Prachatai English

Vietnam denies having information on missing activists’ fate

Prachatai English - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:45
Submitted on Thu, 2019-07-18 22:45Prachatai

Two months after the disappearance of three Thai political refugees in Vietnam, the Vietnamese authorities have denied having any information on what happened to the group.

Left: Siam Theerawut
Right: Surachai Danwattananusorn

The sister (name withheld) of Siam Theerawut, who went missing along with two other refugees, Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut and Kritsana Tupthai, said that the Thai Embassy in Hanoi has informed them through the Director of the Protection of Thai Nationals Abroad Division that the Embassy has requested information about Siam from the relevant Vietnamese agencies. The Vietnamese authorities said that they have no information on Siam and the other two refugees’ entry into Vietnam or what happened to them.

Siam, Chucheep, and Kritsana went missing in early May 2019. They were reportedly arrested and extradited to Bangkok. Siam’s family subsequently began a search for information on his fate. Within the first two weeks after the three refugees’ alleged arrest and extradition, Siam’s mother, Kanya Theerawut, filed appeals for information with the Crime Suppression Division and the Vietnamese Embassy. She also filed a request with the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the disappearance. Her search has so far proved fruitless.

Siam’s sister also said that an official from the Ministry of Justice came to see her last Friday (12 July) to ask whether there was any additional information other than YouTube videos that could prove that Siam was in Vietnam. She informed the officer that there are conversations with her brother on the chat application Line, but she has deleted the conversations. The officer then proposed to ask his superior whether it will be possible to recover the data. Other than that, Siam’s sister said that there is no progress.

No progress has been made either in the case of Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Sae Dan, who went missing along with two of his companions, Chatchan “Phuchana” Bubphawan and Kraidet “Kasalong” Luelerd, in December 2018.

Pranee Danwattananusorn, Surachai’s wife, said that there has been no progress in the investigation into her husband’s disappearance. Pol Lt Col Suksawat Bua-in, Deputy Superintendent of Tha Uthen District Police Station, said that they are now in the process of finalizing the case to be forwarded to the Nakhon Phanom Provincial Police and to report to the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, Ministry of Justice. Pol Lt Col Suksawat said that this is not considered a criminal case but a disappearance. They have to investigate whether Surachai was the body found in Tha Uthen, or whether the Tha Uthen body is the same body found in Nakhon Phanom city.

As for Phuchana, whose mutilated body was found along with that of Kasalong in the Mekhong River in January 2019, the investigation has been suspended until new evidence can be found that can lead to the identity of the perpetrator. The investigators previously forwarded the case to the Attorney-General, but the Attorney-General sent the case back to the investigators, since there is no solid evidence that the murder took place overseas, placing it within Thai jurisdiction. The police also got no response from the Lao authorities, so there is nothing they can do but to collect evidence and witness testimony available on Thai soil.

Following the 2014 military coup, many anti-junta activists fled overseas. Prior to the disappearance of Surachai, Phuchana, and Kasalong, two other refugees also went missing: Ittipon “DJ Sunho” Sukpaen, who disappeared in 2016, and Wuttipong “Ko-Tee” Kotthammakhun, who disappeared in 2017.

Newspolitical refugeeenforced disappearanceSiam TheerawutChucheep ChiwasutKritsana TubthaiSurachai DanwattananusornPranee DanwattananusornPhuchanaKasalong
Categories: Prachatai English

Police officers keep up surveillance of activists despite junta’s dissolution

Prachatai English - Thu, 2019-07-18 22:27
Submitted on Thu, 2019-07-18 22:27Prachatai

Even though the NCPO was formally dissolved once the new cabinet took the oath of office before King Vajiralongkorn on Tuesday (16 July), several activists have reported being visited at home by police officers.

Sa-nguan Khumrungroj's Facebook post with photos of the officers who visited him

Most of the activists visited by the police were part of the People Calling for Election group, who staged several demonstrations during the first half of this year after the general election was postponed from the previously scheduled date in February, or were among the guests at the cremation ceremony of Thong Jamsri, the last Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Thailand, on 14 July.

The activists were visited by both plainclothes and uniformed officers, who came in groups of two to ten people. The reported reasons for the visits range from safety concerns to confirming whether the visited person’s current address still matches police records. Some were also questioned about their attendance at Thong Jamsri’s funeral.

Senior reporter Sa-nguan Khumrongroj told UDD News that yesterday (15 July), plainclothes officers visited the home of his elderly parents, causing concerns for his mother, who does not know a lot about politics. An officer also visited his home later, claiming to be from Nakhon Pathom, but when he asked to see the officer’s police ID, it showed that he is from Metropolitan Police Division 8.

“The officer claimed that his superior had ordered him to come, so I asked him if his superior ordered him to die, would he go? I asked him if he has ever read my Facebook page. He said he has never read it. I wonder if these people read books at all. I feel very angry. He came to my house, and then he photographed my neighbours, so I shouted for the people to come and catch the policeman. ‘Catch this policeman quickly’. Then, he rushed away. He said, goodbye Nguan, I have to run now, because I have to visit many other people in Thonburi,” Sa-nguan said.

Sa-nguan speculated that the police visited him and other activists because they went to Thong Jamsri’s cremation ceremony, which was attended by many activists, including Sirawith “Ja New” Serithiwat, who read a eulogy for Thong and a poem.

Baramee Chairat, an advisor to the Assembly of the Poor, was also visited by an officer from Metropolitan Police Division 8. Baramee also attended Thong’s funeral.

Nutta Mahattana, one of the leaders of the People Calling for Election group, said that almost every member of the group has been visited by the police. She proposed that the police chief should invite all the activists at once to save the country’s resources, and so that the police will have time to find and detain the people who are attacking activists.

Previously, on 8 July, several academics and activists were visited by police officers, who claimed that the police wanted to check whether their current address still matches police records. However, one of those visited asked the security guards in front of the housing development why they had let the police in. The guards said that the men did not say they were from the police, but said that they were visiting relatives.

Among those visited by the police on 8 July were Anusorn Unno, Dean of the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology at Thammasat University and anti-coup activist Prajin Thanangkorn.

Anusorn said that 5 plainclothes officers visited his home, claiming that they had been ordered to check whether Anusorn still lives at the address and whether the information matches police records, before leaving abruptly after gaining information.

Meanwhile, Prajin said that 5 plainclothes officers came to his house on 8 July, but he was not home at the time. His relative was at home and photographed the officers, but was threatened by the officers for taking the picture. Prajin said that his relative was not sure whether the officers were joking, but called him in alarm. The officers asked Prajin what he does for a living and where he lives. Prajin informed them that he is 65 years old and is not working, and that he lives at the address the police visited. He gave the officers his phone number and told them to call him before visiting next time so he can wait for them.

As the new cabinet took the oath of office before King Vajiralongkorn on Tuesday evening (15 July), the NCPO ceased to exist according to a transitory provision in Section 265 of the Constitution. This means that it is no longer possible to issue new orders under Section 44. However, according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the power to detain people without warrants will continue to rest with the counter-insurgency agency operating under the Prime Minister’s Office.

Wissanu claimed that this power won’t be invoked, but he said that the practice of “attitude adjustment” will continue. 

NewsPolice surveillanceactivistattitude adjustmentarbitrary detention
Categories: Prachatai English

Former CPT leader Thong Jamsri dies aged 98

Prachatai English - Wed, 2019-07-17 21:55
Submitted on Wed, 2019-07-17 21:55Prachatai

The funeral ceremony for Thong Jamsri, the 4th Secretary-General of the Communist Party, was held on 14 July 2019 at Phra Pratone Chedi Temple, Nakhon Pathom Province. Following Buddhist tradition, the ceremony started with a lunch offering to monks and a requiem ceremony. In the afternoon, the ceremony continued with a commemoration, wreath laying, singing, poetry reading and music performances before funeral robes were offered. The funeral pyre was lit at 4 pm.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

A donation box was placed at the funeral with a registration table to order a 300-page autobiography of Thong Jamsri. Former members and supporters of the Communist Party of Thailand from all over the country attended the funeral. Sirawith ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat, the political activist who was recently assaulted, also attended the funeral to read a poem with his eye still covered in bandages.

Wreaths were sent from Persatuan Rakyat Malaysia Sarawak, Jaran Ditapichai, the political activist in exile, Sopol Chingchit (Comrade Pithan), Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission, Thida Thavornseth, Weng Tojirakarn and others. A representative of the Communist Party of Malaya also brought a wreath from Abdullah CD to express their condolences.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

Born in Phichit Province on 17 December, Thong was the son of overseas Vietnamese. His father was Sao Jamsri (Võ Tùng in Vietnamese) and his mother was Yor Jamsri (Đặng Quỳnh Ạnh in Vietnamese). Thong’s mother was a granddaughter of Đặng Thúc Hứa, a Vietnamese who came to the northeastern part of Thailand in 1910 to mobilize the Vietnamese to liberate their country from France.   

Đặng Thúc Hứa started organizing the Vietnamese in northeast Thailand in 1923 during the reign of King Rama VI. Villages were established to link with the revolutionary movement in Vietnam. Đặng Thúc Hứa and Võ Tùng, Thong’s father, established a Vietnamese community and a school in Nong Bua Village, Udon Thani Province in 1924 to spread Marxism to young people. Thong grew up there and soon became a revolutionary.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

According to research by Nitirat Supsomboon, Thong Jamsri also studied at Sakonrajwitayanukul School, Sakon Nakhon Province, and Udonpittayanukoon School, Udon Thani Province, and then went to Bangkok to study Chinese at Hua Chiew School - a school also established by communist comrades. He was arrested for being a communist in 1936 and became a member of the Communist Party of Siam in 1938.

Thong became the editor of the first underground newspaper ‘Mahachon’ (the public) in March 1942. He was soon elected to the First Central Committee at a meeting of representatives of the Communist Party of Thailand in December. He started helping workers in the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly in 1944 and pioneered work with northeastern farmers before he went to fight as a guerrilla in Lao between 1949-1951.   

At the 2nd party assembly in 1952, he was elected as member of the politburo and studied at the Marxist-Leninist Institute in Beijing between 1952-1957. At the 3rd assembly, he was elected as a member of the Central Committee and politburo. He pioneered working in Dong Prachao, Sakhon Nakhon Province, and was arrested in 1967. Elected as a permanent politburo member at the 3rd party assembly in 1972, he remained in jail until 1973.

He went on to operate a secret base in the jungle of Nan Province in 1974 and was elected as Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) in 1982. He left the jungle in 1993, 13 years after Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda issued Order 66/2523 which offered amnesty to the communist rebels. Despite the defeat of the CPT, he remained committed to Marxism until the very end. "In the age of globalization, there is only change in technology; the class conflict remains high," said Thong in an interview after the Cold War. He died at the age of 98 at Nakhon Pathom Hospital, due to a respiratory infection.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
​​​​​​​Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

News
Categories: Prachatai English

Former CPT leader Thong Jamsri dies aged 98

Prachatai English - Wed, 2019-07-17 21:38
Submitted on Wed, 2019-07-17 21:38Prachatai

The funeral ceremony for Thong Jamsri, the 4th Secretary-General of the Communist Party, was held on 14 July 2019 at Phra Pratone Chedi Temple, Nakhon Pathom Province. Following Buddhist tradition, the ceremony started with a lunch offering to monks and a requiem ceremony. In the afternoon, the ceremony continued with a commemoration, wreath laying, singing, poetry reading and music performances before funeral robes were offered. The funeral pyre was lit at 4 pm.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

A donation box was placed at the funeral with a registration table to order a 300-page autobiography of Thong Jamsri. Former members and supporters of the Communist Party of Thailand from all over the country attended the funeral. Sirawith ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat, the political activist who was recently assaulted, also attended the funeral to read a poem with his eye still covered in bandages.

