Updated: More political prisoners

28 06 2020

Along with every other media outlet, Khaosod reports that, on Friday, the Supreme Court upheld rulings by lower courts against five leaders of a July 2007 protest that marched from Sanam Luang to the taxpayer-funded residence of the then president of the king’s Privy Council, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. The rally accused Prem of fomenting the 2006 military coup.

Nattawut Saikua, Veerakarn (then Veera) Musikapong, Weng Tojirakarn, Nopparut Worachitwuthikul, and Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai were sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for “illegal assembly and using violence to resist police orders.”

Fellow UDD leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn observed that these men are political prisoners. The five were immediately taken from the court to prison.

While the reports refer to the five as red shirts, it needs to be noted that the wearing of the color hadn’t taken off at this time and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship-led rally and march had most people wearing yellow shirts, which was a display of “loyalty” following the 2006 60th anniversary of Bhumibol’s reign.

Another UDD leader, Jatuporn Promphan, reflected on the double standards in the judicial system: “I once said to them that on our way of fighting, it’s either death or imprisonment…. Over the past decade, we took turns getting in and out of the prison.” Jatuporn is “also due to stand trial on the same offense…”.

The double standards refer to the efforts by several royalist regimes supported by the pliant judiciary to lock up red shirts and UDD leaders while those from the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy and People’s Democratic Reform Committee who also occupied parts of Bangkok and several state properties for extended periods, with considerable violence, get off quite lightly.

Few of the reports said much about the rally at Gen Prem’s free lodgings, so PPT went back and looked at reports from the time.

Asia Sentinel had a perceptive report. It began by observing:

On Sunday night, UDD leaders caught police unaware by marching with thousands of supporters to the house of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, a former army chief and prime minister who is held in high respect by much of the Thai public due to his proximity to the king.

King, queen, Prem and military coup leaders

The protesters accused Prem, who was in the compound at the time, of acting as the puppet master behind the coup last September that ousted Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. They called on Prem to resign.

The UDD set up a makeshift stage in front of Prem’s house on Sunday afternoon and made speeches for five hours or so, according to witnesses and news reports. But in the evening, after the protesters vowed to permanently camp outside the residence, riot police attempted to break up the gathering and arrest the leaders, prompting demonstrators to hail rocks, chairs, sticks, water bottles and pieces of broken flower pots at the police, who eventually retreated.

Most reports put the UDD crowd at 5,000 to 10,000, with some counting up to 20,000. The police eventually mobilized about 2,000 officers. The police:

made two more attempts to arrest the protest leaders, charging at  demonstrators with clubs, pepper spray and tear gas. Each time the demonstrators fought back with fists, rocks, sticks, bottles and anything else they could find.

Weng said the protesters withdrew when threatened with the army, saying, “We didn’t want anybody killed from this event.”

The police claimed that 200 of their officers and about 70 protesters were injured. Six protesters were arrested and charged with “causing chaos, obstructing the work of authorities, and damage to state property…. Police were also seeking arrest warrants for eight or so other UDD leaders…”.

The report wonders about the police action, saying:

It’s unclear why authorities attempted to break up the protest this time as many similar
protests had occurred earlier without incident. Some observers said the army may have been spooked by UDD statements that the group would camp out in front of Prem’s house — an unacceptable scenario for generals who swear allegiance to the royal advisor.

It also notes Prem’s coup role:

Although Prem is supposed to be non-political as a privy councilor, coup opponents blast the 86-year-old for a series of speeches he gave a year ago in which he donned full military garb and said soldiers should be loyal to the king instead of the government. Many observers said the speeches set the stage for the coup.

The Irrawaddy (July 23, 2007) carried a report that royalists declared Thaksin behind the UDD. The then president of the Constitution Drafting Committee Prasong Soonsiri, cheered the arrests, saying: “He [Thaksin] is probably responsible for supporting the clash, and he won’t stop there…”. This was a widely held view among the military-installed regime led by former Privy Councillor Gen Surayud Chulanont.

