Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: Free Mice

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-09-07 10:19
Submitted on Mon, 7 Sep 2020 - 10:19 AMCartoon by Stephff: Free Mice

Stephff is about to have a cartoon exhibition on 11 September on the 3-finger anti Junta movement  at the the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT). 

MultimediaStephffAnon NampaPanupong JadnokStudent protest 2020Sedition
Categories: Prachatai English

Thais join Milk Tea Alliance in Mulan boycott

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-09-04 22:53
Submitted on Fri, 4 Sep 2020 - 10:53 PM

Caption: Thai student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and his fellow activists made an appearance at a movie theatre. with signs read ‘#BanMulan’ and ‘#MilkTeaAlliance.’

Today (4 September) is the release date of the film Mulan with Liu Yifei as protagonist, but last night the hashtag #BoycottMulan soared to no.4 in Thailand’s twitter as Thais join the Milk Tea Alliance to ban it in support of Hong Kong protesters.

Yesterday (3 September) Thai student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal posted on social media a picture of him and his fellow activists at a movie theatre. With signs reading ‘#BanMulan’ and ‘#MilkTeaAlliance’, he asked people to join the movement in support of Hong Kong protesters.

“We have still not forgotten that Mulan’s leading actress supported the police use of violence against Hong Kong protesters who fight for freedom and democracy” said Netiwit on Twitter. “I would like to invite everybody to #BoycottMulan, #BanMulan, so that Disney and the Chinese government realize that state violence against the people is something that cannot be accepted.”  

As of today Netiwit’s tweet has 47.8k shares and 10.6 likes. Many have said they will join the boycott.

“When I first saw the trailer release I really wanted to watch it,” said one Twitter user. “Then the leading actress came out to support the crackdown on the protests of Hong Kong people and use of violence. I no longer think of watching, no matter how much I want to. #BoycottMulan” 

Caption: 'Thailand supports Hong Kong', a Facebook page with 12,000 followers in Thailand, posted a photoshopped picture of Liu Yifei with a communist badge. Her police shield and baton soak with blood. 

Caption: เชื่อGUไปดูเลย, a Thai movie reviewer page on Facebook, posted a campaign picture calling for Thais to boycott Mulan.

According to the BBC, Liu Yifei shared a Weibo post from the People’s Daily back in mid-August. The People’s Daily is a government-run newspaper based in Beijing.

The post said in Chinese “I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now.” The quote was said to be the words of a reporter for Global Times, an English-language newspaper under the People’s Daily.

People’s Daily added a message in English to the post saying “What a shame for Hong Kong”, to which Liu Yifei echoed by saying “I also support Hong Kong police.”

Twitter is banned in China, but the hashtag #BoycottMulan soared on Twitter after her post back in mid-August.

Police brutality in Hong Kong has been condemned by the international community. Back in June, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said that the response from police was “excessive” and “a violation of international law.”

“Tear gas and projectiles like rubber bullets are notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate and can result in serious injury and even death,” said Man-Kei Tam.

Caption: #BoycottMulan soared to no.4 in Thailand’s twitter as Thais join the Milk Tea Alliance to ban it in support of Hong Kong protesters.

Meanwhile, Thais also have a struggle of their own as they are required to stand up and pay respect to King Vajiralongkorn before every movie starts. Many reportedly said on social media that more people are not standing up.

Recently, Thailand has also seen ongoing protests calling for constitutional amendments and monarchy reform. On 16 August, the largest protest in 6 years was held on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. A conservative estimate shows that more than 10,000 protesters joined. As part of the Milk Tea Alliance, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law tweeted out in solidarity with Thailand.

Pre-Milk Tea Alliance relations

Before the existence of Milk Tea Alliance, Thai activists and Hong Kong activists had been in some form of contact.

In 2016, Joshua Wong was barred from entering Thailand. He was invited by Netiwit to give a talk about politics of the new generation at an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 6 October massacre.

