Prachatai English

One way in, no way out: a month of travel bans against critical voices

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-12-03 11:34
Submitted on Fri, 3 Dec 2021 - 11:34 AMPrachatai

November has seen a crackdown on freedom of movement as the Thai authorities have reportedly requested the Department of Consular Affairs to revoke the passports of 13 Thai activists and hastily expelled a foreigner who made fun of the government and monarchy.

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Yan Marchal, a French expat well known for his political parodies, had to take a return flight to France after receiving an expulsion order upon arrival at Phuket Airport on 27 November, with immigration saying that he was a threat to society. An immigration official also said to him that he was on a blacklist but without elaborating on what such a list might be.

From the time the Kingdom announced him persona non grata to the time he took off, he received no assistance from the Thai authorities at all.

“I was parked in a waiting room of a boarding gate for the whole day, along with another deportee. We were by ourselves, we met nobody but the Thai Airways staff who brought us there and picked us up from there,” said Marchal.

Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, a.k.a. HOCKHACKER, a rapper who has voiced criticism of the government with the band Rap Against Dictatorship, found on 25 November that he could not get a new passport because his name is on a ‘watchlist’, according to BBC Thai.

On 18 November, BBC Thai interviewed Pol Col Tossaphol Ampaipipatkul, Superintendent of Samranrat Police Station, who said that he was the one who requested revocation of the passports, in line with legal procedures for those facing charges related to national security.

The Department of Consular Affairs had asked the police to produce further evidence to support the claim that the 6 persons named were likely to flee the country.

Watchlist against pro-democracy idea

According to the Thai Enquirer, Samranrat Police Station submitted a request to the Department of Consular Affairs to revoke the passports of 13 people who had been charged with sedition over their involvement in pro-democracy rallies, 6 of whom were specified by name: Jutatip Sirikhan, Korakot Saengyenpan, Suwanna Tanlek, Baramee Chaiyarat and Panumas Singprom.

Apart from Panumas and Marchal, the other five were also listed in a leaked confidential watchlist compiled by the Immigration Bureau in August 2021. The list contained personal and legal information on activists, human rights lawyers, academics and the members of the Move Forward Party and its predecessor, the dissolved Future Forward Party.

Now that one on the list has been unable to register for a passport, the question is whether the other 182 people in the list face a similar ban without knowing it.

Travel bans and watchlists of people thought to be anti-government have existed since the 2014 coup. In 2019, Asst Prof Andrew Johnson, an academic from Princeton University, was temporarily detained and interrogated by the immigration officers on leaving Thailand.

An official told Johnson that the names of 30 academics were on a list who officials would like to question. It was later established that the names were those who had signed a petition opposing the prosecution of academics who had criticized the military for trying to spy on the 2017 International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai Province.

Rosenun Chesof, a Thai academic teaching at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, also signed the same petition and said she had been detained a total of 10 times entering and leaving Thailand, acts that she considered as harassment of academics.

Travel ban for a reason?

In Marchal’s case, he was informed by an immigration officer that he was on a ‘blacklist’ and could not enter the country. The officer did not provide any details but suggested that he book a flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport after taking a transit flight to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

 

Cartoon by Stephff: Yan Marchal expulsed from Thailandhttps://t.co/ybdB3qiNOl#WhatsHappeningInThailand pic.twitter.com/GQ62FeL9Bi

— Prachatai English (@prachatai_en) November 29, 2021

 

Nadthasiri Bergman, Marchal’s lawyer, raised questions about Immigration’s handling of Marchal’s case. She said the expulsion was made under Sections 19, 22 and 54 of the 1979 Immigration Act which allows an appeal to the Prime Minister and the Interior Minister within 48 hours of receiving the expulsion order.

However, Yan received no information other than the ticket price of a flight to Paris and the need to leave Phuket for Bangkok. He received no information or documentation from officers in Bangkok either. Nadthasiri had to assist him in finding the appeal form and sending it to the relevant ministers via email on Saturday. 

According to the Act, the ministers have 7 days until 4 December to respond to the appeal. If there is no response, the appeal is considered as denied. As of Wednesday (1 December), Marchal still received no response.  Khaosod English reported that Marchal was about to board a flight to Paris on 27 November for fear that staying in Thailand would expose him to a lèse majesté charge.

Another question raised by his lawyer is that after Marchal filed an appeal, airport officials offered no advice or assistance at all regarding accommodation while waiting for a response as he was not allowed pass immigration and leave the airport.

Nadthasiri said she would look for further details about Marchal’s presence on a blacklist after that date. Dechathorn was also going to consult lawyers to ask the Department of Consular Affairs for an official explanation over the passport ban.

The reasons behind the forced deportation and travel restrictions seem to be secret. Marchal was informed of nothing other than the ban on him entering the country, which he had experienced before in November 2020. In Dechathorn’s case, he and his lawyers had not been informed at all of the passport revocation.

Possible reasons for these restrictions appear to be related to past political actions which in Dechatorn’s case, led to a national-security related charge of sedition, and in Marchal’s case, expulsion on the grounds of posing a ‘possible danger to the public’.

Round UpHOCKHACKERYan MarchalDechathorn BamrungmuangRap Against Dictatorship (RAD)deportationpro-democracy 2021
Categories: Prachatai English

Court dismisses police lawsuit against beating victim

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-12-03 10:55
Submitted on Fri, 3 Dec 2021 - 10:55 AMPrachatai

On 29 November 2021, the Prachinburi Provincial Court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision to drop a lawsuit filed by a police officer against Ritthirong Cheunchit, a man detained and beaten by the police. The suit alleged that Ritthirong previously gave false testimony in court.

From left to right: Ritthirong and Somsak Cheunchit. (Source: Cross Cultural Foundation)

According to the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), the court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision that Ritthirong’s account of the treatment he received at the hands of the police was credible.

This latest proceeding began on 10 June 2015. It stemmed from an earlier suit filed in 2009 by Ritthirong against a policeman for unlawful arrest and torture. A policeman filed a counter-suit against Ritthirong, accusing him of perjury.

The Prachinburi Court initially ruled against Ritthirong, who was given a 5-year jail sentence and 100,000 baht fine. The sentence was later reduced to two years of parole. The ruling has now been overturned.

In a press statement, CrCF noted that the police lawsuit was another attempt to stop a victim of unlawful treatment from pursuing justice. In conjunction with a number of other civil organizations, the Foundation is lobbying parliament to approve an anti-torture bill to facilitate proceedings on behalf of torture and enforced disappearance victims.

The bill is currently undergoing a second of three requisite parliament readings.

We won't be scapegoated: father spends 12 years seeking justice for tortured son

Ritthirong’s journey was long and hard. He was detained by police in 2009 on his way home from the cinema and forced to confess that he snatched a gold necklace.

At the police station, a woman wrongly identified Ritthirong as the person who had taken her necklace. Ignoring his assertion of innocence, the interrogating officers beat the handcuffed youth and then suffocated him with plastic bags in a bid to determine where the necklace was hidden. When Ritthirong chewed holes in the bags to breathe, the interrogators put more bags over his head. 

They also told Ritthirong that if he died, they would hide his corpse in a far-away wilderness. Terrorised, the youth decided that the only way to escape was to admit to the theft and claim that the necklace was at a shop he frequented. 

Beating him some more, the police then accused him of being on drugs and sought evidence with a urine test, which later proved to be negative. 

The episode left the 18-year-old student and acoustic guitar player with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and he has since required ongoing medical treatment. Ritthirong’s father, Somsak, has been seeking justice for his son in the courts since 2009. 

Thus far, his efforts have borne little fruit. After 12 years of struggle, only one police officer has been punished. Sentenced to prison for 16 months and fined 8,000 baht fine for interfering with an investigation, he has already been paroled.

NewsSomsak CheunchitRitthirong Cheunchitenforced disappearancetortureCross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
Categories: Prachatai English

Student activist granted bail to take exams

Prachatai English - Wed, 2021-12-01 23:40
Submitted on Wed, 1 Dec 2021 - 11:40 PMPrachatai

Student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul has been granted bail to allow her to complete class projects and take her final examinations, after spending 17 days in detention.

Panusaya leaving the Central Women's Correctional Institution (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Panusaya was previously detained pending trial on royal defamation charges relating to 4 protests in 2020. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that, on Tuesday (30 November), the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 19 - 20 September 2020 protest and the 2 December 2020 protest at the Lat Phrao Intersection.

