More than two-thirds of the committee responsible for screening the candidates to Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) are high-ranking military officers.
A leaked classified document listing the members of the committee authorized to screen the behaviour and ethical backgrounds of the candidates to the NHRC shows that 12 of the 17 are four-star military offcers.
Four other members are civilians and the remaining member is a police general.
The source of the document requested Prachatai not to show the real copy of the document and to respect their anonymity due to privacy concerns.
According to the leaked document, Gen Oud Buangbon is chair of the NHRC screening committee while three other four-star military officers, namely Gen Sophon Silpipat, Air Chief Marshal Siwakiat Chayema, and Admiral Taratorn Kajitsuwan serve as first, second, and the third deputy chairs.
The chief advisor of the committee is Gen Lertrit Wechsawarn. As a Senator and chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Studying and Monitoring Problems Concerning Law Enforcement and Measures for the Protection of the Royal Institution, Gen Lertrit last year was reported by the Bangkok Post to have agreed with a group of ultra-royalist senators to build up a strong network of pro-monarchists using social networking to protect the monarchy.
On Tuesday, 21 July 2015, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand announced a list of seven candidates to replace the incumbent commissioners who have been in office since June 2009. The candidates to the NHRC are now waiting for the approval of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) in about 30 days.
One of the seven candidates, Baworn Yasinthorn is the leader of an ultra-royalist group calling itself Citizens Volunteer for Defence of Three Institutes Network.
In April 2010, the ultra-royalist group filed charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, against Wuttipong K., aka Ko Tee, a hardcore red shirt leader from Nonthaburi Province, for allegedly defaming the Thai King during an interview with Vice News.
Prior to the 2014 coup d’état, Baworn was also a prominent supporter of People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Sunai Phasuk, a researcher from Human Rights Watch (HRW), told Prachatai that the inadequate selection process for NHRC commissioners results in the appointment of unqualified people to the Commission.
“The selection process of the NHRC in a way picks people who do not have solid backgrounds in human rights and who are not independent as commissioners. This results in a lot of limitations of the rights commissioners,” said Sunai.
Last year, the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the International Coordinating Committee on National Human Rights Institutions (ICC), an independent international association of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) which monitors the performance of national human rights institutions worldwide, downgraded Thailand’s NHRC from A to B, citing the agency’s poor performance and partiality.Read more...
Examination on Civic Leadership and General Sense of Superiority
To be taken by Prime Ministers, Test Writers for Civic Duty classes, Administrators of Triam Udom Suksa School who are not psychiatrists but can still diagnose mental illness from test answers, and True Believers in True Thainess.
You must answer all questions by marking the correct choice with a B2 pencil only. Any attempt to give an explanation for your answers, any comments on the questions, or any other expression of intelligence will automatically lead to a failing score. The decisions of the test administrators are final and any dissent will lead to prosecution in a military court.
- The one and only proper way of testing, whether you are trying to test memory, physical or mental skills, reasoning (both inductive and deductive), judgement and discernment, wisdom, aesthetic sensibility, or mental attitudes such as patriotism, obedience, and a preference for communal ignorance, is:
A multiple-choice tests, no matter what the subject is, where any number of the alternatives is correct (including none).
B training teachers to become aware of their students’ various competencies, (intellectual, emotional, physical, etc.) and to be capable of producing an insightful, comprehensive and unbiased written assessment of each student.
C a battery of tests, each appropriate to the ability being measured, without the results necessarily being quantified numerically and definitely without them being aggregated and averaged into a meaningless ‘overall score’.
D multiple-choice tests, no matter what the subject is, where any number of the alternatives is correct (including none).
- A true Thai student is:
A someone who can recite flawlessly the 12 core values, wear the correct uniform and keep their blasted hormones under control.
B someone who believes exactly what good people tell them they should believe.
C someone who can think for themselves and who refuses to answer test questions that imply that conformity with the beliefs of those in authority is the only correct thing to believe.
D a piece of make-believe.
- Strict obedience to the rule of law means:
A violating the supreme law of the land, the constitution, while demanding that everyone else observe laws that you yourself write. And then re-write.
B observing all laws, rules and regulations, except the ones that relate to driving motorcycles on the footpath, using mobile phones while driving, submitting to breathalyser tests, or any other traffic law that might make driving less of a privileged convenience. Especially if you drive an illegally imported supercar and/or have a certain kind of family name on your driving licence.
C ignoring all the international laws which Thailand has ratified whenever these do not conform to Thailand’s commercial interests, the normal way that Thais do things, or the need for the country’s leadership to save face.
D something that your political opponents must do but from which you and your political allies are exempt.
- Psychiatric illness can be diagnosed by:
A trained medical professionals based on a careful and studied diagnosis of the patient’s behaviour which is analysed in terms of clinical definitions.
B the fact that the flaming lunatic in front is driving like a drain.
C any supervisor, superior officer, teacher or person wearing a uniform based on a single action by a subordinate, student, member of an ethnic minority or foreigner which fails to conform to popular prejudice.
