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.


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

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)


Screening & Post-Screening Discussion of

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

Monday 9 November 2020

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

16.00-16.30 hrs

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

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 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

Tuesday 10 November 2020

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

16.00-16.30 hrs

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 by Thursday 5 November 2020

For further information on both events, please email

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.   


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

Protest takes over street with drag queens, open mics and cover dances

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-10-26 23:18
Submitted on Mon, 26 Oct 2020 - 11:18 PMPrachatai

Pro-democracy protesters gathered at Ratchaprasong intersection on 25 October demanding that the state free arrested protesters, and underlining the demands for the PM to resign, for amendments to the constitution and monarchy reform.

Protesters occupy Ratchadamri Road at Ratchaprasong intersection.

The gathering was announced the day before at the Bangkok Remand Prison protest by the Anonymous Party, another protest organizer. At 16.40, police officers came with an order for the organizers to end the protest, as they did not notify the authorities beforehand.

The protest went on until 21.20 when participants dispersed.

There were 3 new features about this protest in comparison to recent protests: the absence of crowd control police and their resistance against protesters; the shopping malls in the area remaining open; and the small-scale events within the protest site.

20 megaphones were reportedly provided and scattered around the site, allowing anyone who wanted to give a speech to step up. Many issues were brought up, including gender equality, economics, politics, monarchy reform, etc.

The only organized activity was a call for protesters to raise the three-finger salute at 18.00, shout "Prayuth get out" together at 20.00, and at 20.10 to shout "Very brave. Very good. Thank you."

"Very brave. Very good. Thank you" are the words that King Rama X used to a pro-monarchy protester that he met on 23 October. The words went viral a short while after that and could be seen on placards, graffiti and banners around the 25 October protest.

Open space for everyone

The open mics were set up on the principle that anyone can be a leader. In front of the Big C Ratchadamri department store, protesters took turns giving speeches on a variety of topics from politics and urban planning to natural resources and gender equality.

Around 20.00, songwriter Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer for the pop band The Bottom Blues, spoke about his arrest along with other activists in front of Satriwithaya School on 13 October 2020.

He said that when they were put into police vehicles, some of them were dragged, some were beaten, and that every police officer who was involved in the arrest hid their names and ranks. The officers also did not tell the activists where they were being taken to and confiscated their phones before taking them to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters.

Chaiamorn said that at the municipal court, despite a rule prohibiting the use of mobile phones, the judge left the room to take a phone call at least five times, and he had to ask the judge to rule on their case because people were still waiting for them outside, instead of keeping them in court until midnight.

He said that while he was in prison, he was supported by Nattawut Saikua. He said that Nattawut told him that taking care of one’s mind in prison is important, and that he was imprisoned as a fighter, not a convict, and therefore must act like a fighter.

Chaiamorn said that 19 activists were imprisoned along with him. He said he could tolerate it, while Jatupat was already used to it, but he was worried about those with health issues who were also arrested. Some of his friends were crying every day that they were in prison, so they supported each other by writing letters.

He slept next to Jatupat for the first few days, but they got into a fight while playing checkers, so he moved to sleep next to a Red Shirt inmate. He also mentioned he asked Nattawut whether they would win this time, and Nattawut said that he could already smell freedom.

“It’s true when people say ‘everyone is a leader.’ During the 6 days I spent in prison, you’ve made a big change for me,” Chaiamorn said before inviting people to sing his hit song “1 2 3 4 5 I love you,” with “I love you” in the chorus changed to “free my friends.” The song has now become common at protests.

Dance and drag

A group of drag queens also joined the Ratchaprasong protest, saying that they aimed to ease the tension in the protest as well as to speak about gender issues and to support the protesters' demands.

Drag queens raise 3 fingers at the protest at Ratchaprasong.

One of the drag queens called First said that social inequality has led to discrimination, especially gender-based discrimination. She believes that if society is democratic, there will be less inequality and less discrimination.

“Khana Rat Dance” performance group is seeking public space for every group of people. Representatives Anna and Nat said that they were inspired by protests in Korea, where people danced to protest against the presidency, and invited their friends to join the protest.

They said that the group wants to open up space for a variety of styles of dance, and said that anyone can join if they want to, which is why they said many people joined their activity.

The pair said that many teenagers today are dancing in malls, meaning that they don’t have any real space for expression, and spaces in malls are only used for rehearsals. Teenagers deserve their own space to shine.

Khana Rat Dance performed at the Ratchaprasong protest.

