Prachatai English

Judge to be prosecuted for shooting himself

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-20 20:26
Submitted on Mon, 20 Jan 2020 - 08:26 PMPrachatai

Khanakorn Pianchana, the judge who shot himself in protest against meddling in judges' decisions, will be charged by police for violating the gun law.

Sarawut Benjakul, Secretary-General of the Office of the Judiciary, said the Yala police have asked for permission from the President of the Supreme Court to prosecute Khanakorn as it is time for prosecutors to file criminal charges.

Read more:

What explains the judge’s attempted suicide?

The case will be based on the law which prohibits carrying a gun in a public place or owning a gun without a license. The penalty is 1-10 years in jail and a 2,000-20,000 baht fine. So far, Khanakorn has not been detained.

In November last year, Khanakorn attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest in his courtroom in Yala Provincial Court after reading his verdict as a judge of the court of first instance. Criticizing how the judicial system operates, his statement described how the judicial establishment interfered with his work to favour military officers in the Deep South.

Proposing systemic reform, the last sentence of the statement read "return verdicts to judges, return justice to the people." After public outcry over the incident, an investigation committee was established by order of the President of the Supreme Court to look into what happened. It remains to be seen if its work will lead to judicial reform.

While investigations are going on, Khanakorn has been transferred to work as an assistant Appeal Court judge in Chiang Mai, where his family lives, but 1,700 kilometres from his former office in the insurgency-prone southern part of Thailand.

NewsKhanakorn PianchanaDeep South
Categories: Prachatai English

ASEAN governments must urgently step up climate action ahead of looming Paris Agreement deadline

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-20 13:24
Submitted on Mon, 20 Jan 2020 - 01:24 PMASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

As the deadline for the submission of countries’ climate change action plans to the Paris agreement (NDCs) draws to a close, regional lawmakers urge ASEAN member states to review their climate ambitions.

The first Climate Strike march in Thailand took place in September 2019

The situation is dire. According to the UN, instead of reaching the Paris Agreement goal of keeping the world’s global temperature increases to “well below 2°C”, the world’s climate action plans are on track for a 3.2°C increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels by 2100. This is a catastrophic scenario and ASEAN member states are part of the culprits, said ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

“Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change and while many governments recognize this imminent threat, experts are disappointed with their less-than-ambitious climate plans. They have one month to rectify this by submitting new enhanced climate action plans to the UN Climate Change Conference. We must act with fierce urgency and ambition to fulfill our respective commitments to the Paris Agreement, or risk failing our people, not just the agreement” says Anthea Ong, Nominated MP of Singapore and member of APHR.

The submission of climate action plans is part of countries’ obligations under the Paris Agreement. The action plans lay out the measures governments will implement to limit the global rise in temperature. Yet, according to the Climate Action Tracker, Indonesia and Singapore’s climate action plans are highly insufficient and Vietnam’s is deemed “critically insufficient” to meet the Paris agreement goal. Another report identifies all of Southeast Asia’s climate action plans as “insufficient”.

ASEAN governments have already submitted action plans, but until February, it is still possible for nations to submit new enhanced ones to the UN Conference on Climate Change. After that deadline, the next opportunity to review the plans will be in 2025, but, according to the UNEP, waiting until then will be too late to tackle climate change.

It is urgent that governments submit new stronger climate action plans by February in order to avoid a catastrophic situation says APHR. APHR regrets that when 73 nations committed last month at the COP25 in Madrid to increase their climate actions none of the ASEAN member states joined them.

Southeast Asia’s high exposure to the adverse consequences of climate change such as increased droughts, changing rainfall patterns, sea-level rise and increased incidence of extreme weather events will result in threats to Southeast Asians’ human rights including the right to food, life, water and others. According to the Asian Development Bank, climate change will also lead to economic losses in the region far greater than the world average. The bank estimates that climate change on its own could reduce the region’s GDP by 11% by the end of the century.

“Our people are already suffering disproportionately from climate change. Just three weeks ago, another typhoon hit the Philippines killing at least 28 people. We know that typhoons will be harsher and more frequent with climate change. Yet, our region’s governments’ response to this is: we won’t ameliorate our plans, even if scientists say they are insufficient. What they are doing is clear: they are abandoning their people.” said Kunthida Rungruengkiat, MP of Thailand, and a member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

Pick to PostASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)Climate crisisClimate actionClimate ChangeParis agreementEnvironmental issue
Categories: Prachatai English

International women journalists share their experience at investigative journalism conference

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-20 12:47
Submitted on Mon, 20 Jan 2020 - 12:47 PMPrachatai

10 women journalists shared their experience of working as an investigative journalists and strategies they used in their professional work, from mental health strategies to balancing work and family, and investigating state-sponsored killings, at the 2019 Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Hamburg, Germany, on the conference’s only two all-women panels.

(Source: Nick Jaussi / Netzwerk Recherche)

Associated Press writer Marta Mendoza shared her experience of becoming a mother while working as a journalist and working with colleagues who become parents, and the “quiet preparations” that go into balancing work and parenthood. Mendoza, who had her children while working as a journalist and took three to four months of maternity leave for each child, said that one of the reasons she might have talked to management about parenthood is that she did not want management to not assign her to a story because she was pregnant or nursing, and that she did not want to be given special treatment because she is a mother.

Mendoza said that she has a “huge privilege” in that her husband became a stay-at-home father, and therefore they have an easier time moving the family when her career requires it. She said that there are different ways of navigating becoming parents as journalists, and that she does not want to “preach” about it, but she encourages those in the industry to support each other when they themselves become parents or when their colleagues become parents, and to advocate for each other in order to implement the required facilities to support members of the organizations who have children, such as having a nursing room set aside for breastfeeding mothers.

Patricia Evangelista, investigative reporter for the Filipino news outlet Rappler, whose story “Murder in Manila” won the 2019 Global Shining Light Award in the large outlet category, shared her experience of working with Rappler’s almost all-women team. Her organization is “a matriarchy,” Evangelista said. It is led by women and staffed by mostly women, and values openness and caring for each other.

For the last three years, Evangelista has investigated the “War on Drugs” in the Philippines, the result of which is “Murder in Manila.” Evangelista said that when she started reporting the story, her management team held a security briefing. They told her to check in, to leave before sundown, to make sure she does not go alone, and to make sure that any vigilante she was speaking to was unarmed before she started talking to him. But she emphasized that they had let her start the investigation despite the risks.

“I am part of a long tradition of female journalists in the Philippines. They’ve survived torture. They’ve survived dictators. They’ve survived a threat of shutdown” said Evangelista, who went on to say that she is proud to be among her female colleagues.

Patricia Evangelista receiving the Global Shining Light Award for the story "Murder in Manila," an investigation into President Duterte's drug war

Minna Knus-Galàn from the Finnish Broadcasting Company shares her experiences of the challenges facing women journalists and her strategies for coping with these challenges. While she said that knowing how to cope with criticism is important for both men and women in the industry, she noted that she thinks women journalists often face more scrutiny, especially when they are covering “hard” topics such as financial crimes.

Knus-Galàn said that she once published a story on corruption in the Finnish tax administration, and a male journalist wrote a newspaper column criticizing the story, which she said is not an issue, since everyone has the right to criticism, but he had called her an “inexperienced girl reporter,” when she has 15 years of experience as a journalist. She also said that women journalists get a different kind of criticism from their male colleagues. The criticisms are often “more personal and sexist.” One of Knus-Galàn’s younger colleagues told her that after she published a story, she noticed that online commenters were discussing the size of her breasts. She then suggested that if such a thing happens, one should let one’s team know. She also said that an editor or producer should be able to act as a “buffer” for the journalists and to help absorb the shock when such comments are thrown at them.

Knus-Galàn’s recommendation is to document everything from one’s research to e-mails, and to keep them in order, so that they may be referenced if a claim is made that there is a factual error. She also stressed the importance of peer support in a news agency.

Marcela Turati, founder of Quinto Elemento Lab, Mexico, shared her experience of reporting as a woman in Mexico, where she often covers violent crimes, and how she processes and talks about what she is experiencing. Turati and her colleagues spent two years documenting mass graves in Mexico. She started noticing that her colleagues in the all-women team were showing signs of trauma, and realized the need to implement measures to support colleagues emotionally and to open up channels of communication about what each member of the team was experiencing, stressing the importance of finding ways to cope with reporting violence.

She also said that during the mass graves documentation project, one of her colleagues became pregnant, and in this case, it is important to set an “emotional deadline” so the colleague is able to distant herself from the atrocities they are documenting in the last month of her pregnancy.

Miranda Patrucic is an investigative journalist for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and two-time winner of the Global Shining Light Award. Patrucic has reported in Central Asia and Azerbaijan, and said that during the times she was being recognized with global journalism awards, she reached a point where she was so overworked that she was no longer productive. She began experiencing memory loss, panic attacks, inability to focus, brain fog, and fatigue, all of which are symptoms of burnout.

Patrucic said that, while the process took about a year, she was very lucky to have recovered and stressed that it is important to know one’s limits, to remember that “you are only human,” and to take care of yourself.

