A Thai police officer accused a board member of Amnesty International Thailand (AI Thailand) of sedition for showing support for the 14 embattled anti-junta activists.  

Baramee Chairat, one of the board members of Amnesty International Thailand and a coordinator of the Assembly of the Poor (AOF), told Prachatai that on Monday, 6 July 2015, he received a summon order from Samranraj Police Station in Bangkok.

The summon order was issued on last Friday, 3 July 2015, and was sent to Baramee via post. It stipulates that he has to come to Samranraj Police Station to report himself in on Friday, 10 July 2015, at 9 am.  

According to the summon letter, Pol Lt Col Pongsarit Pawangkanan accused Baramee of offenses under Article 116 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, law on sedition.

Article 116 of the Penal Code states that whoever makes an appearance to the public by words, writings or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism to bring about a change in the laws or the government by the use of force or violence in order to raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.

 

Baramee Chairat shows his summon order an event at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan Campus, to call the release of the 14 embattled anti-junta activists on 6 July 2015  (Photo taken from Baramee's facebook profile)

The AI Thailand board member called the summon order as harassments and intimidations. He said that the authorities probably summoned him because he has been supporting the 14 anti-junta activists.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I only executed my basic rights,” said Baramee. “I think they [the Thai junta] have no legitimacies and their actions have no justifications. There are violations of freedom and basic human rights that’s why I have to come out.”

He reported that on 25 June he was with the 14 embattled anti-junta activists to show them his support as some of the them are members of Amnesty International Thailand. However, he did not meet the activists as a representative of AI Thailand.

He mentioned that there were also other people who paid visit to the 14 activists prior to their arrest on 26 June 2015. However, he has not heard of others being summoned under the same allegation.   

“The use of law to prosecute people like this is a gross violation of human rights,” Baramee added. “People should come out to stand for their rights for freedom of expressions.”

On Tuesday morning, 7 July 2015, the military rejected the custody petition against the 14 anti-junta activists and released them without conditions. However, the 14 will still be put on trial for allegedly inciting conflicts and defying the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s gathering ban, Order No. 7/2014 which prohibits any political activity of more than five persons.     

Similarly, the 14 are accused of violating Article 116, sedition law, for holding peaceful gatherings in Bangkok and the northeastern province of Khon Kaen to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état on 22 June 2015.  

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Around the world a deep breath is being drawn by those who have been following the saga of the investigation of the Koh Tao murders last September. Since the deaths of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller and the subsequent arrests of Wei Phyo and Zaw Lin social media sites have continually buzzed with accusations, the […]

The post Koh Tao murder case starts tomorrow 8th July appeared first on Samui Times.

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International Solidarity for Thai Students and Teachers

Scholars, writers, and citizens from around the world support the Thai 14

Scholars, writers, and citizens from around the world have sent messages of support to the fourteen students arrested in Bangkok on 26 June 2015.  Organized under the ad hoc name of International Solidarity for Thai Students and Teachers, over sixty people called for the immediate release and dropping of all charges against Chatupat Boonyapatraksa, Apiwat Suntararak, Payu Boonsopon, Panupong Srithananuwat, Suvicha Tipangkorn, Supachai Pukrongploy, Wasant Satesit, Rattapol Supasupon, Rangsiman Rome, Songtham Kaewpanpruk, Chonthicha Jaengraew, Rattapol Supasophon, Apisit Sapnapapha, Pakorn Areekul, and Pornchai Yuanyee. Although the Bangkok Military Court ruled against further detention of the students on the morning of 7 July 2015, and they are expected to be released on the morning of 8 July 2015, the case against them remains.

The scholars, writers, and citizens wrote individual letters, took photographs, wrote poems, shared poems by others, drew pictures, and sent short messages of support. The messages of their cultural political interventions included the expression of solidarity, the linking of the Thai struggle for democracy to other struggles globally, and the enduring power of liberty, dignity, and freedom.

**************

A number of people wrote individual letters in support of the students. For example, Ariel Dorfman, noted thinker and writer who was forced to flee Chile when General Pinochet launched a coup against democratically-elected Salvador Allende in 1973, came to power, called on the government to cease its persecution of the students:

As someone who has himself suffered repression in Latin America and witnessed it around the world, I urge the government to stop persecuting the fourteen students who want nothing more than the human rights and democracy which are part of the heritage of the whole Thai people.

I write not only as a human rights activist, a distinguished professor at Duke University and a writer, but as someone who has established in the past, through my work, a relationship with Thailand. My play, Death and the Maiden, has been staged there – and an award winning film, Prisoners in Time, starring John Hurt, was filmed there, after I spent a compelling week in Thailand, interviewing people and scouting locations, discovering the deep gentleness and profound wisdom of so many citizens who are now subjected to the worst sort of harassment. If teachers and students are not free to express themselves, to think and act upon their thoughts, the future for Thailand will be bleak.”

Larry Lohmann, from The Corner House (UK), spoke out against the arrest of the 14 and its broader context:

“Dear friends,

As someone who considers himself a longtime friend of Thailand, and as a former university lecturer at Sri Nakharinwirot University, I am writing in solidarity with the 14 students arrested on 26 June.

I consider their arrest -- and the continuing harassment and imprisonment of many other students, teachers and ordinary people across Thailand who are simply trying to open a fruitful discussion about the country's future -- to be an offense against the right of all to free expression.

Sincerely,

Larry Lohmann

The Corner House

UK”

Professor Juliet B. Schor wrote in solidarity:

“To whom it may concern:

I write to express my solidarity with the fourteen students who have been arrested on June 26 2015 for peaceful protest. The right to express oneself and to express opinions about one's society and government is a fundamental human right that all people deserve. Without it a healthy society cannot exist. I call upon the government to release these students so they can return to their rightful role--studying and learning and contributing to their country via that role.

Please release these students. 

Sincerely,

Professor Juliet B. Schor”

Ken MacLean called for the release of the students:

“Dear colleagues,

I write to express my concern regarding the recent arrest of students for engaging in activities that promote the following five principles: democracy, human rights, justice, public participation, and non-violence. The civil and political liberties enshrined in international human rights covenants, which the Royal Thai Government has acceded, protects these rights. Peaceful protests that adhere to the five-point platform pose no threat to the security of the nation. Indeed, the exercise of these rights will enhance the security of the nation. The authorities should enable freedom of expression, the free exchange of ideas, and debate about the country's future. I urge the authorities to release the students for this reason. 

Sincerely,

Ken MacLean, Ph.D.”

Nancy Eberhardt called for the release of the students as a scholar and mother:

Statement in support of the 14 Thai students who are being detained:

Over the past few weeks, I have watched in disbelief as these young Thai citizens have been treated so callously by their government. These students, who were threatening no one and were simply stating their own convictions, represent the best hope for the future of Thailand.

As a professor who mentors students and cares about their development, as a researcher who has made a lifetime commitment to Thai studies, and as a mother of someone the same age as those who are being detained, it breaks my heart to see these events unfolding in Thailand. Joining with many others who are watching and who will hold Thailand responsible for what happens to these students, I urge the authorities to reconsider their path and release the students immediately.

Sincerely,

Nancy Eberhardt


Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Knox College, U.S.A.”

Professor Danielle Celermajer from the University of Sydney wrote to the students as fellow citizens of the world:

“Dear students and fellow citizens of a peaceful world

Your willingness to stand up for the right to participate in your country’s governance and the right to express your views is testament to your courage, your commitment to your fellow citizens and to your country. 

We only learn what is true and what is best when we can all speak and listen to each other, and not when some can decide who can speak and who cannot. This is a universal truth.

Please know that you are not alone. Academics all over the world and I am sure so many of your country people are with you and holding you in their minds and hearts.

Professor Danielle Celermajer

University of Sydney”

Professor Nyiri Pál from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam linked the struggle and repression of the students in Thailand to earlier ones:

“Dear students,

When I was little I knew some Soviet dissidents, like Yuri Orlov, the founder of the International Helsinki Federation. Little did I imagine that a quarter century after the collapse of the Soviet Union there would be another turn toward repression around the globe. China, Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, and in some ways the United States as well -- to name a few.

We are living in bad times, but this does not mean we should acquiesce.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

NYIRI Pál

Professor of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective

Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam”

Other scholars, writers, and citizens wrote poems and created art pieces in support of the students. Michelle Tan, from the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University, wrote:

“What will it take to prove to you, who rule at the barrel of a gun, that we...

are not slaves of Thaksin

are not living in a "beautiful world'

are not slaves of Caucasian white-skinned foreigners

are not evil capitalists

but we

are fighting for a stable, peaceful future

which requires the rule of law, not the rule of any individual

are trying to allow for free expression

which will help prevent the pent-up frustration that leads to radicalisation and violence

are willing to listen to you and everyone in this country

are advocating a stable system of checks and balances 

are fighting against corruption, regardless of who commits it

are all human???

If there is no "third side", no neutral space free of double standards, then there is no hope.”

Charissa, from Harvard College, offered this poem in solidarity:

“Dark Thai Tea

I.

14 voices cry for an account

Where are our disappeared

Brothers

Sisters

Mothers

Fathers

Friends?

Your graves are not big enough to hold their resistance

To bury their bravery

So they are here

Marching with us

An army of unstoppable feet and unsilenced tongues

II.

14 hearts beat for justice

For a future fairer than tyranny

Richer than the oppression

That gleams from your guns

A peace that makes your prisons

Collapse on the weight of their emptiness

A freedom that stretches to infinity

Like the Mekong

Like all the words in all of your banned books

III.

14 mouths have tasted the

Bitter

Dark

Thai Tea

And found it wanting

Wanting something sweeter.”

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, professor at the Australian National University, maintained that “Free speech is a human right. Dissent is not a crime.”

May Adadol Ingawanij, teacher, University of Westminster, offered the message that, “You’ll never walk alone,” as well as this short clip:

Chris Baker asks, “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”


 

Samson Lim, from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, sent a message of solidarity and respect as the father of a young son:

Andrew Alan Johnson from Yale-NUS College wrote in support with the message that “Democracy is not a crime”:

Karin from Sweden wrote in praise of dissent:

John Francis Lee created a visual message of support for the 14 students:

A friend from Hong Kong sent in a visual message of support:

Mingkwan Garcia from France sent in a bilingual message of liberation:

Several people sent the poems of others to share with the students.  

