Bangkok’s Military Court dismissed a petition submitted by a prominent red-shirt figure questioning whether the jurisdiction of the military court over civilian cases violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).  

The Military Court of Bangkok on Friday morning ruled to reject the petition submitted by Sombat Boonngam-anong (aka nuling), an anti-coup red-shirt activist accused of defying the junta’s orders and instigating rebellion against the coup-makers in June 2014.

The petition was submitted to the military court in order to allow the Constitutional Court to interpret whether the junta’s Announcements No. 37/2014 and 38/2014 on the jurisdiction of the military courts violate the ICCPR. However, the military court simply dismissed the request.

Sombat is the founder of the Mirror Foundation and a well-known political activist who is the leader of the red-shirt ‘Red Sunday’ group.

He is charged with failing to report to the junta twice, instigating rebellion against the coup-makers under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, and importing computer content related to offences against national security under Article 14 (3) of the Computer Crime Act.    

He was arrested on 5 June 2014 and was brought to unknown locations for detention. He was however later brought to Bangkok Remand Prison during the interrogation period.

After he suggested that the red shirts should stop going out to protest and that he had decided to stop defying the junta and wished instead to cooperate with the NCPO, he was granted bail in July 2014.  

In 2011, Bangkok North Municipal court sentenced Sombat to six months in prison and fined him 6,000 baht with the jail term suspended for leading a demonstration against the emergency decree on Lad Phrao Road in eastern Bangkok, on 21 May 2010, two days after the government’s crackdown on the red shirts at Ratchaprasong.     

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Parliament votes to impeach ousted PM as attorney general says she will face criminal charges over rice scheme

Thailand’s military government has banned former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra from politics and proceeded with criminal charges that could lead to her serving 10 years in jail – a major double blow to the powerful Shinawatra clan that experts have warned may plunge the nation into violent upheaval.

The decision – made on Friday by a handpicked legislature – makes Yingluck the first premier in Thailand’s history to be impeached and relates to a hugely popular but deeply troubled government scheme to pay rice farmers double the market price for their crop, a policy believed to have incurred losses of around £10bn.

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Thai royalists protested in front of the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, pressuring the New Zealand government to extradite a lèse majesté suspect living in exile there and threatening to step up measures if the New Zealand government do not comply with their demands.

 
Rienthong Nan-nan, the leader of the Rubbish Collection Organization, an ultra-royalist group, Satit Segal, Director of the India Thai Business Association, and Maj Gen Charoen Tejavanija, core members the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led nearly 60 ex-soldiers, ex-police officers, and others to gather in front of the New Zealand Embassy in central Bangkok on Friday afternoon.
 
The group came to submit a petition to the New Zealand Embassy urging New Zealand to extradite back to Thailand Ekapop L., (aka. Tang Achiwa), a lèse majesté suspect who fled to New Zealand after obtaining refugee status from the UNHCR.
 
The ultra-royalist group also threatened to step up measures if the embassy did not comply.
 
“I and others in the network contacted each other on Facebook to come and hand over the petition to the New Zealand Embassy in Thailand to extradite Ekapop to face legal action in Thailand because what the New Zealand government did is not correct since Ekapop committed a criminal offense not a political one. If the embassy does not do something about this, we will escalate measures,” Matichon Online quoted Satit as saying.
 
Around 100 police and military officers had to maintain tight security around the New Zealand Embassy during the activity.   
 
Earlier this month, hundreds of ultra-royalists attacked and threatened the UNHCR Office in Thailand on the UNHCR Thailand Facebook page after it was revealed by Thairath Online that the organization had granted refugee status to Ekapop L., an anti-establishment red-shirt activist, who is in exile in New Zealand.
 
The attacks and threats prompted the UNHCR to close down its Facebook page.
 
The Rubbish Collection Organization also issued a statement condemning the UNHCR, saying that Thai political refugees are using the UNHCR to undermine Thailand and the Thai monarchy.
 
