January 1, 2013
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 160,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
December 17, 2012
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, editor and labor rights advocate, has been held without bail since his arrest April 30, 2011. Somyot’s next court appearance will be on December 19, 2012; the court is expected to announce Somyot’s verdict so your support is most important. We welcome all observers.
Briefing Note_SomyotPrueksakasemsuk 15102012
Based on discussion with Somyot’s defence team, it has proven a deterrent to legal excesses and improper judicial practice for individuals and organizations attending to send an official letter to Thawee Prachuaplarb, Director-General of Criminal Court Judges, notifying the Court of your participation requesting. It would be helpful if your letter, if in English, should be accompanied by a copy of a Thai translation, if possible. The letter should be addressed to Criminal Court Building, Rachadapisek Road, Jompon District, Chatuchak Sub-district, Bangkok 10900 (Calling/Faxing in Thailand: Tel. 02-541-2284-90, Fax 02-541-2142 and 02-541-2141, Calling/Faxing outside Thailand: Tel. (662) 541 – 2284 to 2290, Fax (662) 541 – 2142, 541 – 2141) (in Thai: นายทวี ประจวบลาภ อธิบดีผูพิพากษาศาลอาญา อาคารศาลอาญา ถนนรัชดาภิเษก แขงวงจอมพล เขต จตุจักร กรุงเทพฯ 10900).
Your letter should address the concerns of freedom of expression and fair trial in international communities. The letter should not address directly that you are concerned with the lack of impartiality in the Thai court as this could forbid you from participating in the trial observation, as the court is extremely sensitive on criticism.
Next week, the Criminal Court will resume its schedule on Somyot’s case on 19 December 2012 after it has been delayed for three months without informed explanation. Prior to this, the Constitutional Court also ruled that Article 112 is not against the constitutionality. Both information made the lawyer as well as the family grave concerns about the negative development of the case. According to the lawyer, if the Criminal Court decided on penalty, Somyot may face a sentence of maximum 10-year imprisonment.
While there are neither confirmation nor details about the next court schedule informed by writing, fear of prolonged detention as well as sudden verdict announcement has been worsen among family members.
In this regard, the 112 Family Network would like to draw your attention as well as ask for your participation on the trial observation on 19 December 2012. Due to experience of other freedom of expression cases, we learnt that both Thai and international observers play a very important role to ensure fair trials.
Somyot’s verdict is held Wednesday, December 19, at Bangkok’s Criminal Court (San Aya), on Ratchadapisek Road opposite Soi 32, Lat Phrao MTR station at 9am.
Volunteer interpretation is provided upon request: firstname.lastname@example.org.
WE URGE ALL READERS ATTEND COURT IN SUPPORT OF SOMYOT AND TO STAND UP FOR FREE SPEECH.
Thank you so much. We’ll see you in court.
December 17, 2012
[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: We have all been wildly conditioned to live in fear of criminals and subversives and radicals. That fear prevents us from seeing the bigger picture. The gaoling of one man or woman rips apart marriages, families and communities and no good at all for the wider society. On the eve of Somyot’s verdict, we ask you to put yourself in wiofe Sukunya’s or son Panitan’s shoes.]
Political Prisoners in Thailand: October 29, 2012
Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk, wife of lese majeste political prisoner Somyos, has released a letter she has written to her husband. There are versions available in English and in ไทย. Despite Sukunya’s tireless efforts on behalf of her husband, Somyos remains imprisoned. Her letter is released to coincide with the 18-month anniversary of her husband’s imprisonment.
Somyos has been imprisoned for this very lengthy period but has still not had a verdict delivered. As PPT recently noted, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has issued an Opinion, stating that:
The deprivation of liberty of Mr Prueksakasemsuk, being in contravention of Articles 19 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and 19 (2) of the ICCPR [International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights], is arbitrary, and falls in categories II of the categories applicable to the cases submitted to the Working Group.