Shortly after the event, the Union for Civil Liberty issued a statement:

Declaration concerning the avoidance of violence during a conflict of opinion

During a protest by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DADD) at the home of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda in the Thewes district of Bangkok, there occurred violent clashes between police and demonstrators. Alleging the part played by General Prem in organizing the military coup of 19th September 2006, protestors called for his resignation. As a result of the clashes which took place in the late evening of Sunday 22nd July, according to news media, 106 persons were injured.

The Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) maintains that the holding of non-violent protest to make known a political viewpoint is a civil right and a fundamental component of the democratic system. It is the duty of government to assure that the right of citizens to exercise this right is respected at all times, whether their action is against or in support of government, or to express other political opinion.

It is a matter of great regret that the protest on 22nd July last could not enjoy such a right to free expression due to the action of the police in blocking the protest march to the residence of General Prem in the Thewes district. The action angered some participants in the protest leading to the use of force and many casualties both among the protestors and the police.

To avoid the recurrence of such violence, perhaps on an even larger scale, the Union for Civil Liberty submits the following proposals:

1. Appoint a committee of persons acceptable to the public to investigate the events which occurred on the evening of the 22nd July for presentation to the Government and to the public.

2. Take court action against those who have acted illegally, whether the police or the protestors, in order that justice be done and human rights be protected.

Statement issued on 23rd July 2007
Union for Civil Liberty

So, for seeking to exercise their freedom of expression, these men are jailed. The regime that went after them was a junta-appointed administration that was vehemently royalist and anti-Thaksin. The double standards are as clear as they ever were.

Update: For another take on double standards, especially in comparing red shirts and yellow shirts, read this op-ed.





Junta vs. red shirts

11 03 2018

The military junta is intensifying internet censorship again. For us at PPT it is kind of difficult to determine if we have posted anything that gets their minions excited or whether it is just a broader effort to crack down on stuff considered of the opposition.

Meanwhile, Thai PBS recently reported that the junta is still trying to keep the military boot firmly on the neck of the official red shirts.

The Bangkok Military Court has recently had 18 red shirt leaders before it, including Jatuporn Promphan who is already jailed. They face charges of “defying the order of the National Council for Peace and Order in 2016.” Yes, that is 2016.

Jatuporn was in chains and “escorted by soldiers.” The junta treats its opponents in ways that are meant to degrade but actually demonstrates the repressive and vindictive nature of the military regime.

Apart from Jatuporn, the others “included Nattawut Saikur, Mrs Thida Thavornset, Weng Tochirakarn, Yongyut Tiyaphairat, Korkaew Pikulthong, and Virakarn Musikapong.”

The faked up charges relate to the “holding political assembly of more than five people after they held a press conference at Imperial Department Store in June 2016 to announce the formation of the Centre for the Suppression of Referendum Fraud.”

This was when the junta was forcing through its constitution in a unfree and unfair referendum.





On the military’s charter and its referendum

16 06 2016

Interesting developments are being reported as the junta’s referendum on the military’s draft charter approaches. As everyone knows, the junta has tried desperately to prevent critical discussion of the undemocratic charter.

Over the past few days we have posted on attempts to stifle red shirts, even when they claim to be supporting the referendum as a process.

Khaosod reports that the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein “called on Thailand’s military government to respect the electorate’s right to freely deliberate the proposed constitution before voting whether to adopt it as the law of the land.”

This is probably horrifying for the junta and “evidence” of a conspiracy against it.

The UN High Commissioner also “raised the ‘paradoxical’ suppression of debate on a matter going to public vote in less than two months…”. For the junta, it is not paradoxical. It is the norm. This is not a “real” referendum and people are not permitted to debate, anything political.

The Commissioner declares that “[t]he people of Thailand have a right to discuss – and to criticize – decisions about their country, and free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution is vital if the country is to return to sustainable democracy…”.

For the junta, the High Commissioner simply displays a failure to understand its kind of “democracy,” which involves nothing that is democratic, apart from the moniker.

