Anutin Charnvirakul, the Public Health Minister, and Dr Sukhum Karnchanapimai, the Permanent Secretary, are standing firm on the ban on 3 toxic agricultural chemicals after Chalermchai Sri-on, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, proposed a revision of the ban to the National Hazardous Substances Committee (NHSC).
Anutin stated on 31 August that the Ministry of Public Health insisted on the ban on paraquat, chlorpyrifos and glyphosate. He also asked for postponement of the ban on glyphosate to be reconsidered.
He emphasized the danger of the chemicals established by scientific studies and medical diagnoses and pleaded with those who were trying to obstruct the process to stop their activities immediately.
“The Ministry of Public Health wishes to adopt the same principles that the government is currently using to manage the Covid-19 situation which have been effective and globally recognized. The important principle is that the health of Thai people must come first. … Even though there might be some negative impact on the economy, the Thai people must have good health and be safe from all diseases,” said Anutin.
Dr Sukhum underlined the collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and their campaign allies on this issue has moved in one direction to reach the ultimate goal of the chemical ban.
The tension and disagreement between the two ministries reflect the clash of interests between economics and health. Research has proved that all three chemicals are toxic, yet farmers are still unable to find proper chemical substitutes.
The Ministry of Health proposed to the NHSC a ban on all three harmful chemicals and eventually NHSC agreed to ban paraquat and chlorpyrifos and to restrict the use of glyphosate. The ban has been in effect since December 1st, 2019.
This has concerned importers of agricultural inputs and farmers who could not find substitutes for the banned chemicals, so the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives strongly opposed the ban.
A study conducted by Asst Prof Pornpimol Kongtip, a lecturer at the Faculty of Public Health, Mahidol University, found large accumulations of pesticides in pregnant women that could have harmful effects on infants and their development.
Another study by Puangrat Kajitvichyanukul, a researcher at the Faculty of Engineering, Naresuan University, revealed paraquat contamination in food, beverages and the environment.
Thai PBS reported that in 2017, Thailand imported 3,816 million baht worth of paraquat. 53 countries have already banned the use of paraquat.
Several changes in the ban have led to confusion and no final answer for farmers.
Source: MatichonNewsAnutin CharnvirakulChalermchai Sri-onParaquatSukhum KarnchanapimaiChlorpyrifosGlyphosate
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has admitted negligence and misconduct in the 2012 hit-and-run case involving Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya. A new committee has been formed that will reopen the case for further investigation.
Left to right: Vorayuth Yoovidhya and the simulated crash scene.
On 31 August 2020, Gen Prayut admitted that there were flaws and negligence in the investigation of Vorayuth. A new committee has now been set up to re-investigate the case, in line with a recommendation from Vicha Mahakhun, a former member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), who chaired a report into the handling of the case.
The details of the initial investigation were submitted by Vicha to the Prime Minister in a 100-page document. Gen Prayut announced after the cabinet meeting on 1 September that he will give an interview to summarise the findings of the report and that Vicha will discuss the contents of the report in detail with the media.
Vicha confirmed that his panel saw “injustice” and the “shadow of corruption” in how the case was handled by the prosecution. The flaws in the investigation led to an excessively lengthy process resulting in the expiry of the statute of limitations on some of the charges.
The Prime Minister has conceded that certain individuals are responsible for the failure to bring justice in this case. However, he refrained from blaming the whole justice system. The report will be made public for discussion of its findings.
The government hopes that this will give the appearance of greater transparency and prove the government’s intention to take action. Vicha also hinted that the report contains information that will rattle both the law enforcement and police prosecution organizations and provides names, positions and organizations of the wrongdoers.
In 2012, Vorayuth crashed his Ferrari into a police motorcycle, killing Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert. However, he failed 8 times to appear in curt to hear the charges and when an arrest warrant was issued in 2017 he escaped overseas. The Thai authorities have repeatedly said they were unable to locate him.NewsVorayuth YoovidhyaRed BullVicha Mahakhun
The Myanmar authorities should immediately drop the charge against the free-speech activist and poet Maung Saungkha, seven international human rights organizations said today (2 September). Police in Yangon charged him on July 7, 2020 with organizing a protest demanding an end to internet restrictions in conflict-affected Rakhine and Chin States. A court verdict is expected on September 4.
The authorities accused Maung Saungkha of hanging a banner reading, “Is the internet being shut down to hide war crimes and killing people?” from an overpass in downtown Yangon on June 21. He faces up to three months in jail and a fine for unauthorized protests under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law. June 21 was the one-year anniversary of mobile internet shutdowns in parts of Rakhine and Chin States.
“The charges against Maung Saungkha are just the latest example of the Myanmar government’s intolerance of critical speech and peaceful protest,” said Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, executive director at FORUM-ASIA. “Instead of prosecuting those peacefully protesting the year-long internet shutdown in Rakhine and Chin States, the authorities should uphold free expression rights by ending the shutdown.”
The international human rights groups are Access Now, Amnesty International, Article 19, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Civil Rights Defenders, Fortify Rights, and Human Rights Watch.
The current National League for Democracy-led government, which took office in April 2016, has increasingly restricted the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.
On July 27, a court sentenced two student leaders, Myat Hein Tun and Kyaw Lin, to one month each in Yangon’s Insein Prison for failing to give advance notice of a protest on February 23 in Kamaryut township in Yangon. During the protest, the students demanded that the government immediately lift internet restrictions in Rakhine and Chin States and called for accountability of those responsible for the Myanmar military’s alleged shelling of a primary school in Buthidaung township in Rakhine State that had injured 21 students.
On March 25, the court had sentenced seven other students who participated in the protest to one month in prison each with hard labor. All nine students were sentenced under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law.
The Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly Law imposes criminal penalties for failing to provide advance notice for an assembly or to comply with broadly worded restrictions on speech and actions at assemblies. The restrictions are contrary to international human rights law, which prohibits criminal penalties for organizing or participating in a peaceful assembly. Imposing prison sentences is particularly harsh in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, when overcrowded and unsanitary prison conditions could facilitate its transmission.
The ongoing mobile internet shutdown in seven townships in Rakhine State and one township in Chin State also violates international human rights law, which requires any internet-based restrictions on communities to be necessary and proportionate. The government first imposed restrictions in nine townships in June 2019, only permitting voice calls and text messages, also known as SMS. The restrictions were temporarily lifted in some areas on September 1, 2019, but the government re-imposed the restrictions on February 3. They were removed in Maungdaw township on May 2, leaving eight townships still under restrictions.
The shutdown enters its second year amid heightened fighting between the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group, and the Myanmar military. Although the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced on June 23 that internet restrictions were provisionally extended only through August 1, 3G and 4G services remain blocked, with only 2G data networks available. The 2G speed is drastically slower and does not allow services such as videocalls, emails, or access to webpages with photos or videos. Restoring full internet access has taken on even more urgency ever since a fresh outbreak of local Covid-19 transmission cases in the State since mid-August.
On August 1, the Norwegian mobile telecommunications provider, Telenor, issued a media release stating that the Ministry of Transport and Communications had directed all mobile operators to extend internet restrictions on 3G and 4G mobile data services in the eight townships until October 31. Telenor expressed deep concern regarding the lack of “meaningful internet services, and for the impact on civilians.”
The Myanmar authorities have also ordered websites of independent and ethnic news media blocked, along with many other sites. The internet restrictions were imposed under section 77 of the Telecommunications Law, which grants the Myanmar authorities broad and arbitrary powers to suspend telecommunications networks. The government had cited a “security requirement and public interest” in its order to telecom companies to reimpose the restrictions, and later cited an escalation in fighting to continue them. The government also offered other rationales including concerns about hate speech, nationalist sentiment, disinformation, the Arakan Army using mobile internet to detonate IEDs and landmines, and “military secrets” online.
The Myanmar authorities should drop the charges against Maung Saungkha, and quash the convictions against the nine student activists, the groups said. The government should repeal or amend all repressive laws, including the Telecommunications Law and the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, which violate the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“Myanmar’s government should restore full internet to the eight townships in Rakhine and Chin States,” said Matthew Bugher, head of Asia Programme, at Article 19. “The lack of meaningful communications or information-sharing capabilities poses further threats to people trapped by fighting amid the Covid-19 pandemic.”
