Prachatai English

4 pro-democracy protesters released from temporary detention

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-11-03 14:13
Submitted on Tue, 3 Nov 2020 - 02:13 PMPrachatai

Anon Nampa, Ekkachai Hongkangwan, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Suranat Paenprasoet, who have been imprisoned for the past 20 days on charges relating to recent pro-democracy protests, have been released after a court denied a police request for their continued temporary detention.

Somyot, Anon, Ekkachai and Suranat walked out of Bangkok Remand Prison on 3 Nov midnight.

Somyot and Anon were arrested and detained for their participation in the 19-20 September protest at Thammasat University and Sanam Luang. Ekkachai and Suranat were alleged to have harmed Her Majesty the Queen’s liberty in the 14 October incident where a royal motorcade surprisingly passed through protesters on Phitsanulok Road.

The release took place at midnight on 3 November from Bangkok Remand Prison where a crowd had gathered to welcome them.

“Thank you specially to the judicial system that we can take a look at ourselves and not accept becoming a victim or the conditions of dictatorial power,” said Anon, who has lost some weight during his time in prison.

He also stated that society and the pro-democracy movement have moved in the right direction, according to him and the others who were set free. Dictators must admit that it is time to change. He also underlined the demands for the Prime Minister’s resignation, constitutional amendments and monarchy reform. Anon stated that he is ready and willing to join the protests again.

To a media question whether his release is related to King Rama X’s interview with the media yesterday where he said “Thailand is the land of compromise”, Anon said it is a good thing that we must speak to each other straightforwardly and speak with respect where we respect the institution and the institution respects the protestors as fellow human beings. We must use peaceful methods to reach a common ground. The government must create an atmosphere to sincerely seek solutions to problems, and not as now issue arrest warrants, which will not solve the problems.

“The prison is a graveyard for the living and it still serves to oppress and compel, because prison does not exist for solutions, but for revenge. They let the modus operandi exist in order to restrain us and force us. But it has had no success in stopping the struggle of the people,” said Somyot, who was jailed for 7 years in 2011 after being found guilty under Section 112 of the Criminal Code.

Ekkachai and Suranat still insist that they did not, in any way, block the royal motorcade. Ekkachai said several clips have proved that he is innocent of the allegation. The court decision that rejected the police request to extend his detention is a minor proof that he is innocent.

NewsStudent protest 2020Anon NampaEkkachai HongkangwanSomyot PruksakasemsukSuranat PaenprasoetSource: prachatai.com/journal/2020/11/90277
Categories: Prachatai English

Land of compromise: King Rama X speaks about protesters in an impromptu interview

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-11-03 10:02
Submitted on Tue, 3 Nov 2020 - 10:02 AM

In a very rare ambush interview, King Rama X responds to a question from a foreign reporter about pro-democracy protesters by saying “We love them all the same”, and “Thailand is the land of compromise.”  Meanwhile the protesters are not backing down on monarchy reform.

Left to right: Queen Sutthida and King Vajiralongkorn met Jonathan Miller in an ambush interview. (Source: Facebook/PhitsanulokPRD)

The incident took place on 1 November after the King finished the seasonal change of robes on the Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaeo. As the King and Queen Suthida were greeting the people waiting outside the temple, Jonathan Miller, foreign correspondent of Channel 4 of the UK, ambushed him with a question about his response to the current pro-democracy protests, which are calling for monarchy reform.

The King responded saying “We love them all the same” three times. To a second question about the possibility of compromise, the King replied “Thailand is the land of compromise.”  

The impromptu interview came after a 25-second head-to-head conversation between the King and Suwit Thongprasert, formerly known as Buddha Issara, a leading figure in the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), who in 2018 was stripped of his status as a monk after he admitted forging the monographs of the late King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit on Buddha amulets which he sold to his disciples.  He also faced charges of extortion and illegally detaining police officers.

After the interview with Miller, the King and Queen crossed to the other side of the path, where the King had a quick conversation with Princess Sirivannavari, who immediately retraced her steps and said to Miller “We love Thai people, no matter what.  And this country is peaceful.  I love it.  I very happy.”  Then, more forcefully, she said “This is the real love, and you can see, right?”

Many celebrities also attended public meetings with the King. Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of the royalist group Thai Pakdee (loyal Thais) also engaged a personal exchange with the King who told him “We must help each other to bring out the truth”.

Also attending the public gathering were Bin Banluerit, an actor and volunteer for the Ruamkatanyu Foundation rescue organization, Mongkolkit Suksintharanon, MP from the micro Thai Civilized Party, and Apirak Chat-anon, aka Sia Po, a self-professed gambler who is out on bail after being arrested on 28 October for attempted murder, illegal possession of a firearm and other charges after a shooting in front of a massage shop in Bangkok.

The pro-democracy protests have repeated demands for the PM to resign, for amendments to the constitution and for monarchy reform. They also call for the state to stop harassing, prosecuting and arresting protesters.

Although Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha proposed that both sides ‘take a step back’, the offer is seen as a fraud when police keep on charging protesters and re-arresting them when they are released from temporary detention.

NewsKing Rama XKing VajiralongkornSirivannavariSia PomonarchyJonathan Miller
Categories: Prachatai English

Family holds birthday gathering in memory of missing activist

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-11-03 00:12
Submitted on Tue, 3 Nov 2020 - 12:12 AMPrachatai

Missing activist-in-exile Siam Theerawut’s friends and family gathered for Siam’s 35th birthday on Saturday (31 October), as his fate remains unknown.

Siam's pictures hanging from the wall in his family home

Kanya Theerawut, Siam’s mother, said that they would like to organize an event like this every year, so that Siam will not be forgotten and so that his friends and family can meet.

“We’ll keep searching until we know the goal of the people who took his life. What do you want? Are you the only one who has wants? That’s not it. They’ll stay with their people, but they’ve made themselves great until they’ve forgotten to look at other people who are not related to them, but we are under the same sky. We look at the same sun and moon,” said Kanya.

Meanwhile, Siam’s sister said that she has been harassed by police officers, who have visited her at work, and that she has received calls telling her to stop posting on Facebook and threatening her with losing her job.

“The first day we found out he went missing, at first I didn’t suspect anything. I thought he’s still alive no matter what. Right now, I still think he’s alive and that he will always be with us. I hope that someday, we will be together like this, that he will be right here, in this place together,” said Siam’s sister.

Siam's family and friends singing during the event. The song was the Commoner Band's “ฝากรักถึงเจ้าผีเสื้อ” (“Sending Love to You, the Butterfly”), which was also sung in front of the Vietnamese Embassy when Kanya went to file a request for information on her son's disappearance in May 2019. 

Siam was involved in “The Wolf Bride,” a period comedy play that provoked a lawsuit under Section 112, the lèse majesté law, in 2013. Others involved in staging the play, Pornthip Munkong and Patiwat Saraiyaem, were arrested and spent two years in prison. Siam was also accused in 2018 of being a leading member of the Thai Federation.

Siam fled the country after the 2014 military coup when all Section 112-related cases were revived. He went missing in May 2019, after he was reportedly arrested in Vietnam and extradited to Bangkok along with 2 other Thai activists in exile, Chucheep “Uncle Sanam Luang” Chiwasut and Kritsana Tubthai. They have not been heard from since. His family and friends have filed petitions with various agencies calling for investigations into his disappearance, but no progress has so far been made.

NewsSiam TheerawutKanya Theerawutenforced disappearanceabductionmissing person
Categories: Prachatai English

Recap: Woman slaps student for not standing during anthem

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-11-02 15:49
Submitted on Mon, 2 Nov 2020 - 03:49 PMPrachatai

Recap: Woman slaps student for not standing during anthem

- At Ayutthaya railway station, a woman slapped a girl in a student uniform, 15, for not standing up during the national anthem.

- The women, 45, said it was from “a sudden wave of anger” and apologized. The student’s relatives said she was suffering from menstrual cramps. They have forgiven the assailant but are proceeding with legal action against her.

- A protest against the violence was held at the same place the girl was slapped. A pro-government group donated 18,200 baht to the assailant.  

On 27 October, several video clips went viral online showing a woman committing a physical assault against a girl in a student uniform at sunset at Ayutthaya railway station.

During the national anthem, the girl did not stand up. A woman in a dark red shirt who stood up during the anthem watched the girl until it ended. Then the woman walked to the girl student, pointed her finger at her, pulled her hair and slapped her in the face.