For us, the Commissioner’s use of the junta’s terminology – “sustainable democracy” – is a step too far, for the High Commissioner must understand that the junta’s referendum is anti-democratic. It has to be rejected in speeches as much as in the referendum. (We continue to harp on the stupidity of a referendum on a large document with a simple Yes/No response.)NO ref

The “Jordanian prince” – we imagine that has some significance in royalist Thailand – also  expressed concern “about the increasing use of military courts…”.

The “architect of the referendum,” the anti-election Election Commissioner and junta clown, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, decided to “challenge” the High Commissioner, demanding that he be”specific about allegations Thai citizens’ rights have been curtailed in deliberating the charter draft.”

Yes, we think Somchai is serious in this statement. He has shown himself to be so dull and so silly that we simply have to believe he is accurately reported.

Silly Somchai stated: “Initially, His Excellency should clearly specify what freedom do [Thai] people not have in relation to this referendum?” PPT has umpteen examples, Prachatai has plenty and the rest of the media regularly report the junta’s threats and intimidation.

Silly Somchai decided to dig his clown hole deeper still, declaring: “As the organizer [the EC], we think people have freedom and are not being curtailed in any way … adding however that using language deemed ‘lewd’ or encouraging people to vote one way or the other has been criminalized by the military government.” He’s lying. The junta has repressed and has also been campaigning for the charter.

We are encouraged to see that Puea Thai Party politicians have decided to speak out despite the repression (maybe because of it). Prachatai reports that “[m]ore than 10 Pheu Thai politicians have simultaneously denounced [on Facebook] the junta’s charter draft for its undemocratic origin and content, adding that they will turn it down in the August referendum.” Later reports had the count up to 17.

Variously, they stated that the military’s draft charter is undemocratic, lacks guarantees of rights and freedom, will bring long-term political suffering if passed, because it is difficult to amend, had no popular participation, “enhances the dictatorship’s power”

Weerakarn Musikapong [Veera Musigapong], “a former key leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, aka the red shirts movement,” posted this: “I’m confused whether it is a constitution or an amnesty bill for the junta. I cherish rule of law so I reject this charter…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that a junta friend and former member of the 2006 junta General Somjet Boonthanom, also a former senator and a “former chairman of the National Legislative Assembly’s committee vetting the referendum bill demanded the politicians be charged under the referendum law. (Somjet has reaped the rewards that fall to loyalist generals.)

The anti-democrat general declared that the politicians “appeared to be manipulative and intended to incite unrest during the referendum…”. Obviously rubbish and concocted, but like Somchai, Somjet is a junta puppet, a committed anti-democratic and rather dim.

As the referendum gets closer, it will become increasingly clear whether the junta remains committed to the charter and referendum or whether this is a diversion from its major goal of staying in control of politics.





Updated: Challenging the junta

15 08 2014

Yesterday, The Nation carried a report that indicated some dissatisfaction with The Leader. The report refers to General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s speech to introduce and promote the National Reform Committee.

After stating that Prayuth “criticised, complained, at times ordered – as well as poked fun – at the audience” and “appeared like a teacher delivering a speech to a group of submissive students who hid what they truly thought,” the question asked is: can Prayuth “really keep the council under his control.”

It refers to the comments by Veera Musigapong, a United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) leader, who expressed views about being pressured to be in attendance. The report suggests that Veeras’ comments “reflected the general atmosphere of the event.” In other words, there was widespread grumbling.

Veera added: “…I cannot answer on behalf of the UDD. In my personal opinion, the UDD is still alive. You’ll have to wait and see in which future direction the UDD will move…”. The Nation report claims that Veera’s “remark seemed to contradict the seemingly ‘calm’ situation. The dormant conflict might erupt again in this unpredictable political situation.”

While the report then urged Prayuth and the military dictatorship be careful and remain in control, the idea of continuing opposition is revealing in amongst all the pro-junta propaganda.

This discontent has become more significant today as the Bangkok Post reports that “[h]undreds of anti-military leaflets were strewn in front of the army’s headquarters in Bangkok at 4.20am on Friday.”

