Letters to help Human Rights Lawyer Sirikan (June) Chareonsiri, who was charged with sedition for defending her clients in the New Democracy Movement

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Below is my letter. To learn how you can send a letter for Khun June, click through to Amnesty International’s URGENT ACTION appeal for Sirikan (June) Chareonsiri.

Dear Ambassador,

สวัสดีค่ะ I am Ann Norman with the Thai Alliance for Human Rights ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน. We are an American-based Thai Human Rights group consisting mostly of Thai-Americans. We are very concerned about Sirikan (June) Charoensiri, the Human Rights Lawyer who has been charged with sedition for actions taken in the process of defending the New Democracy Movement activists. It appears that Khun June was just doing her job and has broken no laws. First she refused a warrant-less search and then she complained about it. One would expect she had a legal right to do both things. To charge her with sedition requires that one twist and stretch the law. The charge of sedition seems totally baseless. She was just working with a nonprofit, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, to defend her clients.

As Amnesty International was taking up the case, our organization was also being asked to do something for Khun June. We heard from people who know her. They are quite distressed that their friend Khun June, a lovely woman who was only trying to do good in the world now faces a trial for sedition and the possibility of 15 years imprisonment. This seems completely contrary to all fairness and common sense. She was defending her clients against an injustice, and now Khun June becomes yet another victim of that same injustice.

We are also unhappy with the repression of peaceful dissent in Thailand. We call on authorities to end the repression and to respect the human rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. We are unhappy that Sirikan (June) Charoensiri is being tried in a military court. Any trial should take place in a civilian court.

We hope you can do something to reverse this terrible mistake that may send poor Khun June to jail for 15 years. Please drop the charges immediately.

Thank you so much,

Ann Norman
แอน นอร์มาน
Executive Director, Thai Alliance for Human Rights
ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน

Where is ex-Princess Srirasmi? Show Us She is Alive and Well!!

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This is a follow-up to my previous article. Two different sources indicate that my statement on the fate of ex-Princess Srirasmi, the recently divorced third wife of Prince and soon-to-be-King Vajiralongkorn, is seriously incomplete. I said that she had been exiled to the countryside. One source insists that she is very likely dead, and that this happened at a temple in Chiang Rai! And that, in any case, she is definitely disappeared—that is, she not where she is said to be, and cannot be located despite determined efforts to find her. Meanwhile, reporter Andrew MacGregor Marshall has, on the record, posted conflicting, but somewhat similar, information for which he claims multiple sources—that she is being “tormented” or abused at her house in Ratchaburi on orders of the Prince. Everyone seems to agree that her son, Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, has been taken from her. My first source also fears for other members of Srirasami’s family who were thrown in jail around the same time. They are not in the jail where they are supposed to be, and they also cannot be located.

I am understandably reluctant to go out on a limb and be the first one shouting that a famous Princess is missing and possibly dead, and that her whole family is missing as well. But the story is credible in the context of everything else I have seen unfold in the short time I have been following events in Thailand. Yes, I am an outsider and can barely pronounce her name. But as an outsider, I am also one of the few people in the world who can shout about things without fear of the brutal lese majesty law.

Here is the backstory, which I gathered from an Internet search: Srirasmi Suwadee, 44, formerly Princess Srirasmi, entered the service of the Crown Prince at the age of 22 and married him when she was 29. He is about 20 years older that her. They have one son, Dipangkorn, who is now 11. Princess Srirasmi was married to the prince for thirteen years from 2001 to 2014. Google her name to see many beautiful pictures of her standing beside the Prince and caring for their son. She started a “Love and care from mothers to children” breastfeeding campaign. She is the princess who stars in the infamous “naked birthday party with the dog” video. Notably, in that video, the Prince has her perform a degrading act– aside from being the only person naked at that party. At one point in the video, she lays on the ground and eats cake with the dog.

In 2014, Vajiralongkorn very suddenly, and shockingly, dumped Srirasmi: On November 30, of that year, I posted this on facebook:

“So can anyone figure out what is going on in Thailand, and if they can, do they dare say it out loud? So over the weekend the crown prince and heir to the thrown asked that his wife be stripped of her royal title after several of her relatives were arrested on corruption charges. The Thai news could report that the relatives were arrested, but no one dared point out the royal connection until just now when the crown prince made this move to distance his wife.”
In total 22 were arrested, and 17 of those were charged with lese majesty. It seems they had been involved in a smuggling ring, in which they used their royal connection to justify their demands (thus committing lese majesty by misusing the royal name). It is almost inconceivable that 22 of Vajiralongkorn’s friends and family were involved without his knowledge. It appears he threw his wife and her whole family overboard to distance himself from an operation he had participated in and benefited from.