In October 2019, opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit went to an Open Future Festival organized by the Economist in Hong Kong. He met Joshua Wong and had a brief talk with him for 5 minutes. A picture taken at that time was leaked, leading to criticism by pro-government supporters as unpatriotic as they claimed it showed that Thanathorn welcomed foreign interference.

The Thai government has supported the Hong Kong government amid Hong Kong’s ongoing protests. In November 2019, Carrie Lam paid a visit to Thailand and signed 6 MOUs with the Thai government to help Hong Kong investors suffering from the Sino-US trade war and the ongoing protests.

Somkid Jatusripitak, the then Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand responsible for the economy, paid a visit to Hong Kong in October 2019 in order to draw foreign investments to Eastern Economic Corridor.

In July 2020, Somkid resigned from his post amid Thailand’s economic decline worsened by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Thai government also tried to discredit Hong Kong protesters to discourage protests in their own country. In October 2019, Royal Thai Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong made xenophobic allegations against Joshua Wong claiming that he had paid many visits to Thailand with an unknown agenda. Apirat also said the Hong Kong protests hurt the city as a tourist spot and encouraged Thais not to do the same. 

In response, Joshua Wong told Prachatai English in October last year that his only successful trip to Thailand was when he was 10 years old on a family trip with his parents to Bangkok. He also said that if Thai government did the same to Thai protesters, they will do the same as Hong Kong protesters.

“Hong Kong is suffering from the threat from Beijing. And when the Army Chief asked Thai youth not to do the same, my only response is if the government in Thai[land] do the same, the youth in Thai[land] they will do the same as Hong Kong youngsters did in the past four months. So it depends on the authorities instead of depend[ing] on us.”

Categories: Prachatai English

'Unblemished' - Thais react to return of royal consort with wordplay

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-09-04 15:11
Submitted on Fri, 4 Sep 2020 - 03:11 PMPrachatai

Caption: King Vajiralongkorn and Thai Royal Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi.
Source: Royal Palace

King Vajiralongkorn has deemed Thai Royal Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi ‘unblemished’, according to the Royal Gazette. While her official titles have been restored as if they had never been stripped from her, many Thais welcomed her back with unexpected forms of wordplay.  

The Royal Gazette reveals that the order from King Vajiralongkorn has been effective since 28 August. It backdated the announcement to 29 August although it appeared on the official website only on 2 September. According to the announcement, all her royal, bureaucratic and military titles have been restored as if they had never been revoked.

Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi was removed from her post as Royal Consort of King Vajiralongkorn on 20 October last year. The royal announcement of her fall from grace said that Sineenat attempted to make herself Queen and tried to make unauthorized orders on behalf of the King and Queen Suthida. The King made her a Royal Consort in order to reduce the tension, but Sineenat remained dissatisfied and returned the favour with inappropriate behaviour.

Millions of Thais suspected in advance the return of the Royal Consort and the announcement confirmed earlier claims by Thai political refugees. Somsak Jeamteerasakul said on 20 August that Sineenat would be released on 28 August. One million Facebook users were also notified on 27 August when Pavin Chachavalpongpun posted the upcoming event on Royalist Marketplace – Talad Luang.

After the announcement, some spoke in defence of King Vajiralongkorn. For example, royal family member Julajerm Yukol posted on Facebook “The monarchy should have the right to personal life like ordinary people in living their lives.”

However, many Thais welcomed her back with teasing wordplays. Royal World Thailand reported the story in both Thai and English, but the Thai version used unusually informal language including “moving on cyclically” and “the fiercest Royal Consort on earth”.

Royal World Thailand also made observations by asking questions. In the English version they said “What makes him change his mind? And how would this return create another phenomenon to the Monarchy? Particularly Sineenat herself, how would she act in front of the people?”

News about the royal family usually appears daily at 8.00 pm on all television channels using very formal language. Thai has a set of royal vocabulary and usage solely dedicated to the royal family. Never before has news about royal family been reported this way.    

Meanwhile, Facebook users in Thailand added ‘unblemished’ on to their profile pictures.

Caption: Jatupat 'Pai' Boonpattararaksa, a political activist who had been in prison due to lèse majesté law, posted on Facebook his profile picture with a message 'unblemished.' 