The “leaflets contained several versions of text in bold type condemning and mocking the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and its chief, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, as well as the military and police.” They included the word “Serithai” and were strewn “on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue — from the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy intersection to the Makkawan Rangsan Bridge.”

Panicked, the military dictators closed the road to allow a clean-up.

Similar leaflets were earlier distributed  in Nonthaburi.

A gaggle of military propagandists claimed that this would not be allowed to happen again and a “close watch” would be kept on dissidents. Apparently, “distributing fliers attacking other people was not an acceptable method of expressing dissent and should be avoided.” Of course, the only “people” attacked were those making up the military dictatorship.

We would hope that what is normally considered reasonable dissent is expanded and destabilizes the fascist regime.

Update: Khaosod reports:

The flyers criticise Thailand’s military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) with brief phrases like, “Evil Coup,” “NCPO: National Council for Promotion Of Evil,” and “The cross-eyed is mad on power,” which is a reference to NCPO leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is said to be cross-eyed.

 





Veera and The Leader

10 08 2014

There was some news that red shirt leader Veera or Veerakarn Musigapong was at The Leader’s reform shindig yesterday. PPT did a little bit of tracking on this story to understand the relationship, especially after the Bangkok Post reported that Veerakarn “thought Gen Prayuth [Chan-ocha] deserved to be prime minister.”

In fact, as the Post reports, this seems to have been an ironic statement: “As the one who staged the coup and head of the NCPO [the junta], Gen Prayuth should become prime minister…”.

At The Nation it is reported that Veerakan “did not seem to enjoy Prayuth’s joke about the legal cases faced by him.” Perhaps because Prayuth joked that Veera’s cases be left “up to the courts to decide…”. Of course, there’s little chance that Veera’s cases will receive a fair hearing as the courts are in the pockets of the junta and royalists.

Also at The Nation Veerakarn made this point when “stressed there was a need for judicial reform as a response to the public accusing it of double standards.”

He later “said he attended the event following the military’s invitation although he was not so eager to come.” In fact, when “asked whether he voluntarily came to the meeting,” his answer was an emphatic “No.”





New documents on lese majeste

3 11 2013

We have posted several collections of newspaper articles on lese majeste in the past. So they are new at PPT but about historical events.

The articles were sent to us by a retired professor who has been going through piles of old news clippings the professor said were “filling old-fashioned filing cabinets.” The professor was good enough to send us the scans fro posting.

At our page on these things, we added the files as downloadable PDFs and took the opportunity to do a bit of “word gardening” at the page as well. Scroll down and find the links with the “new” image next to them.

Interestingly, there are some current figures who appear in these documents from the 1970s to the 1990s: Now anti-Thaksinist Thirayudh Boonmee is seen attacking the monarchy after fleeing Bangkok; pro-Thaksinist Chalerm Yubamrung is seen using lese majeste to attack political opponents; red shirt leader Veera Musigapong is sent to jail and his party – the Democrat Party! – is attacked for “protecting him (note in this collection a palace official lying to the foreign media that Veera had been acquitted); a spate of anti-monarchy leaflets in 1987-88; and two lese majeste accusations against foreigners, one involving royals not covered by the law!

It is an interesting collection, and if anyone else has such clippings, please send them to us (politicalprisonersinthailand@hushmail.com), and we’d be pleased to post them.

 

 

 





Akechai on lese majeste

19 04 2013

At Prachatai, academic Tyrell Haberkorn has translated a remarkable document by now-imprisoned lese majeste activist Akechai Hongkangwarn.

Sentenced at the end of March , Akechai has requested bail while he appealed the conviction, but bail has been denied and he remains in the overcrowded Bangkok Remand Prison.

Prior to his conviction, Akechai wrote an analysis of the history of the lese majeste law over more than 100 years, the  Computer Crimes Act,  and the recent efforts to changes these laws and implement political amnesties. This tract is long and deserving of study. Here, PPT mentions just a few highlights.