As a result of the Opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Prueksaksemsuk and bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the ICCPR.
The Working Group believes that, taking into account all circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr Prueksakasemsuk and accord him and enforceable right to compensation pursuant to Article 9(5) of the ICCPR.
December 17, 2012
Political Prisoners in Thailand: November 4, 2012
In an earlier post, PPT drew attention to the first letter from Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk to her husband, the imprisoned lese majeste political prisoner Somyos. Somyos has been jailed for more than 18 months as he awaits a verdict on this political charge.
The second letter has been released (in ไทย) and begins with comments about visiting “hours” – actually just a few minutes – at the Bangkok Remand Prison and ends with the delight at Surapak Puchaisaeng‘s acquittal on lese majeste and computer crimes charges. The English version follows:
3 Nov 2012
Week 73 of the prolonged detention.
There are many things happened in this week after I visited you at the prison last Tuesday. Fist of all, I must say that no one visited the 112 prisoners except Jane and me on that day. So I had a good chance to talk to you, Pee Surachai and Noom all together in one. It seemed that the 20 minutes flied so fast and we talked over time limit until the officer warned us to separate and asked you to go back inside. A period of 20 minutes is very short and always not enough to be with the one that I love and wait for the whole week.
The prison allows us to meet once a day from 11.10 to 11.30 at weekdays only. As I am busy and don’t have lot of free time, I could only meet you once a week. I have to spend that little time that they allow as good and most valuable as I can. One thing that I have seen and am happy is that you still maintain your courage and strength. You don’t lose heart and have a good spirit even it has been a very long time since you have been detained. Your faith remains unchanged. So I hope someday your dream will come true.
From my conversation with Pee Surachai which was the first time that I talked to him in an official manner. Before that I only had some greetings and small talks with him. He told me that the Thai people must have a clear picture of democracy. Supporting a political party must be based on a clear understanding of the rights to have the different opinions and the roles and responsibilities of ourselves. When the party became the government and ruler, they might not do things that they promised but we as the citizen must not lose the sight & sense of equality and democracy. We will have to push them to complete actions as promised.
For Noom, we have talked and lent mental support to each other. Noom said that if he is released, he will dedicate to our 112 Family Network which I am very glad to hear that he has realised the importance of our Network and intended to share his painful experience and opinion on the impact of the article 112. Many people still think that this law is not relevant to them at all which is not correct. Anyone can be sued from the article 112. I hope to hear a good news about Noom from his recent seeking for royal pardon.
Finally the great news for this week is the acquit of Surapak (Tum)’s trial on Wednesday this week. I am very happy for Tum, Pa Tam and his family to have him back home. I wish that when it come to your verdict, we will receive a fair trial and end the long process with full of justice.
Love you as always,
December 17, 2012
Prachatai: December 12, 2012
Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk’s letter to her husband Somyot in prison, and the 112 Family Network’s invitation to Somyot’s court appearance on 19 Dec.
Week 78 of prolonged detention
9 December 2012
I was happier this week but still very busy from the year-end appraisal of my direct reports and other urgent matters which were unplanned and deadlines set this week. Anyway I managed to take a break with Tian to see the lights on Uttayan Road while I drove her to the dormitory. This road has another name of Axis (pronounced Ax-xa in Thai) located on Bhuddamonthon 4 and it was the most expensive road. It was constructed at the time of Field Marshal Por in 2498 (Buddhist Era) and was put on hold for a long time after the coup by Field Marshal Sarit. It was just finished in 2542. This road is 4 kilometers long and is decorated with lamp all the way down the road. When the lamps are turned on at night, it is so beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful road in Thailand! When I thought about it, if we didn’t have so many coups, this road would have been finished earlier. When someone said coups would help stop corruption and ensure national development, I wouldn’t agree. If so, how come we took 44 years to construct this road? And this road was the most expensive ever; just 4 kilometers cost almost THB 1,100 million. Roughly divided by 4, it cost THB 500 million per kilometer.