Others also called themselves ‘dogs’ and the meme spread all over social media. In Thai, a ‘dog’ is not only an animal, but also implies a friend who comes between two lovers and encourages the couple to split up during their arguments but they reunite anyway and the friend is left in isolation.

Caption: 'Underground Karaoke' posted a meme of the scouts who howled after the royal announcement. The original video clip 'Wolf Dance' made by Bangkok Metropolis is usually used for primary school education.  

Apart from the profile pictures and ‘dog’ memes, a viral quote also appeared on social media: “If a guy wants to meet, Germany is only at the end of the street.”

Caption: 'A comrade of mine', a Facebook page in Thailand famous for sharing anonymous quotes, shared the statement "If a guy wants to meet, Germany is only at the end of the street." 

Other reactions are quite serious. Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a Thai political exile, said that the return of the Royal Consort is a part of a bigger problem with the Thai constitution which gives too much power to the monarchy. He said it allowed the King to do things arbitrarily while people pay taxes for his royal servants.

Students also applied the term ‘unblemished’ to their anti-government protests. Free Youth’s Twitter account said that Netnapha Amnatsongsoem was eating noodles near to MRT Yaek Tiwanon waiting to be arrested despite the fact that she was #unblemished. She will be the last of the 15 student activists to be arrested for reading a statement on stage at the anti-government protest on 18 July, one of the largest protests since the military coup in 2014. 

เราอยู่ร้านก๋วยเตี๋ยวเป็ด! เนื่องจากร้านขาหมูปิด! ผ่านไปกว่า 1 ชม.แล้วที่ไนซ์ประกาศว่า จะกินลูกชิ้นและข้าวขาหมูรออยู่บริเวณ MRT แยกติวานนท์ หากจะจับ ให้เอาหมายมาแสดง! ไนซ์รออยู่ตรงนี้จนถึงเวลาบ่าย 3! แต่ก็ยังไม่มีเจ้าหน้าที่คนใดมาแสดงหมายจับกับไนซ์ #มิได้เป็นผู้มีมลทินมัวหมอง

— FreeYOUTH (@FreeYOUTHth) September 3, 2020

The return of Royal Consort came amid ongoing anti-government protests which also call for monarchy reform. On 3 August, a group of Thai citizens openly called for monarchy reform in a Harry Potter-themed protest. On 10 August, Anon Nampa outlined a 10-point proposal dealing with the monarchy's legal immunity, the lèse majesté law, the Crown Property Bureau, royal lands, the system of donations to and by the royals, and royalist propaganda.

Yesterday (3 August), Anon's bail was revoked for violating the sedition law. Bangkok Criminal Court also ruled to increase the security for student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that he will not be seeking bail any longer. Meanwhile, the anti-government protesters posted that they were 'unblemished.'

Source: Wiwata

According to Thailand’s lèse majesté law, defaming, insulting, or threatening the king, queen, heir-apparent, heir-presumptive, or regent is punishable up to 15 years in prison. Royal Consort Sineenat is not protected under this law. Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha also said recently that the King asked the government not to prosecute people under this law.

But the Thai authorities have been using other laws against supposed acts of lèse majesté, making the scope of enforcement even more vague. These laws include the Computer Crime Act which prohibits people from importing information which may threaten national security and Section 166 of the Criminal Code which prohibits sedition. Because of these laws, even though more Thais are openly critical of monarchy, their reactions to the return of Royal Consort Sineenat remain indirect.

NewsAnon NampaPanupong JadnokKing Vajiralongkornlèse majesté lawSedition2007 Computer Crime Act
Categories: Prachatai English

Court rules to revoke bail for protest leader Anon Nampa

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-09-04 14:16
Submitted on Fri, 4 Sep 2020 - 02:16 PMPrachatai

Following a motion from the inquiry officer at Samranrat Police Station to revoke bail for human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, the Bangkok Criminal Court ruled to revoke Anon’s bail and increase the security for Panupong.