Juliane Löffler from BuzzFeed News also emphasized the importance of stopping and pausing to think about what one needs to be able to keep working. She said that there is a need to counter the stereotypical idea of what an investigative reporter is, such as being someone who is constantly working and who works alone, and that it is important to have mental health support, saying that her team has decided that they will have a “psychological supervisor” for the team that they can consult on a regular basis. She also said that it is important to be one’s own advocate and communicate to the organizations’ management that mental health resources are needed for a good performance.

On the topic of mental health and trauma, Japanese journalist and filmmaker Shiori Ito, sharing her experience of investigating sexual violence, said that “every story we do is sometimes traumatic.” Ito went public in 2017 with allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by Noriyuki Yamaguchi, the former Washington bureau chief for the TBS network with close ties to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in 2015. Her experience of the Japanese legal system after she reported that she was assaulted led to her investigation of sexual harassment in the Japanese media industry. She said that sometimes the investigation can be quite personal for the journalist, but also that the ability to investigate is a journalist’s power.

Shiori Ito holding a "victory" banner in front of the Tokyo district court when she won her lawsuit against Noriyuki Yamaguchi

Ito said that, when she first went to the police in 2015 and was told that the police would not take her case, she started to learn how the Japanese legal system fails victims of sexual violence. Since nothing came out of reporting the assault, she decided to go public. As a result, she received backlash against her and her family. She was also attacked by “right-wing” media, and said that she still faces threats and attacks. Ito was also told that by going public, she can no longer work in Japan, so she found work with a London-based media organization, which she said helped her in speaking out. She is now based in London, has worked in different locations around the world, and her latest project is an investigation into female genital mutilation in Syria.

In 2017, Ito published a book based on the documents she collected during the investigation process for her own assault case. Black Box has now been published in 64 languages, and Ito has been called “the symbol of Japan’s #MeToo movement” by several media outlets.

In December 2019, Ito won her civil case against Yamaguchi. The Tokyo District Court ordered Yamaguchi to pay Ito 3.3m yen, or around 911,590 baht, in damages, and dropped his counter suit against her.

Oriana Zill, producer for CBS News 60 Minutes, shared her experience of covering the story about children being separated from their families at the border by the US Homeland Security, a story she said she could not have covered without being a mother, and he storm of online attacks from government officials, which included being accused of spreading fake news and misinformation.

“Even when the government is attacking you, as women, we should be covering these hard issues that as women I think we have a particular talent to cover it [sic] well and spend the time we need with the victims and the families.”

Zill also pointed out that there is an imbalance across all media in terms of the gender of the interview subject, and said that, as a way of contributing to the ways news is being covered, she has made an effort to try to feature women in all of her stories.

“There are a lot of topics women would lean towards and cover, because we are women. I can do four stories a year and I tried to think about selecting the story topics that I’m going to do that will pertain to women and feature women prominently on television and should talk about issues that are really important to women,” Zill said.

Asha Mwilu, investigative journalist and Special Projects Editor for Citizen TV, Nairobi, Kenya, warned against unsafe reporting. Mwilu works in Kenya and shared her experience of reporting in areas under threat and in places that were later attacked. In 2012, Mwilu was running an investigation into criminal gangs in Kenya who are being used by local politicians to carry out ethnic violence before the election. Mwilu was speaking to gang members to find out what they were planning. She said that the day after the story aired, some of the gang members she interviewed came to her office during the night, and that these people were later found to have been armed.

She said that, in most cases, she was underfunded and did not have adequate security measures while working in risky situations. She also stressed the importance of considering the reporter’s well-being and safety before covering a story, with one of the measures being working as a team instead of alone, and that it is important to build a community not only of journalists but also civil society organizations.

Alejandra Xanic Vb, co-founder of Quinto Elemento Lab, shared her strategies for finding a work-life balance, noting that those who are not parents often have a harder time finding balance. She stressed the importance of thoughtfulness, of thinking about a plan for the project and what is needed for the way ahead, and of paying attention to one’s instincts. In recognizing the highs and lows of the investigative process, Vb said that it is also important to praise each other’s work and to celebrate the small successes.

The Panel was moderated by Sheila Coronel, Dean of Academic Affairs of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

More stories from the 2019 Global Investigative Journalism Conference

A 2011 report by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) which surveyed more than 500 media companies in nearly 60 countries, found that men occupy the “vast majority” of management and news-gathering positions in most countries, with 73% of top management positions being occupied by men and only 27% by women. Meanwhile, around 64% of reporters in the companies surveyed are men and only 36% are women.

The study stated that it has found “glass ceilings for women in 20 of 59 nations studied” with these barriers being found in the “middle and senior management levels.”

In Asia and Oceania, the study surveyed media companies in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Korea. It found that men in the media outnumber women four to one across the region, and that “the general pattern is one of exclusion,” with the exception of China, Fiji, and New Zealand, where “women are either at parity with men or even exceed the numbers of men, in some occupational levels associated with reporting and decision-making”.

The Global Investigative Journalism Network provides resources for women journalists, which can be found on its website, including ways of finding networks and opportunities of support for women journalists, as well as resources for handling issues such as online harassment, workplace discrimination, and gender-based violence.

The 2019 Global Investigative Journalism Network has also noted and been praised for the gender balance among its speakers and participants, with 48% of the speakers being women and 49% being men, while 50% of the participants are women and 45% are men.

Gabriela Manuli, Deputy Director of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, said that “it is not a challenge” to find women panellists, and that the organizers have done their very best to have gender-balanced panels.

NewsGlobal Investigative Journalism ConferenceWomen in journalismgenderGender balancegender equality
Categories: Prachatai English

PPRP MP appointed to anti-corruption committee despite land scandal

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-01-17 17:35
Submitted on Fri, 17 Jan 2020 - 05:35 PMPrachatai

Palang Pracharat (PPRP) MP Pareena Kraikupt has been formally appointed to the Standing Committee on Corruption and Misconduct despite being accused of encroaching on a national forest reserve area, prompting criticism from the Thai public.

Pareena Kraikupt

Yesterday (16 January), an announcement appeared on the Royal Gazette website stating that PPRP MPs Pareena Kraikupt and Sira Jenjakha have been appointed to the Parliament Standing Committee on Corruption and Misconduct in place of two other MPs who resigned from the committee.

The decision to appoint the two MPs was made at a House of Representatives meeting on 6 November 2019 after two former members of the Committee, Thanasit Kowsurat and Payom Phrompetch, resigned.

Pareena has been accused of encroaching on about 1700 rai of national park land in Ratchaburi, where she operates a poultry farm. The issue came to light in August 2019 when she declared net assets of 140 million baht, which included a total of 1706 rai of land and 110 million baht of her annual income which came from her Khao Son poultry farms.

Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a former member of the now-dissolved Thai Raksa Chart Party then petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate whether she had trespassed on forest reserve land. Subsequent surveys showed that 682 rai of her land had been declared reform land by the Agricultural Land Reform Office (ALRO) and 46 rai was forest reserve land. As for the remaining 1000 rai, her father claimed the family never had that much land, and she later asked the NACC for permission to change her asset declaration to exclude the 1000 rai, claiming there was a misunderstanding.

In December 2019, Pareena returned the 682 rai of land to ALRO to be used for agricultural reform purposes. According to Capt Thammanat Prompow, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, who is at the centre of a scandal himself after an Australian news outlet reported that he once did jail time in Australia for drug trafficking, no criminal action will be taken against Pareena since her family owned the land before its ALRO designation and that she has already shown “good faith” by pledging to return it.

The Royal Forest Department (RFD) has also filed a legal complaint against Pareena for encroaching on 46 rai of protected forest land. The penalties for encroaching on forest land is 4-20 years in prison for plots over 25 rai and 1-10 years for smaller ones.

The Thai public has raised questions whether there were double standards in the authorities’ handling of the accusations against Pareena and whether legal action will be taken against the rich and the powerful. Her appointment to the Standing Committee prompted even more criticisms from the Thai public, many of whom took to the internet to express their opinion and asking how a “corrupt” MP is appointed to the Standing Committee on Corruption.

NewsPareena KraikuptStanding Committee on Corruption and MisconductNational forestland encroachment
Categories: Prachatai English

‘Run Against Dictatorship’ organizer summoned on Public Assembly Act charge

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-01-17 16:24
Submitted on Fri, 17 Jan 2020 - 04:24 PMPrachatai

Tanawat Wongchai, one of the organisers of the “Run Against Dictatorship” in Bangkok, has been summoned by Bang Sue Police Station for organizing a public assembly without notifying the police according to the Public Assembly Act.

Tanawat Wongchai

Tanawat posted on his Facebook page yesterday (16 January 2020) that the summons required that he report to the police station at 13:00 on Monday (20 January 2020). He insisted that a race is exempted from the Public Assembly Act and that this is a case of harassment of the political opposition.

The Public Assembly Act states that organizers of a political demonstration must notify the authorities no less than 24 hours before the event takes place. However, Article 3, Clause 3 of the Act states that it does not apply to an assembly held for sports or for entertainment. 