They also said that if politics is good, people will be encouraged to express themselves in many ways, and that if we have a good constitution, no one’s expression will be limited, and there won’t be arrests such as happened to Jatupat, Panusaya, or Parit.

Protesters show solidarity with One China victims

The “Progress” Pride flag, the Uyghur flag, the Black Bauhinia flag of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, the Tibetan flag, and the flag of the Taiwanese independence movement were seen at the protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection.

This set of flags had also been seen at other previous protests. Nanthida, who was holding the Pride flag, said:

“We stand by the principles of human rights. We are protesting because we shouldn’t see our fellow humans, regardless of ethnicity, language, or religion, be threatened by dictatorship, feudalism, and violence. No matter if it’s protesting about things in our country, in a neighbouring country, or for fellow humans of the world, it’s helping each other to have equality and not be threatened by dictatorship, which is an issue a lot of places in Asia are now facing.”

Ratthasat, who was holding the flag of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, said that the people of Tibet and Hong Kong, and the Uyghur people are facing violations of democracy and human rights by the Chinese Communist Party and from the One China policy, which is destroying other identities.

He said that he brought the flags to the protest to show his support and to show that they are not fighting by themselves, as well as to show that they understand the issues faced by other people in the world. He also demanded that the Chinese government release 12 Hong Kong youths who are currently in detention for trying to leave the country.

NewsStudent protest 2020drag queenRatchaprasong intersectionJatupat ‘Pai’ BoonpattararaksaSource:
Categories: Prachatai English

One step back, three step-ups

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-10-26 16:58
Submitted on Mon, 26 Oct 2020 - 04:58 PMThammachart Kri-aksorn

Caption: On 22 October, Patsaravalee ‘Mind’ Tanakitvibulpon was released. As she was arrested at night on 21 October, the protesters said that the government was not sincere in resolving the current political conflict. Source: Voice TV

Immediately after Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha took one step back by lifting the severe state of emergency, the government stepped up 3 actions against citizens - accusing the protesters of inciting violence, arresting activists and public figures, and paving the way for yellow shirt protesters and ultraroyalist terrorists.

One step back

Caption: Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha gave a speech on 21 asking everyone to "take one step back." Source: Thaigov

At first glance, it may look like Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha was sincere in resolving the political conflict in Thailand. He gave a speech on 21 October asking everyone to “take one step back”. On his end, he lifted the severe state of emergency after 6 days of enforcement, largely ignored, from 15-22 October and called for a special session of parliament on 26-27 October to debate the crisis.  

The cancellation of severe state of emergency was another victory for protesters who publicly defied it for 6 days straight by staging large demonstrations nationwide.  In his failure to portray the protests as illegal, violent, and anti-monarchy, it looked like he had actually taken one step back.

As he lifted the severe state of emergency, Gen Prayut asked in return for the protesters to respect the law. The protesters should express their opinions through the proper channel, which he identified as the current parliament which resulted from a questionable election and the dissolution of two main opposition parties.

“There is only one way in which we walk forward past the problem sustainably,” said Gen Prayut. “Of course, it needs to be done by talking to each other, by respecting the legal process, and by seeing the needs of the people which are expressed through the parliamentary process. This is the only way.”

The image of the government taking one step back was slightly reinforced after the temporary release on bail of two activists. On 22 October, Patsaravalee ‘Mind’ Tanakitvibulpon was released after being detained at night on 21 October for violating the Emergency Decree on 15 October.

Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa was also released a day later by order of the Court of Appeals after being detained on 13 October on 12 criminal charges. The two activists are the faces of the democratic movement. The release of activists is one of demands from the protesters. 

Step 1: Accusing protesters

At the same moment that the PM took a step back, his government stepped up 3 actions. The first attack can be found in Gen Prayut’s speech itself. He mentioned “dark power no matter where it comes from.” He also accused the pro-democracy protesters of using violence against police, even though he admitted that majority of the protesters had been peaceful:

“We have seen very depressing actions against the police. There was an assault against the police with large metal pliers and many more forms of violent behaviour against the officers, with the intention of harming our own Thai people.” 

There is footage from 16 October showing a protester actually using a large pair of metal pliers when confronting police, but it only hits the shield of an officer whose body was protected by riot gear. Claims of other violent behaviour are not supported by the evidence.

Gen Prayut also did not mention that the police used water cannon with dye and a chemical irritant against peaceful protesters on that day.

His letter requesting a special parliamentary session on 27-28 October does not in fact push forward constitutional amendments as the protesters have demanded. Instead, he plans to use parliament to discredit the protesters.

