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?)

 

A popular author widely loved by the middle class for his insightful, sparse social commentary

 

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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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Asaree Thaitrakulpanich
Amnesty International and the National Human Rights Commission visited the 14 embattled anti-junta activists at Bangkok prisons on Thursday, while about a hundred people gathered to offer moral support to the jailed activists.
 
The activists, mostly students, protested against the junta and had been arrested for their nonviolent protests on 26 June. 
 
On Thursday, two representatives from Amnesty International visited the activists and issued an urgent action to call for the activists’ release.
 
The arrested students are “prisoners of conscience deprived of their liberty solely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights,” states Amnesty International.
 
The urgent action also calls on people worldwide to write to the Thai authorities calling on authorities to 
drop charges against the activists and release them immediately,
urge that the jailed activists are not tortured or ill-treated, have access to lawyers of their choice as well as visits from family members and adequate medical care,
and to repeal laws which restrict right to peaceful assembly “in accordance with Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law.”
 
After visiting the 13 jailed activists at the Bangkok Remand Prison, in the afternoon a commissioner from the National Human Rights Commission visited Bangkok Remand Prison (male prison) and the Central Women’s Correctional Institution to see the activists. 
 
Chonthira Jaengrew, or Lukkate, being the only jailed female activist, is detained in a separate facility from her other friends but in the same Bangkok Remand Prison compound. 
 
Commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara said that the NDM is completely unrelated to violence and is protesting for the common good of society.
 
Niran said that nonviolence is one of the NDM group’s five democratic principles, so the group is calling for a space to peacefully express political views different from the current authorities. “The government must allow different political thought to be expressed without being faced by soldiers,” said the commissioner.
 
After his visit with Chonthira, Niran confirmed that she, like the rest of her friends, would not be pleading for bail. Refusal of bail shows that the junta is illegitimate in its incarceration, he states. 
 
However, the commissioner expressed concern about Chonthira separation from her peers, since it prevents the group from discussing their goals together and raises questions of safety. He said that Chonthira had been physically wounded ever since the anti-junta protest at the BACC on May 22.  
 
Chonthira has reportedly been moved to Prison Hospital this morning due to her spinal cord compression. 
 
Niran also mentioned that when the activists were students, they held activities in Isaan. Their down-to-earth experience with local farmers and miners had made them aware of the problems in Thai society, and inspired them to do what they could to criticize the powers-at-be. 
 
As for further action in freeing the activists, Niran states that on Friday activists’ parents and lawyers as well as academics will meet at the prison to investigate further. Next Wednesday, representatives from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights will arrive to investigate with related police and military officials. 
 
Worachet Pakeerut, law professor at Thammasat, was one of many visitors to the jailed activists.
 
Worachet says that no one can prevent the students from their peaceful expression of different political views, and that even their parents respect their decision to do so. "Therefore, the media's role is to look to Thailand's painful history, help the public understand why the students have been arrested, and find the solution to this situation," said the law academic. 
 
The professor also relayed the health concerns faced by some of the jailed activists. Worachet told media that a couple of the students have diarrhea up to eight times a day due to their stay here, but most are in good health.  
 
“I’m visiting them and speaking on their behalf as their teacher," said the professor. "In fact, one of the students in there just got his grades and it turns out he passed my class, so I'm really happy about that.”
 
Meanwhile, about 300 academics under the Group of Teachers Concerned about the Arrested Students released a statement calling for 
  1. the junta to release of the 14 activists without condition, since the arrest is undemocratic and unlawful, 
  2. for authorities to move the activists from Bangkok Remand Prison to be held at the Bang Khen Police School instead, since they are political prisoners and not criminals, and 
  3. for the junta to cease intimidation of family, friends, and teachers of the arrested 14. Forms of intimidation include unofficial house calls and summons as well as pressure to cease all political activity. 
 
The New Democracy Movement (NDM) also distributed a statement at the Bangkok Remand Prison Thursday morning, detailing the intimidation faced by the NDM and the academics group. 
 
