Thai military has dismissed the UN’s concern and suggestion that Thai authorities should uphold human rights while solving land conflicts, saying the information which says the military harassed villagers are false.     

Col Tawee Kerdsomboon, the Deputy Army Commander of the southern province of Surat Thani, the province with the highest tension on land dispute, on Monday clarified to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the communication from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding the junta’s policy to solve protected area issue by forced eviction and violence.

In the statement issued on 11 March, the OHCHR said it is “concerned” with the situation. The land dispute has led to four murders and one disappearance of land rights activists in the past ten months, the OHCHR stated. The office also suggested that the Thai Thai government should stop forced evictions -- the result of the junta’s “Return the Forest” policy, which are happening countrywide.   

On June 2014, the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued Order No. 64/2014, which states that encroachers of protected areas and poachers of illegal forest goods shall face severe legal actions.

Col Tawee said Phoemsap community members, the embattled community of Chai Buri District in the southern Province of Surat Thani, illegally encroached public areas, and alleged  the leaders of the community of acting as a local mafia group to occupy the land plot under the claims of the villagers’ grievances.

After the military gave statement on the issue, the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand (SPFT), the leading land right advocate group in the South, declared the military’s statement as false and pointed out that the military’s response was aimed at covering up the conflict to benefit the local interest groups.

Meanwhile, on Monday, SPFT urged the governor of the southern province of Nakhon Srithammarat to stop the eviction of Tung Tab Kway Community in Bang Kan District of Nakhon Srithammarat.

The community is located on land plots which overlap with Tung Tab Kway protected area.

According to SPFT, the acting governor of Nakhon Srithammarat in January authorised an order to evict Tung Tab Kway Community by 15 April.

The eviction order was authorised before the survey to determine the boundary between the protected area and the community is complete, SPFT pointed out.

The organisation stated in the letter that the local authorities should wait for the final resolution from the committee to solve land conflict which was established by Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta’s leader and prime minister, on November 2014.

NOTE: BP is still on hiatus. The recent posts about MMP and the electoral system are an exception. The posts are designed to explain MMP and its proposed implementation. The posts do not endorse any electoral system or represent the views of anyone else. This post is co-authored and cross-posted with Allen Hicken of Read more...
Human Rights Watch

(New York, April 1, 2015) – Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is seeking to invoke a constitutional provision that would give him unlimited powers without safeguards against human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said today. 

On March 31, 2015, Prayuth announced that he has requested King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s permission to lift martial law, which has been enforced nationwide since the May 2014 military coup. Prayuth, who chairs the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta, said he would replace the Martial Law Act of 1914 with section 44 of the 2014 interim constitution, which would allow him to issue orders without administrative, legislative, or judicial oversight or accountability. 

“General Prayuth’s activation of constitution section 44 will mark Thailand’s deepening descent into dictatorship,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Thailand’s friends abroad should not be fooled by this obvious sleight of hand by the junta leader to replace martial law with a constitutional provision that effectively provides unlimited and unaccountable powers.”

Under section 44, Prayuth as the NCPO chairman can issue orders and undertake acts without regard to the human rights implications, Human Rights Watch said. Section 44 states that “where the head of the NCPO is of opinion that it is necessary for the benefit of reforms in any field, or to strengthen public unity and harmony, or for the prevention, disruption or suppression of any act that undermines public peace and order or national security, the monarchy, national economics or administration of State affairs,” the head of the NCPO is empowered to “issue orders, suspend or act as deemed necessary.… Such actions are completely legal and constitutional.” No judicial or other oversight mechanism exists to examine use of these powers. Prayuth only needs to report his decisions and actions to the National Legislative Assembly and to the prime minister, a position he also occupies, after they are taken.

Prayuth has previously stated that orders issued under section 44 would allow the military to arrest and detain civilians. Since the May 2014 coup, the junta has detained hundreds of politicians, activists, journalists, and others who they accuse of supporting the deposed Yingluck Shinawatra government, disrespecting or offending the monarchy, or being involved in anti-coup protests and activities. Military personnel have interrogated many of these detainees in secret and unauthorized military facilities without providing access to their lawyers or ensuring other safeguards against mistreatment. 

The NCPO has continually refused to provide information about people in secret detention. The risk of enforced disappearance, torture, and other ill treatment significantly increases when detainees are held incommunicado in military detention. However, there have been no indications of any official inquiry by Thai authorities into reports of torture and mistreatment in military custody.