Most alarming for those of us concerned about the fate of Princess Srirasmi, a year later there was a second round of arrests of Vajiralongkon’s close associates, and this time three of the people accused of lese majesty died in custody—two supposedly committed suicide and another mysteriously died of a blood infection. The deaths followed so quickly on each other that I was screaming foul as soon as I read the news stories. Here are those posts:

October 26, 2015: Sorry for the constant stream of lese majesty bad news, but one of the suspects brought into a military detention facility accused of lese majesty after the new “all-out blitz on lese majesty” allegedly commited suicide while in detention. The Thai rights group calls for the shutdown of the military jail as it is obviously not able to handle the detention correctly (if “correctly” were even a word that could be used in relation to this despicable law.)

November 9, 2015: No, you haven’t already heard this story. It just happened today! A SECOND suspect in the Thai Dictator’s “all out lese majesty blitz” dies in military custody, this time of ‘Blood infection’, as the article says. The last victim “committed suicide” (If you want to talk over the heads of this junta, just use scare quotes. Sadly, it’s that easy.) So . . . use your DoubleThink to realize you better not commit lese majesty or you will be disappeared AND to assure yourself that their deaths were unrelated to their detention.

Several published articles now count these deaths as outright murders. Given all this, we must demand to know: What has happened to Princess Srirasmi?! Please prove to us that she and her family and associates are all alive and well! We would all LOVE to learn that I am screaming about nothing.

King Vajiralongkorn: A Nightmare for the Censors at Thailand’s Ministry of Truth

by Ann Norman

The days of Thailand getting a pass from the international community with regard to its brutal lese majesty law are over. Yes, Americans were generally respectful of the late King Bhumibol – as much as Americans are respectful of any king (our country was of course formed by our rebelling against a king). When the topic turns to Thailand, a typical comment I get from Americans is: “The King seems to be the only one who can unite the country.” With Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, it was a much different story. It has happened to me TWICE in Pittsburgh that a new acquaintance upon hearing I am interested in Thailand has tried to alert me: “I don’t know if you know this, but the King is about to die, and the Crown Prince is just HORRIBLE!”

Vijrialongkorn has ruined his reputation over the years, and precisely because he is about to become an actual head of state, a position with actual political consequences, his scandals have become “fair game” for both journalists and late night talk show hosts. It is not only that this sixty-something-year-old appeared at the Munich airport dressed in sagging jeans and what it looked like was his girlfriends’s halter top in order to show off his fake tattoos. Or that he famously threw a naked birthday party by a pool, and had an extravagant 4-day funeral for his poodle Foo Foo. That would just make him childish. The real problem for his reputation is that he seems to be truly evil. He divorced each of his three wives after openly cheating on them. The third wife upon their recent divorce, was exiled to the countryside, and her whole family, including elderly parents, were thrown in jail—for insulting the royalty! He has engaged in purges of his associates and is linked to some mysterious deaths.

There is no way to put a positive spin on this mess, and international reporters are no longer being evasive: Check out these recent headlines:

“Thailand’s heir apparent Maha Vajiralongkorn raises fears – and eyebrows” (The Guardian, October 13)

“Thailand Looks to Likely Future King with Apprehension,” (New York Times October 14)

And best of all: “Thailand’s new King is a kooky crop top-wearing playboy,” (New York Post October 13)

A day after the King’s death, the infamous fake tattoo pictures were the top-trending topic on Reddit. It was so refreshing to see people joking freely.

“They’re going all out with this new Hangover sequel!”

“Why does he wear a training bra? Is he transitioning?”

The tamest comment I could find in the thread is “Thailand seems odd.”

In between the jokes, you will find users warning each other that the story of Thailand’s new king is not really as funny as it at first seems. That in Thailand one can get 3 to 15 years for making such jokes. And that Vajiralongkorn is rumored to have done many terrible things.

The hilarious pictures cannot be un-seen and the shocking details of Vajiralongkorn’s life cannot be un-heard. The American public is lazy about learning geography or following the news half a world away. But they know about Thailand from their vacations and from the popularity of Thai food. However short their attention span, Americans will remember hearing scandalous stories about King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, make a mental note that he is both evil and dangerous, and so deserving of jokes.