D that fact that I am the Prime Minister which means I am in charge and you will do what I say and if you keep criticising all the time, then don’t blame me if the lights go out or there is no water in the taps while you are flooded out of house and home and the country gets invaded and taken over by somebody with a whole fleet of submarines, for heaven’s sake, I’m doing my very best here and if you don’t like it, you can find somewhere else to live and can’t you see we’re all good people, are you all mad?
- Reading the Alien Thoughts column is:
A good way for Thai student practice Engilsh such as spellings, grammar and reading comprehension as well as grammar etc. Moreover.
B well he’s got to be funny eventually so might as well give it another go.
C not advised unless under the supervision of a responsible adult.
D prohibited for all censors, military or otherwise.
Warning: Candidates who fail to answer all 6 questions correctly will suffer immediate promotion.
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).
You can track the following questions on the video to at the times given.
How does the movement see the violence in the past 11 years? (0.29)
What do you think about the human rights violations and crimes committed by the Thai state? What are your concerns about that? (1.30)
Civil society groups have called for the movement to refrain from attacks on soft targets, namely civilians. Has the movement heeded these demands? (4.30)
Duncan McCargo, an English academic, has termed the structure of the insurgency movement as a liminal lattice or "a network without a core”. What do you think about his analysis? (7.30)
Why have the movements never come out to claim responsibility for each attack? (11.25)
In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake of the Thai state toward people in Patani? (12.10)
What is the movement's strategy in gaining support from the local people? (16.00)
Do you find the demand for merdika, or independence, still relevant? (18.41)
Has the movement done its best to listen to local people’s demands? (20.00)
The Deep South student movement ‘PerMAS’, which has been very active lately has been accused of being a wing of the movement? Is that true? (21.37)
What is MARA Patani? What is its status? What organizations does it represent? (24.20)
What are your demands? Are they different from the five-point proposal made during Yingluck government? (25.50)
Does the movement consider the Thai junta as a legitimate representative of the Thai state since they came to power illegally? (32.29)
How many talks have taken place since the coup? What has been discussed? How has it gone so far? (34.54)
If Patani becomes an autonomous or independent state, will Islamic law be implemented? (40.40)
The Deep South has been home of people with Chinese and Thai ancestry for generations. What is the movement’s stance toward cultural and ethnic diversity? (43.33)
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha is very conservative on national-level policies. What do you think about his style in tackling the problem of the Deep South? (44.12)
What do you think and feel about Thai national politics? (48.25)
What do you think about the Thai mainstream media’s coverage of the Deep South conflict? (50.18)
Muhammad Dueramae from Deep South Journalism School contributed to this report.
Read related stories:
- Key PULO member tells stories from jail, his role behind peace talks in Thailand’s Deep South
- Srisompob Jitpiromsri on the latest round of Deep South peace talks
Bangkok dismayed as report maintains lowest tier 3 status, with US pointing to lack of progress in tackling modern-day slavery and corruption
Thailand has hit back after being blacklisted in a US report for the second consecutive year for not combatting modern-day slavery, arguing it has made serious steps to tackle human trafficking.
The ministry of foreign affairs said the US state department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, released on Monday, “does not accurately reflect the significant efforts undertaken by the government”, which had made “tangible progress”.Continue reading... Read more...
- Rescind your support for Article 44
- Demand civil, not military, trials for all civilians
- Renounce NCPO Order No. 7/2014, and Article 116 of the Criminal Code
- Demand an end to military harassment of community and student groups
- Submit a request for charges to be dropped against all political prisoners including the following 14 students from the New Democracy Movement:
Washington, DC: The U.S. Department of State maintained Thailand’s Tier 3 ranking, the lowest category, in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which was released this morning. The ranking accurately reflects Thailand’s lagging efforts to combat human trafficking and will incentivize the Thai government to make greater strides in the coming year, according to a global coalition of 25 human rights, environmental and labor groups, who sent an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry today.
“The Thai government seems to be realizing it must address its significant labor trafficking problem or face economic consequences,” said Abby McGill, campaigns director for the International Labor Rights Forum. “Unfortunately, the changes it has made so far are largely cosmetic. We hope this decision will underscore the urgent need to reform immigration and labor laws so they uphold the human rights of migrant workers, one of the populations in Thailand most vulnerable to human trafficking.”
There are an estimated 3-4 million migrant workers in Thailand, many of whom labor in the most dangerous jobs in Thailand’s booming export economy. Several high-profile global media exposés last year brought significant international attention to the problem of human trafficking among migrant workers in Thailand’s fishing industry in particular. The European Union issued Thailand a “yellow card” for its failure to adequately monitor its fishing industry in April, which gave the Thai government six months to improve oversight, or face sanctions.