People came in to stop her. “Let go of me,” shouted the woman. “You are a useless student. You wear a student uniform.”

Video footage of the assault also reveals a man’s voice shouting in support of the assault, claiming that the student talked back, asking the woman if she was her mother.

On the same night, the parents of the student went to file a report at Ayutthaya Police Station. It was revealed that the high school student was 15 years old. And the woman using the name Pu was a 45-year-old vendor who sells roti nearby.

The parents of the student said that their daughter did not stand up for the national anthem because she was having her period. Her uncle said she had a medical examination to confirm that this was true.

As she is a young teen, an interdisciplinary team came in to check her physical and mental wellness. Phonchai Somphong, Deputy Director of the school where she is studying, said on 28 October that she remains slightly in shock.

At a police press conference on 28 October, Pu said her action resulted from “a sudden wave of anger” and apologized to the student’s relatives. She said that her action had nothing to do with politics. She does not belong to any royalist group and has not participated in any political activities.

“I saw a girl just sitting there, the national anthem played, then I asked the girl if she is Thai. That’s it. But an angry impulse really erupted. I am truly sorry.”

She said it was her habit to ask anyone whether they are Thai when they do not stand up for the national anthem. However, she said she had learnt a lesson and will not do it again. The uncle of the student said on behalf of the student’s relatives that they forgave her, but the matter will still proceed according to the law.

The Bangkok Post said that the woman has been charged with assault. Police will continue the legal action after they finish checking the physical and mental condition of the student.

On the evening of 28 October, 24 hours after the attack, a flashmob was held by Khana Ratsadon Ayuthaya at the same place where the student was assaulted.  Around a hundred of people gathered to sit during the national anthem and together raised the three-finger salute to condemn the violence.

But the nationalist vendor is not without supporters. According to Khaosod English, Pu received a donation of 18,200 baht from government supporters on the Facebook page เชียร์ลุง (which means “cheer uncle”; uncle here refers to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha). The Facebook page admin claimed to have checked with the police that the maximum punishment is a 10,000 baht fine.

Asking for donations of not more than 100 baht each, the Facebook page said they do not support violence. They simply want to help a woman struggling to make a living. According to Matichon, the financial support was widely criticized by netizens. Nawat Itsaragrisil, a Thai TV host, condemned the support for violence in a Facebook post.

“If we look deeply, this is a big problem of Thai people. Violation of personal rights and physical and mental injury is regarded as something that can be seen every day. The condition of Thai society has only terror and insecurity as we can see, like a home in the jungle or cruel city.

But what is most surprising is that a group of people are helping each other to donate money to the aunt who slapped the young student to pay the fine. There is nothing stranger than this. Or is this a lavender field in the eyes of someone?” 

According to Section 6 of the 1942 Royal Decree on National Culture, standing up for the national anthem was required. However, this law has been abolished since the enforcement of the 2010 National Culture Act.  

News
Categories: Prachatai English

Facing Up to Impunity

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-11-02 14:19
Submitted on Mon, 2 Nov 2020 - 02:19 PMAnnie Game

2 November 2020, is the United Nations International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

It is an important day. It is equally important to recognise how it came about. The UN resolution passed in December 2013 represented the culmination of years of persistent work by dedicated individuals and groups, including the IFEX network, which spearheaded the campaign for a UN day back in 2011. Together, we turned up the volume, demanding global attention and a response to the escalation of brutal attacks on journalists.

This UN day is an acknowledgment that impunity remains a huge global issue; when those responsible for crimes against journalists are not held to account we allow a perverse culture to grow that continually degrades our right to freedom of expression and information.

We got the world’s attention – now what?

We knew that having a dedicated day would help bring international visibility to this issue. It would provide a way to focus the efforts of civil society, as well as help us reach and engage more allies and partners in this work on which so many of our rights and freedoms depend.

But it's just one day. The issue of impunity is ongoing. It requires funding, planning, research, targeted campaigning, collaboration and follow-up. It takes real work by real people to hold the powerful accountable for their crimes.

Which brings me to our decision to mark the 2020 International Day to End Impunity with the launch of our IFEX Faces of Free Expression series.

To make the world a safer place for journalism – and for all forms of expression – we need the sustained work of many dedicated individuals. Some may be well-known, but many more are seldom if ever seen in the corridors of power, or on the news, or on the global stage. They are what we call ‘the movers and the shakers’, people putting their safety, their freedom, and often their own lives on the line, to bring about change for the better in their own countries.

Over 80 such individuals are profiled in our series, and the list continues to grow. Each profile acknowledges the contribution made by people and groups who support these individuals in their work.

Today, we introduce you to eight amazing women, acknowledging not only their important leadership in promoting media freedom, safety and justice, but also as a reminder of the reality that so many attacks on journalists, online and offline, are gendered. They embody courage and perseverance in the face of sometimes unimaginable odds.

Jineth Bedoya Lima has brought the issue of sexual violence against women in Colombia into the public consciousness, and continues her 20-year journey to end impunity in the case of the brutal assault she experienced as an investigative journalist.

“Senegambian Iron Lady” Fatou Jagne Senghor has used her legal and media expertise to defend human rights and media freedom across Africa for 20 years, providing refuge to journalists being harassed, and placing women's rights at the forefront of her advocacy. 

A member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, Amal Clooney has represented many clients fighting for their right to free expression, including Egyptian journalist Mohamed Fahmy and Iraqi Yazidi target of politicized sexual violence Nadia Murad.

Khadija Ismayilova faced a gendered harassment campaign and imprisonment after reporting on the Azeri government’s corrupt business practices. She has become the most recognisable face of the repression of media freedom in Azerbaijan.

In the Philippines, Rappler.com’s Maria Ressa has become a global icon of resistance to state interference in the media. Long the target of gender-based online violence, she has also faced extensive judicial harassment by the Duterte government.

Against the impossibly hostile backdrop of Syria's civil war, journalist and activist Yara Bader has worked with her Syrian Center colleagues to bring to light the detention, torture, and murder of writers, artists, journalists, and human rights defenders.

Agnès Callamard has been a fierce advocate for human rights free expression for decades. As a UN expert on extrajudicial killings, she has intervened in some of the most high-profile impunity cases, including those of the murders of journalists Jamal Khashoggi and Daphne Caruana Galizia.

We also feature Daphne Caruana Galizia herself – an intrepid investigative journalist who paid the ultimate price for criticising the powerful and exposing corruption in Malta. Three years after her assassination, her family and colleagues continue their fight to bring those responsible to justice. 

Tackling impunity for crimes against journalists means refusing to let cases fall into obscurity. Not every case will secure global attention, and not every actor may be visible on the global stage, but this is how we ensure impunity remains a global issue: by sustaining the pressure, and providing the fuel that drives efforts required to hold those in authority accountable.

We’ve achieved a lot together, but much more remains to be done. The fact that this year’s IDEI takes place against a backdrop of stalled judicial processes, brutal responses to the use of civic space to call out racism and injustice, and heightened risks to journalists reporting on the global pandemic is a reminder of how fragile progress can be.

Today we should look ahead, focus on next steps. We need to continue to up our game in exposing the nature of impunity and battling those who rely on it to silence those voices critical of their actions. We need to be creative, find new points of pressure and influence, and reach out to others to build an even broader movement.

No one can do this work alone. The Faces of Free Expression series underscores that - far from being alone, we are in fact in very good company.

Our 2020 campaign continues throughout November. Join us in the coming weeks to be inspired by others in our series who champion freedom of expression in all its forms. 

Annie Game is the Executive Director of IFEX, the global network of organisations promoting and defending free expression

OpinionIFEXimpunityAnnie Gamefreedom of the pressInternational Day to End Impunity for Crimes against JournalistsUnited Nations
Categories: Prachatai English

3 leading protest figures re-arrested right after walking out of prison

Prachatai English - Sun, 2020-11-01 00:30
Submitted on Sun, 1 Nov 2020 - 12:30 AMPrachatai

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, and Panupong Jadnok faced a long night after the court denied a police request to extend their temporary detention in Bangkok Remand Prison. Re-arrest was waiting for them outside amidst allegations of illegal arrest by the police, where violence was involved.