Thai authorities are now frantically attempting damage control and there is no way to control the damage. Censors in Thailand seem to think they can shame and threaten those outside of Thailand to keep their thoughts to themselves. They are laughably unaware that Americans feel no shame in speaking their minds—quite the opposite. When Thais warn Americans not to insult the King because Thais love their King so much they would die for him, an American thinks, “Yes, but I would die for free speech.” There is a saying that is so common here, I saw it on Facebook just yesterday: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it.” This principle is so foundational to American democracy that it is one of the few things a Democrat and a Republican can still agree upon.

Recently the Thai authorities asked Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Line for help catching their lese majesty suspects. And called on foreign governments to prosecute 7 lese majesty suspects TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW!!! Guess what? Out here in the free world, we don’t bow to Muslim extremists, and we don’t bow to the Orwellian censors at Thailand’s Ministry of Truth. As ugly as it is to be criticizing the next King of Thailand just days after the death of his father, it has to be done. Too much is at stake. In the past 10 days since the King’s death, royalist vigilantes have gathered in mobs to threaten and attack other Thais not sufficiently upset about the king’s death; two more people have been jailed for lese majesty; and two others have had to flee the country to escape lese majesty accusations. THIS is the time to step out and break the taboo against insulting royalty, so that no more people go to jail for absolutely nothing, the many innocent people now rotting in jail are set free, ultra-royalists no longer terrorize society, exiles can return home, and the Thai people can openly discuss the options for their future, including the possibility of democracy with NO KING as head of state.

The lese majesty law is finally vulnerable because, as noted in The Economist: “[U]nder the crown prince the colossal prison sentences presently being handed to those convicted of lèse-majesté—a law which in practice is used to chill discussion of all sorts of taboo topics—will only look more abhorrent and absurd.”*

So, if you live outside of Thailand, please help us end lese majesty by committing lese majesty. Join noble comedians like John Oliver who are banned from Thailand until we win this fight for free speech.

*“After Bhumibol: The death of the Thai king throws the country into turmoil,” October 13, 2016,

Heal Thailand’s wounds by freeing all lese majesty victims NOW! There has never been a better time. Show your love, don’t just talk about it

Cartoon by Declan Lakes and Patrick Henry
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TAHR Statement on the Passing of King Bhumibol: October 13, 2016

Official Statement by TAHR on the Passing of King Bhumibol
October 13, 2016

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights, a non-profit and no-partisan organization based in the United States, would like to extend our sympathies to the people of Thailand on the momentous occasion of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. May he rest in peace after having served 70 years as Thailand’s longest reigning monarch.

King Bhumibol played the role that unexpectedly fell to him with considerable skill and demonstrated love for his subjects. As the wealthiest monarch in the world, he was often looked up to as a god and as a savior, but he admittedly expressed that he was a human who could make mistakes, as he remarked in his 2005 birthday speech, in which he invited the people to criticize him and to point out mistakes recognizing his humanity.

In his lifetime, King Bhumibol was revered and recognized as a great king and the father of the nation. It is a pity, however, that the biggest blot on this King’s record will be the lese majesty law enforced on his behalf that results in between 50 and 100 people imprisoned in any given recent year just for publicizing information or expressing an opinion. It is hard for the world to look past such a fact to see anything else that he ever accomplished. As of today, the brutal lese majesty law is mentioned in the second sentence of Bhumbol’s English-language Wikipedia entry. Therefore, while the world extends its sympathies to Thailand, we call on the Regent or next Monarch to right these wrongs by releasing or requesting the immediate release of all the lese majesty prisoners and compensating them from royal funds, a gesture fitting with our best memories, or legacy, of King Bhumibol.

The members of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights offer their sympathies and moral support to all Thais at this difficult time. May the people of Thailand find a way forward that is peaceful, just, and inclusive, respecting the universal human rights of all Thai citizens.

