeste incarceration.

Chukiat  Saengwong, also known as Justin, a member of the Ratsadon group, has been arrested on lese majeste and a slew of other charges including sedition.The charges relate to several protests, with the most recent being on March 20.

Clipped from Prachatai

Police allege that at last Saturday’s protest near the Supreme Court, “Chukiat affixed a piece of paper on which were written offensive words to a portrait of … the King erected outside the premises.”

The police claim his “action was recorded by a security camera…”. Soon after, “protesters allegedly set fire to the portrait…”.

Chukiat has denied all charges.

The court approved a police request to detain Chukiat for 12 days. A bail application was rejected, with the court claiming that, if released, Chukiat “may commit similar offences again.”

The royalist judiciary continues to carry out its orders.

Update: Prachatai also reports on Chukiat’s case. It states that his bail was refused because of “the seriousness of the charge, the heavy penalty, and the fact that the accused committed similar offences after previously being allowed bail…”. A Thai Lawyers for Human Rights lawyer met “Chukiat at 00.54 on 23 March, tweeted that the police tried to interrogate Chukiat with a lawyer that they assigned to him and confiscated his phone. Because he objected to this, the police had him handcuffed [him]…”. Chukiat sent a message to supporters “to fight on and not to worry about him.”

Among protesters, “Chukiat became well known for his speeches and public appearances in protests where he wore a crop top. The nickname ‘Justin’ comes from Justin Bieber, a famous singer who wears crop tops.”





Updated: The rising toll

10 03 2021

While most of the world watches Myanmar and counts the toll of dead, injured and arrested, the regime in Bangkok is quietly and ruthlessly decapitating its opponents.

There are several efforts by local NGOs to tally the arrests and charges, but it is a difficult task as the police and military often operate secretly and not all cases come to public attention.

Prachatai has tried to bring this together. It says Amnesty International has released a statement claiming the arrest and/or charging of “382 protest leaders and demonstrators in 207 cases since 2020…”. This, it says, is “tantamount to systematic suppression of freedom.” We are unsure whether this total includes “another 47 We Volunteer (WeVo) members [arrested] by a SWAT police team who used force and did not produce an arrest warrant on 6 March prior to the protest at the judicial court complex.”

PPT had thought there were at least 10 protest leaders are held without bail, some of them now for a month. However, as of 8 March, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported 18:

  • 7 leading figures of Ratsadorn, one of the protest organizing groups: Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Patiwat Saraiyaem, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Jatupat Boonbattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok. The first 4 have been detained since 9 February.
  • 5 people who have been charged with damage to police vehicles in October 2020: Nathanon Chaimahabut, Thawat Sukprasoet, Sakchai Tangchitsadudi, Somkhit Tosoi and Chaluai Ekasak. They have been detained since 24 February.
  • Chaiamorn ‘Ammy’ Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer of the The Bottom Blues band, detained for allegedly burning a portrait of King Rama X in front of Klong Prem Central Prison.
  • Parinya ‘Port’ Cheewinkulpathom, a member of the self-exiled band ‘Faiyen’, charged under the lèse majesté law over his Facebook post in 2016 and detained since 6 March.
  • 3 people detained since 29 January for allegedly throwing a homemade ‘pingpong’ bomb at the protest at Samyan Mitrtown on 10 January. .
  • Piyarat Chongtep, arrested on 6 March and detained 2 days later.

Add in those arrested and/or charged in the second half of 2020, and we’d guess the figures are nudging 1,000. So many, in fact, that the Ministry of Justice is reportedly considering a special prison for political prisoners!

Update: Turns out speculation about the special prison for political prisoners. AP reports that the regime is going to split up the political prisoners, integrating them with regular prisoners. The idea seems to be to prevent them supporting each other and to make them less of a focus for rallies for their release.

Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister for (In)Justice, concocted a story that “Bangkok Remand Prison and Klong Prem Central Prison, where most recently detained political prisoners are held, [had] become congested when families and supporters come to visit.”

He then lied, saying: “Everyone should be treated equally…”. That’s observably false in royalist Thailand.