Panusaya and Parit talking to a lawyer in front of Prachachuen Police Station early in the morning of 31 October. 
(Photo by Sirachai Arunrugstichai)

On 31 October at 04.20, Parit and Panusaya were taken to hospital to be treated after being investigated at Prachachuen Police Station, a designated place of detention, awaiting charges from Ayutthaya Province.

According to a volunteer medic, Panusaya was suffering fatigue and exhaustion while Parit was injured during the re-arrest process.

According to iLaw, Panupong, who was hospitalized late at night on 30 October due to a commotion in a police truck, was met by Ayutthaya police at 06.45 who wanted to arrest him. He refused to be arrested in hospital as the arrest had in fact already been effected at Bangkok Remand Prison.

2 protests were held regarding the re-arrest, one at the front of Prachachuen Police Station and another at Ayutthaya Police Station.

Parit and Panusaya spent their time before the investigation speaking to the protesters at Prachachuen Police Station with some music and speeches. Protesters from time to time chanted “Free our friends”. The Prachachuen protesters dispersed at around 04.45 after the investigation finished and the 2 were taken to hospital.

Thossaporn Serirak, a doctor and former MP, and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a former MP of the dissolved Future Forward Party, were seen travelling in the hospital van with them.

Long night after being released

The crowd in front of the Prachachuen Police Station during the night of 30 October.

On 30 October, the court denied a police request to extend their temporary detention. The three, with mo lam singer Patiwat Saraiyam who was detained with them, were released from Bangkok Remand Prison at around 20.00. People were waiting outside to welcome them.

However, police said Parit, Panupong, and Panusaya were re-arrested because they held 3 protests in Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya, and Ubon Ratchathani.

Noraseth Nanongtoom, their lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), argued that the 3 arrest warrants had expired. According to the Section 68 of the Criminal Code, they had already been arrested to be informed of those cases. Thus, the arrests could not be made with these warrants. The lawyer showed the documentary evidence as proof.

Plainclothes officers used a neck-lock against Parit and Panupong as they were re-arrested. They were injured, and Panupong reportedly became unconscious. Panupong was taken to hospital a while later.

According to eyewitnesses at Phong Phet intersection where the truck was waiting for a traffic light, Parit and Panupong opened the police truck windows, shouting that they were injured. Some people at the scene smashed the truck window and tried to help them. Many mirror shards were found embedded over Parit’s body.

Another motorcycle was hit by the truck there. A rider said he was on his way home but was hit by the truck as he was trying to pass it. His motorcycle was dragged along, stuck under the truck and was heavily damaged. He said he would sue for legal compensation.

Panupong, Panusaya and Parit are prominent figures in the current pro-democracy protests in Thailand. Panupong was widely known from his activities in his hometown after the news of Covid 19-positive Egyptian military personnel strolling around Rayong Province.

Parit and Panussaya have spoken in support of monarchy reform and were among the first to publicly break the taboo and address the issue of the Thai monarchy.

Parit and Panusaya were arrested on 15 October after the severe state of emergency was announced, resulting in the protest crackdown in front of the Government house. Panupong was arrested later on 17 October at Hua Mak when plainclothes police smashed the window of the car he was sitting at. Patiwat was arrested at his residence in Khon Kaen on 19 October.

NewsPanusaya SithijirawattanakulParit ChiwarakPanupong JadnokPatiwat Saraiyaemarbitrary detentionjudicial harassmentfreedom of assemblyfreedom of expressionStudent protest 2020student movementYouth movement
Categories: Prachatai English

PEN International: End government crackdown and drop all charges against peaceful demonstrators

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-10-31 22:19
Submitted on Sat, 31 Oct 2020 - 10:19 PMPEN International

PEN International issued a statement on Thursday (29 October) raising concern over the ongoing crackdown against dissenting voices and called for the Thai authorities to drop all charges against peaceful demonstrators. 

Protesters gather at the Ratchaprasong intersection on 15 October to demand the release of 22 protesters arrested during the police crackdown on the protest at the Government House that morning.

The statement reads: 

PEN International is alarmed over the ongoing crackdown against dissenting voices in Thailand and urges Thai authorities to unconditionally release all who were detained arbitrarily after having peacefully participated in pro-democracy demonstrations.

Among those targeted by authorities is Arnon Nampha, a poet and human rights lawyer, who was initially arrested in relation to his participation in peaceful protests that took place in August, which included a ‘Harry Potter’ themed rally where Arnon gave a speech calling for an end to the use of controversial lèse-majesté laws and the reigning in of the monarchy's power in Thailand. Released on bail on 20 August, Arnon was subsequently re-arrested for his participation in demonstrations which took place on 19-20 September in Bangkok, and was charged with sedition under Section 116 of the Criminal Code of Thailand. Another activist charged in relation to the protests, Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, is a member of the highly popular group called Rap Against Dictatorship, whose music criticising government corruption has garnered millions of views on social media and a criminal probe by Thai authorities.

These rallies form part of the wider student-led protest movement that has been occurring across Thailand since February 2020. Among the grievances expressed by protestors is the erosion of democratic freedoms under the current government and the existence of the highly punitive lèse-majesté law, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years and has been used to silence public criticism of the Thai monarchy.

Despite the risk of imprisonment for those participating in the protests, Thai Police reported that a rally which took place in Bangkok on 16 August drew over 10,000 demonstrators, making it the largest public protest that the country has seen in several years. Over the following months, the protests have continued to grow in size, with estimates of as many as 50,000 protestors participating in a rally on 19 September.

In response to the escalating protests, in October the Thai authorities increased the severity of their crackdown by imposing a state of emergency, banning all protests and carrying out over 90 arrests of high-profile activists, including Patiwat Saraiyaem and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who had been subject to PEN International appeals when detained previously. On 22 October, several United Nations human rights experts wrote a joint letter urging the Thai government to release those detained and to allow peaceful protests. While the state of emergency was later lifted, numerous protesters remain detained, and the Thai government has shown little sign of acceding to the demands made by the peaceful protestors.

Another concerning development comes from a report that PEN International has received in recent days that Thai police have begun targeting writers, linking the content of their work to the protest movement. On 19 October, a search warrant was executed by Thai police against Fa Diew Kan (Same Sky), a progressive publishing house founded by scholar and writer, Thanapol Eawsaku. During the search, several books authored by Nattapoll Chaiching and Thongchai Winichakul were seized and Thanapol was brought to a local police station for questioning. While at the time of writing no arrests have been made, the targeting of writers by Thai authorities is illustrative of the threat that the ongoing crackdown poses to freedom of expression in Thailand.

In response to the Thai government’s crackdown, Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said: “Thailand's lèse-majesté law is an affront to democracy. Meant to protect the dignity of the royal family, the law has become a tool to stifle criticism, be it satire or legitimate critique of the actions and practices of the royal family. The Thai people revere their monarchy; it does not need laws that intimidate dissenters or curb free speech to preserve its reputation. Thai authorities should drop lèse-majesté charges in the present instance and remove the legislation from its statute.”

PEN International urges the authorities to unconditionally release peaceful protesters who were arbitrarily detained, end the harassment of writers, publishers and academics, and to amend the Criminal Code, in particular the lèse-majesté law and the articles that criminalise defamation and insult, to ensure that it meets Thailand’s international obligations to protect freedom of expression.

Background

UN human rights mechanisms have repeatedly clarified that criminal defamation and insult laws, including lèse-majesté laws, are incompatible with international standards on free expression. In 2017, the then UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye called on Thailand to stop using its lèse-majesté law to stifle critical speech. He said, “The lèse-majesté provision of the Thai Criminal Code is incompatible with international human rights law, and this is a concern that I and my predecessors have raised on numerous occasions with the authorities.” The disproportionate use of such restrictions also run into tension with Articles 9 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party.

Pick to PostPEN Internationalstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020arbitrary detentionfreedom of expressionfreedom of assembly
Categories: Prachatai English

Family can be cruel: the price students have to pay for protesting

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-10-31 21:17
Submitted on Sat, 31 Oct 2020 - 09:17 PMThidatep Piboon and Bamaejuri Sokhlet

Students attending the rally on 2 October 2020 at the Ministry of Education share experiences of the backlash they receive from their parents for going to protests and their opinions on the current student movement.