The letter also condemned Thailand’s use of criminal defamation to prosecute journalists and human rights defenders who uncover cases of human trafficking, claiming such prosecutions inhibit the ability of victims to speak out and seek justice. This month, Phuketwan journalists Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian, and migrant rights defender Andy Hall, faced court proceedings in separate cases related to accusations of human trafficking, the former in the seafood sector and the latter at a pineapple canning facility.
“While there have recently been positive moves forward, Thailand has still not yet demonstrated enough political will, translated into effective implementation of actions, to change the systemic nature of its human trafficking,” said Sein Htay, president of the Migrant Workers Rights Network. “It’s important that government, industry and civil society all work together to push the Thai government toward greater enforcement against the drivers of human trafficking, and accountability for the people guilty of supporting this egregious form of exploitation.”
Prefatory note to the English translation: During the crackdown on red shirt protestors during April-May 2010, at least 94 people were killed and over 2000 injured. In an unprecedented event in Thai political history, the leaders who presided over the crackdown -- former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban (now a monk) – were indicted in October 2013 for premeditated murder under Articles 80, 83, 84 and 288 of the Criminal Code. The indictment was unprecedented because this was the first time that state officials – either those at the level of command or those who carried out orders in the field – were indicted for their role in a massacre. The criminal case came amidst ongoing inquests into the deaths, the majority of which have concluded that soldiers were responsible for the deaths of civilians.
However, the indictment and accompanying hope for accountability, was short-lived. On 28 August 2014, the Criminal Court ruled that they did not have the jurisdiction to examine the case and it would be transferred to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions. The only penalties this court can impose are a restriction on an individual’s ability to participate in formal politics. Thanong Senamontri, the chief justice of the Criminal Court, wrote a dissenting opinion in which argued that this decision violated the rights of the families of those who were killed during the April-May 2010 crackdown to seek justice [for readers able to read Thai, the dissenting opinion can be read in its entirety as part of this article in ข่าวสด].
Shortly after the Criminal Court dismissed the case, noted historian Nidhi Eoseewong wrote a critique of the decision to do so and placed it within the contexts of both the historical failure to hold perpetrators of state violence to account and its potential effects on the future. In this essay, “The Past-Present-Future of the Court’s Decision”/ “อดีต-ปัจจุบัน-อนาคต ของคำพิพากษา”, Ajarn Nidhi offered an acute, and unsettling observation on the meaning of the political: “The Criminal Court’s view is that the massacre of people in the centre of the city by the people who held political office is merely a crime of politics. And when it becomes a crime of politics, the soldiers who carried out the actions have nothing to do with the crime at all.” What this means is that through their refusal to examine the case, the Criminal Court gave a legal and institutional gloss to the already normalized use of violence as a strategy of political rule.
I read this essay as a companion to the earlier one. In “The Murderous State,” originally published in early July in Matichon Weekly, Ajarn Nidhi links the court decision to a discussion of the strength of the state, the ease of state murder when the state is weak, and the normalization of state murder over time. Writing in the context of the arrest of the fourteen student activists of the New Democracy Movement at the end of June, and addressing the people rather than the Criminal Court, he traces the histories of state murder and the presence, or lack, of restraint upon the state. He concludes by urging his readers against complacency and writes, “every one of us of every political persuasion must work to make the choice of murder by the state into one that cannot be chosen, or one that if it is chosen, will cause the state to be worse off and fall to pieces.” —translator.
After the massacre of the people in 2010, I heard some say, “If [we] had not killed [them], [they] would have been left to cause greater damage to the country.”
At that time, the inquiry into the matter of the “burning down of the city,” the setting fire to one large shopping center in particular, had not yet begun. Therefore, the speaker perhaps meant that, if left loose, the red shirts might engage in further “burning down of the city.” But even supposing that the subsequent inquiry and judicial process had substantiated that the red shirts were those who set fire to both private and state buildings, I still think that the state murder of the people caused greater damage to the country than the loss of the buildings that were burned down.
This is because when the state kills the people indiscriminately, no reason remains for us to assemble as a state. At a very fundamental level, each one of us is part of the state because we trust that this form will provide us with the greatest freedom from harm. Outside the boundaries of the state, we may easily be violated and our lives easily taken. Outside the boundaries of the state, there are no mechanisms to punish the act of murder and therefore no instruments to suppress murder.
The state therefore cannot murder. Or there must, at a minimum, be detailed regulations governing the act of murder by the state in order to serve as a check and restraint on it. Murder by the state is more dangerous to the masses than a man killing his wife, a robber killing his victim, or even a terrorist killing a crowd.
This matter is unrelated to either the color of one’s shirt or whether a regime is democratic or dictatorial. If the state is to retain a sufficient threshold of existence, then it cannot engage in the murder of the people.
I am thinking about this issue due to the recent movement by the students from Dao Din, the Liberal League of Thammasat for Democracy, and other groups. If you believe that the student movement has (odious) people behind it, then you may believe that the arrest and detention of the students and the hunting down of those behind them will perhaps subdue the movement. You may believe that they will be unable to find additional people to stand behind them. But if you believe that student movement is born out of conscious, freely-chosen actions, then you will know well that the arrest and detention of the students or those who are accused of being behind them will fail to halt their open and direct opposition of dictatorial power. This is likely only the beginning and the future is forbidding for all sides.