In noting the first lese majeste law on 1 June 1908, Akechai notes that the law applied to king, queen, crown prince and regent but also applied to historical royalty and could apply to “anyone who violated either of these two laws in a foreign country would be punished in Siam.”

The revised Criminal Code promulgated on 13 November 1956  “reduced the number of people protected to only include the present-day King, Queen, Heir-apparent, and Regent, eliminated fines and kept a maximum 7 year sentence, but set no minimum. Akechai says: “This was tantamount to repealing Article 100 of the Penal Code of R.S. 127 [1908].” The application to those overseas remained.

It was following the massacre and coup of 6 October 1976 and under the present king’s selected prime minister, Thanin Kraivixien, that Article 112 was strengthened, setting a minimum sentence of 3 years and a maximum of 15 years.

The only other times that even harsher measures were proposed was following the 2006 coup. First, when yet another king’s favorite, Surayud Chulanot, was prime minister. As Akechai notes, only heavy local and international criticism saw the proposed changes dropped. Second, under pro-Thaksin Shinawatra premier Samak Sundaravej, who was also involved in the regressions of 1976. This amendment was also withdrawn.

The 2007 Computer Crimes Act, first proposed during Thaksin’s government and made law under Surayud’s appointed regime, is “an attempt by the rulers to promulgate a new law in order to control lèse majesté from spreading on the internet, because it could not be addressed by Article 112.” Like laws of old, “anyone who violated this law in a foreign country would be punished in Thailand…”.

On amnesty, Akechai “found 3 amnesty laws which constituted an amnesty for Articles 98 and 100 of the Penal Code of R.S. 127 [lese majeste] and Article 112 [lese majeste] of the Criminal Code.” He notes that there “have not been any laws which provide an amnesty for the Computer Crimes Act.”

The first granted amnesty to the 1932 People’s Party. The second was under Kriangsak Chomanan, in 1978, when he “passed the Amnesty for those who committed offences in the demonstrations at Thammasat University between 4 and 6 October 1976′.” It covered a lese majeste case. The third was in 1989, under the “government of General Chartchai Choonhavan [that] issued an amnesty for those whose actions were a violation of national security of the state in the kingdom following the Criminal Code and offences under the Anti-Communist Activities Act of 1989.” It also applied indirectly to at least one lese majeste case involving Veera Musigapong.

When he examines drafts of amnesty laws in the current period, Akechai states:

Among all 8 of the draft amnesty laws proposed by various sectors during the past 2 years, there is not even one that mentions amnesty for lèse majesté or Article 112 of the Criminal Code/Computer Crimes Act at all. Yet it may be incorrect to conclude that these amnesty laws do not provide an amnesty for lèse majesté.

I have examined the 8 draft amnesty laws and found 2 drafts of interest. These are the Draft Constitution for Amnesty and Eliminating the Conflict (proposed by the Khana Nitirat in 2013, timeframe of 19 September 2006 — 9 May 2011) and the Draft Act for Amnesty for People Imprisoned and Undergoing Prosecution Resulting from Political Conflict from 1 January 2007 until 31 December 2011 (proposed by the UDD in 2013, timeframe of 1 January 2007 – 31 December 2011).

… Upon examination of these two drafts, I am certain that these are amnesties for lèse majesté, but not that every case of lèse majesté can be covered by the amnesty from these two draft laws.

 





Jatuporn needs protection from royalist judiciary’s threats

26 06 2012

The Office of the Constitution Court had said it was to hold a press conference yesterday to “explain” why it had petitioned the Criminal Court seeking revocation of red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan’s bail on “terrorism” charges laid by the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

The royalist judiciary threaten Jatuporn with more jail time

At The Nation it is reported that the Office of the Constitution Court cancelled the press conference “to avoid provoking further red-shirt action.” The court official also reportedly felt that the Criminal Court was already on the job, so there was no need for any “explanation.” Or, in their terms, the “Constitution Court had decided to refrain from acting in a way that could be viewed as attempting to interfere with the Criminal Court’s authority.”

