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What's going on in Thailand ?

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  • What's going on in Thailand ?

    For a new Democratic Constitution and Reforms to the Monarchy

    Thai people are once again taking to the streets despite a new Covid-19 outbreak throwing the country into lockdown. This time, confrontations between protesters and the police are growing increasingly violent. Gone are the familiar images of the youth and middle class-led democracy uprising of last year, with its iconic three-finger salute, calling for Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha to step down and a new democratic constitution with reforms to the monarchy. Now, frontline protesters are largely underprivileged, urban poor who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. They see their suffering as caused by the authoritarian rule, cronyism, corruption, and inefficiency of the Prayut government.

    In April, the government announced a plan to provide vaccines for 70 percent of Thailand’s 65 million people by the end of the year. Currently, 26% have received one dose, and only 7.4% are fully vaccinated. Hospitals are rapidly filling up. Supplies of life-saving Favipiravir medicine and oxygen, among other things, are running low and becoming prohibitively expensive. Unemployment is rising as the lockdown takes hold, and more businesses are closing for good. Government remedies for the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic have proven inadequate.

    The angry and largely leaderless protesters show up for anti-government demonstrations seemingly ready to fight. The Prayut government has demonstrated no interest in hearing out the protesters. The authorities seem intent on preventing street protests from gaining momentum and spreading across the country as happened last year. While the authorities claim to follow international standards for crowd control, in practice the police have routinely used excessive force against protesters.

    Scores of protesters have been arrested. Several leaders of the democracy movements, such as prominent human rights lawyer Arnon Nampha and student activist Parit Chiwarak, have been put in pretrial detention, where they could remain for years. Meanwhile, the authorities pile new charges on activists, including lese majeste (insulting the monarchy).

    Thailand’s government needs to begin addressing people’s concerns, but the prospects look grim because the Coup Leader - General Prayut is still refusing to resign as Prime Minister. Corruption is continuing thoughout all instances, even the latest election was manipulated and there is no leadership at all on any government level.

  • #2
    Thalu Fah presents UN with letter requesting international support

    The pro-democracy group “Thalu Fah” delivered a letter requesting international support from the Office of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations in Bangkok, yesterday. They then gathered outside the office for a couple of hours of protest. After delivering the letter to the United Nations, the group offered nearly 2 hours of silence while they displayed signs in English telling the world that Thalu Fah’s leaders are fighters and not criminals. The signs also demanded that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha resign.

    Songphon Sonthirak, the spokesperson for Thalu Fah spoke to the media. He says that his group delivered an official letter requesting international support for Thalu Fah’s cause. He says that Thalu Fah wants to show international people that Prayut is hampering their right to freedom of speech and basic human rights when he arrests their leaders and denies them bail.

    “We are requesting OHCHR to investigate and officially oppose the arrest of our leaders from the Thai government who are stopping our right and freedom”,
    says Songphon. Songphon adds that several of Thalu Fah’s leaders are incarcerated and have been infected with Covid. He says this is emblematic of how the government cannot solve Thailand’s Covid problem. Songphon concluded his remarks by saying that many people have already been infected with Covid and many others have died.


    • #3
      Bangkok student president dismissed for controversial video chat

      The president of Chulalongkorn Univesity’s student council was dismissed from his position after he presented a controversial video at a student orientation in 2021. The video featured talks by two prominent protest leaders, nicknamed Penguin and Rung, who are known critics of Thailand’s monarchy. In his talk, Penguin raised his middle finger, and encouraged students to do the same. Thai PBS reported that the Student Affairs Office called this a “vulgar” gesture, and said it went against Thai culture and therefore could “cause disunity” among students.

      Another controversial person who appeared in the video chat was Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an academic and critic of the monarchy who fled to Japan in 2014.

      Chulalongkorn deducted 10 points from the student council president’s behaviour score, and dismissed him from his position. The former president, Netiwit, said yesterday that he spoke to the university’s vice director to acknowledge the decision. The Student Affairs Office condemned him for being complicit in the event without telling the office about it first, and for inviting Penguin as a speaker. Penguin was recently granted three months bail from a prison sentence. Thai PBS said Netiwit compared the decision to dismiss him to a coup.


