Prachatai English

Media coverage rains down on Thai right-wing vigilante’s planned retirement in Australia

Prachatai English - Wed, 2022-12-07 13:32
Submitted on Wed, 7 Dec 2022 - 01:32 PMPrachatai

In response to Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna’s announcement that he plans to spend his retirement in Australia, newspapers in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth have published an article underlining his witch-hunting past in the name of monarchy protection. Meanwhile Rienthong plans to counter with a lawsuit.

Rienthong Nanna

On 5 December, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai academic in exile and famous monarchy critic, posted that Rienthong’s story had become a front-page article appearing in a media network that includes the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Perth-based WAtoday

The article outlines the history of witch-hunts under Rienthong’s influence and includes interviews with Thai refugees in Australia who fled Thailand to escape death and rape threats, their addresses being made public, and employers being forced to fire them.

Persona Non Grata?

The media barrage rained down on the hyper-royalist after he posted his wish on 10 November to visit Perth, Australia, from time to time as a part of his retirement plan, stirring fury for those whose lives have been affected by his vigilantism and netizens who see the move as hypocritical for someone claiming to be a patriot and who recounted his actions against pro-democracy dissidents. 

On 14 November, an online campaign spearheaded by Pavin on called on the Australian government to deny entry to Rienthong, citing his right-wing activism against Thai dissidents as a reason for disqualification.

Thais and foreigners also gathered at Sydney Town Hall on 5 December to protest against the royalist medic coming to Australia. 

"In 2013, he set up ‘Rubbish Collection Organisation’—a Thai state-sponsored ultra-royalist vigilante group to supposedly eradicate Thailand’s “social rubbish” and to annihilate lèse-majesté offenders completely As a result of this effort, many Thais were charged under lèse-majesté law, and some decided to escape from Thailand to seek a refugee status overseas," wrote Pavin in the campaign statement on  

Petition to scrap a Thai right-wing retirement plan in Australia gains 14k signatures

Prior to the article in the Australian media, Rienthong refused to give interviews, saying the Australian government should not believe the international network’s call to prevent him from going to Australia.

On 5 December he posted that an Australian attorney friend of his had suggested filing a defamation lawsuit against Chris Barrett, the author of the article. 

He said he would calculate damages at a rate of 200 Australian dollars per hour until the content is removed, starting from the time of publication at 05.00 on 5 December. A similar criminal defamation charge would be brought in the Thai courts against Barrett, Pavin and the interviewees.

According to the article, the Australian Immigration Minister has the personal authority to intervene but only after the case has been processed by a review tribunal. A spokesperson for the Minister said that there could be no comment on an individual case.

On 6 December Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior Thai reporter, tweeted his opposition to Pavin’s move to bar Rienthong from Australia since it amounted to a witch-hunt, similar to the methods that Rienthong has used and been condemned for. 

“If you do not agree in principle, because you perceive it as an immoral method, then you should not use the same method to hunt others. Otherwise, you have no principles,” tweeted Pravit.

The tweet spurred disagreement, with some arguing that public incitement to cause threats was not the same as public denunciation. Some even said Rienthong deserves it.

Pavin responded to Pravit’s opinion, saying what he did was not a witch hunt but merely exposing Rienthong’s past actions to democratic countries, not revealing personal information about him or his family members or making any legal threats.

NewsRienthong NannaPavin ChachavalpongpunPravit RojanaphrukSydney Morning HeraldThe AgeWAtodaySource:
Categories: Prachatai English

Trial of alleged organiser of 2019 attack on Thai refugees delayed

Prachatai English - Wed, 2022-12-07 12:01
Submitted on Wed, 7 Dec 2022 - 12:01 PMPatrice Victor

A Paris Court has postponed the appeal trial of Petr Donatek, a Czech man who allegedly hired two henchmen to assault Aum Neko and Nithiwat Wannasiri, two Thai refugees in France, in 2019. The rescheduling leaves questions about the alleged ringleader of the crime immediately unanswered.

Nithiwat Wannasiri (third from the left) and Aum Neko (fourth from the left) along with their friends at the Court.

On 1 December, a Paris Court arranged a hearing for Donatek to present an appeal against a 30 month sentence he was earlier handed in absentia for his role in the case. Observers in the court included Thai refugees, their French friends, and journalists from Le Monde, Radio Prague International, and Prachatai English.

Donatek was not in the dock long. His lawyer claimed personal problems and complained that certified Thai and Czech interpreters were not available due to a lack of Justice Department funding and mismanagement within it.

In response, the president of the Court expressed displeasure with the situation and postponed the trial to January 19. 

The delay put off a chance to ascertain the identity of the mastermind behind the attack against Aum Neko, and Nithiwat Wannasiri or Jom Faiyen, Thai political refugees living in France. The incident happened in Paris around midnight on 17 November 2019 when a small group of Thai refugees and a few of their friends left Le Zinc, a brasserie in District 15 of Paris.

Nithiwat's Facebook post describing the attack and showing his injuries.

Two Czech nationals, Jakub Hosek and Daniel Vokal, were later arrested for the attack. They may have had an additional target, Jaran Ditapichai, whose picture was found in one of their phones. By chance, the old-age Jaran was not there.

‘They want to exterminate regime changers.’ Thai refugee speaks of assault case

During their trial, the two henchmen claimed to have been hired by a third Czech man, Petr Donatek.  Donatek was in Paris on the day of the assault but returned home to the Czech Republic without being arrested. Hosek and Vokal received 26 months jail sentences and have already been released. The alleged organiser of the attack, Donatek, was sentenced to 30 month in jail in absentia.

Because French authorities issued an arrest warrant, he was detained in Italy last October and extradited to France. Since then, he has been in jail in Fresnes, a suburb of Paris. 

NewsNithiwat WannasiriFaiyenAum NekoThai political refugeeFranceCzech RepublicPetr DonatekJakub HosekDaniel Vokal
Categories: Prachatai English


Subscribe to ประชาไท aggregator - Prachatai English