The military court in Bangkok on Friday rejected bail request of the man accused of writing messages defaming the King on restroom walls of a shopping malls, despite his illness. 
 
Opas C., 67, allegedly wrote the messages, mainly criticized the coup makers, in the restroom of Seacon Square shopping mall in eastern Bangkok on 15 October. After the security guards of the mall detained him and fined him for 2,000 baht, the guards handed him to the military. The military detained him without charges for two days before filed the case to the police. 
 
At a press briefing, Opas admitted that he wrote the messages. 
 
On Friday the court ruled to extend the custody of the suspect 12 more days after he has been detained for 17 days due to the severity of the case. The police claimed that they have not finished drafting the case and needed to question five more witnesses, while the defence lawyer argued that the case is not complicated and the suspect’s testimony is beneficial to the case.  
 
After the court ruled to extend the custody, the lawyer request for bail, having title deed worth 2.5 million baht as security, citing that the suspect is suffering from a disease at his eye, risking of blindness. However, the court denied bail, saying that the court has denied bail once and would not change the decision. 
 
The messages, allegedly written by the suspect mainly criticized the junta leader Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha and the Democrat government which ruled the country from 2011 to 2013. They condemned the two governments for abusing Article 112.  
 
One of the messages reads: “The government of clowns that robbed the nation, led by f*** Prayuth. They have issued ridiculous policies of amateur comedians. Their main job is to use the monarchy ( [censored by Prachatai*]). Their main weapon is Article 112. I’m sick of seeing your face [Prayuth] every day. It tells me that you [Prayuth] are near the end because of the looming internal conflict.”
 
*The censored phrase, allegedly a reference to the King, merely describes a physical description of a person. 
 
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PHUKET, 31 October 2014: Bespoke Hospitality Management Asia (BHMAsia) says X2 Phuket Oasis Villa will open for business next month. X2 Phuket Oasis Villa is located approximately a 30-minute drive from the island’s airport. BHMAsia’s operations and development director, Frederic Garnier, said: “Our team has put a lot of effort to expand the villa collection […] Read more...
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
BANGKOK (31 October 2014) – The United Nations Human Rights Office for South East Asia (OHCHR) is seriously concerned that criminal defamation is being used in Thailand as a means to pressure human rights defenders. In the latest example on 29 October, the Phuket Provincial Court decided to proceed with a criminal defamation suit against Mr. Surapan Rujichaiwat from Loei province in north-eastern Thailand. The suit has been brought by Tungkum Company Limited, a mining company. It has also brought a number of other civil and criminal cases against members of the Khon Rak Ban Koed Group (KRBK), including Ms. Porntip Hongchai, who is due to appear at the same court on 3 November on criminal defamation charges. The criminal defamation cases followed the 15 May incident in which a group of armed men attacked and injured more than 20 villagers, including members of the KRBK, who were blockading the transportation of minerals.   
 
OHCHR is concerned by the continuation of the lawsuit as it appears that it is being used to silence those who raise legitimate issues publicly and echoes a trend of the use of defamation suits against human rights defenders. OHCHR is aware of at least five other human rights defenders facing criminal defamation cases for raising issues such as trafficking, labour rights and torture. 
 
The criminalisation of defamation has a chilling effect and can unduly restrict freedom of expression.  Human rights defenders need the full protection of the state to carry out their work without fear of criminal prosecution. We urge the Government of Thailand to carefully review such cases and ensure the full compliance with international human rights standards. 
 
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Chiang Mai: Fresh from launching two routes to Myanmar from its newly established hub in Chiang Mai this week, Bangkok Airways is casting a keen eye on two more cities. Myeik, in the extreme south of Myanmar, and the ancient city of Bagan are on the 46... Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
After the Bangkok Remand Prison attempted to separate red-shirt political prisoners from each other by sending them to several different prison zones, which was followed by the alleged beating to death of a red shirt by yellow-shirt inmates, a group of human rights lawyers has urged the prison to change its policy for the safety of political prisoners.
 