Students protesting at the Ministry of Education on 2 October

Young Thai people have traditionally been seen as politically apathetic, as hierarchy and the culture of obedience in Thai society play a crucial role in preventing children from political socialization within their families during adolescence. But as young people have become more politically active, family conflict has also been increasing as parents attempt to block their children from political participation.

In September, the high school student activist group Bad Student tweeted that students who attended the 5 September protest at the Ministry of Education have been facing abuse from their families. The group also said that there have been more than 20 cases of physical and verbal abuse, which include students being beaten or facing threats of being disowned, and that the group is using the donations they receive to provide financial aid and shelter for these students.

At the rally at the Ministry of Education on 2 October, some protesters were as young as 14 years old, and while many said that their families are supportive and agreed with their call for educational reform, many struggled with their families’ objection to their participation in the movement.

The price they pay

Rhat, 16, said that she had had an argument with her mother, who believes that the students have been paid to protest by adults.

“I suffered physical assault, but it wasn’t that bad. It was just a slap. I was slapped on the face. … It was like she was very angry that I came out and do something like this, like she wants me just to study. What I’m doing is so that we can study more effectively, so that no one can oppress us. We go to school for education, not to have others violate our rights . This is what my parents still don’t understand,” said Rhat.

She said that one of her friends had it worse. Rhat said that her friend was forced out of their home, was denied an allowance for two months, and could not pay her tuition fee. She also said that the situation in her family is improving, as she has tried to explain the situation to her parents by giving them examples of abuse, and her parents have become dissatisfied with the current situation of the education system.

Rhat would like parents to understand that their children are being harassed and abused at school. She disagreed with the Education Minister’s comment that students have to wear uniforms for their own safety. Students are bothered everyday about their dress code, especially girls, who often have more dress code requirements.

She also said that parents should be careful about consuming media, as there is a lot of misinformation being spread about the protests which might cause them to unnecessarily worry or panic.

Meanwhile, F, 17, said that, at first, her family did not oppose her participation in the rally and only asked a few questions about it, but after the protest on 19 September, she had a huge argument with her parents, who even resorted to profanities.

“They said, ‘if you want to go and die, then go,’ something like that, and told me not to come and ask my mother for money. If I use their language, she said ‘don’t come and ask for my fucking money.’ I cried a lot.  At that time, I didn’t really listen to her, but I still can’t survive by myself. If I could, I would want to leave, but because I can’t, I did not leave.”

F said that she was sad because she felt that her mother was inconsiderate of her feelings. She tried to explain the reasons for the protest but her family would not listen to her, so she avoided talking about any political issues at home and did not let her parents know about her participation in this rally.

“I want to come here to speak out. I don’t want to just stay silent. Sitting around won’t change anything. She also asked me why I went, and said that being there won’t help, so I ask her what I should do if I don’t attend. I asked her if she knows what the situation is like right now. She said, she does, that it is not good. I asked her again what, if it is not good, I should do, and she said, just stay still. The second I heard that, I thought, okay, I won’t talk to her anymore,” said F.  

With white ribbons tied around their wrists, students flashed the three-finger salute as they gather in front of the Ministry of Education in the rain.

Another student, Nathan, 16, said that his parents initially did not believe he would join the protests. He said that his parents usually do not pay attention to political and human rights issues, but were suspicious that someone was behind the student protests. He said that he attempted to communicate with his parents by showing them cases of abuse in schools, but that he seemed to have failed as they stayed silent and did not talk to him, even though he reassured them that the protests would not become violent.

“I feel bad that they don’t understand us, because we’re out here fighting for our future. It is sad that we have to be born in a country where all children want to go abroad, where everyone wants to work abroad. Why don’t we make sure our country has everything, is developed and progressive? I also don’t understand why parents think we’re fighting for something we don’t know about. In fact, we are fighting with reasons,” he said.

Reaching an understanding

M, 18, said that this was her first time to join a protest, but she did not tell her parents she was doing so, because they were concerned about her safety. However, she said that her family has always communicated with each other, so even though her parents disagree with her, she would join the protest nonetheless.

“Not doing anything is more painful.”, said M.

Representatives of the Bad Student group scattered copies of a resignation letter for education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan from the top of a truck.

S, 16, said that this was her second protest. After her parents found out, they prohibited her from joining protests, even though they themselves did not have strong political opinions.

Her parents told her that they were worried about her future, and that it would be difficult for her to find a job if employers find out that she had participated in political events.

But S said that the pressure her family put on her did not affect her decision to join the protest. She said that it was her right to voice her standpoint and if there is a chance to do it, she should.

Many of the parents whose children attended the protest on Friday were worried or are against the movement.  However, there are also a few parents who supported the students speaking up and asking for reform.

Cake, a 14-year-old high school student, said that her parents were concerned and unhappy about her attending the rally as well because of the presence of police and military officers at the Ministry. Nevertheless, she added, “I think there are two types of parents. One supports us because before this, they had the red shirts and yellow shirts.”

“We came here out of the failure of the Thai education system because it is so bad”, she said.

InterviewBad StudentEducation reformstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020Domestic abuse
Categories: Prachatai English

Note from Detention: Nutchanon Pairoj

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-10-30 18:12
Submitted on Fri, 30 Oct 2020 - 06:12 PMPrachatai

Following the police crackdown on the protest at the Government House on 15 October, Nutchanon Pairoj, president of the Student Union of Thailand (SUT), was arrested along with student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul on charges relating to a demonstration at Thammasat University. 

Nutchanon's letter

Panusaya and Nutchanon were arrested at 08.45 at their accommodation in Khao San Road, after Panusaya read out the People’s Party statement on the crackdown at 07.00.

He was detained at the Thanyaburi Prison before being released on 20 October. During his detention, Nutchanon wrote the following letter: 

If you see this letter, it means that I may not be out.  But it’s all right. We are fine. No need to worry. This place can detain only my body but it cannot detain the principles of democracy that are flying away through the ceiling and I believe that we all have the same ideology in our hearts.

Right now the political situation is at a turning point which could be reflected by the dispersal of the protests and the arrests of many protest leaders. I am inviting everyone to join the fight at this critical time.

  1. I invite everyone to be leaders in joining together to organize the movement in every venue, every evening, all over the country to show the feudalists how large the power established by the people is. 
  2. Cut their lifeline. Boycott the SCB.

In any event, I am thankful to the hearts of all the people who love democracy. 

PS. Writing time is over.

NewsNutchanon PairojNote from detentionstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020
Categories: Prachatai English

Note from Detention: Anon Nampa

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-10-30 17:43
Submitted on Fri, 30 Oct 2020 - 05:43 PMPrachatai

14 October 2020, 09.20: Anon Nampa invites passers-by to join the protest and asks police officers not to use violence against the protesters, while the growing crowd starts to move onto the street in front of McDonald’s. 

Human rights lawyer and protest leader Anon Nampa was amoung the protesters arrested following the crackdown on the protest at the Government House on 15 October. He was charged with sedition, amoung other charges, alongside student activists Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Prasit Karutarote.

Anon and Prasit were subsequently taken to Chiang Mai and were detained at the Chiang Mai Remand Prison in Mae Taeng District. 

On 26 October, Anon was granted bail and released from the Chiang Mai Remand Prison, but he was immediately sent to Bangkok to be detained on a different charge by the Chana Songkhram Police Station. He is currently detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

During his imprisonment in the Chiang Mai Remand Prison, Anon wrote the following letter: 

Brothers and sisters, I ask you to continue fighting. My freedom is a minor issue compared to the battle of the entire pro-democracy movement. 

I am happy and proud to have fought alongside my brothers and sisters. 

I maintain our principles, peaceful means and no fear of any obstacles.

“Laugh at suffering, thorns and hardship. People still stand up to the challenge”

15 October 2020

Chiang Mai Provincial Court

NewsAnon NampaNote from detentionstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020SeditionBangkok Remand PrisonChiang Mai Remand Prison
Categories: Prachatai English

Llifting of serious emergency situation in Bangkok is welcome, but emergency laws remain deeply problematic, says ICJ

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-10-30 15:58
Submitted on Fri, 30 Oct 2020 - 03:58 PMInternational Commission of Jurists

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) published a legal briefing on 27 October in response to the implementation of the Emergency Decree in response to the pro-democracy protests, calling for all official use of power during the severe state of emergency to be subjected to a review in court and ensure the affected persons’ right to access to an effective remedy.

Officers lining up before the crackdown on the Pathumwan Intersection protest on 16 October. 