TLHR reported that, during her bail hearing, Panusaya told the court that she is still enrolled at the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, and is required to complete class projects and take her final examinations between 2 – 17 December 2021. She also said that in the next semester, she will have to complete an independent research project in order to graduate, and will be required to re-take the class if she is unable to complete the project.

Boonlert Wisetpreecha, lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, also spoke as witness during the hearing. He said that Panusaya is enrolled in one of his classes, and that he required his students to complete a report by 25 December 2021. The final exam for the class is also scheduled on 14 December 2021. He also said that lecturers can extend their deadlines only to 12 January 2022, when they will be required to submit their students’ grades to the university.

He also said that 4th-year students are required to complete an independent research project in their final semester. He explained to the Court that the project is similar to a Master’s degree thesis but on a smaller scale and will take the entire semester to complete. Students who do not pass the class will not be allowed to graduate. Boonlert told the court that he is happy to make sure that Panusaya follow the court’s condition.

Panusaya’s father also said during the hearing that the family is willing to make sure Panusaya follow the court’s conditions if she is released, and that she has not given speeches about the monarchy since she was released earlier this year, but has attended protests on other issues, such as campaigns for equality and LGBTQ rights. He also said that Panusaya has to take care of her cats and hamsters.

The Criminal Court then granted Panusaya bail on the grounds that her education has been damaged by her detention, and set the conditions that she must not leave her residence without court permission unless for a medical emergency, to go to classes or take exams, or to contact the courts.

She is also prohibited from participating in activities that are damaging to the monarchy or cause public disorder and from leaving the country. She must also wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

The Criminal Court's temporary release order is also only valid until 12 January, coinciding with the final exam period at Thammasat University.

The Court appointed Boonlert as Panusaya’s supervisor. While the court did not require a security, there will be a fine of 90,000 baht if Panusaya breaks her bail conditions.

Today (1 December), the South Bangkok Criminal Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 20 December 2020 crop top protest at Siam Paragon, while the Ayutthaya Provincial Court granted her bail on charges relating to the 21 August 2020 protest in Ayutthaya. Both courts also set her the same conditions as the Criminal Court.

Panusaya was released this evening from the Central Women’s Correctional Institution, where she has been detained since 15 November 2021.

Benja Apan

Five other activities are still detained pending trial on royal defamation charges: Parit Chiwarak, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, and Benja Apan.

Parit and Benja are both students at Thammasat University. A message from Benja was posted on her Facebook profile earlier today saying that she has taken leave of absence for the current semester, after being detained since 8 October 2021 and repeatedly denied bail.

Benja, a student at the Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology, said that she has not received support from her lecturers, and did not expect to receive assistance after she was detained. She also said that it is difficult to study inside prison as she is an engineering student and has no one to help her if she has problems with calculations. She also said that she decided to take a leave of absence because she would like to get good enough grades to be able to study at the postgraduate level.

Nevertheless, Benja said that she still wants to continue her education and that she wants to continue her study in aerospace engineering, but that she wants to study when she is ready and decided to take leave so that her detention will not affect her grades.

“But let me go,” Benja wrote. “I still have to study. I have more use than to just be held in the prison. Have you not destroyed my future enough?”

NewsPanusaya Sithijirawattanakulstudent activistStudent movement 2020right to bailjudicial harassmentPolitical prisonerRoyal defamationSection 112lese majestefreedom of expression
Categories: Prachatai English

United Nations called by NGO to intervene for 2 detained activists

Prachatai English - Wed, 2021-12-01 14:10
Submitted on Wed, 1 Dec 2021 - 02:10 PMDestination Justice

On 26 November 2021, a law NGO Destination Justice has filed an Urgent Action to the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Thai activists Parit 'Penguin' Chiwarak  and Panusaya 'Rung' Sithijirawattanakul. 

From left to right: Parit and Panussaya conduct an activity prior to a charge hearing in 2020.

The Urgent Action requests the United Nations body to declare Parit and Panusaya’s current arrest and detention as arbitrary and in violation of international law. 

Destination Justice has also called upon the United Nations to request the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Parit and Panusaya and terminate all prosecutions and cases against them. 

Parit and Panusaya are amongst the highest profile, most outspoken protesters in a mass protest movement in Thailand calling for socio-political change, including monarchy reform. 

They have been repeatedly arrested and detained for participating in peaceful protests, expressing opinions, and otherwise exercising fundamental freedoms protected under international law. 

Parit and Panusaya are currently being detained pending trial on charges including for lese-majesty under Criminal Code section 112, which has a sentence of up to 15 years. 

Overall, Parit faces 43 trials and up to 300 years’ imprisonment and Panusaya faces 25 trials and up to 135 years’ imprisonment in total. 

Moreover, a recent Thai Constitutional Court decision means that they may eventually charges of attempted insurrection for their human rights work, a crime which carries the death penalty. 

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is a Special Procedure of the United Nations Human Rights Council that investigates deprivation of liberty around the world. It can also intervene urgently where a person is detained arbitrarily in dangerous conditions or where there are other unique circumstances. 

The Urgent Action has also been sent to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and opinion, and human rights defenders. All of these officials, together with the Working Group, have already expressed concern over the treatment of Thai protesters participating in the ongoing movement. 

Destination Justice is a NGO which focuses on human rights and rule of law.

Pick to PostParit ChiwarakPanusaya SithijirawattanakulDestination Justice
Categories: Prachatai English

The Silencing of the Din Daeng Crackdown

Prachatai English - Wed, 2021-12-01 12:20
Submitted on Wed, 1 Dec 2021 - 12:20 PMPrachatai

An interview of a lawyer, a severely beaten protester and an arrested citizen media over what happened in one of the most brutal night raid at Din Daeng Intersection.

File photo (credit: Maew Som)

On the evening of 6 October 2021, the news of the riot policeman who was in a coma after being shot through his helmet was widely reported. But many events of that night remain blurry, including the string of raids and attacks on protestors. The media were not permitted to report what happened, but those arrested have not erased the facts from their memories.

“I used to use my camera to take art photos. But now, if the agents of the state are using violence against my brothers and sisters, against my home, I think everyone needs to know. Everyone needs to know what the state is doing in Din Daeng, everyone needs to know what the state is covering up. I will make it known,” Admin Ninja said.

Admin Ninja: I will make known what the state covers up

On the evening of 6 October 2021, Admin Ninja, an independent journalist, arrived in the area at around 8 pm after hearing news that the police were preparing a strike to start things off at Din Daeng intersection. He scouted for a spot to record video of the events with other journalists.

But while they were deciding where to station themselves, there was a loud ‘bang.’ When he turned in the direction of the sound, he saw a rapid deployment unit advancing out of Soi Mitrmaitri as protestors fought back by setting off firecrackers.

Admin Ninja ran to cross over to Soi Ton Pho and began a live broadcast of the events.  Only a few minutes passed and a SWAT team was quickly on the move from Victory Monument to carry out an assault on the protestors. They told the media to leave the area and gather under the expressway at Din Daeng intersection. Once the journalists are pushed out of an area, it also means that the eyes and ears of the people are covered. This was unacceptable to him.

As the other journalists were walking to assemble as ordered, he crept stealthily to keep recording video from another corner of Soi Ton Pho. What he saw were the police arresting everyone in the lane without any regard for whether they were protestors or just residents of the area. Not long after, state officials came to warn him and push him out of the area. But since he is from Din Daeng and knows every lane and alley, it was not difficult for him to creep back in to keep observing.  

“If I went along and stood with the media who were herded to Din Daeng intersection, no one would be left to perform the duty of the media to record what was taking place. So I got on my motorcycle and took a route that only people who live here know about. But once I parked, police came to search me and asked for my various media documents. All I had then was a PRESS armband. Since arresting journalists was not their objective, the police were not particularly interested in me and I was able to follow them to the lane where the riot policeman had been injured.”

As he followed the policemen, he tried to make himself unremarkable by draping the camera that was live broadcasting around his neck. Not long after, an ambulance came to take away the injured riot policeman. A high-ranking police officer then walked up and became displeased once he realized that Admin Ninja had been secretly recording. So he ordered the police to arrest and search him. They took him to a paddy wagon parked in front of Flat 1, which already held protestors arrested earlier.