Anon arriving at the Criminal Court on Thursday morning (3 September) 
(Source: Banrasdr Photo)

Anon and Panupong were arrested on 7 August and accused of sedition and violation of the Emergency Decree, among other charges, for their participation in the mass protest at the Democracy Monument on 18 July. They were held in police custody for one night and released on bail the next day with 100,000 baht as security. The Court also banned them from repeating the actions similar to those they were accused of.

The inquiry officer at Samranrat Police Station later filed a motion to have their bail revoked, claiming that, since Anon and Panupong have continued to participate in and speak at demonstrations, such as the demonstration at Thammasat University on 10 August, the Criminal Court’s condition has been violated.

At 16.25 today (3 September), the Criminal Court ruled that Anon’s speech at the demonstration in Chiang Mai on 8 August and the demonstration at Thammasat University on 10 August are considered the same as the action at the 18 July protest for which Anon is being charged. The Court therefore ruled to revoke Anon’s bail, but did not prohibit him from seeking bail again.

Anon said that he will not be seeking bail, as he believes that the law is being used to prevent his activism. He has also told the Court that he believed it is his right to give speeches.

“I am willing to sacrifice my personal freedom to safeguard my ideals. I think what is happening to the people is wrong,” Anon said.

Panupong arriving at the Criminal Court on Thursday morning (3 September)
(Source: Banrasdr Photo)

Meanwhile, the Court ruled to increase Panupong’s security to 200,000 baht and ordered him to report to the Court in 15 days. His bail will also be revoked if he fails to do so. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Panupong did not post more security money as required and, like Anon, he will not be seeking bail this time.

At 17.20, Anon and Panupong were being taken to Bangkok Remand Prison. TLHR said that court officials prevented their lawyers and family members from seeing them before they left, and that the car they are being taken to prison in left the court from a gate where supporters were not waiting.

NewsAnon NampaPanupong Jadnokjudicial harassmentfreedom of expressionfreedom of assemblystudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020
Categories: Prachatai English

Pro-monarchy protesters co-opt Elizabeth Warren to their cause using a blatant mistranslation

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-09-03 14:19
Submitted on Thu, 3 Sep 2020 - 02:19 PMThammachart Kri-aksorn

Elizabeth Warren has become a topic of conversation in Thailand after a leading pro-monarchy protester claimed her as a supporter of their cause. The facts show otherwise, as a Thai writer and netizens have exposed the distortion of a Warren speech by pro-junta protesters.

On 30 August, 1,200 pro-monarchy protesters gathered at Thai-Japan Bangkok Youth Centre. Even though it was small in comparison to the largest anti-government protest with 10,000 participants, it was one of the biggest pro-monarchy protests. The pro-monarchy group Thai Pakdee was created on 19 August by Dr. Warong Dechgitvigrom, a former establishment politician, and 27 other founders. The group was a response to ongoing anti-government protests which have openly called for monarchy reform for first time ever.

The launch of the group on 19 August involved several controversies, including a call for severe punishment for lèse majesté speeches, 3,000 baht payments to people who did not understand the lectures, and denial of involvement in an assault on a cleaner who was wearing a red shirt near the protest site. It created further controversy by referring to Elizabeth Warren as a supporter of their cause.

At the protest on Sunday (30 August), Haruthai ‘Au’ Muangboonsri, a hard-line royalist singer who claims to own one of Vincent van Gogh’s works, took to the stage for a speech in defence of celebrities who took part in the demonstrations which called for the military coup in 2014. Pro-junta celebrities have recently been under attack for their anti-youth comments and a boycott against TV programmes hosted by these celebrities has emerged.  There has been some success, including the resignation of Ornapha ‘Ma’ Krisadee from 3 TV programmes and of Pawanrat ‘Meaw’ Narksuriya from one programme.