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on Thursday submitted a letter to the Bangkok Remand Prison director asking the prison to review its assignment policy. Detainees charged with political offences who have not yet been convicted by the Supreme Court should be separated from other inmates convicted of various other crimes.
 
Normally, inmates whose cases have not yet proceeded to court or are before the Court of First Instance will be assigned to Zone 1 or the Entry Zone.
 
Before the re-assignment of inmates in August, most political prisoners were in the Entry Zone. Living together helped protect them from other inmates and increased the prisoner’s well-being. This, however, changed after a new prison director was appointed.  
 
Since the coup d’état in May, the number of political prisoners, including lèse majesté prisoners, quickly increased.
 
These political detainees are usually abused and discriminated against by other inmates, who hold different political stances. Detainees charged with lèse majesté are especially targeted since their charges are considered taboo because they relate to the revered Thai monarchy.
 
In August, Surakrit Chaimongkol, 35, accused of killing Sutin Tharatin, a yellow-shirt leader who joined the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s rallies, was believed to have been beaten to death in prison by other inmates, according to the TLHR.
 
According to Surakrit’s mother, she was told by her son that he would die in prison for killing a yellow-shirt leader. Shortly before his death, he said to his mother “If you don’t bail me out, I will definitely die in custody,” which was quoted by the Bangkok Post.  
 
The statement submitted on Thursday specifically stated that according to Thailand’s 1936 Prison Regulation Act and the United Nation’s Recommendation on Detention No. 8, detainees who have not been proven guilty must not be detained in the same facilities as those whose cases have been completed.
 
TLHR added that according to the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, human dignity, rights, and freedom should be protected according to Thai customs and other international obligations, especially obligations on civil and political rights under treaties that Thailand has ratified.  
 
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Pavin Chachavalpongpun

Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha will pay an official visit to Cambodia today for a two-day trip to strengthen bilateral ties. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, and to have an audience with King Sihamoni, who, on 14 October, celebrated his 10th anniversary of enthronement. Prayuth’s visit is highly significant in many ways, both for his own domestic purposes and for Thailand’s fragile relations with Cambodia.

Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the ASEM Summit in Milan.

There were signs of rapprochement in relations between Thailand and Cambodia. On May 31, just over a week after the Thai coup, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Tea Banh visited Bangkok and expressed his confidence in the leadership of the Thai military in bringing peace and order to Thailand. In July, Hun Manet, the premier’s son and possible successor of Hun Sen, visited Bangkok to cement ties with Thailand.

The visits to Thailand by top Cambodian delegates were politically meaningful. they could be used to repair the declining popularity of Hun Sen at home by appearing to push for an improvement in bilateral relations. This follows years of conflicts in the territorial dispute over the Preah Vihear Temple and the allegations of Hun Sen supporting former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and offering shelter to anti-coup Red Shirts.

Cambodia is the second ASEAN country selected by Prayuth for his introductory tour as the new prime minister of Thailand. Earlier this month, he visited Myanmar, hoping to exploit the latter’s political transformation to legitimise his own political reforms at home. Little did Prayuth know that Myanmar has recently been criticised by the international community for the stagnation of its political developments. Thus, to a certain extent, the visit to Myanmar was counterproductive for the Thai junta in the eyes of the world.

This time, in Phnom Penh, Prayuth continues to seek an acceptance of his regime by an ASEAN neighbor. In rolling a red carpet to welcome Prayuth, Cambodia is implying that the Thai junta is one it can live with. Officially, Prayuth’s meeting with Hun Sen will render a number of mutual benefits to both countries. The Phnom Penh Post reported that they will conclude memorandums of understanding signed on tourism, human trafficking and a railway connection linking Sa Kaew province in Thailand to Poipet and onto Phnom Penh.

