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Prosecutor stalls over King Rama X tweets

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 18:46
Submitted on Fri, 5 Jun 2020 - 06:46 PM

The public prosecutor has chosen not to move forward in the case of a famous young twitter user who was arrested for posts about King Rama X. The defendant says he is quite stressed because the statute of limitations is 10 years, but his family is even more concerned.

Niranam_ from behind

On 4 June, the Pattaya Provincial Court held a prosecution order hearing in the case of‘Niranam_ [sic], a twitter user who has criticized the Thai monarchy. However, no prosecution order was submitted.

Pavinee Choomsri, a lawyer from Thai Lawyer for Human Rights, said that the case remains open as the statute of limitations is 10 years. If the prosecutor decides to bring charges, the police can still summon the defendant to the court.

Niranam_ said that he is quite stressed and the lawsuit made his family very concerned about him. 

“I have some stress because this is the first case I have had in my life. I am now 20 so some stress is normal. But I did not kill anybody. I only think differently from them. As far as the impact goes, personally I don’t feel much but I think the charge under Section (3) of the Computer Crimes Act about security is rather too serious.”

“The impact is greater on my home, because I’m an only child and they are pretty worried about me.” said Niranam_

The hearing, which was postponed from 8 April, came after the 4th pre-trial detention period. The suspect has the right to reclaim his bail money.

Niranam also gave a poem after he was interviewed:

In the darkest day, a light still shines.

This mind is fragile but will never be destroyed.

Still watching in anticipation of the day of freedom.

Who is Niranam_?

Age 20, Niranam_ is from Chonburi Province. He has posted many comments on the history of the Thai monarchy and become famous among teenagers and social media users. On 19 February, his house was searched by the police and he was taken to Pattaya Police Station without an arrest warrant.

He was subsequently charged with violating the Computer Crime Act over posting photos and messages about King Rama X. He was detained in prison for 5 days and 4 nights before being bailed out.

His arrest and prosecution were in the social media spotlight. 1 day after his arrest, the hashtag #Saveนิรนาม (SaveNiranam) became a twitter top trend. #Freeนิรนาม (FreeNiranam) also hit the top trend on 24 February.

A Facebook page ‘Nai Nam Khwam Sa-ngop Riaproi’ (In the Name of Peace and Order) raised 1.5 million baht online for his bail, which was set at 200,000 baht. The page administrator said that the remaining 1,472,695.16 baht has been spent on Niranam_’s legal costs.

NewsNiranam_Computer Crime Actfreedom of expressiontwitterKing Rama XSource:
Categories: Politics

Student activists hand out cookies commemorating Tiananmen Square massacre

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 18:30
Submitted on Fri, 5 Jun 2020 - 06:30 PMPrachatai

Student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and members of the Humanity Beyond Borders group went to the Chinese Embassy on 3 June and handed out cookies to passers-by as part of their commemoration event for the 31st anniversary of the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Humanities Beyond Borders at Yaowarat China Town (Photo from Humanity Beyond Borders) 

The group said that the cookies were milk tea-flavoured because of the recent Twitter trend in which Thai, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong netizens came together and used the hashtag #MilkTeaAlliance to show solidarity against Chinese influence in their countries as well as against what China has done against Tibet and against the Uyghur people.

The patterns on the cookies depict Tiananmen Square and the famous “Tank Man” picture, with “Tiananmen 1989” written in Chinese. The packaging also includes a QR code linking to information about the Tiananmen Square massacre and the Tank Man.

The cookie packaging has a QR code at the back link to information about the Tiananmen Square massacre (Photo from Humanity Beyond Borders) 

The group also went to Yaowarat China Town and the Siam BTS Station. Netiwit said that the police did not come to stop their activity, but while they were in front of the Chinese Embassy, a security guard came to stop them from organizing their event in front of the Embassy itself, so he gave the guard a cookie.

A security guard inspecting the cookie box (Photo from Humanity Beyond Borders)

“A crime committed by the state should not be forgotten, and citizens who fought for democracy and freedom should receive reparations and respect, not kept a secret so that the Chinese people do not know the truth. We would like the Chinese Embassy to know that the Thai people are unhappy with their threats against our Mekhong River and their persecution of the Tibetan people, the Uyghurs, and the people of Hong Kong,” said Netiwit.

Netiwit previously filed a request to hold a commemoration event in front of the Embassy, which he said would have involved participants standing with flags and protest signs, but his request was denied by the police under Article 9 of the Emergency Decree.