“I chose to go record the events because everything should be recorded, and at that time, no media outlets were recording video. Plus, Din Daeng is my home. I am a resident. My family was born here. We are all brothers and sisters. If people in the area do not look after each other, if we do not see our worth, it is difficult to call on others to see our worth. All I want is to look after my home and protect people. We have to inform ordinary people about what happened that day. The police are meant to be the ones who look after the law and the country. Given their actions that day, do they really do so or not?”

His firm conviction in his duty as a journalist meant that he saw the physical assaults the police carried out on people as they arrested them. He saw the indiscriminate arrest of people without the police asking if they were involved in the youth protests or not.

“Some people had only gone out to buy fried chicken and sticky rice. It was around 10 pm then. It’s normal for people to go out to buy something to eat in the neighborhood near their home. They just went to buy fried chicken and sticky rice and got trampled upon. They went to buy bread with condensed milk and got beaten up and clubbed until blood ran from their heads. Another person was sitting in front of a shop drowning his sorrows in a beer after arguing and breaking up with his girlfriend. He was kicked off his stool and beaten with a club.”

If you think that this is already very grave, you have to realize that the physical assault while people were arrested was only one part of the events of that night for which the cameras were shrouded and did not record. Upon being arrested, people were put in the paddy wagon to be taken to the police station. They never imagined what would happen on the way, which was to be yanked down from the vehicle by their heads and beaten up again.

This took place in the dead of night on a road linking Phaholyothin and Vibhavadi Rangsit Roads, near the Veterans’ Hospital. No one passed by.

After Admin Ninja was arrested, the police took him to the paddy wagon. Once a fair number of people were arrested, they were going to be taken to the police station. But once the vehicle began to move, it went in the direction of an area between the Royal Thai Army Band Department and the Veterans’ Hospital. The vehicle stopped. Many tens of riot police were waiting outside.

Those in the vehicle were told they were going to be searched again. But the search began with pulling people down from the vehicle one by one by their heads. They were stripped of all their possessions, including their wallets and mobile phones. Their passwords were compelled by force and the police checked whom they had called and what messages they exchanged and with whom. All they while they were beaten and profanity that degraded their human dignity was hurled at them..

He had the sense that his PRESS armband did him some good. When he came down from the vehicle, he saw a high-ranking officer whom he had encountered before. The officer pulled him aside so he would not be beaten like the others.

“They took off everything I was wearing  —mask, shoes, and hat — and searched it all. The search was entertaining for them. They ridiculed me as they searched me. They mocked my status as a journalist. They asked for my press card, and I told them that my organization only has the armband. They laughed and said they would go buy a PRESS armband tomorrow and be journalists too.”

“More than that, they brought those arrested down from the vehicle one-by-one. They pulled them down by their hair. Punched them. Slapped them. Beat them up. One by one. They they were pushed together in the middle of the road and the police rushed at them and beat them all over again. As they were beating them, the officials screamed at them, ‘Do you know what happened to my friend? Do you know?’

“One youth was beaten until he could not take it and held his hands up in a wai (a gesture of begging for mercy). The official said, go wai your father, wai your mother, we don’t want your wai. As they spoke, they kept beating him and kicking him with their combat boots. The high-ranking police officer turned to me and said, ‘Do you see, younger brother? I cannot stop them.’ Sewage water was poured on them and cigarettes put out on their necks.”

“All I could do was watch, observe and remember everything that happened so I could write it all down and convey it to others. While they were being beaten, one police officer came and held on to me, as if to show that he knew I was a journalist and to help protect me from being beaten. But another one came around from behind and used his knee to knock my calves to make me sit down.”

A crowd control police fires a rubber bullet launcher during the raid. (File photo, credit: Maew Som)

“Such actions were inappropriate for the civil servants of the land. They are inappropriate for the police, and inappropriate for gentlemen.”  

He said that all of this occurred within the space of approximately 30 minutes. Then a high-ranking police officer, whom he thought was the head of the unit, walked up to inform those arrested of the charges they faced, and ordered them to get back in to the paddy wagon to be taken to Phaholyothin police station. 

In the end, all those arrested were taken to Phaholyothin police station and accused of violating curfew under the emergency decree. They were all fined and released. How quickly or slowly they were released depended on how long it took to make the file on each. Some were let go the next morning and others had to spend another night in a cell.

“It seems like the state is trying to ask for cooperation, for every unit and the people to be peaceful and orderly with the intention of creating happiness. But they do the opposite. And here, Din Daeng, is my home. So I feel even more strongly that I must be more dedicated and more tenacious in not letting anyone come and bully my brothers and sisters.”

“Really, those who come out to fight aren’t asking for very much. All they want is a place to live and food to eat. They want their quality of life to improve. But the state opts not to listen and instead offers violence. Over and over again.”

“If the state’s view is that absolute violence is what will solve the problem, Din Daeng will be no different than the three southern border provinces in the future. Violence does not help anything. Listening and understanding, on the other hand, are what can help. Rather than sending in armed police to lock us up and sending in steel-tipped boots to kick people, I think it would be better to send in microphones for singing songs, badminton rackets, soccer balls, and good roads and a good economy. This would be better than heaping violence upon us.”

Ohm: At that moment, I hurt inside and could not speak

Admin Ninja’s account was confirmed by Ohm, a middle-aged man who was the first to be arrested on the night of 6 October. He was arrested on Soi Ton Pho, next to Din Daeng Flat 1. Even though he was born and raised in Din Daeng, he was a new member of the youth struggle. He joined for the first time on the night of 3 December, only a few days before the night in which all the cameras were covered.

Ohm lived with his parents in a townhouse near the Din Daeng flats. But after the third wave of COVID, he was the only one left. His mother and father are among those who lost their lives from contracting COVID-19 during the government of Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

When he looked around inside his home, there was no one. When he looked outside, he saw people facing the same kinds of problems who were making demands by creating turmoil and then facing disproportionate force from the state. Some were people he knew. Some were still kids. The combination of his feelings and seeing people struggle caused him, a person who had surrendered to his fate and losses, to go outside to set off firecrackers and struggle together with the group of Din Daeng teenagers.

Protesters hide themselves while one shot out a flare. (File photo, credit: Maew Som)

On the evening of 6 October, Ohm had just gotten home from work. As he sat and ate dinner in Soi Ton Pho, a kid ran by yelling that riot police were attacking from Soi Mitrmaitri. So he quickly got firecrackers to shoot in that direction. But within only a moment, a rapid deployment force arrived from the direction of Victory Monument to raid and attack. Upon turning to look and assess the situation, he decided he did not have time to flee.

He decided to stop and let the police come and arrest him. Even so, he was shot with a rubber bullet at close range in his left elbow and hit in the head with the butt of a shotgun as he was pushed down to the ground.

In that moment, Ohm felt blood spurt out of his head. He tried to crouch and use his hands to protect his head from being hit again. The police then stepped on him to flatten him against the ground before taking him to the paddy wagon. They used their steel-tipped combat boot-clad feet to kick the right knee cap until his kneecap was dislocated. When he told the police that his kneecap was dislocated and could not walk, they propped him up by both arms and dragged him.

As he sat in pain from his wounds, others arrested were brought one-by-one to the paddy wagon. There was a total of eight, including Admin Ninja. The police told them that they were being taken to the police station. But before they arrived at the police station, out of nowhere, the vehicle parked in a spot on a shortcut between Phaholyothin Road and Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. What happened next was as Admin Ninja had said.

Ohm was the third person to be dragged by his head from the paddy wagon. Being the third person means you know what fate awaits you upon being brought down from the vehicle. Reflecting on what happened, Ohm said it felt like being hazed. The most he could do was steel himself to withstand the blows from hands, feet, knees and clubs. What he did not know how to take was the burning end of the cigarette that was poked into different parts of his body and the sewage that was poured over his head.

“They showed me a picture of the policeman who was shot. And said that I had done this to his friend, and that I must think I am really cool, really hot stuff. I kept saying I didn’t know because I was the first to be arrested, and so how could I know? But it did not help, at all. I couldn’t speak anymore. I hurt all over my body, and I hurt in my heart.”

“After the first round, I thought it was over. I thought they would send us to the police station, and those who were badly hurt would maybe be taken to the hospital. I had no idea there would be this second round.”