It also reported that a long-awaited agreement on a joint development area in the Gulf of Thailand, which would allow mutual exploration of possible oil and gas deposits, could be in the offing. But the deal remains complicated by decades-old overlapping claims. It is uncertain if Prayuth will raise an issue of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand. In the aftermath of the coup, rumours proliferated that Thailand was planning to expel them, causing an exodus of Cambodian workers back to their country across the Thai border.

Indeed, a few bilateral issues have been left untouched, depending on the state of relations between the two countries. Since 2008, the conflict over the Hindu Temple of Preah Vihear had been used as a political weapon to undermine political opponents in Thailand. The politicisation of the Preah Vihear conflict in Thailand had led to several armed clashed with Cambodia. In 2011, Thailand and Cambodia engaged in one of the most brutal clashes in their recent history, posing a threat to regional stability and humiliating ASEAN of which both are members. Prayuth will likely be leaving such contentious issue behind.

But a more important question will be asked: whether Prayuth will seek assistance from Hun Sen in regards to the Thai dissidents living in Cambodia? In the heyday of Thaksin as prime minister from 2001-2006, he personally constructed intimate relations with Hun Sen. When Yingluck became prime minister in 2011, this personal relationship continued to the point that Cambodia was willing to accommodate Red Shirts and their activities inside its own territory.

Undoubtedly, there are a number of Thai refugees seeking shelter inside Cambodia today. So far, Thailand sent some signals from top elites to influence Cambodia not to embrace Thai dissidents with arms wide open. General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, met with Hun Sen on 1 September and urged the Cambodian premier to ensure peace and stability between the two countries.

From the Cambodian perspective, it is obvious that Cambodia is playing with rhetoric of a good neighbourhood. Phnom Penh has never admitted that it provides shelter for Thai fugitives and meanwhile promised that it would not allow that to happen. But the reality is different. It makes sense for Cambodia to implement pragmatic policy toward Thailand: one which cherishes good ties with the Thai junta, and the other which seeks to elevate its leverage by treating Thai dissidents as a bargaining chip.

At the end, Hun Sen has perceived the Shinawatras as his country’s long-term interests. Hun Sen himself has recognized the power of electoral politics simply as a platform to maintain his political legitimacy. Thaksin and Yingluck are using the same strategy, thus having won every election since 2001. From this view, although not a model of democracy himself, Hun Sen understands that popular mandate is key to the success of the Shinawatras. Sooner or later, they will return to Thai political domain.

Thaksin’s tactic is also intriguing. He appears to have kept his distance from Hun Sen, to allow Cambodia to rebuild its ties with the Thai junta to avoid any awkward diplomacy. Prayuth’s coming to Cambodia today may lighten up his military regime, but it is a part of Cambodia’s pragmatic policy. There are no other periods in the Cambodian history which witnesses Cambodia, as a smaller nation than Thailand, actively intervening in Thai politics than today.

 

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Centre for Southeast Asian Studies.   

 

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Takato Mitsunaga
With no people’s representatives in parliament, the junta has attempted to pass several quick bills without people’s participation. Among them are three controversial gender-related bills, opposed by women and LGBT rights groups. Following bills on Civil Partnerships and Gender Equality (see Prachatai’s reports on these), the junta is aiming to pass another bill.  
 
But this again could violate the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and even opposite-sex couple who do not have their marriage registered, by banning them from having children by surrogacy technology. The bill is the Protection of Children Born from Medically Assisted Reproduction Technology Bill.
 
If the surrogacy bill is passed, same-sex couples will be excluded from using the technology
 
If the bill is passed, it will outlaw commercial surrogacy in Thailand and also outlaw surrogacy involving same-sex couples and unregistered opposite-sex couples. The bill also bans the advertisement of surrogacy services and prohibits middlemen from taking fees for providing surrogate mothers. 
 
