2012 in review

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.

Click here to see the complete report.

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

somyot

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 อธิบดีผูพิพากษาศาลอาญา 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: 112familynetwork@gmail.com.

WE URGE ALL READERS  ATTEND COURT IN SUPPORT OF SOMYOT AND TO STAND UP FOR FREE SPEECH.

free-somyot1

Thank you so much. We’ll see you in court.

 

Best Regards,

112FamilyNetwork

[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

http://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/letters-from-sukunya-prueksakasemsuk-i/

 

sukunya

tai

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.

Political Prisoners in Thailand: November 4, 2012

http://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/letters-from-sukunya-prueksakasemsuk-ii/

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.

Dear P’Yot,

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,

Joop

Prachatai: December 12, 2012

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/3454

 

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.

000

Week 78 of prolonged detention

9 December 2012

Dear P’Yot,

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.

Joop

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: Chotisak and Chutima were early signers of FACT’s petition against all censorship. We’re very happy for them. When will the next Thai Rosa Parks just be too damned tired to stand up for the Royal anthem? Not standing is not a crime! We would be curious to know if a law such as the Film Act is used to compel theatre owners to play the anthem before each showing? Or is it just meaninglessly repeated social convention...as is standing?]

Prachatai: July 20, 2012

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/3299

 

The public prosecutor has decided to drop a lèse majesté case against Chotisak Onsoong and his friend who did not stand up for the royal anthem in a Bangkok cinema in 2007.

Wisit Sukyukhon, a public prosecutor, sent a letter on 11 April this year to Pathumwan police who first took up the case, to inform them about the decision.

On 20 Sept 2007, at a cinema in the Central World shopping complex in downtown Bangkok, Chotisak, 26, and his female friend, whose name is withheld, had a heated argument with Navamintr Witthayakul, 40, who was among the audience, after the two ignored Navamintr’s demand for them to stand up for the royal anthem which precedes every movie shown in Thailand’s cinemas.

Chotisak called the police and filed complaints at Pathumwan police station against Navamintr for verbal and physical abuse, damage to personal property and coercion, while Navamintr filed a lèse majesté complaint against them.

In April 2008, Chotisak and his friend were charged with lèse majesté by the police.

In Sept 2008, the public prosecutor dropped the physical abuse charges against Navamintr, and in Oct 2008 the police forwarded the lèse majesté case against Chotisak and his friend to the public prosecutor.

According to the letter, the prosecutor believes that by not standing up for the royal anthem, and by saying ‘Why is it necessary to stand up when it is not required by law?’, the actions of the accused did not constitute insults or defamation.

Although the behaviour of the accused was improper and should not be copied by others, their actions cannot be pinpointed as having the intention to insult the King, and there is insufficient evidence to justify their prosecution, the prosecutor says.

In a similar case on the iLaw website, one moviegoer at the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin on 15 Jun 2008 did not stand up for the royal anthem, lifted both her feet onto the next chair, and after the anthem was over, shouted vulgar words.

On 19 Oct 2009, the court found her guilty under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and sentenced her to three years in prison, but the jail term was reduced by half and suspended for two years as she had pleaded guilty and had a history of mental illness, according to the testimony of doctors from Srithanya and Trang Hospitals.

Source: 

http://www.prachatai.com/journal/2012/07/41608

[FACT comments: BP is quite right in pointing out this anomaly. What exactly is jurisprudence if not for finding out the truth? Unfortunately, defamation conviction worldwide reveal a bitter side effect. For defamation to be criminal, it simply doesn’t matter if the substance of the defamation is a true statement or an outright lie.]

Bangkok Pundit: July 19, 2012

http://asiancorrespondent.com/86039/thai-judge-what-will-be-gained-from-finding-out-the-truth/

 

Pravit in The Nation on the latest lese majeste trial of Ekachai Hongkangwan, a man arrested for selling a news documentary made by Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Ekachai’s defence lawyer Arnon Nampha tried to dwell on the facts of some of the information deemed as defamatory – whether it was true or not. But the judges told him they were not out to prove whether the alleged defamatory statements in the video and texts were accurate in reality or not.

“Whether it’s true or not, if you prove it, what will be gained from it?” one of the presiding judges said to Arnon.

BP: Then again, truth is not a defence in a lese majeste case in Thailand so perhaps it is not surprising. Nevertheless, when it comes from a judge it still sounds disconcerting….

[FACT comments: You’d have to be plain crazy to pop the bird at the King…or even his visage. Thai courts won’t buy the truth; can they be expected to take bona fide medical reasons into consideration?]

Woman to face royal insult charge pending mental examination

The Nation: July 19, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Woman-to-face-royal-insult-charge-pending-mental-e-30186512.html

 

Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung on Thursday confirmed police would charge a woman accused of insulting the monarchy if she was found to be sane in the mental status examination.

“I confirm police will legal action,” he said, dismissing speculation about police inaction.

On Friday, Thitinan Juntaranont, Thai expatriate from New Zealand and seen as a red shirt, defiled the picture of the King displayed at the multi-colour shirt rally during the Constitution Court verdict session on charter change.

Policemen promptly intervened to escort her from the scene and refused to press charge on grounds for suspected insanity.

A number of activists stepped forward to criticise police for drawing a hasty conclusion before sending the accused for psychological evaluation.

On Tuesday following the spread of messages in the social media, a number of Thais rallied at Suvarnabhumi Airport in a bid prevent Thitinan from boarding a flight to Auckland.