NewsNetiwit CholtiphatphaisalHumanity Beyond BordersTiananmen Square massacre#MilkTeaAlliance
Categories: Politics

Philippines' New Anti-Terrorism Act Endangers Rights

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 15:06
Submitted on Fri, 5 Jun 2020 - 03:06 PMHuman Rights Watch

The Philippines government is on the verge of enacting a counterterrorism law that will eliminate critical legal protections and permit government overreach against groups and individuals labeled terrorists, Human Rights Watch said today. The draft Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Source: Wikipedia)

The draft law uses an overbroad definition of terrorism that can subject suspects, apprehended without a warrant, to weeks of detention prior to an appearance before a judge. A special body composed mainly of Cabinet officials appointed by the president would provide the authority to enforce the law.

“The Anti-Terrorism Act is a human rights disaster in the making,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The law will open the door to arbitrary arrests and long prison sentences for people or representatives of organizations that have displeased the president.”

In a letter to Congress on June 1, 2020, Duterte certified that passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act was urgent, short-circuiting a more thorough debate of the legislation and prompting the House of Representatives to quickly adopt in full a version of the bill passed by the Senate. The measure would replace the existing Human Security Act of 2007.

The draft law creates a new Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), consisting of members appointed by the executive, that would permit the authorities to arrest people it designates as “terrorists” without a judicial warrant and to detain them without charge for up to 24 days before they must be presented before a judicial authority. Under existing law, terrorism suspects must be brought before a judge in three days. Human Rights Watch believes that anyone taken into custody should appear before a judge within 48 hours.

Under the draft law, those convicted on the basis of overbroad definitions of “terrorism” face up to life in prison without parole. An individual, as well as a group, commits terrorism when he or she “engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person's life,” or “causes extensive damage to public property,” in order to “create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear.” While the definition also includes aims often associated with terrorism, such as seeking to “seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental social, economic or political structures of the country,” it does not require such intent. By this broad definition, starting a fight in a bar could technically be classified as an act of terrorism, Human Rights Watch said.

The draft law also makes it a criminal offense to “incite others” to commit terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations tending to the same end.” The law, which does not define incitement, poses a danger to freedom of the media and freedom of expression by providing an open-ended basis for prosecuting speech. The Anti-Terrorism Council would be the sole arbiter to determine whether a threat should be considered serious. Those convicted would face up to 12 years in prison.

The bill exempts advocacy, work stoppages, and humanitarian action from the definitions of terrorism, provided they are “not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person's life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.” But the council’s powers to determine what constitutes a serious risk undermines those protections.

The draft law also relaxes accountability for law enforcement agents who violate the rights of suspects, particularly those in detention. Under existing law, law enforcement agents who wrongfully detain suspects can be penalized 500,000 pesos (US$10,000) for every day of wrongful detention. But this safeguard provision against government misconduct is excised from the new version of the law.

The broad role of the Anti-Terrorism Council under the new law places people’s liberty rights at considerable risk, Human Rights Watch said. It is an executive department-led agency chaired by the president’s executive secretary and composed of presidential appointees such as the secretary of national defense. The council’s secretariat will be run by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the government’s main intelligence body composed primarily of security force officials.

NICA, along with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict created by the Philippines National Security Council, has been carrying out a long-running surveillance, harassment, and suppression campaign against activists and groups that operate openly and legally. The agency has frequently accused these groups and individuals of being front organizations, members, or supporters of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Over the years, the government has targeted hundreds of community activists, tribal leaders, farmers, environmentalists, trade union leaders, and local journalists with threats, harassment, and prosecution on suspicion of being communists or communist sympathizers. The UN Human Rights Office in Geneva released on June 4 a report on the Philippines saying that at least 248 activists have been killed between 2015 and 2019 in relation to their work. The military and police, and their inter-agency forms of the NICA and the task force, have similarly accused leftist political groups of being front organizations for the New People’s Army.

“The new counterterrorism law could have a horrific impact on basic civil liberties, due process, and the rule of law amid the Philippines’ shrinking democratic space,” Robertson said. “The Philippine people are about to face an Anti-Terrorism Council that will be prosecutor, judge, jury, and jailer.”

Pick to PostHuman Rights Watch (HRW)The PhilippinesRodrigo DuterteAnti-terrorism bill
Categories: Politics

House Committee petitioned over royalist witch hunts

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 14:36
Submitted on Fri, 5 Jun 2020 - 02:36 PM

A human rights lawyer has submitted a petition to a parliamentary committee on witch hunts and legal harassment against at least 25 critics of the Thai monarchy on the ‘Royalist Marketplace’ Facebook.

Left to right: Anon submitted a petition to an MP Rangsiman Rome.

