Lost faith = 112

30 05 2021

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) advises that the Khon Kaen Provincial Court “has accepted a lèse-majesté case  filed against Tiwagorn Withiton, a Facebook user whose picture wearing a shirt printed with ‘I lost faith in the monarchy’ went viral in 2020.”

TLHR reported that on 27 May 2021, the “public prosecutor has filed a case against Tiwagorn under Sections 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law and the sedition law, as well as under the Computer Crimes Act.”

Tiwagorn was granted bail using a security of 150,000 baht and his next hearing is scheduled on 3 August 2021.

Tiwagorn first became known in July 2020 when a Facebook post showed him wearing a t-shirt printed with “I lost faith in the monarchy on it.”

This act initially confused the state’s monarchy police who tried to convince him to give up the t-shirt and not advertise his lost faith. When he refused, he was arrested, dragged from his home, “and forcibly admitted to Khon Kaen Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital…”. He was discharged following a public campaign demanding his release.

He was re-arrested on 4 March 2021 and “taken to Tha Phra Police Station in Khon Kaen on charges under Section 112, Section 116, and the Computer Crimes Act because of Facebook posts he made on 11 and 18 February 2021.” On 26 May he was informed that the public prosecutor had decided to proceed with the case.

While such a case could be written of as daft and silly – which it is – this is royalist Thailand and daft and silly things now have serious consequences when pursued by the royalist establishment and its minions.





Another busy 112 day

4 03 2021

Clipped from Prachatai

In yet another day of Article 112 action, Thailand’s royalist protection police – 20 of them – descended on Tiwagorn Withiton, “a Facebook user who went viral in 2020 for posting a picture of himself wearing a shirt printed with ‘I lost faith in the monarchy,’ was arrested again…”, in Khon Kaen, “on a warrant issued by the Khon Kaen Provincial Court on 3 March 2021 on charges under the lèse-majesté law and sedition law, or Sections 112 and 116, as well as the Computer Crimes Act.”

The charges stemmed from “Facebook posts he made on 11 and 18 February 2021.” The police seized three “I lost faith in the monarchy” t-shirts, computers and smart phones.

Tiwagorn denied the charges.

After a couple of hours in prison, the “Khon Kaen Provincial Court has granted Tiwagorn bail, with a security of 150,000 baht.”





Tiwagorn released, supporters harassed

26 07 2020

In a somewhat odd report, the Bangkok Post reports Tiwagorn Withiton’s release from incarceration in a psychiatric hospital last Wednesday.

The report is odd because, while describing him as a “political and human rights activist,” seems to claim that he was forcibly “hospitalised in Khon Kaen after speaking out about Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s disappearance…”. Buried in the report is another comment: Tiwagorn “was seen wearing anti-monarchy T-shirts after the disappearance of Mr Wanchalerm, another political advocate who faced lese majeste charges…”.

It has been widely stated that Wanchalearm did not face lese majeste charges. It is also widely reported that Tiwagorn’s treatment was because of his t-shirt which declared he had “lost faith” in the monarchy. This statement is taken by the Post to be “anti-monarchy.”

At least the report admits that “Tiwagorn was seized by six hospital personnel and handcuffed by a soldier from Internal Security Operations Command at his home. He was then [forcibly] taken to the mental hospital and sectioned.”

The report adds that former lese majeste prisoner, law graduate and activist “Jatupat Boonpattararaksa … filed a petition with the Khon Kaen Provincial Court asking for Mr Tiwagorn’s released.” Of course, the “court dismissed the petition.”

Prachatai reports that activists who have agitated for Tiwagorn’s release have been threatened by the authorities.

It points to a university student in Bangkok being “visited” at home on 20 July “by 2 plainclothes police officers after he shared news about Tiwagorn and a Royal commemoration gate on his Facebook account.” The cops claimed “their ‘boss’ had ordered them to monitor the student. If any more monarchy-related news was shared, it may violate the Computer Crime Act.”

They warned the student to shut up, making him “sign a document which contains the promise that he will not post anything that criticizes or makes a negative reference to the monarchy again.”

The Prachatai report states that “Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that similar incidents have happened in many places where police officers showed up at people’s house without warrants and made people sign MOUs.”

One example is a shopkeeper in Loei, who posted Tiwagorn’s t-shirt, and found his shop surrounded by armed plainclothes police. They took the shopkeeper to “a police station for interrogation as a witness.”