The ICJ on 27 October published a legal briefing analyzing the implementation of Thailand’s Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation B.E. 2548 (2005) in response to protests in 2020.

The ICJ welcomed the Thai government’s decision on 22 October 2020 to lift the Serious Emergency Situation in Bangkok but said the longstanding Emergency Decree of 2005 and emergency measures taken recently are non-compliant with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.

The legal briefing looks at restrictions in law and practice that were imposed under the Decree between 15 and 22 October 2020, after the “serious emergency situation” was declared by Thailand’s Prime Minister, in light of international human rights law.

The ICJ in the legal briefing recommends that Thailand should remove the criminal liability for the protesters who are prosecuted or at risk of prosecution under the Emergency Decree for merely exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly as guaranteed under international and Thai law.

During the protests between 13 and 22 October 2020, at least 90 people, including protest leaders, have reportedly been arrested, mostly for violating the Emergency Decree.

The ICJ urges Thailand to ensure that affected populations shall have access to judicial remedies in respect of alleged violations under the emergency laws. The regulations, notifications, decisions and actions of officials exercising powers under the emergency law during the “serious emergency situation” must be subject to review by the courts, and ensure the affected persons’ right to access to an effective remedy.

The legal briefing also underscores the need for Thailand to repeal and amend several provisions of the Emergency Decree.

The legal briefing focuses on four primary areas of concern, namely:

  • the emergency power;
  • the limited scrutiny by the courts;
  • legal immunity from prosecution; and
  • emergency decree measures.

Thailand is still under a nationwide state of emergency as part of the COVID 19 restrictions.

Background

On 15 October 2020, Thailand’s Prime Minister invoked the Emergency Decree declaring a “serious emergency situation” in the areas of Bangkok in response to the student-led anti-government protests that took place between 13 and 15 October 2020. Protesters called for the Prime Minister’s resignation, constitutional amendment and reform of the monarchy.

The Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, claimed that the declaration of the serious emergency situation was necessary to “end the situation in an efficient and prompt manner, to ensure compliance with the law, and to sustain national order and public interest”.

The restrictions included: prohibition of a gathering of five or more people, dissemination of publications or any means of communication containing texts which intend to distort information and instigate fear among the population. The competent officials, who may not be law enforcement officials, are, among other powers, authorized to arrest and detain persons suspected of having a role in causing the emergency situation, or being an instigator, a propagator, a supporter of such act or concealing relevant information relating to the act which caused the emergency situation; summon any person to report to the competent official; seize or attach arms, goods, consumer products, chemical products or any other materials; and prohibit any act or any instruction to perform an act to the extent that is necessary for maintaining the security of the state, the safety of the country or the safety of the population.

Nevertheless, protests in Thailand have continued despite government ban and efforts by the authorities to prevent them. On 16 October 2020, it was reported that polices forcibly dispersed peaceful protesters at Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok in which thousands of people, including many students, took part. Officials forcibly dispersed the protestors by using water cannons – which, according to the UN Guidance On Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement, should only be used in situations of serious public disorder where there is a significant likelihood of loss of life, serious injury or the widespread destruction of property. The water was laced with blue dye and an undisclosed chemical irritant to drive back protesters.

The state of serious emergency situation in Bangkok was lifted on 22 October 2020 by the Prime Minister, saying that the situation had eased and the violence was at an end.

In the legal briefing, the ICJ expressed concerned that the emergency declaration in response to the protests had activated provisions of the 2005 Decree that remain non-human rights compliant. The Decree has been used to impose a blanket restriction on freedom of expression and assembly by imposing a general ban on peaceful public demonstrations.

Pick to PostInternational Commission of Jurists (ICJ)Emergency DecreeState of emergencySevere state of emergencyStudent protest 2020student movementYouth movementPro-democracy movement
Categories: Prachatai English

Cartoon by Stephff: Feudal vision

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-10-30 13:12
Submitted on Fri, 30 Oct 2020 - 01:12 PMStephffCartoon by Stephff: Feudal vision

MultimediaStephff
Categories: Prachatai English

Constitutional Court disqualifies Move Forward Party MP over media shares

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-10-30 10:26
Submitted on Fri, 30 Oct 2020 - 10:26 AMPrachatai

Tanwarin Sukkhapisit, a former film director and transgender, is the only MP among 64 to be disqualified for holding shares in a media-related company, which is forbidden to MP candidates.

Tanwarin Sukkhapisit

The verdict announced on 28 October states that Tanwarin held shares in 2 filmmaking companies before registering to run for MP. The Court also stated that her conduct was similar to Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, who was also disqualified for holding shares in a media company.

Tanwarin is deemed unqualified for her MP position as of 6 February 2019, the registration date for party-list MP candidates with the Election Commission.

The verdict has tipped the balance of power in parliament even more toward the Palang Pracharat Party-led coalition (PPRP). As the Move Forward Party (MFP) is a replacement for the dissolved Future Forward Party, a party-list MP candidate for a dissolved party is not allowed to replace Tanwarin. The MFP has no party list and so no replacement.

Cases against 63 other lawmakers, 29 from ruling parties and 28 from opposition parties were dropped. The court stated that the companies in which they held shares are not considered to be firms that produce news or other media-related content.

Pita Limjaroenrat, MFP leader, Chaitawat Tulathon, MFP secretary-general and other MFP MPs held a press conference at parliament regarding Thanwarin’s disqualification. Pita said this was not unexpected as 2 opposition MPs had been disqualified before.

“As the head of the party and a friend, I am proud and honoured to have worked with Thanwarin since the Future Forward Party and in the Move Forward Party. She is committed to fighting, destroying attitudes and eradicating walls in society. She is a fighter for human rights, equality and gender diversity.”

“We, the MFP MPs... will take the will of Thanwarin or Phi Golf [Thanwarin’s nickname] that is already created and move forward,” said Pita.

Chaitawat said that Sections 101 (6) and 98 (3) of the Political Parties Act that prohibit MPs from holding shares in media companies are meant to prohibit them from manipulating people via the media. Thanwarin’s companies provide filmmaking coordination and services, which are outside the scope of political intervention. He urged society to raise questions about the situation and the court’s distortion.

Thanwarin is thought to be the first transgender person to become an MP. She is a prominent figure pushing for same-sex marriage and gender diversity.

The case began in November 2019 after Thanathorn was disqualified as an MP for the same offence as Thanwarin. Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, then FFP secretary-general, submitted a complaint to the Constitutional Court to consider whether 41 MPs from ruling parties who also held shares in media companies were qualified or not. The Court accepted 32 cases for consideration.

Around the same time in June, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, a PPRP MP and party legal advisor submitted to the Court similar complaints about 33 MPs from opposition parties, 21 from FFP. The court accepted 32 cases.

Source: PPTV, Daily News, BBC Thai

NewsConstitutional courtpoliticsTanwarin SukkhapisitMove Forward party
Categories: Prachatai English

Thailand in Turbulence: Lost in Generation

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-10-29 23:17
Submitted on Thu, 29 Oct 2020 - 11:17 PMKwankaow Kongdecha

With the early morning declaration of a state of emergency on October 15 and the crackdown on the pro-democracy group on October 16 in the name of national security, Thailand is undergoing a rough path of democratic transitioning.

Protesters in raincoats at the Victory Monument on 18 October. They used gestures to communicate with others.

And yet, the Thai demonstrators still stand tall and strong in defiance against the higher power. While the student-led movement acts in a 4.0 manner, the government still has its head stuck in the cold war. More than 50 years have passed, but what’s happening here is a repeat of the same pattern from the old days, especially the strategy counter-protest from the government side. And subsequently, they are losing.

Mirror, mirror on the street, what does this mistreat tell you about Thailand?

The government is fragile. They are struggling to get back on their feet. And they are yet to find any potential solutions to the current turbulence. These demonstrations have proven to be a walking destruction of the government’s legitimacy. One might also call it the self-delegitimization of the Prayut Chan-o-cha regime.

Since October 14, all the government’s counter-protest measures have been ineffective. The declaration of the state of emergency and the arrest of protest leaders was a signal paving the way for the government’s next move. It did alarm the people but did nothing to stop them. Then, the use of water cannon on demonstrators was a trigger. The government believed that by instilling fear in the people’s mind, especially the young, would guarantee the end of this movement. But it backfired.