According to their statement, since the arrest of their groups activists on 27 June, men dressed in military garb had been continuously harassing and intimidating students at their houses, professors at their workplace, and spying on citizens, causing fear for citizens’ safety. 
 
Furthermore the NDM insists that this strain of intimidation has been happening since the military coup on 22 June 2014. The  junta has been “sharpening their knife” against the flesh and blood of citizens, states the statement. 
 
The NDM demands that such intimidation cease, as well as the release of their comrades. “Citizens must rise up and protect their basic rights against the junta’s unbounded power, the use of which has shown that the junta has no intention of returning democracy to the people,” states the report. 
 
Jutamas Srihutthaphadungkit, an NDM member who as at the prison supporting her group members, confirms that the activists will not post for bail, since public awareness is gaining ground. She states that universities nationwide are already holding activities calling for the release of the activists.
 
“If you think the state is misusing their authority and you agree with our five democratic principles, please come out and support our friends to fight on.” 
 
Moreover, a representative from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), a human rights organization, based in Bangkok, also visited the activists at the cell and said that the hasty arrest at night and the unsolicited confiscation of phones and cars, abused power in such a way that made it difficult for human rights organizations to step in and help.
 
“The exercise of these unlawful charges is just flat-out bullying,” says the CrCF representative a human rights organization, based in Bangkok. “To push such harsh punishments onto human rights activists is just an example of the strong bullying the weak.”
 
 
Around 100 supporters gather to visit the jailed anti-junta student activists at the Bangkok Remand Prison on 2 July. 
 

Worachet Pakeerut, Thammasat professor and law academic from the Nitirat Group, speaks to media eafter his visit with the 13 activists at Bangkok Remand Prison on 2 July. 
 

Niran Pitakwatchara, National Human Rights commissioner, speaks about the conditions faced by the only jailed female activist, Chonthira Jaengrew after his visit at the Central Women’s Correctional Institute on 2 July. 
 
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BANGKOK, 3 July 2015: Association of Thai Travel Agents says its members must ensure their Chinese visitors are never alone and that they are escorted throughout their trips by registered Thai tour guides. Speaking at meeting, Thursday attended by tour operators handling tours from China, ATTA president Charoen Wangananont identified three requirements for members to […] Read more...
BANGKOK, 3 July 2015: Manathai Hotels and Resorts opened its latest boutique property, on Samui island 1 July. The 148-room beachfront resort, located opposite a fishing village on Lamai Beach, has 46 suites including six family suites with bunk beds and amenities for children. In addition there are 102 deluxe balcony rooms, a fitness centre, […] Read more...

The Thai authorities put 13 of the 14 embattled anti-junta activists in separate prison cells while the activists under detention protested the decision saying that it has political implications.

On Thursday, 2 June 2015, Bangkok Remand Prison have divided the 13 male anti-junta activists under custody into separate groups of 2-3 and detained them in different compounds of the prison.

According to Rangsiman Rome, one of the 13, the authorities’ decision to separate the them has political implications. He said that the measure must have been handed down from the junta who intended to pressure the activists into giving in.

Worachet Pakeerut, a law academic from the courageous Nitirat Group and Niran Pitakwatchara, a commissioner of political and citizen rights of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) at Bangkok Remand Prison on 2 July 2015.  

He added that other suspects of crimes who came to the remand prison at around the same time with the activist group have not been put into separate compounds.  

Another young activist detained, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka. Pai, one of the 13 who is from Dao Din Group, a student activist group based in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, believed that the authorities want to obstruct them from communicating with each other.

All the 13 decided to shave their heads to protest the authorities’ decision to separate them from each other.

On the same day, Niran Pitakwatchara, a commissioner of political and citizen rights of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) came to Bangkok Remand Prison to visit the embattled activists.

He expressed concerns about the safety of the 13 activists once they are being separated and the fact they will not be able to communicate as a group.  

He added that the authorities should have been more concerns about their safety.