Wreaths were sent from Persatuan Rakyat Malaysia Sarawak, Jaran Ditapichai, the political activist in exile, Sopol Chingchit (Comrade Pithan), Secretary-General of the National Human Rights Commission, Thida Thavornseth, Weng Tojirakarn and others. A representative of the Communist Party of Malaya also brought a wreath from Abdullah CD to express their condolences.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

Born in Phichit Province on 17 December, Thong was the son of overseas Vietnamese. His father was Sao Jamsri (Võ Tùng in Vietnamese) and his mother was Yor Jamsri (Đặng Quỳnh Ạnh in Vietnamese). Thong’s mother was a granddaughter of Đặng Thúc Hứa, a Vietnamese who came to the northeastern part of Thailand in 1910 to mobilize the Vietnamese to liberate their country from France.   

Đặng Thúc Hứa started organizing the Vietnamese in northeast Thailand in 1923 during the reign of King Rama VI. Villages were established to link with the revolutionary movement in Vietnam. Đặng Thúc Hứa and Võ Tùng, Thong’s father, established a Vietnamese community and a school in Nong Bua Village, Udon Thani Province in 1924 to spread Marxism to young people. Thong grew up there and soon became a revolutionary.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
​​​​​​​Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

According to research by Nitirat Supsomboon, Thong Jamsri also studied at Sakonrajwitayanukul School, Sakon Nakhon Province, and Udonpittayanukoon School, Udon Thani Province, and then went to Bangkok to study Chinese at Hua Chiew School - a school also established by communist comrades. He was arrested for being a communist in 1936 and became a member of the Communist Party of Siam in 1938.

Thong became the editor of the first underground newspaper ‘Mahachon’ (the public) in March 1942. He was soon elected to the First Central Committee at a meeting of representatives of the Communist Party of Thailand in December. He started helping workers in the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly in 1944 and pioneered work with northeastern farmers before he went to fight as a guerrilla in Lao between 1949-1951.   

At the 2nd party assembly in 1952, he was elected as member of the politburo and studied at the Marxist-Leninist Institute in Beijing between 1952-1957. At the 3rd assembly, he was elected as a member of the Central Committee and politburo. He pioneered working in Dong Prachao, Sakhon Nakhon Province, and was arrested in 1967. Elected as a permanent politburo member at the 3rd party assembly in 1972, he remained in jail until 1973.

He went on to operate a secret base in the jungle of Nan Province in 1974 and was elected as Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) in 1982. He left the jungle in 1993, 13 years after Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda issued Order 66/2523 which offered amnesty to the communist rebels. Despite the defeat of the CPT, he remained committed to Marxism until the very end. "In the age of globalization, there is only change in technology; the class conflict remains high," said Thong in an interview after the Cold War. He died at the age of 98 at Nakhon Pathom Hospital, due to a respiratory infection.

Thong Jamsri's Funeral
​​​​​​​Source: Kotcharak Kaewsurach

NewsThong JamsriCommunist Party of Thailand (CPT)Communist Party of Malaya (CPM)
Categories: Prachatai English

Students denied right to dress according to gender identity; petition National Human Rights Commission

Prachatai English - Wed, 2019-07-17 16:24
Submitted on Wed, 2019-07-17 16:24Prachatai

Two students from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Payap University, have filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) after the Faculty denied them the right to dress according to their gender identity.

The two students were represented at the NHRC Office by LGBT activist Sirisak Chaited, and their petition was submitted on Monday (15 July), at the same meeting in which Sirisak submitted a petition on access to hormone therapy for transgender inmates. Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit accepted their petition.

The two students are Pattarawadee (last name withheld), a transman, Sitthichai (last name withheld), a transwoman, and are both in their first year at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Payap University. Sirisak, who has been assisting the two students with their case, said that both Pattarawadee and Sitthichai have been aware of their gender identity since a young age, and that their families, lecturers, and classmates are all aware that they are transgender and that Pattarawadee and Sitthichai always present themselves as a man and a woman, respectively. According to Sirisak, Pattarawadee took leave of absence in 2016 to start his transition, before coming back to the university earlier this year.

When Pattarawadee and Sitthichai started studying at the university, they both filed a request with the university to dress according to their gender identity, and were told by a lecturer to wear what they want while waiting for the formal permission. However, on 21 June 2019, the Faculty informed the two students after a deans’ meeting that they are not allowed to dress according to their identity and must dress according to the sex they were assigned at birth, claiming that presenting as transgender is not appropriate in their discipline.

According to Sirisak, the Faculty of Pharmacy is the only faculty at the Payap University to deny transgender students their right to dress according to their gender identity, often citing professional ethics as their reason for such prohibition.

Sirisak said that the two students have made another request to the university, but whenever they ask about the progress of the request, the university keeps saying that they are still considering it. Sirisak hopes that, by submitting a complaint with the NHRC, the university will be pressured into speeding up the process of considering the students’ request. The students followed the faculty’s orders, and they have stopped presenting according to their gender identity while at university, but Sirisak said that they are both unhappy.

The students will also be submitting a complaint with the Committee on Consideration of Unfair Gender Discrimination, but Sirisak said that since the Committee often takes a long time to process a case, they are hoping that representatives from the NHRC will visit the University and discuss the matter with the administration to convince them to grant the two students permission while they work on pushing for permanent changes to university policy. Sirisak said that several years ago, a student at Chiang Mai University petitioned the NHRC in a similar case. Representatives from the NHRC visited the University and discussed the case with the administration, who subsequently granted the student permission to dress according to their gender identity.

The representatives of LGBT activists and civil society organizations at the petition submission, with Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit
From left: Puncharat Taloet, Noppanai Rittiwong, Sirisak Chaited, Angkhana Neelapaijit, and Supaporn Ittiponsiri

At most universities across Thailand, transgender students often face obstacles presenting as the gender they identify as. In most cases, the university does not have a written rule on transgender students’ uniforms, often specifying only the requirements for “male” and “female” uniforms. In certain disciplines, such as education or medical sciences, transgender students are often completely barred from expressing their identity, while the authorities cite professional ethics as the reason for denying their rights. In January this year, a student from the Faculty of Education of Chulalongkorn University submitted a complaint with the Committee on Consideration of Unfair Gender Discrimination, after the Faculty Board of Administrators overturned her request to wear the university uniform for female students, ordering her to dress as a male or face extreme penalties. She also filed a complaint against a special instructor who is known among students for being openly transphobic, whose negative comments she has had to endure. Her case is now being considered by the Committee.

At other, more permissive, institutions, students may be allowed to dress according to their identity on a day-to-day basis, but must make a formal request to do so on their graduation day, a lengthy process requiring a large amount of paperwork. At the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, for example, the Faculty has no issue with what a transgender student wears on a day-to-day basis, but requires the submission of a formal request accompanied by a medical certificate which says that the student has a “gender identity disorder” if a he or she wishes to dress according to their identity on their graduation day. This is despite the fact that being transgender is no longer classified as a disorder in the World Health Organization’s 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD11).

Outside schools and universities, Thailand’s LGBT community still faces daily cases of discrimination. In April 2019, Worawalun Taweekarn, a graduate of the Faculty of Education, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, revealed that she had been denied teaching positions for two years because she is transgender. Last Thursday (11 July), a group of LGBT activists filed a petition with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission over several media outlets’ use of the offensive term “sexually deviant” in news headlines, a term which they said reinforces stereotypes and increases hatred against the LGBT community.

While the country promotes itself as a gay paradise, it offers no protection for its LGBT population. Discussions of sex and sexuality are still taboo and there is limited sex education in school. LGBT people live under strong pressure not to bring shame on their family. And other than the Gender Equality Act of 2015, there is little legal support for the LGBT community. Thailand also has no gender recognition law, which would allow a transgender person to legally change their title on identity papers, and the proposed draft Civil Partnership Act has already fallen through. Nevertheless, the community hopes that the presence of newly-elected LGBT MPs, such as Nateepat Kulsetthasith, Kawinnath Takey, Tunyawaj Kamolwongwat, and Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, and the fact that they were allowed to dress according to their gender identity at the opening of parliament, could be a good sign for LGBT rights in Thailand.

NewsLGBT rightsDiscrimination against LGBTBodily autonomytransgenderPayap UniversityNational Human Rights Commission (NHRC)Angkhana NeelapaijitSirisak Chaited
Categories: Prachatai English

‘New’ cabinet announced, junta faces challenges from all sides

Prachatai English - Tue, 2019-07-16 17:41
Submitted on Tue, 2019-07-16 17:41Thammachart Kri-aksorn

In the presence of King Vajiralongkorn, the new cabinet is to be sworn in today (16 July 2019) at 6 pm. Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand, is facing challenges from all sides, including the general public, internal problems, civil society and the opposition parties.

Prayut Chan-o-cha
Source: The government's website

Challenges from the general public 

After Thai people have had to wait 108 days since the general election, King Vajiralongkorn announced the new cabinet in the Royal Gazette on 10 July 2019. Important figures of the last government remain in this cabinet as expected, including Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Wissanu Krea-ngam, Gen Anupong Paochinda, Somkid Jatusripitak, Don Pramudwinai, and Gen Chaicharn Changmongkol. Meanwhile, 13 ministers come from the Phalang Pracharat Party, 7 from the Democrats, 7 from Bhumjaithai, 2 from Chart Thai Pattana, and 1 each from Action Coalition for Thailand and Chart Pattana.

The new cabinet is facing challenges from all sides. Following the mass protests of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to overthrow the corrupt ‘Thaksin Regime’, two PDRC leaders have become ministers, Buddhipongse Punnakanta and Nataphol Teepsuwan. But at least 5 ministers have served in a Thaksin cabinet, including Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Somkid Jatusripitak, Anutin Charnvirakul, Suriya Juangroongruangkit, and Somsak Thepsuthin. To the general public, the new cabinet is not so new and not good-looking.

What is unexpected is that one minister has been named as a former drug dealer. Capt Thammanat Prompao, one of the Deputy Ministers of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has been jailed in Australia for drug trafficking in Hong Kong, but he said he was innocent and asked people to give him a chance. Graduating in the 25th class of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School and the 36th class of Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, he changed his name many times and was acquitted by the Court in 1998 of involvement in the murder of Dr. Poonsawas Jiraporn.

To allay concern that his criminal profile might disqualify him as an MP under Section 98 of the Constitution, Deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Krea-ngam said he was not sentenced under Thai jurisdiction. “In the past, there was once an MP who was sentenced abroad for drug trafficking in Hong Kong. That has no effect as far as Thailand is concerned, but it might affect his reputation, honour, and many other things. It might constitute a ban in other ways, but this accusation cannot be applied directly. Even though the accusation is consistent [with the clause], a Thai Court did not judge him.”

The internal challenges

The new cabinet also faces internal problems. Since the constitution does not require a minister to be an MP, Kalaya Sophonpanich, Deputy Minister of Education, and Juti Krairiksh, Minister of Social Development and Human Security, said they will resign as party-list MPs of the Democrat Party so that next ones on the party list (Pisit Leeahtam and Issara Sereewatthanawut) can become MPs. While there is still a conflict within the party as to whether Issara Sereewatthanawut can be both an MP and Secretary to the Speaker of Parliament as invited by Chuan Leekpai, it is settled that Jurin Laksanawisit will serve as Deputy Minister, Minister of Commerce, and also an MP, because he is the party leader.

The same dynamic is also strongly at work in the Phalang Pracharat Party. A discussion started in the middle of June with a committee being set up to study whether their ministers should resign as party-list MPs. Last Tuesday (9 July 2019), Phalang Pracharat was reportedly holding an internal meeting, but the conclusion has yet to be announced. Because of their very thin majority, there is a concern that a busy minister who misses a parliamentary meeting to vote as an MP could have a decisive effect on legislation. But unlike the Democrat Party, Phalang Pracharat consists of many factions which do not yet trust each other. Before the announcement of the cabinet line-up, Suriya Juangroongruangkit of the Three Allies Faction criticized Phalang Pracharat leaders as untrustworthy and pressured Sonthirat Sonthijirawong to resign as party Secretary-General due to a rumour that Suriya might be pushed out of a seat in the cabinet by Sonthirat. If the leaders of a faction resign as party-list MPs but remain as ministers, a cabinet reshuffle would deal them a major blow and risk factional warfare inside the government.  