I believe the latter.
Therefore, I worry that as this movement expands, the state will again murder as it has done many, many times prior. This is not because the state is stupid, or has not learned the lesson that public mass murder severs every last remaining iota of the foundation of their legitimacy completely. But they may murder because they have no other choice. Those who hold power, whether they are soldiers or civilians, tend to turn to murder when they run out of other political choices.
Think about it: faced with the choice of announcing the dissolution of parliament and holding new elections or murdering the people, the civilian government [of Abhisit Vejjajiva] still chose murder. In spite of this, when they lost the elections [in 2011], they did not have to face accountability for any of their crimes. Will a government that has come from a coup accept the end of their rule along with a multiplicity of punishments to account for their crimes?
Murder is the therefore a frequent choice of the Thai state. Murder is too easily chosen and the aspects of Thai culture that may restrain the state’s impulse to murder grow weaker and weaker in turn.
Murder is an instrument of power of outmoded states, including the Thai state. A state is not able to kill people as it wishes because it is strong. On the contrary, ancient states killed people as they wished because they were weak. They used public murder as a pedagogy of tyranny to teach their subjects to be afraid of the state. A range of horrible killing methods was used to ingrain fear into the hearts of the subjects.
In what way is the murder of the people an instrument of a weak state? Let me offer the revolt of the Isaan people, or as it is known, the Phi Mi Bun Rebellion, as an illustrative example. During the fifth reign, a group separated themselves off to make a new village with a new social order not under the control of the state. They were very easily suppressed, particularly in comparison with the Saya San rebellion in Burma, which involved a larger number of people. The state could have simply dispatched soldiers to surround them until they ran out of provisions. They would have had to willingly accept defeat. But the government during the fifth reign did not possess sufficiently modern forces to act in this fashion. In addition, they had to swiftly put down the rebels in order to avoid giving the great powers a reason to intervene. These reasons all emanate from the weakness of the state, and therefore they chose to use violent suppression.
The violent tactic they selected was to send their small modern army to suppress the rebels. They fired large modern weapons upon them and the strength of the explosions caused bodies to bound up into the air and fall to the ground as corpses. The villagers were out of avenues of struggle and fled in chaotic disorder. All that remained was for the soldiers to chase and capture them in groups … the end.
Even though having a modern army means that the state has a monopoly on violence, public execution still takes place. Public execution is used to make the citizen-subjects afraid. Once the transformation [from absolute to constitutional monarchy] took place, execution moved into private. But public execution returned as a method to intimidate and create once again when Sarit Thanarat [1958-1963] seized power.
The people were once again massacred in October 1973. But Thai culture had developed to a point at which open murder by the state was no longer accepted. Those who ordered the killings became known as the “three tyrants” [Thanom Kittikachorn-Narong Kittikachorn-Praphat Jarusathien].
Perhaps because that cultural power remained in Thai society, those who planned the massacre three years later [on 6 October 1976] attempted to paint it as the work of loyal citizens. This is notwithstanding that the attack and taking over of Thammasat University necessarily depended on state officials and state weapons. For example, there is a photograph of a uniformed police officer who has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and is pointing a gun in front of him (the Thai Health Promotion Foundation would oppose his smoking as more dangerous to health and society than murder by the state). Those who seized power during the coup on the evening of 6 October 1976 denied any involvement in the massacre that took place that morning (Yet they raced to immediately issue an amnesty bill).
At least until 6 October 1976, state murder still had to be carried out in a concealed fashion. They did not dare to do it brazenly in the open.
The massacre by the state in May 1992, even though it was not concealed, resulted in those who were involved having to cease their political role entirely. Further, the event created a realization among the Thai public that made it possible for the government of Anand Panyarachun to expediently remove high-ranking soldiers.
I should also mention that ever since the Communist Party of Thailand turned to armed struggle, the state has continuously murdered the people. These murders were not open, or were made to look as if there had been armed struggle with an “enemy” who also had a weapon. In truth, a large number of unarmed people were brutally killed. This included bombing hill tribe villages with napalm, throwing people out of helicopters in order to silence those who were tortured while they were interrogated, and arresting and burning people alive in red drums. But when these murders were revealed after 1973, they were not accepted by Thai society. This indicated that the culture that had restrained murder by the state in Thai society still retained some strength.
But the power of that culture was weakened greatly during the state massacre in April-May 2010. At the very least, the view of a large number of citizens was that the killing of the people by the state caused less harm to the country than the burning down of a shopping mall. Murder by the state was not a bad thing in and of itself. There were still some conditions under which it was not considered depraved to kill. Therefore, there are conditions under which the state may perhaps massacre the people in whatever which way.