This joint statement is endorsed by:
- Access Now
- Amnesty International
- Article 19
- Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
- Civil Rights Defenders
- Fortify Rights
- Human Rights Watch
Student Union of Thailand (SUT) president Jutatip Sirikhan has been arrested while on the way to university earlier today (1 September) for her participation in the 18 July mass protest.
Jutatip was arrested while on a taxi on her way to class at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus. She went live on Facebook at 12.50 today when plainclothes police officers stopped the taxi she was in and delivered an arrest warrant.
One of the plainclothes police officers presented his badge to Jutatip after they stopped the taxi she was on in order to deliver her arrest warrant.
Jutatip was taken to Samranrat Police Station. An officer accompanied her in another taxi to the station, since she did not feel safe enough to travel in the private car the officers brought to arrest her. She stayed live on Facebook and read out passages from the Thai translation of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense during the travel to the station.
She was then taken to the Bangkok Criminal Court and was granted bail and released at 17.20 using the academic position of a lecturer at Thammasat University as security. The Court did not require her to immediately pay the 100,000 baht security, but imposed the condition that she does not repeat the actions for which she was being charged – the same condition given to everyone else who has been arrested and released on the same charges.
Jutatip appeared in front of the Criminal Court after her release and gave a short press conference.
“When they were arresting me, they rode a motorcycle up to the car I was on and knocked on the window. I was shocked, thinking that they were thieves, but instead they showed me their ID cards and telling me their rank, said they were police,” Jutatip said. “I didn’t intend to run away to begin with. I know I have an arrest warrant. I have been waiting to be arrested for a very long time, but it didn’t happen until today. Each time someone gets arrested, there will be slurs against our side that we did not protest peacefully.
“I am a student and I have been harassed by the police for months, for years. Why is there no compensation for me? Why must there be compensation for the police who are servants of the dictatorship?
“There should actually be a summons first, but what happened was that the police brought the arrest warrant and arrested me. It’s extremely unfair to a student. They followed me with my phone signal, followed me from where I’m staying. They threatened my home, they threatened my family, they took a warrant to my house, so now we have to escalate our protest. Everything is supported by the Constitution.
“We pay our taxes. We must receive protection from the state, not harassment from the state. So today I have to express myself symbolically that we can do this. We must stand by our rights and freedoms. Throwing paint is also something that can be done.”
Jutatip then threw a bucket of white paint over herself while holding up her hand in the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute. She said that the white paint represents purity and justice, and that they are demanding justice back.
“We are showing that this is freedom, this is the kind of expression we can do,” Jutatip said. “Even if now it is throwing paint over ourselves, it is a way of showing that we can throw paint at any time. We can throw paint over those with power, because those with power throw legal charges over us, throw bullets at us without exception.”
“Paint can be washed out, but we can’t wash out injustice,” Jutatip said.
Jutatip covered herself in white paint in a symbolic act of protest following her release.
Afterwards, Jutatip thanked the lecturer who came to make bail for her and the people who came to support her, and helped the crowd clean the paint off the sidewalk in front of the footpath in front of the Court.
“We won’t stop fighting until we win in everything, including monarchy reform and a new constitution,” Jutatip said.
Jutatip is the 14th activist to be arrested for participating in the 18 July mass protest. 15 other participants at the protest have also received a summons and reported to Samranrat Police Station to hear the charges against them on 28 August. Jutatip was charged with sedition and violation of the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Diseases Act, among other charges.NewsJutatip SirikhanStudent Union of Thailand (SUT)judicial harassmentStrategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP)Student protest 2020student movementYouth movement
On the occasion of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, our organizations call on the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to adequately investigate all cases of enforced disappearances in their respective countries, determine the fate or whereabouts of the victims, and ensure the victims’ families have effective access to justice and receive adequate reparations.
The yellow 'missing person' poster, made by the student activist group Spring Movement, contains the names and pictures of victims of enforced disappearance in Thailand and has recently become a common sight at student-led anti-government protests across the country.
We are extremely disturbed by the dismal failure of the authorities in each of these four countries to adequately and effectively investigate cases of enforced disappearances, particularly those involving human rights defenders, activists, and government critics. In many cases, authorities professed ignorance of the disappearances, ignored appeals made by the victims’ families, or refused to provide information to international human rights mechanisms. This inaction by government authorities has reinforced the perception that recent cases of enforced disappearances in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam have occurred in a context of increasing efforts by these governments to pursue dissidents and critics beyond their national borders in order to punish them because of their peaceful and legitimate exercise of their rights, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression.Cambodia
The latest case of enforced disappearance of an activist in one of the four countries was that of Thai activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who was last seen on the afternoon of 4 June 2020 in Phnom Penh. According to eyewitness testimonies, Wanchalearm was kidnapped in front of his condominium in Phnom Penh by a group of unidentified men dressed in black. Wanchalearm was taken away in a dark blue/black SUV. Wanchalearm was an outspoken critic of the military junta that ruled Thailand between 2014 and 2019 and was also reported to be on a list of individuals accused of violating Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse-majesté), for whom the Thai police had issued arrest warrants. He had fled Thailand after the May 2014 military coup.
Another case of disappearance that has remained unaddressed in Cambodia is that of Khem Sophath, a 15-year-old boy who was last seen near an industrial zone on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Road on 3 January 2014, during the violent dispersal by government security forces of a demonstration of garment factory workers. At least four workers were fatally shot by security forces and at least 39 were wounded in the crackdown. According to eyewitnesses, Khem Sophath was shot in the chest by security forces but his fate or whereabouts have remained unknown.
The disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit occurred in the context of ongoing efforts by Thai authorities to pursue dissidents who fled to neighboring countries following the 2014 military coup. Since 2016, at least eight other Thai dissidents who fled to Thailand’s neighboring countries are known to have disappeared under suspicious circumstances.Laos
Five Thai political activists who fled to Laos after the May 2014 coup in Thailand are either dead or missing. Ittiphon Sukpaen and Wuthipong Kachathamakul disappeared on 22 June 2016 and 29 July 2017 respectively. Surachai Danwattananusorn, Chatchan Buphawan, and Kraidej Luelert were last seen in Vientiane on 12 December 2018. The bodies of Chatchan and Kraidej were found by the Mekong River in Thailand’s Nakhon Phanom Province in late December 2018. The fate or whereabouts of the other three activists remain unknown.
In Laos, the fate or whereabouts of at least 11 other individuals remain unknown. They include: civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who was last seen on the evening of 15 December 2012 in Vientiane; seven persons (two women - Kingkeo Phongsely and Somchit and seven men - Soubinh, Souane, Sinpasong, Khamsone, Nou, Somkhit, and Sourigna), who were detained by security forces in November 2009; and Somphone Khantisouk, the owner of an eco-tourism business, who was abducted in Luang Namtha Province on 23 January 2017.Vietnam
Three other Thai activists, Siam Theerawut, Chucheep Chivasut, and Kritsana Thapthai, who also fled Thailand after the May 2014 coup, sought refuge in Laos, before moving to Vietnam after their fellow Thai activists in Laos were found dead. According to a Thai organization in exile in the US, in early 2019, Vietnamese authorities arrested the three for illegal entry and use of fake travel documents and, on 8 May 2019, handed them over to Thai authorities. To date, the fate or whereabouts of all three activists remain unknown.Thailand
In Thailand, the most recent disappearance of an activist was that of Od Sayavong, who was last seen in Bangkok on 26 August 2019. Od, a political activist from Laos, had been awaiting resettlement to a third country since the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok had registered him as a person of concern in December 2017. Od was an outspoken critic of the Lao government and a member of “Free Lao”, an informal group of Lao migrant workers and activists based in Bangkok and neighboring provinces.
Prior to Od’s disappearance, on 26 January 2019, Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese political activist, went missing in Thailand, where he had fled to from Vietnam to seek political asylum. It is suspected that Nhat was abducted by unknown individuals in Bangkok before being taken back to Vietnam against his will. In March 2019, he was revealed to be detained in a jail in Hanoi. In March 2020, Nhat was sentenced to 10 years in prison at the end of a trial that fell far short of international standards.
