To commemorate the second anniversary of the 2014 coup d’état, Prachatai presents interviews with some of those who had protested against the government and against elections, aka the PDRC, whose lives and political ideas have been changed under the junta. Branded as the ones who paved the way for the coup two years ago, they have now learned that it is better to have an elected government, even a ‘bad’ one, than a dictatorship.
Harit Mahaton, a man accused of sedition and lèse majesté -- very serious crimes that could land him in prison for decades -- has a distinct character. He has great interest in literature because, to him, it is a form of freedom.
The draft constitution going up for the referendum vote on 7 August degrades the issue of disability rights to an appalling level. It shows the junta’s point of view of the disabled as those who should receive public support but are deprived of guaranteed disability rights. According to experts, this situation will weaken the force of law for equality for the disabled.
The draft constitution is a written attempt by the junta to take Thai politics and society back to the pre-Thaksin era. The draft not only aims to prevent the emergence of a Thaksin-like government, but also the emergence of Thaksin-like policies, which were tangible and ‘edible’ for the poor.
Election? Another coup? People’s uprising? Where is Thailand heading? Academics have said that if the military decides to prolong its regime, a people’s uprising is inevitable.
Thailand’s military courts have handled more than 1,400 cases involving more than 1,600 civilian defendants. The most pressing problem has been the overuse of pre-trial detention against those accused of lèse majesté or criminal possession of war weapons, which simply turned them into “forgotten prisoners.” If they decide to fight the charges, these civilians would face almost indefinite detention – both because of the seriousness of the charges against them and the Court’s own slow procedures.
Once I began to write, I realized that selecting the topic of the lives of the ‘beloved’ of Article 112 prisoners was not a very good idea. Relationships are never an easy matter — they are complicated and very personal. These relationships have been lacerated and seriously wounded by politics. My questions unearthed and scattered dust from the painful past and it was as if the retelling served to hammer in the injustice of what has happened. Simple questions about the future became filled with profound emotion.
Even though the disabled have long been seen in Thai dramas, the representation of them is problematic and unrealistic, which leads to misperceptions. Movie directors state that disabled characters should be seen as ordinary human beings.
January 2016 marked more than four years since Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, social activist and former editor of Voice of Taksin magazine, lost his freedom for the publishing of two articles in the magazine which were deemed to fall within the domain of lèse majesté.
This time of year, couples often show their love for each other. But political prisoners and their spouses are not so fortunate, and remain separated, often for many years. Romuelah Saeyeh spent one half of her married life – five years – going back and forth to Pattani prison in order to visit her husband, Muhamadanwar Hajiteh, whom she knows as Anwar, an activist working in Thailand’s three southern provinces.