Challenges from Civil Society and Opposition Parties

Once the cabinet oath-taking ceremony is completed, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will no longer be the head of National Council for Peace and Order or able to use Section 44. He gave a farewell speech on TV as head of the NCPO yesterday (15 July 2019) and earlier cancelled 66 NCPO orders and announcements using Section 44. However, 144 remain in place, according to Human Rights Watch and iLaw. Civil society has demanded that the NCPO cancel 20 more of these, including one which allows military authorities to detain civilians arbitrarily and one which exempts certain projects from town planning laws, leading to severe violations of community rights and environmental damage.

“We still cannot be glad,” said Sunai Phasuk, Advisor of Human Rights Watch to BBC Thai, “because there are many orders and announcements that are still enforced and those in opposition to the government may be persecuted by using the authority of these orders. Calling people in to report may still happen and people who violate the NCPO’s orders which are still enforced will be prosecuted.” Answering why these orders are still in place, Sunai said “The second Prayut cabinet is afraid there will be resistance.”

Surachai Trong-gnam, Secretary-General of the Enlawthai Foundation also raised concerns with BBC Thai that the NCPO’s problems are more than their orders and announcements and that the revocations have not reversed the problematic policies the junta carried out in the past.

“It may be good that some orders are cancelled, such as not bringing people before the military courts,” said Surachai. “But if we talk about orders and announcements which relate to the environment and community rights, I think whether they are cancelled or not has almost no impact on the communities, because the order has created the impact already. Large numbers of villagers have recently been prosecuted and sentenced to prison, and the problems that come from implementing the forest management policies set by the NCPO will still continue.”

“The problems are not only about the orders and announcements of the NCPO, but there are still problems with the many policies and laws passed under the NCPO government and even the Constitution. For example, Section 51 of the Constitution makes the procedure for filing a complaint with regard to the environment into a complicated procedure and it has to pass through many departments before it can go to court. So we quite agree with the proposal to amend the constitution and eliminate the legacy of the NCPO by establishing a committee to review all policies and laws which have come about during the NCPO government.”    

Meanwhile, Prayut has announced a draft proposal of government policies and parliament will debate it for 3 days between 25-27 July. Asked if he is willing to amend the Constitution, he said there is still nothing in the proposal but we will know the answer soon. He himself is willing to change any problematic laws but it has to be according to procedure. One can interpret his message as meaning that constitutional amendments will be difficult because they require votes from the unelected Senate.

Prayut also said the government has no conflict with anybody because today this is the government of the country. However, the 7 opposition parties are quite well prepared to fight. Last weekend, the Pheu Thai Party changed its executive committee with Sompong Amornwiwat as the party leader and Sudarat Keyuraphan as the chair of the Party's strategy committee to work as opposition. Chaowalit Wichayasut, the deputy leader of Pheu Thai Party and opposition whip, said a 3-day debate is appropriate timeframe.

The debate will be based on the question of whether the policies are consistent with what was promised during the election campaign and may also pave the way for a motion of no-confidence later on. However, Gen Prayut said the debate should not be treated like a no-confidence motion and that the opposition should take this fact into consideration before criticizing him. It is true that the junta government can still continue and function minimally despite a successful no-confidence motion because of the technicalities in the Constitution, but we still have to wait and see how the government will respond to all these challenges.

Round UpKing VajiralongkornGen Prayut Chan-o-chaPrayut's CabinetPhalang Pracharat PartyDemocrat PartyBhumjaithaiChart Thai PattanaAction Coalition for ThailandChart PattanaGen Prawit WongsuwanSomkid JatusripitakAnutin CharnvirakulSuriya JuangroongruangkitCapt Thammanat Prompao
Categories: Prachatai English

LGBT activists petition National Human Rights Commission over transgender inmates’ access to hormones

Prachatai English - Tue, 2019-07-16 13:16
Submitted on Tue, 2019-07-16 13:16Prachatai

Yesterday (15 July), representatives of LGBT activists and civil society organizations submitted a petition to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) over the lack of access to hormonal medications for transgender inmates in Thai prisons.

From left: Puncharat Taloet, Noppanai Rittiwong, Sirisak Chaited, Angkhana Neelapaijit, and Supaporn Ittiponsiri

Sirisak Chaited, an independent LGBT activist, along with representatives from civil society organizations, went to the NHRC Office this morning to submit their petition, which was accepted by Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit.

Sirisak said that transgender inmates are unable to access certain basic medical services, such as hormone replacement therapy, while serving prison sentences. Since a transgender person will always require hormone supplements, the lack of access to treatment while in prison has a significant effect on their health. Moreover, since prison regulations place higher importance on the sex one is assigned at birth, hormone and birth control medications are seen as unnecessary for inmates who were assigned male at birth and so were not allowed.  

According to UNDP, there were approximately 4000 transgender inmates in Thai prisons in 2018. Noppanai Rittiwong from the Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING), who was among the representatives submitting the petition, said that at the Pattaya Remand Prison, where SWING has been working with transgender inmates, transwomen who have already been through gender affirmation surgery will be held in the women’s prison, while transwomen who have not had surgery are still held in the men’s prison, despite some having already undergone top surgery. However, they are segregated in a different area within the men’s prison, a condition which Noppanai referred to as “double imprisonment.” The arrangement is similar at Chiang Mai Prison, where, according to Sirisak, transwomen are still held in the men’s prison but in a segregated area, and are assigned different bathing times from other inmates so that they don’t have to shower together with men. 

Noppanai explained that hormone medications are viewed as being about appearance and beauty, so they are not allowed inside prisons. However, that is not the case. Hormone therapy is crucial for a transgender person’s well-being. Even those who have not undergone gender affirmation surgery still require hormones to adjust their physical condition.

Moreover, prison personnel lack an understanding of LGBT issues, which has a negative effect on transgender inmates in many ways, such as in terms of safety, living conditions, personal development, and health. Sirisak also said that some officials take advantage of transgender inmates’ need to access hormone therapy, by offering to buy them the medications at a significantly higher price than the medication’s real cost.

Sirisak Chaited (right) speaking to Angkhana Neelapaijit (left) at the petition submission

The petition to the NHRC calls for transgender inmates to be given access to hormone therapy and reproductive health services, and for inmates to be allowed to take part in the process of finding solutions to the issues of violence and health in prison. The petition also asks that prison personnel receive training in order to create an understanding of human rights and LGBT issues, and for every inmate to be treated according to the principles of human rights.

Sirisak said that the lack of a gender recognition law in Thailand is part of the problem. The focus on sex as assigned at birth means that there is an attachment to the male-female binarity, causing issues such as prison inmates not being allowed to access hormone therapy because it is seen as unnecessary for a person who was assigned male at birth. Sirisak said that if they can push for change on such an issue, then questions could be raised about gender recognition and why Thailand needs a gender recognition law.

NewsLGBT rightsDiscrimination against LGBTprisoners' welfare
Categories: Prachatai English

LGBT activists petition National Broadcasting Commission over media’s offensive language

Prachatai English - Sun, 2019-07-14 00:21
Submitted on Sun, 2019-07-14 00:21Prachatai

A representative of the Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights (Thai TGA), along with other independent LGBT activists, has submitted an open letter to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) in response to the recent use by several media outlets of the term “sexually deviant” in news headlines.

From left: Sirisak Chaited, Jetsada Taesombat, Ramida Jarintippitak, along with two other Thai TGA representatives and an NBTC official

After it was reported on 30 June that a male teacher had been accused of sexually assaulting a male student, the Loei Provincial Education Committee issued a letter instructing 475 schools in the province to “closely inspect teachers with sexually deviant behaviour.” The story was subsequently reported by several media outlets, such as in News1 and PPTV, using the term “sexually deviant” in the headline and content. On Thursday (11 July), a group of LGBT activists, led by a representative of the Thai TGA, submitted an open letter to the NBTC, saying that such reporting violates basic ethical principles and organization guidelines for the accuracy and standardization of broadcasting and telecommunication professionals, since it violates the principles of human rights and of hate-free communication.

The letter then calls for the NBTC to carry out an investigation and establish guidelines for collaboration between media regulatory organizations, media agencies, and media consumers, in order to find a lasting solution.

Jetsada Taesombat giving an interview to ThaiPBS

Jetsada Taesombat, Executive Director of the Thai TGA, who represented the Foundation in submitting the letter, said that their intention is not to have anyone punished, but to create a space in which everyone can learn together. Alongside the open letter and a statement from the Thai TGA and 54 other civil society organizations, the group also submitted the draft of a media handbook for reporting on LGBT issues, which is being developed by the signatories and is funded by the Thai Media Fund.

The media handbook for reporting on LGBT issues

The handbook contains a glossary of appropriate terms to use when reporting on LGBT issues, along with terms which are considered offensive. According to this handbook, the term “sexual deviation” (“เบี่ยงเบนทางเพศ”) is considered offensive, since it presents being LGBT as abnormal. The civil society organizations’ statement also says that the use of this term also goes against international principles, as homosexuality and transgender are both no longer classified as disorders in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD11). Such usage can also be considered discriminatory under the 2015 Gender Equality Act, reinforcing stereotypes and contributing to hatred towards the LGBT community.

The group then went to the National Press Council of Thailand to hand a similar open letter with regard to Banmuang newspaper’s use of the same term, which violates the Press Council guidelines on reporting about the LGBT community. The guidelines prohibit the use of generalizing or dehumanizing terms, or the use of stigmatizing language or language which reproduces stereotypes that may lead to discrimination. Jetsada said that they will also be handing a letter directly to the media agencies involved, and to the Ministry of Education.

Sirisak Chaited (left) and Jetsada speaking to Ramida Jarintippitak at the NBTC Office

This is not the first time that such a complaint has been made against a Thai media agency. Sirisak Chaited, an LGBT activist who was also at the meeting at the NBTC, said that he had previously filed a complaint with the Committee on Consideration of Unfair Gender Discrimination against the online news site Tnews. A report on a physical assault at a hospital in Ubon Ratchathani had the headline “Kratoei invades hospital room, kicks patient left in pool of blood” (“กระเทยบุกห้องผู้ป่วยกระทืบจมกองเลือด”). However, the transwoman who was present at the scene was only filming a video clip and not directly involved in the assault. Sirisak’s complaint claims that the headline not only deviates from the facts but also contributes to stereotyping and to the perception of transgender people as violent. After Sirisak’s complaint, TNews publicly apologized and removed the article from their website and issued guidelines for their reporters on how to appropriately report on LGBT issues.

NewsLGBT rightsDiscrimination against LGBTFoundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights
Categories: Prachatai English

Protest band Faiyen receives death threat

Prachatai English - Sat, 2019-07-13 20:55
Submitted on Sat, 2019-07-13 20:55Prachatai

Yesterday (12 July), there was a report that a member of the exiled protest band Faiyen received a death threat through a Facebook message.

The Change.org page for the #SaveFaiyen campaign in May

The sender, whose identity cannot be verified but who claimed to be a member of the special forces, said that the military now has knowledge of Faiyen’s location and can get to them at any time. The person also claimed that the group is being followed by an intelligence unit, and that if they try to escape, the special forces will immediately murder them as they are a threat to national security. They also gave the group an ultimatum: turn themselves in or be killed.

Within this year, Faiyen have received at least ten similar threats , mostly from people claiming to be state officials or associated with the Thai authorities. The family of one of the band members also allegedly received a call from an unidentified politician asking them to help turn the group in to the Thai authorities. In May, the hashtag #SaveFaiyen trended briefly on Twitter after the exiled activist group Action for Democracy (ACT4DEM) claimed that the band had received a message claiming that they will soon be seized by Thai soldiers. A Change.org campaign was also set up calling for the UNHCR, the Lao authorities, and the French authorities to protect refugees and provide them safe passage out of danger.

Concerns for the safety of Thai political activists in exile have been rising since May, after a report surfaced around 9 May of the disappearance of three activists in exile in Vietnam: Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut, Kritsana Tupthai, and Siam Theerawut, all of whom have since disappeared without trace.  Neither the Thai nor Vietnamese authorities have yet to disclose information about their alleged arrest or extradition.