Enforced disappearances violate numerous rights, including the right to liberty and security of the person, and constitute a grave threat to the right to life. These rights are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ongoing failure by these governments to adequately investigate all cases of enforced disappearances is in breach of their obligation to fulfill the right to an effective remedy, which is guaranteed by Article 2 (3) of the ICCPR. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam are all state parties to the ICCPR.
We also urge the governments of Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), incorporate its provision into their domestic legislation, and implement them. To date, Laos and Thailand have signed the ICPPED in September 2008 and January 2012 respectively, but have not yet ratified it. Vietnam has neither signed nor ratified the treaty. Cambodia became a state party to the ICPPED in June 2013.
Our organizations will continue to work to ensure that enforced disappearances no longer occur and that all the victims of enforced disappearances can safely return to their families. We will also continue to provide assistance to the victims’ families in their quest for truth, justice, and accountability for this heinous crime.Pick to PostInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)enforced disappearanceabductionstate violenceLaosVietnamCambodia
On the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the student activist group Spring Movement and Amnesty International Thailand organized the “Separation/(Silence)” exhibition at the 14 October Memorial in memory of victims of enforced disappearances in Thailand.
Sirin Mungcharoen speaking at the event
Student activist Sirin Mungcharoen, a member of the Spring Movement, said that the people who came to take part in the event are the friends and family of victims of enforced disappearance, and that they would like those who are missing to think of them as fighters rather than victims. She said that these are people who did what they believe in, and the state caused their disappearance, but that the event was for remembering them.
- UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia urges States to criminalize enforced disappearance, ratify convention
Wajana Wanlayangkun, daughter of writer and political refugee Wat Wanlayangkun, said during the panel discussion that she respects and admires the courage of the families of victims of enforced disappearance, as they are trying to find out the truth and find their family members while facing many risks. Wajana said that the problem came from injustice and the structure of society, which means that people who speak out or try to find the missing people and call for justice could face danger or even become victims of enforced disappearance themselves, and that the society should not let such a thing happen.
“On the day we remember victims of disappearance, I don’t want there to be more families of missing people every year. That is not the society we want,” Wajana said.
Kanya Theerawut, mother of missing activist-in-exile Siam Theerawut, said that people who have different political ideas should not have to face legal prosecution, violence, or disappearance. She also observed that the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) does not pay enough attention to cases of enforced disappearances.
Spring Movement's 'missing person' posters with names and pictures of victims of enforced disappearance. The poster, which the group released on their Facebook page, has now become a common sight at anti-government protests in Thailand.
Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s sister Sitanun also said that Wanchalearm’s disappearance has been ignored by both the Thai and Cambodian authorities, who have not provided support in the search for the missing or the judicial process. Sitanun said that this is a reflection of inequality in Thai society, as it has been 90 days since Wanchalearm went missing and the Thai authorities has yet to give the family any answer.
Sitanun said she will do everything to tell the world about what is happening in Thailand. She said she will do her best to try to find her brother and tell society what happened to Wanchalearm, and asked for the people’s support. Sitanun insisted that the government cannot deny responsibility or knowledge that a Thai citizen has been abducted.
The Commoner Band performing at the event
Phayao Akhad, whose daughter Kamonked was killed during the 19 May 2010 crackdown on the Red Shirt protest, also joined the panel discussion. Phayao said that there has not been any progress in her daughter’s case, which has been moved from the civilian courts to a military court.
Phayao said that, for the past 6 years, the Thai people have let a government that continues in power from a military coup run the country, until the younger generation started fighting back, which shows that the younger generation will not tolerate living under such state power. Phayao called on the red shirts and people who love democracy to come out and protect and support the students.
One of the news clippings on display at the event.
Meanwhile, former student activist Sirawit “Ja New” Serithiwat said that people had said that human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit’s disappearance would be the last case of enforced disappearance, or that the 2010 protest crackdown would be the last time people were killed because of politics, but there is no guarantee that these incidents will be the last. Sirawit said that it may look like a constitutional amendment is possible, but political exiles continue to go missing, and that if tens of thousands of people do not come out on the street, it will happen again, so it is crucial to continue to search for and speak the truth until we know who is behind these incidents.
During the exhibition, the Commoner Band also performed while wearing masks of previous victims of enforced disappearances, including Surachai Danwattananusorn, Siam Theerawut, and Wanchalearm Satsaksit. There was also a poetry reading by Pansak Sritep, whose son was killed during the 2010 crackdown.
An attendant at the exhibition places a flower in one of the vases.
There were also a set of vases, labelled with messages such as “I do not agree with enforced disappearance” and “I think justice comes with the process of finding the truth.” Attendants at the event placed flowers the organisers provided into the vases. Also banners displayed news clippings of reports about missing activists and one gave the number of days they have been missing.Newsenforced disappearanceabductionstate violenceSpring MovementAmnesty InternationalSirin MungcharoenKanya TheerawutSitanun SatsaksitPhayao AkhadSirawit Serithiwat
Caption: Sukhon Phuttan, a 60 year old cleaner, was beaten at the Thai-Japanese Bangkok Youth Centre near to a pro-monarchy protest on 30 August for wearing a red shirt.
Source: Sombat Thongyoi
Sukhon Phuttan, a 60 year old cleaner, was beaten at the Thai-Japanese Bangkok Youth Centre near to a pro-monarchy protest on 30 August for wearing a red shirt. Sukhon said he wore a red shirt to work overtime because it was Sunday. A witness has claimed he was assaulted by the protesters’ guards, but the pro-monarchy group Thai Pakdee denied any involvement.
Sukhon has filed a report with Din Daeng Police Station. According to the police blotter, he was attacked by an unknown man with an unknown weapon. A medical examination by the Veterans General Hospital simply says he was physically assaulted. Sukhon said that a group of people came to talk to him before they hit him on the head. He had said to them he was simply there to work without any political affiliation. After the assault, Sukhon said he was still dizzy and also had high blood pressure.
Sukhon told Prachatai that he has been working there for 37 years. On Sunday (30 August), he was there simply to sweep away water on the floor in front of the building. He wanted to make sure it was easier for anyone to walk by, including the pro-monarchy protesters. Sukhon said he wore a shirt according to the weekday’s symbolic colours –red for Sunday, yellow for Monday, etc. Sometimes he also wore an official uniform.
Sukhon said he was not afraid, but he hoped it would not happen again. “We are all Thais,” Sukhon told Matichon. “They come and hit me for what I do not understand. We are all Thais. It is not necessary to choose a colour. It’s better to live together as friends because we are all sons of the King. It’s better off that we should live in peace and happiness. Why argue with each other? We are all Thais.”
In the evening of the same day, Sombat Thongyoi posted on Facebook a picture of the scene where Sukhon was beaten. He claimed Sukhon was arguing with a middle-aged pro-monarchy woman protester. Sukhon was trying to say he was simply there to work, but the protesters’ guards immediately came to assault him.
Thai Pakdee, a pro-monarchy group which held an assembly nearby, has denied any involvement. Dr. Warong Dechgitvigrom, a former politician and the leader of Thai Pakdee, said that the organizing team did not use protest guards, but got help from the military and police to keep watch over the situation.
Patiyut Thongprachong, Deputy Secretary of Thai Pakdee, referred to a rumour claiming that Sukhon was tipsy. He said he has talked to the police, but he did not know who committed the assault because no officers saw the event. They were 30 metres away from the scene which was outside the protest site. Patiyut said that the claim was a distortion by people who think differently from his group.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Thai Pakdee pro-monarchy protest on Sunday had more than 1,200 participants. Protesters held placards with messages including “Save the Nation” and “Topple the institution – over my dead body.” The pro-monarchy protest was in response to the recent anti-government protests led by students and citizens who are calling for constitutional amendment, freedom of expression and monarchy reform.
On Monday (31 August), the pro-monarchy protesters gathered again at the Embassy of Japan in Thailand to called for the acting Prime Minister of Japan to take action against Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai professor in exile whom the protesters claim is using Japan as a base to undermine the Thai monarchy. He is also the founder of Royalist Marketplace - Talad Luang, a Facebook group which has now registered more than 1,000,000 monarchy reformists.NewsThai PakdeeWarong Dechgitvigrom
ANNI Open Letter concerning the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand’s (NHRCT) Statement on requesting all parties in demonstrations adhere to human rights principles and use peaceful means to resolve problems.
