TAHR letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concerning the arrest of Ekachai Hongkangwan on June 24

To whom it may concern at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Today, the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, is immediately concerned for Thai citizen Ekachai Hongkangwan, arrested today, June 24, 2017, in Bangkok, while conducting an act of civil disobedience against the junta government of Prayuth Chan-ocha. But more generally, we want the United Nations and the world to recognize that something very sinister is going on in Thailand, menacing a wide range of human rights.

Some crucial background for understanding the arrest of Ekachai Hongkangwan: The day June 24, used to be celebrated as National Day in Thailand: on this day in 1932, Thai revolutionaries, in an almost bloodless revolution, ended absolute monarchy in Thailand. This day used to be widely and officially celebrated for many years, but over time, with royalist sentiments gaining ground, pro-democracy activists have taken over responsibility for publicly remembering this day. This year, which is the 85th anniversary of the revolution, the junta warned that the traditional National Day ceremonies could not be held.

Indeed it would be impossible for traditional National Day ceremonies to be held this year because the traditional ceremonies center around cleaning a bronze plaque, the size of a dinner plate, marking the spot on which revolutionaries announced the end of absolute monarchy 85 years ago; and in April, this plaque was stolen from the middle of a busy street where it was embedded, at a time when all the many security cameras in the area were conveniently off; and it was replaced with a plaque that doesn’t even mention the end of absolute monarchy and instead contains a royalist message about Thais with shining faces being faithful to the monarchy. All those asking for the theft to be investigated are, at least temporarily, arrested, and the junta has begged everyone to forget about the plaque and look to the future.

According to Pravit Rojanaphruk, of Khaosod English news, today “Ekachai Hongkangwan, a 42-year-old activist working with political prisoners and lese majeste detainees, contacted a reporter at 8:48am to say he had been taken away by half a dozen police inside a nondescript van and was about to enter the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok, where opponents of the military regime are held in a special prison on the army base.” Continue reading

The King and Pai, Part 12: “None of us are free, if one of us is chained.”

You have probably heard the saying “None of us are free, if one of us is chained.”

I had always understood it as poetry, meaning, “How can one be happy in their own heart while others suffer injustice?” But this statement has become literal truth in Thailand and for anyone associated with Thailand. As long as it is possible for Pai Daodin to be locked up, charged with lese majesty and facing 3 to 15 years in jail, simply for sharing a mainstream news article on Facebook, NONE of us are free—we are either censoring ourselves to the point of tolerating a dictatorship in silence—or in danger of becoming the next random victim of this crazy law or even worse, being killed by ultra-royalist vigilantes exactly like the KKK.

They can get us anytime because we are all as “guilty” as Pai. We have ALL done what he did. If you are reading my blog, you are no longer innocent.

In the first 11 days of this month, the junta’s crackdown on speaking the truth has reached a new level of extreme: 7 more people charged with lese majesty. Six were charged in one day (the most lese majesty victims ever charged in one day), and one was charged with 10 counts of lese majesty (the most counts any one person has ever been charged with). Before being charged, some of these victims were disappeared for a week by the military, so that their families didn’t know if they were alive or dead. Though I will never be distracted from my fight for Pai until he is freed, these cases are equally worthy of our attention. Continue reading

The King and Pai, Part 11: CONGRATULATIONS to Pai Daodin, Winner of the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights

First published on Facebook April 21, 2017

Last week Thailand’s Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, aka Pai Daodin, of the environmental, human rights, and pro-democracy organization Dao Din, won the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, awarded by the South Korean May 18th Memorial Foundation!

According to the call for nominations “The prize goes to one individual or an organization that has struggled for or contributed to the improvement and advancement of human rights, democracy, and peace in their community and country.”

The prize is a trip to South Korea to pick up the award and $50,000. This thing is legit! Previous winners are Nguyen Dan Que of Vietnam and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections of Malaysia (2016); Latifah Anum Siregar (2015) of Indonesia; Adilur Rahman Khan of Bangladesh and the organization Mothers of Khavaran of Iran (2014).

The fact that Pai, an almost-graduated law student from Khon Kaen, has now won a prestigious human rights award, reminds us that he is not only a victim of human rights abuse (he faces 3 to 15 years in jail for SHARING A NEWS ARTICLE about King Vajiralongkorn on facebook). More importantly, Pai Daodin is himself a long-time environmental, human rights, and pro-democracy activist, who has been singled out for persecution because of his nonstop human rights activism. Continue reading

We’re Thailand’s lese majeste police and you are under arrest

Response to Thai Ambassador to Japan, who objected to Ahjan Pavin’s article “Dhaveevatthana prison: hell on Earth”

Dear Ambassador Sansarn Bunnag,

In a letter to the Japan Times, you accused Pavin Chachavalpongpun of making unsubstantiated claims when he reported that there is a Temporary Prison on the grounds of the Daveevattana [Thavi Wattana] Palace of Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn, a prison which inmates describe as “Hell on Earth.” The prison is real, and our organization had already translated the public documents authorizing this prison into English and paired it with a Google Earth map, so both Thai- and English-speaking people can know the shocking facts. You can see evidence here http://tahr-global.org/?p=32209 at our website.