According to the letter, the topics which will be discussed in parliament include difficulties in controlling Covid-19 because of the protests, and the encounter between the royal motorcade and protesters which has led to charges of allegedly harming the Queen’s liberty.

The government, according to the letter, is also concerned that the protests have persisted despite the use of water cannon. Some of the protesters are alleged to have been “violent” in removing the King’s portrait from public places.

These actions, the government claims, may pave the way for violence from third parties and other groups who disagree with the protesters.

Step 2: Arresting individuals

Even though the Prime Minister has cancelled the severe state of emergency, crimes allegedly committed during the period of its enforcement are still being prosecuted.

Public figures who still face a summons for violating the severe state of emergency include Sombat Boonngamanong (political activist), Thossaporn Serirak (doctor and political activist), Sirote Klampaiboon (Voice TV host), Pannika Wanich (of the Progressive Movement), and Attapon Buapat (political activist).

Caption: Sombat Boonngamanong, a political activist in Thailand, hold a flash mob at McDonald Ratchaprasong on 25 October before he has to report to police on 27 October.  

These individuals have been summoned for violating the ban on public gatherings of more than 5 people. They have to report to the police around 27-28 October.

Others remain in jail including Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok, Parit Chiwarak, Ekkachai Hongkangwan, and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.

Politicians and student activists have taken legal action against the severe state of emergency to have its enforcement declared invalid. The court will read the verdict in a case filed by the Pheu Thai Party and the Democrat Party on 28 October, while the students’ case will be decided on 19 January.

Three cases were filed against Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, and chief of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk for their allegedly illegal actions in announcing the severe state of emergency.

Step 3: Open the way for yellow shirt protesters and ultraroyalist terrorists

The cancellation of the severe state of emergency means that the yellow shirt protesters can hold demonstrations more easily with sponsorship from the state.

Immediately after the ban on public gatherings of more than 5 people was cancelled, the ruling Phalang Pracharat Party held a press conference on 22 October saying that they had made a decision for their MPs to hold pro-monarchy activities in every province of Thailand.

The government coalition parties together announced on 18-19 October that they would insist on three commitments: upholding the monarchy, improving people’s livelihoods, and supporting constitutional amendments but without touching Chapter 1 (General Provisions) and Chapter 2 (The King).

The unelected senate also held an event on 22 October to show their “stance to protect, defend, and uphold the monarchy as the main and important national institution”.

On 23 October, the yellow shirt protesters gained indirect support from the monarchy when King Vajiralongkorn thanked ultraroyalist protester Suwit Thongprasert, who was well known as Buddha Issara before he was defrocked and found guilty of kidnapping plainclothes police officers.  

It has been revealed that the government organizes royalist events by “inviting” or “asking for cooperation” from civil servants, villagers, and community members. In Songkhla, for example, a leaked document showed a list of 819 participants closely related to the state apparatus including village and subdistrict chiefs, students, and Village Health Volunteers.  

Caption: In Songkhla, for example, a leaked document showed a list of participants closely related to the state apparatus.

With sponsorship from the government, ultraroyalist terrorists may think that they can get away with violence and are therefore more likely to bring their violent activities into the public realm.

Yellow shirt protesters have already assaulted pro-democracy protesters on two occasions. On 14 October, footage showed yellow shirt protesters assaulting several pro-democracy protesters and a motorcycle taxi driver who tried to separate the two groups.

On 22 October, a freshwoman student and protest leader Thitima Butdee, 19, filed a police report after violent yellow shirt protesters injured her at a protest site at Ramkhamhaeng University. On 23 October, the police held a press conference saying that they would “give justice to all parties.”

Caption: Thitima Butdee, 19, answered the questions from the press about the assault by violent yellow shirt protesters.

On 21 October, a group of violent yellow shirt protesters were seen with a vehicle with the Phalang Pracharat Party logo on it as they took their time to lift police fences separating them from pro-democracy protesters. They then ran to assault the pro-democracy protesters, who moved their protest site to Hua Mak Police Station, avoiding confrontation and asking for protection from the police.

On 22 October, a Twitter user found the Facebook post of a man with guns saying that “Perhaps it is time for me to do my duty to defend the nation, religion, monarchy, and the land of my birth. See you at the main protest on the evening of the 23rd. Now you are born, do not waste your life. I am Thai, born in the land of Thais.”

Fortunately, there was no use of lethal weapons on 23 October.

Caption: A man with guns posted a nationalist statement on Facebook saying that he would show up at the protest on 23 October. 

The Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

Round Up
Categories: Prachatai English

ASEAN SOGIE Caucus expresses solidarity with LGBTQ people in pro-democracy movements

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-10-26 15:51
Submitted on Mon, 26 Oct 2020 - 03:51 PMASEAN SOGIE Caucus

The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus issued a statement today (26 October), signed by 72 organizations and 152 individuals in 19 countries, calling for ASEAN governments, especially the Thai and Indonesian governments, to stop the violence and listen to the people. 

We, the undersigned organizations, express our deep solidarity with our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and gender-diverse/non-binary (LGBTIQ+) siblings around the region who are at the forefront of movements seeking to uphold human rights and democratic values. We affirm that LGBTIQ+ rights and inclusion will only flourish in democratic societies where meaningful participation, dissent, and checks and balances are respected and guaranteed.

We have been closely monitoring the on-going pro-democracy rallies in Thailand. Our heartwarming rainbow and 3 fingers salute  to the inspiring LGBTIQ+ activists, especially children and young people, who are challenging the rule of Prime Minister and dictator, Prayuth Chan-ocha, demanding the PM’s resignation, abolishing the pro-military constitution, and ending the state violence against the citizens. Despite facing the risk of committing violations of “lese majeste” laws, which outlaw criticism, defaming, or even questioning the royal family, we are amazed by their courage to boldly call for reforms in the monarchy, upholding the people’s sovereignty.  And despite the enactment of the Emergency Decree , which resulted in massive arrests of human rights defenders, violent dispersal of the public assemblies, shutting down independent media covering the demonstrations, and criminalizing on-line expressions of dissent, we are amazed by the unrelentless creativity and courage to continue the protests.

We have been monitoring the on-going protests in Indonesia as a result of the passage of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation. This law essentially amends more than 70 laws in Indonesia that were not meant to safeguard public interests. With the new Omnibus Law, the government favors business and corporate interests in the name of making Indonesian economy competitive. The law has serious repercussions on labor rights and suppress labor union roles. The Omnibus Law has ill-effects on environmental protections. It weakens land tenure of indigenous peoples and their control over customary forests thereby contradicting Indonesia’s constitutional guarantees. Our bold rainbow salute to the Indonesian LGBTIQ+ activists who braved to join the people’s struggle and taking the streets, faced health risks during the Covid 19 crisis, in order to hold the Indonesian government accountable. 

By issuing this statement, we, LGBTIQ+ activists express solidarity with all who are defending and standing up for democracy in this region. We also remind governments in ASEAN that we are a force to contend with. It is the spirit of solidarity that binds us together in our struggles against state violence and injustice across the region. We are not alone in this fight. Collectively, we demand ASEAN states particularly the Thailand and Indonesian governments to stop the violence, police brutality and listen to the people's struggles that are advocating for human rights, justice and democracy.

Pick to PostASEAN SOGIE CAUCUSLGBTQPro-democracy movementASEAN
Categories: Prachatai English

14 – 21 October 2020 protests in 23 pictures

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-10-26 14:26
Submitted on Mon, 26 Oct 2020 - 02:26 PMaurantiaco, Sorawut Wongsaranon, Yiamyut Sutthichaya, Anna Lawattanatrakul, and Kotcharak Kaewsurach

Photos by aurantiaco, Sorawut Wongsaranon, Yiamyut Sutthichaya, Anna Lawattanatrakul, and Kotcharak Kaewsurach

Prachatai tells the story of the pro-democracy protests between 14 – 21 October 2020 in 23 pictures, taken by our field reporters during the week-long series of demonstrations at various locations in Bangkok.

The protesters are making three demands: (1) Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha must resign, (2) parliament must open an extraordinary session to consider the draft constitutional amendments, and (3) monarchy reform.

14 October 2020, around 13.30: protesters wave a flag with the symbol of the student activist group Free Youth at the Democracy Monument after protesters moved away the plants around the monument.

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. 

Protesters at the 14 October protest intervene in a fight between a protester and a bystander. One of the protesters is still holding an ice cream.

14 October 2020, around 14.00: Protesters holding the rainbow Pride flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ community, during the march to the Government House.

14 October 2020, 15.30: A unit of crowd control police officers form a barrier at the Tewakam intersection. The officers block off the street with buses and form a line behind metal fences.

14 October 2563, protesters holding roses while the march stops at the Tewakam intersection and is not able to continue on to the Nang Loeng intersection.