The use of military courts, which lack independence and fail to comply with international fair trial standards, to try civilians is likely to continue under section 44, Human Rights Watch said. Three days after seizing power on May 22, 2014, the NCPO issued its 37th order, which replaced civilian courts with military tribunals for some offenses – including actions violating penal code articles 107 to 112, which concern lese majeste crimes, and crimes regarding national security and sedition as stipulated in penal code articles 113 to 118. Individuals who violate the NCPO’s orders have also been subjected to trial by military court. Hundreds of people, most of them political dissidents, have been sent to trials in military courts since the coup.

The imposition of section 44 means the junta’s lifting of martial law is unlikely to lead to improvement of respect for human rights in Thailand, Human Rights Watch said. The junta will have legal justification to continue its crackdown on those exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms. Criticism of the government can still be prosecuted, peaceful political activity banned, free speech censored and subject to punishment, and opposition of military rule not permitted. 

“General Prayuth’s action to tighten rather than loosen his grip on power puts the restoration of democratic civilian rule further into the future,” Adams said. “Concerted pressure from Thailand’s allies is urgently needed to reverse this dangerous course.”


The good news: the Thai military junta may soon lift martial law, which has been in place for nearly a year. The bad news: it will be replaced by something worse that could give junta leader and Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha much more power. Read more...
April gets underway today and all over Southeast Asia, thoughts are turning to how to spend the upcoming holiday as the old year gives way to another new circle. April is also the month when the Sun God ramps up the thermometer from hot to extremely ho... Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
Ambassador Calvert meeting with 
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
BANGKOK - Embassy of Canada press release following bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
H.E. Philip Calvert, Ambassador of Canada to the Kingdom of Thailand, met today (31 March 2015) with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to review key elements of the bilateral relationship, encompassing commercial, political, security and people-to-people ties.  During the meeting, Ambassador Calvert reiterated Canada’s expectation that the Thai military will return Thailand to democratic governance as soon as possible through free and fair elections, and highlighted the importance of a transparent, inclusive and democratic reform process. Ambassador Calvert also raised human rights concerns and urged Thailand to respect its international human rights obligations.
Ambassador Calvert noted the considerable potential in bilateral commercial relations and opportunities for expanding two-way trade and investment. 
He stressed the importance of a predictable business climate and the rule of law to current and future trade partners.  He also noted the importance of the ASEAN region to Canada.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's prime minister and junta leader has asked the king for formal approval to lift martial law, which the military imposed ahead of a coup last May that overturned an elected government. The monarch's approval is considered a formality. Read more...

The criminal court on Tuesday postponed for a second time the preliminary hearing against a suspect, known as "popcorn gunman" accused of shooting at red shirt protesters during a confrontation between the red shirts and anti-election protesters in February 2014.

According to Matichon Online, Bangkok’s Criminal Court on Tuesday morning granted the prosecutor’s request to postpone the preliminary hearing against Wiwat Yodprasit, the 24 years-old suspect indicted with attempted murder and carrying weapons during the political unrest at Laksi, northern Bangkok, on 2 February 2014.

The preliminary hearing was rescheduled to 18 May because the prosecutor wanted to escalate an attempted murder charge in the case file to murder charge after the death of Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, who was allegedly shot by the suspect.

This is the second time that the preliminary for Wiwat was postponed.

On 19 January, the prosecutor requested the court to reschedule the preliminary hearing on the case because the collection of forensic evidence on the death of Akaew was incomplete.      

Wiwat is accused of being the so-called ‘popcorn gunman’, who used a popcorn sack to conceal an M16 and shot at the anti-establishment red-shirt demonstrators during the confrontation between the red shirts and anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters on 2 February 2014 at Laksi intersection in Bangkok.

He was arrested by police on 20 March 2014 and was indicted by the prosecutor on 11 June 2014 for murder and carrying weapons and ammunition in public, including breaking the emergency decree which was declared during the political unrest in 2014.

In March 2014, several sources reported that Wiwat confessed during a police press conference that he was the popcorn gunman and the police charged him with illegal possession of weapons and attempted murder. However, according to Khaosod, Wiwat only confessed that he was a PDRC guard.

Contrary to the police findings, Puangthip Boonsanong, the lawyer from the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT), a group allied to the PDRC, claimed that Wiwat was a scapegoat who was tortured by the police into admitting that he was the popcorn gunman. 