แถลงการณ์ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน ในโอกาสการสวรรคตของกษัตริย์ภูมิพล

ณ วันที่ 13 ตุลาคม 2559

ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน ซึ่งเป็นองค์กรไม่แสวงกำไรและไม่ฝักใฝ่เลือกข้างทางการเมือง ที่ตั้งอยู่ในประเทศสหรัฐอเมริกา ขอส่งความเห็นใจของพวกเราไปยังคนไทยในโอกาสสำคัญคือการสวรรคตของกษัตริย์ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช ขอดวงพระวิญญาณของพระองค์จงสถิตย์ในแดนสงบ หลังจากที่ได้ดำรงพระราชฐานะของกษัตริย์ที่ทรงครองราชย์ยาวนานที่สุดของประเทศไทย ถึง ๗๐ ปี

กษัตริย์ภูมิพลทรงแสดงบทบาทที่ตกมาถึงพระองค์อย่างคาดไม่ถึง ด้วยทักษะที่เด่นชัดและความรักต่อปวงพสกนิกรที่ปรากฎแก่สายตาชนทั่วไป ในฐานะกษัตริย์ที่รำ่รวยที่สุดในโลก พระองค์ถูกมองว่าเป็นเสมือนเทพยดาและผู้กอบกู้ แต่พระองค์ก็ได้ทรงแสดงออกถึงการยอมรับว่า พระองค์เป็นมนุษย์คนหนึ่ง ที่ทำผิดพลาดได้ ดังที่พระองค์ได้ตรัสไว้ในโอกาสวันเกิดเมื่อปี ๒๕๔๘ ซึ่งพระองค์ได้เชิญให้ผู้คนวิจารณ์พระองค์และชี้ข้อบกพร่องของพระองค์โดยมองพระองค์เป็นมนุษย์ธรรมดาคนหนึ่ง

ในตลอดช่วงชีวิตของท่าน กษัตริย์ภูมิพลได้รับการเทิดทูนบูชาและได้รับการยกย่องให้เป็นมหาราชาและเป็นบิดาแห่งชาติ แต่อย่างไรก็ตาม เป็นที่น่าเสียดาย ที่รอยด่างพร้อยที่ใหญ่ที่สุดในประวัติของกษัตริย์พระองค์นี้ คือ กฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ ซึ่งถูกบังคับใช้ในนามของพระองค์ แล้วได้นำไปสู่การจับกุมคุมขังของคนระหว่าง ๕๐ ถึง ๑๐๐ ต่อปีในช่วงปีหลัง ๆ นี้ แค่เพียงเพราะการเผยแพร่ข่าวสารหรือการแสดงความเห็น ดังนั้น มันเป็นการยากที่ชาวโลกจะมองข้ามข้อเท็จจริงอันนี้แล้วเห็นสิ่งอื่นใดที่พระองค์ได้เคยทำสำเร็จไว้ ถึงวันนี้ กฎหมายอันโหดร้ายนี้ ถูกกล่าวถึงเป็นประโยคที่สองในบันทึกประวัติของกษัตริย์ภูมิพลในภาคภาษาอังกฤษของวิกิพีเดีย ด้วยเหตุนี้ ขณะที่ชาวโลกต่างส่งความเห็นใจไปยังประเทศไทย เราขอเรียกร้องให้ผู้สำเร็จราชการหรือกษัตริย์องค์ใหม่ได้แก้ไขสิ่งผิดนี้เสีย โดยการปล่อยหรือขอให้มีการปล่อยตัวนักโทษที่เกี่ยวด้วยกรณีหมิ่นฯ เสียทันที และชดเชยให้กับพวกเขาด้วยทรัพย์สินของพระมหากษัตริย์เอง ซึ่งจะเป็นการส่งทีท่าที่เหมาะสมกับภาพความทรงจำ หรือมรดกที่ดีที่สุดของกษัตริย์ภูมิพล

เหล่าสมาชิกของภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนขอส่งความเห็นใจและกำลังใจให้คนไทยทุกท่านในห้วงเวลาอันยุ่งยากนี้ ขอให้ชาวไทยจงพบกับทางไปข้างหน้าที่สันติ เป็นธรรม และสมานใจสามัคคี โดยเคารพหลักสิทธิมนุษยชนสากลของคนไทยทั้งมวล

Thai singer sentenced to 10 years for alledged royal Insult. Free Tom Dundee!

You Can Help!!

Thanat Thanawatcharanon, also known as Tom Dundee ทอม ดันดี, 58, was a celebrity in Thailand for over a decade as a singer in the band Zu Zu. His music was playful and flirtatious. In 2010, he gave up doing concerts to become a leader of the Red Shirts (or United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship), giving speeches at rallies. During this time, he was denounced by royalist watchdogs (the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook) for insulting the monarchy in some of these speeches.

The Thai constitution states that “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.” Section 112 of Thai Criminal Code states: “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” We do not actually know what Tom Dundee or Thanat Thanawatcharanon said to cause the lese majesty accusation, because the alleged insults cannot be repeated.