15 October 2020, 20.30: Protesters gather at the Ratchaprasong intersection to demand the release of 22 protesters arrested during the police crackdown on the protest at the Government House that morning. As the area grows darker, the crowd turns on the flashlights on their phones. 

15 October 2020: Protesters gather at the Ratchaprasong intersection following the crackdown on the protest at Government House in the early morning.

Police officers in full riot gear lining up in anticipation of protesters at the Ratchaprasong intersection on 16 October 2020. The protest is later moved to the Pathumwan intersection.

A small stuffed panda is left on the street under the Siam BTS Station in a pool of water from the water cannon, which also hit many protesters.

17 October 2020: A sign is taped to the barrier at Asok BTS Station after the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation orders the BTS to close to prevent people from joining the protests. The sign says “Why are you closed? I can’t go home.”

17 October 2020, 16.17: Protesters in front of the Samyan Mitrtown mall hold up the three-finger salute while shouting “slave of the dictator!” at a police officer who comes to tell them to end the protest. The officer eventually leaves the area.

17 October 2020: A truck driver passing the Bangna-Trad Road honks his horn and holds up the three-finger salute in support of the protesters gathering at the Bangna intersection.

17 October 2020: Protesters gathered at the Bangna and Udomsuk intersections despite the BTS being closed.

18 October 2020, 17.30: Protesters fill the south side of the Victory Monument roundabout in a light rain, communicating with each other through hand signals.

18 October 2020: Protesters occupy Asok Montri Road, blocking the Asok intersection on the fourth consecutive day of demonstrations since the crackdown on the Government House protest in the morning of 15 October 2020.

21 October 2020: A bus driver flashes the three-finger salute at the protesters at the Victory Monument as he drives by.

21 October 2020, 17.40: A student flashes the three-finger salute, a symbol of resistance in Thailand, while standing on an overpass near Soi Rang Nam as protesters begin to march from the Victory Monument towards the Phaya Thai intersection on their way to Government House.

21 October 2020, 17.57: The volunteer protest guards link arms as they lead the protesters during their march to Government House. All of them wear helmets and many have gas masks prepared. 

21 October 2020: Students hand out helmets to protesters at the Victory Monument protest. Protection gear becomes a necessity in protests after the police crackdown on the night of 16 October 2020.

21 October 2020: Holding a sign saying “Violators of the monarchy do not pass”, Nitithorn Lamluea, advisor to the royalist Student and People Network for Thailand's Reform (STR), and other members of the group, block the pro-democracy protesters as they march to the Government House. One of the demands of the pro-democracy movement is monarchy reform.

21 October 2020, 18.54: Protesters turn on the flashlights on their phones while stopping on Phetchaburi Road during their march to Government House.

21 October 2020: As a minor clash occurs at the Phaya Thai intersection, hawkers selling drinks and pickled fruits who have been following the march continue their business.

Multimediastudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 202014 - 15 October 2020 protest
Categories: Prachatai English

Note from Detention: Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-10-26 13:43
Submitted on Mon, 26 Oct 2020 - 01:43 PMPrachatai

Note: Rung (Panusaya) Sithijirawattanakul, a student activist in the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, was arrested on the morning of 15 October 2020 in relation to the first protest organized by UFTD on 10 August 2020 at Thammasat University Rangsit campus. She is currently being held in the Thanyaburi Prison.  Before entering the prison, she wrote this short letter to her fellow activists and Prachatai English has translated it below.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

Student protest leader Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul was arrested following the crackdown on the protest at the Government House in the early morning of 15 October. She was imprisoned at first at the Thanyaburi but has since been moved to the Bangkok Remand Prison. 

During her detention at the Thanyaburi Prison, Panusaya wrote the following letter: 

To all friends who love democracy:

If today I am not able to return to you, do not lose heart. I was prepared to sacrifice this for our struggle. You do not need to worry about me. Keep your morale up in the current situation. Everyone may see that the leaders are disappearing one-by-one. But in truth, we are with you always, we are with you in the form of ideals. With the situation as it is, I put my hope and heart in the struggle with everyone. May everyone use all the courage you have to become leaders and go with our friends. Our struggle has already come so far and victory is not far off. May everyone unite to struggle for democracy, to struggle to make our nation better, to struggle for our human dignity.

No one is born with blue blood.

No one is above anyone else.

All of us are human, all of us are equal.


The time for fear is gone. Struggle until victory.