We wonder if reporters burst into laughter on this statement. They should have. The Constitutional Court is frightened too:

The spokesman said yesterday that a request for police protection had been made by the court for Jatuporn’s planned visit today to seek the court’s explanation. “We are concerned he may bring his [red-shirt] supporters,” the spokesman said. He added, however, that the judges were not worried.

Jatuporn denies any threat.

In fact, it is Jatuporn who is threatened by a nakedly biased judiciary. He has been repeatedly investigated and charged under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, and the kangaroo courts have repeatedly done the royalist’s bidding.

The accusation that Jatuporn was a “terrorist” was made formal on 11 August 2010 when, with 25 suspects including Thaksin Shinawatra, Arisman Pongruengrong, Karun Hosakul, Veera Musigapong, Weng Tojirakan, Natthawut Saikua, Kwanchai Sarakham, Phayab Pankate, and Nisit Sinthuprai, Jatuporn was named in a case brought to court by the public prosecutor. All who were located were jailed, although Jatuporn and Nisit were kept in jail longer than the others as “special punishment”, and only bailed following the July 2011 election.

Jatuporn has been accused by Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha of lese majeste. He laid a complaint of lese majeste with the police following speeches by Jatuporn on 10 April 2011. On 18 April 2011, along with 18 other red shirt leaders were summoned by the political police at the Department of Special Investigation to acknowledge charges of lese majeste.

In mid-May that the Constitutional Court came up with a bizarre ruling to have Jatuporn stripped of his status as a party list MP.

The Constitutional Court now wants to have Jatuporn locked up in a stinking jail again.

Not only is the continuing pattern of the court’s bias readily seen, but Jatuporn is really the one being threatened! He needs to be protected from this biased royalist judiciary!





A DSI accounting

18 07 2011

Prachatai has an important post, reproduced in full below, on the Department of Special Investigation’s political cases under investigation and completed:

The Department of Special Investigation has been investigating 258 cases involving protest rallies of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and 29 cases of offences against the monarchy.

The 258 cases include 147 cases of terrorism and sabotage, 22 cases of threats made against the government, 69 cases of attacks against the public and authorities, and 20 cases of abuse of state weaponry.

One terrorist case, for example, involves 25 suspects including Thaksin Shinawatra, Arisman Pongruengrong, Karun Hosakul, Jatuporn Phrompan, Veera Musigapong, Weng Tojirakan, Natthawut Saikua, Kwanchai Sarakham, Phayab Pankate, and Nisit Sinthuprai. All except the first two have been arrested or have turned themselves in. The case was brought to court by the public prosecutor on 11 August 2010. The case against Maj Gen Khattiya Swasdiphol has been dismissed as he died.

Another terrorist case involves 8 suspects who have been arrested or have turned themselves in and 5 more who are still at large. The court has merged this with the previous case at the request of the public prosecutor.

Among these 258 cases, suspects have been arrested in 58 cases, are still at large in 21 cases, and are unknown in 179 cases. So far the DSI has completed investigations into 91 cases.

Among 62 cases of arson — 49 in Bangkok and 13 in other provinces — the DSI has arrested suspects and completed investigations in 14 cases, all of which have been brought to court by the public prosecutor.

64 cases of terrorism/sabotage — 53 in Bangkok and 11 in other provinces — involve 642 suspects; 274 have been arrested, 366 are still at large and two have died including Gen Khattiya and Samai Wongsuwan, who was killed in a bomb explosion in an apartment in Bang Bua Thong, Nontaburi in October 2010. Among those still at large, 74 have been identified while 292 are sought based on photographs.

In its investigation into 89 deaths, the DSI has concluded that 13 were caused by the authorities who claimed to be acting in the line of duty, 12 by the UDD and 64 unknown.

The 29 cases of offences against the monarchy include, for example, a case in which the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation lodged a complaint against Thaksin and 39 others for disseminating materials offensive to the monarchy either directly to the public or through the internet between 19 September 2006 and 3 May 2010 within and outside Thailand.