However, Tanawat told Prachatai that the summons does not make him concerned about the next race, which is scheduled to take place on 2 February 2020, and that his team is not afraid, their only concern being that pressure from those in power will mean that they might not be able to find anywhere to organize the event.

The “Run Against Dictatorship” was a 6km mini-marathon and demonstration against the current government under Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, and took place on Sunday (12 January 2020). Spin-off events also took place simultaneously in at least 14 other provinces. There have since been many reports of the organizers of “Run Against Dictatorship” events facing intimidation from the authorities in many provinces both before, during, and after the event.

NewsRun against DictatorshipTanawat Wongchaijudicial harassmentPublic Assembly Actfreedom of assemblyfreedom of expressionfreedom of association
Categories: Prachatai English

Extraordinary Cat Diversity in Thailand and Myanmar Need Urgent Protection

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-01-16 21:51
Submitted on Thu, 16 Jan 2020 - 09:51 PMWWF Thailand

Extraordinary Cat Diversity in Myanmar and Thailand Landscape Underscores Need for Urgent Protection, WWF “Land of Cats” Report Says.

Bangkok, January 14, 2020 -- A remarkable one fifth of the world’s 36 cat species are found in a single landscape straddling Thailand and Myanmar, but they are under increasing threat of extinction, according to a new report from WWF that outlines an eight-point action plan to save them. 
“Dawna Tenasserim: The Land of Cats” profiles the tigers, leopards, clouded leopards, Asiatic golden cats, marbled cats, jungle cats and leopard cats that roam the forests of this vast landscape. It also includes the elusive fishing cat, which may also live there. At 18 million hectares, the Dawna Tenasserim is the largest contiguous forested area in mainland Southeast Asia, with an incredible 82 percent still forested. Yet few people in Myanmar and Thailand are aware that they live next to one of the Planet’s great wilderness areas with so many amazing endangered cat species.
The seven, possibly eight cat species are holding on despite intense pressure from poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss due to land clearing for agriculture, unsustainable infrastructure and retaliation for killing livestock. And they are following a depressing trend of decline in large cats across Asia, such as the recent conclusion that the tiger and the leopard are now extinct in neighbouring Laos. 
“The cat diversity and the overall size and quality of the forest habitat in the Dawna Tenasserim are remarkable,” says Regan Pairojmahakij, Dawna Tenasserim Transboundary Landscape Manager. “But the cats’ days are numbered unless the countries, and the world in general, recognize the value of this cradle of biodiversity and quickly step up to address the threats to it.”
Highlights from the report include:
The Dawna Tenasserim has 180-220 tigers and a recent Myanmar survey of just eight percent of the country’s potential tiger habitat showed at least 22 tigers. Large parts of their potential range have no protection.
In 2019 a tiger was recorded in Thailand’s Kui Buri National Park for the first time in 7 years.
Leopards, most likely extinct in Laos, Viet Nam and nearly extinct in Cambodia, still exist in the Dawna Tenasserim but are declining. The Indochinese sub-species is now critically endangered.
The stunning Asiatic golden cat thrives in the Dawna Tenasserim and has even been camera trapped in pairs there. However, they are one of the species living close to a proposed road in Myanmar which could threaten their existence.
Given up as extinct in Thailand, the jungle cat re-emerged in the Dawna-Tenasserim on camera trap images in 2017. It is listed as critically endangered by Government of Thailand due to hunting pressure and habitat loss.
In contrast to the jungle cat, the leopard cat is abundant throughout the Dawna Tenasserim and is the most commonly captured species on camera traps in Myanmar.
Fishing cat have been recorded recently outside the landscape and claims of their presence inside it persist – only further surveys will tell!
Camera trap surveys in 2018-2019 captured six of the seven species in Myanmar and Thailand.
Threats to the cat species include infrastructure development, poaching for the illegal wildlife trade and expansion of agriculture and plantations. 
“It’s so rare to have such a rich diversity of cat species – and other large wildlife like elephants, gaur, banteng and two species of bears – within a single landscape in Southeast Asia .at present.  The wildlife have already been exterminated in the vast plains and squeezed into these narrow mountains, and  it would be a double tragedy if we lost them further to poachers’ snares and developers’ bulldozers,” says Yoganand Kandasamy, WWF-Greater Mekong Wildlife Lead.
The report highlights threats such as conversion of land for maize, rubber, cassava, oil palm, and betel nut. Land conversion and construction of roads accelerate the poaching threat by providing easier access to endangered species for poachers. Cheap, home-made snares can be set by the hundreds in these forests and they can kill or maim any creature that comes along. And the proposed Dawei-Htee Khee Road that will connect a deep sea port and Special Economic Zone in Dawei, Myanmar with Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia threatens to bisect elephant and tiger movement routes. Recent wildlife surveys highlight the fact that many wildlife exist along the proposed road. 
“The very reason so many cat species persist in the Dawna Tenasserim is because of a combination of Thailand’s effective protected area management, the strong conservation ethic of local communities in both countries, and long-standing inaccessibility of areas in Southern Myanmar resulting in little incursion into forest areas,” says Nick Cox, Interim Country Director, WWF-Myanmar. “If this road is built, it should include world-class wildlife passages and other sustainable infrastructure elements.” 

WWF’s 8-point action plan to save the Land of the Cats includes:
1) Greater investment in critical areas for feline populations; 2) increased feline biodiversity surveys and research on prey abundance and habitat needs; 3) identification and protection of wildlife corridors within and between countries; 4) strengthening of wildlife protection units on both sides of the border, increased law enforcement and community protection of wildlife and habitats; 5) increased engagement with local and indigenous communities; 6) high level recognition and protection of vital wildlife habitat in the Dawna Tenasserim; 7) a transboundary approach for monitoring and protection of larger, wide ranging species such as tigers; and 8) anticipating, tracking and working with national and regional infrastructure planning agencies to mitigate the negative impacts of major projects such as roads.

“The dedicated national park teams work day and night to protect these cats and recently got video footage of a healthy tiger in Thailand with a massive kill – a gaur – proving that with the right protection and habitat management, we can ensure the Dawna Tenasserim can provide healthy habitat for not only tigers but all endangered species,” says Arnold Sitompul, WWF Thailand Conservation Director. 

Pick to PostWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF)WildlifeSource: Network
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: PM 2.5 smog season is coming

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-01-16 20:34
Submitted on Thu, 16 Jan 2020 - 08:34 PMStephff

MultimediaStephff
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Violation of labour rights impacts the US GSP suspension: Thai unions give warning

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-01-16 16:13
Submitted on Thu, 16 Jan 2020 - 04:13 PM

Thai state enterprise trade unions and the international labour movement have discussed solutions to the violations of workers’ rights which led to the US suspending GSP for Thailand. The unions also warned that the Thai government’s lack of understanding will affect trade opportunities with other countries

Last Wednesday (8 Jan 2020), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and State Enterprise Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC), labour unions representing workers in Thai state enterprises, organised a forum to voice their concern that the violations of workers’ rights which led to the US GSP suspension will affect trade opportunities with other countries.

The forum was held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok. The discussants included Cathy Feingold, ITUC Deputy President and Director of the International Department of the American Federation of Labor-Council of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO), Sawit Kaewvarn, SERC General Secretary, and Chalee Loysoong, Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) Vice President, with Sakdina Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, an academic specializing in labour history, as moderator.

The forum provided the opportunity for Thai and international labour leaders to discuss, exchange, and suggest solutions to the problems of workers’ rights violations and anti-union practices which led to the USTR’s announcement to suspend Thai GSP on 25th October 2019, and to provide a channel for the press and concerned participants to ask questions and share opinions. 

Cathy Feingold, union leader and activist from the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO and 200 million-member ITUC, said that the American labour movement had advocated since the 1980’s enforced compliance with ILO core labour standards as a condition for GSP recipient countries, in order to prevent any country building a comparative advantage and reducing production costs by violating or restricting workers’ rights, which include the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Feingold also explained that the GSP suspension is not about the US government pressuring Thailand to give more rights to migrant workers, as the majority of the cases in the GSP petition dealt with violations against Thai workers, such as the cases of the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT), Thai Airways International Labour Union (TG Union), and Mitsubishi Electric Labour Union.

The filing of the GSP petition aimed to encourage respect for internationally recognized labour standards regardless of race or nationality. In the 2019 ITUC Global Rights Index, Thailand was given a rating of 5, or a country with no guaranteed rights. The suspension did not happen just because of one case but due to systemic violations of rights and the government’s failure to enforce labour standards. A union density of one percent is too low and affects workers’ bargaining power; accordingly, the international labour movement will continue to struggle for workers in Thailand to have their rights respected, and to have access to the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining in order to improve their lives. 

Feingold also commented Thai Government might not truly understand the real impact of the GSP suspension, judging from its comments that only a few Thai exports would be affected. The suspension in April would be one-third of the total benefits. The view of Minister of Labour that the problems could be resolved by relying on the advice of technical advisors, not trade union leaders who understand the issues, is also very concerning. All exchanges with the Thai government will be passed on to the US government. The EU and Swiss governments, who are looking to negotiate FTA deals with Thailand, will also have to hear about workers’ rights violations in Thailand, as compliance with internationally recognized labour standards is also a condition of their FTAs. 