Lastly, the attempts to restrict freedom of the press and expression on online platforms was a terrible move. This strategy is outdated, especially during a time of high connectivity and transnationalism. It can never stop the spread of knowledge. As a result, the protesters refused to give up. Their numbers increased and their rallies expand from a couple of spots in the urban area of Bangkok to other provinces nation-wide. People have been comparing this situation like the myth of the Hydra: cut off one head, two more will take its place.  Not only did the protestors have no fear of a crackdown, they even feel the need to come out and join hands against Injustice.

Yes, the government of Prayut Chan-o-cha is now unjust in the eyes of many. And the government is having a hard time accepting it. Worse, they are having a hard time managing it. With all due respect, their attempts might have worked in the past, but things change. Modern problems require modern solutions. Yet decision-makers, especially those in the field of national security, are still stuck in the cold war. And they don’t seem to be moving on anytime soon.

Let’s analyse their action.

We saw media coverage and the government’s statements, claiming that the current movement is being manipulated by a certain group of people. In one way, this can be considered as a government strategy to justify their action and gain public support through the mass media. However, it can also reflect the genuine understanding of society by the military government . Their strategies derive from their past experience with anti-government movements and limited knowledge of global changes. They reflect how little the military government understands the ways of the civilian world: and even less of the international arena.

They believe that, similar to their structure, demonstrators only strictly follow orders from the head of the operation. There is no true movement fighting for ideology. These demonstrations are no different from past anti-government protests. The values of the age hierarchy in Thai society also generates a further belief that the young are politically naïve, easily manipulated by politicians. So the government began their crackdown operations, assuming that by taking out those claimed to be the heads of this movement might put an end to this turbulence. The answer is obviously no.  

Protesters shot by the police high-pressure water cannon trucks on 16 October.

Their strategy is old. Their perception is ancient. The world is changing fast. And that’s the reason why the government are struggling to handle this movement. After the police crackdown on October 16 backfired, the government were dumbfounded. Their strategy didn’t work out the way they had planned. During the period of repeated protests after the crackdown, the government could only dance around in the palm of the younger generation’s hand. Law enforcement doesn’t work. Violence is not a helpful option. Complying with the protestors’ demands is definitely not a preferred scenario. Predicting a headless movement is also hard. Before they can even react, the demonstration is already long gone. Even their ‘coup cure-all’ is not the perfect solution anymore. Their situation is actually helpless.

What’s worse is that they don’t acknowledge that fact that they can’t keep up with the young. Instead, they have been fitting the current situation into their understanding of the world. They still perceive the idea of a conflict of interest between groups of people, anti-government and pro-government, as an internal threat. And that somewhere out there in the protest lies a leader who they must catch. The government cannot yet grasp the idea of a headless movement. Or maybe they just don’t buy it. But for whatever the reason, they are losing in this chess game by not changing their strategy and perception.  

Differences in perceptive communication between generation

Meanwhile, the pro-democracy movement has adapted to global trends. They use digital technology to their advantage. Unlike the government side, pro-democracy demonstrators grow from their experience of Thai demonstrations, not just learn. They see the pattern and study the behaviour of the military government, applying the Hong Kong Model to the Thai context. They introduce the 4.0 version of demonstrations, one that is without any violence or agitation, mobilized on social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and, especially, Telegram. Telegram, a platform widely used bydemonstrators, protects the privacy of the users by alternating IP addresses and can be covered by VPN. Even if the government shut down internet access, Telegram would still function by Bluetooth, allowing protestors to communicate with each other. Here is the difference between common communication platforms like Line, which is used by older generations only for spreading social greetings.

Their battleground has expanded from traditional demonstrations on the street to virtual space. The government, too, has attempt to follow with their own online information operations. But does it work? Not really. The government still uses information just like back in the cold war days. They don’t understand how the younger generation dominates the virtual space. They don’t even understand the terms VPN and such. They don’t understand social media as the younger generation do. Therefore, their influence on media and information is not fast enough and clever enough to cover the alleged fake news. Eventually, when they can’t compete, they close the platforms as seen in the attempt to shut down Telegram and news media like Voice TV.

In the end, these demonstrations reflect not only the traditional perception of decision-makers but are also a good example of changes in society, especially the bureaucratic structure. They prove that outdated management in the present day is ineffective. Everyone can become a leades in the equivalent of a literal bottom-up approach within the organisation. Hierarchies or red tape are not always necessary.

As such Thailand is struggling inside the turbulence of differences. The pro-democracy movement is pushing toward turning the pages of the history book, while the government are still glued to the page on traditional security.

Kwankaow Kongdecha is a researcher at the Office of Innovation for Democracy, King Prajadhipok's Institute.

OpinionKwankaow KongdechaStudent protest 2020politicscrackdown
Categories: Prachatai English

[Event] A Tribute to Jiří Menzel

Prachatai English - Thu, 2020-10-29 18:20
Submitted on Thu, 29 Oct 2020 - 06:20 PMFaculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

The Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, and the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bangkok are organising a film screening and lecture in celebration of Czech director Jiří Menzel on 9 November, which is to be followed by a screening of Václav Marhoul's The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče) on 10 November. 

Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University,
in collaboration with the
Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bangkok,
cordially invites the interested public to attend a film evening held as

A Tribute to Jiří Menzel

with lectures on

“An Overview of Jiří Menzel’s Works”
(Katarzyna Ancuta)

&

“Menzel’s Adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal”
(Verita Sriratana)

and

Screening & Post-Screening Discussion of

Closely Watched Trains
Academy Award-winning Best Foreign Language Film in 1968

Date:
Monday 9 November 2020

Venue:
9th flr, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building,
Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

16.00-16.30 hrs
Registration

16.30-16.40 hrs
Welcome Remarks by Kunnaya Wimooktanon, PhD, Director of BALAC

16.40-16.50 hrs
Opening Speech: “My Menzel Memories” by Mr Aleš Vytečka, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bangkok

16.50-17.05 hrs
“An Overview of Jiří Menzel’s Works” by Katarzyna Ancuta, PhD (BALAC programme)

17.05-17.20 hrs
“Menzel’s Adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal” by Associate Professor Verita Sriratana, PhD (Department of English)

17.20-19.00 hrs
Screening of Closely Watched Trains (1966)

19.00-19.30 hrs
Post-Screening Discussion

Discussants:
Ajarn Katarzyna Ancuta, PhD,

Mr Chai Skulchokchai (BALAC Student),

Mr Chayanin Nuamphummarin (English
Department Student)

Associate Professor Verita Sriratana, PhD (Moderator)

*Closely Watched Trains is suitable only for 15 years and older.

 

This event is open to the public. Registration is free of charge.

Walk-in registration is NOT available.

Please register online via https://forms.gle/wSMp2fNBcogz4X4dA by Thursday 5 November 2020
 

Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University,
in collaboration with the
Embassy of the Czech Republic in Bangkok,
cordially invites the interested public to attend the
screening and post-screening discussion of

The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče)

to be followed by
A Live Exclusive Conversation with Film Director, Václav Marhoul

Date:
Tuesday 10 November 2020

Venue:
9th flr, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Building,
Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University

16.00-16.30 hrs
Registration

16.30-16.40 hrs
Welcome Remarks by Associate Professor Suradech Chotiudompant, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Arts

16.40-16.50 hrs
Opening Speech by His Excellency Mr Marek Libřický,
Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Kingdom of Thailand

16.50-20.00 hrs
Screening of The Painted Bird (2019)

20.00-20.30 hrs
Live Exclusive Conversation with Film Director, Václav Marhoul

Post-Screening Discussants:

Mr Kong Rithdee,

Ajarn Katarzyna Ancuta, PhD,

Mr Chayin Tengkanokkul (BALAC Student),

Ms Pattanun Arunpreechawat (English Department Student)

Associate Professor Verita Sriratana, PhD (Moderator)

*The Painted Bird is suitable only for 15 years and older.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This film contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing due to the nature of its content**

This event is open to the public. Registration is free of charge.
Walk-in registration is NOT available.
Please register online via https://forms.gle/wSMp2fNBcogz4X4dA by Thursday 5 November 2020

For further information on both events, please email Verita.S@chula.ac.th

Pick to PostEventFaculty of ArtsChulalongkorn UniversityCzech EmbassyFilm screeningJiří Menzel
Categories: Prachatai English

Protesters petition Germany over King’s use of power

Prachatai English - Wed, 2020-10-28 14:09
Submitted on Wed, 28 Oct 2020 - 02:09 PMPrachatai

Thousands joined a march to the German Embassy in Bangkok on Monday (26 October) to submit a petition calling for the German authorities to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s use of power during his time in Germany.