All eight were then taken to the Phaholyothin police station. A total of twenty-nine were arrested that night and the next morning. The stance of the policemen, the very same group who had attacked them, changed once they arrived at the station. After having swarmed around and beaten them, they now helped them into the police station and asked after their injuries with concern.

Ohm did not really know why people could change so dramatically so quickly. Or maybe it is the light and the eyes of other people that can cause us to swing from one pole to another.

Ohm was one of those who were seriously injured and it took a long time before the police agreed to send him to the Police Hospital. He owed 5000 baht for his treatment. When the vehicle stopped for the search and beating, his wallet had been taken and the 3000 baht in it disappeared. He refused to pay for his treatment. In the end, a policeman from Phaholyothin police station pulled out his wallet and paid. But the other injured people, who did not protest, had to pay their own hospital bills.

Ohm was given painkillers and antibiotics, and an appointment slip to come back to take out his stitches and have further x-rays. But he decided not to go back because he didn’t have the money to pay the hospital bill. He and a younger friend removed their own stitches. Ohm said he could see and feel that his kneecap that had been kicked and dislocated was still a little bit off. The spot on his head that was whacked with the butt of a gun until it was drenched in blood no longer felt strange.

Surveilling Every Step: Intimidation After Arrest

“If you ask about the impact it has had on me … it’s like I no longer have a place to be. It’s like I have become completely homeless. I once had a home and now I have become a stray. I go sleep at that house and then this house. It caused me to lose my job, too. The police contacted the company where I worked, the company told me, and then I had to quit.”

Din Daeng intersection protest. (File Photo by Nontawat Numbenchapol

Even though Ohm’s arrest and prosecution ended with a fine for violating curfew, he and many of his friends believe that they are being closely surveilled by the police. He said that it is not difficult to detect the surveillance because the form is so similar. For example, when he and his friends return to the Din Daeng flats, or even to the house where he had lived with his parents, a vehicle without license plates soon appears, parks and watches for a long time. Whenever he leaves the area, a vehicle follows him; he started choosing longer routes so he could lose the tail. The worst for him was that the police went to the company where he worked. The management summoned him and he had to agree to resign. Further, once he had recovered from his injuries, he started his life over by becoming a rider. But every time he rides his motorcycle to make a delivery, someone follows him the entire way. 

This has been experienced and corroborated by many people who were arrested that night. The police are trying to find the person who shot the riot policeman, but Ohm also thinks that the police are trying to use every method to make them afraid and feel that they are being closely watched all the time. They are even pressuring the owners of rooms in Din Daeng flats to not rent to teenagers or let them stay there. If they do, the police threaten that they will be accused of supporting demonstrations that create chaos.

Narongrat Khamsuwan: Blocking Access to Lawyers

It would be a misunderstanding to think that the arrests ended early in the evening of 6 October. The arrests and clashes between the police and groups of teenagers stretched all night and into the morning of the next day.

Narongrat Khamsuwan, a young lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, explained that around 8 am on the morning of 7 October, he was informed that there were around forty people who had been arrested during the night of 6 October and the early morning of 7 October who were being held at Din Daeng police station. 

File Photo

He went to Din Daeng police station and asked to meet with those arrested. But the police refused and would not provide him with any information. He decided to walk into the inquiry room. But the police pushed him out and used profanity against him: “This is a matter of law. What’s a lawyer getting involved for?” They closed and locked the door, and then he heard a voice from inside the room that said, “dickhead lawyer.”

“When I went into the room, I saw about ten people who had been arrested. There were another fifteen uniformed and plainclothes police. When I went in, all eyes turned to me. I was shocked, and once I regained my composure, asked, ‘What stage of the process is this? Have you informed them of their accusations yet, since they have been arrested since early morning?’ They were motionless. So I asked, ‘Were they caught while committing crimes or not?’ Because if not, the police do not have the right to hold them in custody. Once I asked a bunch of questions, they asked who I was. I said I was a lawyer.

Then they covered the faces of those who were being held. I yelled out to them that, ‘You were not caught while committing crimes. You have not been informed of the accusations against you. You are being subjected to an illegal process. According to your rights, you can get up and walk out.’ But no one dared to get up and walk out. A plainclothes policeman came up and pushed me out by the chest. As he pushed me out, he said, ‘What’s a lawyer getting involved for? Dickhead lawyer.’”

Narongrat explained that the police were trying to coerce information about who shot and seriously injured the riot policeman in the head. But the entire process was far in excess of what is permitted under the law. The rude comment from the police, “What’s a lawyer getting involved for?” multiplied his questions about the judicial process. If you are lawyer and you are not permitted to provide legal assistance to those who have been arrested, then what kind of process was taking place in the police station?

“Okay, so I get that police inquiry officials often do not carry out their duties strictly according to the letter of the law. But they should ultimately respect the law. They themselves are police, which is a profession that was designed to protect and preserve the law. They are the enforcers of law and they should not do anything outside the law. Once I challenged them on law, they used profanity instead of being polite.”

After that, he left Din Daeng police station and only observers remained. He was then contacted late in the evening of 7 October to return to serve as the lawyer for the protestors. By then, the police had already recorded the arrests and many had already confessed.

This article is translated from an original piece published in Voice TV Online, “การเมือง ‘ดินแดง’ เงียบงัน: รุมกระทืบ-ด่าทนาย-สลายเยาวชน

FeatureDin Daeng IntersectionDin Daeng JunctionNarongrat Khamsuwanpro-democracy protest 2021
Categories: Prachatai English

House committee to summon NBTC for asking media not to cover the monarchy issue, says MP

Prachatai English - Tue, 2021-11-30 19:08
Submitted on Tue, 30 Nov 2021 - 07:08 PMPrachatai

Amarat Chokepamitkul, an MP of the Move Forward Party (MFP) and member of the House Committee on Political Development, Mass Communications and Public Participation said the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) would be summoned to explain their request to the mainstream media to avoid covering news about monarchy reform.

File photo

According to the MFP media team, Amarat said on 28 November that the House Committee will summon NBTC Commissioner Lt Gen Perapong Manakit to explain the Commission’s request to the mainstream media to avoid covering monarchy-related activities that are found unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court ruling on 10 November.

Broadcasting Commission warns media against covering calls for monarchy reform

Amarat said even if the Court ruling is regarded as a mandate binding on all organizations, it should not influence media news reports. Press freedom is important and the media should also protect their professional dignity.

On 26 November, Lt Gen Perapong held a meeting with representatives of various media outlets in which he said that they should not broadcast news about calls for monarchy reform. He cited the Constitutional Court ruling on 10 November that found the 10 demands for monarchy reform, speeches made by Anon Nampa Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Panupong Jadnok, as well as subsequent calls for monarchy reform, were an intentional abuse of constitutional rights and liberties in an attempt to overthrow the “democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”

Perapong said that according to the ruling, calling for monarchy reform is against the law and reporting such calls could be repeating the offense. He also said that reporters should not interview protest leaders, protesters, or those who agreed with the demands, but may report on the events that happen. However, he said that they should avoid long live broadcasts of protests to prevent the re-broadcast of speeches made during protests and calls for people to join the movement.

The NBTC also recommended that the media avoid inviting guests for talk show interviews about the demands, especially inviting representatives of both sides to give their opinions on air.

Perapong said that it is possible to interview experts about the ruling, but that reporters should be aware that some content could go against the ruling, and they should consider the content before airing it.

Meanwhile, the NBTC said it is still possible to report on calls for the repeal of the royal defamation law, but the media should only report the facts and the events that take place.

NewsAmarat ChokepamitkulMonarchy reformNational Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)lèse majesté lawpress freedomSource: prachatai.com/journal/2021/11/96167
Categories: Prachatai English

Petition for marriage equality gains over 100,000 signatures overnight

Prachatai English - Mon, 2021-11-29 19:58
Submitted on Mon, 29 Nov 2021 - 07:58 PMPrachatai

A petition proposing amendments to the Civil Commercial Code to allow marriage between LGBTQ couples has gained over 100,000 signatures overnight after it was launched during Sunday night’s demonstration (28 November).

Protesters flashed the three-finger salute during Sunday night's demonstration

The petition proposes to amend Article 1448 of the Civil Commercial Code, which governs marriage, so that marriage registration is allowed between two people of any gender, instead of only between a man and a woman. It also proposed to raise the age at which people can legally marry from 17 to 18 years old.