Sawit Kaewvarn, SERC General Secretary, reported on the meeting between Feingold and Minister of Labour Chatumongkol Sonakul to discuss the window of opportunity to resolve the issues before GSP is suspended in April 2020. The current crisis is nothing new as Thailand has previously been under several boycott threats due to non-compliance with international human and workers’ rights.  It was previously listed as a Tier 3 country in a US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report and yellow-carded by the EU regarding Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU). Those crises eventually led to cooperation between the government, employers and trade unions which helped improve the situation. However, the first step to resolve the problems is to admit and to speak the truth, not deny that there is any violation. Sawit gave his case as an example, as he is one of the SRUT leaders who were dismissed and are currently being prosecuted in the Criminal Court. His wages are being garnished and he only has 300 baht left each month, in retaliation for the union’s campaign to demand train safety after a train derailment caused 7 fatalities.

Sawit further stressed that nowadays the conduct of business and compliance with human rights are inseparable. The Thai government has signed many human rights agreements such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), but rarely does it honour their provisions. Thailand has also been a long-time recipient of US GSP benefits but has also failed to comply with the condition that internationally recognized labour standards must be promoted and protected. In the future, there is a greater chance that countries failing to meet these standards will have their exports boycotted. Recently on 28 November 2019, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), with members all over Europe, co-signed a letter with the ITUC calling on the Thai government to resolve all labour rights violations as detailed in the GSP petition. The ETUC, which also works with the EU Parliament, will also ensure that all EU members and other European countries understand the issues in Thailand before proceeding with any trade negotiations, including FTAs, as prior compliance with ILO core standards is required in such trade deals.

Sawit also recounted how the TLSC and SERC have assisted migrant workers in Thailand so that now they enjoy some rights of association and the right to bargain with an employers’ association that has over 20 member companies. Despite the continuation of violations and the inability to register their own unions, migrant workers have come a long way from the past when they were completely denied all rights. Sawit said that he is now more concerned with Thai workers, as many sectors, including civil servants and public employees, do not have the right to organize and to join unions. Public employees nowadays fall under many types of employment, and most lack protection under the social security and labour protection acts, and receive less than the minimum wage paid to Thai and migrant workers in the private sector. Sawit also revealed that he and other union leaders have been called “traitors” for reporting violations in Thailand to the international community, where he insists that cooperation among labour movement must transcend borders. The American labour movement has disagreed with and opposed many of the US government’s policies, and so has the Thai labour movement. Workers’ organizations such as the ITUC or AFL-CIO are brothers and sisters to Thai workers and workers all over the world, as they aim to ensure that economic development happens concurrently in compliance with human rights, including workers’ rights, not just the numeric growth of GDP that leaves workers who make up the majority in the country to be exploited and violated. 

Chalee Loysoong, the TLSC Vice President, insisted that the violations detailed in the GSP petition mostly occurred against Thai workers. Thai labour laws have long failed to meet international standards as Thailand has not ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98, which are the core standards that promote the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining that would lead to other rights and protections. The Thai government almost ratified the two conventions during the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, but the process was delayed due to complicated parliamentary and legal requirements. Ratification then was pushed back after Abhisit dissolved parliament.

He recounted that he started working with the international labour movement about a decade ago as there were so many workers’ rights violations and anti-union practices. He collected over 10 cases in the first complaints sent in 2013, which included violations at Yum Restaurant, Electrolux, and the SRT. Chalee insisted that US government and the USTR had repeatedly sent their representatives for discussions and investigations with representatives of the Thai government and trade unions. The announcement of the GSP suspension has gone through a thorough process and not just happened overnight. 

Chalee added that many violations have occurred since the first report in 2013. One of the most serious examples was the case of Mitsubishi Electric, where discrimination and retaliation included the company’s ban on union leaders and some members from returning to work after the end of the dispute, forcing the workers to participate in de-programming activities including military-style training to make the workers feel guilty about invoking their bargaining rights, and making it a condition of reinstatement that workers must no longer engage with the union. 

Chalee also pointed out that he was fighting for subcontracted workers who received lower wages and benefits than permanent workers despite having the same job description. While the workers won a decision of the Supreme Court in 2012 that there must not be any discrimination in wages and benefits, the Ministry of Labour has refused to formulate ministerial regulations. This shows the failure of the Thai government to enforce labour protection in the country, as subcontracted workers suffering discrimination have to file their own complaints to the Labour Court, instead of having a ministerial regulation to automatically enforce equal wages and benefits. 

Chalee said that the situation still has not improved after the announcement of the GSP suspension as many cases of labour rights violations and anti-union practices have happened since. 

For example, Mizuno Precision in Ayutthaya dismissed the founders of the union one day after the first union congress; Pongpara Codan in Samut Sakhon shut down their plant with 1000 workers (700 of them union members) but re-opened at the same location under a new name and registration, asking the laid-off workers to re-apply with the wages and benefits reset; and Seishin in Chonburi shut down their plant without paying wages or severance pay. While the government believes that the GSP suspension would have a minimal effect on total exports, Chalee questions the reputation of the country, and if Thailand wants to be perceived as a country that develops by “suppressing the workers”. Chalee called for the government to have a clear direction and road map, with a timeframe to tackle the problems, to involve union leaders who understand the issues in the taskforce, and to improve cooperation among ministries such as the ministries of Labour, Commerce, and Foreign Affairs, in formulating a concrete plan to resolve all issues and raise international labour standards in the country.

After the forum, Sawit Kaewvarn, SERC General Secretary, read the joint statement of the ITUC and SERC demanding that the Thai government resolve labour issues by complying with international labour standards and principles that will be beneficial to both Thai and migrant workers in Thailand in promoting decent working conditions, which will result in having the US government review and possibly revoke the GSP suspension. 

SERC also recommend that the Thai government work intensively with legitimate Thai trade unions to promote decent working conditions as a guideline to solving labour problems sustainably. The union also stated that it always has a strong commitment to fully cooperating with the Thai government in resolving labour issues.

Newslabor rightsGSPInternational Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)State Enterprise Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC)Source: Network
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: National Children's day in Thailand

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-01-11 10:46
Submitted on Sat, 11 Jan 2020 - 10:46 AMStephff

MultimediaStephff
Categories: Prachatai English

You Can “Run Against Dictatorship”: Basic Legal Recommendations before Staging a “Run Against Dictatorship” Event

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-01-11 01:05
Submitted on Sat, 11 Jan 2020 - 01:05 AMThai Lawyers for Human Rights

On 12 January 2020, people in several Thai provinces and abroad will unite to “Run Against Dictatorship”. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has found that event organizers in Bangkok and other provinces have faced difficulty in obtaining permission to use some locations for the event, being threatened by officials when requesting permission to stage the event. The authorities claim that Run Against Dictatorship is considered as a public assembly and a political activity. To clarify and debunk such consideration, TLHR has the following legal recommendations.

1. Run Against Dictatorship is not a public assembly

According to the Public Assembly Act 2015, to be considered as a public assembly, such an event must bear all of the following three characteristics:

1) It must be a gathering of people in a public space;

2) It must be a gathering solicited to demand, support, oppose or express an opinion on any matter utilizing a public display;

3) Other people must be able to join the assembly.

Provided that a Run Against Dictatorship event is organized following these characteristics, for example: by holding the event in a private space; by holding the event without making any demands, or without expressing support for, opposition to, or opinion on a particular subject; by organizing an activity for a specific group of people and which anyone who has not previously registered cannot attend – these are not considered as characteristics of public assembly as defined by law.

Thus, there is a clear application registration process for the Run Against Dictatorship, so the general public cannot simply join in, just as with most running events. This means it should not come under the purview of the Public Assembly Act and there is no need to comply with this law.

2. Run Against Dictatorship is a sporting event and thus does not fall under the purview of the Public Assembly Act

Run Against Dictatorship is a sporting event just like any other race or fun run with a social message, such as runs with environmental campaigns, anti-drug campaigns, campaigns against domestic violence, or other running events. None of these are subjected to the Public Assembly Act, since Article 3(3) stipulates that the Act shall not be enforced on sports gatherings. Thus, the Run Against Dictatorship itself in this sense is a sporting activity that holds the social campaign as the subject of concern, just as with other running events. Per the wording of the Act, the event, therefore, shall not be subjected under the purview of the Public Assembly Act, and authorities cannot use such allegation as a claim to force organizers of the event to give prior notification, set event conditions, or prohibit activities entirely.

3. There is no law against political activities

Since the repeal of NCPO Order No. 3/2015 Article 12, which prohibited political gatherings, there is currently no law prohibiting people from gathering or engaging in political activities. Even if, as the authorities argue, Run Against Dictatorship events amount to political activities, people still enjoy the right to organize such activities per the Constitution.

4. The law requires the organizer to “notify of the assembly”, not to “request permission” to assemble.

Run Against Dictatorship is a legitimate expression approved by the Constitution. If the organizers of the event do want to arrange it in the form of rally or public assembly, they must notify the police. The police, however, have no power to prohibit the activity.