People raising 3 fingers at the 16 August protest.
The Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI), an initiative of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), acknowledges the statement made by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) on 20 August about the ongoing demonstrations in Thailand.
While we appreciate the efforts made by the Commission to address the situation, we remain deeply concerned over the intensifying human rights violations, including the increasing number of intimidations and judicial harassments against the human rights defenders (HRDs) and protestors. We believe that action is needed more than ever from the Commission to promote and ensure respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law in all circumstances and without exception.
We welcome some of the recommendations made by the Commission for the Government in its statement dated 20 August 2020, specifically requesting officials to adhere to the international standards in managing assemblies and ensuring the rights and safety of youth protestors.
However, we are concerned with the third recommendation on ‘requesting that protestors make demands that are clear and not vague, and do not monopolize legitimacy for one side only and that conform to the constitution and relevant laws’.We are of the view that such a recommendation does not reflect the international human rights standards that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) should commit to, and will adversely impact the perceived independence and accessibility of the Commission.
The NHRCT plays a vital role in promoting and protecting the rights of peoples in Thailand. The opinions, findings and recommendations of the Commission carries great credibility and influence within the Government and international bodies. The Commission is expected to provide recommendations that would improve the human rights performance at the country level. These recommendations should be in line with internationally-recognised human rights standards and principles.
We write to also express our concern that this third recommendation does not reflect the basic principles of freedom of expression as stipulated under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.
At a time when thousands are finding the courage to speak out, this recommendation risks trivialising their legitimate concerns and grievances. Further, it implies that these concerns are vague and one-sided, a dangerous message that can be used by the State to further silence protesters.
The Commission’s recommendation for protesters to adhere to relevant laws also fails to recognise that these laws, namely the Computer Crime Act, Emergency Decree and Sedition offence from the Criminal Code Laws, have often been used to intimidate and harass activists and HRDs. The Commission should instead highlight the intensifying human rights violations against the protesters, including through the use of these laws. It should help ensure that Thailand adheres to its obligations to protect the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly as a state party to the ICCPR.
We also urge the Commission to steadfastly adhere to international standards including the Paris Principles, General Observations, and Marrakech Declaration for national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to operate independently and effectively in addressing such situations.
Mr. Chairperson, NHRIs are established to be independent, standing up for those in need of protection, and holding the Government to account for their human rights obligations. Victims of human rights violations may find it difficult to approach the NHRCT if it is perceived as a spokesperson of the Government rather than as a defender of the people.
We therefore urge you to ensure that the Commission’s compliance with the Paris Principles and importantly, its independence in implementing its mandates.
ANNI stands ready to continue its support to the NHRCT, and we will remain committed to continue our engagement with the Commission in its work on the promotion and protection of human rights in Thailand.Pick to PostThe Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI)The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT)Student protest 2020Source: https://www.forum-asia.org/?p=32630&fbclid=IwAR31l3B3DNZvYuHjY8sLsm81_slSrncdAyRKgiN7po3vVAWXDJbcdaIhs0I
The House committee scrutinizing the 2021 budget has voted to delay payment to China for 2 submarines after Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Defence Minister, ordered the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) to reconsider.
A submarine in the Chinese Navy. (Source: Wikipedia)
The vote was made after the committee’s discussion on 31 August. Chairperson Santi Prompat said during the meeting that the RTN has made a statement insisting on the need for the procurement. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic is still not under control.
Therefore, the RTN requested the payment to be delayed and the removal of the entire first payment of 3,925 million baht from the 2021 budget. The RTN and the Defence Ministry will discuss with China the process to ensure Thailand procures the submarines on schedule.
The vote was 63 to 0 with 3 abstentions.
Santi said the discussion mainly stated that the submarines are needed and that 3 are still less than enough as Thailand has thousands of kilometres of coastline and disputed maritime areas that affect security.
The submarine deal in its entirety costs 22.5 billion baht for 3 Yuan Class S26T submarines from China. The Navy is already waiting for the first delivery in 2023.
Government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri said that procurement of the remaining 2 submarines was still on track. The withheld budget would be diverted to fight the pandemic.
The procurement became a hot issue when opposition MPs in a budget subcommittee questioned the procurement in this fiscal year when the Thai people are suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic. With stalemate in the subcommittee vote, the chairperson, from the ruling coalition, voted in favour of the procurement.NewssubmarinesprocurementpoliticsPrayuth Chan-o-cha
Nearly five million first time voters (aged 18-22) are anticipated to cast their ballots in Myanmar’s 2020 general election on 8 November, according to figures from the last census.
A woman after submitted a vote at a polling station in Yangon during the 2015 election (Source: File/Prachatai)
While youth involvement in political parties is uncommon, the number of women standing as candidates in the election – the country’s second since the transition from military to civilian rule began in 2012 – has risen dramatically.
This is due to the role Aung San Suu Kyi has played as leader of the National League for Democracy government over the last four years. But in smaller political parties across the country, women’s representation is growing at a much slower pace.
“Within political parties, men are nominated more often. If there were a proper representational system there would be more opportunities for women to get involved in the parties and the elections,” said Htet Oo Wai, 34, Director at the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).
In the last year, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has travelled to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague to defend Myanmar against charges of genocide, and has spearheaded the country’s coronavirus response using Facebook Live to deliver timely news and information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inside Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity has soared. Billboards and posters bearing her image are everywhere in Yangon, the largest city. She is widely cited by aspiring women politicians as to why they got involved in the political process, according to the Asia Foundation, an international development agency.
“Within the National League for Democracy [government] the women [members of parliament] perform much better than the male MPs. I think voters realize women can perform better if given a chance,” said Cheery Zahau, 39, a political and human rights activist.
This year, the National League for Democracy almost doubled the number of women candidates it had five years ago. Women now make up 20 percent of the NLD’s slate of candidates in the upcoming election.
In the last election the NLD had 13.5 percent women candidates, which is roughly equivalent to the percentage of women elected to parliament.
But Myanmar's constitution states that 25 percent of all seats belong to the military. So this means women's political representation nationwide stands at 10 percent because the military has only six women in its 166 designated seats.
The Asia Foundation’s 2016 report, Women’s Political Participation in Myanmar found after the last election: “The number of female representatives in the national parliament more than doubled from 6.0 to 13.7% of all elected MPs; 23 women parliamentarians entered the upper house and 44 in the lower house.”
Aung San Suu Kyi has come under criticism from former members of parliament. Thet Thet Khine, 53, accused the NLD government of trying to silence her from talking to the media.
So last year, Thet Thet Khine quit the NLD to found a new political party, the Pioneer People’s Party (PPP). She believes fielding only 20 per cent women candidates isn’t enough to effect real change in government.
“I think it’s a universal problem that the roles of women and youth are underestimated. We are trying to reverse this trend," she said. “We are the party that recognizes the role of women.”
Naw Ohn Hla, will stand as candidate for Kayin Ethnic Affairs Minister in Yangon Region for the United Nationalities Democracy Party (UNDP). (Source: Adam Bemma)
Fifteen years ago, Naw Ohn Hla was expelled from the NLD because of her activism. But she kept volunteering for the party until 2012 – the year Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to parliament and the transition to democracy began in Myanmar.
Since 2016, Naw Ohn Hla has become a thorn in the side of the NLD government – trying to hold it accountable to women, youth and ethnic minorities.
Naw Ohn Hla, 58, will stand as candidate for Kayin Ethnic Affairs Minister in Yangon Region for the United Nationalities Democracy Party (UNDP). This new party is hoping to reach voters who feel alienated by the NLD.
“Since we established our party, there were 30 percent of females. It is already included in our party’s principles. When we have more females, we will be able to understand people’s difficulties with the mindset of a mother,” she said.
Defeated in the last election by the NLD candidate in her hometown of Falam, Chin State, Cheery Zahau has since worked hard to unite three ethnic Chin political parties to contest this upcoming election under one umbrella.