On 4 June, human rights lawyer Anon Nampa submitted to the House Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights a petition to examine the cases of people subjected to witch hunts for expressing their opinions about the Thai monarchy in the ‘Royalist Marketplace’ Facebook group.

As of 4 June, the group, established by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai academic in exile, has more than 497,000 members. Group members exchange opinions in daily satirical discussions of the monarchy. These activities have provoked online and offline retaliation from royalist Thais.

Anon said that the retaliation ranges from pressuring companies to fire group members, to mobilizing people to file lawsuits in distant jurisdictions, forcing defendants to make difficult journeys. The petition states that personal information on at least 25 people has been exposed on social media, 2 have been threatened by the police, and 12 are the subject of complaints to the police under the Computer Crimes Act, the defamation laws and the lèse majesté law.

The petition urges the Committee to summon state authorities and the plaintiffs to address the issue. It also calls for the Committee to identify the administrators of Facebook pages that have mobilized retaliation, such as The METTAD, Ueng Ia Sue Thue Iao Kia v10 (อึ้งเอี๋ยะซือ เทื้อเอี้ยวเกียv10), Khunnak (ขุนนาค), Sae Play (เสธPlay) and Phak Krayachok (พรรคกระยาจก).

Rangsiman Rome, Move Forward Party MP and committee member, said that the petition will be considered. He also said that the retaliation is considered judicial harassment which is within the committee’s responsibility. The committee will study the issue and submit a report to Parliament and the Cabinet.

A report from the Thai Lawyer for Human Rights, referred to in Anon’s petition, states that the authorities’ reaction toward the group’s activities can be considered as “intense”. Civilians also play a part in creating a threatening atmosphere against who express sceptical or critical opinions against the monarchy.

In one case, unidentified state authorities took a person from his home to a police station without a warrant. His device was seized by officers for examination. He was also forced to give the police personal information and delete his posts. He was asked whether or not he was affiliated with the Thai Federation group, an activist group promoting a change in the country’s form of government. He was warned not to post such comments again, otherwise he would be sued.

“They [officers] said they wanted to have a little chat. They didn’t use strong language. Once it was over they would bring me back home. Then they took me to the police station. They forced me to get into the car with them.”

“They said ‘We are doing our job. You broke the law but we don’t want to harm your future. We all are Thai. We will look at each person in turn. If you understand us, we won’t do anything. We just want you to stop expressing your opinions’,” one victim told Prachatai.

The Royalist Marketplace is also a parody of ‘Marketplace’ groups created during the Covid-19 lockdown as a platform for members to buy and sell commodities and interact with a sense of community.

NewsAnon NampaRangsiman RomeRoyalist MarketplacePavin ChachavalpongpunSource:
Categories: Politics

Virtual Black Lives Matter Bangkok rally to be held on Sunday

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 11:56
Submitted on Fri, 5 Jun 2020 - 11:56 AMPrachatai

An online rally in support of #BlackLivesMatter movement and to protest against George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has been set for Sunday, 7 June.

A poster with the full detail of the campaigns from the Supporters of Black Lives Matter in Bangkok Facebook page 

The organizers, Supporters of Black Lives Matter in Bangkok, planned out two campaigns — speak your mind and live moment of silence.

Before 20:00 of 6 June, the public is encouraged to submit a video or a photo of them in black clothes holding up a protest sign with messages or artworks in support of the BLM movement, raising a fist and stating the reasons why they support the BLM movement.

The videos and photos are to be uploaded to the link that will be provided and to social media with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatterBangkok.

On Sunday, 7 June at 14:15, the organizers are aiming to create over 200 Zoom meeting rooms for people to join the rally on Sunday (7 June) at 14. 15. They plan to hold a live moment of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds at 14.30, to represent the amount of time the police officer had his knee on Floyd’s throat, which resulted in his death. All participants are encouraged to wear black to look unified.

The screen of all Zoom meeting rooms will be recorded and compiled with videos and photos from the first campaign. The videos of the two campaigns will be shared with the United States embassy, Black rights organizations and hopefully to Floyd’s family, as the organizers said.

The rally was previously planned to be held in person at a location in Bangkok. As the imposed Emergency Decree bans large gatherings, the organizers said considering legality and the safety from COVID-19, they decided to hold the rally virtually. They said they initially anticipated 30 people but over 1,000 people have shown interest in joining the rally after the event was announced.

“We can ensure you our intentions are good and we are doing this from the heart. We felt strongly about standing together with others standing up around the world to protest against racial discrimniation and show support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the States, Thailand and everywhere (else no matter what it is called.),” the organizers wrote in the statement.

NewsBlack lives matterVirtual protestracismPolice brutalitystate violence
Categories: Politics