Thailand 10 trial starts t’mow—PLEASE COME!

February 20, 2012

Meechai Ruchupan to Testify in First Witness Examination of the “NLA Sit-In” Trial on 21 Feb.

February 20, 2012

All press and public are invited to observe the “NLA Sit-in” trial, the case of which stemmed from direct actions by a thousand strong activists in 2007 against the rush to pass repressive laws by the National Legislative Assembly, installed after the 2006 coup. The act of climbing over the fence of the Parliament buildings in Bangkok by the protesters has led to charges being pressed against them by the Office of Senate Secretariat. Among the ten activists joining the protest and having to face the charges including Mr. Jon Ungphakorn, NGO and human rights activist and other activists.

On 21 February 2011, from 9.00 am, at the Room no. 801 of the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Rd., the first witness examination shall take place including Mr. Meechai Ruchupan, former NLA President. It shall be followed by examinations of other prosecution witnesses including Mr. Wallop Tangkhananurak and Ms. Tuenjai Deetes, two former NLA members.

The prosecution of the cases was accepted by the Court on 30 December 2010 as Black Case No. O4383/2553 and the demonstrations are accused of violating Section 116 of the Penal Code (any act that brings about changes in the laws of the country or the government, or incites unrest and disaffection among the people)-7 years; Section 215 (the assembly of ten people upwards to commit an act of violence and to cause a breach of peace)-5 years plus 10,ooo baht fine; Sections 362 and 364 (trespassing)-5 years plus 10,000 baht each; andSection 365 (trespassing and committing an act of violence)-5 years plus 10,000 baht.

The accused human rights defenders are facing 27 years in prison plus a 40,000 baht fine.

Jon Ungphakorn, former Thai senator, former chair of Thai Volunteer Services Foundation (TVS), former chair of Thai NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD), 2005 recipient of Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, and founder of Thai independent news portal Prachatai, stands as the first accused in the case. The other nine accused include Amnat Palamee, chair of the Confederation of State Enterprise Labour Union; Anirut Khaosanit, Council of People’s Organisations Network of Thailand; Nasser Yeemha, Friends of the People (FOP); Pairoj Polpetch, Secretary-General of Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and incumbent Chairperson of NGO-COD; Pichit Chaimongkol, from the Campaign for Popular Media Reform; Saree Ongsomwang, Consumer Rights Network and General Secretary of the Foundation for Consumers; Sawit Keawwan, General Secretary of Thailand’s State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC); Sirichai Maingam, General Secretary of Thailand’s Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand Labour Union (EGAT-LU); and Supinya Klangnarong, a member of National Broadcast & Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), former Secretary-General of the Campaign for Popular Media Reform (CPMR) and founder of Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) and Thai Netizen Network (TNN).

During the demonstration, about 1,000 activists converged in front of the Parliament. Since it was only two weeks away prior to the General Elections and the Royal Decree on Elections had already been promulgated, the demonstrators deemed it was not proper and not justified for the NLA to rush to pass any more laws. Also, a number of laws to be deliberated were intended to curb people’s rights and freedom. Thus, the demonstrators were gathered there in front of the Parliament to demand that NLA stop passing any more laws and respect people’s voice. The date for elections had been set and in democracy, the legislators-elect should be allowed to deliberate and promulgate the laws.

Examples of the Bills to be deliberated by the NLA and opposed to by the protesters include;

  • Internal Security Bill which essentially expands the power of the military over society and makes its exercise of power not subject to judicial review
  • Community Forest Bill which essentially prevents communities from taking part in forest and natural resource management
  • Water Resource Bill which essentially provides for absolute control of the state over water management including the demonstration of water supplies, water diversion and dismantling of anything obstructing the flow of water during the floods, and the management of land and water in other forms as well as the denial of traditional rights of community in water
  • Broadcasting and Telecommunication Bill which essentially upholds the ownership of the state over broadcasting media and provides for state’s power to control and censor dissemination of information by making verbal order or written directive
  • State Enterprise Privatization Bill which essentially allows the state to transform a state enterprise into a limited company or a public limited company and to allow private share holding. This shall make it possible for national and international investors to exploit the benefits and may impede people’s rights to have access to public utilities which are important to their livelihood.
  • Privatization of University Bill which essentially allows and promotes the use market-based mechanisms to privatize Thailand’s higher education institutions

In total, there shall be examinations of 24 prosecution witnesses during 21-24, 28-29 February and 1-2, 13-16 March 2012 2555 and also 24 defence witnesses during 20-23, 27-30 March and 3,5 and 10 April 2012 at Room no. 801 of the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Rd.

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