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights has been concerned about this prison since we learned of its existence at the beginning of March, after Jumpol Manmai disappeared for several weeks after displeasing the King. His family could not reach him and feared he was dead. When he reappeared in court, it was announced he would be taken back to ‘Provisional Prison of Bhuddha Monthol, Thavi Wattana district,” leading to the discovery of the authorization for a prison by this name at the king’s residence.

So the prison exists. The only remaining mystery is what all goes on there. Having a secret prison that cannot be visited by the public, at the home of a king who is above the law, is a recipe for rampant human rights abuses, including enforced disappearance, torture, and even murder. Continue reading

Letter from TAHR thanking US Representative Jamie Raskin for introducing H. Res 349, which calls for the “global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws.”

Dear Representative Jamie Raskin,

On behalf of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, I want to thank you so much for introducing H. Res 349, which calls for the “global repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws.” We are a nonprofit human rights organization consisting of mostly Thai Americans, but also some non-Thai Americans, dedicated to preventing human rights abuses in Thailand and helping the victims of human rights abuses. Many of our members are victims of Thailand’s barbaric lese majeste law, which is in fact an anti-blasphemy law. Continue reading

On the 1992 Black May Anniversary and May 2010 Anniversary, We repost our statement to the ICC at The Hague, the Netherlands, November 14-26, 2016

As we remember Anniversaries of the 52 deaths in the 1992 Black May uprising and the 100 killed in the crackdown on the Red Shirt protests in May 2010, the Thai Alliance for Human Rights would like to propose once again a mechanism for preventing future massacres of civilians. When democracy returns to Thailand, we urge the civilian government to join the International Criminal Court. We repost a video that has just be re-uploaded because it was censored last time:

Statement for the 15th ASP of the ICC at The Hague, the Netherlands,
November 14-26, 2016

Dear Colleagues:

Because universal justice is key to world peace and human progress, we ask the CICC and the ICC to seriously examine Thailand’s stunted political development and partner with Thais to provide a partial remedy: we ask you to energetically pursue Thailand’s ratification of the Rome
Statute. Continue reading

Empty Chair for Pai Daodin at the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Awards Ceremony in South Korea

On May 18. Empty Chair for Pai Daodin (real name Jatupat Boonpatararaksa) at the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Awwards Ceremony in South Korea. Pai Daodin, 25-year-old Thai human rights and prodemocracy activist and winner of the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, is in jail in Thailand in for sharing a mainstream news article on facebook. He faces a possible 3-15 years in jail if convicted.

summary of the major (and SHOCKING!) points of the (first) appeal by #KohTao defense team lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman LL.M.

“A 198 page appeal on behalf of the accused Burmese defendants in the Koh Tao murder trial has been filed with the Region 8 Court of Appeals on Koh Samui, Thailand. I regret that the pro bono defense team does not have the $5,500 budget necessary to pay for a proper translation into English.
This groundbreaking case is the first in the history of the Thai justice system where police forensic evidence was challenged by the defense and forced to be independently retested. As we feel it is vitally important the content of this public document be made known to the world at large, I have summarized and translated several of the strongest points of the defense’s arguments into English, and mention a few points of concern not addressed in the appeal as well.

💥Police claimed DNA collected from the scene was sent to Singapore for testing and determined the suspects were Asian. Thai police experts later stated this race determination was only revealed by testing at Prince of Songkla University hospital lab twenty days after the suspects were arrested. 💥It was later revealed DNA samples were never sent to Singapore. Regardless, this set the stage for racial profiling of potential suspects.

💥The defendants were arrested on unrelated charges, questioned about the murder before having an attorney present and their statements were entered as part of the prosecution’s evidence. 💥This is a violation of Thai law and grounds for dismissal of the case.

💥DNA samples from both of the accused were collected without consent and before they were informed of the murder charges.

💥During interrogation, police appointed a hostile interpreter who could not read Thai. The defendants were never properly advised of the murder charges nor their rights under Thai law.

💥Both accused testified they were stripped naked by police during interrogation and physically assaulted including punching, kicking, plastic bags over their heads, genital attack etc. 💥Wound and bruise evidence of torture was confirmed by three doctors and one detainee witness.
Chain of custody of mobile phone was never provided, no photo of where it was found etc.
Continue reading

Letter from Narisara Viwatchara to Thai Ambassador to South Korea: May 8, 2017

CREDIT: Narisara Viwatchara: May 8, 2017

Dear Ambassador Sarun,

This is in response to your letter of May 2, 2017 which is herein illustrated below.

You have repeatedly stated that Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (Pai Dowdin) has violated Thailand’s strict lese majeste law which carries a mandatory jail term of 3-15 years, if convicted, for each offense.

Don’t you know, such a law is contrary to the U.N.’s charters with regard to human rights and freedom of expression. I wish to remind you that Thailand is a member of the United Nations. Therefore, it is mandatory that Thailand must strictly be in compliance with the rules and charters of the U.N.

Additionally, this despicable law has been universally condemned by all the civilized nations around the world. Because it is barbaric and has no place in any political environment in any country in the 21st Century.

Respect and love of an institution should come from the heart, not by an enactment and enforcement of an unjust law.

Jatupat must be freed unconditionally and immediately!

Sincerely,

Narisara Viwatchara