Section 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2017 stipulates that “a person shall enjoy the liberty to assemble peacefully and without arms” and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized”. Consequently, if the organizers of the Run Against Dictatorship event choose to hold it in the form of a public assembly, they can do so per the laws guaranteeing their rights and freedoms. Public officials do not have the power to prohibit such activity. They have no power to grant or disallow; the only legal requirement is that the officials be notified in advance of any public assembly.

Article 10 of the Public Assembly Act stipulates that the police must receive notification not less than 24 hours before the assembly is due to start. The police are then obliged to respond to the notifier within 24 hours of receiving notification and to send a summary of essential information concerning public assemblies. This has nothing to do with a request for permission; it is merely a “notification”. Officials have no legal authority to grant or disallow an assembly. Furthermore, should officials prohibit an assembly or similar activity, they will be in breach of the Constitution, the highest source of law in the country.

5. If there is no prior notification of an assembly, assembly participants are not guilty

If the Run Against Dictatorship event is staged as a public assembly without the legally required notification, only the event organizers may be found guilty. Section 28 of the Public Assembly Act imposes a fine of not more than 10,000 Baht. There is no jail sentence, however, for the cases in which TLHR has assisted, the court has ordered fines of 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 Baht, depending on the case.

Assembly participants (not organizers) who participate in the assembly, despite the lack of notification, will not be prosecuted as per Sections 4, 10 and 28 of the Public Assembly Act 2015.

6. There is no prison sentence for running on a road and obstructing traffic

Should the course of Run Against Dictatorship be on a public road and that the activities need to use such space, the organizers must obtain permission to use the road surface from traffic officers per the Road Traffic Act 1979.

The regulations on requesting the use of a road surface issued by the Traffic Police Division require that a request be submitted no less than 15 days before the intended march or procession (see the regulations here).

However, should the police traffic officers deny permission, participants in a march or procession which obstructs traffic may receive a fine not exceeding 500 Baht, with no imprisonment per Section 148.

7. No imprisonment for unauthorized use of an amplifier

In municipal areas, the mayor is the competent official.

Outside the municipality, the District Chief or Deputy District Chief is the competent official.
In Bangkok, this means the competent authority lies with the District Office for the area in which the amplifier will be used.

The use of an amplifier without permission imposes a fine of not more than 200 Baht, without imprisonment, per Article 9 of the Advertising Control Act.

8. If you have any issues related to this event, please call Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

If you are the organizers of the Run Against Dictatorship event or members of the general public who face any issues related to the freedom of expression or freedom of assembly, you can contact TLHR for further information or request legal advice.

Phone: 096 7893173, 092 2713172
Email: tlhr@tlhr2014.com
Facebook: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (English) and “ศูนย์ทนายความเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน” (Thai)
Twitter: @tlhr2014

Pick to PostRun against DictatorshipThai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)Source: Network (TLHR)
Categories: Prachatai English

Bangkok hit with another spell of PM2.5 smog

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-01-11 00:26
Submitted on Sat, 11 Jan 2020 - 12:26 AM

PM2.5 levels in Bangkok and surrounding provinces have reached a hazardous level for the third consecutive day on Friday (10 January), with the air quality measuring between 156 – 163 AQI (Air Quality Index), while the government has yet to issue any concrete long-term plan to tackle the issue.

AirVisual recorded 163 AQI on Friday afternoon, while the World Air Quality Index Project Team recorded 169 AQI, both unhealthy levels.

The Pollution Control Department’s website reported 204 AQI as of Friday (10 January), which is a potential health hazard. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s statistics, meanwhile, report lower PM2.5 levels than other monitoring units, ranging from 53 to 115 microgram per square metres.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said in a tweet on Friday morning that cars which release black smoke will be put on a watchlist and would be subject to tougher inspection when they renew their license. He also recommended that the public wear face masks and avoid outdoor activities.

From Saturday to next Thursday, government health officials will also send out mobile health clinics to Bangkok’s Phasi Charoen District, one of the districts with the worst air quality according to BMA statistics, with its PM2.5 level at 127 microgram per square metres.

However, the government does not seem to have any rational long-term plan to tackle the smog crisis, which appears to have worsened since the beginning of 2019. Government solutions typically involve spraying water into the air in affected areas and near air quality monitor stations, a solution already criticized for being ineffective against PM2.5 smog, and pledging tougher punishments for vehicles or buildings that contribute to pollution.

NewsPM2.5SmogAir pollutionenvironment
Categories: Prachatai English

Run Against Dictatorship blocked in three provinces

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-01-09 12:17
Submitted on Thu, 9 Jan 2020 - 12:17 PM

Authorities have been attempting to block spin-off Run Against Dictatorship events in at least three provinces, while the main Bangkok event has been forced to move from Thammasat University to Wachirabenchathat (Rot Fai) Park.

Yesterday (7 January), Khaosod reported that Acting Sub-Lt. Prasert Nguansuwan, President of the Phrae Democracy Lovers Network, and other organizers of the event met with the Superintendent of the Muang Phrae Police Station on Monday morning (6 January) to request permission to organize the Phrae Run Against Dictatorship event. The Superintendent said that he would check the documents before granting permission, but has yet to inform the organizers of his decision.

Meanwhile, iLaw said that the organizers of the Phrae Run Against Dictatorship have faced intimidation from the authorities. Prasert told iLaw he has been visited by plainclothes police officers on Saturday (4 January), and that they tried to convince him to cancel the event, claiming that it might violate the Public Assembly Act.

On Sunday (5 January), Prasert said that the police asked to see him again, so he went to meet three officers at a coffee shop. The officers, who told Prasert they are from the Phrae public security police, asked Prasert to cancel the event, claiming that it could affect national security. They also told Prasert that the authorities will not grant him permission to organize the event if he were to file a request, telling him that the event could be violating the Public Assembly Act and other legislation. However, Prasert insisted that he will not cancel the event.

Prasert also claimed that he has been followed by plainclothes officers while traveling around, and told iLaw that he was later told by a neighbour after he went to the Muang Phrae Police Station on Monday (6 January) that a police officer came to photograph his house. In addition, he said that plainclothes officers visited the Future Forward Party’s Phrae headquarters to meet the other organizers yesterday afternoon (7 January) to convince them to cancel the event and were asking whether the party is involved with the event.

Meanwhile, on Monday (6 January), Thai Lawyers For Human Rights (TLHR) reported that three students from the University of Phayao who were organizing a Run Against Dictatorship event in Phayao were summoned by the police to provide more information about the event, after the three students were questioned for over 5 hours on Sunday (5 January).

The superintendent of the Muang Phayao Police Station then sent the students a letter refusing them permission to organize the event on the grounds that the Muang Phayao Municipality Office has not granted them permission to use the space and that they have not been permitted by the traffic officer to use the road.

The letter also stated that if they continue to organize the event without filing a request for permission to hold a public assembly, they may be violating the Public Assembly Act.

TLHR also reported that police officers have been calling the students repeatedly over a period of three days to summon them in for questioning, even visiting their parents’ homes at night.

One of the students said that police officers went to his family’s home in Chiang Rai, and after learning that his mother has gone to the temple, they followed her there in order to question her whether her son is involved with the Run Against Dictatorship event in Phayao and whether she allowed him to get involved. They also questioned her about his personality and whether he has previously been involved in political activities. 

The three students said they will still be organizing an event, but possibly in a different format.

In Ubon Ratchathani, Matichon reported that the Acting Superintendent of the Muang Ubon Ratchanani Police Station withdrew his permission for a Run Against Dictatorship event, after a request to hold a public assembly was filed on 6 January.

The Superintendent claimed that the permission was previously granted because he thought it was a running event involving collecting trash along the street, but after the authorities reviewed the request, they withdrew the permission because the event has a political intention and may involve an anti-government demonstration.

Khaosod also reported that the police told the organizers that the event violates other people’s rights and so is not allowed.

Organizers of similar events were also visited by police officers. Pongsathon Tancharoen, a student at Mahasarakham University, told iLaw that police officers from the Muang Maha Sarakham Police Station visited him at his home in Kalasin during the New Year holiday to question him about the event.

Not only that, Pongsathon also received a phone call from one of the lecturers at Maha Sarakham University, telling him that national security authorities had contacted the University, and that the University’s administrators felt it was not appropriate for the event to be held on campus.

After it became clear that the University would not allow them to organize the event on campus, the organizers announced that they will be moving the venue inside the city. Pongsathon then received a phone call from one of the officers who visited him, claiming that his “boss” wants to know what Pongsathon’s parents do for a living, which he felt was an attempt at intimidation.

Walailak University also issued a statement on Tuesday (7 January) that it is not affiliated with the organizers of the Run Against Dictatorship event in Nakhon Si Thammarat, and that it does not permit the event to use campus space. Its statement said that while it supports academic freedom of thought, it does not support political activism, and does not allow such activity to be held on campus.