Down with feudalism, Long live the people.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration

NewsPanusaya Sithijirawattanakulstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020Note from detention
Categories: Prachatai English

Note from Detention: ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem

Prachatai English - Mon, 2020-10-26 11:33
Submitted on Mon, 26 Oct 2020 - 11:33 AMPrachatai

Translator’s Note: This was originally published in Thai ('หมอลำแบงค์' เผยติดคุกไม่เป็นไร แต่ไม่ได้ร้องหมอลำก็เหมือนตาย). Mor lam is a type of Thai song and performance that originates in Isan and Laos and combines poetry, music and dance; Mor lam is the name of the kind of performance and a person who calls it is called a mor lam. ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem was arrested on 19 October on accusations of violation of the Emergency Decree and Article 116 (sedition) in relation to his participation in a peaceful protest on 19 September in Bangkok. He previously spent over two years in prison between 2014 and 2016 for his role in “The Wolf Bride,” a play deemed to insult the monarchy.

Patiwat Saraiyaem

Rapipat Khamphichai, the lawyer for ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem, released a memo after visiting his client, who is being detained while the investigation into his case takes place. Patiwat is worried about the staff of Seen Song Ton Studio Mor Lam Digital Station. Artists cannot hurt anyone, he explained. If he cannot sing mor lam, it is as if he is no longer alive.

Note from the Lawyer’s Visit to Mor Lam Bank on 21 October 2020

‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem spoke with tears in his eyes about what he felt 48 hours after being arrested:

What worries him the most are the more than 30 fellow staff on the team. He is worried about how each is going to survive. You have not destroyed the life of Mor Lam Bank alone, but the lives of everyone on the team, and his livelihood and that of everyone on the team.

He viewed his participation in a political event as a form of recreation. A form of relaxation, he went to meet up with friends and people who shared similar thinking. And so, he asked, then is relaxation the reason that he was put into prison?

Mor Lam Bank can withstand life in this prison, but still worries about life outside of prison. He asks everyone to help look after Seen Song Ton Studio Mor Lam Digital Station. Share the posts and click to follow the page in order to learn about the mor lam life. See Song Ton Studio was born from taking the last bundle of money he had to use for what he loves, which is being a mor lam. He had just made my way when the COVID-19 era arrived.

Mor lam is his life. He explained that if he cannot sing, if he cannot dance, it is as if he is no longer alive.

He wants everyone to come out to protect artists. Don’t allow artists to be harmed yet again, to have to suffer yet again. Artists do not hurt anyone. They do good work, he said, they are always righteous.

Mor Lam Bank begs everyone, including all of the officials, to look at the clip from 19 September 2020. Look at the clip and consider how it was that what he said in the clip created problems for the government [as they claim]. How was it agitation? How did it create losses for the nation? He spoke as a person who was impacted to communicate directly with those who hold power. He spoke about the impact on himself. He maintains that what he said was correct and principled.

The police claimed that they had to perform their duty, the soldiers claimed that they had to perform their duty, the prosecutors said they had to perform their duty, up until the judges who had to perform their duty. What about the duty of the mor lam, who creates entertainment and sustains society and the world? On a day when people are asked whether or not they have performed their duty, Mor Lam Bank asks in response, why don’t you allow the mor lam to perform his duty?

If it is not possible to rely on justice, then rely on the vengeance that arises after being impacted. Let this vengeance be like an arrow that pierces their hearts that are replete with wickedness.

Note: He has not yet forgiven anyone for what they have done.

With torment and sorrow, from Mor Lam Bank, Zone 2, Covid Quarantine Zone, Waiting to See Visitors in 14 Days

NewsPatiwat Saraiyaemstudent movementYouth movementStudent protest 2020Judicial harasmentactiviststate violence
Categories: Prachatai English

Protesters welcome ‘Pai Dao Din’ back from prison, who keep on protesting right away

Prachatai English - Sun, 2020-10-25 12:23
Submitted on Sun, 25 Oct 2020 - 12:23 PMPrachatai

An overnight protest took place on 23 October in front of the Bangkok Remand Prison to welcome Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, an activist from Khon Kaen, the last protester of those arrested on 13 October to be released.

Jatupat raised the 3-finger salute as he was released from the prison.

Jatupat was welcomed by hugs and greetings from friends. He immediately went on to the stage to give a speech. The protesters in front of the prison demanded that the state free the remaining protesters under detention.