To defend these celebrities, Haruthai invoked a speech by Elizabeth Warren with her own political opinions mixed in:

“Boycotting celebrities, singers and actors who joined the PDRC [People’s Democratic Reform Committee] is, I think, alright because those young people are not aware of the context of Thai politics. They missed out on studying the history of the fight against the power of parliamentary dictatorship. Recently, Senator Elizabeth Warren of the US has given a speech about Thailand, saying that Thailand survived not because it has democracy, Thailand has not survived because it has a constitution, Thailand has not survived because it has laws. But Thailand has survived because it has good citizens who are not indifferent and who do have responsibility and the Thai people resist evil people who are dishonest and corrupt. This is the strength of the Thai people. So celebrities, artists, and singers who came out to fight with the PDRC, to fight corruption, people all around the world agree with you. But those kids do not understand. We must not be angry with these kids and young people. We don’t have to ban the products and businesses of the Thai people all together. How will Thai people be able to live together? Don’t create hatred. We want all of this to stop.”

Haruthai’s statement has been under scrutiny by netizens as her statement seems to be fake news. According to Thai writer Sarinee Achavanuntakul, pro-junta groups have been spreading misinformation about Warren’s speech for a while now. Since Warren is one of her favourite politicians, she does not want to let this slide.

Caption: Sarinee Achavanuntakul

On her Facebook post, Sarinee said from the source is a speech by Warren when she was attacking Trump as the then presumptive Republican nominee in 2016. But Warren’s speech had nothing to do with Thailand:

“Senator McConnell recently said he’s “pretty calm” about Donald Trump because “what protects us in this country against big mistakes being made is the structure, the Constitution, the institutions.” That is 100% wrong. Our democracy does not sustain itself. Our Constitution does not sustain itself. The rule of law does not sustain itself.

There have always been those with money and power who think the rules shouldn’t apply to them. Those who would pervert our system of government to serve their own ends. They have tried it before and they are trying it now. All that is required for the rule of law and our independent judiciary to collapse is for good people to stand by, and do nothing.

Now is not the time to stand by. Now is the time to stand up. Now is the time to say no. No. Not here. Not in these United States of America.

We are not a nation that disqualifies lawyers and judges from public service because of race — or religion — or gender — or because they haven’t spent their entire careers representing the wealthy and the powerful.

We are the nation of John Adams — a lawyer who defended the British soldiers after the Boston Massacre, and went on to serve as President of these United States.

We are the nation of Abraham Lincoln — a lawyer who defended accused killers, and went on to serve as President of these United States.

We are the nation of Thurgood Marshall — a lawyer who fought for racial equality, and went on to serve on the Supreme Court of these United States.

We are the nation of Ruth Bader Ginsberg — a lawyer who fought for gender equality, and went on to serve on the Supreme Court of these United States.

That is who we are. And we will not allow a small, insecure, thin-skinned wannabe tyrant or his allies in the Senate to destroy the rule of law in the United States of America.

It’s time again to fight — as we have in every generation — for those four simple words that define the promise of our legal system. Equal justice under law.”

Other netizens pointed out that the misinformation may have come from Naowarat Pongpaiboon, a Thai National Artist who wrote an article in Matichon Weekly in 2016 in which he encouraged people to be good citizens and fight corrupt politicians by voting in a national referendum to approve the 2017 Constitution. He began the article by quoting Warren’s speech directly in Thai, but the quotation was mistranslated and the meaning was distorted. Here is a reverse translation of the quotation back into English:

“A country does not survive because of democracy

It does not survive because of a constitution

It does not survive because of the law

But a country will be able to survive because of the force of good citizens who are not indifferent and do not surrender to evil people, dishonest people who undermine the nation. So good citizens must stand and protect the country to be secure for future generations.”

– quote of the American woman senator Elizabeth Warren

Good citizens who stand up to defend the rule of law, constitution, and democracy in Warren’s speech are not the same as Thai “good citizens” who called for the undemocratic, unaccountable and dictatorial military junta which has been in control for the past 6 years. Naowarat Pongpaiboon, Haruthai Muangboonsri, Ornapha Krisadee, Pawanrat Narksuriya all joined the PDRC protests which led to a military coup in 2014 with no democracy, the constitution ripped up and the military making their own rules with impunity.