      • #4
        Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa granted 3-month conditional bail

        Political activist and human rights lawyer, Anon Nampa, has been granted bail by the Bangkok South Criminal Court. The Ratsadon pro-democracy group leader has been in custody for over 200 days, on charges of lèse majesté and other charges related to political protests.

        His temporary release was tweeted by Norasate Nanongtoom of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. According to Norasate, the Bangkok South Criminal Court says Anon offered his own bail terms, which include refraining from doing anything to insult, criticise, or otherwise defame the monarchy, as well as not participating in any activities that could cause unrest in Thailand.

        According to a Thai PBS World report, Anon has been in and out of prison 7 times in the last year. In August 2020, he became the first person to publicly call for reform of the monarchy. Norasate says bail was set at 200,000 baht and Anon has been released until May 28. At the end of that period, he has the right to re-apply, but equally, the court can revoke bail at any stage if Anon fails to comply with the agreed conditions. They include:
        • Refraining from undertaking any activities which may offend the monarchy or the court
        • Refraining from undertaking any activities which may disrupt court proceedings
        • Refraining from posting any message in a way which provokes, incites, or persuades people to join a protest
        • Refraining from participating in protests or in online forums which may cause unrest in the country
        • Remaining at home between 7pm and 6am, with the exception of seeking hospital treatment or with approval from the court
        • Not leaving Thailand without the court’s permission
        • Reporting to the court every 30 days while out on bail
        • Wearing an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet
        Last week, fellow pro-democracy activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak was also released on 3 months bail under similar conditions. He too has spent over 200 days in detention on similar charges.


        • #5
          Bangkok criminal court won’t let activist study on scholarship in Germany

          A student activist facing lèse majesté charges won’t be allowed to study in Germany with a scholarship for a post-graduate program. Ravisara, nicknamed Dear, was charged when she read a statement in German in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok in 2020. When Dear applied to leave the country for a prestigious scholarship program, The Bangkok South Criminal Court rejected the application. The court claimed Dear might try to evade trial, and it couldn’t be sure she would comply with proposed conditions in Germany. The court also said it would be hard for Dear’s parents and guarantor to ‘control’ her.

          Dear’s scholarship is from the German Academic Exchange Service, under a program for postgraduate courses. It is for a Master of Management in Non-Profit Organisations. Dear was meant to study at the University of Applied Sciences from April 2022 until August 2024. One German ambassador told Dear her scholarship was a big accomplishment.

          “This is a big achievement to be proud of – only promising and excellent university students qualify for a long time scholarship”.


          • #6
            Lèse-majesté charges against political activist dismissed due to lack of evidence

            A political activist charged with lèse-majesté offences and violating the Computer Crimes Act has had the charges against him dismissed. Security officials brought the lawsuit against 31-year-old Harit Nahaton in 2016, claiming he committed lèse-majesté offences while chatting to 48-year-old Nattharika Warathanyawit on Facebook Messenger between January and April 2016.

            Lèse-majesté, or section 112 of the Criminal Code, prohibits criticising, insulting, or defaming the monarchy and carries a punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment. According to a Bangkok Post report, Ms Nattharika has since fled the country and is thought to be in the US. The case against her has been suspended since her departure from the kingdom.

            The plaintiffs have previously claimed that Harit and Nattharika gave them the passwords to their Messenger accounts, which both defendants have denied. The plaintiffs also claimed to have copied the chat history between both defendants, but a university lecturer testifying in Harit’s defence said such content could easily have been edited.

            The Bangkok Post reports that Wichan Chotdaeng, a witness testifying for the plaintiffs, admitted he was only told about the messages and didn’t actually see the chats for himself. The plaintiffs were also unable to prove that the account cited as evidence actually belonged to the activist.

            The court ruled that the plaintiffs had no eye witnesses or any solid evidence to support their claims against Harit. Speaking after the ruling, the activist thanked the judge for delivering justice. He added that he wouldn’t bring a counter suit against the security officials as he said they were just following orders.