The Court of Justice ruled that the murder by the state in 2010 was not within its jurisdiction. This then made the murder a political offence rather a criminal offence, as it is normally. This is tantamount to expanding the conditions under which the state may kill. The political conditions inevitably stretch to give the state the legitimacy to kill in many other situations … until restrictions can hardly be found. This ruling therefore amounts to the placing of a curse on Thai society that the day of wriggling free from perpetual state murder will be permanently deferred.
In sum, the Thai cultural and the judicial apparatuses have grown weaker and weaker in the struggle with state murder. This constitutes a profound loss for our country.
The modern state possesses a great amount of incomparable power. The doctrine of Dhammaraja may be a bridge to nirvana or may have had the power to restrain the vile exercise of power by the ancient state that was unable to amass power in the overflowing fashion practiced by the modern state. But because the modern state has surplus power, and there are not solid regulations to keep the state under control, either regulations about the accession to power or the exercise of power, the people must cooperate to force the state to strictly follow the rules. They must not easily surrender to justifications offered by the state. If they surrender easily, it will lead to another massacre of the people in order to prevent a building from being set on fire.
This is the reason why the Attorney General must appeal the ruling of the Court of Justice regarding the case of premeditated state murder in 2010. This matter has become quiet and I do not know whether or not the Attorney General appealed as they announced they would. If they did not appeal, I do not know if they have run out of time to do so. If this case is not appealed and it falls away, jurists need to think together about how to bring this case back to trial within the judicial process.
Even though this unfinished case may not be able to reach those who ordered the brutal killings, it is important. This case could be a starting point to be able to reach them in the future. It would count as the first case of murder by the state in which we are able to use the judicial process to hold the perpetrators to account. Each soldier who took action during the massacre in 2010 held power in his hands. Consequently, if all of them get off scot-free, they will become those who will order murder once again without any thought or hesitation.
My view is that by the same principle, we should abolish the death penalty. Statistics from various societies around the world prove that the death penalty does not aid in suppressing violent crime. We should not allow there to be any conditions under which the state is permitted to kill the people. Murder by the state is a crime under every circumstance. If state officials kill people to protect their own or other peoples’ lives, there must be a process of strict auditing by an outside agency to determine whether or not it was a situation beyond control that could not be avoided.
A person who carries a knife into a police station in order to attack an official does not need to be shot and killed. Instead, the person can be shot in order to disable his capacity to attack.
In every instance in which the state kills, it must be proven without a doubt that legal murder is truly lawful and there was no way to avoid it. If the state no longer retains the authority to murder, I believe that state officials can lawfully kill, but if and only if they are circumspect and employ careful judgment.
In a critical time like this, every one of us of every political persuasion must work to make the choice of murder by the state into one that cannot be chosen, or one that if it is chosen, will cause the state to be worse off and fall to pieces. There is nothing more important than this. State murder in the hands of a dictator poses a grave danger [to society].
Translated by Tyrell Haberkorn.
A recent piece of investigative journalism by The Bangkok Post has provided evidence of Thailand acquiring an advanced electronic surveillance capability. Traditionally a non-NATO treaty ally of the United States, Thailand has provided high-level intelligence to the United States, as the Wikileaks Cablegate Thailand cables made clear. In exchange, Thailand was likely able to rely on obtaining intelligence from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-gathering network consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, especially regarding areas of shared concern, for example, the situation in the Deep South or high-value targets.
However, the breakdown of relations with the United States around the end of last year, culminating in the statements made by US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel in January 2015, clearly posed a dilemma for Thailand: how to obtain a reliable surveillance state capability equivalent to that of a more advanced country. Thailand would have faced only two choices.
The first was to source a cooperative solution from a major power such as Russia, home to Kaspersky Labs, which is rumored to possess close links to the KGB, or from the People’s Republic of China. However, Thailand is not a traditional ally of either, and the prospect of introducing advanced Russian or Chinese e-warfare capabilities into Thai security apparatus facilities may have posed a greater threat than the advantages. This possibility of a compromised intelligence network including command and control facilities may also be a reason for the delay in purchasing the three Chinese submarines.
The second option would have been to source an advanced electronic surveillance suite from off-the-shelf vendors operating in a murky legal environment where such software can be classified as ‘military equipment’. Like many other countries developing towards an advanced police state, including the usual suspects Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, Thailand apparently chose this option, becoming by December 2014 the customer of the now notorious Hacking Team, a Milan-based information technology developer of intrusion and surveillance capabilities. This development was practically announced in February 2015, when the Thai military advertised the recruitment of officers to join a new ‘Cyber Warfare’ unit under the Directorate of Joint Operations of the Royal Thai Armed forces.
Hacking Team’s main product is the Remote Control System ‘Galileo’. However, the Hacking Team was itself hacked on July 5, 2015, revealing all its internal emails and source code, which The Bangkok Post has partially analysed from the Wikileaks site.