Eugénie Merieau sent Paul Eluard’s “Liberty”:

Tyrell Haberkorn from the Australian National University shared part of Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Integrity”:

Students, faculty, and journalists also sent in post-it actions, inspired by the post-it actions in Bangkok. The students of Akita International University in Japan created a series of post-its in support of the students:

Aim Sinpeng from the University of Sydney wrote with a clear and sharp message:

Taylor Easum, Assistant Professor of History from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, shared this message of support:

Alessio Fratticcioli, PhD student at Monash University offered a clear message:

Arnaud Dubus, independent journalist, called for the release of the students:

Dr. Lee Jones from the University of London wrote in support of liberty:

Angela Chiu in London called for justice, tolerance and compassion:

Sudarat Musikawong from Siena College offered a clarion message of solidarity:

 

Others took photographs of themselves holding their messages, such as Emily Donald, student at the University of Queensland:

The messages came in multiple languages, including an English-Bosnian-Russian message from linguist Wayles Browne, who insisted on the urgency of listening to students, rather than locking them up:

 

Many others offered their support, respect and solidarity with the students.

Professor Craig J. Reynolds, retired from the Australian National University, wrote in support of the fourteen and noted:  

“These young people, who have chosen to challenge the injustices of Thai military rule, deserve my support. I have great respect for their courage and moral stand.”

Ajarn Ben Tausig from Stony Brook University, stands with the students and said:

“I stand with the fourteen brave students who have spoken out against an unjust government. I will follow the trial closely, and will do my best to help people understand what is happening.”

Charles Keyes, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and International Studies, University of Washington, addressed the government directly and noted:

“As a scholar who has spent most of his professional life carrying out research about and teaching in Thailand I find it deeply disturbing that students seeking to exercise rights of free speech as recognized by almost all countries as well as human rights organizations should have been arrested and interned. This action makes Thailand even more alienated from the free world. I urge that the Thai government to give amnesty to the students.”

Arif Dirlik, a retired professor in Eugene, Oregon, wrote:

Democracy, human rights, justice, public participation, and non-violence are among the most cherished achievements of modernity everywhere, and anyone devoted to their defense should be rewarded, not punished. For intellectuals, the defense of these rights is not a luxury but part of their duty to the society that invests in them. The arrest and incarceration of the students in Thailand for their defense of freedom and free speech is a transgression against contemporary civilized life, and should be rectified at once if Thai leaders desire recognition as reformers rather than oppressors of their own people. The whole world is watching.”

Jetta, a Thammasat University alum, wrote:

“Dear Rangsiman, Wason, Songtham, Phayu, Apiwat, Rattapon, Supachai , Abhisit, Panupong,  Suwicha, Pakorn, Jatupat, Pornchai, Chonticha,

“Courage and honor to him who's jailed,

Our hearts shall cheer him and cry "All Hail!"

Our hands shall help to win the fight---

We're ready to fight,

For Liberty"

"We're Ready" A song from I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World)

"When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw." Quote from Nelson Mandela

In Solidarity,

Jetta  (Thammasat University Alumni)”

Raymond Scupin, the Director of the Center for International and Global Studies at Lindenwood University, wrote with this message about the impacts of repression:

“Up until recently, Thailand was perceived throughout the world as the most important exemplar and model of a developing country.  The country managed to develop a political economy that was based on a democratic process, rapid economic development, and freedom of the media while at the same time maintaining its religious traditions.  However, since the time of the last coup the drift toward an authoritarian regime has undermined the international reputation of Thailand.  The Thai regime has deliberately constructed a delusional and paranoid fantasy regarding a so-called conspiracy viewed as a threat to its political legitimacy.  These delusions have led to the recent arrest of these Thai students who were calling for more democracy and human rights.  This outright political repression of the media and the disdain for legal and democratic processes needs to be condemned by the international community.  The international community needs to be mobilized for political action and possible sanctions against the Thai regime and its authoritarian policies so that Thailand can once again be a model for developing democratic principles and an enterprising political economy.” 

Robert Dayley, Professor in the Department of Political Economy at the College of Idaho, sent this message for the 14 students:

“‘If you have enough inner resources, then you can live in isolation for long periods of time and not feel diminished by it’ – Aung San Suu Kyi.  Stay strong my friends! Your dignity will sustain you!”

Jeremy Starn from Boston wrote in support of the students and democracy:

“True democracy will prevail whether dictators such as General Prayuth stand in its way or not. By not releasing the 14 students that are being held the current Thai government will only dig itself deeper into its own pit of utter despair but it will not heed the uprising of the people. The junta must peacefully give the people back their voice and stop their egregious destruction of human rights OR inevitably lose their fight for power. Either way the people WILL have their right to be heard. The choice right now is in the junta's hands; but it won't be for long.  Release the students, repeal the new constitution and restore the power to the people.” 

Many others sent in short messages of support:

“Respect to 14 brave democrats in vital struggle” – Garry Rodan,  Professor of Politics & International Studies, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Australia

“I stand in support of any student who criticizes any regime in the name of democracy, justice, and human rights. Dissent is not a crime.” -- Thomas Pepinsky,

Cornell University

“The free and open expression of ideas should not be feared, but embraced; it is the bedrock of any society's future.” -- Katherine A. Bowie, Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Your attitudes don’t need adjusting. You’ve done nothing wrong – in fact, you’ve done something glorious. The self-appointed enforcers of happiness are running scared backwards into history.” -- John Roosa, Associate Professor of History,

U. of British Columbia

“‘In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.’ Edward Burke; In solidarity.” -- Allen Hicken

“‘In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies...but the silence of our friends’ ขอส่งกำลังใจให้เพื่อนๆ 14 คน เราจะร่วมต่อสู้ไปด้วยกัน” -- มาร์ค เจนมานะ นักศึกษา คณะเศรษฐศาสตร์

มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์

“In solidarity with the students!” -- Kevin Hewison, Sir Walter Murdoch Professor of Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University

“I want to tell my support to the fulfillment of all the Human Rights for all mankind. Arresting peaceful students is not acceptable, even from a martial government.” -- Jean Montané, France

“Dissent is not a Crime, Coup is. Free 14 Students.” -- Pavin Chachavalpongpun,

Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

“In support of those working for a better, more open, Thailand.” -- Michael Montesano, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

“Courage à  vous qui représentez l'avenir de la Thaïlande, l'avenir tout court, face aux dinosaures que sont les militaires sans cervelle.  Vous êtes l'objet d'admiration du monde entier. Restez libres dans votre jugement et vos actes, votre emprisonnement est la honte du régime.” -- Jean-philippe jeannerot, enseignant,  France

“A protest with a smile is the best sign of democracy and a healthy society. Before you were arrested we could all smile back. I hope you all are free soon, and that it will not be a crime to ask that society respect the wishes, dreams, and humour of its own people.” -- เลฟ จอนสัน Hjorleifur Jonsson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

“Free all political prisoners in Thailand! ‘Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.’ (Étienne de la Boétie)” -- Dr Tomas Larsson, University of Cambridge

“Disagreement is the lifeblood of democracy! Fight on! ความไม่เห็นด้วยคือชีวิตจิตใจของประชาธิปไตย สู้ สู้” --  Eli Elinoff, PhD., National University of Singapore

“Your freedom is my freedom.” -- J. Sakulwattana, Student, SOAS University of London

“I’m standing with you in peace, against oppression.” -- Dr Sarah Milne

เพราะเพียงแค่14คน คนทั่วโลกกำลังลุกขึ้นสู้ เป็นกำลังใจให้นะคะ” -- ผลเมืองคนหนึ่ง (เชียงใหม่)

“I write in support of the 14 students arrested in Thailand on June 26th.  I believe this to be an act of unwarranted suppression of their rights to peaceful protest.  They should be released immediately.” -- concerned professor

“This is a note of solidarity with the 14 Thai students arrested for remembering the students detained a year ago by the military junta. Freedom of expression is crucial to all countries. The students are remembering oppression and rejecting it, with is a crucial element of any democracy.” -- Dr Joyce Canaan, Professor of Sociology, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England

“We stand with you and hope the government release the students immediately and sincerely listen to their demands — and realize the legitimacy in their demand and make Thailand more just and democratic than before. In solidarity.” -- Jooyea Lee from Seoul

“May your voices be strong and their resolve weakened. Tell your government we are watching their every step.” -- Oliver @Yangon, ARTICLE 19: Global campaign for freedom of expression

“Dear students and teachers, I admire your courage in exercising your right to protest against military dictatorship. I believe that you are in the right direction in your democratic aspiration for your country. Continue your dream...” – Delfo

“REPRESSION LEADS TO DISSENT, DIVISION AND ENMITY THAT WILL LAST FOR DECADES. IS THIS TO BE LEGACY OF THE JUNTA?

RETURN HAPPINESS TO THE THAI PEOPLE: FREE THE THAI FOURTEEN.” -- Aussie friend 

“Telling the truth and dissenting from injustice and an oppressive non-elected imposed form of rule is courageous and admirable. You are a ray of hope and example of freedom to all in Thailand. Bravo.” -- Dr Diogenes

“Free the 14! Dissent is not a crime, and the military junta is not legitimate. They have done nothing wrong and should not be imprisoned. The military court must release them immediately.” -- Dr. Donald Johnson, Psychology Coordinator, Webster University of Thailand

“I stand with Thai students for the right of free expression.” -- Professor Katharine Bjork, St. Paul, USA

“Civil rights are the foundation of a strong, progressive society. Political injustice ruins Thais domestically and globally. #FreeThai14 NOW.” -- Dr. Chanson

“I’m supporting 14 Thai students. Release them immediately!” – Anonymous

“Release the 14 students immediately!” -- A Sydney Thai

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Defence lawyers say important evidence has recently been provided by UK over death of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Koh Tao

Burmese migrant workers accused of killing British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Koh Tao island last September will face trial on Wednesday, the start of a high-profile case which has spotlighted Thailand’s legal failings and distressed the grieving families.

The criminal trial of Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo will be held in a court on the nearby and larger island of Koh Samui and is expected to end on 25 September. A verdict is expected during October.

There has been a lot more advance disclosure from the British side.

Related: Koh Tao’s dark side: dangers of island where Britons were murdered

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Asaree Thaitrakulpanich
Film critics say a Czech film, set in 20th century Czechoslovakia, recently screened in a central Bangkok mall, reflects the role of autocratic regimes in everyday life and education and also sheds light on how constantly-changing autocratic regimes bear down upon normal people in their everyday lives, even on “non political” people.
 
The discussion after the special screening of I Served the King of England (2006) at the Central World on Saturday drew parallels between the film’s 20th century Czechoslovakia setting and present-day Thailand while raising questions about the prevalence of mainstream historical narratives, especially in education. 
 