The petition also proposes to replace the terms “man” and “woman” in every article of the Civil and Commercial Code relating to marriage with “person,” as well as to replace “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” and “father” and “mother” with “parents.”

The amendments will grant LGBTQ couples the same rights, duties, and legal recognition as heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt a child together and be recognized as the child’s parents, the right to have the power of attorney to make medical decisions of behalf of one’s partner and to press charges on behalf of one’s partner, the right to use one’s partner’s last name, and the right to inherit property from each other without the need for a will.

The rationale of the proposed amendments says that gender-neutral language is used so that the same rights, duties, and legal recognition are granted to persons of every gender and sexuality.

As of 19.50.00 today (29 November), the petition has over 150,000 signatures, more than ten times the number legally required for a bill from the citizenry to be put before parliament.

Protesters gathering at the Ratchaprasong Intersection on Sunday

A protest to campaign for marriage equality took place at the Ratchaprasong intersection on Sunday night (28 November), organized by the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality, a network of around 40 civil society organizations and activist groups. The petition was launched during the protest.

A group of protesters who called themselves “the Ungendered” said that they wanted to join the protest to support the call for marriage equality. The group asked why Thai people still have to wait, even though LGBTQ couples are already allowed to get married in many other countries, and why everyone cannot be granted the same rights even though we are all humans.

One member of the group said that, even though they are still young and have not fully felt the impact of the lack of marriage rights, but there are many other LGBTQ couples in Thailand who would like to register their marriage but are not able to, and that being able to register their marriage would mean they are able to access the benefits and rights to which married couples are entitled. They said that they hope the effort to amend Article 1448 is successful and hope to learn more from joining the protest.

Meanwhile, Mo, who works for a civil society organization, said that the pro-democracy movement and the movement for gender equality should go together. She said that she found Sunday’s event interesting in that there were also campaigns for the release of detained activists and the repeal of the royal defamation law, which she said should be included in every protest.

Mo said that attending the protest is a way of standing by the most fundamental principle of equality regardless of gender.

“I think that the struggle is something that we have to fight in the long term. No change comes easy. We have to keep fighting, but the fact that everyone came to the protest today is already a show of force that we all want to see change,” Mo said.

As part of the campaign for marriage equality, a protester dressed in a wedding dress and stood on top of scaffolding wrapped in clothes in the colour of the LGBTQ Pride flag.

The campaign and the protest came after the Constitutional Court ruled on 17 November that the current marriage law does not violate the Constitution, but observed that parliament, the cabinet, and other relevant agencies should draft legislation to grant rights to LGBTQ people.

The ruling was made after a petition filed by Permsap Sae-Ung and Puangphet Hengkham was forwarded to the Constitutional Court by the Central Juvenile and Family Court to rule whether Article 1448 violates Sections 25, 26, or 27 of the Constitution.

Under Section 27 of the 2017 Constitution, all persons are “equal before the law, and shall have rights and liberties and be protected equally under the law.” This section also states that “unjust discrimination against a person on the grounds of differences in origin, race, language, sex, age, disability, physical or health condition, personal status, economic and social standing, religious belief, education, or political view which is not contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, or on any other grounds shall not be permitted.”

Newsmarriage equalityLGBTQLGBT rightsDiscrimination against LGBTsame-sex marriage
Categories: Prachatai English

French expat known for political parody deported

Prachatai English - Sat, 2021-11-27 22:25
Submitted on Sat, 27 Nov 2021 - 10:25 PMPrachatai

On 27 November, the Thai immigration Department issued an expulsion order to Yan Marchal, an expat who have lived in Thailand for 18 years, on the grounds that his behaviour posed ‘a possible danger to public.’ Marchal does not face any legal charge.

Yan Marchal in his music video parody of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha's song "Returning Happiness to the People"

After being denied entry to Thailand at the Phuket Airport, Marchal travelled to Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday afternoon to wait for a flight to Paris in evening.  He was considering filing an appeal to the expulsion order.

On 27 November evening, Marchal decided to take a plane to Paris.

The Immigration officer at Phuket reportedly told him that he had been blacklisted and was not allowed to enter the country. Although the officer did not explain further, Marchal says that officers who expelled him were talking to each other about the lese majeste law, Article 112 of the criminal code which penalises individuals who defame, insult or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent.

According to the Immigration Act of 1979 (B.E. 2522), Marchal has 48 hours to appeal the expulsion and a decision in his case must be reached within 7 days.

Natthasiri Bergman, Marchal’s lawyer, said that the case was unusual. Heretofore, blacklisting and expulsion under the act has mostly involved foreigners who overstayed their visa for lengthy periods or been convicted of crimes.

“Normally, with an administrative order like this, the individual being denied entry should be told who he has been accused by, and why he has been deemed a threat to the society and should not be allowed in … there should an opportunity for explanation,” said Natthasiri.

Marshal expressed concern about his situation. He stated that it will take time to sort out his affairs in Thailand, where he has a game development company, employees and children.

He called on fellow foreigners and tourists to remember that lese majeste matters in Thailand are very sensitive and suggested  that anyone planning a visit avoid involvement in activities that might be illegal to ensure that no problems arise during their stay.

Marshal was well known for his activities on Facebook and Tiktok where he made parodies about the Thai government and the monarchy. His social debut was in 2019 when he published a music video mocking NCPO leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s song “Returning Happiness to the People”.

The police went to his house afterward, ordering him to remove the video clip and sign a “memorandum,” the English version of which Yan posted on his Facebook page. Part of the document stated that the music video was an “improper act” and that he is “now repenting for the bad action and will not do it again.”

NewsYan Marchallèse majesté lawimmigration
Categories: Prachatai English

Broadcasting Commission warns media against covering calls for monarchy reform

Prachatai English - Sat, 2021-11-27 20:14
Submitted on Sat, 27 Nov 2021 - 08:14 PMPrachatai

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has warned the media against reporting on calls for monarchy reform after the Constitutional Court ruled that such messages are treasonous.

Workpoint News reported on Friday (26 November) that NBTC commissioner Lt Gen Perapong Manakit said during a meeting with representatives of various media outlets that they should not broadcast the 10-point demand for monarchy reform put forward by the activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration at a protest on 10 August 2020, after the Constitutional Court ruled on 10 November that speeches made by protest leaders Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Panupong Jadnok, as well as subsequent calls for monarchy reform, were an intentional abuse of constitutional rights and liberties in an attempt to overthrow the “democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”

Peerapong said that, due to the ruling, calling for monarchy reform is against the law and reporting on such calls could be repeating the offense. He also said that reporters should not interview protest leaders, protesters, or those who agreed with the demands, but may report on the events that happen. However, he said that they should avoid long live broadcasts of protests to prevent the re-broadcast of speeches made during protests and calls for people to join the movement.

The NBTC also recommended that the media avoid inviting guests for talk show interviews about the demands, especially inviting representatives of both sides in to give their opinion on air.

Perapong said that it is possible to interview experts about the ruling, but that reporters should be aware that some content could go against the ruling, and they should consider the content before airing it.

Meanwhile, the NBTC said it is still possible to report on calls for the repeal of the royal defamation law, but the media should only report the facts and the events that take place.

NewsNational Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC)press freedomMonarchy reformRoyal defamationlese majesteSection 112Constitutional courtStudent protest 2020pro-democracy protest 2021
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State of emergency extended despite easing Covid-19 restrictions

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-11-26 22:57
Submitted on Fri, 26 Nov 2021 - 10:57 PMPrachatai

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced today (26 November) that it will extend the state of emergency for another 2 months, while also announcing that current Covid-19 restrictions will be eased from 1 December onwards.

On 23 November, a musicians' network staged a small performance at the Misakawan Intersection and filed a petition calling for entertainment businesses to be allowed to reopen.

BBC Thai reported that, according to resolutions made during the CCSA’s meeting today, the state of emergency, which was first declared in March 2020 and was previously extended to end on 30 November, will be extended until 31 January 2022. This is the 15th extension to the state of emergency since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

The continuous use of the Emergency Decree during the pandemic has been criticized by civil society, as its provisions have been used to prosecute pro-democracy activists and critics of the government. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 1337 people are facing charges under the Emergency Decree for joining protests since the first case in May 2020.

