Monthly Archives: June 2017

Letter from Narisara Viwachara to President Donald Trump about lese majesty and the meeting with Thai Dictator Prayut Chan-ocha

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Dear President Donald Trump:

We are Thai-Americans of some 350,000 strong. We have learned with dismay that you have invited Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Thai dictator who seized power from a democratically elected PM Yingluck Shinawatra last May 2014.

We understand Gen. Prayuth will visit the White House by the end of next month.

Please raise this very important issue with him which is the root cause of all of Thailand’s problems and their very slow democratic process. That is their despicable Article 112 of their Criminal Code which prohibits people from making any comments or constructive criticism of the Thai king, even if such comments are based on the truth.

This unjust law also separates loved ones for a long period of time. Once charged with this law, 99% will be convicted by the Thai court. The trial is often a closed court session with no media allowed. Alleged prisoners of Article 112 will be sent to Thai jail from 3 to 15 years for each offense. Hundreds, if not thousands, are now in jails throughout Thailand.

Anyone can file the lese majeste charge against anyone and the police are required to investigate and often complete the process all the way to the court. Failure to do so will have serious repercussion to the investigating officers.

Even though the late King Bhumibol said in his speech in 2005 that he disagreed with this law, but no one has not done a thing to abolish it either.

This very uncivilized and unjust law gives the Thai monarchy unlimited power to do anything for their own interest and prosperity! The king’s investment arms of Crown Property Bureau (CPB) is the largest owner of all the prime property in Bangkok and the major shareholder of the Stock Exchange of Thailand! The Monarchy is the richest entity in the world by Forbes magazine 6 years in a row. At the same time, Thai children are still begging or selling garlands in the streets of Bangkok. Poor families are forced to sell their daughters for prostitution. Slave wages are the norm in most factories. Intelligent Thai men and women have to flee the country for commenting the Monarchy ina negative tone.

No one can question how CPB become so rich and powerful. No one can question its books and whether or not CPB pays any taxes. This is off to the public. The royals or royals’ lapdogs claim the wealth and its assets belong to the people. But we have not seen any monetary contributions to help the poor coming from this CPB during the past 50 years!

Because of this law, Thailand has, so far, 19 coup d’ etat’s including the recent one! Thai king endorses and approves all the coups and then pardon the coup makers!

Even all the past prime ministers of Thailand did not dare to question the suitability and viability of this law!

Most politicians, academics, critics and foreign journalists all ignore this subject for fear of going to jail because of the evil nature of Article 112! Any suggestion or slight hint of revising the law would certainly be subject to lese majeste charge!

Thai people are held hostages by this evil law!

United States must lead in calling for the abolishment of this very unjust law.

This is the 21st Century and Thailand must face the reality of the world and the transparency of the Internet. Thai people are now very well-informed and that democracy is the key to Thailand’s progress. People are yearning for opportunities and equality for their children’s future. Poor Thais should have the same hope for their children’s future as the elite’s. With this crazy law over their head, people are tongue tied and simply can’t do anything!

This law is not an internal affair of Thailand. It is the affair of the world and every citizen of the world is obligated to tell Gen. Prayuth that enough is enough! This is a deliberate genocide of by design by the royalist conservatives.

I have received hundreds of emails each day telling me that I am now the voice of the oppressed living in Thailand and that I should continue my fight for a true democracy.

It pains me to see so many poor children and young girls being abused in factories or massage parlors. These are people who need helps but have nowhere to turn.

Please ask him if he has any objectives and viable plans in helping the poor children of Thailand.

Such are important issues which should be discussed, not just trades alone!

I’d rather die than live the life of lies, fear of Article 112 and deceit!

– Narisara Viwatchara

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 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