 
I Served the King of England (2006), directed by Jiří Menzel, is based on the novel of the same name written in 1971 by Czech literary legend Bohumil Hrabal. The film is a historical drama, with elements of comedy, romance, and surrealism. Since its release it has been well-received, holding 7.4 out of 10 stars on IMDb. 
 
The story is told retrospectively from the point of view of Jan Dítě, an old man who has just served a 15-year jail sentence. As he rebuilds a deserted pub, Dítě recalls his life as a hospitality worker. He worked his way up from working in a small roadside hotel to the grandest hotel in Prague. When the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia, he unexpectedly fell in love with and married a fanatic Nazi soldier and found employment at one of his former hotels, now converted into a “master race” breeding center. After the war during the Communist era, he was jailed for being a millionaire: he had 15 million in the bank, so he served 15 years. 
 
After the screening, Kong Rithdee, Bangkok Post writer and film critic, Chalida Ua-bumrungjit, Deputy Director of the Thai Film Archive, and Verita Sriratana, lecturer at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University led the film discussion, titled “The Grand ‘Bohemia’ Hotel: Central Europe as a Place of Transit for Authoritarian Regimes — Can Thailand Learn from the History of World Wars in Central Europe?” Nattapan Jariyawutikul, undergraduate student in the BA Program in Language and Culture at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Arts, moderated the discussion.  
 
Verita began the discussion by providing the film’s context. Hrabal, who wrote the novel which the film I Served is based upon, had lived through a total of four different Czech regimes during his lifetime from 1914-1997: the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nazi occupation, Communist rule, and post-Berlin Wall Czechoslovakia. The “hotel” in the film was a “rest stop” for guests, just as Czechoslovakia was a “rest stop” for several changing regimes. Last year’s 4-Academy Award winning The Grand Budapest Hotel, directed by Wes Anderson, is heavily inspired by I Served, with both films sharing a similar plotline and the motif of a “rest stop hotel” in Central Europe.
 
Furthermore, Verita explains, Dítě means “child” in Czech, reflecting Czechoslovakia’s—and everyday people’s—recipient role in being impacted by power. During the tumultuous events of the 20th century, Czechoslovakia was the type of country to be left in the “anteroom” while in the “discussion room,” powerful decision-making countries would decide everyone’s fate, said Verita. 
 
Central Europe’s role as an “anteroom” area is comparable to Thailand, where those in power define concepts such as duty and happiness for people under them, stated Verita. 
 
Kong ties Czechoslovakia’s political role with Dítě’s role in the film. Dítě views the world with a childish innocence, not understanding the political context and gravity of his actions until it is too late. 
 
For example, Chalida refers to how Dítě has to get physically examined to determine that he is of pure Aryan blood before he can marry his Nazi bride. Everyday people, “little people,” Chalida said, are not able to see how in the long run they will be seen by history. Dítě’s character could not help falling in love with a Nazi, nor could he prevent his arrest by the Communists for being a capitalist, added Verita.
 
Chalida ties this in with many Thais’ choice to stay out of politics. “Being non-political is still a political stance,” she says. “Politics gets involved with you, whether you want it to or not.” 
 
Hrabal’s modernist, experimental writing as well as Menzel’s adaptation offers an alternative version of history to the official grand narratives presented in textbooks, said Verita. Nattapan brought up the issue of learning history through films such as I Served, and how the history curricula in the Thai education system is so limited that it does not include very much of Thai history, much less world history. “Teachers shouldn’t just screen Naresuan for students and tell them it’s history. It’s a constructed adaptation, just like any film,” said Chalida. 
 
Mainstream Thai historical narrative films such as the Naresuan film series only confirm previously-held antagonisms and prejudices, said Kong. “Thais need more historical films which change the audience after watching it—as well as audiences willing to watch such films.” 
 
Alternative Thai history films could follow the example of I Served and use tragicomedy and absurdity to illuminate historical events in a new light, said the film critic. 
 
The Embassy of the Czech Republic, in collaboration with the Chulalongkorn University-Visegrád Collaboration Project, screened Jiří Menzel’s I Served the King of England (2006) at Thai Knowledge (TK) Park in Central World. In the introductory speech, Czech ambassador to Thailand HE Vítězslav Grepl said that the Czech people had to struggle to survive in the 20th century due to being caught between two great powers, Germany and Russia, and the nightmare of living through one dictatorial regime after another. Grepl stated that his country was happy to share the experience they went through.
 
The Chulalongkorn University-Visegrád Collaboration Project (CU-V4), founded by Verita Sriratana, is an academic and cultural cooperation that aims to build stronger cultural and academic ties with the Visegrád Group of countries of Central Europe, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. For future events by the CU-V4 project, follow the CU-V4 
 
Verita Sriratana, Kong Rithdee, Chalida Ua-bumrungjit, and Nattapan Jariyawutikul discuss the Czech film I Served the King of England, applying it to Thai context in a discussion titled, “The Grand ‘Bohemia’ Hotel: 
 
 
From left to right: Milada Polišenská, expert in Central European Studies; Verita Sriratana; Renata Greplová, wife of the Czech Ambassador; Czech ambassador Vítězslav Grepl, Chalida Ua-bumrungjit, director general of TK Park Tatsanai Wongpisethkul; Kong Rithdee; Nattapan Jariyawutikul 
 
 
 
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The Thai military court has turned down the custody permission against the 14 anti-junta activists on one of their charges. However, they still have to face trials.

At about 11:30 Tuesday, 7 July 2015, the Thai military court rejected the custody petition to detain the 14 embattled anti-junta activists, who have been under custody since 26 June 2015, issued by the police.  

According iLaw, an internet platform promoting civil laws related to freedom of expression, however, the court’s rejection is concerning the case of the group’s political gathering on 25 June, but not the political gatherings to commemorate the coup on 22 June 2015 in Bangkok and Khon Kaen Province.      

If the military court’s decision on the other case is similar, the students are to be freed. However, they will still have to stand on trials for allegedly breaking the junta’s orders and committing crimes against national security.

Since early morning today, 7 July 2015, at least 100 people gathered in front of the military court of Bangkok to support the 14 and to anticipate the court’s decision whether the detained activists would be released.

Many people gathered since early morning on 7 July 2015 to call for the release of the 14 anti-junta activists

Prajak Kongkirati, a renowned political scientist and lecturer of Thammasat University, and Pichit Likitkijsomboon, a lecturer of Faculty of Economics of Thammasat, and Sirawit Serithiwat, a well known student activists from an anti-junta Resistant Citizen group, are among the crowd who came to support the 14 activists.

“I’m not behind the students [the 14 activists], but I’m beside them,” said Prajak in front of the Bangkok’s military court.

Sunai Phasuk, a researcher from Human Rights Watch, who also came to the military court posted on his twitter account “although the military court rejected the custody petition against the 14 they are still charged with a serious case with the penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment. What happened was just meant to improve the image [of the regime] and reduce pressure.”   

About 20-30 security officers were deployed in front of the military court to monitor the situation.   

On Monday night, 6 July 2015, many activists, academics, and others participated in an event at Thammasat University to support and call for an immediate release of the 14 activists.

“I’m not behind the students [the 14 activists], but I’m beside them,” said Prajak Kongkirati, a renowned political scientist and lecturer of Thammasat University, in front of the Bangkok’s military court on 7 July 2015

Since the arrest of the 14 in late June, many international organisations, such as the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Union (EU), and many other human rights organisations issued statements in support for the 14 and urged the Thai junta to stop the crackdown on freedom of expression.

Bangkok’s Military Court on 28 June granted custody permission to detain 14 student activists who are accused of violating the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014, which prohibits any political gathering of more than five persons for holding symbolic events to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état on 22 May.

In addition, the 14 are also charged under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the law on sedition, for holding anti-junta political activities. If found guilty, the activists might face prison terms up to seven years.

Sirawit Serithiwat, a well known student activists from an anti-junta Resistant Citizen group, are among the crowd who came to support the 14 activists.

 
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KHON KAEN, 7 July 2015: Two sightseeing tram collided and overturned at Thailand’s Khon Kaen Zoo, Sunday, killed five tourists on board and injuring more than 50, local media reported. Initially, officials at the zoo said brakes on one of the trams failed causing it to hit the other tram and overturn. A full investigation […] Read more...
Over 1,500 cyclists participated in the “Nation Bike Share the Road 2015” which was held under the auspices of Pattaya City Hall and Nation Broadcasting Corporation. The event, which is held annually, is designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle and to set a good example to couch potatoes. In a separate development, civic authorities are [...] Read more...
A group of 100 Thai tour guides gathered on Pattaya Beach Road and marched to City Hall to end the unlawful activities of Chinese, Russian, Indian and Vietnamese tour guides who have been working without permits and threatening the livelihood of the Thais. It was reported that a scuffle had broken out between the hostile [...] Read more...
Organized by Thai Spa Association (TSPA) in cooperation with Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and IMPACT Exhibition Management, the World Spa and Well-being Convention (WSWC) 2015 will continue to push the standards for the spa and well-being sector, providing more business opportunities than ever before in one of the fastest-growing niche market [...] Read more...
Beyond Beauty ASEAN-Bangkok 2015 (BBAB 2015) has launched two new activities: “Hosted VIP Buyers Program” to facilitate effective networking and “Beyond Beauty Award” to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements in the respective categories. The second edition of BBAB will take place on September 24-26, 2015 at IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center in Bangkok. The inaugural Beyond Beauty [...] Read more...
Police rushed to the Royal Garden Plaza after a fight involving about 10 teens of both sexes broke out. Apparently, the dispute broke out when Jai Kamsaen was accused of behaving dishonorably towards a nubile female. He was chased round the mall and was stabbed once (not seriously) by an unknown person. Security staff at [...] Read more...
A particularly nasty accident near the railway line in Siam Country Club area resulted in the death of a motorbike rider. Rungrot Kuedsoongnon, 22, had been squashed after an inebriated car driver crashed into the back of his two-wheeler. The dead man’s sister and brother-in-law were injured and rushed to hospital. Pich Pinyapong, 19 and [...] Read more...
British expat Colin Thomas Gardiner, 68, was shot dead through the neck in front of an apartment block in South Pattaya. Police later apprehended the murderer, Teeradate Kakrong, aged 33, who explained that the Brit was forever criticizing his lifestyle which included smoking and drinking. In any case, their relationship had broken down some months [...] Read more...
Unsilence Thailand
NEW YORK, NY: (July 6, 2015) - Members of Unsilence Thailand and supporters demonstrated today at the Royal Thai Consulate General in New York City in support of the release of 14 Thai student activists currently detained by Thailand’s military government. 
 