Thanat’s case dragged out until after the May 2014 coup led by Prayut Chan-ocha. Sentences for royal insults have become increasingly harsh under the junta, which justifies itself as protector of the monarchy. Thanat Thanawatcharanon at first he denied he was guilty of lese majesty, but after 11 months he confessed, as most lese majesty prisoners do in hope of receiving a pardon or a lenient sentence. So all were shocked when, on June 1, 2016, he was given a sentence of 7.5 years. In addition, the royalist judge added that after he is released, he must compose a song promoting national reconciliation and plant trees in honor of the king.

On July 11, 2016, he was punished again for the same statements, when he was sentenced to several additional years under the Computer Crimes Act, which came into play because his speeches had been posted online. This brings the total time he will be imprisoned to 10 years, 10 months.

Former editor, and fellow lese majesty political prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, calls Tom Dundee Thailand’s true Songs for Life artist.

Thanat Thanawatcharanon, or Tom Dundee, remains in jail separated from his wife and family. He can be pardoned by the King. You can help by sending snail mail to the Thai Embassy in Washington DC.

Royal Thai Embassy Embassy
2300 Kalorama Rd NW, Washington,
DC 20008

Or go to this link and sending a quick email to (self-appointed) Prine Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and to Minister of Justice:

Free Tom Dundee

“I believe that nations are stronger and more successful when they uphold human rights. We speak out for these rights not because we think our own country is perfect—no nation is—not because we think every country should do as we do because each nation has to follow its own path. But we will speak out on behalf of human rights because we believe they are the birthright of every human being. And we know that democracy can flourish in Asia because we’ve seen it thrive from Japan and South Korea to Taiwan. Across this region we see citizens reaching to shape their own futures. And freedom of speech and assembly, and the right to organize peacefully in civil society without harassment or fear of arrest or disappearing we think makes a country stronger. A free press that can expose abuse and injustice makes a country stronger. And access to information and an open Internet where people can learn and share ideas makes a country stronger. An independent judiciary that upholds the rule of law, and free and fair elections so that citizens can choose their own leaders—these are all the rights that we seek for all people. We believe that societies are more stable and just when they recognize the inherent dignity of every human being—the dignity of being able to live and pray as you choose, so that Muslims know they are a part of Myanmar’s future, and Christians and Buddhists have the right to freely worship in China. The dignity of being treated equally under the law so that no matter where you come from or who you love or what you look like, you are respected. And the dignity of a healthy life—because no child should ever die from hunger or a mosquito bite, or the poison of dirty water. This is the justice that we seek in the world. And finally we believe that the ties between our nations must be rooted in friendship and trust between our peoples.” Barack Obama from his speech in Laos

Advisory to News Organizations: Imminent Developments in Thailand/ An Urgent Human Rights Request

UPDATED: September 3, 2016

As you may be aware, the Thai political situation could transition any day now. Thailand’s King Bhumibol, the world’s 2nd oldest living monarch, is comatose or nearly so, being kept alive by extraordinary measures, with the most recent official report indicating multiple organ failure. The heir apparent, Prince Vajiralongkorn, is extremely unpopular. Indeed Economist Magazine reports that he is “widely loathed and feared” with “rumoured ties to the criminal underworld” and that diplomats have called him “unpredictable to the point of  eccentricity.” Asia Sentinel calls him “frighteningly erratic” and says he is “thoroughly detested in royal circles.” The prince is living up to that billing, with recent purges of his close associates including his recently divorced third wife, ex-Princess Sirasami, and her family, leaving at least four dead and others jailed or disappeared from sight; then this summer, the 63-year-old Prince showed up at the Munich Airport wearing low-slung jeans and a bizarre crop top, sporting fake tattoos all over his upper body, which did not help with his already negatively perceived image. If you search for information on either of these stories, you will see that not even the experts have a good guess as to what is going on in Thailand, or what will happen next.

Both King Bhumibol and Heir Apparent Vajiralongkorn are above the law, and the brutal lese majesty law prevents any insult to the King, Queen, or Crown Prince. “Insult” is so broadly defined even true statements can be defined as insults, and thus, in practice, the law forbids any discussion of the monarchy, except to repeat prescribed propaganda. For instance, you cannot share the pictures of Vajiralongkorn at the Munich Airport, or you or your family will be
visited by the police. And you definitely cannot ask whether democracy is really compatible with an erratic, cruel, and unaccountable King as Head of State.