A vinyl sign was seen during the protest which say "monarchy reform." 

The protest began at 17.00 at the Samyan intersection. At around 18.15, the protesters began marching towards the German Embassy on Sathon Road, the entrance to which was blocked by crowd control police apparently equipped with gas masks and batons.

One of the protesters, Somsak Panjamas, said that he was joining the protest to oust prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, because Prayut has mismanaged the country and caused debts for the people. Somsak is in his fifties and said that he also took part in the protests after the military coup in 2006.

He said he is glad that so many students are protesting, and that the politicians' claim that the protests are causing conflict is wrong and is an accusation, because it is apparent that people are joining together to oust Prayut.

On monarchy reform, he said that the idea that the people want to overthrow the monarchy is an attack on the movement, the same as what happened to the red shirts, and that this is an attempt at using the yellow shirts to attack the students by claiming loyalty, so he wants to ask people not to do this as it would lead to more conflict.

Another protester dressed as a character from Ngoa Paa in order to find donations. He said that he was affected by the economic recession during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, as he used to work in the tourism industry.  During the lockdown, he used up all his savings. He had to refinance his car and use the money to start selling second-hand clothes, and has to get food from donations. He said he joined the protest to get food as well as donations.

He refused to give his real name as he does not want his four children to be ashamed.

Protesters flashing the three-finger salute as they gather in front of the German Embassy 

At 19.45, the protesters arrived at the Embassy, and it was announced that three representatives of the protesters would meet the German ambassador to submit their open letter, which calls for the German authorities to conduct an investigation into King Vajiralongkorn’s residency in Germany.

The open letter demands that the German government investigate and disclose the King’s entry and departure records to determine whether the King has exercised his power on German soil, a clarification on whether he will be required to pay inheritance tax as stipulated by German law and if so, how much will he have to pay, and whether the German government will investigate allegations against the King about human rights violations.

Representatives of the protesters also read out a statement about the march, which says that five days after the protesters marched to Government House to demand that Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha resign, the government has yet to act on their demand and has continued to arrest peaceful protesters. The protesters are therefore escalating their actions by marching to the embassy to submit their demands.

“The request is aimed to reinstate Vajiralongkorn to Thailand and arrange for the monarch to be under the constitution in order to bring Thailand back to the path of a truly constitutional monarchy,” said the statement.

Representatives of the protesters read out their statement

The statement mentioned that the march to Government House took place on 23 October. However, the march took place on 21 October. The statement also mentioned that the authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters. The use of both tear gas and rubber bullets during the police crackdowns on 15 October and 16 October has yet to be verified.

The protest concluded at 20.58, after protest leader Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon emerged from the embassy to tell the protesters about the meeting with the ambassador and to read the statement.  

NewsMonarchy reformstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020
Categories: Prachatai English

Impunity remains as court dismisses the extrajudicial killing of the young HRD

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-10-27 17:17
Submitted on Tue, 27 Oct 2020 - 05:17 PMProtection International (PI)

Civil Court dismisses the case of extrajudicial killing by military officers against Chaiyaphum Pasae, young indigenous HRD from Chiang Mai. Chaiyaphum’s lawyer noted a number of irregularities while family members prepare to appeal to Civil Court.

Chaiyaphum Pasae

On 26 October 2020, the Civil Court in Bangkok read the verdict in which the family members of Chaiyaphum Pasae, an 17-year-old indigenous human rights defender in Chiang Mai Province, filed a lawsuit to claim damages from the Army. The case derives from the incident in which the two military officers committed extrajudicial killings against Chaiyaphum on 17 March 2017 in Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai Province.

The military officers claimed that they found drugs in Chaiyaphum’s car and had to shoot Chaiyaphum with a M16 in his arm as they claimed Chaiyaphum resisted the search and attempted to throw a grenade at the military officers.

The inquest hearing on June 2018, states the circumstances of Chaiyaphum’s death that the military officers used an M16 assault rifle to shoot bullets through Chaiyaphum’s left arm, entering the left side of his body and hitting the aorta, heart and lungs, causing his death.

The court ruled that the military shot Chaiyaphum in self-defense and was necessary. Therefore, the court claimed that the  Royal Thai Army is not liable to pay damages to Chaiyaphum's family as filed with the Officers' Violation Liability Act 1996.

Travelling from Chiang Mai, Napoi Pasae, Chaiyaphum’s mother attended the hearing with Maitree Chamroensuksakul, Chair of Rak Lahu Group and the legally authorized people assigned to represent Chaiyaphum, Nawa Ja-ue, and Yupin Saja, Chaiyaphum’s caretakers /WHRDs, as well as their lawyers Ratsada Manuratsada and Preeda Nakpew.

Male: Maitree Chamroensuksakul

Ratsada Manuratsada, the attorney of Chaiyaphum's family, said that the family members and lawyers disagree with the verdict citing several irregularities as follows:   

The court specifically gives extra weight to the testimony of Phongsanai Saengtala who was driving Chaiyaphum’s car on the day of the incident. Phongsanai did not testify in court but gave a testimony during the police investigation. However, the lawyer noted that Phongsanai’s testimony cited in the verdict was collected about two weeks after the event, whereas it should be collected immediately after the incident. Moreover, the lawyer also noted that Phongsanai was not charged for possession of drugs even though he was in the same vehicle where the drugs were allegedly found.

“If people are seated together in the same car and that car had a large number of drugs, generally, he would be charged with having the drugs in his possession. But in this case, it was not like that. We have to look why one person was killed, but the other who was present and sat in the same car was not charged or prosecuted,” said Mr. Ratsada

The lawyer also noted that the CCTV recording of the incident still remains missing even though it is key evidence and able to reveal exactly what happened. Despite this the court gave weight to the Police’s Office of Forensic Science which examined the CCTV recording received from the military officer stationed at Ban Rin Luang checkpoint.

The Office of Forensic Science stated in the examination report that there was no suspicion or attempts by the defendant to modify, change or destroy any information contained in the CCTV recording. The results of verification and expert opinion indicate that the recordings, CCTV cameras and hard disks installed still functioned as normal.

As for the recording of the actual incident on 17 March 2017 at 10:00 am, there was no deletion or addition of movie files in the recorder, the verdict cites the Office’s report. But the court did not ask where is CCTV footage.

The court also did not take in to account another separate drug related case for consideration. After Chaiyaphum was killed on 17 March 2017, Nawa Ja-ue, a women human rights defender and his caretaker who called for justice for Chaiyaphum was arrested on drug charges.

She insisted her innocence throughout whilst remaining imprisoned in Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institution for almost 1 year. However, she was later released due to insufficient evidence.

Ratsada also noted that the inspection of the crime scene in the event of an extrajudicial killings does not comply with the legal process. According to the Criminal Procedure Code, Section 150, paragraph 2,3,4, in the event of an extrajudicial killing, there must be relevant parties such as doctors, police, community leaders, parents, family, relatives, to attend to the scene immediately for transparency. But in this case, soldiers initially blocked the scene and prevented anyone from entering.  

“We were quite shocked by the verdict. We expected the truth to emerge. But the truth that emerged was not the truth of either party. Of course, I cannot go against the verdict, but there should be more answers and truth for us.” Said Maitree.

“The main evidence that we want to see is the CCTV recording because the camera cannot lie. We would like to see clear evidence of what happened that day to Chaiyaphum,”

“If you ask me if we feel discouraged, of course it is very discouraging. Why is it that the pursuit of justice for people like us is so tiring and difficult? But if we let it go like this, the authorities could use a gun to shoot anyone they want. We must keep fighting. We will continue to fight,” said Maitree

Napoi Pasae, mother of Mr. Chaiyaphum, said that after hearing that the court had dismissed the case, she felt a lot of pain and loss. In the end, they were repeatedly defeated by the judicial process. But she is ready to fight and will not give up, if there is a way, she is ready to fight

Pranom Somwong, Protection International Thailand Representative who also attended the hearing, said that the judgment shows that injustice and inequality in the judicial process still persists.