Figure 1: Part of (the Heavily Compromised) Hacking Team’s Presentation
The Wikileaks Hacking Team data for Thailand shows Hacking Team’s software suite was acquired by the Royal Thai Army and the Corrections Department of the Royal Thai Police in cooperation with Israel-based Nice Systems and partner Thai firms Placing Value, Netsurplus and Samart Comtech.
The suite includes all the capabilities you might expect from an advanced intelligence agency. These include the ability to covertly collect emails, text messages, and phone call histories; perform keystroke logging; uncover search history data and take screenshots; record audio from phone calls; use phones to collect noise and conversations by remotely switching on the telephone; activate the telephone’s camera; and hijack telephones GPS systems. The Remote Control Software (RCS) was capable of utilizing a number of known and ‘Zero-Day’ (unknown to anti-virus companies and previously unused) hacking exploits against software including Adobe Flash.
Companies such as Hacking Team have been heavily criticized for selling hacking software to repressive governments, such as Sudan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. In particular, Hacking Team sold software to Sudan in 2012, which led it to being investigated by the United Nations Panel on Experts for the Sudan for infringing a UN prohibition on selling “‘military … equipment’ or ‘assistance’ related to prohibited items” according to UN Security Council resolutions 1556 (2004) and 1591 (2005). Hacking Team’s response was to evade questions.
The RCS has been detected by counter-intrusion experts on the software of activists and journalists, perhaps one of the purposes behind its purchase by the Royal Thai Army Military Intelligence Command.
Figure 2: Suspected Government Users of Hacking Team Software
The development of military-grade e-warfare/surveillance state capabilities in a free and democratic country can be justified only if there exists a regulatory framework. For example, Malaysia is also apparently a client of Hacking Team, as is South Korea, but both have civilian governments and regulatory frameworks regarding national security. However, Thailand possesses a weak framework, as The Bangkok Post makes clear in quotes sourced from the leaked Hacking Team emails: Thailand is “characterised by poor legislation and no LEA [law enforcement agency] or intelligence connectivity to telecom service providers".
This means that there is a legal vacuum and the Royal Thai Army at present does not have the capability to directly interface with approximately 10 internet gateways provided by telecommunications operators in the same way as the US did via the NSA Warrantless Surveillance Program (2001-2007) and successor programs, which Congress has recently begun to roll back. However, according to The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s military government is introducing legislation, the proposed Cyber Security Bill, designed to permit much broader warrantless application of electronic surveillance (under Section 35). And, one stated goal of the military government is a single gateway to the internet based in Bangkok, which would facilitate the development of the surveillance state.
The Bangkok Post notes that National Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Niran Pitakwatcharahas has come out against the use of electronic intelligence and e-warfare against Thai citizens: "It is a violation of democratic principles, in which the state does not have the right to threaten the privacy of individuals… Thailand needs to be aware that it is at risk of violating the right to privacy and freedom of expression, under the disguise of 'national security' concerns…” Crucially, Dr. Niran argues that there is a need to differentiate between the needs of the state and the needs of the government. However, under Thailand’s military governments there has traditionally been no distinction between the two.
It has been noted that unrestricted electronic mass surveillance creates a ‘Culture of Fear’ among the citizenry in countries which have implemented advanced electronic intelligence and surveillance operations in an arbitrary and unchecked manner. Unfortunately, at present Thailand under Section 44 (a ‘Rule by Diktat’ provision in the present Interim Charter) does operate in such an atmosphere. Electronic mass surveillance can target both schoolchildren and adults, as detailed in the US 2014 Human Rights Report on Thailand and discussed here.
Also, the advanced e-warfare options offered by software such as the RCS offer the capability to spy on any citizen at any time without the citizen even being aware – a development of the advanced police state known as ‘panopticism’ and described in the novel 1984. It should be noted that 1984 cannot be read in public in Thailand. And, now, perhaps, we know another reason why.
Figure 3: The ‘1984’ Panopticon Effect – Users of Smart Phones Are Similar to PrisonersRead more...
A high-school executive has scolded a grade 12 student activist who refused to take a Civic Duty class exam as being mentally ill while an education minister told media not to pay much attention about her.
According to Matichon Newspaper 23 July 2015 Issue, one of the executives of Triam Udom Suksa School in central Bangkok told the media that Nattanan Warintarawet, aka. Nice, an outspoken anti-coup student activist at the school, is mentally ill.
Matichon reported that the unidentified school executive said that Nattanan’s condition has not been treated properly for the last two years. The school staff added that the student’s parents asked the school to take care of her and teach her as normal students.
The statement from the school executive was made after Nattanan on 20 July 2015 submitted an empty exam paper on Civic Duty Class and wrote on her facebook profile that she rejected the do the exam because the subject forces narrow mindset upon people.
She also wrote on her facebook profile a statement to Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, saying that her action is an act of civil disobedience against the authorities because Civic Duty class is forced upon students by the dictatorial regime of the junta.