BANGKOK, 31 March 2015: Thai authorities Monday said they would use special powers under junta rule to “urgently” improve airline safety as several carriers face bans on new international flights following concerns raised by a UN aviation agency. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations body, recently reported “significant safety concerns” to Thailand’s […] Read more...
The military court sentenced a red shirt businessman accused of posting messages defaming the monarchy on Facebook to 50 years imprisonment, in camera trial, but the jail term was halved because the suspect pleaded guilty. 
The man who wants to remain anonymous, whose given name begins with T and surname with S, was accused of using two Facebook accounts under “Yai Daengdueat” (ใหญ่ แดงเดือด), an anti-establishment red shirt businessman, was found guilty on five counts under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, nicknamed lese majeste law, for posting five messages. 
The court sentenced him 10 years for each court. 
The verdict was read in camera because the case is related to the revered Thai monarchy and might affect public morale, the court reasoned. 

The man who wants to remain anonymous, whose given name begins with T and surname with S, was accused of using two Facebook accounts under “Yai Daengdueat” (ใหญ่ แดงเดือด) to post five messages deemed to defame the King, according to the police custody petition submitted to the military court on Thursday.  

According to the police custody petition submitted to the military court in December 2014, the first alleged message, posted on 25 July, mainly criticized the King’s sufficiency economy. It also compares the Bhutanese monarchy to Thailand’s.
The man has been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison for about three months. 
The second alleged message talked about a behind-the-scenes story of the coup d’état. It was posted on 13 September.
The third message, published in early November, talked about the fate of “Uncle Somchai,” of which the police say “The use of Uncle Somchai is widely known among Internet users and red shirts to refer to His Majesty the King.” Defaming Uncle Somchai is therefore lèse majesté.
Other messages attacked the royal projects. 
The military arrested the man, 58, and his wife on 18 December. The man was detained for interrogation at a military base in Bangkok for five days, while his wife was detained for one night. The military court issued an arrest warrant on the fifth day of military detention when he was transferred to the custody of the Crime Suppression Division.
During the military interrogation, the man confessed and was forced to provide passwords to email and social network accounts.
After 48 hours in police custody, the police on Thursday submitted a custody petition to the military court. The family of the suspect also submitted a 400,000 baht bail request.
The court, as expected, denied the bail request, saying that the charges carry a high penalty and that the suspect might flee.   
The man graduated from a Faculty of Engineering with second class honours and lives in northern Bangkok. 
On 25 December, his wife submitted 400,000 baht (12,270 USD) bail for Sira and informed the military court that the suspect never committed any crime before and suffers from sinusitis, allergy, and gastritis. The military court, however, denied bail, citing the severity of the charges and flight risk.    


Bundit Aneeya, a a 74 years-old writer charged with lese majeste for the second time, decided not to plead guilty to the military court and fight the case.  
Bangkok Military Court on Tuesday morning held a disposition hearing for a man known by his pen name as Bundit Aneeya, an elderly independent writer and translator who was charged with lese majeste.
Bundit, however, pleaded innocent and will fight the case.
“I believe that I’m innocent and didn’t do anything wrong,” the defendant told Prachatai.
The court scheduled the preliminary hearing for Bundit at 8.30am on 22 June 2015. 
Bundit was indicted of offences under Article 112 of the Criminal Crime Code, nicknamed lese majeste law, on 19 February for making comments that allegedly defamed the monarchy during a seminar.
Due to the severity of the jail terms given by the military court in lese majeste cases, most of the suspects decided to plead guilty so that the court will reduce the jail term by half. 
The seminar, organized by Waranchai Chokchana, was held on 26 November 2014, in Bangkok and was attended by about 15 people. Bundit was arrested at the seminar while he was not even finish his speech.
According to the case filed by the prosecutor, the alleged lese majeste comment was made after the panel ended. 
“My point is now Thai people are separated into two sides: The one which is in favour of a monarchy which does not abide by the law, as the head of the state,” said Bundit. Then Bundit asked about two choices concerning the monarchy.  "which one...” Bundit was arrested by police before he could finish his sentence. (The phrase in italics is a paraphrase in order to avoid repeating the alleged lèse majesté content.)
Bundit has been released on 400,000 baht (12,270 USD) bail due to his age and poor health. He is one of the few lese majeste suspects granted bail by the military court. 
The writer, who has been diagnosed with psychosis, has only one kidney and has to carry a urine drainage bag with him all the time. 
The old man had earlier been convicted of lese majeste with the jail term suspended due to his mental illness. If convicted again, his jail terms will accumulate. The allegedly lese majeste comment that he made pointed out the general opinion of Thais toward the monarchy.   
In February 2014, the self-taught writer and translator, who has written and translated over 30 books, was found guilty by the Supreme Court under Article 112, the lese majeste law, for his comments at a seminar and sentenced to four years in jail, but the jail term was suspended for three years.