In December 2018, Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Saedan, an activist in exile in Lao, also disappeared along with two of his companions: Chatchan “Phuchana” Bupphawan and Kraidet “Kasalong” Luelerd. In January 2019, the mutilated bodies of Phuchana and Kasalong were discovered in the Mekhong River, while Surachai has yet to be found.

NewsFaiyenpolitical refugeepolitical violence
Categories: Prachatai English

Military authorities can still arbitrarily detain civilians

Prachatai English - Sat, 2019-07-13 01:29
Submitted on Sat, 2019-07-13 01:29Thai Lawyers for Human RightsMilitary authorities can still arbitrarily detain civilians: Analysis of the Head of the NCPO Order no. 9/2562 that repealed some Announcements/Orders that are no longer necessary

On 9 July 2019, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha in his capacity as the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued the Head of NCPO Order no. 9/2562 to repeal 70 NCPO Announcements/Orders and Head of NCPO Orders. Since staging a coup on 22 May 2014, the NCPO has issued a total of 557 decrees: 214 NCPO Orders, 132 NCPO Announcements, and 211 Head of NCPO Orders. Head of NCPO Order no. 9/2562 repeals only some of the decrees, while most of the Orders, Announcements and Head of NCPO Orders remains in effect. Below is the analysis by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) regarding the implications of Head of NCPO Order no. 9/2562.

1. Military authorities retain the power to detain civilians without judicial oversight

Military authorities will retain the power to summon individuals to report themselves, to apprehend individuals who commits flagrant offenses, and detain them for up to seven days, to search, forfeit and freeze assets invoking the Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2558 and no. 13/2559.[1]

On 1 April 2015, the NCPO issued the Head of NCPO Order no. 3/2558, which authorized military authorities to detain individuals, most of whom had their liberties deprived of in military barracks. The exercise of such power has been euphemistically defined by the authorities as “attitude adjustment.” Throughout the past five years, at least 929 members of the public have been summoned by the NCPO and detained in military barracks for “attitude adjustment” (for more detail, please see 5 years under NCPO, enough is enough? Recommendations to rid the coup’s remnants).

TLHR finds the exercise of such power should be restricted to emergency situations when an imminent harm against the nation is impending and should be confined to certain areas – which has not been the case over the past five years.

The retention of the Head of NCPO Order no. 3/2558 and no. 13/2559 to continue authorizing military authorities to detain an individual up to seven days in an undisclosed place without access to family or lawyer and without judicial review, increases the risk of arbitrary detentions in breach of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and may result in other forms of human rights violations, such torture and enforced disappearance.

In its concluding observations on the second periodic report of Thailand, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that Thailand amend Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2558 to ensure that it complies with all the provisions of the ICCPR, including with the guarantees against incommunicado detention.

2. Disobeying and showing defiance to NCPO summons are still criminalized

Despite the NCPO’s repeal of the ban against political gathering of five or more persons, disobeying and showing defiance to NCPO summons are still criminalized under NCPO Announcement no. 41/2557.[2] To date, the NCPO has summoned at least 472 individuals to report themselves, and at least 14 of them who have defied such summons have been issued with arrest warrants that remain effective.

Once individuals report themselves to the NCPO, they are often held in incommunicado detention in military barracks. Their fate and whereabouts are unknown to people outside. This makes them vulnerable to torture. Without judicial review and given that they would have to later stand trial in military courts, many individuals who were summoned decided to leave the country. As a result, since the May 2014 coup, 86 individuals have become political exiles (for more detail, please see Collapsed Rule of Law: The Consequences of Four Years under the National Council for Peace and Order for Human Rights and Thai Society, Part 3)

TLHR recommends that NCPO Announcement no. 41/2557, which criminalizes individuals’ defiance or disobedience to the summons to report themselves, be immediately repealed and that all prosecutions pursuant to this decree be stopped

3. Transferring cases against civilians from military to civilian courts

The Head of NCPO Order no. 9/2562 has led to the repeal of NCPO Announcements no.37/2557, no. 38/2557, no. 43/2557, and no. 50/2557, and Head of NCPO Order no. 55/2559. As a result, cases against civilians that are being tried in military courts will be transferred to the Court of Justice. It would effectively make the previous proceeding in military courts part of the further proceedings of the Court of Justice, which would continue to hear the cases.

Over the past five years, at least 2,408 civilians have been tried in military courts nationwide (for more detail, please see 5 years under NCPO, enough is enough? Recommendations to rid the coup’s remnants). TLHR is offering legal assistance to defendants in 59 cases prosecuted in military courts, 21 of which involve 41 defendants.

TLHR remains concerned about the following ongoing negative impacts of prosecutions of civilians conducted by military courts under the NCPO.

3.1 Cases which have reached a verdict, but the right to a fair trial was not upheld

Ongoing cases as well as cases that have reached the final verdict in military courts, have not been heard in fair trials, and no remedy for the violation of this fundamental trial has been established.

The right to a fair trial is guaranteed by Article 14 of ICCPR, which underscores particularly the principles of judicial independence and impartiality. Military courts flout such principles because they operate under the authority of the Ministry of Defense and two thirds of their presiding judges are commissioned military officers who are not required to obtain a law degree.

In addition, over the past five years, military courts’ proceedings have been exceptionally protracted. Some defendants prosecuted for alleged violation of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) remain detained awaiting trial and their hearings were conducted behind closed doors. Those convicted by military courts for violating Article 112 have been sentenced to prison terms that have been twice as harsh as sentences imposed by civilian courts (for more information, please see 20 reasons why civilians should not be tried in the Military Court).

3.2 Defendants tried in military courts are barred from appealing their sentences

According to fair trial principles, defendants are entitled to have the right to appeal to courts of higher instance. Nevertheless, those indicted when Martial Law was imposed and whose cases fell under jurisdiction of military courts have been deprived of such right. To restore justice to the individuals whose cases have reached the final verdict, their right to appeal to courts of higher instance should be restored.

3.3 Arrest warrants issued by military court remain active

Apart from hearing the cases, military courts have also issued arrest warrants for suspects who remain large. As of 30 November 2016, over 528 individuals were still wanted by military courts nationwide (please see Why will Thanathorn have to stand trial in the Military Court?: Getting to know the Military Court under the NCPO Era). To ensure these individuals will stand trial in proceedings that uphold the principles of judicial independence and impartiality, TLHR recommends that the existing warrants be rescinded and new warrants be issued by the Court of Justice.

4. Offenses under NCPO decrees remain in place

Only 70 (12%) of the 557 decrees issued by the NCPO are being repealed. Most of the NCPO Announcements and Orders remain in effect and can only be repealed or amended by laws, except for the Announcements or Orders concerning the exercise of administrative powers, whose repeal and amendment are subject to the executive power of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.

In addition, all the Announcements and Orders and acts of the NCPO are made legal and constitutional by Sections 279 of the 2017 Constitution. Even after the imminent dissolution of the NCPO, the NCPO cannot be held accountable for violations that resulted from its Announcements, Orders or acts.

TLHR deems that NCPO decrees have no place in the legal system because they lack proper checks and balances. The retention of legal provisions that justify a lack of accountability in all circumstances contributes to fostering a culture of impunity in total breach of the principles of the rule of law.

5. TLHR’s recommendations

TLHR believes the Head of NCPO Order no. 9/2562 repeals only some Announcements and Orders which are no longer useful for the NCPO, but it does not serve public interest because the military authorities retains significant powers, including the power to restrict people’s rights and freedoms, for example under the Head of NCPO Order no. 3/2558 and no. 13/2559, among others.

In addition, the NCPO is set to expand the power of military authorities in a variety of public affairs concerning civilians. In particular, the Head of the NCPO Order no. 51/2560 on the amendment of the Internal Security Maintenance Law increases the powers of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and bolsters budget and structure of the regional and provincial ISOCs.

To address the coup’s remnants, the repeal of some NCPO Announcements/Orders is insufficient. Rather, an effort has to be made to systematically restrict powers of the military as a whole. In addition, it is necessary to address the problematic NCPO Announcements/Orders, laws endorsed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), court verdicts, justice system reform, and remedies for victims (for more detail, please see 5 years under NCPO, enough is enough? Recommendations to rid the coup’s remnants)

Concerning the NCPO decrees and the judicial process, TLHR wishes to make the following recommendations to the House of Representatives;

1. Repeal Articles 265 and 279 of the 2017 Constitution, which make the decrees and acts of NCPO legal under Articles 44, 47, and 48 of the 2014 Interim Constitution to ensure that the NCPO Announcements, Orders, and acts comply with Thailand’s international legal obligations and the principles of the rule of law.

2. Review all NCPO Announcements/Orders and Head of NCPO Orders and all other laws adopted by the NLA and amend or repeal all those that violate the people’s rights and freedoms.

3. Immediately repeal the Head of NCPO Order no. 3/2558 and no. 13/2559. When any wrongdoings or public disruption take place, law enforcement officials can already resort to powers prescribed in the Criminal Procedure Code. It is not necessary to retain power offered by these orders.

4. Take all necessary measures to provide redress to civilians whose cases were heard in military courts and have reached the final verdict. Civilians convicted by military courts after the imposition of Martial Law in May 2014 should be allowed to appeal to courts of higher instance and be provided compensation.

Notes: 

[1] The Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2558 and No. 13/2559 endow appointed officers with extensive police powers, including powers to arrest, detain and search suspects without warrants and hold them in places not officially recognized as places ofdetention for up to seven days.

[2] This order prescribes a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment or a maximum fine of 40,000 Baht (approximately USD1,250) or both. The order also has a provision that prohibits financial or property transactions.

Special CircumstancesNCPO ordermilitary courthuman rights violationThai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Categories: Prachatai English

8 people arrested for sharing social media post claiming police were behind activist attack

Prachatai English - Fri, 2019-07-12 10:46
Submitted on Fri, 2019-07-12 10:46Prachatai

Instead of investigating the attack on activist Sirawith Serithiwat and detaining the attackers, the police have arrested 8 people for sharing social media saying that Deputy Police Commissioner Pol Gen Chaiwat Ketworachai of being behind the attack on activists.

Left: Pictures of the 13 suspects from Police News
Right: Sirawith in hospital

Police Spokesperson Pol Col Krissana Pattanacharoen said on Wednesday (10 July) that an investigation by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) found that 13 people were involved in disseminating an allegation that the police were involved in the recent attacks on activists, and that eight people have confessed to sharing the post without knowing that it was a false report.

Col Krissana said that the group do not know each other, but share the same political views, and they do not benefit from sharing the post.

The suspects were charged with circulation of computer data which is contrary to peace and order or the good morals of the people, under Section 14, Clause 2 of the Computer Crimes Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison or a fine of 100,00 baht or both.

The investigation also found that 3 – 4 suspects used fake social media accounts to hide their identity and escape police investigation. 5 other suspects will be handing themselves into the police within this week.

As for Sirawith’s case, Col Krissana said up to 20 eyewitnesses have been questioned. However, inspection of security cameras in the area found that some were malfunctioning and unable to capture footage of the perpetrators. Nevertheless, Col Krissana assured both Sirawith and the public that the police are working on this case to the best of their abilities.

Meanwhile, activists Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Anurak “Ford” Jeantawanich went to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) to ask the CSD to take over their assault cases, since there has been no progress on any of them.

Anurak has been assaulted twice, while Ekkachai has been attacked 7 times and has his car torched two times. Ekkachai said that, of the 9 cases, there are only 2 in which a perpetrator had been arrested. No perpetrators have been found in the rest of the cases.

NewsSirawith SerithiwatAnurak JeantawanichEkkachai Hongkangwanpolitical violenceChaiwat Ketworachai
Categories: Prachatai English

Fallout from assault against Sirawith; no police protection unless activism ends.

Prachatai English - Wed, 2019-07-10 20:14
Submitted on Wed, 2019-07-10 20:14Thammachart Kri-aksorn

On Sunday (7 July), Doctors of Ramathibodi Hospital have allowed Sirawith ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat to go home, but he will refuse witness protection as the police will not provide it unless he halts his political activism.