Remarkably, the “police said that they will submit the case to the Bureau of the Royal Household for their decision on further action.”

When did the Royal Household Bureau become a part of the judiciary? In the past, it was always (falsely) claimed that the palace was detached from cases involving the monarchy.





Updated: Opposing the regime

19 07 2020

The big news from Thailand on the weekend was the student-led demonstrations against the military-backed royalist regime in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Ubolratchathani. The demonstrations coincided with actions in Germany, targeting Thailand’s absentee king.

For the events in Germany, see ACT4DEM and PIXELHelper.

There are many reports available. Here, we will just summarize some of these.

As usual, the Bangkok Post reported “hundreds” of demonstrators, whereas the videos and photos published elsewhere suggest much larger crowds than the Post seems to want people to believe.

The Nation identifies the organizers in Bangkok as the “Student Union of Thailand and the ‘Yaowashon Plod Ak — Free Youth’ group” who, “at Democracy Monument on Saturday evening” expressed “their opposition to what they call Thailand’s ‘deep-rooted dictatorial system’.” They called on “the Prayut Chan-o-cha government dissolve Parliament…” and a new constitution. They gave the regime a 14 day deadline for dissolving parliament. Thet also called for the regime to “stop intimidating people.” The Nation reckoned about 1,000 people, which also looks light.

The protest was meant to continue until Sunday morning. However, there were a couple of incidents, with one man slightly injured and a “disturbance … when people saw the authorities trying to take a couple of protesters away for investigation for allegedly undermining the [r]oyal [f]amily. Other protesters came to their rescue and prevented them from being taken away.”

Before midnight, protest leaders then “asked the protesters to disperse for their own safety. They also confirmed on the Free Youth Facebook page that they were all safe.”

Thai PBS reported:

… Chuthatip Sirikhan, president of the Union of Students of Thailand and one of the protest leaders, told the crowd that some “men in black”, with crew-cut hair, had tried to use black cloths to cover surveillance cameras around the Democracy Monument….

The protesters raised many issues of concern: intimidation and repression by the regime, the Constitutional Court’s attacks on political parties like Future Forward, the enforced disappearance of pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, the dragging of activist Tiwagorn Withiton to a Khon Khaen psychiatric hospital

AP reported “[s]everal thousand anti-government protesters” in Bangkok, calling the rally “the biggest of its kind since the government called a state of emergency in March…” over the virus. It notes that “[p]rotests against the government of former army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha had been drawing increasingly large crowds at the time, but tapered off quickly when several coronavirus clusters were confirmed and the emergency law was invoked.”

Thisrupt has a short video report from early in the rally.

Several hundred police were mobilized:

Police ringed the monument and set up barriers to try to prevent the protesters from occupying it. Police loudspeakers played a recording of the text of the emergency law in an apparent warning that they considered the gathering illegal.

Al Jazeera reports that there “were also some veiled public references at the protest to the powerful Thai monarchy, despite a law forbidding criticism of the king. Such references would once have been unthinkable.”

Some signs and speeches at Saturday’s protest made veiled references to the monarchy:

“This is our country, but whose home is in Germany?” said one of the student leaders on a small stage set up on the street.

King Vajiralongkorn has an estate in Germany, where he spends much of the year.

A protest sign read “Lost faith is definitely not a crime!!! #Thiwakorn”, in a reference to a separate protest in Thailand’s northeast on Friday in support of a man who was committed to a psychiatric hospital after he wore a T-shirt saying he had lost faith in the monarchy.

Another banner said “The People’s Party Isn’t Dead” – a reference to the political party whose revolution ended absolute royal rule in 1932.

It is no surprise that it is reported that “Thai security officers are keeping a close watch on the political activities of the Union of Thai Students…”.

Update: Prachatai has an excellent report on the Bangkok protest, with some excellent photos, including the actions of the police to disrupt the rally.





Madness and monarchy

18 07 2020

A few days ago, PPT posted on the disturbing account of Tiwagorn Withiton’s forcible incarceration in a Khon Kaen psychiatric hospital on 9 July, Tiwagorn is the Facebook user who went post a picture of himself wearing a shirt printed with “I lost faith in the monarchy.”

Reuters reports that his case is not being ignored. It says a “small group of Thai activists protested at a psychiatric hospital on Friday…”. More than a dozen protesters called for his release at the hospital, described as “a rare sign of public support for someone who has openly criticised the monarchy.”