Currently there are Run Against Dictatorship and similar events organized in at least 14 provinces and at least 6 places overseas, all of which are scheduled to take place on 12 January. The organizing committee of the main Run Against Dictatorship in Bangkok, which has been forced yet again to move to Wachirabenchatat Park after Thammasat University did not allow them to use their grounds, said that they are not involved with the events organized in other places, but organizers of other events may contact them for shirts and medals.

NewsRun against DictatorshipPublic Assembly Actfreedom of expressionfreedom of assemblyfreedom of associationpolice intimidation
Categories: Prachatai English

Constitutional Court rejects marriage law petition

Prachatai English - Wed, 2020-01-08 12:27
Submitted on Wed, 8 Jan 2020 - 12:27 PMPrachatai

On 31 December 2019, the Constitutional Court of Thailand decided not to accept a petition made by two LGBT couples and the Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice (For-SOGI) on 22 November 2019, requesting the Court to rule whether the current Thai marriage law violates the 2017 Constitution.

The two couples with representatives from LGBT rights organizations in front of the Constitutional Court

The Court ruling stated that the submission of the petition was not in accordance with Articles 46, 47, and 48 of the 2018 Organic Law on the Rules and Procedures of the Constitutional Court.

The Organic Law states that an individual whose rights have been violated may petition the Court to rule on a case within 90 days after filing a petition with and receiving a ruling from the Ombudsman. However, Article 47 states that said violation of rights must not be an instance for which other legislation has specified the procedure, which has not been completed. The Court stated that the refusal of the Registrar at the Phasi Charoen District Office to register the marriage of the couples is an administrative act for which the Constitution has specified other procedures.

The Court also stated, as one of the reasons for its rejection, that the Rights and Liberties Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice is already in the process of proposing a Civil Partnership Bill. However, this bill has long faced criticism from NGOs and LGBT rights activists for not giving same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, and is seen as relegating the LGBT community to the position of second-class citizens.

The lack of marriage equality has meant that same-sex couples in Thailand face issues such as not having the power of attorney to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners. They are unable to adopt a child together or to have access to assisted reproductive technology. In cases where one partner dies, the other is not able to inherit or make legal decisions about their partner’s assets, and in cases where one partner is not a Thai national, they are not entitled to a marriage visa in order to take residence in Thailand with their partner.

Earlier this year, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Thailand’s plan for a Civil Partnership Bill does not appear to be making any progress, but a group of LGBT rights organizations is now pursuing an amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code to have the definition of marriage changed from being between a man and a woman to between two persons.

Meanwhile, yesterday, the Supreme Court of the Philippines also rejected a petition to legalize same-sex marriage. The petition was filed by radio show host and lawyer Jesus Falcis, who sought to challenge the definition of marriage as a “permanent union between a man and a woman” in the country’s Family Code and clauses declaring homosexuality as grounds for separation, and was once lauded as historic in the predominantly Catholic country. It was first rejected in September 2019 on the grounds that Falcis did not have a partner and was not seeking marriage, and therefore cannot claim to be a victim of existing laws. A motion for reconsideration was denied yesterday (6 January) “with finality,” on the grounds that no substantial argument was presented “to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision,” preventing further motions from being submitted in the case.

NewsDiscrimination against LGBTLGBT rightsmarriage equalitysame-sex marriagemarriage lawCivil and Commercial CodesConstitutional courtFor-SOGI
Categories: Prachatai English

When Thai Police Fail Abused Women

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-06 13:34
Submitted on Mon, 6 Jan 2020 - 01:34 PMTara Abhasakun

In 2018 Setthawut Poonsiriratanakul, 31, was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Sunicha Inchuay, 27, in 2011.

Setthawut stabbed Sunicha repeatedly and cut her throat.

Thailand passed the Domestic Violence Protection Act in 2007 in an attempt to punish and reform abusers. Still, A seminar in January this year reported that the number of deaths related to domestic violence in the first 2 weeks of this year was double that of the previous year.

Prachatai English spoke with lawyer, activist, and domestic abuse survivor Busayapa “Best” Srisompong, about how Thai police handle complaints of domestic violence.  [The interview was conducted in English and is recorded verbatim.]

Busayapa Srisompong (Source: SHero Project)

What did you say during your conversation with the police? How did they respond?

"The first time I walked in the station I asked to report ‘domestic violence’. The officers told me that it was not serious, suggested that I did not need to report because I am not seriously injured. I felt uncomfortable because the interview was not in a private space. I sat where everyone else can hear what is going on easily. It is the front desk area. They suggested that I should talk to my ex and we will be fine. I tried to tell the police that I do not feel safe. They told me to call them if it is happen again. The first attempt I just gave up and walked out.

"I went to a clinic at first then I was referred to the hospital. At the hospital I did body check. OSCC [One Stop Crisis Centre] had made record of my scars, bruises, my head was in pain as well after the attack but I have no brain injuries. I also have the bleeding like period bleeding but it was not internal injury, it occurred from stress. (I was kicked in the stomach as well.) I told them all of these, but for police officers it seems to be normal.

"Then I went back a second time after I spoke to many of my friends and had decided to should report, for safety and for justice. The second time was not easy but I push it and I also called my mentors who are gender specialist and domestic violence advocate. They speak to the police directly. It takes a lot of effort before police officer agree to start the case. Eventually, the officer did help me through the case. They tried convincing me to do mediation procedure with my ex from time to time, but I was firm that I do not want to mediate. I simply have nothing to compromise.

"Domestic violence is a crime. I do not want to be silenced anymore. He later got a year probation and pay a small amount of fine. That was all. I did not ask for compensation. I did not want it. I just want justice."

Do you know what percentage of abused women in Thailand report the abuse?

"It is difficult to identify the prevalence of GBV [gender-based violence] against women because most cases went under-reported, therefore there is no evidence to make statistics. I personally think that we should not narrate GBV story over numbers because GBV happen everywhere, any minutes. The numbers will not be precise and may generalize the wrong image towards certain community. We should look into the numbers of how many cases have achieve access to justice and public services, how many have not. There is no evaluation about satisfaction towards public services on GBV either, which is need to be done to improve the system."

Can you provide any statistics about how Thai police respond to abused women? Do you know how common it is for police to dismiss abused women?

"No statistics. From my professional experiences, all of my cases have difficulty receiving immediate responses from the police officers. All of them struggle to report the case. Struggles to reporting are:

  1. Police try not to open official case, instead, ask questions to the victims in the direction that its victims faults, and convince victims to settle the case at police level by mediation with the abuser.
  2. Telling them that it is not their jurisdiction, victim has to go to other police station, while police can assist the victim by take a record first not just saying no and tell them off.
  3. Victims are often told by police that they cannot report because there is no evidence, where it is their job to find evidence they can’t say no to the victims.

Most people don’t know what to do and give up reporting.

"It can also be a struggle to answer harsh questions at reporting stage, without being in private investigation space, officers asked several inappropriate questions until survivors lost their confidence."

Why do you think that Thai police don’t believe abused women? What are the social reasons behind this? Do you think that the issue of Thai police not believing women is connected to victim-blaming culture?

"Police institution has their organizational problem, lack of funding and human resources to the field offices, changing position of officers inappropriately. Therefore it is rare to find the officers who specialize in certain issues, overworked- overloaded of cases make them dismiss SGBV [Sexual and gender-based violence] cases – as SGBV are the most sensitive and difficult to find evidences. Police officers have to deal with emotions which they do not have (enough) training for it. Also, most domestic violence survivors tend to not complete the case after the officers had opened the case. That is one of the reason police don’t like DV [domestic violence]case (they told me). It can be because of survivors struggle to live relationship and did not have enough psychosocial support to go through the justice procedure.

"For sexual violence survivors, to go through insensitive process you can be triggered/retraumatised easily. So yes there are survivors who choose legal path, but most do not. And survivors who start the case and could not go through with it. The investigation procedure is not victim-friendly due to insensitive interrogation - victims have to repeat your assault incidents for 3-4 times until the trial. Rape cases, most survivors have ‘blackout’ ‘freeze’ or traumatise in the different way. They cannot tell the story the same way every times. Sadly, some law enforcers do not understand and have negative attitudes.

"Most of the time, evidence from rape survivor’s body has already gone because they did not go to hospital and report to the police right after the attack (most don’t come right away due to shock, and disgust feeling make them wash off themselves clear all physical evidence) so it is difficult for the police to proof. But instead of being supportive, officers sometimes hold it against the victims – tend to questions as if they are lying or blaming them for putting themselves at risks.

"However, there have been attempt for police training to deal with sexual assault cases. But changing attitude been interactive workshop and also fund to support work, office spaces, train specific officers to deal only with SGBV cases not mix with other case. I do not want to comment on the police unfairly. There are good police officers that want to help people and change this too. Most are new generation officers who want to create changes within the core of system but it is not easy.

"There are lack of attitude, skill and knowledge capacity in police systems to deal with SGBV cases effectively.

"In terms of deeper root cause, Thai gender stereotyping, norms, normalisation of violence against women have led to victim-blaming culture as a consequence. This is not just happen in police institution, it is everywhere. People internalize those ideas without realizing it, and socialize this idea among police informal forums that have a lot of victim-blaming attitudes and stigmatisation towards sexual violence survivors."