Rangsiman Rome (Left), Amarat Choknimitkul (Middle), and Jirayu Huangsup (Right)

He was accompanied home by his mother and family after he had his eye checked by Tossaporn Serirak, an ophthalmologist and former Deputy Secretary-General of the Prime Minister’s Office. He was earlier assaulted by 4 men who almost broke his nose and blinded him on 28 June. He had been transferred from Mission Hospital to Ramathibodi Hospital to meet with doctors specialized in ophthalmology and nose surgery.  

Sirawith said that he requested the police to provide witness protection after the assault, but they said they cannot guarantee his safety unless he stops his political activism. Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of security, reportedly said on Monday that it was up to the police how to proceed. Sirawith said he will refuse the offer claiming “freedom is not a protection fee”.  

Related:
- Activist Sirawith attacked in broad daylight

Eyewitness speaks out on attack on activist

Activist’s mother denies allegations of debt issues

Given the brazenness of the assault and the resulting public outage, the establishment has tried to put its spin on the story. On 2 July, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha congratulated Sirawith on earning a scholarship to study in India and said that he has ordered the police chief to take the greatest care with this case. But he then made a flippant joke asking when ‘Ja New’ will be promoted. (Friends added the word ‘Ja’, meaning ‘sergeant’ to Sirawith’s nickname ‘New’ because his stocky build and dark skin make him look like a sergeant). 

Meanwhile, Prawit asked the police to speed up the investigation and reportedly told the press that the assault has nothing to do with illegal debts or personal relationships, but he still has yet to confirm if the motive behind the assault is political. This is despite the fact that this was the 11th assault against political activists in the last two years. On 4 July, Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Sutthipong Wongpin said that the police have completed sketches of 2 of the 4 suspects.

However, many outside the administration have condemned the political violence. And while still in bed, Sirawith asked a friend to post on Facebook his thanks for their support, saying he hopes that he is the last target. The Music Festival of the Democratic Side, which Sirawith helped to organize and which he would have attended if he had not been assaulted, was held at the 14 October monument on 29 June with a large audience. Originally, the festival was also intended as a commemoration of the Democratic Revolution on 24 June 1932, but unfortunately the organizers had to go to court on that date.

The Music Festival of the Democratic Side

Many public figures joined the festival including Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party. He said Ja New’s history of exposing corruption at Rajabhakti Park, and his campaigns against the military coup and for the unelected senate not to vote Prayut Chan-o-cha as the prime minister give people hope to fight. “Ja new is a thorn in the side of the powerful. He is a thorn in the side of those who want the continuation of power. So this is not an attack against Ja New, but a message to us all not to stand up to power.” 

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit at the Music Festival of the Democratic Side

Nattawut Saikua, a leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship or the Red Shirt movement, also spoke during the event against violence regardless of political sides. “Even if what happened to Ja New happened to Suthep Thaugsuban, I could not be pleased with it”, said Nattawut, “Even if it happened to someone who disagrees with me every day, I could not be happy with what happened to them. I hope Thai society will keep calm. I hope that Thai society, despite its hate and anger, will not cross the line of humanity so far that it smiles with pleasure at the blood of a fellow human being in society.”

Nattawut Saikua at the Music Festival of the Democratic Side

The pressure also came from abroad as international news agencies reported the assault, including Reuters, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. It haunted Prayut Chan-o-cha even when he went to Osaka, Japan, for the 2019 G20 Summit and Thais in Tokyo displayed signs to condemn the assaults against Ja New at Shibuya Square on 30 June. The Thais in Japan also protested against the rigged election in March and demanded justice for Muramoto Hiroyuki, the Japanese journalist who was killed in Thailand during the 2010 protests.    

Meanwhile, politicians inside the country took action in Parliament as Pol Col Tawee Sodsong, Secretary-General of the Prachachart Party, said the seven opposition parties planned to request Parliament to establish an investigative committee to find truth about Sirawith’s case. Jirayu Huangsup of the Pheu Thai Party and Piyabutr Sangkanokkul of the Future Forward Party requested that it be made an urgent matter in the parliamentary session last Wednesday (3 July). Before the session, Jirayu also held a press conference in front of Parliament along with Amarat Choknimitkul and Rangsiman Rome who showed Sirawith’s blood-stained shirt.

The Phalang Pracharat Party, which paved the way for Prayut Chan-o-cha to be Prime Minister, tried to halt the opposition’s parliamentary attempt with some outrageous comments. “Ja New’s life is not valuable to everybody. Ja New’s life is valuable to somebody,” said Nirote Sunthornlekha, Phalang Pracharat MP for Nakhon Sawan Province. Suphachai Phosu of the Bhumjaithai Party and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, also told Jirayu to “be careful” as the assault happened nearby Jirayu’s home. Suphachai later said he had no intention of making a threat, it was merely a joke to de-escalate the heated discussion, but Jirayu said it was not funny.

The ramifications of this assault will haunt the establishment for some time to come.

Round UpSirawit SerithiwatGen Prayut Chan-o-chaGen Prawit WongsuwanPhalang PracharatPrachachart PartyPol Col Tawee SodsongSiamese Revolution on 24 June 1932Thanathorn JuangroongruangkitNattawut SaikuaRajabhakti Park
Categories: Prachatai English

Drop all charges against 14 Chiyaphum villagers, says Manushya Foundation

Prachatai English - Wed, 2019-07-10 16:51
Submitted on Wed, 2019-07-10 16:51Manushya Foundation

On 2 and 3 July 2019, Manushya Foundation monitored the proceedings of the Chaiyaphum Provincial Court in the last five appeal judgments against the 14 villagers from Sab Wai village. In the appeal judgments, the Court sentenced Mr. Put Sukbongkot to 6 months and 20 days in prison and a fine of 370,000 THB; Mr. Sompitr Taennok to 20 months and 20 days in prison and a fine of 200,000 THB; Ms. Narisara Muangklang to 9 months and 10 days in prison and an increased fine from THB 130,000 to 607,161 THB; Ms. Suwalee Phongam to 5 months and 10 days in prison and a fine of 160,000 THB; and Mr. Suwit Rattanachaisi to 17 months in prison and an increased fine from THB 40,000 to THB 110,762. The Court also ordered their eviction from land that they have been living and farming on for generations, long before the government classified it as a national park.

The 14 villagers, 9 women and 5 men, are unfairly casted as criminals as they were charged by authorities of the Sai Thong National Park who used the 2014 Forest Reclamation Policy passed by the military junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) against them, including the Forest Mastery Plan, NCPO Order 64/2014, and NCPO Order 66/2014. This forest conservation policy was meant to stop capitalist investors from damaging the forest, but it is hurting poor communities instead. As an illustration, in the appeal judgments given by the Chaiyaphum Provincial Court, the 14 villagers were charged with disproportionately heavy criminal sentences with the maximum being 4 years and hefty fines with the highest being more than 1.5 million THB as payment for damage of destroying the forest under the Forest Act 1941, the National Reserved Forests Act 1964, and the National Park Act 1961.This has led to 13 villagers being currently in jail and 1 villager being monitored. All 14 villagers are losing their freedom, their livelihood, housing and food security, causing serious damages to their lives and that of their families, with elders and children left behind with no financial means. “It is me alone now, who has to take care of all the young children of my sisters and my father who has a chronic illness.” says Surinthong Muangklang, whose mother (Mrs Thongpan Monggang), and three sisters (Nittaya Muangklang, Suphaphorn Seesuk, Narisara Muangklang) are all in jail. “I do not know what justice means anymore, when it is just us poor people who are being put in jail” she adds sorrowfully.

Justifying the forest reclamation policy on the basis of increasing forest cover as a means to mitigate climate change; the government targets local farming communities instead of large-scale businesses and investors. Apirak Nantaseree, Researcher at iLaw highlights “The Sai Thong National Park case provides the clearest picture of the impact of NCPO Order 64/2014 and NCPO Order 66/2014. These are used to send people to jail, claiming that it is the policy of the government”. He adds “We want the impact of the laws on the villagers to be as widely known, as other political matters. It is important that the general public understands the content of the NCPO Orders, as the land rights of several others in Thailand will also be affected by it.”

Adding to the dangerous adverse impacts of the application of the forest reclamation policy on rural communities all over Thailand, Professor Chainarong Setthachua, a Lecturer at Mahasarakham University stresses “In Thailand, forest management in the past consisted of delegating land to the private sector through land concession agreements, but when the Thai government adopted the idea of forest conservation it was only used to separate people from nature. These kinds of conservation policies will never be successful. It is time that Thai society questions, what they receive from such forest conservation policies that only leads to poor people being arrested and imprisoned.”

With the appeal process before the Chaiyaphum Provincial Court now completed, the case will be submitted before the Supreme Court for consideration. “The villagers are being sentenced using NCPO Orders 64/2014 and 66/2014 against them. However, these NCPO orders do not refer to and comply with the Cabinet Resolution of 30 June 1998[1], allowing communities occupying land prior to its declaration as a reserved area to continue to inhabit the area in accordance with the National Reserved Forest Act. Our petitions to the Supreme Court will challenge this contradiction” stresses Mr. Somnuek Tumsupap, the lawyer representing the villagers in their appeal petition before the Supreme Court. “My hope remains that the Supreme Court will interpret the NCPO Orders in a way that benefits the villagers, in line with the Cabinet Resolution of 30 June 1998.”

The 14 villagers and their families have had to fight through a judicial process, despite several attempts to resolve the case by working with Provincial government authorities to find a constructive solution. Tai Oranuch, Board member of Isaan Land Reform Network (ILRN), points out “We have made constant efforts to work with provincial authorities to reach a solution, even by providing a Sustainable Land and Natural Resources Management Plan. As a result of these negotiations, the Deputy Governor of the Chaiyaphum Province, who also serves as the Chairman of the Working Group to solve the Sai Thong National Park case only stated that he would provide a letter on the negotiations to the relevant authorities, but so far we have not seen any concrete action in this respect, not even basic support for the affected family members.”

It is important to remember that rural and forest communities are always at the centre of the protection of forests. They do not harm the environment but live in peaceful harmony with Mother Nature. Emilie Pradichit, Founder & Director of Manushya Foundation explains “Forest conservation policies must be developed with the meaningful inclusion and participation of concerned communities, not to criminalise them in favour of business incentives. We will fight false climate solutions and continue to stand with the Sab Wai villagers and their families in their courageous fight for justice, by monitoring the appeal process before the Supreme Court.” She concludes “This is an emblematic case for all of us as this is the first time in history that affected communities are challenging the misuse and adverse impacts of the forest reclamation policy and NCPO orders 64/2014 and 66/2014 against poor villagers. If the 14 Sab Wai human rights defenders win at the Supreme Court, their judicial battle could serve and protect a considerable number of communities all over Thailand,  also facing criminal and civil charges due to badly drafted forest conservation policies.”​

Human rights organisations and academics working together in support of the 14 Sab Wai villagers will continue to find effective and actionable solutions to ensure that the fundamental rights of the affected communities, including their right to life, livelihood, housing, food and due process are fully restored and redressed. With numerous lives being harmed irreversibly as a result of the misuse of the forest reclamation policy in Sab Wai village and all over Thailand, they reaffirm their call to the Thai government and National Park Authorities to protect the fundamental rights of the 14 villagers by:​

  1. Immediately dropping all criminal and civil charges against the 14 villagers for the legitimate use of their land.
  2. Stopping, without further delay, the abuse of forest conservation laws and policies, NCPO orders, to evict local communities and individuals from land they have been living on for generations.
  3. Abolishing NCPO Orders 64/2014 and 66/2014 that disproportionately impact marginalised and impoverished local communities denying them of their right to land, their right to work and to sustainable livelihoods, instead of targeting investors and large-scale businesses.
  4. Providing a fair remedy to those who have been affected by the unjust use of the concerned laws, policies, NCPO orders, and protecting their fundamental rights accordingly.
  5. Guaranteeing the effective implementation of the Sustainable Land and Natural Resources Management Plan, inclusive of community participation, which had been approved by the Provincial Working Group (created to resolve land issues taking place in the Sai Thong National Park) on 19 March 2018.