On June 26, 2015, 14 members of the New Democracy Movement, a network of Thai pro-democracy organizations, were arrested by Thailand’s military government for taking part in a peaceful, non-violent demonstration on May 22, 2015 to mark one year of military rule in Thailand. The fourteen students are charged with sedition and for violating the junta’s order prohibiting political gatherings. They face up to seven years in prison and will be brought before a non-civilian military court on Tuesday, July 7th. All fourteen students have refused bail in defiance of the Thai dictatorship’s authority. 
 
“We are here today to express our solidarity with the 14 students arrested for fighting for democracy and freedom in Thailand,” said Bussaya Jamfar, a US-based Thai member of the Dao Din organization, one of the groups in the New Democracy Movement. “We demand the students’ release and join them in their call for a return to democracy in Thailand.” 
 
Unsilence Thailand delivered a letter to the New York Royal Thai Consul General, Mr Pisanu Chanvitan, with a request that the 14 students and all wrongfully jailed political prisoners in Thailand be released immediately. The letter also called for the quick resumption of democracy in Thailand through free and fair elections and the annulment of the military-penned constitution, particularly Article 44 that grants Prime Minister and former Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha absolute authority. 
 
“Sadly, Thailand today is a two-bit dictatorship where basic rights and freedoms are violated on a daily basis,” said Unsilence Thailand member Jonathan Griffin. "Thailand’s military government is persecuting these students like common criminals, but in reality they are just dedicated young men and women working to defend the rights of the Thai people from a vindictive regime.” The group also called for freedom of expression and association and all civil and political rights to be respected until democracy is restored in Thailand. 
 
The 14 students, represented in the demonstration by masked protestors, are: 1. Rangsiman Rome 
2. Chonticha Chaeng-rew 
3. Ratthapol Surasopon 
4. Songtham Kaewpanpruek 
6. Pakron Arrekul 
7. Abhisit Sapnaphana 
8. Jaturapak Boonpatararaksa 
9. Apiwat Suntararak 
11. Panupong Srithananuwat 
12. Suwitcha Thipangkorn 
13. Supachai Pukrongply 
14. Wasan Sethsitthi 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Activists, academics, and many others gathered at Thammasat University to show their solidarity for the 14 embattled anti-junta activists and call for their release as their custody period is drawing near.

On Monday evening, 6 July 2015, many people from all walks of life gathered at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan Campus, to participate in an event called ‘Wings of Freedom’ to campaign for an immediate release of the 14 embattled anti-junta activists, who have been under custody since 26 June 2015.

The activity was held the night before the custody period of the 14 activists will end. However, the police might issue a new custody petition against them to the military court on Tuesday morning. The event lasted from 5-9 pm.

At the event, many pro-democracy academics and activists gave speeches to urge for the release of the 14 and criticised the junta’s regime for the repression of freedom of expressions and human rights.

People also gathered to sing and wrote post-it placards with messages to support the 14 despite the pouring monsoon rain in Bangkok.  

Members of Khon Rak Baan Koed (KRBK), a local anti-mine activist group from the northeastern province of Loei, who have been working with Dao Din Group, an activist group from Khon Kaen Province, seven of whose members are among the 14, also came to the event and sang a traditional folk song of their region to support the detained activists.

Wiboon Boonpattararaksa, the father of Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, one of the 14 anti-junta student activists now in detention, sing for his son at the event

Khon Rak Baan Koed (KRBK), anti-mine activists from the northeastern province of Loei, travelled to Bangkok to sing and show solidarity to Dao Din Group and the 14   

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Harrison George

I got this cycling thing all wrong.

Somehow I foolishly thought that the government and the BMA and everyone else who has been talking up the idea of cycling were thinking in terms of public transport.

Silly, silly me.

It now seems that cycling is an activity with a number of purposes, but none of them are related to using bikes to get somewhere. 

These alternative purposes include showing monarchical devotion and national unity (please wear blue if you can); physical exercise for the middle classes who have enough money to buy day-glo lycra outfits but not enough sense not to wear them; and an impersonation of a bicycle-friendly city so that visitors from countries where people actually cycle to go somewhere will think we are like them. 

When we’re not.

This explains why the website bikeformom2015.com crashed as soon as it opened from the rush of applications for a 43 km ride (43?  Really?  At 3 in the afternoon?  Do survivors get a medal?)

It also explains why cyclists are encouraged to use, and expected to be grateful for, a track out by the airport that you need a car to get to.

And it explains why Thai society remains inimical to real cycling.  By that I mean real people using real roads for the purpose for which they are primarily intended, as a means of getting from A to B.

There is a streak of blind indifference towards cyclists in your average motorist, with a small minority displaying naked hostility, offset by a similarly small minority showing courteous consideration. 

Which is hard to fathom.  In the average collision between a vehicle and a bike, the occupants of the vehicle have a near zero risk of death or injury.  This is true whether or not the cyclist has been indulging in those petty infringements of the highway code, like undertaking in traffic jams, or filtering left on red lights whether or not there is a sign permitting this.

Cyclists, on the other hand, pose a significant risk to only one other kind of road-user – pedestrians.  This occurs if a cyclist for some reason mounts the footpath at speed.  Or is invited there by BMA planners who think that marking two parallel lines running down the middle of the footpath constitutes a cycle path.

You see, in their make-believe world, traffic planning means simply getting everything out of the way of motorized traffic.  But unfortunately, putting bicycle lanes on footpaths inevitably means, with the general wilful disregard for traffic laws and despite large police signs to the contrary, that they become motorcycle lanes.  This greatly increases the danger to pedestrians.  And can be blamed on cyclists for asking for bicycle lanes in the first place.

Using a bicycle on a regular road marks you out as someone so impecunious that you can’t even borrow enough for a second-hand Wave, and are therefore a member of the underclass who can be ignored.  Or, more subversively, you could be someone who has rejected the duty of buying the most extensive set of wheels your credit can buy and flaunting them to the fullest extent possible.  Which in some people’s eyes, constitutes an insurrection against social norms that warrants more than indifference.

Bangkok Post’s Sirinya Wattanasukchai discovered the hard way what status cyclists enjoy in Bangkok when she was bowled off her bike by a taxi.  The taxi driver, miraculously unscathed of course, was quick to agree to the traffic policeman’s ‘everybody equally guilty’ suggestion.  When she refused that, the taxi driver suddenly decided she had run a red light.  Off to the station where again she was presented with the police panacea for all incidents from road accidents to rape:  ‘Be sensible, agree among yourselves, pay compensation if you must, but don’t give us any more work’.

Until she pulled out her Bangkok Post ID and it registered in some police brain that, like diplomatic passports, military IDs and suits that walk in with at least 3 lawyers, this signalled that the case needed more judicious handling.

Yes, cyclists don’t pay road tax.  Neither do they cause any more wear and tear on roads than pedestrians crossing the street, also tax-free.  And they cause no emissions (while suffering disproportionately from other people’s).  Yes, cyclists regularly break the rules and zip up the inside of motorists chafing in jams.  But they don’t regularly break the speed limit like most vehicles with far greater risks to everyone concerned.  And yes, they have this annoying habit of getting off and turning into temporary pedestrians to exploit the never-ending traffic light cycles and get an early start on the other side.

But they, and their insubordination to the boorish cultural norms on Bangkok’s streets, are not going away.


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).

 

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People gathered in the northern province of Chiang Mai, Thailand, to show moral support to the 14 embattled anti-junta activists under tight monitoring of the police and military officers.

On Sunday, 5 July 2015, a crowd gathered in front of Chiang Mai University to hold an event called ‘Post Its for Freedom’ to urge for an immediate release for the 14 embattled anti-junta activists who have been detained since last week, 26 June 2015.

The event was organised under the heavy presence of police and military officers in and out of uniforms, who tightly monitored the event.

The event was similar to the ‘Post Its for Freedom’ in Bangkok on 3 July, where the event participants wrote messages on post its to support the 14 activists, read poetries, and performed live music.

The event was organized by the northern activist group namely the Liberal Assembly of Chiang Mai University for Democracy (LACMUD), the Free Maejo for Democracy, the AT North group, and the Northern Student Assembly.

At the event, the activist groups declared a joint statement, urging an immediate release of the 14 activists. They stated that they support the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and its 5 principles: Democracy, Justice, Participation, Human rights, and Peace.

“Once, political expressions of the students are praised heroic. But today political expressions made us prisoners and land us in jail.”

“Though our bodies are free, but as long as our friends are detained, It also detained our souls. We urge for an immediate release on the 14 activists unconditionally. Because we are friends and we will not abandon each others. ” The statement said.

The event was also joined by Nidhi Eoseewong, a well known social science academic, along with Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chookiat Sakveerakul, film directors.

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Thantawut Taweewarodomkul

In one of Thailand’s men’s prison, the homosexuals are categorized as transgenders with breasts, attractive transgenders, older transgender, gay and transexuals. They are entitled to different “class” and treatment. A former inmate wrote the article in detention. 

 

"Prison" is a place to control various types of offenders. It is divided into two main groups: men's prisons and women's prisons. This is done for the convenience of supervision and is nothing strange because you certainly can't have male inmates together with female ones. 
 
But in reality, the problem of gender differences for male inmates or even female inmates is something that society might not have ever known about. How do people with different gender identities live in prison? Do they receive proper care or not? And what do they have to deal with? 
 
I, as a former inmate, who was in a men's prison for more than three years, can share my experiences with this group of male inmates so that society might know some of our stories so that they might receive treatment consistent with human rights and decency in the future. 
 
In Bangkok Remand Prison, and I believe in all (men's) prisons in Thailand, besides male inmates you will come across three other types of inmates of different gender identities: transgender, gay, and transexual. Let's take a look at the lives of these three groups and how they are treated differently from other inmates.
 
1. Transgender- This group is the most commonly found. They can be clearly noticed by their external appearance, including their mannerisms, how they dress, their clothes, and their makeup, such as wearing lipstick. Kathoey inmates can be further divided into smaller groups, as follows:
 
(1.1) Transgender with breasts - This doesn't need much explanation since you can see clearly from their external appearance that they have breasts like your average woman. This type of kathoey is considered to be grade A, therefore a majority of them are likely to catch the interest of influential people in the prison (called "bosses" in prison, literally translated as "big leg"). They will accept them in the group and give them good treatment, including food and safety. As such, it doesn't matter whether they are pretty or not. If they have breasts, there will be people competing to get them in their group immediately. This group of inmates might not have to work because the boss will take care of everything for them. But they certainly won't get those privileges for free. They might have to trade by having sex with the boss of that group, but it is something that they understand and accept as normal, and not anything strange.
 