Police subsequently clarified that Thitinan was admitted to the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute to undergo mental tests.

 

Woman held for making rude gestures

The Nation July 19, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Woman-held-for-making-rude-gestures-30186466.html

 

City police have assigned a team to look into allegations that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, a 63-year-old New Zealand resident, had made an improper gesture toward an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court on Friday, Metropolitan Police deputy commander Pol Maj-General Anuchai Lekbumrung said yesterday.

The woman, who was born in Thailand, was stopped from boarding a flight to Auckland and is currently being detained at the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute.

Thitinant will face lese majeste charges, though a psychiatrist will also determine the state of her mind, he said. She reportedly has a history of mental illness and had undergone treatment at Sri Thanya Hospital.

Meanwhile, Immigration Police Office 2 commander Pol Maj-General Natthorn Phrosunthorn said that Thitinant’s name was not included in the list of those leaving the country nor was there an arrest warrant out for her. However, he added, that police had notified his office at 4pm yesterday to stop her from leaving the country. He said Thitinant’s two relatives were able to travel to Auckland as normal.

Amornrat Mahitthirook

Bangkok Post: July 18, 2012

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/302972/lese-majeste-suspect-admitted-to-hospital

A New Zealand-resident Thai woman accused of a lese majeste offence did not show up for a flight to Auckland yesterday after police admitted her to hospital.

 Self-appointed yellow shirt vigilantes showed up at the airport, supposedly to ensure that Thitinant Kaewchantranont (inset) did not leave for New Zealand. [Post Today]

About 200 people had turned up at Suvarnabhumi airport to protest against her possible departure.

Protesters picketed outside the airport after learning that Thitinant Kaewchantranont, 63, was due to check in for a Thai Airways International (THAI) flight to Auckland.

Danuj Bunnag, managing director for THAI’s ground services business unit, said Ms Thitinant did not arrive at Suvarnabhumi to check in for the flight, although her husband, a New Zealand national, did get on board.

Ms Thitinant has a history of mental illness.

Thung Song Hong police in Bangkok, who have lodged a lese majeste complaint against her, referred her to Srithanya Hospital in Nonthaburi to see if she is genuinely mentally ill.

 Thitinant: History of mental illness

She has since been referred to the Galaya Rajanagarindra Institute.

She was admitted to the hospital on Friday last week after allegedly making an improper gesture towards an image of His Majesty the King outside the Constitution Court on the same day.

Police said that if Ms Thitinant had shown up at the airport, officers would have prevented her from boarding, as they believed she was unfit to leave the country.

A THAI source said the plane’s captain had pledged to refuse to pilot the aircraft if Ms Thitinant was on board, arguing the woman could pose a security risk.

Protesters left the airport after they were told Ms Thitinant had not turned up for the flight and was being assessed at a hospital.

 

[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: There is a plot! The court is telling an accused he can’t plead not guilty! Unbelievable… The goal is obviously conviction at all costs.]

LESE MAJESTY LAW

Court defers lese majeste case, defence advised

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation:July 20, 2012

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Court-defers-lese-majeste-case-defence-advised-30186584.html

 

Ekachai Hongkangwan’s lese majeste trial has been deferred to mid-November after judges advised the defendant to change his plea by saying that he had no intention to defame the monarchy but that he merely wanted to share information.

One of the two presiding judges said the defendant did not necessarily have to prove if the information was factual or not. “Because if it is true, it is more defamatory and if it isn’t true, then it’s super defamatory,” Judge Aphisit Veeramitchai explained to lawyer Arnon Nampha and the defendant yesterday. “So proving whether the information is factual or not will not be beneficial to you at all… You have to consider this yourself.”

The judge went on to say that the prosecutors were not out to prove if the information provided in a Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) documentary or on a WikiLeaks cable was factual or not. “They say the content defames [the monarchy],” he said.

However, in his rebuttal, Arnon said that he and his client still wanted to prove the factuality of the information referred to in the documentary, which led to Ekachai’s arrest. Police arrested Ekachai on March 10 last year after he was caught carrying two sets of WikiLeaks diplomatic cable papers as well as peddling unauthorised CDs of the ABC documentary at Bt20 apiece. He was released on bail nine days later.

Arnon told the judges that he had already filed three court requests to summon Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda and Councillor Sith Savetsila to explain their remarks on the future of the monarchy that were referred to in the WikiLeaks papers. He went on to say that he personally believed that Prem and Sith would be truthful about whether the information attributed to them on WikiLeaks was indeed a fact.

After nearly 30 minutes of consultation and 20 minutes of recess, all sides agreed that the trial should be deferred to November and that the defence would focus on proving that Ekachai had no intention to defame the Crown Prince or the monarchy.

However, the defence lawyer said he reserved the right to have the court summon Prem and Sith in case the prosecution still wished to prove the factuality of the information. The court has also accepted the defence lawyer’s request to seek a Constitution Court ruling as to whether or not the lese majeste law contradicts the Constitution because Arnon’s argument is that it violates freedom of expression.

Meanwhile, 36-year-old Ekachai said he still wants to prove that none of the information provided in the documentary or the WikiLeaks papers was provided with malicious intent.

The former lottery agent went on to say that it was imperative for Prem and Sith to testify, adding “I don’t think I will get away by trying to fight on the basis of my intention”.

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