The bill is seen as an attempt to regulate surrogacy after the notorious Gammy Case. An Australian same-sex couple paid for surrogacy in Thailand but later abandoned one of two babies born, after he was found to have Down’s syndrome. The surrogate mother has been left with the burden of raising the baby.
 
According to a BBC report, commercial surrogacy is legal in a few countries including some US states, India, Russia and Ukraine. However, countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria do not allow any form of surrogacy. 
 
Thailand has been one of the famous destinations for foreigners seeking surrogacy services because the country has no regulations governing commercial surrogacy. However, because of this, the authorities cannot protect mothers and children, such as Gammy and his surrogate mother, from being victimized in commercial surrogacy cases.
 
What Thailand currently has is Article 1546 of the Civil and Commercial Code which stipulates that a woman who gives birth to a child is the legitimate mother. Therefore, according to a report from iLaw, the intended parents of children born from assisted reproduction technology cannot be the legal parents. In fact, the woman who carries the child to term must be the child’s legal mother.
 
The new bill, proposed by the military junta, protects surrogate mothers and their babies from this. Article 27 of the bill states that the intended parents of a child born from assisted reproduction technology, including surrogacy and in vitro fertilization (IVF), can also be the child’s legal parents. Article 23 also prohibits the use of assisted reproduction technology for commercial reasons.
 
The bill seems to recognize a need for surrogacy and IVF only for heterosexual couples. Articles 19 and 21 (1) state that those intended to be the parents of a child born by this technology must be in a legal relationship as “lawful husband and wife”. The bill rules out the right of singles and LGBT couples to have children by this technology, since it applies only to heterosexual couples with legally registered marriages. 
 
Moreover, Article 21 (3) stipulates that a woman who wishes to be a surrogate mother must have already given birth, and if she has a husband, her husband must give prior consent. 
 
According to Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice (FOR SOGI), a LGBT organization in Thailand, this clause excludes lesbian couples who wish to have a child by sperm donation. 
 
Sukrittaya Jukping of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thammasat University, thinks that many LGBT couples should enjoy the same right to have children as heterosexual couples, because she does not believe that a family must necessarily comprise one male father and one female mother. However she thinks that Thai society is still not ready to accept new types of family because of the conventional idea that children raised by same-sex couples will be negatively affected. 
 
“For example, some people still say that the children of gay couples will be sexually abused [by the couple]. However, this has been proved untrue by foreign research,” said Sukrittaya.
 
Because of this misconception, Sukrittaya explained, Thai society is still not able to accept same-sex couples having children. “This is an absolute violation of human rights,” she said.
 
She also conducted her own research on LGBT parenting in Thailand in 2012. In her research, she found that the legalization or regulation of LGBT people having children will have more impact on Thai society than same-sex marriage itself, because the process will affect the conventional family structure of Thai society. 
 
Same-sex couples who have children but do not have any problems, normally assign to each of them the roles of mother and father, so that the “conventional family structure” is not destroyed. These families normally do not have two mothers or two fathers in Thailand.
 
Prachatai conducted an exclusive interview with a lesbian-tomboy couple who actually experienced this “medical technology” to have their own baby. This will be considered illegal if the bill is passed.
 
 
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Wongkot Tangchitwatthanakul and Ouanpa Pankun used IVF technology to have a baby, Wongprachun Tangchitwatthanakul, eight months ago. They now live in Tak Fa District in Nakhon Sawan. Photo by Takato Mitsunaga
 
 
Living with a partner can bring you happiness. Having children can give you even more happiness. If you have a big family, you’ll get the greatest happiness.
 
Nakhon Sawan — Driving the family car, a sort of microbus, along small lanes between green fields, Ouanpa Pankun, 32, talked about why she drives this extremely big car.
 
“I have a very big family now,” said Ouanpa who has been with her tomboy partner, Wongkot Tangchitwatthanakul, also 32, for over two years, and now has an eight-month-old baby.
 