The Chin National League for Democracy (CNLD) was formed in 2018. It hopes to win big on 8 November and form a state government. But Cheery Zahau said most male party leaders are still hesitant on the idea of gender equality.
“We approved 30 percent of women’s participation in our party both in the community and as candidates. The policy is there but we don’t have the strategy to get more women involved. It’s still a struggle,” she added.
Legislation has been discussed in Myanmar for a gender quota system to mandate an increase women’s participation in political parties. Some political parties have adopted it voluntarily. This could help to boost the number of women in government as has been seen in countries with the same electoral system as Myanmar such as the UK, Canada, Kenya and India.
But many in the NLD government are hesitant to mandate a space for women for fear of having them seen as needing help and not being electable on their own merits.
With the most famous woman in the country leading the current government under a power sharing agreement with the military, Aung San Suu Kyi lacks the necessary power to institute real social and political change in Myanmar.
“When we talk about women, when we talk about youth, the narrative is always as vulnerable groups,” said NIMD’s Htet Oo Wai.
“I hope to see women and youth viewed differently. They are capable and ready to take the lead if they are nominated or elected,” she added.FeatureBurmaMyanmarChin StateYangon2020 Myanmar electionKarenNaw Ohn HlaCheery Zahau
15 activists who received a police summons for their participation in the 18 July mass protest at the Democracy Monument went to Samranrat Police Station on 28 August to hear their charges, after they had participated in a demonstration at the 14 October Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Avenue the previous night.
The crowd at the Samranrat Police Station
At 9.20, the group marched from the 14 October Memorial to the police station with a crowd of around 200 supporters. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the ground arrived at the police station just before 10.00, but the police has set up metal fences around the station building and only allowed reporters with government-issued identification cards inside. The supporters then pushed past the mental fence into the parking lot and under the station building.
As the crowd was pushing past the fence, a bucket of blue paint was thrown at the police officers standing behind the fence, also spilling over reporters and other protesters. Matichon Online reported that Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, songwriter and lead singer for the pop band The Bottom Blues, was the one who threw the paint all over the officers while saying that “This is not a threat. If you’re still harassing us, I’ll harass you back with an artistic method.”
Chaiamorn later apologized to reporters for getting the paint on them and said that it was a symbolic act of protest.
The group left the station at 14.15 after hearing their charges and having been released without having to pay security.
The group leaving the police station building after hearing their charges
Jatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpattararaksa, one of the activists being charged, said that the group denied all accusations and will be submitting written testimony by 11 September.
Jatupat said that the law is being used as a tool to restrict freedom, which will further damage the judicial system. He noted that those who were being charged included musicians, speakers, or people who were just at the protest, and that this does not lead to fear but to anger. He then called on police officers to show their support for democracy, that the people will protect them if they stand with the people, and that it is time for the police to decide whether to stand with the people or oppose them.
Jatupat said that they have always tried to make their demands politely, and that the price they have to pay make them learn and talk to each other. He said that escalation is needed and that the next fight will be more fun, and that the people will be raising money to buy new uniforms for the officers who got paint thrown on them, as they are fighting the system and not everyone in it who wears a khaki uniform. Jatupat also said that when their superior gives an order, it’s the lower ranking people who take it, and if they follow a superior whose order goes against their conscience, then the officers will have a price to pay.
Pimsiri Petchnamrob, another of the accused, said that there are people who like the paint throwing, and there are people who do not like it, but it is a way of resisting state power without anyone getting hurt or losing their lives. Pimsiri said that the level of protest in Thailand is too low and that everyone, no matter their position, has to pay the price.
Rap Against Dictatorship member Pratchayaa Surakamchonrot, who was also among the accused, said that facing legal prosecution creates obstacles in his life, as he has to take time to consult his lawyer and to report to the police. Pratchayaa said that this slows down his work and creates difficulties in his life, and that he doesn’t even have the time to look for his pet snake, which has recently gone missing.
Meanwhile, Theerapat Charoensuk announced on his Facebook page that he will be raising funds to purchase new uniforms for the 13 police officers whose uniforms were stained with paint.
Other than Jatupat, Pimsiri, and Pratchayaa, BBC Thai reported that the group who came to hear their charges today included Lalana Suriyo, Nawat Langwattanayam, Kanniti Limcharoen, Jiratita Tammarak, Nathapong Phukaew, Sirin Mungcharoen, Thanachai Ueacha, Yamaruddin Songsiri, Chonlatis Chotisawad, Taksakorn Musikarak, Kritsana Kaikaew, and Chakrathorn Daoyaem.
TLHR said that the group faced 7 charges:
- Assembling in a group of ten or more people and threatening an act of violence or causing a breach of the peace under Section 215 of the Criminal Code,
- Violating regulations regarding assemblies under the Emergency Decree,
- Performing an act which may cause unhygienic conditions that may result in the transmission of a dangerous communicable disease or epidemic under Section 34, Clause 6 of the Communicable Diseases Act,
- Obstructing the public way by placing or leaving thereon anything or by acting by any means which may interfere with the safety or convenience of traffic under Section 385 of the Criminal Code,
- Obstructing traffic under Section 114 of the Road Traffic Act,
- Using an electric sound amplifier without permission under Section 4 of the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act, and
- Piling objects on the road under Section 19 of the Act on the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country.
In addition, Sirin Mungcharoen was also charged with taking donations in public without permission under the Fundraising Control Act.
Other activists are also facing charges for participating in the 18 July mass protest. Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok were arrested on 7 August and later released on bail. Free Youth Movement leaders Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree and Panumas “James” Singprom were also arrested on Wednesday (26 August). In addition to the seven charges above, Anon, Panupong, Tattep, and Panumas were also accused of sedition.Newsstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020judicial harassmentStrategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
A “Sleep in a camp, not in a jail” protest organized by the “We are Friends” group was held at the 14 October Memorial on 27-28 August. The group underlined the Free People demands for political and monarchy reform.
The protesters read the declaration while raising 3 fingers, a symbolic gesture of resistance from the Hunger Game
At around 15.00, people began to gather at the monument, built to honour the people's triumph against the dictatorship regime in 1971. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, one of the organizers, planned to go to Samranrat Police Station on the morning of 28 August to hear the charges related to his participation in the 18 July protest.
There were many speeches and music performances. Two interesting apologies were made for belittling the youth and pro-democracy movement.
First, Phussadee Ngamkham, known as the “Last Red Shirt” who remained at the Ratchaprasong stage after the 19 May 2010 crackdown, apologized for her belittling remark that the new generation was politically ignorant.
“If we have strength, are still alive and still speak out, do not abandon the children because they are the ones who will take our hope to its goal,” said Phussadee.
Kanniti Limcharoen from the Free People Movement confessed that he used to be “salim”, the name of a multi-coloured Thai dessert which is used to refer to people who are either politically ignorant or pro-coup d’état. He once even agreed with the crackdown in the capital until he learned history outside of the textbook that changed his mind.
Kanniti underlined the 3 demands of the Free People Movement: dissolution of parliament, a new constitution and an end to the authorities’ harassment of people; its 2 standpoints: no coup d’état and no national coalition government; and its 1 dream: a truly constitutional monarchy in which the monarchy is bound under the constitution.
He said that all of them would be achieved by drafting a new constitution that is legitimate and comes from the people. Thailand needs good law that can regulate the different kinds of people who take political positions instead of looking only for good people to govern the country as has been previously thought.
He urged the opposition parties to discuss the amendment of the constitution with each other thoroughly, as people have already agreed to disband the senate before drafting a new constitution. These demands have to be delivered within this parliamentary session.
Kanniti’s plea referred to the recent conflict between the Pheu Thai Party and Move Forward Party about to the scope of the constitutional amendments to be submitted to parliament.
Pheu Thai proposed only the establishment of a drafting committee while Move Forward also proposed amendments to Sections 269-272 in the transitional provisions which empower the senate to take part in many parliamentary votes including the election of the prime minister.
The 250 senators were appointed by a committee which was itself appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order, the junta administration. It has now become the target of criticism from political parties and public opinion for its lack of public legitimacy.