Yesterday I attended the launch of a new book “Rak Auy” (Love) written by Pa Ueh (Ah Kong’s wife) which was organized by the Read Publishing House. The event began in the morning but I just joined them in the afternoon when Ajarn Somsak spoke about the root cause of tragedy of Ah Kong. I was invited to talk about this book but hadn’t yet read it before this event. So I had to prepare myself and read it. Before that I was afraid of crying and depression; you know it’s hard to control myself when I have to face other’s people sad stories. Anyway, when I read it, it didn’t shake my heart as I expected. Pa Ueh described her romantic married life with Ah Kong. There was a beautiful moment when I read that Ah Kong found a pleated skirt which he thought suited Pa Ueh perfectly. He bought it immediately without hesitation but then thought that a green skirt might not go well with Pa Ueh’s skin tone. These small things that expressed the love of Ah Kong and Pa Ueh were the natural expression of an older generation like our parents. It is regrettable that Pa Ueh has no opportunity to live together with her loved one, and did not even have a chance to say good bye before his last breath. Oh! The unlawful article 112 put our lives in danger and in trouble.
It is late and time to go to bed now. I wish you courage to continue fighting against the unlawful law. Sooner or later we will see the light of fairness. We believe in a universal fairness i.e. the right to bail, freedom of speech, freedom of writing and publishing as well as democracy where everyone, whether rich or poor, will have equality. That day will come soon.
Love you as always.
November 8, 2012
[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: Popular vote referenda in specific jurisdictions for exact purposes are today the only honest form of voting. Politicians are all the same so why bother? A great example of the power of referenda is the fact that the US states of Washington and Colorado became the first jurisdictions in the world to legalise marijuana for wholly recreational use, in direct confrontation with the US Federal govt. America going down the tubes? Pass that bong over here...]
Eric W. Dolan
Raw Story: November 7, 2012
Washington voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 502, a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.
As of 10:00 p.m. PST, the ballot initiative was up 55.45 percent to 44.55 percent.
Initiative 502 legalized the production and sale of marijuana in Washington state through state-licensed stores. Under the law, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will regulate marijuana-shops, and possessing up to an ounce of marijuana will be legal.
The Washington State Democratic Central Committee, the state-wide umbrella organization for the Democratic Party, had endorsed Initiative 502. In a resolution passed last year, the Democrats stated that “marijuana is Washington’s second biggest cash crop and could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenues” and that outlawing the drug was “wasting millions of dollars.” The initiative was also supported by the NAACP, ACLU and a number of other organizations.
Initiative 502 also amends Washington’s DUI laws by making driving under the influence of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana, illegal. The 5 nanogram limit would not apply to the non-psychoactive marijuana metabolite carboxy-THC, which can appear in blood or urine tests for weeks.
Colorado voters also approved a ballot initiative legalizing recreational marijuana use Tuesday night.
November 8, 2012
The Borowitz Report: October 9, 2012
OTTAWA: Canada announced today that it was tightening security along its border with the United States amid concerns that there could be a mass migration of illegal Americans after Tuesday, November 6th.
According to Randolph McTavish, Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, border patrols are on alert due to an “increase in chatter” indicating that a threat to Canada’s border might be imminent.
“We’ve been intercepting troubling comments from some very freaked-out people,” he said. “Most of it has been on NPR call-in shows.”
Stating that the R.C.M.P. is patrolling every kilometre of the Canadian border, he issued this warning to Americans who might try to cross into Canada illegally: “If you drive a Prius, you will be stopped.”
He also warned Americans against trying to slip across the border in the hopes of passing as Canadians: “It is very difficult, if not impossible, to pretend to like hockey.”
Mr. McTavish said that he was sympathetic with those who might flee across the border in search of a new life and socialized medicine, but added, “At the end of the day, forty-seven per cent of Americans is more than Canada can handle.”