Caption: Naowarat Pongpaiboon

Haruthai also made other unsubstantiated claims about foreign countries. Khaosod English reported her as saying that western countries want to undermine the Thai monarchy by supporting the anti-government protests. The US Embassy has responded that while they support the democratic process and rule of law, they deny allegations of meddling and call for both sides to act with respect and restraint.

NewsThai PakdeeElizabeth WarrenWarong DechgitvigromSarinee Achavanuntakul
Categories: Prachatai English

Khon Kaen officials receive petition to move local Democracy Monument

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-09-03 14:04
Submitted on Thu, 3 Sep 2020 - 02:04 PMPrachatai

The activist group “Khon Kaen’s Had Enough” (ขอนแก่นพอกันที) published a letter from the Superintendent of Mueang Khon Kaen Police Station to the Khon Kaen city mayor stating that they received a complaint about recent protests in the city from a citizen who also petitioned to have the local Democracy Monument moved elsewhere.

Khon Kaen Democracy Monument

The letter stated that Khon Kaen Police Station received a phone call from Amphon Trirak, a resident in the Khon Kaen city pillar shrine area, saying that she was annoyed by the noise from the anti-government protests between 22 – 24 August and was petitioning the police to ask the protest organisers to take their next gathering elsewhere, since the city pillar shrine is a sacred place.


The letter also stated that Amphon has also filed a complaint with the Khon Kaen Municipal Office and discussed with the relevant agencies to consider whether the Khon Kaen Democracy Monument, which is located near the city pillar shrine, should be moved elsewhere.   

Col Preechai Kengsarikij, Superintendent of Mueang Khon Kaen Police Station, told Khaosod English that the next steps are still under discussion and that the document shows that the police accepted Amphon’s complaint.

Khon Kaen’s Had Enough posted on their Facebook page that “if the protests are so annoying that the monument has to be moved elsewhere, then in the future the Khao Niao Road Festival or New Year Festival will probably not be allowed.”

“We insist that the Khon Kaen Democracy Monument is the people’s space, and we will absolutely protect it from being destroyed, relocated, changed, or disappeared,” said the group.

The Khon Kaen Democracy Monument has often been used as a protest site. It is one of the local Democracy Monuments scattered across the country which are relics of the People’s Party, marking the Siamese Revolution in 1932 which ended absolute monarchy in Siam.

NewsKhon Kaen’s Had EnoughKhon KaenKhon Kaen Democracy MonumentPeople's Party1932 revolutionIconoclasmArchitecture
Categories: Prachatai English

District chief visits Anon’s grandmother in Roi Et Province

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-09-03 11:12
Submitted on Thu, 3 Sep 2020 - 11:12 AM

Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer who publicly addressed the issue of monarchy reform last month, has posted on Facebook that his grandmother was harassed on 1 September by the District Officer.

Anon Nampa (File photo)

He has demanded that the District Officer stay away from the property, otherwise he will make a speech about monarchy reform in front of the District Office.

Akgosot Rak-iad, Thung Khao Luang District Officer, told Prachatai that he did go to Anon’s grandmother’s house but did not meet her. He wanted to get to know her as he had been asked by many people about Anon. 

He insisted that he did not mean to harass her. He has met many other groups of people beside Anon’s family in the past, such as drug users.

Anon said his grandmother, aged 75, was with his mother at the time of Akgosot’s visit. They were both afraid and hid inside the house.

Anon became centre of public attention when he made a speech addressing the issue of monarchy reform at the Harry Potter-themed protest on 3 August, a landmark speech that made a straightforward demand for the monarchy reform, a very rare and bold move in this country.

As of 2 September, Anon has been charged at least 7 times for speeches made in protests countrywide. The charges also include violations of the sedition law and the emergency decree.