Beside Niran, many academics and activists also came to the prison to give moral support to the 14 anti-junta activists, such as Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Worachet Pakeerut, law academics from the courageous Nitirat Group, a group which has been campaigned for the reform of Thailand’s lese majeste law, from Thammasat University.

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You could be forgiven for thinking if you were new to Thailand that prostitution was a market aimed solely at foreign tourists and fund-dumping expatriates. The garish lights, garish hook-ups, and garish whispers in the night have become iconic, a thing of holiday myths, books, films, and for many who don’t live here deceitfully representative of an entire culture. But Thailand’s lusty epithet of a land of salacious, often mendacious smiles, is a foreign concoction, and within these borders most citizens I think don’t taint themselves with that brush. Read more...

CENTARA RECOGNIZED FOR GREEN INITIATIVES Three Centara Properties Received Green Hotel Award, Gold Level Bangkok, Thailand – July 1, 2015 – Centara Hotels and Resorts is honored to announce that three Centara properties – Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin and Centara Hotel & Convention Centre Udon Thani […]

The post CENTARA RECOGNIZED FOR GREEN INITIATIVES appeared first on Samui Times.

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Thai authorities visited a house of one of the 14 embattled anti-junta activists to ask about his recent activities.   
 
On Wednesday, 1 July 2015, a facebook page of Dao Din Group, a student activist group based in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, posted a video interview of Wiboon Boonpattararaksa, the father of Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, one of the 14 anti-junta student activists now under detention.

In an interview, Wiboon said that the recently 10 officers five of whom were police in uniforms and the other half officers in plain clothes came to his house in Phu Khieo sub-district of the northeastern of Chaiyaphum while he was away.

He added in the interview that this week the sub-district chief phoned him to ask about his activities after his son was arrested and asked when he will return to Chaiyaphum.

Wiboon told the sub-district chief that him and his wife have come to to Bangkok to visit Jatupat, who is now detained in Bangkok Remand Prison.

ข้อมูลจากพ่อไผ่ ดาวดิน

Posted by ดาวดิน สังกัดพรรคสามัญชน on Wednesday, 1 July 2015

 

Since the arrest and detention of the of his son and 13 other anti-junta activists last week, Wiboon has been actively participated in campaigns to support the 14 embattled activists.

On Monday, he submitted a letter to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC), urging the rights agency to investigate the arrests and the charges against the 14 activists.

“The expression of political ideas is the basic freedom and rights of the democratic political system and principle of human rights, which the state is obliged to protect and support not obstructing,” stated Wiboon’s letter to the NHRC.

The military court detained the 14 embattled anti-junta activists most of whom are students at an early hours on 28 June 2015.

They 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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The Thai military officers in plainclothes have visited  Prachatai’s Office in Bangkok to ask about Prachatai’s activities.

At around 11 am on Thursday, 2 July 2015, three military officers in plainclothes from the First Infantry Regiment of Bangkok came to Prachatai Office.

The plain-clothed officers spent about 20 minutes to discuss about Prachatai’s recent  activities. The officers, however, did not enter into the office.

The officers also requested to have contacts of Prachatai personnel and took pictures of the office and surrounding areas.

They are still deployed in front of the office. However, the officers have not requested to search the office as rumours on social medias.

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BANGKOK, 2 July 2015: Airports of Thailand reports its May data showed increases in both aircraft movements and passengers at the six airports under its management. AoT reported, earlier this week, that all of its supervised airports handled 8,605,741 passenger movements up 29.13% from 6,664,287 during the same month last year. The overall airports’ aircraft […] Read more...

Thai police summoned a human rights activist for interrogation over an academic seminar involving discussions about the Thai monarchy.  

On Wednesday, 1 July 2015, Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, a human rights activist known for her works with slum dwellers in Bangkok, told media that the police officers from Pak Khlong Rangsit Police Station of Pathum Thani Province summoned her for an interrogation over a seminar titled ‘83 Years of Thailand’s Development after the 1932 Revolution of Siam’.