The government had also issued an order under the Emergency Decree banning the reporting or distribution of information which may cause public fear or which intentionally distorts information creating misunderstanding during the emergency to the point where it affects national security, or peace and order, or the good morals of the people, whether through printed publication or any other form of media. The order was later suspended by the Civil Court following a lawsuit filed by members of the press and civil society organizations.

The CCSA also said that no province is now considered a “dark red zone,” or area where disease control measures are at the strictest levek. It is also lifting the curfew for the entire country from 1 December onwards, and increasing the number of provinces in the “blue zone,” or areas open for tourism, from 4 to seven; these now include Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Pathum Thani, Phang Nga, and Phuket.

Restrictions for those arriving from overseas will also be eased. Travellers with a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours before arrival will be allowed to enter the country immediately if an on-arrival rapid test also comes out negative. Travellers arriving through the immigration checkpoint at Nongkhai will also not have to undergo a quarantine period if they have a negative PCR test result and have received full dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, entertainment businesses will be allowed to reopen on 16 January 2022, despite demands from businessowners and entertainment workers to be allowed to return to work on 1 December.

CCSA spokesperson Taweesin Visanuyothin said that entertainment businesses are not yet allowed to reopen since they risk spreading the virus and creating clusters of infection because these venues often have ventilation issues and customers often stay longer than they would at restaurants. He also said that they might be allowed to reopen sooner if businessowners comply with government measures.

Signs displayed at the performance staged by the Workers' Union and the "Musicians Have a Voice" group say "Open on 1 December 2020" and "We've been waiting for two years. What's the point?"

Since March 2020, the CCSA has continuously issue closure orders for entertainment businesses and bans on gatherings. Meanwhile, businessowners and workers, including musicians, artists, service staff, and security staff, who are left without income, received no compensation from the government and were not provided with effective vaccines.

According to the labour rights group Workers’ Union, around 40-50% of entertainment businesses have closed permanently, causing difficulties for those who work in the sector, while the closures do not seem to have helped lower infection rates. 

The Workers’ Union and the musicians’ network นักดนตรีมีเสียง (“Musicians have a voice”) also filed a petition addressed to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on 23 November demanding that nightlife and entertainment businesses be allowed to reopen on 1 December, as previously stated by the Prime Minister, as well as to delay the curfew on alcohol sales from 21.00 to midnight.

They also asked that the government and financial institutions provide them with a 6-month moratorium and to promote low-interest loans, and that those who are employed by businesses that are unable to reopen on 1 December must receive compensation.

NewsCOVID-19Covid-19 pandemicCentre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)LockdownState of emergencyEmergency Decree
Categories: Prachatai English

Charge over claim Suvarnabhumi Airport had no Covid-19 screening dismissed

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-11-26 22:45
Submitted on Fri, 26 Nov 2021 - 10:45 PMPrachatai

The Criminal Court ruled on Thursday (25 November 2021) to dismiss the charge against Danai Usama, a graffiti artist from Phuket, who was charged with violation of the Computer Crimes Act for posting that he encountered no Covid-19 screening at Suvarnabhumi Airport after returning from Spain in March 2020.

Danai Usama (Picture from TLHR)

On 16 March 2020, Danai posted on his Facebook profile that he was not subjected to any Covid-19 screening process at the immigration checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi Airport after returning from Barcelona, Spain, which at the time was a Covid-19 hotspot. However, the photo he uploaded to show no screening activity was taken in 2019.

Danai was subsequently arrested at his gallery in Phuket on 23 March 2020, while undergoing 14-day self-quarantine. He was charged with putting into a computer system false computer data in a manner that is likely to cause panic in the public under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, filed against him by the Airports of Thailand PCL.

The public prosecutor decided to indict him on 12 May 2020 on the grounds that the photo he used constituted false information as the airport at the time had deployed thermoscan machines and had officials in every area including the arrival hall, and that the false data might have misled the public and led to panic and loss of trust in the airport authorities.

The prosecutor also asked the court for a heavy sentence because the defendant committed the offence knowing that this false information on a popular social media platform like Facebook would lead to fast and widespread sharing. Posting such misleading information about an important national airport could cause widespread public confusion and panic.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported on Thursday (25 November 2021) that the Criminal Court ruled to dismiss the charge against Danai on the ground that the post was made according to what he encountered and that he did not intend to cause panic among the public or spread false information.

TLHR said that evidence presented to the Court included security camera footage showing Danai walking past a screening checkpoint without apparently noticing the temperature screening equipment. One witness said that the monitor showing the temperature scan result was turned towards the officers on duty.

Another witness said that the health screening measures at the time used a temperature scan camera to measure the body temperature of those who went through the checkpoint, and officers would take another reading from those who measured above 37.5 degree Celsius.

Danai also told the court that he read about the Covid-19 control measures at the time from a post on the Facebook page of the Thai Embassy in Madrid, made on 15 January 2020, which said that the screening would involve answering a questionnaire. It is therefore possible that he did not encounter an officer and did not see the thermoscan camera on arrival.

Regarding the photo, Dr Jenpon Thongyuen, an expert witness, said that it was widely used by the media when running stories about Suvarnabhumi Airport, while Danai said that he only used the photo to accompany the post.

After the ruling, Danai told TLHR said that, when he was arrested and charged, many people told him that he would lose the case. Some people also told him to confess, and he questioned how he could confess when he did nothing wrong and only posted about what he saw.

“Usually, if anyone does something good, I compliment them. If someone does something bad, I tell them off. Isn’t criticism normal? Even if it was my father, if he did something wrong, I’d call it out,” Danai said.

NewsDanai UsamaSuvarnabhumi AirportCOVID-19Computer Crimes Act
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Women workers, trade unions and grassroots organisations call for safety of women in all workplaces

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-11-26 13:46
Submitted on Fri, 26 Nov 2021 - 01:46 PMAsia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

Feminists, women workers and grassroots women from Asia and the Pacific gathered together, albeit virtually, to kick off the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women through the regional online protest, “Ratify C190 - End All Forms of Violence at All Workplaces”.

 

More than 100 women workers, women human rights defenders, peasant women and women migrants representing over 30 organisations from Australia, Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uzbekistan joined the online protest that spotlights the plight of women workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and worsening work conditions across the world and calls for the urgent ratification of C190.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190, or C190, and its accompanying Recommendation No 206 (R206) have been pushed by women workers and its allies as a pathway to end violence and harassment in all workplaces.

To date, only nine countries have ratified C190 worldwide. In Asia and the Pacific, only Fiji has ratified the Convention. Organisations of women workers and grassroots women, however, commit to continue urging their governments to ratify C190 until all women are safe and protected in all workplaces. 

Asia Floor Wage Alliance Sri Lanka Coordinator Abiramy Sivalogananthan said that C190 needs to be urgently ratified especially by countries where gender-based violence and harassment in workplaces are persistent and pervasive.

“Preventing gender-based violence is essential to ensuring the health, safety and dignity of women workers. It is also a precursor to freedom of association and collective bargaining in industries dominated by women workers. These in turn, are foundational to achieving living wages - a decade-long mandate of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance,” Abiramy explained.

Shiela Tebia-Bonifacio of Asian Migrants Coordinating Body International Migrants Alliance (AMCB - IMA Hong Kong and Macau) also pointed out that C190 will be critically helpful for migrant women who have long been struggling with dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs abroad without the protection from either the sending or receiving countries.

 “In cases of migrant women especially those who engage in domestic work and other low wage jobs, protection, support and government accountability are either lacking or very little. Migrant women are left to fend for themselves, which has become extremely difficult during the pandemic,” Sheila noted.

The ratification of C-190, according to workers, could also help in exercising women’s right to freedom of association and protect women labour rights and human rights defenders from attacks and threats. Stories of women workers noted that union-busting has become a common practice among companies to prevent women workers from organising and empowering themselves to assert their human rights.

Daw Myo Myo Aye of Solidarity Trade Union of Myanmar (STUM) in Burma/Myanmar shared how the authorities violated women’s human rights when a series of arrests happened earlier this year. 

“When I was arrested, I was still in my workplace. The regime’s armed forces came into an office compound where a project under the UN is operating and arrested a woman. When I requested to change my clothes, the policemen were standing in front of the room. Is this violence or not?” Daw Myo Myo recalled. 