As of 24 October, 8 still remain in detention: Anon Nampa, Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, Panussaya Sitthijirawatthanakul, Panupong Jadnok, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Ekkachai Hongkangwan, Patipan Luecha and Suranat Paenprasoet, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

On the morning of 24 October, the People’s Party 2020 held a press briefing in front of the prison where they had camped out overnight. Jatupat said that they will continue to protest there to see whether Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha will resign by 22.00 today, according to the 3-day deadline set by the protesters on 21 October at Government House.

The protest on 23 October went on with speeches and music. Chaiamorn 'Ammy' Kaewwiboonpan, the lead singer of the pop band The Bottom Blues, who was arrested along with Jatupat but released earlier, was playing. Graffiti were sprayed on the prison wall and nearby streets and public facilities.

The protest, held by the Anonymous Party announced 5 demands:

1. Unconditionally free the protesters.

2. Stop all forms of state-led harassment against the people.

3. Prayuth must resign by 24 October

4. Amend the constitution in line with the proposal from the people; senators must be stripped off their power.

5. Reform the monarchy so that it is governed under the constitution.

Jutatip Sirikhan , another leading protest figure said that she was followed by 6-7 unidentified people on 3 motorcycles as she and her friend travelled to the protest. She stated that this is unethical behaviour that undermines rights and freedom.

Chinnawat Chankrachang, a protest leader who has been arrested and released, gave a speech. He believes that the authorities will free the arrested protesters out of fear that they will incite prisoners to an uprising. When he was released, the criminals in prison supported him to fight for them.

Nutchanon Pairoj, a leading figure from the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), who has also been arrested and released, urged students, teachers and workers to join the protest, calling for democracy together. 

“We fight for democracy. Why do we have to be hurt all the time? This is government in the form of dictatorship. I would like to ask Prayut Chan-o-cha ‘Who are the ones paying tax?’.”

“Today we have to change the government so we have to drive him (Prayut) out because he come in illegitimately,” said Nutchanon. 

NewsJatupat ‘Pai’ BoonpattararaksaStudent protest 2020Bangkok Remand PrisonSource:
Categories: Prachatai English

Concern over standpoint of the monarchy as King thanks a pro-monarchy protester

Prachatai English - Sat, 2020-10-24 17:13
Submitted on Sat, 24 Oct 2020 - 05:13 PMPrachatai

“Very brave. Very brave. Very good. Thank you,” said King Rama X to a protester who raised a portrait of the late King Rama IX at a pro-democracy protest. This conversation has triggered questions in society about the attitude of the monarchy towards politics. It propelled #23ตุลาตาสว่าง to the twitter top trend.

Left to right: #23 October awakening hit the twitter top trend, King Rama X and Queen Sutthida greeting Thitiwat Tanagaroon, the one who raises the late King Rama IX portrait.

The hashtag, which translates as “23 October awakening or ‘opened eyes’”, refers to an incident on the night of 23 October as King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida left the Grand Palace after paying tribute to King Rama V on the anniversary of his death, Chulalongkorn Day, where many people were waiting to meet them in person.

Among them was Suwit Thongprasert, formerly known as Buddha Issara, a leading figure in the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the pro-junta movement which protested against the Yingluck Shinawatra government in 2013-2014.  Other prominent pro-monarchy figures were seen.

A report on Facebook names Thitiwat Tanagaroon as the person outside the palace wall and as the same person who raised a portrait of King Rama IX, confronting pro-democracy protesters at Central Pinklao on 20 Oct.

According to his Facebook post and recorded footage, the King and Queen passed where he was sitting. The King and the Queen greeted him after the Queen said to the King that he was the one who raised a portrait of King Rama IX at the protest.

The King tells him “Very brave. Very brave. Very good. Thank you.” Thitiwat’s video has gone viral, with comments both opposing and supporting the King’s action.

For some, the King’s words raise concern at a time of rising confrontation between pro-democracy protesters, who have been rallying since 18 July, calling mainly for constitutional amendments, the resignation of the Prime Minister and monarchy reform, and pro-monarchy groups, most of whom wear yellow shirts, the colour of the birthday of both King Rama IX and King Rama X. 

Some violence has occurred. A pro-democracy student protester was injured by pro-monarchy protestors who breached police lines separating between the 2 sides after verbal exchanges at Ramkhamhaeng University on 21 October.

Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna, the director of the family-owned Mongkutwattana Hospital and a well-known ultra-royalist influencer, characterized the incident as ordinary and the violence as a natural response toward people who infringe on the monarchy.

Awakening days

Under the principles of a constitutional monarchy, the monarch, as the ruler all citizens, whatever their individual political views, is placed in a position of neutrality above politics.  Thai constitutions have also prohibited members of the royal family from running for political positions and from voting in political elections. 