(1.2) Attractive transgender - Pretty, cute, young (without breasts), they are also considered grade A and receive the same level of interest from the bosses as the first group of transgender. They are considered outstanding as well.
 
(1.3) Older transgender - They likely don't belong to any group, but rather create their own groups.They are the bosses of transgender together. They can go with all groups and are accepted by both the bosses and transgenders. The leader of this group of transgenders are called mothers because they give guidance, care, advice, and sort out problems of all of the transgenders in their area. You can say that they really serve the function of mothers.
 
(1.4) Manly transgender - I'm not sure what to call this group of transgender because they are transgenders that from the outside you wouldn't be able to tell. They are very much like men if they don't wear makeup. They are big and have muscles, and some of them have facial hair. The first time you see this group of transgenders, you wouldn't know they are transgenders. This group of transgenders need to continuously look after themselves, and even then still get treated badly by other guys. You often see this group of transgenders quarreling and fighting with other male inmates, and for sure they can hold their own.
 
To summarize, transgenders are the largest group and most of them are under a boss. They are accepted as a member regardless of their appearance, or whether they have breasts, because having a transgender in the group is great for the group. It is like having a maid and a beauty queen for the group. transgenders are willing to be part of a group because they receive a lot of conveniences. As for sex, not all transgenders have to have sex with the group leader or with other inmates, but almost all of them, even if they aren't attractive, always have a mate.
 
2. Gay inmates. In Bangkok Remand Prison, you won't encounter many gays. It might be because those who are gay are not likely to come out, but there are certainly some that you can tell from looking. They have smooth faces and most of them have knowledge either about computers or language. Therefore, it is not strange that gay inmates receive important duties in the area of administration. They mostly work on paperwork, are interpreters, or fix broken computers. As such, they don't need to belong to any group led by a boss. They eat at the office. Doing this type of work they receive acceptance from all of the other inmates. There is not really anyone who wants to mess with them because they work closely with the prison administration. As such, they don't fall under the influence of anyone. They are not sexually abused, or if they are, it is out of their own willingness.
 
3. Transexual inmates - This group of inmates rarely go to prison. They look like women so much that you could call them genuine women based on looking at their appearance. This group of inmates is supervised to a stricter standard than other inmates for safety reasons related to sexual abuse. Therefore, this group's movement within the prison is limited. They do not have the freedom to move around the prison to different places or places out of sight of others. Normally, they are limited to staying in their room all the time. This could be a room that is set aside for transgender inmates or a special cell called a "small cell" (it is longer than it is wide), which can be said to be very cruel to this group because it is a "prison within a prison". They are already in jail, and then have to be in another jail. 
 
 
About the author: Thantawut Taweewarodomkul, aka Noom Rednont, is a former web designer who was sentenced to 13 years in jail for lèse majesté. Thantawut served the jail term for three years and three months before he was granted royal pardom and walked free in 2013. When the Thai junta, who staged the coup in 2014, summoned him to report in, Thantawut could not bare any more of live in detention, and decided to live in self-imposed exile. In a new country, Thantawut is composing a book about lives of inmates. 
 
The article was first published in Thai on iLaw and transaled into English by a contributor. 
 
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International organizations calling for the release of the 14 embattled anti-junta activists do not understand the arrests in the Thai political context, said a junta spokesman.

Maj Gen Weerachon Sukontapatipak, spokesman for the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) stated that the government understands the role of international organizations and do not have a problem with the students’ way of thinking.

However, the junta is concerned about certain groups who hope to take advantage of the student activists’ protests by turning it into a situation similar to the 14 October 1973 Student Uprising, stated Weerachon. Therefore, international organizations pressuring for the activists’ release must understand the Thai political context and goals of various interest groups first, stated the junta spokesman.  

“The students came to protest with pure intentions, but they are still children. They can think on some level. Society must listen and try to understand if [the junta] can provide what they’re asking for, or not,” continued the Maj Gen.

Regarding the international pressure on the arrest, Weerachon said that the junta doesn’t consider it pressure since they have standards to deal with the situation, and are therefore following their duty. International organizations are also following their duty of trying to pressure, but they “lack a true understanding” of the Thai political context.

Weerachon referred to the pro-junta activists who are against the students actions, and went on to say that the junta’s role is to facilitate understanding, confidence, and belief in the “pure-heartedness” of the junta and the NCPO between citizens. He says that most of Thai society already understands this.

Pertaining to the activist refusal of bail, the NCPO spokesman said that even if the students viewed the current law as unlawful, they still had to ask themselves why most Thais still accepted the junta’s regime.

“Thailand is peaceful and prosperous even if foreigners do not view the junta’s rule as a democracy,” stated the major general. “We’ll have to discuss with the students why they don’t accept laws that everyone else does.”

When asked if international organizations’ pressure will cause problems for Gen Prayuth when travelling overseas, Weerachon stated that there would be no problem.

“Thailand is seen by all other countries as stable, even if we are not a fully-fledged democracy yet. All other countries are encouraging Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha in carrying out his roadmap to bring the country towards a democracy in the future.”

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On July 3, Mr. Chula Sukmanop, the director general of the Marine Department revealed possible plans for a new ferry link to Koh Samui. At a meeting on the progress of ferry ship transportation in the gulf of Thailand that Siam Eastern Logistics Terminal Co.,Ltd and other logistics and transport entrepreneurs have shown an interest […]

The post New ferry links for Koh Samui appeared first on Samui Times.

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The military officers in northern Thailand threatened to force the cancellation of a discussion on LGBT if it touches on political issues.    

According Prachatham News, the Thai Military officers from 33rd Army Division of the northern province of Chiang Mai at 12:30 pm on Saturday, 4 July 2015, came to inspect an event called ‘Gender & LGBTIQs in Modern Society’ at the Cultural Exhibition Hall of Chiang Mai University.

The military officers in and out of uniforms later contacted Woralun Boonyasurat, the rector of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Chiang Mai University, to ask if the exhibition and the discussions at the event are related to politics and threatened the organisers to abort the event if it involves political discussions.

After the discussion with the rector, the military permitted the event organisers to hold the event. However, military and police officers tightly monitored the discussion at the event.       

“If there is any mention on politics, we will force the event to be cancelled immediately,” Prachatham quoted a military officer as saying.

One of the organisers of the event said that prior to organising the event they had already asked for the permission from the military in the province to hold an event.

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CHIANG RAI, 6 July 2015: Accused of urinating in public, spitting on the street, or kicking a sacred temple bell — free-spending Chinese tourists are receiving a mixed welcome as their soaring numbers help the kingdom’s creaking economy. Growing outrage over the perceived disrespect of visitors from the Asian giant saw authorities print thousands of […] Read more...
Thaweeporn Kummetha
Two theater activists have been jailed for insulting the King for their involvement with the Wolf Bride, a student play which parodies the Thai political conflict. At least two actors have fled Thailand to escape from the 'crimes' of acting. 
 
 
 
 
It took only a day for three members of the now-defunct Prakai Fai Karn Lakorn to create the plot and write the script of the Wolf Bride -- the first ever  stage play to land people in jail for lèse majesté. Full of sarcasm toward the Thai monarchy and Thai politics, the Wolf Bride was performed only once, on 13 October 2013, at Thammasat University. The performance, lasting about an hour, put Patiwat ‘Bank’ Saraiyam, 24, and Pornthip ‘Golf’ Munkong, 26, behind bars, sentenced to two years and six months in jail after they were found guilty of lèse majesté. Other actors, most of them are under 30, are living in fear. Six other actors are reportedly wanted by the police. Some of them fled Thailand and now live in self-imposed exile in a neighbouring country of Thailand. (For the safety of the sources, Prachatai decided to withhold the locations and some information regarding the sources.)
 
 
Patiwat ‘Bank’ Saraiyam and Pornthip ‘Golf’ Munkong at Ratchada Criminal Court
 
For a long time, the plays produced by the group had been about unutterable subjects in Thai society. Each time the group was testing the limit, thinking that they have more freedom when communicating through art.  
 
“Pook” is the disguised name of a 19-year-old actor who starred in the Wolf Bride. After Bank and Golf were arrested, the actor left his home town in the Deep South, moving from place to place, hiding before deciding to leave the country for freer air in August 2014.
 
“I talked less than 10 minutes on stage but it has ruined my entire life. I just had two exams at Ramkhamhaeng and now I have to live here -- no future,” Pook told Prachatai. 
 
Pook was a first year politics student at Ramkhamhaeng University. His college life and future in education in Bangkok ended abruptly after the coup-makers decided that the harmless, amateur play was a threat to national security.
 
Khao Niaw (sticky rice) is the disguised name of another actor. The 30-year-old activist has starred in about 20 student plays, most of them staged at a small events, such as volunteer camps. In contrast to Pook, Khao Niaw long anticipated the day of exile.
 
The Brahmin advisor (played by Patiwat in the middle) poisons the king in the Wolf Bride.
 
Anxiety about Thai politics and the suppression of opinions worry him and at the same time made him determined to push the limits of the utterable by testing the limits through plays. At the same time, Khao Niaw studied possible ‘new’ countries in Southeast Asia regarding society, politics, food, cost of living and language.
 
“When I read the script of the Wolf Bride, I thought ‘oh I’ll have to flee for sure’. When I said this to others, like my family, they said I was talking nonsense because it’s just a play. I decided to perform it anyway because I thought I’d live in self-imposed exile someday as I don’t want to live in Thailand anymore,” said the Bangkok native and graduate in Politics from Ramkhamhaeng. 
 
Khao Niaw said he regretted of not being able to flee earlier. Because he is wanted on an arrest warrant, Khao Niaw illegally, and inconveniently, crossed the Thai border. 
 
“I had thought that I was well prepared for the exile, but in fact I set myself up all wrong.  I was impetuous,” said Sticky Rice.  
 
The Wolf Bride was created by three people, including Golf and Pook. Given the title the Wolf Bride, the story has nothing to do much with the bride, which is a wolf. The storyline is weak. The main storyline is constantly interrupted by short stories. 
 