NewsAnon NampaRoi EtAkgosot Rak-iadharassmentSource:
Categories: Prachatai English

Health Minister insists against the ongoing use of toxic chemicals 

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-09-03 10:19
Submitted on Thu, 3 Sep 2020 - 10:19 AMPrachatai

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: Matichon

NewsAnutin CharnvirakulChalermchai Sri-onParaquatSukhum KarnchanapimaiChlorpyrifosGlyphosate
Categories: Prachatai English

PM admits mishandling of Red Bull heir hit-and-run case

Prachatai English - Wed, 2020-09-02 17:51
Submitted on Wed, 2 Sep 2020 - 05:51 PMPrachatai

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.

Source: Bangkok Post [1] [2], Thai PBS 

NewsVorayuth YoovidhyaRed BullVicha Mahakhun
Categories: Prachatai English

Right groups call for Myanmar authorities to drop charges against activist poet

Prachatai English - Wed, 2020-09-02 16:46
Submitted on Wed, 2 Sep 2020 - 04:46 PMHuman Rights Watch

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: 

  1. Access Now
  2. Amnesty International
  3. Article 19
  4. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  5. Civil Rights Defenders
  6. Fortify Rights
  7. Human Rights Watch
Pick to PostMuang SaungkhaMyanmarfreedom of expressionAccess NowAmnesty InternationalArticle 19Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)Civil Rights DefendersFortify RightsHuman Rights Watch
Categories: Prachatai English

Student Union president arrested over anti-government protest

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-09-01 23:52
Submitted on Tue, 1 Sep 2020 - 11:52 PMPrachatai

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
Categories: Prachatai English

FIDH: Address enforced disappearances, deliver justice for the victims and their families

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-09-01 21:27
Submitted on Tue, 1 Sep 2020 - 09:27 PMInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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
Categories: Prachatai English

Victims of enforced disappearance remembered at student group’s exhibition

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-09-01 21:13
Submitted on Tue, 1 Sep 2020 - 09:13 PMPrachatai

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.

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.

[Video] End the silence: messages from friends of Wanchalearm Satsaksit

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
Categories: Prachatai English

Cleaner, 60, beaten near pro-monarchy protest

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-09-01 18:36
Submitted on Tue, 1 Sep 2020 - 06:36 PMPrachatai

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
Categories: Prachatai English

ANNI open letter concerning NHRCT statement on the mass protests

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-09-01 16:16
Submitted on Tue, 1 Sep 2020 - 04:16 PMThe Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institutions

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.

Protesters should not 'monopolise legitimacy’, says National Human Rights 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:
Categories: Prachatai English

First payment on 2 submarines delayed until next year’s budget

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-09-01 11:10
Submitted on Tue, 1 Sep 2020 - 11:10 AMPrachatai

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.

Source: TNA, BBC Thai, Bangkok Post

NewssubmarinesprocurementpoliticsPrayuth Chan-o-cha
Categories: Prachatai English

Myanmar Women Seek Social and Political Change in 2020

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-08-31 18:22
Submitted on Mon, 31 Aug 2020 - 06:22 PMAdam Bemma

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
Categories: Prachatai English

15 activists facing charges for Free Youth protest report to police

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-08-29 19:48
Submitted on Sat, 29 Aug 2020 - 07:48 PMPrachatai

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: 

  1. 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,
  2. Violating regulations regarding assemblies under the Emergency Decree,
  3. 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,
  4. 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,
  5. Obstructing traffic under Section 114 of the Road Traffic Act,
  6. Using an electric sound amplifier without permission under Section 4 of the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act, and
  7. 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)
Categories: Prachatai English

Apologies, demands made at first anti-dictatorship overnight protest

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-08-29 15:43
Submitted on Sat, 29 Aug 2020 - 03:43 PMPrachatai

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:

  1. Stop threats and prosecutions of the people Immediately.
  2. The senators appointed by the junta must resign or be stripped of their power by the end of September.
  3. Establish a constitutional drafting committee, with all members elected, to draft a new constitution to replace the junta’s constitution.
  4. Dissolve parliament to return power to the people.
  5. 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:
Categories: Prachatai English

UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia urges States to criminalize enforced disappearance, ratify convention

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-08-29 01:06
Submitted on Sat, 29 Aug 2020 - 01:06 AMOHCHR

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
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