            • #7
              Thai student activist charged with lèse majesté will be allowed to study in Germany

              The South Bangkok Criminal Court ruled yesterday that a student activist charged with lèse majesté who was barred from studying abroad in Germany earlier this month will now be allowed to study there. The activist, nicknamed “Dear”, won a prestigious scholarship for a Master of Management in Non-Profit Organisations. The court was told that Ms Rawisara holds a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, which she will lose if she fails to begin her classes by April 4.2022

              Dear was charged with lèse majesté when she read a statement in German in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok in 2020 during the protests that year. When Dear first applied to leave the country for a prestigious scholarship program, the court rejected the application. The court claimed Dear might try to evade trial, and it couldn’t be sure she would comply with proposed conditions in Germany. The court also said it would be hard for Dear’s parents and guarantor to ‘control’ her.

              Yesterday’s ruling followed Dear’s seventh appeal to be allowed to leave Thailand to pursue her studies. The ruling took over four hours of deliberation. She is allowed to travel to Germany on the condition that she does not engage in any further activities that would affect the monarchy, whether in Thailand or Germany.

              She intends to study in Germany until 2024. Dear’s scholarship is from the German Academic Exchange Service, under a program for postgraduate courses. One German ambassador told Dear her scholarship was abig accomplishment. The organisation Thai Lawyers for Human Rights claims that at least 127 people were facing lese majeste charges as of the end of 2021.

              “This is a big achievement to be proud of – only promising and excellent university students qualify for a long time scholarship”.


              • #8
                Opposition leader Thanathorn indicted on lèse majesté charge, says he’s a political target

                Public prosecutors in Thailand have indicted Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit on a lèse majesté charge and for violating the Computer Crime Act on Monday. The charges centre on remarks he made during a livestream talk he gave last year, in which he discussed government’s procurement of the AstraZeneca vaccine and allegedly cast suspicion on His Majesty the King.

                After the indictment, Thanathorn was temporarily released on bail. Outside the court yesterday, he told reporters that he intends to contest the charges, which he thinks are politically motivated, saying…

                “It is clear that I am one of the key opposition [leaders] and I think the objective is to silence me, to make the public afraid. So if we can keep silent, keep our mouths shut, they win.”

                Police accused Thanathorn, who is the chairman of the Progressive Movement, of criticizing the government for delaying its obtaining of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as for relying too heavily on the Astra Zeneca vaccine, supplied by Siam Bioscience Company. Thanathorn made the remarks during a speech that was broadcast on Facebook Live on January 18 last year.

                Siam Bioscience was founded in 2009. It is financed and owned by a subsidiary of the Crown Property Bureau. The company has struck a deal with Oxford University and Astra Zeneca to produce the vaccine in Thailand using their technology, with the goal of administering the vaccine locally, as well as distributing it to other countries in Southeast Asia.

                The indictment alleged that Thanathorn’s statements, which were published online, were intended to make the public look suspiciously at the king. He has been granted a temporary release by the Criminal Court has on a surety bail of 90,000 THB


                • #9
                  Thai political activists left to rot in jail


                  Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon was grantedbail by a Thai court today to get hospital treatment after falling seriously ill. The 20 year old activist was immediately rushed to hospital for treatment after the Criminal Court gave permission at 1:30pm for her to be released from custody and placed under house arrest as she awaits trial on charges that she insulted the monarchy. Tawan was granted bail for 30 days on the condition she wear a monitoring device, not leave her residence without court permission, and not do anything deemed to “insult” the Thai monarchy. The court also agreed to appoint Pita Limjaroenrat, a businessman-turned-MP of opposition Move Forward Party, as Tawan’s supervisor.