The play is rather full of improvisation. The play tells the story of an imaginative kingdom governed by a monarch who became powerful after he married his wolf bride and killed her. The monarch becomes weak after being poisoned by his Brahmin adviser, played by Patiwat. When the Brahmin adviser takes care of the administration for the ailing king, he takes bribes from a merchant who proposes a mega project of constructing a shopping mall on the king’s property. Later the image of the king in a mirror mysteriously comes to life. The figure takes over the administration, abuses his power and gets overconfident as the ailing king unwittingly rests. 
 
The mage of the king in a mirror mysteriously comes to life in the Wolf Bride
 
While the first monarch represents the establishment, the mirror image, Pook said, signifies Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand and a divisive figure in Thai politics, and the dearest leader of the red shirts.
 
“We want to show the inconsistencies of the so-called pro-democracy red-shirt movement. Thaksin is worshipped by those who say they’re calling for democracy. Thaksin is no different from the old power if he could not be criticized. There are people who have started to forbid criticism of Thaksin. Protection of Thaksin is spreading all over,” the artist said.  
 
Both Khao Niaw and Pook agree that the message encrypted in the play may not go far. 
 
 
“I don't think most of the audience understand the message. It’s partly our fault. We didn’t rehearse well enough. Some were staging a play for the first time. The actors were not so into their roles either.”
 
……................................
 
About 10 days after the coup-makers took power, the NCPO on 1 June 2014 summoned 28 activists to report to the military. It turned out that at least 11 people were interrogated about their involvement with the Wolf Bride and were forced to give the names of the actors. 
 
“I understand that my activist friends were forced to give up the names of Golf, Bank and me,” said Khao Niaw.
 
Three days later, arrest warrants were issued. In mid-August, Golf and Bank were arrested. 
 
Khao Niaw said he left home with only 4,000 baht in cash. Pook said he was chased out of the house when his royalist relatives (he is an orphan) knew what caused his trouble and also threatened to kill him.
 
“I’m very afraid, the most afraid in my life,” said Pook. Pook and Khao Niaw said living illegally in a neighbouring country is better than hiding inside the country. 
 
In a new city in a new country, they still have to be very careful. Rumours say Thai security officers may come and abduct them at any time. When they go out daily to the local market to buy food and goods, they have to wear sunglasses and caps to disguise themselves. The location of their new house is also top secret. 
 
Khao Niaw and Pook reside in the same house with six other people. Everyone -- all men -- in the house is a Thai political exile. Some of them are wanted for lèse majesté. 
 
The house is run like a commune. Each of them pays 40 baht a day for dinner and they have instant noodles for lunch.
 
They produce political podcast programmes everyday. Their incomes are partly from the donations from programme fans. 
 
Pook, who by nature is an introverted, quiet person, has been forced to change his nature. In order to attract donations, Pook turned into a fierce and funny political commentator, whose programme may land him with more charges and jail terms due to his comments on the Thai royal family. 
 
“If the Thai authorities know who I am, I may have to serve 15,000 more years in jail. I have never talked this much in my life, but I have no choice. If I don’t do it, I will starve,” said Pook. 
 
Khao Niaw, meanwhile, co-hosts a programme on music and politics and is also responsible for technical support of the podcast station. 
 
 
Moreover, Pook and Khao Niaw are in an environment where people talk politics 24/7. Their current job is discussing Thai politics and their future is highly dependent on Thai politics. This leads to anxiety and depression for Pook.  
 
“The lives of us exiles consist of nothing but politics -- the monarchy, Prayut, red and yellow shirts.” 
 
This is not to mention conflict among the exiles, mostly related to allegations about funding and donations. 
 
“It bloody stinks. It’s all about money. Exiles are merchants and the donors are consumers. They are competing for donations.”
 
Pook said his mental illness, depression, has worsened because of his boring, meaningless life. Also, he has no private space and private life because he has to live with others in the house almost all the time. He admits that he thinks of suicide many times a day. 
 
Because he entered the country illegally, he could not go to a psychiatrist. 
 
 
The king marries the wolf bride before killing her in the Wolf Bride
 
 
Prospects for the future
 
Pook said he deeply wants to continue his education. He contacted several embassies to apply for refugee status, but never heard back from them. 
 
“I’ve gone to all the embassies here. I want to leave for a third country to get to study again. But it wasn’t successful at all. Right now it’s very gloomy to the point where I’m beginning to give up and lose hope.”
 
“Life goes on from day to day. No meaning. Wake up, eat, record the programme, talk with the patrons for donations, then have dinner, and go to bed,” the young activist said. 
 
As for Khao Niaw, he sees life in exile as an opportunity and enjoys his new role as political commentator and ‘full-time activist’. 
 
“Some information is banned in Thailand and Thais are craving for the truth. We exploit this opportunity, now that we’re now outside Thailand, to feed those who’re craving,” said Khao Niaw. 
 
 
Mr. Sticky Rice believes he will have to stay in the country for at least two more years. He also hopes to apply for refugee status with the UNHCR, but his conditions do not yet meet the criteria. 
 
Nevertheless, they both are counting the days for big changes to take place in Thailand -- the change which cannot be triggered from outside.
 
“I hope that the Thai people will stop being so relaxed. Do we have to wait till the economy collapses before they’re aware of the importance of the right to election?” said Khao Niaw. 
 
“I want change in Thailand, the collapse of feudalism and democracy flourishing on Thai soil. But it may be very difficult because Thai people are very patient,” said Pook. 
 
Asked about the art that caused him to flee, Pook said “Art is created along with human history. Everything around us has an element of art. However, the art which I made turns out to be illegal. Why are the phu yai in this country so narrow-minded about art!” 
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The 14 embattled anti-junta activists requested to postpone a pretrial interrogation while one of the group said that she only executed her rights as citizen and refused to acknowledge the junta’s authorities.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), on Friday late afternoon, 3 July 2015, the interrogation officers from Samranraj Police Station attempted to hold a pretrial interrogation of the 14 anti-junta activists under custody at Bangkok Remand Prison. However, the interrogation was postponed at the activists request.

Rangsiman Rome, one of the 14, reasoned that the interrogative officers gave the group very little time to prepare evidence and witnesses for the pretrial interrogation after notifying the group members.

He added that since his activist friends were divided and put into separate prison cells, they were not able to communicate with one another before the interrogation.

Moreover, the activist pointed out that the interrogative procedure contradicts with the Criminal Procedure Code because the conditions of the room arranged for the interrogation made it nearly impossible for the defense lawyer to listen to the activists’ testimony.

“I would like to gather evidence and witnesses for the testimonies, but couldn’t do it in time because the notification was very short. Also, friends who were arrested with me were divided and put into separate cells, so we couldn’t discuss with each other about the fact,” said Rangsiman Rome.

Other activists detained cited the same reasons to postpone the interrogation.

During the brief pretrial interrogations, Cholticha Jang-rew, the only female activist of the 14, who is currently hospitalised in the prison hospital due to spinal pain, told the interrogative officers that she did nothing wrong and that the junta has no legitimacy.

“I denied all charges. I think what I did was my rights as a citizen in accordance to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the UN which Thailand is a party of and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is not a legitimate government, which have taken away the power of the people which is treason,” said Cholticha.

According to the defense lawyer of the 14, the interrogation room arranged for the 14 by prison staffs was overcrowded with people. Moreover, the detained activists could only communicate via phones through a barrier separating them with the lawyers and the interrogation officers.  

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Thai students in Europe
Since the 22nd May 2014 coup d’état, student groups are undeniably one of the leaders in protesting against the coup. They are from various universities, academic disciplines, regions and backgrounds. They may have numerous different political stances, but they come together under one ideal – coups d’etat are illegitimate and must not happen. What the junta, led by Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, has done was using force to take away from the people their sovereignty and violate a great number of human rights.
 
The students who protest against the coup have done so constantly and peacefully. They use new, creative ways to protest, using mainstream pop culture and everyday things. They eat sandwich, read 1984, and hold three-finger salute which are symbolical expressions intended to defend and exercise civil and political rights as well as to challenge the derive of power that disconnected from people’s will and support. The movement’s goal, in particular, is the defense of the rights to vote which is the main pillar of political participation in the time of democracy and deteriorated by the atmosphere of fear under the military authoritarian regime. Despite the creative and peaceful ways, however, the students have always been threatened by the Military and the Police. Some are “invited” to the police station until they are familiar faces among the officers.
 
The latest abuse began on 22nd May 2015, when a group of students gathered at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to peacefully “look at the clock.” The students were physically injured and arrested by officers who greatly outnumbered them. On the same day, at Khon Kaen Democracy Monument, Dao Din, another group of students peacefully held signs expressing discontent with the coup. They were also detained. They were released, but summons were issued for 16 of them. On 24th June 2015, the students and activists gathered peacefully at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Then they joined Dao Din at Patumwan Police Station, Bangkok, not to surrender, but to confirm their innocence and report the officers’ misconducts on 22nd May that caused bodily harm to student demonstrators. (Those officers consisted of military officers, police officers, and plainclothesmen.) Even though the report was accepted, the military court continued to issue arrest warrants and arrested 14 students on 26th June 2015. They are now in jail, and will be so until 7th July 2015, 12 days after the arrest. After that, they may face military court.
 
As a part of students in European countries, countries which have seen intense struggles for democracy, we have great respect for the courage of the 14 students. Not only are they a great example of intellects, whose duty is to think, write and express their critical mind, but also they are an example of regular people who assert their rights, sacrificing what little they have under dictatorship. Today, they are imprisoned just because of their peaceful expressions that aren’t in line with what the government wants the people to think. They are treated as though they were criminals. Troops of police surround them whenever tens of them gather. In addition, plainclothesmen follow and put psychological pressure on them constantly. They have shown that dictatorship is afraid of differences, and are always ready to overreact.
 
As a part of students in European countries, we believe that higher education anywhere in the world has a duty of encouraging their students to think, speak and express what they believe in with reasons. We believe that differences in ideas are normal and necessary. Without arguments, there will be no progress in any discipline, and the society will never move towards democracy. We believe that knowledge, thoughts and truth we hold should not put anyone in a serious bind that these Thai students are facing now. Therefore, we declare the following:
 
1. The 14 students must be released immediately without condition. They are innocent, and manifest peacefully on their own accord. There is no malicious secret support many groundlessly accuse them of having.
2. We would like to support the “New Democracy Movement” which consists of citizens who support the students, with 5 principles of democracy, justice, people’s involvement, human rights, and peace.
3. We ask international organisations, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and other human rights organisations, to keep a close watch on Thailand’s situation. The threats against the students are threats against thoughts, and are a grave danger to any democratic society.
4. We ask students, professors and citizens who value democracy to support the movements of these students however they can, directly or indirectly. Do not let the demand for democracy become the wrong thing.
Down with dictatorship! Democracy must prevail!
 