The seminar on the post-absolute-monarchy Thailand was held at Rangsit University in Pathum Thani on 22 June 2015. It was participated by Sulak Sivaraksa, a well known critic of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, Olarn Chaiprawat, the former advisor to an ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Prateep, and other high profile academics.    

The summoned letter was issued by the police station on 26 June 2015, ordering her to report to Pak Khlong Rangsit Police Station on 9 July. It mentioned in the summon letter that the seminar’s content involved references about the Thai King.     

According to Matichon Online, Prateep suspects that participants of the seminar might have filed a lese majeste complaint against certain speakers of the event .  

She added that the complaint might be against Sulak Sivaraksa, a royalist who is known for his firm stand against the lese majeste law.

Last year, Sulak was accused of defaming King Naresuan, an ancient king of the Ayutthaya Kingdom who reigned about 400 years ago, by raising doubts at the seminar on Thai history about the historical battle between the ancient Thai king and a Burmese general.

Suluck told Prachatai in a video interview that Article 112 is only for the protection of the present monarch, the Queen and the Crown Prince

The notorious lese majeste law or Article 112 of the Criminal Code clearly states "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, Heir-apparent or Regent shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years."

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The Isaan Record

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – On Monday morning, employees of the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Los Angeles and nearby pedestrians were greeted by protesters standing in support of the 14 students who were arrested in Bangkok on June 26.

On Monday, June 29, ENGAGE, a non-profit network called for a return of democracy in Thailand through a protest outside the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)

The event was organized by the Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange (ENGAGE), a non-profit network of community activists based in the United States that has been campaigning alongside students from the Neo-Democracy Movement in Thailand and rural groups in the Northeast to support people’s movements and community rights.
 
The protesters expressed their solidarity with Thai students and villagers as they protested Article 44 of the military-imposed 2014 Interim Constitution and the general suppression of human rights since the May 2014 coup.
 
Seven members of the Khon Kaen University student group Dao Din were detained briefly on May 22 after holding a protest against the military junta’s one-year anniversary in power. They were detained again on June 26 after holding a protest on June 25 and formally charged for disturbing public peace and violating NCPO Order 3/2558 which bans political gatherings of five or more people. An additional seven activists from the Neo-Democracy movement are also being detained. All are awaiting a military trial where they face up to seven years in prison if found guilty.
 
Fourteen pairs of shoes symbolize each student arrested in Bangkok for peaceful protesting. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)
 
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Thailand. Everyone, regardless of where they are born, should be allowed basic human rights and the freedom to organize,” said Jude Peckinpaugh, a member of ENGAGE who recently returned from Thailand. “This action is to show that we support the students’ recent non-violent civil disobedience and demand that they are released from prison.”
 
Jude Peckinpaugh announced the demands of ENGAGE in solidarity with the Neo-Democracy Movement. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)
 
The protesters delivered six demands to Consul General Jesda Kataventin in order to show support for the detained Thai students and Na Nong Bong villagers in Thailand’s Loei Province. Among their demands are the repeal of Article 44, an end of military court trials for civilians, release of the student protesters, and an investigation of the activities of the Tungkum Limited Company gold mine activities in Loei Province.
 
Protesters also called for an end of military harassment of villagers in the Northeast fighting for their right to livelihood and a safe environment.
 
ENGAGE received a response from the Consular General in Los Angeles on June 30 confirming that their demands had been passed on to the government in Bangkok.
 
Zoe Swartz and Cat Darin, ENGAGE members, discussed the goals of the protest with an onlooker originally from Chiang Mai. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)
 

 

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Young activists entered a cage installed in front of Thammasat University to support the 14 anti-junta activists

The students activists from the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD) on Wednesday, 1 July 2015, placed a cage as a replica of prison cells on the pavement in front of the wall of Thammasat University, Tha Prachan Campus, in Bangkok.

At 14:40 pm several students started to enter the cage to take pictures and post it on social medias to start a viral campaign to support the 14 anti-junta activists who are now in prison for participating in peaceful gatherings to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état on 22 May.      