The consequences of the archaic lese majesty law have been tragic, not just for the 50 to 100 people being jailed for lese majesty each year, but for Thailand as a whole. The biggest tragedy is that the citizens of Thailand have been frightened into silence and must continually suffer under governments they did not elect. The military junta that now runs Thailand has doubled down on the proposition that the Monarchy is essential to “Thainess” and the key to Thailand’s future; as such, anyone who even suggests otherwise becomes a criminal.

In light of the above information, our organization is humbly asking your news organization to:

1) Prepare a eulogy for King Bhumibol as well as a second article on Prince Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent—two intrinsically interesting stories.

2) Do so in a way that ignores Thailand’s lese majesty law, just as you would ignore a directive from the Chinese, Russian, or North Korean governments in reporting on those countries.

3) In the process of writing about Bhumibol and Vajiralongkorn, please draw attention to the brutal lese majesty law that ruins the lives of 50 to 100 people a year (people who are jailed for 3 to 15 years for a comment made in a taxi cab, in Facebook post, or a private text message). See the list of cases at Thaland’s iLaw.

4) In particular, we want you to ask after Vajiralongkorn’s ex-wife Sirasami and her jailed family members and bodyguards. Please force the Thai government to produce evidence to prove they are all still alive and well.

In short, we are urging your organization and the international community to speak freely about Thailand. Those living inside Thailand are severely restricted, so it is up to the international community to pursue these stories. We hope you can help break a taboo (operating in and outside Thailand) against discussions of the Thai monarchy, extend the international norm of free speech, and curb the brutal and rampant human rights abuses associated with lese majesty in Thailand.

Thank you for your reporting!

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights
Ann Norman, Executive Director
ann.norman@tahr-global.org

Snea Thinsan, Ph.D.
Chairman, Board of Directors & Co-Founder

 

Guide to the Thai junta’s Draft Constitution: The “human rights” sections

Don't worry about Human rights

I read an English translation of the junta’s proposed draft constitution for Thailand and highlighted some interesting parts. The bold headings are mine. The rest is, unfortunately, the actual proposed constitution:

Preamble: You the people, are to blame for our current predicament because you are uneducated and immoral:
Sometimes there have been constitutional crises with no solutions and partial causes thereof were attributed to the people who ignored or disobeyed administrative rules, corrupted or distorted power or did not recognize their responsibility to the nation and the public resulting in ineffective law enforcement. It is therefore of necessity to prevent and resolve these problems by means of educational reform and law enforcement and to strengthen a moral and ethical system. Another reason concerned the consequences of political and administrative rules that were not appropriate for the situation of the country and the time period, and attached importance to the format and procedure rather than the fundamental principles of democracy; . . . .

Good governance is based on finding “good people” to rule and not on institutional checks and balances:
. . . the placement of mechanisms to strictly prevent, monitor and eradicate corruption and misconduct – all are for the purpose of preventing leaders or officials of no morals, ethics and good governance from taking power in the administration of the country or exercising their power arbitrarily.

Thailand is special and needs to craft a special form of government that incorporates the word “democracy”:
To achieve this goal requires co-operation from people in all sectors with the State agencies according to the people-state concept under the rules pertaining to the principle of democratic and traditional governance suitable for the situation and the characteristics of Thai society, the integrity, the human rights and good governance principles which will drive the development of the country in a strategic way towards political, economic and social stability, prosperity and sustainability in compliance with the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State.

We already explained to you simple farm folk why you need to vote yes; now shut up and vote YES:
In the implementation thereof, the Constitution Drafting Committee has built public awareness and understanding of the principles and justifications of all provisions on a periodic basis so as to provide the opportunities for the public to widely access the Draft Constitution and its explanations through a variety of media and to allow public participation in the development of the content of the Draft by providing recommendations on the revision it so requires. Upon completion, the Draft Constitution has been disseminated to the public with the summary of explanations on its essence in a manner which enables the public to easily and generally understand it, and has organized a referendum to approve the entire Draft Constitution.

You are getting sleepy, very sleepy . . . Now turn off your brain:
The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of the State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

We are making this up as we go along:
Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, . . . the President of the Constitutional Court shall convene a joint meeting of the President of the House of Representatives, the Opposition Leader in the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, the President of the Constitutional Court, and the Presidents of Constitutional Organizations to make decision thereon. The joint meeting shall elect one among themselves to preside over each session. In case of the absence of any position holder, the joint meeting shall be composed of the existing holders of the positions.