“Civic duty class is a subject that the dictatorial regime forced upon us. It forces a narrow mindset and denies the freedom of thoughts which is crucial for democracy,” wrote Nattanan.
Nattanan Warintarawet (second right), along with the Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS) members, reads statement against the nationalistic 12-Thai values in front of the Ministry of Education last year.
According to the student, the first question of Civic Duty exam paints the picture of the 14 anti-junta activists recently released most of whom are students as threats to Thai identity while the second question also equate people who supported the activists as harmful to ‘Thainess’ as well.
“The determination of people who were calling for the release of [the 14 activists] is downgraded to one of the wrong choices in the exam as it is not fostering Thai identities,” the student added in her message to the PM.
In her statement, Nattanan also criticised the nationalistic 12 Thai values, definitions of good citizens that the junta laid out after the coup, as hypocritical and manipulative since the junta themselves came to power by illegitimate means.
She added that there are many positive aspects of Civic Duty lessons and the 12 Thai values. However, she is against the manipulation of a narrow mindset through educational system and the fact that the junta is imposing its own definitions of ‘goodness’ upon others.
On Friday, 24 July 2015, Nattanan posted another statement on her facebook profile saying that she does not want an apology from the teacher who claimed that she was mentally ill. She also urged that people should not blame other teachers of Triam Udom Suksa School who are not involved in the event.
On Thursday, Adm Narong Pipattanasai, Minister of Education, told media when asked about Nattanan’s civil disobedience that the media should not make a big deal out of the matter since she is only one of 10 million other students in the nation.
Nattanan is a former Secretary-General of Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS), a progressive student activist group who have been campaigning for the Thai education reform.
In December 2014, she was invited to talk in a program called ‘Investigating Hot Issues’ on the Army’s Channel 5, but was removed out of the program after she raised questions about the legitimacy of the May 2014 coup d’état with a member of the junta’s appointed National Reform Council.Read more...
A large crowd gathered in downtown Bangkok to protest the government’s plan to build a coal-fired power plant in a touristic southern province on the Andaman Coast.
On Thursday afternoon, 23 July 2015, about 300 people gathered in front of the Government House in Bangkok to urge the military government to halt a plan to build a coal-fired power plant and a pier to transport coal in the southern province of Krabi.
The crowd comprised many Krabi natives, environmental activists from Save Andaman from Coal network, and entrepreneurs of the tourism industry of the province, including, others.
They demanded that the ongoing process to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) on the project should be halted.
Moreover, the group requested the government to call off the planned state auction on the coal-fired power plant project next month and that the authorities should form a committee to study the feasibility of other sustainable ways to generate energy.
Anti-coal-fired power plant gatherers stayed in front of the Government House until the evening on Thursday.
Before the crowd dispersed, a military officer who claimed to be an advisor to Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, told the protesters that the PM has agreed to follow their demands. However, there was no official confirmation from the authorities.
The group and relevant state officials are expected to meet on Friday morning to draft a formal agreement regarding the project.
On the same day, activists from Youth People for Social Democracy Movement, Thailand (YPD) issued a statement to support the anti-coal power plant protesters.
In the YPD’s statement titled ‘Against Coal-fired Power Plant in the Country and Support Alternative Energy Sources’, the youth activists said they are concerned about the lack of public participation and consultations on the project.
“The integrity of environment and clean air are public property that no one can claim and destroy,” said the YPD’s statement.
Since early 2014, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) proposed to build a controversial 60 billion baht (about USD 1.8 billion) coal-fired power plant with 870 megawatts (MW) capacity and a coal seaport adjacent to it in Nuea Khlong District of Krabi Province.
The plan is viewed favourably by the junta. However, it has been heavily criticised by many environmental groups and local residents who fear the environmental impact from the plant. According to Gen Prayut, the power plant will guarantee Thailand’s energy security.
People who are against the coal fired power plant project gathered in front of the Government House on 23 July 2015
A provincial court in northern Thailand sentenced three anti-establishment red shirts to three-years imprisonment each with the jail term suspended for hanging a banner with a message deemed seditious.
On 22 July 2015, the Provincial Court of the northern province of Chiang Rai sentenced Odd Suktako, Tanomsri Namrat, and Suksiam Jamtan, three red shirts from Mae Saruay District of Chiang Rai to four years in jail each under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, Thailand sedition law, for hanging a banner with the message viewed as sedition.
The court, however, reduced the jail term to three years because the defendants were cooperative during the trials and the jail term was suspended for five years.
The police issued the arrest warrants against the three on 13 June 2014, but they were later released on bail. The prosecutors indicted them under Article 116 for hanging a banner on the pedestrian bridge in Muang District of Chiang Rai with a message reads “These is no justice in this country, we should be separated as Lanna State” (Lanna is an ancient name of the Northern Kingdoms of Thailand) on 26 February 2014 .
According to the verdict, it was clear that the three were among six individuals who put up the seditious banner on the pedestrian bridge from the CCTV video footage.
