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The Dream That Is Worth Fighting For

For Little Uncle Bandit Aneeya, 73-year old poor writer and 112 convict
 
What kind of Thai society does Uncle Bandit  Aneeya dream of coming true in even in the last stages of his life? His dream is that in a land of wisdom and justice every single person is equal.  I think this kind of dream is worth fighting for.
 
Yet he struggles, harder than other people his age.  He has overcome difficulties and troubles since he was a child.  He has faced troubles in his family as his father and stepmother maintained a traditional marriage of convenience while oppressing his mother. His life was a hell on earth.  So he ran away from home on his own to seek a better life.  He migrated from China to Thailand without an identification card; so he became a second-class citizen living an insecure life. His endurance and survival instinct helped him survive.
 
Now he is 73 years old and in poor health (suffering from cancer of the bladder) and for many years he faced charges under the lèse majesté law for speaking in seminars and for his writings that were considered offensive to certain persons or institutions and he was finally declared guilty by the South Bangkok Supreme Court verdict on February 17, 2013.  His accuser was a police major general. He could not testify on his own behalf in the first trial as the trial was held in secret, which did not give him an opportunity to speak out.  But the trial influenced him to accept the testimony of a psychiatrist whose diagnosis was that he was mentally ill and required treatment.  So, what he thinks, writes, and speaks in public became unreliable and couldn’t be included in discussions.  This trial came to an easy verdict with even though it destroyed this old man.  He is treated as worthless but harmful to the security of an authoritarian State -  ridiculous and mindless.  So, who actually is insane?  Uncle Bandit will not in the end be imprisoned and will not die like Ah Kong; an old man who faced the same charges and died in prison last year without adequate medical treatment. 
 
Bandit’s autobiography, The Dream Under the Sun, which is soon to be published, expresses fully his feelings and attitudes at different stages of his life.  For example in his childhood he perceived his mother’s suffering from the violence used against her and her death in a mental hospital.  In his days in the priesthood, starvation and a lack of clothes under the military regime made him steal money and food from other people.  Nevertheless, he always paid attention to his studies, to writing and learning English by himself and translating English stories into Thai.  He produced lots of works which reflect dimensions of injustice in this land where he lived a hard life.  Then he asked Soviet Embassy for permission to stay in Moscow as authoritarian Thai government actually wished to expel people who think differently.
 
He keeps saying in public that this abundant land belongs to everybody equally even if he/she doesn’t have a land title. It doesn’t belong to a certain person because our ancestors have fought and kept the land for their descendants.  This is the truth, but bad academics and the mass media deny it.  I would like to ask who our ancestors are if not the farmers producing food and the workers building the cities.  Common people’s work is not compensated appropriately or fairly.  I’d like to say that Uncle Bandit should not be found guilty at all.  The real defendants must be brought to court and punished to return justice to victimized people……If you agree, abolish the lèse majesté law so that it won’t be abused to destroy freedom of expression and this land will surely be more dynamic.  
 
Faith in Uncle Bandit Aniya,
 
Patchanee Kumnak
Labour Activist
February 21, 2013

 

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