Vajiralongkorn will magically become a god:
The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.

All persons are equal before the law (some restrictions apply):
All persons are equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection under the law. . . . Unjust discrimination against a person on the grounds of the difference in origin, race, language, sex, age, disability, physical or health condition, personal status, economic or social standing, religious belief, education or political view that does not violate the provisions of this constitution, or any other ground shall be prohibited.

A person has the liberty to practice state-approved religions:
A person shall enjoy full liberty to profess a religion, and shall enjoy the liberty to observe or perform rites according to own religion, provided that it shall not be prejudicial to the duties of Thai people, be harmful to the security of the State, and be contrary to the public order or good morals of people.

A person shall enjoy freedom of speech, unless we don’t like what you’re saying:
A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his opinion, make speech, write, print, publicize, and make expression by other means. Restriction on such liberty shall not be permitted, except by virtue of the provisions of the law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, protecting the rights or liberties of other persons, maintaining public order or good morals of people, or safeguarding the health of the people.

Academic freedom is guaranteed if the topic isn’t too sensitive:
Academic freedom shall be protected, provided that the exercise of such freedom shall not be contrary to the duties of Thai people or good morals of people and shall respect and not impede differing opinions of other persons.

We guarantee the right to peaceful assembly, just not right now or any time in the foreseeable future:
A person shall enjoy the liberty to assemble peacefully and without arms. Restriction on the liberty under Paragraph One shall be prohibited, except by virtue of the provisions of the law enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, public safety, public order or good morals of people, or protecting the rights or liberties of other persons.

Royalists can form political parties. Republicans, not so much . . . . :
A person shall enjoy the liberty to unite and establish a political party in conformity with democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State, as required by law.

This again:
A person shall have the following duties: (1) to uphold the Nation, religions, the King, and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State;

The army will protect the Royal Instituiton from the people:
The State shall protect and uphold the Royal Institution, the independence, the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the territory under sovereignty of Thailand, the national prestige and interests, the security of the State, and the public order of people. For the purpose herein, the State shall arrange for the efficacy of armed forces, diplomacy and intelligence. The armed forces shall also serve in the national development.

“Sufficiency economy.” Check.
The State shall organize the economic system that allows people to comprehensively, fairly and sustainably benefit from economic growth and to become self-reliant according to the philosophy of sufficiency economy, . . .

The Ministry of Truth (just kidding! We’ll call it something else):
The State shall promote accurate knowledge and understanding of people and communities in relation to the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State, and their participation in various aspects of the national development, inpublic services at the national and the local levels, in examination of the exercise of State power, in combating the corruption and misconduct, in political decision making, and in all matters that may affect the people or the communities.

This sounds like an actual political function:
The King has the prerogative to dissolve the House of Representatives for a new election of members of the House.

A (self-?)appointed Senate:
The Senate shall consist of two hundred members selected among themselves of persons who possess knowledge, expertise, experience, profession, or common characteristic or interest, or who work or have worked in diverse fields of the society.

Senators cannot be politicians!
Members of the Senate shall have the qualifications and shall not fall under the prohibitions as described here under: . . . (4) being a member of a political party; (5) holding or having held any position in a political party, unless he or she has vacated office in the political party for not less than five years up to the date of application; . . . A member of the Senate shall not be sided with or yielded to the mandate of any political party.

Representatives cannot be Taksin Shinawatra:
A person falling under any of the following prohibitions shall have no right to be a candidate in an election of members of the House of Representatives: . . . (3) being the owner or a shareholder in newspaper business or any mass media; (4) being disfranchised from exercising the right to vote pursuant to Section 96 (1), (2) or (4); (5) being under temporary suspension of applying for candidacy in an election or having been revoked of the right to apply for candidacy in an election; (6) having been sentenced to imprisonment by a court and being detained by a court warrant; . . . (8) having been expelled from the official service, a State agency or a State enterprise on the ground of malfeasance or be regarded as corruption in the official service; (9) having been sentenced by a final judgment or order of a court to have his or her assets vested in the State on the ground of unusual wealth, or having been sentenced to imprisonment by a final judgment on the ground of committing an offence under the law on prevention and suppression of corruption; (10) having been convicted by a final judgment of a court for committing wrongful conduct in official duties or justice affairs, or committing an offence under the law on the wrongful acts of officials in State organizations or State agencies, or an offence against property in bad faith according the Criminal Code, or an offence under the law on (13) being sentenced to imprisonment by a final judgment of a court, notwithstanding the suspension of punishment . . .