Ouanpa moved to Nakhon Sawan to stay with Wongkot and her family after they held a wedding ceremony on February, 2013. She gave birth to a baby in February 2014, named Wongprachun Tangchitwatthanakul (Lawa), using sperm donated by Wongkot’s younger brother.
 
Wongkot Tangchitwatthanakul and Ouanpa Pankun’s wedding on February 28, 2013. Photo Courtesy of Ouanpa Pankun
 
It’s no wonder the big car is useful when the entire family goes on a trip.
 
Ouanpa parked the car right next to a chicken farm where “her family” runs a business. Ouanpa helps the chicken farm business using her skills as a veterinarian.
 
She graduated from veterinary school and was working for a pharmaceutical company. After a while, in 2012, she first met Wongkot. Since Wongkot was working for the farm owned by the family, Ouanpa felt a sort of sympathy. This made their relationship even stronger.
 
“It was very fast,” said Ouanpa, laughed. “It didn’t take long to fall in love with Wongkot.”
 
Sitting in their dining room, Ouanpa welcomed her partner who came through a glass door out of a room where Lawa was sleeping peacefully. Wongkot carefully took the eight-month baby in her arms so as not to wake her up. Once Ouanpa tried to hold Lawa, she started sobbing. 
 
Ouanpa said that Wongkot mainly takes care of the baby. Lawa herself is calmer when she’s in Wongkot’s arms. 
 
The couple started thinking about having a baby since the very beginning of their relationship. After they had begun their new life in Nakhon Sawan in late 2012, Wongkot’s mother suggested that the couple should have a baby. “My mother also wanted a grandchild. She said that she wouldn’t even know how to spend her money without one,” Wongkot said.
 
Since Wongkot was not biologically able to create sperm for her partner, they used sperm offered by Wongkot’s younger brother along with Ouanpa’s egg. “At least my child would have a blood relationship with me and Ouanpa, even though I’m not the sperm donor,” Wongkot said. 
 
However, the pregnancy didn’t go easily. A gynaecologist at first refused their request to have a baby without using sperm from Ouanpa’s legal husband—which Ouanpa had never had. The doctor was concerned about the baby’s future without a so-called “father”. 
 
“First, the doctor told us that it’s ethically wrong,” said Ouanpa. “However, looking through the information in my medical records, including my occupation as a veterinarian, and talking to my family, he finally decided to do it for us,” Ouanpa said.  
 
Ouanpa finally became pregnant at the very beginning of 2013 with the warm support of her partner and family.
 
Everything was going fine, and they even scheduled their wedding for February 28. But things went wrong. Ouanpa miscarried on the very day of their wedding. They were shocked, but they didn’t call off the wedding.
 
Even so, the couple didn’t give up their dream to have their own child. 
 
The second chance came three months after the wedding when Ouanpa became pregnant again in May, 2013. 10 months later, Lawa was born on Feb 22, 2014. Lawa’s birth certificate registers Ouanpa as the mother and Wongkot’s brother as the father.
 
“I was very happy that I really did it,” said Ouanpa, recalling her precious day. “It was like, I really, really made it!” 
 
Meanwhile, Wongkot wasn’t able to be with her partner at the hospital. She rushed there but the delivery was all over, and Lawa was already in this world. When Wongkot went to see her daughter, all the nurses were very curious about who Lawa’s father was. 
 
“At first, the nurses thought that Ouanpa had had an affair with another man [and become pregnant],” said Wongkot. “They told me I was a very kind and patient person for not dumping her. We explained how we did it.” She laughed.
 
Ouanpa says that this is not the end. She wants more children. Having children definitely can bring her happiness. “I would highly recommend many people to have their own children. Having children costs a lot, but it is surely worth more than buying a car.”
 
However, the new bill currently drafted by the military junta will destroy the dream of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples of having children. The bill is called the Protection of Children Born by Medically Assisted Reproduction Technology Bill, and it imposes strict curbs on the use of assisted reproduction technology to have children.
 