                  ORIGINAL STORY

                  Human rights activists have demanded the immediate release of political-reform prisoners from Thailand’s jails. Protest groups say they are concerned about the health and safety of the young Thais jailed and fear they could die if they don’t get urgent medical treatment. Thai authorities are well versed in targeting reform activists and a number of protesters have been thrown in jail and left to rot. Thantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatalonon, and other activists, including Nutthanit “Bai Por” Duangmusit, Netiporn “Pakbung” Sanesangkhom, and Sophon ‘Get’ Surariddhidhamrong, have been arrested over the past two months on a range of legal charges, including violating Section 112, or ‘lese majeste.’ Lese majeste is a French term which means “to do wrong to majesty.” And in Thailand criticizing the monarchy can result in a 15-year prison sentence. The 20 year old Tawan has been repeatedly denied bail and on April 20 went on hunger strike in protest of her incarceration. Human rights groups and lawyers have requested immediate healthcare, because her health is rapidly deteriorating behind bars, but it has been ignored

                  Sunai Phasuk, Senior Thailand researcher of New York-based NGO, Human Rights Watch, says

                  “The lengthened pre-trial detention of Tawan and other activists is brutal and shows Thailand’s disregard of human rights and fair trial standards.”
                  “Tawan has been on hunger strike for 33 days now to protest such unjust and unwarranted treatment. This is a display of Tawan’s bravery and commitment to civil disobedience to resist abusive authoritarian powers.”Kunthika Nutcharut, an attorney for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who is working on Tawan’s case, went to visit the prominent activist yesterday and says she has “lost at least five kilos, her gums are bleeding, and needs help to walk.”
                  Over the past year, a number of democracy activists have become ill under similar circumstances while in detention. Anon Nampha, a human rights lawyer and one of the first to call for monarchy reform, fell ill last year while in pre-trial detention. Panupong ‘Mike’ Jadnok contracted COVID-19 as he languished in prison last year. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, was hospitalised after a hunger fast in December.

                  Sunai says the government and judiciary system have continued to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” tactic to handle these kinds of cases, often ignoring their medical conditions. Pornpen Khongkanchankiet, the director of Cross Cultural Foundation, says Thailand increasingly uses judicial harassment against activists, especially youth calling for reform.


                  • #10
                    Influencers from controversial Lazada ad arrested on suspicion of lèse majesté
                    Click image for larger version  Name:	Lazada.jpg Views:	0 Size:	200.7 KB ID:	4447

                    Yesterday, police arrested three Thai influencers on suspicion of lèse majesté – or insulting the monarchy – in relation to their role in a controversial Lazada advert which shocked the Thai nation last month. In Thailand, lèse majesté is a criminal offence punishable by 3 to 15 years for each count.

                    Police arrested the 3 influencers who starred in the advert yesterday. Police arrested Aniwat “Nara Crepe Katoey” Prathumthin at Don Muang Airport, arrested Thidaporn “Noo Rat” Chaokuwiang at her house and Kittikhun “Momdew Diary” Thamkittirat also at her house.

                    All 3 were arrested under Section 112 of the Criminal Code. Aniwat is also facing charges relating to the Computer Crimes Act. The 3 acknowledged their charges at the Central Investigation Bureau yesterday. The controversial advert featured a skit in which Nara played the role of a daughter looking after her disabled mother, played by Noo Rat, who sat in a wheelchair. The advert was deemed offensive to both disabled people and Thailand’s royal family, a member of which uses a wheelchair.

                    The arrests followed a complaint made by activist Srisuwan Janya that the advert was critical of the monarchy and therefore broke Thailand’s lèse majesté law and the Computer Crimes Act. Following widespread criticism online, the advertisement was removed from both TikTok and Lazada’s website shortly after it was launched. The hashtag #BanLazada began trending on Twitter almost instantly.

                    The Royal Thai Navy and Air Force both expressed their disapproval of Lazada’s advert and even banned Lazada vans from entering army premises.

                    Lazada issued a statement apologising for the advert…
                    “We fully recognise that the content was hurtful and demeaning to human dignity. As soon as we became aware of the incident, we immediately demanded the post to be taken down… Our brand does not condone the mockery of others including those with disabilities. It is absolutely unacceptable and a breach of Lazada’s value of being respectful and inclusive.”
                    All 3 influencers have been released on bail.