[1]The Cabinet issued a resolution of 30 June 1998, which was proposed as a solution to land problems in areas designates as national reserved forest area, by surveying the land and data available with respect to it. This resolution of 30 June 1998 allows those who have been occupying land prior to its declaration as a reserved area to continue to inhabit the area in accordance with the National Reserved Forest Act, and also allows subsequent inhabitants the right to occupy such land pursuant to the Community Sufficient Economy Project. Explaining further on NCPO order 66/2014, the lawyer clarified that nowhere in the NCPO Order is the Cabinet resolution of 30 June 1998 discussed. However, the Court of First Instance and the Appeal Court both discussed this Cabinet resolution as the basis for the distribution of land, and the application of NCPO Orders 64/2014 and 66/2014.

Pick to PostchaiyaphumForest Reclamation PolicySai Thong National Parkland right defendershuman rights defendershuman rights violationManushya FoundationThai Business & Human Rights Network
Categories: Prachatai English

Amnesty calls for authorities to investigate violence against activists

Prachatai English - Fri, 2019-07-05 11:01
Submitted on Fri, 2019-07-05 11:01Prachatai

On Wednesday (3 July), Amnesty International handed an open letter to the Thai authorities, calling for an investigation into the recent attacks on activists and protection of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Piyanut Kotsan (left), Amnesty International Thailand’s Director, submitting the letter to the police representatives (Source: Amnesty International)

The letter was submitted to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, and to the Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police. Deputy Commissioner of the Special Branch Pol Maj Tanai Apichartseni and Deputy Commander of Administrative and Civil Cases, Legal and Litigation Department Pol Col Komsan Sukmak acted as representatives to receive the letter for the Royal Thai Police.

The letter, signed by Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, says that the scale of the attacks against political activists and human rights defenders in Thailand is alarming and that these attacks appear to fit a pattern of systematic violence “timed to coincide with their efforts to draw attention to perceived election irregularities and problems relating to the formation of a new government.”

Since the start of this year, there have already been numerous attacks against activists. Ekkachai Hongkangwan was physically assaulted three times, in January, March, and May, and his car was set on fire twice. Anurak Jeantawanich was attacked twice, in April and May. Sirawith Serithiwat was attacked twice, both times in June. The most recent attack on 28 June left Sirawith seriously injured. He is now still in hospital. Ekkachai also said that he received a Facebook message saying that someone has ordered him dead, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak has also received a phone call threatening violence.

    Ekkachai, Anurak, and Sirawith are also facing multiple criminal proceedings for their activism, including sedition charges, violations of the Public Assembly Act, and violations of the ban on political gatherings of five or more persons, and charges under the Computer Crimes Act – all of which are an interference with their rights to freedom of expression and association.

    Amnesty International calls on the Thai government to “carry out prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigations” into these attacks and to “safeguard individuals’ ability to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest without fear of harassment, retaliation, or reprisal and to stop using criminal charges to interfere with these rights.” 

    Amnesty International’s press release says that, after receiving the letter, Pol Maj Tanai stated that he believes that all personnel – including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister – are concerned about the attacks and wish to launch a full investigation, since the attacks have gained public attention.

    NewsAmnesty International (AI)Sirawith SerithiwatAnurak JeantawanichEkkachai Hongkangwan political violence
    Categories: Prachatai English

    Activist’s mother denies allegations of debt issues

    Prachatai English - Fri, 2019-07-05 10:47
    Submitted on Fri, 2019-07-05 10:47Prachatai

    Following allegations on social media that activist Sirawith Serithiwat was attacked by debt collectors, Patnaree Charnkij, Sirawith’s mother, insisted that her family no longer has any informal debts and that it is unlikely that Sirawith’s attack was a result of money being owed.

    Patnaree Charnkij

    The allegations stem from a passage in Sirawith’s 2015 interview with Prachatai, in which he said that his family had a lot of debt when he was a child, and had to move often. The quote was taken out of context, leading to speculation that Sirawith was attacked by debt collectors, rather than because of his activism.

    Patnaree said that their family’s last move was in 2010, and they’ve lived at their current residence for almost ten years. She also insisted that they have paid back all of their informal loans and have not been in debt for the last ten years. She said that if there is any debt at all, it is most likely their rent, which many years ago they often paid late, but at present, they always pay on time.

    Patnaree insisted that Sirawith has not taken out any informal loan, and while he has taken out a student loan, she said that it is impossible that the student loan fund would demand payment through physical assault. She said that her son works and earns money, and that he uses his money frugally. She said that the allegations are based on Sirawith’s old interview, which is about something which happened 10 – 20 years ago and is not their current situation.

    Sirawith, who is still hospitalized, also said in a Facebook post earlier on Wednesday (3 July) that he has no informal debts, and even if he did, no one should face such violence.

    NewsSirawith SerithiwatPatnaree Charnkijpolitical violence
    Categories: Prachatai English

    Appeal Court upholds prison sentences for Ban Sapwai land rights defenders

    Prachatai English - Thu, 2019-07-04 15:14
    Submitted on Thu, 2019-07-04 15:14Prachatai

    Northeast villagers get jail terms with big fines under NCPO's Forest Reclamation Policy.

    The people of Ban Sapwai after the appeal court's verdict at the Chaiyaphum provincial court on 3 July 2019 (source: Isan Land Reform news agency)

    The Appeal Court ruled to uphold the verdict of the court of first instance and handed down prison sentences to six land rights defenders from Ban Sapwai. Each defendant received a prison sentence of five to ten months along with a fine.

    The “forest reclamation” policies issued by the NCPO in 2014 affected Ban Sapwai and many other villages across the country. As a result, villagers are being evicted from their homes and community land. Despite efforts by both the Ban Sapwai villagers and the provincial government to resolve the conflict, 14 land rights defenders were brought to court by the Sai Thong National Park, to which Ban Sapwai’s community land was annexed in 1992. 

    On 2 July, the Appeal Court ruled to uphold the verdict of the court of first instance and gave Somphit Thaennok a prison sentence of 10 months and a fine of 100,000 baht, while Phut Sukbongkot was given a prison sentence of 6 months and 20 days and a fine of 370,000 baht. 

    On 3 July, the Appeal Court ruled to uphold the sentence of 7 months given to Suwit Rattanachaisi and increased the amount of damages he has to pay from 40,000 baht to 110,762 baht. 

    At the same hearing, Narissara Muangklang received a prison sentence of 9 months and 10 days, and is required to pay damages of 607,161 baht, up from 130,000 baht. Suwalee Pho-ngam received a prison sentence of 5 months and 10 days and has to pay damages of 160,000 baht. Somphit Thaennok, on a second charge was given a prison sentence of 10 months and 20 days, and damages of 100,000 baht.

    On Monday (1 July), the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), along with more than 200 other civil society organizations issued a statement for the Thai government to drop all charges against the 14 Ban Sapwai land right defenders, who are facing disproportionate imprisonment and fines. APWLD also noted that they were found guilty despite evidence qualifying for exemption from prosecution as poor, landless and low-income.

    Ban Sapwai is one of the thousand villages throughout Thailand being affected by the Thai government’s “forest reclamation” policies. Issued in 2014 by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the order no.64/2014 and 66/2014 aim to increase the national forest land from 31% to 40% by evicting those using the lands. However as of 2015, the NGO Committee on Development has found that only 2% of the cases have been filed/pursued against large businesses and investors, while the rest are against small-scale peasants.

    The global human rights community urgently asks the Thai Government to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the Thai people and recognise the important role women land and human rights defenders play in saving the planet.

    NewsForest Reclamation PolicyNCPOchaiyaphumBan Subwailand rights defendersforest
    Categories: Prachatai English

    Where is the Safety Zone?

    Prachatai English - Tue, 2019-07-02 10:17
    Submitted on Tue, 2019-07-02 10:17Hara Shintaro

    The stagnation of the peace dialogue process

    The peace dialogue process to solve the extended conflict in the southernmost part of Thailand, or Patani, has been stagnant for more than a year since April 2018. Several people in significant positions related to the peace process have been replaced since then.

    The stunning victory of the opposition coalition (called the Pakatan Harapan) in the 14th general election in Malaysia on 9 May 2018 put the coalition leader and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, aged 92, back in the premiership.[1] More than three months later, the former Malaysian facilitator, Ahmad Zamzamin Hashim, who had been appointed by the former PM Najib Razak, was replaced by Rahim Noor, who had been police chief during Mahathir’s first mandate as PM.[2]

    At the end of September 2018, Pornsak Poonsawas was promoted as the Commander of the 4th Army Region, controlling the security forces in the conflict area in the southern border provinces.[3] In October 2018, the former Thai negotiation team chief, Aksara Kerdphol, was replaced by a former commander of the 4th Army Region, Udomchai  Thammasaroraj, who also served as an adviser to the current commander Pornsak.[4]

    These changes in significant positions did not bring about any progress to the peace process that had been stagnant. Rahim Noor visited Bangkok at the beginning of January 2019 and met Udomchai in an initiative to resume the peace process.[5] However, in early February, Shukri Hari, the head negotiator of MARA Patani, the umbrella organisation of the insurgent groups active in the southern border provinces, issued an announcement that it would suspend meetings until after the Thai general election in March, stating disappointment that Udomchai did not want to see MARA Patani, but Shukri alone when he (Udomchai) came to Kuala Lumpur.[6] Due to their strong dissatisfaction, MARA Patani demanded that Udomchai should be replaced by someone more ‘credible’.[7]

    The peace dialogue was not resumed even after the Thai general election on 24 March 2019. In a letter dated 15 May 2019 and sent to Awang Jabat, the chairman of MARA Patani, Shukri Hari announced his resignation as the head of the MARA Patani negotiation panel.[8]  The letter was an internal communication within MARA Patani, and so far his resignation has not been accepted officially by MARA Patani. A statement released by Awang Jabat on the occasion of the celebration of Aidilfitri this year (after the fasting month of Ramadan) via the MARA Patani website stated that the resignation of Shukri Hari should be dealt with carefully through internal consultation.[9] The Malaysian facilitator, Rahim Noor, visited the southern border provinces from 11 to 14 June 2019, and he stated that in two more weeks the peace dialogue should be resumed, given no serious obstacles.[10] At the time of writing (25 June 2019), there has been no follow-up report about the next peace dialogue session. Whether or not the stranded process can be restarted still remains unclear at this moment.

    The peace dialogue process: its limitations and significances

    Resignation of the head negotiator from the insurgents’ side is not an auspicious sign for the peace process. In the last round, following the collapse of the temporary ceasefire agreement called the ‘Ramadan peace initiative’, brokered by the Malaysian facilitator in June 2013,[11] the military force of the BRN issued a video clip on 6 August 2013, blaming the Thai government for violating the agreement.[12] Hassan Taib disappeared from public view for a few months, and finally reappeared in his last video clip released on 1 December 2013, describing himself as ‘the former head of the BRN delegation’. In the video clip, he stressed that the dialogue would be resumed only after the five preliminary demands submitted to the Thai state were accepted.[13] That was the end of the first round of the peace dialogue process.

    The current round of the peace dialogue might follow the pattern of the first round. At this moment, the representative of the insurgents’ side, MARA Patani, still does not have a person in charge of the dialogue panel. Nevertheless, as was mentioned before, Shukri Hari’s intention to resign has not been accepted by MARA Patani, and MARA Patani itself still states its readiness to be engaged in the dialogue. The setting of the peace dialogue still has not collapsed yet, and it should be sustained for several reasons.

    It cannot be denied that this dialogue process has a lot of limitations. First of all, the process has not yet yielded any concrete outcome to indicate that peace building in the southernmost provinces of Thailand is not impossible. It also has been questioned since the very beginning of the process if the dialogue panel of the insurgents is really able to control the military forces responsible for almost daily violent incidents in the conflict area. So far there has been no convincing evidence that they really can do so. Although MARA Patani is joined by several BRN members, it is not joined by it as an organisation, unlike other component organisations inside it.