Then, the Citizens’ Declaration at the 14 October Memorial, Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue was read out. It emphasizes the economic and political crisis and harassment of the people at the hands of the dictatorial government.
The declaration has 5 demands:
- Stop threats and prosecutions of the people Immediately.
- The senators appointed by the junta must resign or be stripped of their power by the end of September.
- Establish a constitutional drafting committee, with all members elected, to draft a new constitution to replace the junta’s constitution.
- Dissolve parliament to return power to the people.
- Reform the monarchy to put it under the power of the people.
The protesters chanted “Feudalism shall fall, long live the people” after the declaration was read out.NewsStudent protest 2020freedom of expressionpoliticsconstitution amendmentsenatePhussadee NgamkhamJatupat BoonpattararaksaKanniti LimcharoenSource: https://prachatai.com/journal/2020/08/89246
UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia urges States to criminalize enforced disappearance, ratify convention
Expressing profound concern over reports of enforced disappearances that have continued in a number of countries across South-East Asia, the UN Human Rights Office is urgently calling on States in the region to criminalize this egregious act and to prioritize ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Protesters at the mass protest on 18 July held up posters with names and photos of victims of enforced disappearance. The poster, made by the student group Spring Movement and released online, is now a common sight at student-led protests in recent months.
“The time has come to end these heinous crimes in South-East Asia. Strong commitments are needed by States to achieve that goal through adopting domestic legislation that meets international norms and standards and by fully implementing the Convention, including establishing appropriate domestic institutional mechanisms to investigate allegations of disappearances,” Cynthia Veliko, Regional Representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok, said in a statement marking the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
Only one country in South-East Asia – Cambodia – has ratified the International Convention, and three other nations – Indonesia, Lao PDR and Thailand – are signatories but have yet to become States Parties.
The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, which is mandated to assist families in determining the fate or whereabouts of victims, has documented at least 1,301 cases that remain unresolved in South-East Asia. Almost half of those cases are from the Philippines. In the past three years, cases of enforced disappearances have been reported in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Indonesia is also dealing with a historical legacy of disappearances, including those committed in Timor-Leste.
“Enforced disappearance is one of the worst possible human rights violations that can be committed, robbing families of the knowledge, often forever, of the fate of their loved ones,” Veliko said. “Families have the right to know and it is the responsibility of every Government to urgently resolve these cases, to put in place mechanisms to prevent it from occurring, and to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law.”
The Convention defines enforced disappearance as an “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” The Convention provides that no one shall be subject to such an action without exception, even in times of war, and provides that it constitutes a crime against humanity when practiced in a widespread or systematic matter.
In South-East Asia, individuals have been targeted for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Victims have included human rights defenders, environmental and political activists, government critics, lawyers and journalists.
“Impunity for this horrific act must end. Timely and credible investigations must be undertaken, the perpetrators must be identified and brought to justice and families provided the right to reparation,” Veliko said. “There should be no further delays in making this a punishable offense in every country together with legal standards that ensure full disclosure, transparency and accountability for all persons deprived of their liberty.”
The UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok is committed to working with States to ensure those goals are fully achieved.
Pick to PostInternational Day of the Victims of Enforced DisappearancesOffice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)enforced disappearanceabduction
63 people are facing charges under the Emergency Decree for participating in anti-government demonstrations, despite the authorities’ claim that the Decree is being extended in order to control the spread of Covid-19, says Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).
Police officers standing guard around the Democracy Monument during the mass protest on 18 July
Thailand has been under an ongoing state of emergency since the end of March 2020. On Tuesday (25 August), the cabinet again decided to extend the state of emergency, which was supposed to end on 30 April but has been repeatedly extended, to the end of September, even though there has not been a case of domestic Covid-19 transmission for almost three months.
However, despite the government’s claim that the state of emergency is necessary to control the spread of the virus, TLHR found that charges under the Emergency Decree are being used against pro-democracy activists and protesters. TLHR has documented at least 17 cases in which citizens are facing legal prosecution under the Emergency Decree for participating in a political gathering. 63 people have been accused in these cases, all of which are still in the inquiry stage except for one where a prosecution order has already been issued.
Activists who have been accused of charges under the Emergency Decree included Anurak Jeantawanich, who was arrested for organizing a commemoration event for the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol; former MP Dr Tossaporn Serirak, who was arrested alongside Anurak for organizing an event on the 6th anniversary of the 2014 military coup; a group pf participants in a demonstration in front of the Cambodian Embassy calling for the authorities to address the disappearance of activist in exile Wanchalearm Satsaksit; and Chaiyaphum-based community rights activist Sunthorn Duangnarong, among others.
Student Union of Thailand (SUT) members Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Jutatip Sirikhan, Chanin Wongsri and Parit Chiwarak were also arrested and threatened with charges under the Emergency Decree after they tried to tie white ribbons at the Democracy Monument as part of a campaign to call for justice for Wanchalearm. The police ultimately charged them for violation of the Cleanliness Act and failing to carry their national identification cards.
Panusaya and Parit also received a summons on charges under the Emergency Decree for organizing the #SaveWanchalearm demonstration at the Pathumwan Skywalk on 5 June, as well as another a demonstration at the Pathumwan Skywalk on 24 June to commemorate the 88th anniversary of the 1932 Siamese Revolution.
Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok were also arrested for sedition and violating the Emergency Decree on 7 August, after they participated in the mass protest on 18 July, during which protesters demanded the authorities stop harassing citizens who are exercising their freedom of expression. Free Youth Movement’s leaders Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree and Panumas “James” Singprom were also arrested on Wednesday (26 August) for their part in the same event.
TLHR also noted that many activists are facing charges in several cases and are accused of charges under other legislation alongside the Emergency Decree. TLHR also observed that, due to the ongoing student-led protests all over the country, it is likely that the number of cases will continue to increase.
When the state of emergency was extended at the end of July, a new clause was added which allowed for citizens to exercise their right to assembly. However, TLHR found that activists who participated in protests in August were still being accused of violating the Emergency Decree, such as Anon and Panupong, who were arrested earlier this week, for the third and second time respectively, for their participation in the 10 August demonstration at Thammasat University.NewsThai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)Emergency DecreeState of emergencyjudicial harassmentfreedom of expressionfreedom of assemblyStudent protest 2020student movementYouth movement
Thai authorities are increasingly arresting pro-democracy leaders in Bangkok for their role in organizing the widening protests, Human Rights Watch said today (27 August). The authorities should immediately drop all charges and unconditionally release pro-democracy activists arbitrarily detained for participating in peaceful rallies.
Tattep (right) and Panumas (left) leaving the court after being granted bail (Source: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)
On August 26, Thai police arrested Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree and Panumas “James” Singprom of the Free Youth Movement. The police charged the activists with sedition, which carries a maximum seven-year prison term, assembly with an intent to cause violence, violating the ban on public gatherings, and other criminal offenses related to their involvement in a peaceful pro-democracy protest in Bangkok on July 18. Both are prominent advocates for gender equality and LGBT rights.
“Thai authorities should stop arresting and charging activists for organizing and participating in peaceful pro-democracy rallies,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should stop believing that cracking down on protest organizers will make the pro-democracy rallies go away.”
The Bangkok Criminal Court released Tattep and Panumas on bail in the evening of August 26 after an opposition member of parliament used their position to guarantee the activists’ release, and on the condition that they would not engage in the alleged offenses for which they were arrested. Upon their release, the two activists announced that they will continue to speak at pro-democracy rallies.
The police previously arrested six pro-democracy activists on similar charges. Tattep, Panumas, and these activists are among 31 people whom the police seek to arrest for speaking onstage at the July 18 protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument organized by the Free Youth Movement. The protesters called for democracy, political reforms, and respect for human rights.
Since the July 18 protest, youth-led protests by various groups have spread across Thailand. The largest protest was in Bangkok on August 16, with participants calling for the dissolution of parliament, a new constitution, respect for freedom of expression, and reforms of the institution of the monarchy to curb the current monarch’s powers. One of the activists, Arnon Nampha, a lawyer, has been arrested three times in one month on the same charges involving different protests.
