A number of pro-democracy activists were arrested at Tuesday’s rally for attempting to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 coup with protests.
While our schedule for the assembly on 21-22 May to mark the 4th anniversary of the coup remains (to start at 5 p.m. on Monday at Thammasart University and 7 a.m. on Tuesday before marching to the government house), there are certain developments that need to be addressed. 1. Over the last few days, the junta has stepped up their harassment towards people whom they guess would join our assembly.
Forming political alliances, securing military influence, creating extra-parliamentary mechanisms and establishing dominant ideology are things that the ruling junta has learnt from the 2006 wasted coup, says an academic.
The Supreme Court has sentenced four people accused of shooting grenades into People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in early 2014 to death, but reduced the penalty to life imprisonment. On 22 August 2017, the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling of the lower courts in handing dealth sentence to Chatchawan Prabbamrung, Somsri Marit, Sunthorn Pipuannog, and Tweechai Wichakam, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
A government watchdog has evaluated Thailand’s junta as ‘stable, prosperous and sustainable’ on the third anniversary of the last coup, warning that elections will not be enough to dismantle the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). iLaw, after monitoring the laws issued by the NCPO over the past three years, describes in a new report the numerous mechanisms implemented by the NCPO to safeguard its influence no matter the outcome of future elections.
Under military rule, social order is attained at the expense of economic growth while elected governments usually lead to political turmoil.
Despite being accused of disrespecting the military court, an embattled lèse majesté suspect has refused to bow down, saying that the court should have defended democracy against coup-makers. On 4 October 2016, a defence lawyer for Sirapop (surname withheld for privacy concerns), 52, resubmitted his client’s closing statement to the Military Court of Bangkok, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported.
The Royal Thai Army has warned that violence could return in the form of political dissidents possessing weapons stolen from the army during the 2010 political violence. On 3 September 2016, Col Winthai Suvaree, a spokesperson of the Royal Thai Army, announced that authorities are currently trying to retrieve weapons that were stolen during the April–May 2010 political violence, BBC Thai reported.
Police and public officials have prevented a press briefing by Amnesty International (AI) on a report about state-sponsored torture, saying that the AI speakers might be charged for not having work permits. On 28 September 2016, at Four Wings Hotel in Bangkok, Special Branch police officers and officials from the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare intervened in a press briefing on an AI report titled “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand”.
Thailand’s political landscape seems haunted by figures, events and images that once symbolised progressive change. Such change arguably has not come, yet the same symbols linger on, in newspapers, activist pamphlets and state media.