In this case, the DSI is now investigating the connections among individuals and groups of individuals based on evidence acquired through investigation process.

The DSI has been seeking international cooperation under the International Cooperation in Criminal Cases Act on cases involving Giles Ungphakorn for his article posted on the internet on 29 October 2009, Jakrapob Penkair for his public speech made in the US on 10 November 2007, and Thaksin Shinawatra for his statement in English distributed to international press (no specific date reported).

The department has contacted the AFP news agency for information and interrogation in the latter case.

Thaksin also faces another case involving his video-link address to a red-shirt rally at a Chiang Mai sports stadium on 22 March 2009.

Kokaew Pikulthong, a UDD leader, is involved in a case for his speech at the same event.

Surachai Danwatthananusorn, or Sae Dan, who has been arrested and detained without bail since 22 Feb this year for lèse majesté for a public speech during a red-shirt activity on 18 Dec 2010, faces another two cases involving speeches at Doi Saked, Chiang Mai, on 11 September 2010 and in Udon Thani on 29 October 2010.

Veera Musigapong’s case involves his speech at a UDD rally in Sanam Luang on 6 May 2008.

Jatuporn Phrompan, now on remand on terrorist charges, also faces another case for his remarks during a UDD rally at the Democracy Monument on 10 April this year.





500 black shirts

27 06 2011

Prachatai has a wonderful summary account of a story at Matichon online that presents the views of one military officer on the events of April-May 2010, in which he participated.

The account carries considerable weight as it reports an article that “ appears in the Army Training Command’s Senathipat Journal, Vol 59, Issue 3, September–December 2010, as part of the army’s guidelines and case studies on military operations to solve urban unrest.”

In its reproduction of the first part of the article, Matichon helpfully posts the first part of the article and highlights “several interesting points…”.

The first relates to Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban claim at the Democrat Party’s Rajaprasong election rally last Thursday that it was he and not Teflon Mark – Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva – who “gave the order” for the crackdown on red shirt protesters.

However, “the article clearly states ‘the Prime Minister gave orders at the CRES meeting on 12 May for the military to start the operation as planned’.” We imagine that Suthep is dissembling or is saying something about the official chain of command. If Abhisit wasn’t giving orders, it would seem very strange. First, he was at the military base for a very long time and presumably wasn’t just hiding under the bed. Second, Abhisit made claims that he was in charge and so got little sleep as he was deeply involved in operational matters.

The second important point the article makes is that “the government always had a clear policy to use military measures to pressure the red shirts, and the policy of ‘tightening the circle’ was to end the demonstrations, not to open a dialogue.” It adds that this policy contributed the rejection of “a group of senators to offer themselves as mediators on the night of 18 May…”.

Third, the article claims that “part of the reason for the successful military operation was the withdrawal of Chair of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship Veera Musigapong and the death of Maj Gen Khattiya Swasdipol or Seh Daeng, because the UDD was deprived of its political and military strategists.”

Veera’s withdrawal has never been adequately explained. Other sources are less sure of Seh Daeng’s role, but if the military identified him as the red shirt military strategist, then Suthep’s bizarre claim that the red shirt leadership did him in makes no sense at all (not that it ever did for PPT). Suthep’s credibility has sunk below zero.

A fourth note of interest relates to the deployment of military units. Many commentators seem to have forgotten that this began with “sniper units … deployed in high buildings on Wireless Road, including the Kian Nguan and Bangkok Cable buildings.” Given the predominance of head and chest shots amongst the murdered, the use of military snipers is pretty clear.

A fifth claim about so-called black shirts is remarkable. It is stated that “CRES intelligence” had it that “there were about 500 armed terrorists among the red shirts, and they were equipped with war weapons including M79s, M16s, AK47s and Tavor-21s.”

Given the very low death and gunshot injury toll that is reported for the military, figures like this are startling. Were more military killed than the government has reported? If not, where are the weapons and the dead black shirts with their weapons? Wouldn’t the military snipers have had ample targets?

The report makes fascinating reading.