    Even though the BRN has always been critical about the peace process itself, it has never openly dismissed MARA Patani as a fake. A senior BRN member inside MARA who claimed that he was able to contact the military wing of the BRN told the author that the BRN (as an organisation) had been closely watching every single step of the peace process to evaluate the level of sincerity of the Thai state.[14] This, optimistically speaking, suggests that any positive development in the process (that, unfortunately, has not happened so far) might encourage the BRN as an organisation to take part in the process. Under these circumstances, setting up another track of dialogue does not seem the best solution.

    Despite the fact that this process has been heavily criticised, it still has a significant symbolic value. It is the sign of an unwritten agreement between the Thai state and the insurgents that the conflict in the southern border provinces or Patani must be finally solved via political measures, not via military operations. Imagine what might happen if such an important symbolic frame collapsed. There would be no limits to the use of violence for both sides any longer, and the situation in the conflict area could deteriorate like the first few years when violence was inflicted regardless of humanitarian principles and the legitimacy of the targets.

    The change in the political atmosphere in relation to the conflict after the commencement of the peace dialogue process is also significant. Before the peace process, talking about the insurgents was a kind of taboo, but the inauguration of the peace process opened up a public space to talk about the conflict, including its main actors. This has resulted in a much better understanding about the conflict as well as the insurgents.

    For these reasons mentioned above, the frame of the peace process must be preserved at any cost (which is far cheaper than sustaining military forces), and the dialogue should be resumed as soon as possible, whenever the circumstances are conducive.

    The safety zone

    Under the current condition, it is still unclear when the process can be rebooted. Whenever it might happen, the fact remains that the process will have the participation of a lot of new faces: the new facilitator, the new head of the Thai government dialogue panel, and possibly the counterpart in MARA Patani too (if Shukri’s resignation is accepted by MARA). Here there is one question: what happened to the plan for setting up a safety zone in the conflict area?

    The spokesperson of MARA Patani, Abu Hafez Al-Hakim, explained that serious discussions about the plan to set up a safety zone started on September 20 2016, after both sides (the Thai government and MARA Patani) had finally agreed on the terms of reference (TOR) of the dialogue process.[15] According to the plan, one district from the conflict area would be chosen as the pilot safety zone, and a safe house was already set up inside the vicinity of the Pattani Provincial Islamic Council as the coordinating centre for the plan.[16]  

    There were three main agenda items to be enforced in the pilot safety zone. First, if a violent incident happened, it would be investigated by a fact-finding committee joined by both Thai government officials and members of MARA Patani. Violent incidents might happen inside the safety zone, but there was a mechanism to investigate them, in addition to the usual investigation conducted mainly by the security forces in the conflict area. Second, freedom of speech will be guaranteed. This item was included in order to open up public space and enhance a conducive atmosphere for peace building. Third, the local population in the safety zone shall take part in the development plan, unlike the top-down developments delivered by the authorities so far.[17]

    For implementation, there will be a preparation period of three months, followed by implementation for three months, and finally evaluation. After the evaluation, both conflicting parties can decide whether to keep the status quo (to continue the safety zone in one district) or to extend to other districts, or even abolish the plan altogether.[18]

    As a whole, although this plan is still very far from being a final solution to the conflict, in my opinion it is worth trying because the outcome could be more effective than the counter insurgency measures taken by the security forces so far. The reason is that the safety zone includes significant issues including safety, political rights and decentralisation (in the form of local people’s participation in development).

    According to sources from the Thai dialogue panel and MARA Patani, both sides had already agreed on the plan of setting up a safety zone itself, but there was severe disagreement about signing the related documents for implementation. This issue rose in the Joint Technical Team meeting on 25 April 2018. MARA Patani wanted all these documents to be signed by both Party A (the Thai government) and Party B (those who have different opinions from the state, i.e. the insurgent organisations), while the Thai government was reluctant to sign anything. This issue of signing was to be discussed on the next meeting of the Joint Working Group (the negotiation panels of both side), but due to the changes mentioned above, the meeting on 25 April 2018 was destined to be the last meeting of the peace dialogue process to this day.[19]

    Several mutual trust-building measures had been taken between the conflicting parties related to this plan, and the setting up of the safe house was one of them. However, on 8 June 2018, the deputy chairman of the Pattani Islamic Committee, who was in charge of the safe house, was shot by gunmen and passed away two days later.[20]

    Before actually implementing the safety zone plan, both the Thai government and MARA Patani may face more serious obstacles. Nevertheless, it is just counterproductive to discard this plan, because a long period of time was spent coming to an agreement about it. In addition, if this plan really could be implemented, it might contribute in mutual trust-building between the conflicting parties.

    Before restarting the peace dialogue process, all the new actors (the facilitator, the Thai dialogue panel, and probably the new head of MARA Patani) must study carefully the pros and cons of the safety zone. At the same time, regardless of whether they continue talking about the plan or not, they also have to explain the current status of the plan to the public, especially to the local people in the conflict area.

    At least this plan has been discussed for a long period of time, and if the peace dialogue should be resumed, exchanging ideas about the plan could be a good starting point for the resumed talks. Before implementing this plan, all the parties involved in the peace dialogue have to communicate closely with the local people, and implementation must be based on the agreement and cooperation of the local people in the district chosen as the safety zone. If the plan is successful, it will be a strong trust-building measure among the conflicting parties, and it might encourage the largest insurgent group which has been keeping its distance from the peace dialogue, the BRN, to join the process.  

    Reference

    [1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-election/malaysias-mahathir-92-to-be-sworn-in-as-prime-minister-after-historic-poll-win-idUSKBN1IB03S

    [2] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/malaysian/peace-facilitator-08242018162911.html

    [3] http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30356081

    [4] https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1556394/udomchai-heads-southern-peace-talks

    [5] https://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30361648

    [6] https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1622962/southern-peace-talks-put-off-until-poll

    [7] https://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30363503

    [8] https://www.isranews.org/content-page/67-south-slide/76635-sukree-76635.html (In Thai)

    [9] http://www.marapatani.com/2019/06/03/perutusan-hari-raya-aidil-fitri-1440-h2019/?fbclid=IwAR0IAe3SoN0vcAAKNwN2j_yqB4u9EnVp3-9CDDZb6NZTgPi_esr6qEI7Qxo (In Malay)

    [10] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/thai/Deep-South-peace-talks-06142019172811.html

    [11] https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/359620/thailand-muslim-rebels-aim-for-ramadan-peace

    [12] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JE9NiawBL8&t=16s (In Malay)

    [13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcWmriF3TNM (In Malay)

    [14] Personal conversation, a senior BRN member in MARA Patani. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 2019.

    [15] https://deepsouthwatch.org/en/node/9977

    [16] https://deepsouthwatch.org/th/node/11724 (In Thai)

    [17] Ibid. Personal interview with Abu Hafez Al-Hakim, May 2019, Kelantan, Malaysia.

    [18] A power point slide to explain the safety zone plan, prepared by Abu Hafez al-Hakim. Obtained in June 2018.

    [19] Personal interview with Abu Hafez Al-Hakim, May 2019, Kelantan, Malaysia

    [20] http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/breakingnews/30347388

    OpinionOutsider InsideDeep SouthDeep South peace talkMARA PataniBRNHara Shintaro
    Categories: Prachatai English

    226 civil society organizations issue statement on Chiyaphum land right defenders case

    Prachatai English - Mon, 2019-07-01 23:39
    Submitted on Mon, 2019-07-01 23:39Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

    226 civil society organisations and human rights defenders  globally have demanded that the Thai government drop all charges against 14 land and human rights defenders in Ban Sapwai, Chaiyaphum, who are currently facing disproportionate imprisonment and fines exceeding one million Thai Baht (approximately USD 32,300). They were found guilty in August last year by the first court for breaching Thailand’s Forest Act and National Park Act despite evidence qualifying for exemption from prosecution as poor, landless and low-income groups. 

    The people of Ban Sapwai waiting to hear the appeal court's verdict at the Chaiyaphum provincial court

    The statement, signed by civil society organisations focusing on women’s rights, environment, and land rights, among others, also demands that the Thai government scrap the Forest Master Plan, NCPO Order 64/2014 and similar NCPO orders that fail to protect the people and communities’ interest, rights and sovereignty. “The Thai government must respect the 14 land and human rights defenders from Ban Sapwai and uphold their right to community land use. These are communities who have lived and tilled this land long before any and all forest reclamation plans and policies. ” said Pranom Somwong, Protection International, Thailand. 

    In May and June 2019, the Appeals Court has so far reaffirmed the sentences for nine defendants out of 14 in Ban Sapwai, even though the Office of the Prime Minister and a task force is reviewing their rights for community land use. Five more women land and human rights defenders are due to hear their verdicts on 2 and 3 July.  

    Ban Sapwai is one of the thousand villages throughout Thailand being affected by the Thai government’s “forest reclamation” policies. Issued in 2014 by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the order no.64/2014 and 66/2014 aim to increase the national forest land from 31% to 40% by evicting those using the lands. However as of 2015, the NGO Committee on Development has found that only 2% of the cases have been filed/pursued against large businesses and investors, while the rest are against small-scale peasants. “The government’s environmental commitment should ensure that it does not come at the cost of women peasants’ livelihood, but instead should aim to cease fossil fuels and development projects that do not benefit the people,” said Kavita Naidu, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand.

    At the same time, according to Land Watch Thai, in the past five years, the Thai Junta has given away 6,243 Rai (approx. 999 Hectares) of forest conservation land to  large corporations including Thai Cement company for coal mining and for Special Economic Zones in Tak province. “It is contradictory that women peasants are faced with criminal punishment and have to shoulder hefty fines for ‘environmental damage fee’ for small scale farming, while large extractive corporations have a free pass from the government to use forest land for polluting the environment at a worse scale,” said Suluck Fai Lamubol, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand. 

    The global human rights community urgently asks the Thai Government to demonstrate its commitment to protecting the Thai people and recognise the important role women land and human rights defenders play in saving the planet.

    Pick to Postchaiyaphumhuman rights defendersland rights defendershuman rights violation
    Categories: Prachatai English

    Eyewitness speaks out on attack on activist

    Prachatai English - Mon, 2019-07-01 14:38
    Submitted on Mon, 2019-07-01 14:38Prachatai

    Following the attack on activist Sirawith “Ja New” Serithiwat on Friday (28 June), Prachatai spoke to an eyewitness who saw the attack. 

    Left: Sirawith's mother, with a superimposed picture of Sirawith in hospital
    Right: the location of the attack

    The witness, who is a nearby food vendor, said she saw Sirawith arrive at the intersection on a motorcycle taxi, before getting off and walking towards her. Sirawith ran out onto the street after he was hit by the first attacker and was then attacked by three more people with wooden sticks even after he fell. She said that all of the attackers wore helmets and jackets, and that she couldn’t see what they looked like, but that she had seen one of them waiting around for a while before Sirawith arrived.

    Sirawith was attacked at the entrance to Soi Ram Intra 109 – a crowded public area with many vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers nearby. There are also many cars passing by, and one of the witnesses said that many drivers were blowing their horns at the attackers, and that any dash cams would have caught a footage of the attack.

    There are also CCTV cameras around the scene of the attack. Some footage, posted by activist and Future Forward MP Rangsiman Rome, shows two men with wooden sticks arriving on a white motorcycle. They attacked Sirawith, before fleeing on the motorcycle.

    A screencap of the CCTV footage. Sirawith is on the right of the picture, wearing a white shirt. 

    The attackers fled the scene after the nearby shopkeepers and motorcycle taxi drivers shouted “the police are coming.” The witnesses then helped perform first aid on Sirawith and called the police and an ambulance.

    Sirawith was at first taken to Navamin Hospital, before being transferred to Mission Hospital. He sustained head injuries and fractures to his nose and eye socket. A medical examination found no brain damage, and he is now fully conscious. He is to be transferred to Ramathibodi Hospital, where he will be able to see an expert ophthalmologist for his eye injury. There were at first concerns about loss of vision in one of his eyes, but he is now starting to be able to see.