 Daw Myo Myo further noted that women are often subjected to threats, torture and various forms of harassment, and that women leaders of unions are targeted. Worse, the government uses family attachments as a threat to weaken women’s collective power.

“Women were arrested when they assert their rights as citizens in political events. In such arrests, women were beaten by the regime’s male uniformed personnel. Sometimes, when a warrant has been issued against the father, the daughter or the spouse will be arrested as hostages and will be tortured to force the father to surrender. The arrests of infants and children, pregnant and elderly as hostages only reflect the brutality and lack of regard for women’s lives of these regime leaders,” she added.

APWLD Deputy Regional Coordinator Wardarina emphasised that gender-based violence and the systemic oppression that women are experiencing in workplaces are deeply rooted in an extractive and exploitive model of capitalism, and that the only way for women to break free from the cycle of oppression and violence is by challenging and dismantling the system together. 

“Fighting to end gender based violence for all women in all workplaces is at the center of dismantling the oppressive system of capitalism, fundamentalisms, militarism and patriarchy. And only with cross-movements, struggle, actions and solidarity can we really achieve it. Today we make our resolution to continue that struggle collectively until we achieve our win in ending all forms of gender-based violence and harassment against women in all their diversities in workplaces, and everywhere,” Wardarina shared.

Pick to PostAsia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)labour rightsWorkplace safetyViolence Against Womengender-based violencesexual harassment
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Activists, academics received ‘state-sponsored attackers’ warnings

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-11-26 13:35
Submitted on Fri, 26 Nov 2021 - 01:35 PMPrachatai

Several pro-democracy activists and academics have reported receiving an email from Apple warning them that “state-sponsored attackers” are targeting their devices.

Activist Elia Fofi, a member of the artists’ network Free Arts, said on Wednesday (24 November) that he received an email from Apple saying that it believes that he is being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are “trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with [his] Apple ID” and that, if the device is compromised, these attackers may have access to “sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone.”

Other activists also received the same warning, including We Volunteer member Rattaphum Lertpaijit, United Front of Thammasat Demonstration member Chayapol Danotai, Coalition of Salaya for Democracy member Chatrapee Artsomboon, and iLaw manager Yingcheep Atchanont.

Rap Against Dictatorship member Dechatorn Bamrungmuang, or “Hockhacker,” also said that he received the warning email. Several academics also said that they received the warning, including Puangthong Pawakapan, lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University; political scientist and Progressive Movement member Piyabutr Saengkanokkul; Prajak Kongkirati, lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University; and independent researcher Sarinee Achavanuntakul.

Sarinee speculated that, while the email did not specify which spyware was used, it is likely to be Pegasus, made by the Israeli NSO Group and said to be mostly used by governments, armed forces, and intelligence agencies.

Apple issued a press release on Tuesday (24 November) stating that it has filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group and its parent company “to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users” and is seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple products.

Apple said that Pegasus spyware attacks are aimed at “a very small number of users” and that there are reports of this spyware being used against journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and government officials.

The press release also said that Apple is notifying the targeted users and that it will continue to do so whenever it discovers activities likely to be state-sponsored attacks.

The warning messages received by the activists recommended that they update their devices to iOS 15.1.1, which is believed to be capable of preventing attacks, and to keep updating to the latest software, or contact an expert.

NewsCyber securityCyber attackPegasus spywareNSO groupApplePro-democracy movementdigital securityDigital privacy
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Student activist arrested at vaccination centre

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-11-26 13:25
Submitted on Fri, 26 Nov 2021 - 01:25 PMPrachatai

A student at Prince of Songkla University’s Hat Yai campus has been arrested on a royal defamation charge while receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at the university’s vaccination centre.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Supakorn Khunchit, a student from the Faculty of Economics, Prince of Songkla University, was arrested by a group of plainclothes police officers in the parking lot in front of the Songklanagarind Hospital’s sport complex after he went to receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Supakorn said that, at first, a man called out to him in the parking lot. He thought the man wanted to ask for some information, so he walked over, but was then surrounded by 3 – 4 other men who said they were police officers and presented a warrant issued by the Phatthalung Provincial Court on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, a sedition charge under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, and a charge of entering into a computer system data which is an offense relating to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.

7 – 8 more plainclothes officers then came out of a vehicle and surrounded him. Supakorn said that he was shocked, and asked the officers for the opportunity to contact a lawyer and his friends. He was allowed to do so, but the officers did not allow him to wait on campus for his lawyer to arrive as they wanted to take him to a police station to record the arrest immediately.

Supakorn also asked the officers why an arrest warrant has been issued for him, since he had never received a summons, but the officers who arrested him said they did not know.

Supakorn was held overnight at Muang Phatthalung Police Station. A lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), along with Suthichai Ngamchuensuwan, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prince of Songkla University, went to meet him on Wednesday morning (24 November).

According to the inquiry officer, Supakorn was charged because he was allegedly part of a group of people who took pictures of various locations in Phatthalung and posted them on the Facebook pages ‘Free Phatthalung’ and ‘Democracy of Southern Thailand’ along with messages which the police claimed were insulting towards the King and the Queen and aimed to incite unrest among the people.

TLHR said that the inquiry officer did not specify which messages were the offending ones in the temporary detention request, but included them in the interrogation record. TLHR also noted that many of the messages, including “1 2 3 4 5 fuck you,” “Down with feudalism. Long live the ducks,” “The people own the country” do not correspond to the accusation.

The inquiry officer then took Supakorn to court for a temporary detention request. They were later granted bail using Suthichai’s academic position as security.

Supakorn said that he found the process of his arrest unacceptable, since he was arrested by a large group of officers even though he has never received a summons and he had just reported to the police on charges relating to another protest but did not receive an arrest warrant for this case. He was also held in the police station holding cell, which was in poor condition, and was not allowed visitors, since the officer claimed that his photograph would be taken and used to incite conflict, but other detainees were allowed visitors.

TLHR also said that an arrest warrant has also been issued for 2 other student activists on charges relating to the same incident, and that they would be reporting to the police on Friday (26 November).

According to TLHR, at least 160 people are facing royal defamation charges since November 2020. Several activists are also facing several counts of the charge, including Parit Chiwarak, who faces 22 counts, Anon Nampa, 14 counts, Panupong Jadnok, 9 counts, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, 9 counts, and Benja Apan, 6 counts.

Parit, Anon, Panupong, Panusaya, and Benja are detained pending trial on the royal defamation charges, along with activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa.

NewsSupakorn KhunchitPrince of Songkla Universitystudent activistlese majesteSection 112Royal defamationSeditionComputer Crimes Actarbitrary arrest
Categories: Prachatai English

Monarchy supporters vow to drive Amnesty International out of Thailand

Prachatai English - Fri, 2021-11-26 10:19
Submitted on Fri, 26 Nov 2021 - 10:19 AMPrachatai

The Citizens’ Network to Protect the Monarchy, the People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy and the Thai Raksa group have submitted a letter at Government House urging the Prime Minister, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, to check whether the international human rights NGO Amnesty International has damaged the security of the nation and monarchy.

The pro-monarchy group take a group photo at the Government House.

On 25 November, a pro-monarchy group of 50 people were led by Noppadol Phrompasit and Anon Klinkaew to ask the PM to check Amnesty International (AI) Thailand’s operations and sources of finance.

The group was welcomed and admitted to Government House, unlike the network of musicians and entertainment workers who on 23 November were blocked by police from submitting a petition.

The group’s representatives said that AI’s Write for Rights campaign invites members around the globe to write to the Thai government asking for lèse majesté charges to be dropped against Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, one of the pro-democracy student activists.  This, they claim, may be considered as interference in Thailand’s domestic affairs by a foreign entity and ignoring a Constitutional Court ruling.

This last charge refers to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on 11 November that found that calls for monarchy reform were unconstitutional.

The group urged that the government urgently look into AI’s activities. If evidence of domestic interference are found, AI must be expelled from the Kingdom.

Seksakol Atthawong, a former red shirt now assistant to the Prime Minister's Office came to receive the group’s letter. He said if he could not oust AI from Thailand, he would quit his post. He also said pressure to get rid of AI can be made via the law and people who are loyal to the monarchy.

On 23 November, in the face of pressure against them, AI Thailand posted “6 Facts that you may not know about Amnesty International” on Facebook, pointing out that it is a non-partisan, human rights NGO that receives no funds from any government. It is financed by donations and membership fees from human rights supporters. And its HQ is in London, not in the US.