The Foundation for SOGI Rights and Justice (FOR SOGI), a leading LGBT organization in Thailand, thinks that the bill discriminates against LGBT people who wish to have children using assisted reproduction technology, including surrogacy.
 
The organization held a seminar on October 2 called “Protection of Children Born by Medically Assisted Reproduction Technology Bill: Unfair Discrimination against Gender Diverse People” to increase public awareness of the bill. According to the seminar, LGBT couples will immediately be excluded from this technology, since their relationships are not legal.
 
This bill will make what Ouanpa and Wongkot have done illegal, since Ouanpa was never married to a man. Also, LGBT couples wishing to have children in the future won’t be able to do so. The couple attended the seminar as guest speakers with the actual experience of having a child using “medical technology”.
 
Ouanpa and Wongkot think that this bill strongly discriminates against gender and sexual minority people. If the bill is for the “protection of children”, why doesn’t it consider LGBT couples as capable of raising children like heterosexual couples? Is it just because the children will suffer from a situation of not having a mother or father as the gynaecologist said to the couple? 
 
Other people also think that it is wrong for LGBT couples to raise children. After having their own child and attending the seminar, Ouanpa and Wongkot became famous in the media. Several reports were published describing the couple and Lawa. However, comments on these reports sometimes saddened and disappointed them. Some people said Lawa was miserable.
 
Looking at a happy, smiling Lawa, Ouanpa rejects these people’s concerns. “See? Lawa doesn’t even feel weird that she’s with two female parents,” Ouanpa said. The couple got really mad when they read the comments, and didn’t even look at them after that. 
 
“I guess it’s because Lawa has not yet been in the outside world,” Wongkot replied. “Once Lawa goes to school, she’ll learn more. We have to tell Lawa the truth before that.”
 
“It’s society that sees Lawa as miserable, not us,” the tomboy said. “If I want to have a child, and if I, a tomboy, got married to a man, I could have a baby, but I might feel miserable myself. But society thinks that’s the right thing.”
 
“These people will never change their opinions,” she said in loud voice.
 
The couple also feels the eyes of people on them when they go to a department store. They said they probably think too much, but it is also true that “a tomboy holding a child and walking along with her girlfriend” could be seen as weird in other people’s eyes. It might be because the people don’t know the background.
 
“Our family and friends have never said anything against us, because they understand who we are,” said Wongkot. “I gave up making these other people truly understand us.” 
 
Although the couple has never been discouraged by society’s norms from living their own life, they still worry about Lawa. However, Lawa’s innocent smile and eyes full of curiosity have the parents realize their duty. 
 
“The important thing is we are all family,” said Wongkot, and Ouanpa nodded. 
 
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Krissana Tungchitwatthanakul, Wongkot’s father, drives his car very fast on a small road. Changing gears smoothly, he has overtaken many cars already.
 
“My family normally drives cars very well, and we drive very fast. It usually takes only 90 minutes to get to Bangkok,” said Krissana. “I’m really happy to welcome Ouanpa to our family.”
 
He stopped the car for a while to explain how beautiful the land is in Nakhon Sawan. In the morning, all the green fields are covered in a white mist, and as time goes by, the view turns to a vivid green again during the day.
 
“Even though my daughter is tomboy, I don’t much care as long as she’s happy,” said the father, and now Lawa’s grandpa. 
 
“No matter whether people are lesbian, gay or straight, whatever, you’re very lucky to find the one who you can spend your life with. I even feel jealous of my child for having too much happiness sometimes,” he said.
 
“If they have children and families, it’s more than enough. They must be very happy.”
 

 

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The "reform" plans by Thailand's military government continue to take shape. After the establishment of the so-called National Reform Council, a Constitutional Drafting Committee will be created soon. But developments in both groups suggest again that any attempts to revamp the political system will be a very exclusive, one-sided affair. Read more...