InterviewBusayapa Srisompongsexual violencegender-based violenceDomestic violence
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: India's controversial citizenship law

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-06 13:09
Submitted on Mon, 6 Jan 2020 - 01:09 PMStephff

Cartoon by Stephff: India's controversial citizenship law

MultimediaStephffIndiaCitizenship law
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: Illuminati - Future Forward conspiracy

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-06 13:07
Submitted on Mon, 6 Jan 2020 - 01:07 PMStephff

Cartoon by Stephff on the recent complaint to the Constitutional Court linking the Future Forward Party to the Illuminati conspiracy

MultimediaStephffFuture Forward PartyConspiracy theorythe IlluminatiConstitutional court
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: use of defamation law against journalists

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-06 13:05
Submitted on Mon, 6 Jan 2020 - 01:05 PMStephff

On Tuesday (24 December), a court in Lop Buri sentenced former Voice TV reporter Suchanee Cloitre to two years to prison in a defamation lawsuit filed against her by the Thammakaset Company.

MultimediaStephffThammakaset CompanySuchanee CloitreDefamation Lawpress freedomfreedom of speechfreedom of expression
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: historical amnesia in Thailand

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-01-06 13:03
Submitted on Mon, 6 Jan 2020 - 01:03 PMStephff

On 24 December, pictures of two men in Nazi uniforms at a New Year event at CentralWorld appeared, subsequently prompting a response from the Embassy of Israel in Thailand. A message from Meir Shlomo, the Israeli ambassador to Thailand, said that he is "disappointed to see the sad reoccurrence of incidents in which Nazi symbols are displayed on random occasions in Thailand."

Central Pattana Plc, the owner of CentralWorld, issued a statement insisting that neither it nor MasterCard, the event's co-organiser, has anything to do with the two men, and that the company has a policy not to support inappropriate activities that could cause offence.

MultimediaStephffNazi uniformhistorical amnesiaEmbassy of Israel
Categories: Prachatai English

Rafał Pankowski: Europe’s rightward turn

Prachatai English - Fri, 2019-12-27 15:35
Submitted on Fri, 27 Dec 2019 - 03:35 PMAnna Lawattanatrakul

Prachatai English interviews Polish political scientist Rafał Pankowski, Associate Professor at the Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, head of the "Never Again" Association's East Europe Monitoring Centre, and Deputy Editor of Never Again's magazine.

Rafał Pankowski (Source: BALAC Programme, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University)

Pankowski has published several academic works on the rise of right-wing extremism and nationalism in Poland. In August, Pankowski visited the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University and delivered a lecturer “Right-wing extremism in Europe - a challenge for democracy.”

We sat down with him after the lecture to talk about the rise of right-wing extremism in Central and Eastern Europe, its effects on the human rights situation, the role of social media, and the common challenges of our time.

Europe turning right: The attraction of right-wing ideology

When asked why right-wing ideology has become so attractive in Europe despite the historical traumas experienced through the 20th Century, Pankowski said that the answer is to be found in the anxieties about identity.

“I think we have to look at the phenomenon of right-wing extremism in Europe today in the context of the crisis of values on different levels, that also includes the crisis of democratic values among young people, such as in some European countries,” said Pankowski, “Certainly in the context of Central and Eastern Europe, the crisis of democratic values is very real. Some people say it is directly influenced by the socio-economic issues, but I don't really agree with that. I think it is more complicated, because it is not just because socio-economic issues such as unemployment.

“Of course, those socio-economic issue are somewhere in the background of the phenomenon of right-wing extremism, but if you look at the case of Poland, for example, Poland was the only European country that did not have a recession during the times of the global economic crisis. This is not to say that Poland was not affected by the crisis in any way, but it was not affected as much as some other countries in Europe. But still, in the case of Poland, we see the growth of the popularity of some radical nationalist ideas, especially among younger people, so I think the answer has to be found in the field of culture, in values, identity and issues around national identity in particular, so a kind of anxiety involved in identity.”

Having noted in his lecture that a majority of far-right groups in parts of Europe is made up of young people, Pankowski explained that far-right groups now have a very successful strategy of influencing youth culture, making the ideology attractive to young people, a group which is often thought to be “naturally more progressive” than the older generation.

“I think this assumption about young people as naturally more progressive is very common, and historically, it was often very true,” he said, “but I think the situation in Central and Eastern Europe today shows us that that cannot be taken for granted and that you cannot take democratic values for granted if you don’t put an effort in it.

“I think in some ways the popularity of the right-wing nationalist ideas among the younger generation resulted from a certain deficiency of education, but by education I don't just mean the school system. Of course, the school system is important, the institutional framework of education is very important, but I am also thinking about other institutions which have an indirect role, for example the church or the family, or what I mentioned by the end of the lecture, the football club.

“There are different centres of influence on young people, and I believe those centres of influence did not do a good job in terms of democratic education, and those anti-democratic far-right nationalist groups enter into a kind of vacuum that is left -- the space that is open to them, but of course, they also influence the way young people think, the way young people experience reality.

“Those new far-right groups very rarely refer directly to the Nazi times or to Hitler, even if their ideology or their slogans are not so very different, but they use different symbols, so of course this rebranding of the far-right is a very important part of the phenomenon, but there is also something else.

“I mention the attractiveness of right-wing nationalism in the field of youth culture. I can give you an example of a very popular Polish rock singer, whose name is Paweł Kukiz. He was a popular performer, especially in the 90's in Polish rock music, and in 2015 he decided to become a politician, and he created a populist nationalist movement around them, and that was a very interesting the way he translated his name recognition and popularity as a musician, as a rock star, into political capital, as a political leader.

“What is interesting is that he, in contrast to the lyrics of his songs for many years, he also became influenced by the ideology of nationalism and many of his young followers who might come to know him because of his music, they were later influenced by his political ideology, which, in many ways, is very strongly influenced by right-wing nationalism. So I'd say this is just one of many examples how culture influences politics and of course how politics influences culture too.”

Constructing the enemy

As for the effects of the rise of right-wing extremism on the human rights situation in Europe, Pankowski said there are two examples of areas where the far-right has a big impact on the situation: the refugee crisis and migration policy, and discrimination against LGBTQ people.

“I think 2015 in particular was a very important point in time, when the so-called refugee crisis happened in the south of Europe in the Mediterranean, and I think in a way, again paradoxically, it was exploited by the far-right forces that demanded a more restricted migration policy.

“Paradoxically, that also applies to the countries in Central Europe that were not really directly affected by the refugee crisis, because very few of those refugees went to the countries in Central and Eastern Europe, but the refugee crisis was portrayed in the media and in political rhetoric in a very negative way: as a threat to national identity, and it was exploited politically by far right groups with success, so the creation, the construction of the enemy figure has been politically very successful in many countries in Europe, but also the far right has often been successful in changing or influencing the discourse on migration and human rights. That is one example.

“The second example, especially in countries of Central and Eastern Europe, is the ongoing campaign against the LGBT communities, especially in Poland in the last weeks, and again, I think the mechanism is a little similar here, so the far right tries to exploit a feeling of hostility against the minority group. They try to construct an enemy figure and they use it as a tool of political mobilisation, and again, it seems to be successful with a large part of Polish society that seems to easy manipulated by this kind of hateful propaganda against minorities.”

Nevertheless, Pankowski insists that not everyone in Poland is homophobic, noting that it was one of the first countries in Europe to decriminalize homosexuality, which it did in the early 1930’s, and that anti-LGBTQ campaigns as a political tool did not exist until the 21st Century. Such campaigns have been used as a political mobilisation tool by far-right groups within the last two decades, starting from the early 2000’s, but at the same time, he said that the LGBTQ rights movement has become more popular.

“I think what we can see in Poland at the moment is a degree of polarisation between people who are more open to the idea of LGBT equality on the one hand, and of course on the other hand, we have people who are violently opposed to any expression or recognition of LGBT equality,” he explained.

“It's also interesting to note one of the first openly gay politicians in Central and Eastern Europe, Robert Biedroń, is a very popular figure in Poland too. I think that is also an interesting fact to note. He is now the leader of a new political party under the name "Spring" and he is one of the most popular politicians in Poland. In 2011, Robert Biedroń was elected to the Polish parliament for the first time. There was also another MP who was elected, Anna Grodzka, who was the first transexual member of parliament in Poland, and she was also elected by the people in Krakow to the Polish parliament, so I am saying this to stress that not everybody in Poland is homophobic, but homophobia is, unfortunately, a very strong tendency in Polish society today, and I think it is especially in the Polish Catholic Church, which has a big influence on Polish public opinion. But maybe it's also important to stress that this strength of homophobia in the Polish Catholic Church is very much in contrast with the teaching of the Pope. Pope Francis has been quite outspoken in expressing tolerance and respect for LGBT people, but this is not the kind of message that is popular inside of the Church in Poland.