In recent days Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha appears to have dropped his previous pledges to listen to dissenting voices and adopted a more hostile stance toward pro-democracy activists. “There are conflicts in our society,” the prime minister said at the gathering of government supporters on August 25. “The core of Thailand is comprised of nation, religion, and monarchy. This will never change. I will never allow that to happen. Every Thai must defend Thailand from those who want to destroy our country ... The law will never forgive them.”
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand ratified in 1996, protects the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. However, Thai authorities have routinely enforced censorship and gagged public discussions about human rights, political reforms, and the role of the monarchy in society. Over the past decade, the government has prosecuted hundreds of activists and dissidents on serious criminal charges such as sedition, computer-related crimes, and lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) for peacefully expressing their views.
“Thailand’s human rights crisis is increasingly reverberating around the world,” Adams said, “The United Nations and concerned governments should press the Thai government to end the crackdown on pro-democracy activists and peaceful rallies, and unconditionally release those arbitrarily detained.”Pick to PostHuman Rights WatchTattep RuangprapaikitsereePanumas SingpromFree Youth MovementFree People GroupStudent protest 2020student movementYouth movementjudicial harassmentStrategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP)arbitrary detention
The Myanmar government must determine the fate or whereabouts of scores of Rohingya who remain missing nearly four years after the beginning of Myanmar government security forces’ “clearance operations” in northern Rakhine State, FIDH and its member organizations Odhikar and ALTSEAN-Burma urged today (27 August).
The call was made in conjunction with a joint submission by FIDH and Odhikar to the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) concerning 14 cases of enforced disappearance of Rohingya, which occurred between October 2016 and September 2017. The submission was made ahead of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances (30 August).
“Hundreds, if not thousands, of Rohingya men, women, and children are still missing and are presumed dead, several years after their disappearance. It is imperative that the Myanmar government deliver justice to the Rohingya victims of enforced disappearance and their families and end impunity for this serious crime. It is equally important that international justice mechanisms use evidence of enforced disappearance of Rohingya to hold the perpetrators accountable,” said FIDH Secretary-General and Odhikar Secretary Adilur Rahman Khan.
The joint FIDH-Odhikar submission is based on the testimonies collected by Odhikar staff during interviews with victims’ relatives in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, between January 2018 and February 2019. Odhikar started collecting testimonies from eyewitnesses upon their arrival to Bangladesh after they fled attacks by Myanmar government security forces, which began in October 2016.
Odhikar recorded 14 separate cases of enforced disappearance of Rohingya - who include men, women, boys, and girls as young as 13 - from Rakhine State’s Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung Townships. Family members of the disappeared uniformly explained that their relatives were last seen in the custody of Myanmar government security forces. To date, the fate and whereabouts of all 14 victims remain unknown.
The WGEID receives, examines, and transmits to governments reports of enforced disappearances submitted by relatives of disappeared persons or human rights organizations acting on their behalf. The WGEID requests governments to carry out investigations and to inform the WGEID of the results. The cases remain open in the WGEID’s database until the fate or whereabouts of the person is determined.
The crime of enforced disappearance is defined by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” FIDH, Odhikar, and ALTSEAN-Burma urge the Myanmar government to take immediate steps to become a state party to the ICPPED, incorporate its provision into Myanmar’s domestic legislation, and implement them.
The documentation presented by FIDH and Odhikar represents a first step towards shedding light on the actual number of Rohingya who were subjected to enforced disappearance by Myanmar government security forces. This documentation could also be used by international evidence-gathering and accountability mechanisms, such as the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM). Established by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018, the IIMM is mandated to collect evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law and prepare files for criminal prosecution, making use of the information handed over to it by the UN-mandated Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM). The IIMM became operational on 30 August 2019.
The FIDH-Odhikar documentation may also help the International Criminal Court (ICC) to establish whether the enforced disappearance of Rohingya amounts to a coercive act that qualifies as deportation and/or persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion – both of which are crimes against humanity. In November 2019, the ICC authorized the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity within the ICC’s jurisdiction, in relation to the deportation of Rohingya across the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and the persecution on grounds of ethnicity and/or religion against the Rohingya population.Background
In October 2016, Myanmar government security forces began “clearance operations” against Rohingya populations in response to a series of attacks by a self-proclaimed Rohingya armed resistance group on Myanmar border police outposts in northern Rakhine State. The clearance operations, which intensified at the end of August 2017, resulted in serious and systematic human rights violations – amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide – against Rohingya men, women, and children. This led to the displacement of more than 800,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar and sought refuge in Bangladesh.
The disappearance of members of the Rohingya community by Myanmar government security forces was often violent, with individuals in some cases being rounded up into groups and beaten before being taken away. Enforced disappearances took place alongside mass killing, mass rape, looting and burning of property, and other human rights violations. Documentation has uniformly pointed to Myanmar government security forces – primarily soldiers belonging to the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw – as leading attacks and bearing the greatest responsibility for human rights violations that occurred.
In October 2017, the Tatmadaw publicly referred to the detention of 114 “Bengalis”, although no information was provided regarding their identity or whereabouts, or whether any charges had been filed against them. In September 2018, the FFM found that crimes against humanity had taken place in Rakhine State, including the crime of enforced disappearance. The FFM noted that even a conservative estimate of the number of disappeared far exceeded the figure provided by the Tatmadaw in October 2017.Pick to PostInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)OdhikarALTSEAN-BurmaMyanmarRohingyaRakhine Stateenforced disappearancestate violence
Student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok was arrested for the second time yesterday (25 August), for participating in the demonstration at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on 10 August. Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa was also arrested earlier today (26 August) on the same charge.
Panupong Jadnok on stage at the 10 August demonstration
Panupong was arrested in the afternoon during a protest against a land reclamation project at the Roi Sao Market in Rayong, near where prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was due to meet the people during his visit to the province. The arrest warrant was issued by the Pathum Thani Provincial Court and accused Panupong of sedition and of violating the Computer Crime Act, the Sound Amplifier Act, the Communicable Disease Act, and regulations on assembly under the Emergency Decree.
He was then taken to Khlong Luang Police Station, Pathum Thani, where he was detained overnight. He and his lawyer applied for bail using Move Forward Party MP Bencha Saengchatra’s position as security, but the inquiry officer denied the bail request.
A crowd of around 100 people gathered at Khlong Luang Police Station to show support, including student protest leaders Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul and Parit Chiwarak. At around 21.50, the crowd tried to push past metal fences that the police had erected to get inside the station and police officers pushed back. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Panusaya was injured during this incident, and iLaw reported that other protesters also receive minor injuries and damage to their belongings.
Panupong was taken to Thanyaburi Provincial Court at 14.25 today (25 August) for a temporary detention request, along with human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, who was arrested for the third time this morning on the same charges.
Anon Nampa on stage at the 10 August demonstration
Anon was arrested at Nang Loeng Police Station, where he went to acknowledge the charges he received following the demonstration in front of army headquarters on 20 July along with Parit Chiwarak, Suwanna Tanlek, and Piyarat Chongthep. He was then taken to Khlong Luang Police Station before being taken to court.
TLHR reported that there were around 10 uniformed and plainclothes police officers in front of Thanyaburi Provincial Court and around 60 uniformed officers inside the court area. The Court only allowed Anon and Panupong’s lawyer, 5 members of the public, and 5 reporters inside the court area.
iLaw said that police officers standing guard in front of the Court are requiring all communication devices to be left at the door before entering the court premises, and that the court put up a banner of a court order prohibiting the use of sound amplifiers and all recording or broadcasting equipment, as well as taking pictures, videos, or live broadcasting any event in the court grounds. The order also stated that any violation would constitute contempt of court.
At 17.00, TLHR said that the Court has ruled to detain both Anon and Panupong and that they are both seeking bail. At 17.35, both Panupong and Anon were granted bail without security.
Panupong and Anon were arrested previously on 7 August, for their participation in the mass protest on 18 July. They were released on bail the next day. Anon was arrested again on 19 August and accused of sedition and of violating the Public Assembly Act, the Sound Amplifier Act, and the Computer Crimes Act due to his participation in the protest on 3 August, making today the third time Anon has been arrested for participating in an anti-government protest, many of which demanded an end to the authorities' harassment of citizens.