According to the LLTD, every one can enter the cage to symbolically show support for the activists under custody.

“Under the current circumstance, when our freedom of expressions is limited in public spaces. It is as if our lives outside prisons are being controlled under an invisible cage at all times without noticing it to the point that we might think that it is normal,” the LLTD group’s wrote on the group’s facebook profile.

Students enter a cage in front of the Tha Prachan Campus of Thammasat University to show support for the 14 embattled anti-junta activists under custody on 1 July 2015 (courtesy of LLTD)

On Sunday, 28 June 2015, academics, activists, students and many others came to the same wall at Thammasat University and attached placards and post-it with messages to support the 14 activists.

One of the placards is a message from Kasian Techapeera, a renowned anti-junta political scientist of Thammasat and Chulalongkorn University, which reads ‘I’m proud to have been your lecturer’.

Some other placards attached to the campus wall read ‘Release the 14 student activists unconditionally’, ‘Nobody is behind this [anti-junta activities] except ordinary people who love democracy’, ‘Dictatorship will be destroyed and democracy will triumph’.

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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The Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS), a public media outlet supported by the state, might face 50,000 Baht fine from the Thai authorities for broadcasting a program about the backgrounds of the 14 embattled anti-junta student activist.

According the Nation Breaking News, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission of Thailand (NBCT) summoned the executive board members of the Thai PBS over a TV news program called “Before becoming a New Democracy Group: Looking Back to the Movements of the 14 Student from Dao Din and in front of Bangkok’s Art and Culture Center”, which was broadcasted on June 28, for a discussion.

The TV program presented the backgrounds of the 14 embattled anti-junta activists most of whom are students, such as the Dao Din Group from the northeastern Khon Kaen Province, who has long been engaged in activities against a gold mine in Loei Province together with the locals.

The program pointed out that the 14 anti-junta activists were also engaged in activities against the Amnesty Bill, a bill aimed to give impunity to people involved in the 2010 political violence and Thaksin Shinnawatra a controversial ex-Prime Minister, proposed under the last elected government under Yingluck Shinawatra, the former PM before the coup d’état.

A source in NBTC told Prachatai that the NBTC’s broadcasting committee has not made any decision regarding the measures which the Thai PBS might face and that the committee might finalise the decision on the matter next week.      

There not been any official response from the Thai PBS. However, Nattaya Wawweerakhup, a Thai PBS program host, on Tuesday, 30 June 2015, posted the content of Article 37 of the 2007 Act to Assign Radio Frequencies and Regulate Broadcasting and Telecommunication Services on her facebook profile and urged her colleagues to study it.

Last year, the Thai junta pressured Thai PBS to remove Nattaya from a TV program she was hosting called “Voices of the People that must be heard before the Reform” because she asked questions, which led people to make negative remarks about the 2014 coup d’état.

In brief, Article 37 of the act states that the NBTC shall refer to Article 27 of the act to issue notifications or fine TV stations, which broadcast inappropriate content prior to suspending broadcasting licenses. Media establishments which act against the broadcasting act are liable to face 50,000 Baht fine (1,481 USD).     

In early May 2015, the NBCT issued an order to shutdown Peace TV, a TV station affiliated with United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), a red-shirt group.

According to Natee Sukonrat, the chair of the NBCT’s Broadcasting Committee, the decision shutdown Peace TV to was made because the TV station repeatedly broadcast inappropriate programmes which are sensitive to national security.

Supinya Klangnarong, one of the members of the NBTC’s Broadcasting Committee, however, posted on her twitter account that she voiced opposition against the NBTC’s measure.

"I agree that, in principle, the NBTC should increase its efforts to regulate TV channels to prevent the problem of reproducing hatred and incitement, but it should be proportionate," Supinya wrote. "We should not just jump from never using power to using power to the maximum extent," Khaosod English quoted Supinya as saying in late April.

"From what I have seen, Peace TV does not use rude language like another channel that belongs to the same political group. The content may be seen as criticizing state power from a sceptical viewpoint," Supinya wrote on twitter.

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