“This issue is one that is polarising Polish society very strongly, and we saw this recently in the case of several LGBT rights demonstrations in Polish cities, and many of those demonstrations were physically opposed and attacked by far-right groups. In Białystok, for example, there was one publicized case in July. The LGBT equality demonstration had about 1000 participants, and the opposition to this event was estimated at around 4000 participants, so in fact, the opposition was much stronger than the gay rights march itself, which may or may not be typical for the balance of forces in Polish society, but it certainly shows that this opposition to gay rights is also a very strong movement.”

The explanation for this phenomenon, Pankowski said, comes down to the anxiety around national identity and gender identity, especially male identity.

“If you look at the opponents of the gay rights march in Białystok, for example, you see mostly young men who are often aggressively opposed to LGBT emancipation,” he said. “Interestingly, many of those young men are recruited and mobilized through the network of the football hooligan culture, which is perhaps not obvious, but it was very clear that many of them came from the stadium of the local football club, so this relationship between youth culture and sports culture and politics and also physical violence against minorities, it was very well illustrated in that case.

“Football hooliganism is not a new phenomenon in Europe. Especially in the 1980's and especially in England, it was a big problem, which spread to other countries. I think, now, in England, that's much less of a problem, but football-related violence is a big issue in countries such as Poland or Russia, in Eastern Europe, or countries in the former Yugoslavia, but it often comes with a certain ideological background, which is often racist and homophobic, so some of the far right groups that we are talking about here, they are also actively recruiting members and supporters in the football stadiums in eastern Europe, and they are also promoting their ideology in the context of football culture and the football stadium.

“I can give you an example from Sarajevo, from Bosnia. In September, they were going to organize the first gay pride march in the history of the country. I was in Sarajevo in May, and I had a very interesting conversation with the organizers of this event. They told me about how the opposition was already mobilizing in the months before the gay pride march, and the centre of the opposition was the local football stadium. Interestingly and strangely, the football hooligans who express their homophobia in the football stadium in Sarajevo express it through waving the national flag of Brunei, because of the homophobic legislation in Brunei. I thought that was a really interesting case of a certain kind of globalization in a negative way. You can call it a negative globalization, or a globalization of homophobia, or a globalization of intolerance, that I thought was a really interesting example. 

“To cut a long story short, the football culture in the football stadium, I think it is an important site of socialization. It is where young people, in many cases especially young men, it is where they form their values, and unfortunately, in many cases, these are negative values, values of xenophobia, nationalism, and homophobia, but it does not have to be like that.”

“Our organization in Poland, the Never Again Association, has spent a lot of time and energy on researching the issue of intolerance in the football culture, but also promoting a positive version of football culture. Sports, football in particular, can also be a positive tool to promote a positive of respect for diversity and this is something that we did on a big scale around the European football championship in 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

“With the support of the European Football Federation, we had a very big educational campaign in football and around football under the title "respect diversity" and that was a very interesting experience, and of course, millions of people watched the European football championship, both in the stadium and especially on the television, and it was a fantastic opportunity for us as a civil society organization to promote respect for diversity through football, and I think it is really interesting now to hear about the plan for ASEAN to organize the World Cup in Southeast Asia.”

“I think it could be a very interesting opportunity for civil society in Southeast Asia to organize positive campaigns and if we can be useful, we would be very happy to exchange experiences. We actually exchange experiences quite a lot with Russian civil societies, because they had the football World Cup in Russia last year, and we were also very much involved in this process of sharing good practice on dealing with intolerance in football and through football.”

Pankowski's lecture at Chulalongkorn University (Source: BALAC Programme, Facutly of Arts, Chulalongkorn University)

Social media and the rise of extremism

“The internet is a wonderful invention, but I think when the internet started, many people had a naive view of this technology as a great way to connect people, a great way to communicate, but the differences of culture, nationality, religion, et cetera. Of course it can be a wonderful way to communicate, but what is very clear over the years is that the hate groups are very effective in using this new tool to promote exclusion and hatred, and to construct communities through the internet, social media in particular, based on exclusion and hatred, which is of course one of the big paradoxes about our times.

“Once again, I want to stress we don't just talk here about speech, because hate speech leads to hate crime and physical violence, and the terrorist attack such as Christchurch in New Zealand can be mention here, but of course there are many other cases where hate speech leads to violence, for example in Sri Lanka and in Myanmar, and of course we know that social media has been an important tool of inciting hatred, so I think this is one of the biggest challenges of our times. How can we stop the social media from becoming a tool of hatred, hate speech and incitement?

“Nobody has the perfect solution to it, but I can mention also our organization Never Again is a part of an international group called International Network Against Cyber Hate, and I think there is still a long way to go, but there are many activities, both educational and other activities, trying to stop the social media being used as a tool for the extreme racist and nationalist groups. But also I think some of the big social media companies are just beginning to understand their responsibilities. Companies such as Facebook and Twitter, they still have a long way to go, but I think after the pressure from the civil society, they are beginning to realise the challenge and their own responsibility in this field.”

The challenges of our time

While he said that it was not easy for him to comment on the situation in Southeast Asia, Pankowski said that there are common challenges experienced by people both in Central and Eastern Europe, such as in Poland and Hungary, and in other places, including extremism, authoritarianism, and populism. But for him, an important lesson and an important challenge of our time is that we can no longer take democracy for granted.

“I guess one important lesson that we have and one important challenge that is a common challenge is the fact that democracy cannot be taken for granted, or the democratic transformation, its result cannot be taken for granted. It is always an open question. It really depends on the people. It really depends on the citizens, but the outcome cannot be taken for granted. We cannot be certain about the outcome.

“I think in the 90's, it was a common assumption about democratic transformation as a kind of one-way street, as a kind of course that is irreversible. Today, unfortunately, we can see that this process is reversible, but the result is still open. It will always depend on the people and on the citizens what happens next.

“I think there is a role for everybody on every level,” Pankowski said when asked if there is a way of countering the turn towards extremism and politics of hatred. “I think it is very important for people to have civil courage. I think civil courage is important, and critical thinking is also very important, especially with the propaganda of hatred and the propaganda of nationalism.

“I believe what is very important nowadays, I think you can call it international solidarity. Solidarity on the level of civil societies is very important, but also on the level of individual people, and I think awareness is also very important. It is sometimes missing. I think all of us have a tendency just to look at our own problems in our own countries. In fact, many of those problems are common problems and the solutions can become common solutions. I think in this context, solidarity is the key issue. I know it is easier said than done, but I think it is a really important aspect of the challenge, but it's also an opportunity, and also technology provides us with the opportunities for expressing solidarity that maybe we don't have before but maybe we don't use it enough.”

InterviewRafał PankowskiInstitute of Sociology of Collegium Civitas in WarsawNever Again Associationright-wing extremismNationalismPolandCentral and Eastern EuropeSocial MediaFar-right group
Categories: Prachatai English

Constitutional Court to rule on sedition complaint against FFP; accepts ECT’s FFP loan case

Prachatai English - Fri, 2019-12-27 13:46
Submitted on Fri, 27 Dec 2019 - 01:46 PMPrachatai

On 25 December the Constitutional Court of Thailand accepted the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT)’s request to rule on whether the Future Forward Party (FFP) violated Article 72 of the 2017 Organic Law on Political Parties by taking a loan from its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and whether the party will be dissolved.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit at the 14 December flashmob

Article 72 of the 2017 Organic Law on Political Parties states that no political party or individuals holding office in a political party shall receive money, property, or other benefit if they know, or could be expected to know, that it was illegally acquired, or if they have reasonable cause to suspect that it was illegally acquired.

On 11 December, the ECT voted to submit a request to the Court to rule whether the FFP taking a loan of 191,200,00 baht from party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is a violation of Article 72.  The penalties include dissolution of the party and barring the party’s executive members from running in elections for a number of years.

The Court will also rule on a sedition complaint made against the FFP by lawyer and former advisor to the Chief Ombudsman Nuttaporn Toprayoon, who accused the party of attempting to overthrow the "democratic regime with the king as the head of state" according to Section 49 in the 2017 Constitution, and for being linked to the Illuminati, a fictitious secret organization believed by conspiracy theorists to be seeking world domination.

Nuttaporn’s complaint claims that FFP members are anti-monarchy and anti-religion, and that the party symbol points to its link to the Illuminati and the party’s hidden purpose. The complaint was filed on 18 June 2019 and the Court accepted it on 22 July.

The Court said in a statement that no hearing would be held as it already has enough evidence, and that it will be ruling on the case on 21 January 2020 at 11.30.

These two cases are part of a storm of lawsuits thrown at the FFP since the start of 2019. On 21 November, the Constitutional Court ruled to disqualify Thanathorn as an MP for holding shares in a media company, despite the company having stopped operating in 2017.

On 14 December, thousands of people came together in a ‘flash mob’ on the Pathumwan Sky Walk, between MBK Shopping Centre and the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in Bangkok, as well as in Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, and other provinces in northern and northeastern Thailand, following the ECT’s decision on 11 December, that it would recommend that the Constitutional Court order the FFP’s dissolution.

NewsFuture Forward PartyThanathorn JuangroongruangkitConstitutional courtElection Commission of Thailand (ECT)judicial harassment
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