In response, Khon Kaen’s police chief Maj Gen Puttipong Musiku, told Reuters: “He is getting treatment, his relatives had him admitted…”. The police chief was supported Nattakorn Champathong, director of hospital who “told Reuters that Tiwagorn had not been forced to enter the hospital.”.

However, human rights lawyer “Yingcheep Atchanont, who visited Tiwagorn on Monday, told Reuters he believed the engineer had been held against his will at the hospital since July 9.”

Former political prisoner Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, himself a victim of the lese majeste law, also called for Tiwagorn’s release.

According to Prachatai, “[b]oth Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and the Student Union of Thailand (SUT) have issued statements calling for the release…”.

In a report at the Bangkok Post it is reported that, so far, “[n]o charges have been pressed against [Tiwagorn]…”. He remained under medical “assessment” at the hospital.

In response to official claims, Tiwagorn’s mother “said officials turned up at his home on July 9 to arrest him…. She said although she was some distance away her son appeared to resist being arrested before being bundled into a hospital vehicle.”

Pointing to the reason for Tiwagorn being dragged to a psychiatric hospital, TLHR state:

… that the police do not have the authority to press charges against Tiwagorn, as the sentence “I lost faith in the monarchy” does not count as defamation, an insult, or a threat under Section 112 of the Criminal Code. It also does not count as sedition under Section 116, or as any kind of computer data listed under Section 14 of the Computer Crime Act.

TLHR adds that the official claims about Tiwagorn are concocted nonsense:

as Tiwagorn had to be carried out of his house by 6 officers, it is evident that he did not consent to being admitted. The fact that the police took around 10 vehicles to Tiwagorn’s house without a request from his family could also mean that his family is not able to tell the authorities what they really want.

It also accused the police of unlawful actions in arbitrarily detaining Tiwagorn:

… there is no reason why the police had to confiscate Tiwagorn’s computer and mobile phone, because they have nothing to do with medical treatment. TLHR believes that searching and confiscating objects without a warrant and without pressing charges is not lawful.

It might have been added that the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) was also involved in Tiwagorn’s detention, emphasizing the political nature of the regime’s actions. Police and military, along with complicit medical officials effectively forced him to hospital and forced his mother to “consent” to this abduction.

Pravit Rojanaphruk, writing an op-ed at Prachatai rather than Khaosod, makes it clear that this is lese majeste by another name: “Instead of using the controversial and anachronistic law, a man who insisted on wearing a controversial T-shirt was forcibly taken to a psychiatric hospital.”

Pravit takes the issue to a broader context:

Although Section 6 of the Constitution requires Thais to hold the monarchy in reverence, it’s clear that some Thais can no longer keep on pretending. Some fled abroad, and a few of these end up mysteriously disappearing while in exile. And if you are still inside Thailand, they may put you inside a mad house as occurred to Tiwagorn.

Tiwagorn was right, we cannot force people to hold on to faith when it’s no longer there.

He adds:

Losing faith in the institution of the monarchy is not a mental illness. A society which puts someone who loses faith inside a psychiatric hospital is mad.

Only a mad society would accuse someone who refuses to toe the line of being insane and keep him inside a madhouse.





Monarchy, losing faith and “insanity”

14 07 2020

Prachatai has a most disturbing story regarding Tiwagorn Withiton, a Facebook user in Khon Kaen “who went viral for posting a picture of himself wearing a shirt printed with ‘I lost faith in the monarchy’,” who has been “forcibly taken by police officers and admitted” to psychiatric hospital on 9 July.

The worrying details are at Prachatai. PPT will simply note that police and other officials convinced his mother to consent to his removal despite Tiwagorn’s opposition. He was carried out of his house by a group of officers. His hands were bound and he was administered injections. Police searched his house and took away his computer and mobile phone.

Tiwagorn is under police guard. Prachatai reports that his:

last Facebook post before he was taken to the hospital said that he was visited by 6 medical personnel and an officer from Internal Security Operations Command, who asked him questions to assess his mental health. He said that the conversation lasted around 30 minutes, and that he told the psychiatric official that “I well understand that it is political to have to make people think I’m insane. I won’t hold it against the officials if there is a diagnosis that I’m insane, because I take it that they have to follow orders.”

On the king’s order, lese majeste is not being used. Yet the royalist state still silences those who deviate from the “we love the king” official narrative. And, even if Tiwagorn does suffer depression or something similar, being medically ill has seldom prevented the royalist state from taking legal action against those dissenting on the monarchy.








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