AI set up an office in Thailand in 1996 and Amnesty International Thailand was registered as an association under Thai law in 2003. It faced a public backlash in 2018 when it campaigned publicly against the execution of a death row prisoner in the Kingdom. Death threats and threats of violence and rape were made online and at the AI office against staff and their family members.

NewsAmnesty International (AI)monarchySeksakol AtthawongCitizens’ Network to Protect the MonarchyPeople’s Centre to Protect the MonarchyThai Raksa groupSource: prachatai.com/journal/2021/11/96100
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: The Troglodyte is back

Prachatai English - Thu, 2021-11-25 17:37
Submitted on Thu, 25 Nov 2021 - 05:37 PMStephff

MultimediaAnchilee Scott-KemmisStephff
Categories: Prachatai English

Musicians’ network calls for entertainment business reopening

Prachatai English - Thu, 2021-11-25 11:41
Submitted on Thu, 25 Nov 2021 - 11:41 AMPrachatai

A network of musicians and entertainment workers filed a petition to the Prime Minister on Tuesday (23 November) to demand that entertainment businesses be allowed to reopen, after the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on 12 November that their reopening date will be pushed back from 1 December to 16 January 2022.

Group representatives staging a small performance at the Misakawan Intersection

The musicians’ network นักดนตรีมีเสียง (“Musicians have a voice”), along with the Workers’ Union, filed a petition addressed to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha demanding that nightlife and entertainment businesses be allowed to reopen on 1 December, as previously stated by the Prime Minister, as well as to extend the curfew on alcohol sales from 21.00 to midnight.

They also asked that the government and financial institutions provide them with a 6-month moratorium and to promote low-interest loans, and that those who are employed by businesses that are unable to reopen on 1 December must receive compensation.

The petition said that, since March 2020, the CCSA has issued at least 4 closure orders for entertainment businesses and bans on gatherings without compensating businessowners and workers, including musicians, artists, service staff, and security staff and without providing effective vaccines. Around 40-50% of entertainment businesses have closed permanently, causing difficulties for those who work in the sector, while the closures do not seem to help lower infection rates.

Sompat Nilapan, advisor to the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister, receiving the petition

The groups first planned to meet in front of Government House at 10.00 yesterday (23 November). However, they found that police officers had blocked off Phitsanulok Road on both sides. They were told that they are not allowed to hold their event in front of the Government House, and that they must stay in front of the Rajavinit Mathayom School, forcing them to move to the Misakawan Intersection.

Meanwhile, police officers asked reporters waiting at the Misakawan Intersection to move away towards the Ministry of Education, and to adjust their camera angles to avoid including an image of the King while photographing the event.

At around 11.00, the musicians arrived at the intersection. They set up speakers and staged a short performance, before submitting their petition to Sompat Nilapan, advisor to the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Mongkol Smorban

Mongkol Smorban, representing musicians who are members of the Workers’ Union, gave a speech saying that many of his colleagues have been forced to change their career, as they have not been able to perform for almost 2 years and are unemployed and have no income, while many have committed suicide.

He said that the current restriction, which states that live music performances must end by 21.00 and can only include 3 – 4 performers, does not make sense, as larger groups will not be able to survive. Meanwhile, no government officials are helping them.

“We want to work. We want to go back to having a life with dignity, money, a future, where we are able to take care of ourselves and our families. Why are you postponing the reopening?  If there is no problem, then let us open, but if you can’t do anything, then this government should get out,” Mongkol said.

“Don’t say that we are selfish. We have put up with this for 2 years. We have no performances. We have no work. We have to suffer poverty. We have to take our families back home to the provinces. We are poor. We have less than a thousand baht to our names.

“We have to put up with being poor now. We have been starving for many months. We have to put up with it. We have to borrow money until we are buried in debt. There’s no work. No money is coming in, but our expenses stay the same. Don’t talk to us about tolerance. Do these 2 years prove it? I’ve been putting up with it for so long. I’m in trouble.”

After the event, labour rights activist Thanaporn Wichan said that police officers from Dusit Police Station were trying to give them a 100-baht fine for using a loudspeaker. Representatives of the group then negotiated with the police through the microphone and were told that they will no longer be fined.

NewsCOVID-19PandemicCentre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA)Nighttime economynightlifeWorkers' UnionMongkol Smorban
Categories: Prachatai English

Activist’s bail revoked for calling on people to wear black on king’s birthday

Prachatai English - Tue, 2021-11-23 13:46
Submitted on Tue, 23 Nov 2021 - 01:46 PMPrachatai

Yesterday (22 November), the Criminal Court revoked bail for student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul on charges arising from her participation in the 19 – 20 September 2020 protest.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

The Court ruled that Panusaya violated her bail conditions by continuing to give speeches at protests and by using social media to mobilise protesters. It also ruled that a picture she posted of herself wearing black accompanied by a call for people to wear black on 28 July 2021, King Vajiralongkorn’s birthday, is damaging to the monarchy, a further violation of her bail conditions.

Panusaya is currently being held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge relating to another protest on 20 December 2020, in which activists wore crop tops at Siam Paragon shopping mall to campaign for the repeal of the royal defamation law.

Meanwhile, the Court ruled not to revoke bail for Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer for pop band The Bottom Blues, and student activist Panupong Jadnok. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the court ruled that, even though Chaiamorn and Panupong continued to attend protest and give speeches, their actions were not severe enough to warrant bail revocation.  Nonetheless, both were ordered to wear electronic monitoring bracelets and prohibited from leaving their residences for any reason other than a medical emergency between 16.00 – 5.00 without court permission. 

Panupong is currently being detained pending trial on several royal defamation charges stemming from protests in November – December 2020. The court ruled that the new conditions will take effect upon his release and stipulated that his bail be revoked if he does not meet them. 

The order was signed by judge Parit Piyanaratorn, Deputy Chief Justice of the Criminal Court.

Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan

Similar conditions were imposed upon activist and human right lawyer Anon Nampa earlier this month when the Court ruled not to revoke his bail on charges relating to the same protest. Instead, he was ordered to remain in his residence and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. The conditions have yet to take effect as he is still being detained on separate charges stemming from his participation in protests on 3 August 2020, 14 October 2020, and 3 August 2021.

Meanwhile, the court revoked bail without holding a hearing for activists Parit Chiwarak and Jatupat Boonpattararaksa on charges relating to the same protest. Both are being detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

NewsPanusaya SithijirawattanakulPanupong JadnokChaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan19 - 20 September protestStudent protest 2020pro-democracy protest 2021Royal defamationSection 112 Lese majeste
Categories: Prachatai English

Flashmob at BACC demand right to bail for detained activists

Prachatai English - Tue, 2021-11-23 13:36
Submitted on Tue, 23 Nov 2021 - 01:36 PMPrachatai

A flashmob took place in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) on Saturday (20 November) to demand the right to bail for activists detained pending trial on charges related to participation in pro-democracy protests.

Participants in the flashmob wore crop tops and stood on the courtyard in front of BACC for 30 minutes to call for the release of detained activists, including student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, who is currently detained pending trial on a royal defamation charge relating to a protest on 20 December 2020, in which activists wore crop tops at Siam Paragon shopping mall to campaign for the repeal of the royal defamation law.

The performers’ network RasaDrums also performed at the event, while participants sang along. A representative of the group then read out a statement saying that criticizing the monarchy is a right, as it is an exercise of freedom of expression, which is a fundamental human right, and that every citizen has the right to bail and to freedom of expression.

Another statement was also posted on the event page on Facebook. Titled “the crop top I wear is not a threat to national security,” the statement said that the royal defamation law is being used to restrict people’s freedom, from their freedom of expression to freedom of dress, and that wearing a crop top became a threat to national security only because the law is part of the section in the Criminal Code on national security.

The statement also said that the charge is severe and problematic, as those who are accused of royal defamation are often held in pre-trial detention and denied bail, and unlike normal defamation law, speaking the truth that is in the public’s interest does not exempt one from prosecution, violating the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 25 people are being detained pending trial on charges relating to political expression, 6 of whom on a royal defamation charge: Parit Chiwarak, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, Benja Apan, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

NewsRasaDrumsright to bailfreedom of expressionRoyal defamationSection 112lese majeste
Categories: Prachatai English

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