The judges ruled that the message on the banner stirred up social and political conflicts among people given the political circumstance then.
The court added that the claim of the suspects that there is no justice in the country after the criminal court in early 2014 rejected to grant arrest warrants against the key leaders of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters was false.
The judges of the provincial court further stated that by expressing such claims, the defendants also insulted the Criminal Court’s ruling to deny the arrest of the PDRC leaders then.
Article 116 of the Criminal Code states that whoever makes apparent to the public by words, writing or any other means anything which is not an act within the purpose of the constitution or which is not the expression of an honest opinion or criticism (a) in order to bring about a change in the laws or the government by the use of coercion or violence, (b) in order to raise confusion or disaffection amongst the people to the point of causing unrest in the kingdom, or (c) have people violate the law, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.Read more...
I'm a legal adviser, so not exactly a stranger to courts. I've even been in Thai courts before. But I still find the scene surreal. I was in a Bangkok military court on 7 July 2015, and I'm talking to 14 young students and activists who face the might of Thailand's military justice system.
They are on trial for “seditious" acts like gathering at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre to stand and stare at a clock for 15 minutes. It was a silent protest to mark the first anniversary of the day the Thai army took over on 22 May 2014. The few minutes they managed to hold their protest – before being dispersed – could eventually lead to seven years in prison. They have been charged with violating a ban on political gatherings of more than five people, one of many draconian laws the army has imposed since seizing power.
The military authorities allowed two diplomats and myself to talk to the 14 students and activists before the hearing on extending their detention. I'm a professional human rights activist but I feel very humble in the presence of these 13 men and one woman. They look so young. They are all wearing prison uniforms - a cream coloured t-shirt and brown shorts. Their hands are shackled. But they are totally fearless. They protested on 22 May, and others protested again when charges were pressed against five of the original protestors. Sitting in the second row I see "Dave", who was grabbed by plainclothes members of the security forces, dragged by his hands and feet and then kicked and beaten when he fell to the ground. He has a dislocated cornea to show for it.
I'm even more worried about the one woman among them - "Kade", whose violent handling by security forces caused damage to the lower part of her spine. She had to be rushed to hospital from the police station where she had been taken, but it took over an hour for an ambulance to be called. Once Amnesty staff - both from the International Secretariat and the Thai section - had visited the 13 male students and activists last week I was among those who went to visit ”Kade”. But she wasn't to be found at the women's prison - she had been admitted to the prison hospital nearby to undergo a check-up. I could only see her sitting (and smiling) through a window. In the courtroom her smile was broad enough to show through her surgical mask. But she told me she was still in hospital and would probably need surgery - when she went out for a bathroom break, she could hardly walk and had to be supported by two officers.
Still, neither “Kade” nor any of the other students would request bail - they demanded to be released unconditionally.
The students said they were treated well once detained. They were clean and relaxed, and showed no signs of fear. They said their arrest was unlawful, that they were not shown any warrant, that there was violence. They rejected being charged and arrested in the first place, and being tried in a military court. They said the government was trying to silence them. I couldn't help but think that it was doing a very bad job of it.
I looked at these brave, brave young people and was full of admiration. I did what I could to help defend their rights. I told them again - as we'd told them during the prison visits - that Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience, that the movement is campaigning worldwide to secure their immediate, unconditional release, and that civilians should never face military courts.
Before the hearing, I also managed to greet their family members. Some of them have been threatened by the authorities and told to ensure their children stay away from politics, a fact which one of the lawyers brought to the court.
The hearing lasted about an hour. Three of the students were allowed to speak, at some length. One of the three judges occasionally stepped in though. For instance, when “Rome” said "we don't pose a threat to society, only to the military government" he was told to stick to the point, which as far the judges were concerned was arguments for release without bail.
The judges then consulted. When they returned, one of them read out their decision: Release without conditions! There is a strict code of conduct in the courtroom, which was the only reason why I didn't jump up and hug everyone.
This is a victory. But the charges weren't dropped. The activists told me the army just wanted things to quieten down in view of the international attention, reflected in the massive media presence outside and around a dozen diplomats inside the courtroom.
The families looked more relieved than the students themselves. All thanked us. I do hope our campaigning helped, but there's a long way to go. The charges must be dropped, as must be the ridiculous laws that allowed the farce to take place at all, such as the prohibition of political gatherings of five people or more.
So a good day in court - I wave “goodbye” to the students, to the families. But we're not going away. We'll continue campaigning until human rights are fully respected and genuine smiles return to the faces of the people of Thailand, “the land of smiles”.Read more...
On day four of the Koh Tao murder trial Police Colonel Cherdpong Chiewpreecha from Police Division 8 took to the stand to testify with regards to the CCTV footage of both the victims and the accused. The last CCTV footage of the victims was seen at 1am when Hannah Witheridge entered the AC Bar at […]
The post Koh Tao murder trial – court goes into recess at 10.15pm on day four appeared first on Samui Times.Read more...