This restriction has been observed extremely broadly in Thailand.  In 2017, Princess Ubolratana, who lost her royal title in 1972 on her marriage to a foreign commoner, was nominated as candidate for Prime Minister by the Thai Raksa Chart Party.  Her candidacy was rejected and the party dissolved by the Election Commission of Thailand after the personal intervention of King Rama X in the form of an announcement in the Royal Gazette.

However, the Thai monarchy has, from time to time, seemed to take sides in street politics as evidenced by their interaction with people who express a pro-monarchy ideology. Some call these incidents an ‘awakening’ that clarifies their doubts. 

The most prominent such incident in recent times took place on 9 October 2008 when the then Queen Sirikit presided over the cremation ceremony of Angkhana ‘Nong Bow’ Radappanyawut, who had been killed by a police tear gas canister during a People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) yellow shirt protest against the pro-Thaksin government of the day. The PAD was calling on the King to use a constitutional prerogative to nominate a PM without any election.

During the ceremony, the Queen allowed the family of the deceased and Sondhi Limthongkul, the PAD leader, to have conversations with her, a breach of normal royal protocol. Many with different political ideologies, like the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or the red shirts, viewed this as a day of awakening.

Before that incident, Sondhi had, from time to time, claimed that the yellow shirts were supported by a ‘highly esteemed lady’. In 2006, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a former columnist and junta-appointed senator, also claimed that the PAD received blue scarves with the message “902...74...12 August 2006...mother of the land”.  Blue is the birthday colour of the Queen Mother and her birthday is celebrated as a national holiday on 12 August.

On 19 January 2014, Princess Chulabhorn, who had accompanied the Queen to the funeral of Angkhana Radappanyawut, assigned her representative to bestow a wreath to the funeral of Prakong Chuchan, a PDRC protester who died from a grenade thrown at a march. In 2013, she also gave a wreath to the funeral of Wasu Suchantabut, an anti-Thaksin protester who was shot dead during a clash at Thai-Japanese Stadium at Din Daeng during registration of candidates for an election that the pro-monarchy groups opposed and eventually prevented.

The funeral of Thanusak Rattanakot, another PDRC protester who died in a clash with police in February 2014, received a wreath from Princess Chulabhorn.

NewsThitiwat TanagaroonKing Rama XQueen SutthidamonarchyStudent protest 2020politicsSource:
Categories: Prachatai English

UN experts urge Thai government to allow peaceful protests and release unconditionally those arbitrarily detained

Prachatai English - Fri, 2020-10-23 15:58
Submitted on Fri, 23 Oct 2020 - 03:58 PMOHCHR

UN human rights experts* urged today (22 October) the Thai government to guarantee the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and free speech and called for an end to a crackdown on peaceful protests.

Protesters setting up a barrier during the protest at Victory Monument on 18 October

“The imposition of a state of emergency is the latest in a series of draconian measures aimed at stifling peaceful demonstrations and criminalizing dissenting voices,” the experts said.

“We urge the Thai government to allow students, human rights defenders and others to protest in a peaceful manner. The Thai people should be allowed to freely speak their mind and share their political views, both online and offline, without prosecution.” 

Thousands of people have joined pro-democracy protests in Bangkok, calling for government and monarchy reforms. Since 13 October 2020, at least 80 individuals have been arrested, of whom 27 remain in detention. Some have been charged under Thailand’s Criminal Code on counts of sedition and holding an “illegal assembly”. Some have also been charged under the Computer Crimes Act for using their social media accounts to call the public to participate in the rallies. Two face lifetime jail sentences for allegedly using violence against the monarchy.

“We are seriously concerned that those taking part in peaceful protests have been charged under laws, about which we raised concerns in the past.”

The experts called on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release any individual detained for the sole exercise of her fundamental freedoms.

On 15 October “severe emergency measures” were imposed in Bangkok province, prohibiting gatherings of more than four people. Police have subsequently applied force, including the use of water cannon, to disperse protesters who were demonstrating peacefully.
“The security authorities are using unnecessary force against the peaceful protesters,” the experts said. “Such violence only risks escalating the situation. Instead of trying to silence peaceful demonstrators, we urge the Thai government to promptly seek an open and genuine dialogue with them.”

*The experts: Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights of peaceful assembly and association, Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression, Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

The Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Pick to PostOffice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)Student protest 2020student movementYouth movementjudicial harassmentstate violencefreedom of expressionfreedom of assembly
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