    Patnaree Charnkij, Sirawith’s mother, went to Min Buri Police Station on Friday evening (28 June) to report the attack to the police. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) showed on their twitter account three soldiers in uniform waiting in front of the police station at the time.

    NewsSirawith Serithiwatpolitical violencePatnaree Charnkij
    Categories: Prachatai English

    Thailand - National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP-BHR) must regulate corporate activity to guarantee businesses respect human rights, including for Thai companies operating abroad

    Prachatai English - Mon, 2019-07-01 01:39
    Submitted on Mon, 2019-07-01 01:39Manushya Foundation

    Network calls on Thai Government to adopt its joint commentary to achieve corporate accountability, ensure responsible business conduct and promote a Thai economy that is sustainable and respectful of human rights. 

    Download the English Version of the News Release here

    Download the Thai version of the News Release here

    27 June 2019, Bangkok – On the occasion of Business and Human Rights Day 2019, Manushya Foundation and the Thai BHR Network held a press conference ‘Peoples over Profit’, calling on the Royal Thai Government to ensure effective regulation of corporate activity through a strong National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights, which is inclusive of the concerns of the communities affected by adverse impacts of businesses and reflective of all their challenges and recommendations in their joint commentary on the final draft of the National Action Plan, prior to the adoption of the NAP-BHR by the Minister of Justice in July 2019. For implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) on the ground, the National Action Plan (NAP) must result in protection and respect of human rights in business contexts in Thailand as well as when Thai companies are operating abroad.

    Overall, the joint commentary highlights the deficiencies of the draft NAP-BHR as it fails to recognise the critical need for mandatory measures to hold Thai businesses accountable for the adverse impact of their activities wherever they operate. The comments also point to weaknesses of the NAP-BHR to regulate transnational corporations investing and/or operating in Thailand, to guarantee these entities respect human rights throughout their supply chains by applying mandatory human rights due diligence processes and other accountability measures inspired by the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015 and the French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law of 2017“A strong drafting process needs to lead to a NAP-BHR with strong content”, highlights Emilie Pradichit, Founder & Director of Manushya Foundation. “For this, it is very important that the NAP has a good mix of voluntary and mandatory measures, following the 2016 Guidance on National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights developed by the UN Working Group (UNWG) on Business and Human Rights (BHR).” The draft NAP also fails to apply a gender lens in this application of UNGPs on the ground with the gender impact of businesses ignored and fails to provide a detailed action plan to promote responsible business conduct.

    For access to effective remedy in line with pillar 3 of the UNGPs, the draft NAP does not reflect on state-based non-judicial grievance redress mechanisms adequately; customary laws and practices of affected communities; practical, societal and jurisdictional barriers to remedy; provision of remedy through mechanisms that are responsive to gender, legal status, sexual orientation and gender identity, nationality, and ethnicity of affected individuals; and specific circumstances such as enforced disappearances of defenders, restrictions on online activity, and remedies to victims of exploitative labour practices or through collective bargaining. Shortcomings in the draft NAP are also identified in its failure to address the circumstances of affected communities and their particular challenges and recommendations, and to consider communities and their rights in a comprehensive manner as identified in the Independent CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) of Manushya and the Thai BHR Network and their joint comments on each of the four priority areas.

    With respect to the first priority area on violation of labour rights and standards, Manushya and the Network conveyed their disappointment on the draft NAP for its disregard to recognize certain groups, particularly sex workers, and the gaps in addressing their rights and issues. “The NAP must identify sex work as work, and labour rights should be guaranteed to all sex workers, specifically taking into consideration the challenges we face,” stresses Sirisak Chaited, Sex worker and LGBTI activist. “We call on the Thai government to decriminalise sex work by abolishing the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act, which undermines sex workers’ fundamental right to work”.

    Further, the joint commentary highlights the failure of the draft NAP  to address issues of child labour and informal workers, barriers to access social security measures, occurrences of unfair dismissal and needs for specific mechanisms and adequate measures to tackle discrimination at the workplace against LGBTI individuals, detention of migrant workers and other victims of exploitative labour practices.

    On the second priority area on communities, land, natural resources and the environment, the joint comments highlight that Thailand’s conflicting and problematic laws, including the recent Factory Act, the Community Forest Act and amendments to the National Park Act and the Wildlife Conservation Act adopted without community consultation as well as the National Reserved Forests Act,  the Land Code, and relevant NCPO orders motivated by business incentives that result in violation of community rights in forest areas, have not been identified specifically in the draft NAP.

    “Fourteen land rights defenders, including 9 women Human rights defenders from Chaiyaphum province are facing jail on charges of destroying the forest in Sai Thong National Park. The Forest reclamation policy of the military junta meant to target capitalist investors is hurting communities instead. Thailand’s NAP-BHR states the possible review of certain laws. Forest laws need to be reviewed with the participation of concerned communities and for distribution of power to the grassroots levels” says Suwalee Phongam, one of the 14 lands rights defenders whose court hearing is on 3 July 2019.

    More concerning is the non-recognition of ‘indigenous peoples’ as one of the key affected communities most-at-risk of experiencing adverse business conducts despite identification of the challenge to engage them in decision making processes in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the need to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for forced evictions in rural development and land policies.

    “Although we heavily engaged in the NAP drafting process, the government continues to deny the existence of indigenous peoples and violations of our rights by businesses in Thailand as well as the disproportionate impacts of those violations on indigenous women in particular,” says Katima Leeja, an Indigenous Lisu activist with the Network of Indigenous Peoples in Thailand. “The NAP needs to ensure our rights as indigenous peoples to live on our ancestral land, to manage the resources of our lands and to participate in decision-making processes by obtaining our FPIC. We are the ones facing direct impacts of businesses as well as development projects, so we know the best meaningful solutions to stop these violations. It is time for them to acknowledge our existence and contribution to sustaining the economy and protecting the environment by preserving our ancestral lands and traditional ways of life.”

    Further, Rokeeyoh Samae, a Women Human Rights Defender of the Thepa Green World Network, comprising community members opposing the construction of power plants in Southern Thailand, stresses, “It is important that community consultations are effectively carried out prior to construction of any business project with environmental and human rights impact assessments carried out hand-in-hand with the concerned communities and their experts. The NAP should also address the liability of the State through effective penalties and access to remedy for violations by state-owned enterprises such as those arising from the actions of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) in the case of Thepa coal-fired power plant.”

    Regarding the third priority area on the protection of human rights defenders (HRDs), Manushya and the Thai BHR Network in their joint comments pointed to the failure of the draft NAP to guarantee protection of human rights defenders in the context of increasing Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) they face. The draft NAP does not identify the laws which have been used by businesses to silence Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), such as those of the articles 44, 47, 48 and 279 of the 2014 Interim Constitution; Articles 265 and 279 of the 2017 Constitution; NCPO Order 13/2016 that grants the military the power to arrest, investigate and detain any person without any judicial or legislative oversight; Sections 326-328 of the Criminal Code related to defamation and Section 14 of the Computer-related Crime Act often used to criminalise HRDs and censor online content.  

    “We urge the Thai government to include in the NAP the aim of enacting a specific anti-SLAPP legislation to address SLAPP cases, as the Sections 161/1 and 165/2 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 21 of the Public Prosecution Organ and the Public Prosecutors Act are not sufficient to tackle corporate oppression and repression manifested through judicial harassment and SLAPPs against HRDs,” says Sarawut Pinkanta of the Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights.

    Additionally, the draft NAP does not address the violations of international standards that protect and promote the rights of HRDs in unfavourable legislative context with the recent Cybersecurity Bill, and the draft Act on Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance. It also ignores the critical role of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in business contexts. “The final draft NAP is completely indifferent to adverse business conduct affecting human rights defenders, particularly women defenders. It also fails to regulate the gendered impacts of business activities on human rights, which must be addressed immediately,” says Nada Chaiyajit, a transgender activist involved since inception in contributing views of affected communities’ to the Independent NBA on BHR.

    Furthermore, as per the joint commentary, the draft NAP, although detailed and comprehensive on the fourth priority area of international investments and transnational corporations, fails to ensure businesses and investors respect their human rights obligations, through strictly enforceable legislations. “The NAP must include a strong commitment to develop and implement a law to require Thai companies and investors undertake mandatory human rights due diligence ensuring meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement and transparency in information sharing and hold them accountable for their human rights violations both at home and abroad” says Angkhana Neelapajit, Human Rights Commissioner, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT). “Criminal liability must also be imposed by such laws for human rights violation caused by Thai outbound investments.”

    At the same time, the draft NAP completely ignores consideration of human rights impacts of trade agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) Convention of 1991, including on livelihoods, agriculture, food security and health. “Thailand will be obligated to change its domestic laws and policies to comply with RCEP and UPOV, which will destroy our traditional practices of seed sharing and diversification,” says Noraeri Thungmueangthong, Vice-Chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network of Thailand. “For indigenous women, seeds are means of our food sovereignty and security as well as our culture, identity, and life, so the NAP must ensure community consultations prior to adoption and enforcement of trade agreements to prevent corporate capture and guarantee protection of community rights and interests.”

    For implementation and monitoring process of the NAP, the joint commentary underscores that the draft NAP does not include a clear outline for implementation measures with specific indicators; overlooks inclusive, participatory, collaborative and cross-sectional implementation approaches with meaningful participation of all stakeholders, specifically the affected communities, which are not included in the NAP committee; and neglects independence, transparency and accountability in the monitoring and oversight processes.

    With consideration to many drawbacks in the process and content of the final draft NAP, Manushya and the Thai BHR Network strongly urged the Thai government to make necessary amendments in line with their comments and ensure formulation of an effective and inclusive policy document through detailed, time bound actions and with inclusion of affected communities representatives in the NAP Committee. “We will continue our advocacy efforts for the adoption and implementation of a NAP-BHR by the Ministry of Justice that reflects all the challenges and recommendations faced by communities affected by the negative impacts of business activities,” says Sugarnta Sookpaita of the Migrant Workers Federation and the Northern Coordinator with the Thai BHR Network. “For this, we call on all our comments to be taken into consideration and the usage of multi-stakeholder processes in order to continue an open, constructive and collaborative approach in the adoption, implementation and monitoring of the NAP.”

    “We see this policy document as a starting point to achieve corporate accountability, ensure responsible business conduct and promote a Thai economy that is sustainable and respectful of human rights,” concludes Emilie Pradichit, Founder & Director, Manushya Foundation.

    - Access pictures of the Business and Human Rights Day in Thailand - 2019 here

    - Access the Joint Comments on the final draft National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights here:

    - Access the Independent CSO National Baseline Assessment (NBA) on Business and Human Rights in Thailand here:

    About Manushya Foundation

    Manushya Foundation is an Asia regional foundation promoting community empowerment to advance human rights, social justice and peace through a process of engagement, mobilisation and empowerment. With concern emerging on Business and Human Rights in Thailand, the bottom-up strategy of Manushya Foundation guarantees the empowerment of communities through a process of community led evidence-based research; the development of a national baseline assessment on BHR; and building capacity on BHR knowledge through the TBHRN, a unified national network comprising communities, academics and experts. For further information on the work of Manushya Foundation, visit:

    https://www.manushyafoundation.org

    About the Thai BHR Network

    The Thai Business and Human Rights Network (TBHRN) is an informal, inclusive and intersectional coalition of human rights defenders, community leaders, researchers, academics, and non-governmental organisations from the local, national and regional spheres, who are joining hands to ensure local communities are central to the business and human rights response in Thailand. Together with Manushya Foundation, the Network engages in advocacy, dialogue, and monitoring of business and human rights commitments made by the Royal Thai Government, in particular in engaging in the development and monitoring of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. More information on the TBHRN and its role can be accessed at:

    https://www.manushyafoundation.org/coalition-building-workshop-report

    Pick to Postnational action plan on business and human rightsManushya Foundation
    Categories: Prachatai English

    Pages

    Subscribe to ประชาไท Prachatai.com aggregator - Prachatai English