Signatures
 
Charika Sarisut Cours de Civilisation Française de la Sorbonne, France
Chisa Attipornwattana Sciences Po Paris, France
Din Buadaeng Université Paris-Diderot, France
Kheetanat Wannaboworn Sciences Po Paris, France
Mattawan Sutjaritthanarak Sciences Po Paris, France
Pakpoom Sangkanokkul INALCO, France
Prakaidao Phurksakasemsuk Sciences Po Paris, France
Rata Suwantong École Supérieure d’Électricité et Université Paris 11, France
Vijitr Prapong Université Paris Descartes, France
Wipavee Silpitaksakul Sciences Po Paris, France
Chatchavan Wacharamanotham RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Kantanat Papobpanjapach Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Korthong Thongtham Na Ayutthaya Hochschule Wismar, Germany
Lalitta Suriya-Arunroj Georg-August-Universitaet, Goettingen, Germany
Li Saengsanthitam Europa-Universität Viadrina, Germany
Matthana Rodyim Johann wolfgang goethe universität frankfurt am main, Germany
Phornphot Duangmala Universität Heidelberg, Germany
Pirachula Chulanon Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Porntep Sukhonwimonmal Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Preecha Kiatkirakajorn Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
Puangsoi Aksornsawang The university of the Arts, Bremen, Germany
Sarita Piyawongrungruang Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Sunisa Ittichaiyo University of Augsburg, Germany
Suttiluk Othatawong Physik Institut, Germany
Tammarat Piansawan Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany
Wanchote Jiamjitrak Saarland University, Germany
Watcharaporn Sae-Lim Hochschule Fulda, University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Weeradej Khonsuntia Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
Wittawin Sophakorn Städelschule Architecture Class, Germany
Yuttapichai Lamnaonan University of Applied Science Cologne , Germany
Sukpavee Vesbooncho Ëotvös Lórand University, Hungary
Suluck Lamubol Central European University, Hungary
Asama Mungkornchai University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Benjamas Boonyarit University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Nouvarat Prinpreecha University of Bern, Switzerland
Siwat Chuencharoen University of Bern, Switzerland
Wimolnat Tanganurakpongsa University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Busarin Lertchavalitsakul University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jiraporn Laocharoenwong University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Nuankhanit Phromchanya University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Thanat Preeyanont Leiden University, the Netherlands
Prachatip Kata University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Akkradet Metprapha Central Saint Martins – University of the Arts London, UK
Chan Nilgianskul London Business School, UK
Chanokporn Chutikamoltham SOAS University of London, UK
Eksuda Singhalampong University of Sussex, UK
Great Lekakul SOAS University of London, UK
Isaree Tantasith University of Cambridge, UK
Jiratorn Sakulwattana SOAS, University of London, UK
Kanchana Srisawat Liverpool John Moores University, UK
Kantaporn Worapornrujee Goldsmiths University of London, UK
Kittima Chareeprasert University of Arts London, UK
Koraya Techawongstien SOAS University of London, UK
Krittapak Ngamvaseenont King’s College London, UK
Kulyanee Jongjairaksa SOAS University of London, UK
Mo Jirachaisakul Royal College of Art, London, UK
Nathiya Ngarmkham University of Kent, UK
Orapin Yingyongpathana Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
Peeradon Samasiri University of Cambridge, UK
Pimchanok Meesri University of Kent, UK
Ploychompoo Pindhusenee Durham University, UK
Ployjai Pintobtang University of Sussex, UK
Pongpichit Chuanraksasat University of Cambridge, UK
Saijai Tantiwit London School of Economics and Political Sciences, UK
Sirada Khemanitthathai London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Soontree Siriinntawong University of Sussex, UK
Sutida Wimuttikosol King’s College London, UK
Tanut Treetanthiploet University of Cambridge, UK
Teerada Na Jatturas University of Westminster, London, UK
Thanakarn Wongleelaseth University of Kent, UK
Thanawat Silaporn SOAS, University of London, UK
Thongchai Wirojsakseree Bristol University, UK
Tirat Jaraskumjonkul University of Salford, UK
Vipash Purichanont Goldsmith, University of London, UK
Viruth Purichanont Kingston University , UK
Wanrug Suwanwattana University of Oxford, UK
Walaipan Shaiburanawit Vienna University, Austria
Atiwich Patthamapornsirikul University of Zagreb,Croatia
Elia Fofi Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia di Roma, Italy
Kulthida Luangyosluechakul Ивановский государственный университет, Russian Federation
Nattapon Sukprasong KULeuven,Belgium
Pimlapas Leekitcharoenphon Techinical University of Denmark
Tossapon Tassanakunlapan Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Soravis Tovivich University of Jyväskylä, Finland
 
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A 46 year old British man died in the early hours of Friday (3rd July) morning after suffering a suspected heart attack in Plai Leam. The rescue team from Wat Plai Laem rescue were called to the scene and gave the man CPR but were unable to revive him. It is believed the victim, Nick […]

The post British man dies of suspected heart attack in Plai Leam Samui appeared first on Samui Times.

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Andre Brulhart, general manager of Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya, has announced the appointment of Joachim Kreisel as executive chef. Chef Joachim is a German national and has over 20 years of extensive international experience in the culinary field. He has worked for various leading hotels such as Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, The Westin [...] Read more...

Fourteen Thai students were arrested on 26 June 2015 and are currently being detained in Bangkok after a series of peaceful protests against the military dictatorship of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). They have been accused of violating NCPO Order No. 3/2558, which prohibits political demonstrations, and Article 116 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits incitement and agitation. If they are formally charged, they are subject to prosecution within the military court system, in which there is no appeal. If convicted, they face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

The students adhere to a five-point platform of democracy, human rights, justice, public participation, and non-violence. Their arrest comes after a year of sustained attacks on freedom of expression and political freedom by the NCPO.  Hundreds of citizens have been summoned for arbitrary detention and “attitude adjustment” by the junta. Citizens have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for allegedly committing lèse majesté by performing theatre plays, writing graffiti in bathrooms, and posting comments online.  In the name of “reform,” the junta aims to eliminate dissent.

The arrest of the fourteen students has prompted an outpouring of support for them by university teachers and citizens across Thailand, who have organized petitions, visits to the prison, and candlelight vigils at the prison where the students are being held. The latest attack on political freedom has been the surveillance and harassment of these teachers by the government authorities.

As university teachers outside Thailand, we call on current and former students and teachers around the world to join the campaign for their release by writing messages of solidarity.

How to join the campaign:

Option #1:  Write a message of solidarity with the imprisoned fourteen students and their supporters on a piece of paper. Short messages, poems, art work are all encouraged!  You are encouraged to write in English and/or any other language that you speak. Sign your name, current status [student/faculty/staff/alumni/retired], and institution.  You may also choose to use only part of your name or to be anonymous. Take a photograph of your message and send it to solidaritythai14@gmail.com. If you feel more comfortable participating anonymously, sign up for a temporary email address with a service such as10 Minute Mail and send us your message that way.

Option #2: Type your message and the signature you wish into the text of an email tosolidaritythai14@gmail.com and we will write it on a piece of paper, photograph it for you, and add it to the collection.

Send your message by 12 noon on 6 June. We encourage you to share this message with your colleagues and to post your own image to social media with the hashtags #FreeThai14 and #freethe14.

On 7 July 2015, on the morning of the students’ appearance in military court for a hearing concerning the extension of their detention, we will release all of the photographs of messages as a collection via social media channels. We will issue a press release reiterating the call for the immediate, unconditional release of the students and containing the total number of messages, number of people/institutions/countries represented as well as highlights of their contents.

International Solidarity for Thai Students and Teachers

solidaritythai14@gmail.com

For more information, please see

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Asaree Thaitrakulpanich and Yiamyut Sutthichaya

Crowds gathered in central Bangkok to show support for the 14 embattled anti-junta activists detained amid heavy presence of police and military officers in and out of uniforms.

On Friday evening, 3 July 2015, a large crowd gathered on the pedestrian bridge in front of Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) in central Bangkok in an event called “Post Its for Freedom” to support the 14 embattled anti-junta activists who have been detained since last week, 26 June 2015.

The event was organised by Resistant Citizen group, an anti-junta activist group, and New Democracy Movement (NDM), an anti-coup group which the 14 activists are members of.

The “Post Its for Freedom” activity started at 6 pm and ended at around 8 pm. Prior to the event, police officers erected iron fences to barricade half the area of the skywalk, restricting the space able to be used by both activists and passerby.

At the event, Sirawit Serithiwat, an anti-junta student activist from the Resistant Citizen, passed out post-its to gathered supporters and encouraged everyone to write messages on them before posting them on a wall set up along the BTS skywalk, from the MBK shopping mall to Siam Center.

Throughout the event at least a hundred police stood in the restricted zone, photographing activists. Plainclothes officers also entered the activists’ zone to photograph the activists closer. The event organizer told supporters to not interfere with the police’s actions.

Sirawit, amidst the throngs of people, told Prachatai that he hopes this activity will encourage the public to take the cause of the jailed 14 activists to heart.

One of the jailed activists’ wives, Thiraphimol Serirangsan, was also helping out at the event. Her husband is Pornchai Yuanyi, also known as Sam, one of the jailed NDM leaders,

“Before Sam went to to protest on the day of his arrest, he told me ‘I’m doing it for you, for our child, and for democracy,” said Thiraphimol, who met Pornchai when they were both in Chulalongkorn’s Political Science Faculty, and they have a baby together.

As the event went on, many supporters, members of the public, and passerby left encouraging Post It notes. Many of them are in foreign languages, perhaps to call for international help in freeing the activists.

At around 7 pm activists commenced singing songs to rouse the public, including a Thai version of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” Activists also chanted “Free the students! Free our friends!” and spoke short speeches calling for a return to democracy.

Activists also gave out flyers about their next activity which will be staged on 6 July. The “Wings of Freedom” event will be held at Thammasat’s Tha Prachan Campus.

At 7:16 pm, Sombat Boonngam-anong, aka Nuling or the Polka Dot Editor, arrived on the scene amid a hoopla of media, and posted a Post It of his own.

Sombat said he was just having a meal at MBK Center when he heard about the event and decided to participate. “My Post It just has the number 14 within a sun,” he said.

“Hold fast and stand firm in your beliefs,” he says when asked what he would like to say to the jailed activists.

Other event participants included Wiboon Bunpattararaksa, the father of Jatupat Bunpattararaksa, one of the jailed activists. Wiboon states that the students are acting as role models for society, who should realize the gravity of the students being jailed wrongfully.