Therefore, we cannot stop fighting to reclaim justice. We must remember that hope is a vital and powerful necessity in situations in which we are not left with any justice. Chaiyaphum's family still has hope in this defense.

“In Thailand, people are now yearning for change and hope that the change will lead the country in a better direction. Therefore, let us all support and, together with the family of Chaiyaphum, proceed with the case and help each other to ensure that they will all receive justice,” said Pranom

Pick to PostChaiyaphum PasaeExtrajudicial killingProtection International (PI)
Categories: Prachatai English

Thailand: End crackdown, respect the right to protest

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-10-27 14:54
Submitted on Tue, 27 Oct 2020 - 02:54 PMARTICLE 19

The Thai government has repeatedly violated the human rights of peaceful protesters during a crackdown on a vigorous and growing youth-led protest movement, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and ARTICLE 19 said in a briefing released on Sunday (25 October 2020). 

A protester before the march to parliament on 21 October 2020 holding up a sign saying "Stop threatening people." 

Authorities should end baseless criminal proceedings and refrain from using force against protesters. The government should fulfil its obligations under international human rights law by creating an environment in which Thai people can safely exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly without fear or interference.

“The actions of the Thai authorities add weight to the demands of protesters, who are calling for democratic reforms and respect for human rights,” said Yaowalak Anuphan, Head of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. “Many of our clients face years or decades behind bars merely because they joined peaceful protests, criticised the government, or spoke openly about the role of the monarchy in Thailand.”

The briefing, #WhatsHappeningInThailand: Government crackdown on the right to protest, describes human rights violations associated with the Thai government’s response to the 2020 youth-led protest movement. It draws from media reporting, official documents, and other publicly available information, as well as the records of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which is providing legal representation to many of the individuals facing charges because of their protest activities.

Since the beginning of 2020, thousands of Thai people have gathered and marched to demand the dissolution of Thailand’s military-backed government, the drafting of a new constitution, and an end to the harassment of activists and government critics. In the past three months, the movement has increasingly articulated demands for reform of the monarchy, a development without precedent in recent Thai history.

Thai authorities have deployed a wide range of tactics in an attempt to head off the protest movement.

The government has twice invoked emergency powers to restrict assemblies. In March, the government declared a state of emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, issuing regulations that included a broad and vague ban on public gatherings. The government continued to arbitrarily apply this provision against pro-democracy protesters until the end of July, despite allowing other gatherings to proceed and most economic activities to return to normal. In October, the government declared a ‘severe state of emergency’ in response to large, sustained protests in Bangkok and prohibited assemblies of five or more people. The declaration, which the government justified with vague allusions to national security, was reversed after one week.

Authorities have arrested or charged at least 173 individuals in relation to their protest activities since the beginning of 2020. Many are accused of violating emergency measures, which carries a penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment, or breaching the Public Assembly Act, a law that is inconsistent with international human rights standards. However, authorities have charged others with sedition, a crime punished with up to seven years’ imprisonment. Some prominent activists and protest leaders face charges in multiple cases.

In recent weeks, the government has escalated its attacks on protesters. Riot police have dispersed peaceful protests without justification and in a manner that violates law enforcement standards on the use of force. Authorities have physically blocked access to protests sites and shut down transportation networks, violating the rights of not only protesters but also Bangkok commuters and residents. The government has also issued orders to social media companies and internet service providers in an attempt to block content critical of the government or monarchy and disrupt the channels of communication used by protesters.

The government’s response to the protest movement falls foul of Thailand’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a human rights treaty to which it acceded in 1996. The treaty protects the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The UN Human Rights Committee, the body responsible for monitoring implementation of the treaty, has elaborated on the responsibilities of governments in relation to protests in its General Comment No. 37, which was adopted in July. The Committee emphasised that authorities must not only refrain from violating the rights of protesters, they must also proactively create the conditions in which the right to freedom of peaceful assembly can be enjoyed. Moreover, the Committee noted that political speech and protests with a political message enjoy heightened protection under international human rights law.

“The Thai government’s actions speak louder than its words,” said Matthew Bugher, ARTICLE 19’s Head of Asia Programme. “Authorities invoke public safety as a justification for restricting protests one day and attack protesters with water cannons and riot police the next. They warn that protests will disrupt traffic and then shut down transportation networks for the entire city. It is time for Thailand’s leaders to begin listening to the protesters rather than trying to silence them.”

Pick to PostArticle 19Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)Student protest 2020student movementYouth movement
Categories: Prachatai English

Election Commission decides to bring criminal charges against Thanathorn

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-10-27 14:10
Submitted on Tue, 27 Oct 2020 - 02:10 PMPrachatai

Caption: Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit campaigns for the 2019 election as the leader of the Future Forward Party. Source: Thanathorn's FB

On 26 October, the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) decided to file a criminal charge against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and 15 executive members of the dissolved Future Forward Party.

The ECT claimed that Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of the dissolved party, violated Section 66 of the Organic Law on Political Parties, which prohibits political donations more than 10 million baht per person per year. He could be jailed for up to 5 years, fined up to 100,000 baht, and deprived of the right to participate in elections for 5 years.  

The ECT said that the 15 executives of the former Future Forward Party will be charged with violating Sections 72 and 137 of the same law, which prohibit receiving political donation more than 10 million baht per year. They could be jailed for up to 3 years and fined up to 1 million baht.

The former party executives include Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Kunthida Rungruengkiat, Chamnan Chanruang, Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchompoo, Pannika Wanich, Klaikong Vaidhyakarn, Niraman Sulaiman, Yaowalux Wongpraparat, Surachai Srisarakham, Janevit Kraisin, Jaruwan Saranket, Nitipat Taemphairojana, Chan Phakdisri, Sunthon Bunyod, and Ronnawit Lorlertsoonthorn.

The criminal charges against the leadership of the disbanded Future Forward Party were announced on the same day as protesters held a large rally in front of the Embassy of Germany, calling for the German government to investigate King Vajiralongkorn’s residency in Bavaria and calling for a comprehensive reform of the Thai monarchy.

The right-wing outlets and pro-monarchy supporters often accuse Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, and Pannika Wanich of manipulating the pro-democracy protesters behind the scenes. On 21 October, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha made a reference to “dark power no matter where it comes from.”

They also face criticism from some segments in the democratic movement for not being frontal enough in the ongoing protests which demand the resignation of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, constitutional amendments, and monarchy reform.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, and Pannika Wanich continued their activism under the banner of the Progressive Movement after the dissolution of the Future Forward Party, despite being banned from formal politics.

In February, the Constitutional Court disbanded the Future Forward Party for taking a 191 million baht loan from its leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. The party’s executives were also banned from forming a new political party, joining the executive board of a political party, or running in an election for 10 years.

In response, MPs of the dissolved Future Forward Party reorganized under the Move Forward Party led by Pita Limjaroenrat. Several of them defected to join government coalition parties, facing harsh criticism from the public.

In September, the ECT decided not to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court against 31 other political parties, which also faced the same charges. The Commission claimed that these parties did not take loans or receive political donations of more than 10 million baht per year per person.   

 

News
Categories: Prachatai English

Thailand: Stop dictatorship over online freedom

Prachatai English - Tue, 2020-10-27 13:58
Submitted on Tue, 27 Oct 2020 - 01:58 PMManushya Foundation

Protesters at the Victory Monument on 18 October 2020

On 25 October 2020, Manushya Foundation, Access Now, ALTSEAN-Burma, Cambodian Center for Human Rights l មជ្ឈមណ្ឌលសិទ្ធិមនុស្សកម្ពុជា, the Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), PEN Myanmar, and SAFEnet Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network, released a joint solidarity statement calling on the Thai government to end its control over the digital space by attacking media freedom, tech companies and anyone telling the truth about pro-democracy protests online.

In the statement, the undersigned affirm their support for and stand in solidarity with Thailand’s brave youth and independent media as they continue to share their truth, exercise their internationally protected rights online and offline, and fight for democracy in Thailand.

The undersigned condemn the Thai military-backed Government’s attempts to impose a digital dictatorship on the rights and freedom of Thailand’s people and free media to prevent them from speaking out and sharing with the world the truth about #WhatsHappeningInThailand.

Read the full statement here

Pick to PostManushya Foundationonline freedomfreedom of expression
Categories: Prachatai English

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