Eight other activists were also arrested during the night of 19 August and the morning of 20 August, including Baramee Chairat, Suwanna Tanlek, Korakot Saengyenpan, Dechathorn “Hockhacker” Bamrungmuang, Thanayut Na Ayuthaya, Thotsaphon Sinsombun, Tanee Sasom, and Nattawut Somboonsap, all of whom took part in the 18 July mass protest. They were released on bail the next day.NewsPanupong JadnokAnon Nampajudicial harassmentStrategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP)Student protest 2020student movementYouth movement
Caption: Political cartoon of Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Pavin Chachavalpongpun discussing Royalist Marketplace signs which are everywhere in the protests recently. Source: Kai Meaw X
Access to a Facebook group of 1 million monarchy reformists has been restricted in Thailand. Group founder Pavin Chachavalpongpun says “Let’s fight, bitch” as he opens a new group which registers more than 375,000 members in 5 hours. Facebook also says it is preparing legal action against Thai government as its restriction requests may violate international human rights law.
On 24 August, Thai professor in exile Pavin Chachavalpongpun posted on Facebook at 4 pm that even though the group Royalist Marketplace still exists, it will no longer be accessible in Thailand. As of midnight, a Prachatai correspondent reported that the group was still inaccessible using a normal internet connection in Thailand, but was available using VPN.
Due to the nationwide restriction, Pavin has made the decision to fight. A new Facebook group dubbed “Royalist Marketplace – Talad Luang” was created on the same day. At the time of this report, the new group has more than 375,000 members in 5 hours and is still growing fast. Before midnight, Pavin said ‘Let’s fight bitch’ as he posted a news from an outlet reporting about his new Facebook group.
Meanwhile, Facebook said it has made a decision to fight back. A company spokesperson told CNN in a statement that even though they are compelled to restrict the access, they “work to protect and defend the rights of all internet users and are preparing to legally challenge this request." “Requests like this are severe, contravene international human rights law, and have a chilling effect on people's ability to express themselves," the spokesperson said.
One day before the restriction, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) filed a police complaint against Pavin for being the admin of the original Royalist Marketplace, the Facebook group where the Ministry found six offenses against the Section 14 (3) of the Computer Crime Act. Sermsuk Kasitipradit, a royalist reporter, revealed that there has been a court order to close Royalist Marketplace since June.
According to BBC Thai, Pavin described the group as a place where people have honest discussions about the monarchy. Royalist Marketplace has been an influential factor in calling for monarchy reform as protesters repeatedly displayed Royalist Marketplace signs in many protests since 18 June including Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Phrae, Pathum Thani and Ratchaburi.What is Talad Luang?
The new group has ‘talad luang’ added to its name. In Thai, ‘talad’ means a market whereas ‘luang’, modifying ‘talad,’ means ‘royal or public’.
The following elaboration of the term ‘luang’ might give our readers a context for its use in relation to Royal Marketplace, since it is connected to monarchy reform, which is one of the protesters’ demands.
Etymologically speaking, the term ‘luang’ highlights the fact that in the past there was no clear separation of royal possessions from public property. Most public land and property belonged to the royal family which allowed public use during the years of Siam’s absolute monarchy. This usage continues today ‘khong luang’ (public property), ‘muang luang’ (capital city), or ‘ngan luang’ (royal or state activities).
After Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, the separation between royal possessions and public properties was clarified somewhat. The Crown Property Bureau (CPB) was established in 1936 to manage crown property which belongs to the nation separately from the monarch’s personal possessions. But the problem remained as the status of CPB has never been clear.
In 1948, a year after a military coup by Phin Choonhavan, the CPB became a juristic person. Its legal status was vague throughout the reign of the King Rama IX as there was no clear definition whether it was a private corporate entity, a foundation or charity, or a government body of some sort. Somsak Jeamteerakul, a leading monarchy reformist, made the criticism that crown property was no different from the monarch’s personal possessions at all. The CPB received funding from the government. At the same time it was exempt from all taxes.
Things became clearer in the reign of the King Rama X when the junta government passed the Crown Property Act in November 2018. Thanks to Prayut’s regime, His Majesty has been granted full power to manage the CPB. The CPB chairperson, who was formerly the Minister of Finance ex officio, can now be any person appointed by the King. But crown property was no longer exempt from tax.
The Crown Property Act led to significant transfers of shares in large Thai corporates into King Vajiralongkorn’s possession, including Siam Commercial Bank and the Siam Cement Group. According to Business Insider, King Vajiralongkorn was the richest monarch in the world in 2019 with a net worth of US$30 billion. Even so, the national budget for this year shows that government is spending 29.728 billion baht on the monarchy, directly or indirectly, amounting to 0.93% of the total budget.
The term ‘luang’ succinctly encapsulates the problem of the lack of separation between royal, public, and private. The 10-point proposal for the monarchy reform outlined by protesters includes “revoking the Crown Property Act of 2018 and making a clear division between the assets of the king under the control of the Ministry of Finance and his personal assets.”
While the protest leaders have been arrested for violating the sedition law for talking about this point, politicians and academics have said that it is legal and legitimate to discuss monarchy reform under the current constitution.
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AI: Prominent Activist arrested for the second time reveals severe restrictions on freedom of expression
Panupong Chadnok aka “Mike”, a prominent pro-democracy activist, was arrested on five charges related to his speech at “Thammasat Cha Mai Thon” (Thammasat will no longer endure) at Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus, on 10 August 2020.
Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand, said that the second arrest of Panupong today explicitly reveals the Thai authority’s attempts to suppress the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. It is time that the Thai authorities stop instilling fear in the public and instead thrive for progressive dialogues.
“Thai authorities use lawsuits as weapons to shut down peaceful criticism of the Government. Amnesty International reaffirms that the authorities must end attempts to arrest and charge peaceful anti-Government leaders and demonstrators, and tolerate their opinions.
“The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is fundamental and must be protected for everyone who chooses to exercise this right. The authorities must also protect the right to freedom of expression and freedom of association. The Government has a duty to promote these rights, instead of infringing on them and intimidating those who peacefully exercise them
“Despite having an elected government in place for more than a year, Thailand has not made any progress with regard to improving its human rights record. The Government continues to intimidate and take legal action against those who peacefully exercise their rights. It is the right moment for the international community to pressure the Thai Government to comply with international human rights law.”
Panupong Jadnok at the 10 August demonstration at Thammasat University's Rangsit campus
On 24 August 2020, police issued an arrest warrant for Panupong Chadnok, aka Mike, at Roi Sao Market, Rayong province, while he was protesting with a banner reading “Filling our sea 1,000-rai, what do Rayong people get.” His staged protest and arrest happened shortly before Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha arrived at the market. The police had presented the warrant issued by the Prathumthani Provincial Court for ‘incitement of violence’ under Section 116 of the Penal Code, related to his speech at “Thammasat Cha Mai Thon” (Thammasat will no longer endure) at Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus, on 10 August 2020. Mike is currently detained at Klongluang Police Station, Pathumthani province.
The latest warrant was issued by the Prathumthani Provincial Court and refers to five charges including Sedition under Section 116 of the Penal Code, dissemination of security information under Section 14(3) of the 2017 Computer Crime Act, Offense under Emergency Decree against the Regulations on Assembly, Offense on the use of amplifier without permission under Article 4 of the Control of the use of amplifier Act, and Offense on participating in the acts that increase the risk for infection under Article 34 of Communicable Disease Act.
This is Panupong’s second arrest warrant, the first having been issued on 7 August 2020. At that time the police arrested and detained him at the police station before requesting the Bangkok Criminal Court to issue a warrant of detention. The police allegedly filed eight charges regarding his demonstration with Free Youth at Democracy Monument on 18 July 2020, the same day that Lawyer Anon Nampa was also arrested and detained. Even though the court allowed bail, both of them were restricted under bail conditions not to repeat the act they were charged with.Pick to PostAmnesty InternationalPanupong Jadnokjudicial harassmentStudent protest 2020student movementYouth movementThammasat UniversityKhlong Luang Police Stationfreedom of expressionfreedom of assemblySeditionArticle 116Computer Crimes ActEmergency DecreeState of emergencySound Amplifier ActCommunicable Disease Act