On 6 January 2014, Prayut Chan-o-cha, the head of the junta, revealed during an interview on Tuesday that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a letter to the New Zealand authorities in an attempt to try to extradite Ekapop.
 
The letter pointed out to the New Zealand government that the Thai authorities had issued an arrest warrant under Article 112 of the Criminal Code or the lèse majesté law against Ekapop, and that in order to prevent the suspect from creating trouble in Thailand from overseas, New Zealand should cooperate with Thailand by extraditing the suspect.
 
However, according to the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade refused to comment on the Thai government inquiry and stated that asylum seekers who have obtained refugee status from the UNHCR can be accepted by New Zealand through a quota system.
 
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The network of Thai poor people pressed the junta to rethink about its forest protection policies and come up with strategies to reduce prevalent socio-economic inequity in Thai society at the first official meeting between the group and the junta.     

Around 100 members of People’s Movement for Just Society (P-Move) and other affiliated organizations, such as Land Reform Network of Isan (Thailand’s northeast), Four Regions Slum Network, and five others civil organizations, gathered in front of the parliament on Friday morning to talk to Panadda Diskul, the Minister of the Prime Minister (PM) Office, and submit petition to continue to press the government on land reforms and community rights.

Jamnong Nupan, the president of Four Regions Slum Network, stating the group's stance to the press on Friday morning

At the meeting, the civil society group issued the following demands to the government in a joint statement:

  • The government must come up with strategies to fix the structural problems which has been affecting the poor chronically in order to get rid of inequity problem. For examples, the operations of the Land Bank Administration Institute, the community title deed project, urban poverty problem, Pak Mun Dam problem, and ethnic problems face by Orang Laut (Seafarers), homeless, and Karen groups.           
  • The government should stop all operations and order relevant agencies to reconsider the agendas and measures of forest protection policies and the policy to manage natural resources. People who have been affected by these policies should be allowed to participate in the solutions.      
  • The government should come up with the policies on land ownerships by issuing four laws, which are community rights and the use of community resources law, land Bank law, progressive land tax law, and law on the provision of legal assistance fund.     
  • The government should establish the sub-committee for helping the the members of P-move to improve immediate problems faced by its members together with other governmental agencies to fix the problems effectively.   

Panadda said during the meeting that he attended many meetings with civil organizations in many regions, but the information and complains of the many civil groups  are still incoherent. However, he mentioned that all the problems proposed must be dealt with before the election.   

P-Move and its affiliated organizations has been campaigning about community rights and land rights since early June 2014 after the junta issued Order No. 64/2014 and 66/2014 to protect the forest, which affected a lot of the country’s poor.

In October 2014, the group and the Northern Land Reform Organization organized a rally titled ‘First  Step Towards Land Reform’ in the northern province of Chiang Mai. Although the rally was forced cancelled by the military who claimed that it was illegal under the martial law, the movement led the government officials to establish a committee to tackle the problems and hold discussions with the group, the first of which was officially held on Friday morning.   

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BANGKOK, 23 January 2015: Kasikorn Research Centre says tourist arrivals to Thailand will rebound in the first quarter of this year with an estimated growth of 15% to reach 7.3 million visits. The bank’s think-tank unit said an improving domestic tourism climate and the government’s aggressive marketing campaigns should bolster international tourist arrivals to Thailand. […] Read more...
BANGKOK, 23 January 2015: Airports of Thailand reports overall passenger traffic at its six airports increased 2.53% in 2014. AoT released details, Thursday, confirming it handled 90,528,345 passengers compared to 88,290,830 in 2013 at all of its airports. The country’s main gateway Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport welcomed 46.42 million passengers followed by Don Mueang with 21.54 […] Read more...

News of indictment of ousted PM over rice subsidy scheme comes hours ahead of parliamentary impeachment vote

Thailand’s attorney general will indict former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for negligence over a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

Yingluck will face a criminal charge in Thailand’s supreme court, Surasak Theerattrakul, director general at the attorney general’s department of investigation, told reporters on Friday.

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