“At a time like this, we cannot do much, but this activity is better than nothing. The Post Its reflect what we’re feeling and facing, and when others see it they will realize it too,” said the father.

Wiboon states that the NCPO are afraid of revolution, and the student protest shook the junta at the judicial level.

On his Post It, Wiboon writes “You did the right thing, son.”

Thanongsak Patpongpaibul, one of the participants, said that he had been involved in the NDM ever since the coup. Under a junta, unlike a democracy, there is no system of checks and balances, he said.

Another Post It-er, Panisara Panmuni from the Kuakarun College of Nursing, said that she was here because she “does not accept the authoritarian regime” and will “not surrender to this unlawfulness.”

A freelance academic in religious philosophy, Wichak Panich, expressed his views of support.

“Those 14 students did ignited the fundamental spark found in everyone. The common people do not possees power in terms of forces or arms, but this[Post It activity] shows the power of the people who are suppressed and want political participation. [Activity participants] have surpassed the fear of the above by participating, and thus reclaim the country.”

Wichak goes on to say that there is no shortcut to democracy. Thais must continuously work to solve the corruption problems which exist in democracy instead of destroying a democratic system altogether. People must be made aware that the junta has never done anything for them and will continue to leave them powerless if allowed, said Wichak.

On his Post It, Wichak wrote, “We want political participation.”

Sunai Phasuk, a researcher from the Human Rights Watch (HRW), also came to observe the event on Friday evening.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sombat Boonngam-anong
 
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Taweesak Kerdpoka, Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, and Panida Dumri

Shortly after the one-year anniversary of the military coup on 22 May, the 14 anti-junta activists were arrested for their peaceful gatherings. Since then, different groups in Thai society have shown their support for or opposition against the jailed activists’ civil disobedience.


The 14 activists, mostly students, are members of the New Democracy Group (NDM). Seven of the group are anti-coup activists based in Bangkok who participated in the coup anniversary in central Bangkok on 22 May 2015 while the rest are student activists from the student-led human rights and environmental group called Dao Din based in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen who held similar event on the same date. On 26 June, the junta police issued arrest warrants for 14 of the activists with charges of disturbing the peace.

After their arrest. groups such as the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has criticized the police for hastily arresting student activists through protocol breaching and lawyer intimidation. Similarly, the Network of Academics concerned about Arrested Students, a group of almost 300 notable academics from local and foreign universities such as Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Chiang Mai, Burapha, Mae Fah Luang, Silpakorn, Ramkamhaeng, Columbia, and the University of Sydney, has denounced the arrests as an “enforcement of barbaric laws” by a “tyrant.”

On the other hand, a recently-created pro-junta student group, the Vocational Student Group for the Nation has risen up to publicly berate the anti-junta activists’ actions, claiming that the activists are backed by individuals with a “hidden agenda.”

In light of the arrest—as well as the wildly fluctuating public opinions on it—Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, a political science lecturer at Thammasat, talks to Prachatai on the importance of inclusivity and momentum in civil disobedience.

For a civil disobedience movement like the NDM to succeed, says Janjira, its rhetoric must be disseminated in such a way to create momentum that unifies the polarized, disparate Thai society. The Neo Democracy anti-junta movement will need to organize their tactics in order to unify Thais to political action, says the professor.

Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, one of the lecturers of the Political Science Faculty of  Thammasat University, who has been active in giving moral support to the 14 anti-junta activists under custody

As a professor specializing in civil disobedience, how do you view the Neo Democracy Movement?

The protests over the recent past have all drawn large crowds because they were all undeniably 

‘political.’ Red shirts would flock to red shirt protests, yellow-shirt to yellow ones, etcetera. For a civil disobedience movement to succeed, however, the base of its supporters must include people from opposite ends of the political spectrum. The movement must unite people by upholding international democratic values, which transcend traditional political divisions.

A lot of Thais don’t currently see the importance of democracy in everyday life. Much of the middle class are still hesitant who deliberately stay unattached to political movements, or fluctuate between them. These hesitant p need a trigger to spark them to civil obedience.

At the moment, it’s still debatable whether the arrest of the 14 activists is a trigger event for those who are still hesitant. An example of a trigger event is the Tunisian market vendor’s self-immolation that triggered the Arab Spring. If the arrest of the 14 proves to be as stimulating, then the Thai middle class just needs to focus on a common goal to achieve their political hopes.

The Thai middle class holds great political power, much more than they realize. They’ve brought governments crashing down, and the current junta would be unable to survive without their support. Even now there are a lot of anti-establishment middle class Thais who only need that trigger event, that political motivation, to leap into action.

How do you propose the Neo Democracy Movement “extend the base of its supporters,” then?

The NDM needs to be able to include the public in its act of civil disobedience. Inclusivity is a crucial part of gaining any type of supporters. We can see how the junta’s strong self-marketing of propaganda through its official media channels has produced pro-junta sentiment.

We can look at Serbia to see a great example of successful marketing of a civil disobedience movement. The original base of support for the Serbian civil disobedience movement was concentrated in the middle class. To extend their support base to rural dwellers, they used folksy language to spread their rhetoric. Thus, the movement became a full-fledged citizen movement. The supporters were united by political goals, even if they did not agree on all ideological points.

Similarly, the NDM needs to market themselves in a way that ‘breaks the wheel’ of red-yellow, right-left cycle of protests. When people see the same old faces protesting the same old cause, or the same old pictures of people in colored shirts being yanked around, they’ll ignore the political movements altogether. New faces and new images, such as young students prostrating for mercy at the feet of police, need to circulate so that the hesitant people will be sparked into action.

One of the new faces supporting the NDM is Roundfinger. He could prove to be a very effective loudspeaker for the movement. Initially, the Dao Din movement seems quite folksy and grassroots-y to the Bangkokian. Support of popular figures like Roundfinger widens the scope of supporters.

The NDM also needs to utilize different forms of power. Power isn’t just wielded by a leader in a uniform. Standing under the banner of lawfulness, possessing manpower, or even having a common mascot are also forms of power. If the NDM utilizes collective leadership, then the movement could gain the momentum of bravery and there’s no telling what they can accomplish with that. They could go beyond getting an election, and redesign the political structure altogether.

The NDM is also being discredited by opposition groups with rhetoric we’ve heard before, such as being hired to protest or being secret red shirts. How do you propose the NDM deals with such rhetoric?

The junta and many of their supporters produce such rhetoric by cashing in on their usual stash of red shirt hate. They connect the NDM to the red shirts, and then take advantage of city people’s already skewed view of the red shirts. City people don’t see “red shirt side” of the story, so to speak, unlike rural dwellers who have benefited from it. Because of the red shirt positioning, rural people’s human dignity is upheld, such as when they can get medical care from a hospital instead of being turned away. City people don’t recognize this benefit, since they can afford medical care anyway. (take out?)

It’s pointless for the NDM to deny accusations of being paid or of being controlled by Thaksin. As we’ve seen in the past, denials only lead to more vitriolic accusations. I propose that the NDM react using humor so that they redefine the accusations. They have to make the public see that the accusations are ridiculous to the point of unbelievability.

To reference Serbia again, the civil disobedience activists there were accused of being terrorists. To counter these rumors, they conducted their activities by dressing up in animal costumes. They picked away at the accusation until it was funny, with a sort of surreal humor that we see in Monty Python or The Office.

Through humor tactics, political discourse will change from focusing on winning-losing to convincing people—a task that’s much more difficult.

Still, current Thai society’s different factions make it seem so irreconcilable. What can be done to make it more inclusive?

Creating an inclusive system of government will be a challenge. Yellow and red shirts seem to speak in different languages to each other, the former crusading against corruption while the second against wage disparity.

The military also needs to be seen as a political force, not an external, all-powerful force bearing down upon political actions. When the junta uses martial law and seizure of funds as a weapon, this needs to be understood as a political action, not a military one.

Democracy does not need to get rid of the army, but there must be civilian control over the military—and not the other way around.That’s what the student activists are trying to outline by refusing bail. The junta has no authority to force them to go anywhere. Henry David Thoreau did the same.An inclusive Thai society isn’t a pipe dream. Take at look at ancient Ayutthaya. The cosmopolitan society would include literally anyone who was beneficial to the community.

Any other idiosyncrasies about current Thai society?

As cosmopolitan Thai society seems to be today, the regressive backlashes that occasionally flash up are regrettable, such as the recent call for everyone to wear traditional Thai clothes on Saturday.

I have found that there are two types of Thais who study abroad and return. There are those who assimilate at least some of foreign culture, and find that the current Thai establishment does not meet international values of governance. The second are those who interact only with Thais during their time abroad, do not apply their foreign education to Thailand, and continue to support the establishment. This second group is often part of hesitant people, and prove a formidable roadblock to an inclusive Thai society. (take out?)

 

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The 14 anti-junta activists detained stay adamant on their civil disobedience move and refuse to submit bail request to the military court, saying that the court has no jurisdiction on the case.   

Kritsadang Nujarad, a defence lawyer of 14 anti-junta activists under custody at 1 pm on Friday, 3 July 2015, told the press in front of Bangkok Remand Prison that none of the 14 anti-junta activists will request for bail.

When asked as to why they decided so, he said that they still stand firm on their beliefs on human rights and the principles of democracy which the highest authorities belong to the people.

Kritsadang added that the young activists refuse to acknowledge the authorities of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the military court and that they would like to fight the case in the civilian court as they are civilians.

Kritsadang Nujarad, a defence lawyer of 14 anti-junta activists, tell media about the conditions of the activists and the progress on their case in front of Bangkok Remand Prison on 3 July 2015

The lawyer also mentioned that all the 14 are in good spirits. However, Chonticha Jang-rew, the only female activist of the 14 has developed back pain and is now hospitalised in a prison hospital of Bangkok Remand Prison. However, she is also determined to fight on.

As the first custody period of the 14 are about the be expired, the lawyer said that the students will submit a request against the custody permission if the police try to detain them for another period. However, they will not request for bail.       

At 1 pm today, 3 July, the police also started pretrial questioning of the student activists. The next trial of the 14 will be on 7 July 2015 at the Bangkok Military Court.

Bangkok’s Military Court on 28 June granted custody permission to detain 14 student activists who are accused of violating the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014, which prohibits any political gathering of more than five persons for holding symbolic events to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état on 22 May.

In addition, the 14 are also charged under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the law on sedition, for holding anti-junta political activities. If found guilty, the activists might face prison terms up to seven years.

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