More fun stuff to come. You can read an English-language translation of the Thai draft constitution at this link: http://www.khaosodenglish.com/politics/2016/06/28/whats-draft-constitution-actually-say-read-english/

Thailand: Drop Case Against Rights Defenders Military Criminal Complaint in Retaliation for Torture Report

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/09/thailand-drop-case-against-rights-defenders

For Immediate Release:

Thailand: Drop Case Against Rights Defenders
Military Criminal Complaint in Retaliation for Torture Report

(New York, June 9, 2016) – The Thai military should immediately withdraw its criminal complaints against three human rights defenders for reporting alleged torture by government security forces in southern Thailand, Human Rights Watch said today.

The military’s actions pose a serious threat to all human rights monitoring and reporting in Thailand at a time when rights abuses are widespread in the country, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Thai military is targeting human rights activists for reporting grave abuses and standing up for victims,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should order these criminal complaints withdrawn and do what it should have done in the first place: seriously investigate the report’s allegations of torture.”

It was recently reported that on May 17, 2016, the military’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 – which covers national security operations in the provinces along the southern border – filed a criminal complaint in Yala against prominent human rights activists Somchai Homlaor, Pornpen Khongkachonkie, and Anchana Heemmina. The complaint accuses the three of criminal defamation under the Penal Code and publicizing false information online under the Computer Crimes Act.

The complaint makes reference to the February report by the Cross Cultural Foundation, Duay Jai Group, and the Patani Human Rights Network that documents 54 cases in which Thai security personnel allegedly tortured and otherwise ill-treated ethnic Malay Muslim insurgent suspects between 2004 and 2015. If charged and convicted, the activists face up to five years in prison or a 100,000 baht (US$2,850) fine.

Thai authorities have an obligation to ensure that all people and organizations engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights are able to work in a safe and enabling environment, Human Rights Watch said. The right to file complaints about torture and mistreatment and to have the complaint promptly and impartially investigated is ensured under international treaties to which Thailand is party, including the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders affirms the prohibition against retaliation, threats, and harassment of anyone who takes peaceful action against human rights violations, both within and beyond the exercise of their professional duties.

The Thai military has a longstanding practice of dismissing allegations of torture and other serious abuses committed by security personnel in the southern border provinces, Human Rights Watch said. Thai authorities have also frequently retaliated against reporting of alleged rights abuses by filing lawsuits accusing critics of making false statements with the intent of damaging their reputation.

The military’s attempted use of a criminal complaint to retaliate against human rights defenders is contrary to Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha’s recent promise to criminalize torture and fulfill Thailand’s international obligations against the practice, Human Rights Watch said.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited under international treaties and customary international law. The Convention against Torture, which Thailand ratified in 2007, obligates governments to investigate and prosecute acts of torture and other ill-treatment committed by government officials. However, the Thai government has yet to prosecute successfully any security personnel for abuses against ethnic Malay Muslims alleged to be involved in the insurgency.

In June 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture recommended Thailand “should take all the necessary measures to: (a) put an immediate halt to harassment and attacks against human rights defenders, journalists, and community leaders; and (b) systematically investigate all reported instances of intimidation, harassment and attacks with a view to prosecuting and punishing perpetrators, and guarantee effective remedies to victims and their families.”

Separatist insurgents in southern Thailand called the Patani Freedom Fighters (Pejuang Kemerdekaan Patani,) part of the loose network of BRN-Coordinate (Barisan Revolusi Nasional, or National Revolution Front-Coordinate), continue to maintain a presence in hundreds of villages despite significant setbacks in recent years. The insurgents use state-sponsored abuses and heavy-handed counterinsurgency tactics to recruit new members and justify their campaign of violence and terror, which has claimed more than 6,000 lives since fighting erupted in January 2004.

“Atrocities by separatist insurgents provide no justification for abuses by Thai security forces,” Adams said. “Covering up torture and other crimes by targeting human rights activists only undermines efforts to improve the security situation in the deep south.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Thailand, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/thailand

For more information, please contact:
In Bangkok, Sunai Phasuk (English and Thai): +66-81-632-3052 (mobile); orphasuks@hrw.org. Twitter: @SunaiBKK
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org.Twitter @BradAdamsHRW
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Twitter @johnsifton