The King and Pai: Part 10: Happy Songkran!

[first posted April 15, 2017]

This year Pai Doadin will be missing out on the fun of Thailand’s best holiday: Songkran, the national water splashing festival, which is also the Thai New Year. He will not be wearing a Hawaiian shirt, throwing buckets of water at friends and strangers, or wandering the streets with a Super Soaker. He will not be at home with his family performing a water blessing for his parents. (This is because he has been in jail since Christmas awaiting trial for the crime of sharing a BBC news article about the new King on facebook.

Pai Daodin has been in jail since a few days before Christmas. He has been in jail 10 + 31 + 28 + 31 + 15 = 115 days awaiting trial for lese majesty, which is insulting the King—even though he didn’t even say anything, he merely shared a BBC Thai news article that almost 3,000 other Thais also shared. In fact the BBC revealed last week that the Thai article that Pai shared was their MOST-READ article EVER. It was 10 times more popular than their next most popular news article. And if Pai had wanted to say something about the King, his right to do so should have been respected.

Meanwhile, the King was out this week in a loud yellow party shirt having fun, playing carnival games at a Songkran festival, with servants carrying umbrellas to shield him from the sun. Continue reading

Open letter to Thai Embassy about 6 lese majesty victims charged on Tuesday, May 3, Thai Alliance for Human Rights – TAHR

May 4, 2017

Dear Ambassador and Royal Thai Embassy Officials,

Sawadee ka. My name is Ann Norman, Executive Director of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, an alliance of mostly Thais based in the United States. Our alliance wrote to you previously about the injustice done to law student and human rights and pro-democracy activist Pai Daodin, or Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, who is in jail, charged with lese majesty (insulting royalty) and facing a possible 3 to 15 year sentence merely for sharing a mainstream news article about King Vajiralongkorn on Facebook.

Now, last Tuesday, May 3, six more people (all in one day!) were charged just for sharing something on Facebook, in this case a post by Somsak Jeamteerasakul. One of those people, Prawet Praphanukul was charged 10 times, meaning his sentence could possibly be 150 years. What is even more outrageous is that Prawet Praphanukul, similar to Pai, is a lawyer and human rights activist, who helps victims of the lese majesty law. This is a shocking, further escalation in the use of the lese majesty law. Never before have 6 people been charged in one day, and never before has one person been charged 10 times. And we can see by recent cases how the definition of lese majesty has ballooned way beyond the original meaning of the law itself. This is highlighted by the fact that Prawet Praphanukal is a lawyer working in the area of lese majesty law who only recently stated that he understands the lese majesty law is careful not to cross that line. But simply sharing articles or posts written by others now constitutes lese majesty.

Furthermore, the topic of the posts shared seems to be the missing 1932 Revolution Plaque marking the end of absolute monarchy, which was replaced in the middle of the night by a plaque that says nothing about the Revolution and instead recommends loving the King. It is unreasonable for the Thai government to order people NOT to ask about or object to the sudden and mysterious disappearance of an important historical marker, which was significant to many as marking the starting point for Thai democracy. The Thai people feel that whoever stole the plaque is trying to rewrite Thai history and further attacking the foundations for future Thai democracy. Continue reading

Video of the Lao-Thai Human Rights Conference – Thai Alliance for Human Rights speech at 5:15

Lao-Thai Human Rights Conference on Capital Hill, Washington DC, April 26, 2017

Some speeches are in Thai and some are in English. Ann Norman, Executive Director of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, speaks (in English) about Thailand’s Orwellian Nightmare: Three Cases at  at 5:15.

The King and Pai, Part 9: “The Hidden Meaning of their Names”

Thai people usually have a long official first and last name, and very short nickname that is much more often used. Both Pai and King Vajiralongkorn fit this pattern.

Vajiralongkorn is pronounced “wa-CHEE-raa-long-gon” with the accent on the second syllable. According to the English version of the BBC article that Pai is in jail for sharing on Facebook, this name means “adorned with jewels or thunderbolts.”

The King’s full name at birth was: “Vajiralongkorn Borommachakkrayadisonsantatiwong Thewetthamrongsuboriban Aphikhunuprakanmahittaladunladet Phumiphonnaretwarangkun Kittisirisombunsawangkhawat Borommakhattiyaratchakuman.” On December 28, 1972, when Vajiralongkorn was named Crown Prince, his name was changed to Somdet Phra Boroma Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman.”

But more recently, Vajiralongkorn was given the name that he will be using as king: Somdet Prajao Yoo Hua Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. The first part “Somdet Prajao Yoo Hua” is a title that directly translates either “His Majesty, King of our hearts” or “His Majesty, King over our heads.” So English speakers are only asked to call him:

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

Maha, just means “Great.” For the reasons described in earlier episodes of “The King and Pai,” I personally can’t bring myself to call him that. As for “Bodindradebayavarangkun,” I’m going to wait and see if it catches on before I go to the trouble of learning it. So for the moment, he is “King Vajiralongkorn” to me.

In fact, until recently, even his first name “Vajiralongkorn,” which he has always had, sounded very unfamiliar – and not only to me. On the couple occasions when I asked people how to pronounce the name of the Thai Prince, they’d check with each other and the Internet before settling on an answer. Continue reading

Dear President Trump,

5/1/2017

Dear President Trump,

My name is Ann Norman, an American, and I am Executive Director of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, a US-based Thai human rights organization, consisting of Thais, and Thai Americans, and some non-Thai allies such as myself. Just last Wednesday, I was on Capitol Hill, at the Rayburn Building talking about human rights abuses in Thailand. I wish you could have heard the tragic stories of the conference attendees, many of whom were driven from Thailand because of the harsh laws there against free speech. No criticism of the monarchy is allowed, even to point out matters of fact. Right now a 25 year-old young man (I want to call him a boy because he is younger than any of my own children) is in jail for sharing a mainstream BBC news article about King Vajiralongkorn on Facebook. That is all he did. He pushed share. Now he faces 3 to 15 years in jail. Many of my friends and people in my organization have had to flee Thailand after committing similar “crimes”. In fact Thailand is no longer a free country according to Freedom House index. Continue reading

แถลงการณ์โดยแอน นอร์แมน ประธานบริหารภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน ณ งานสัมนาด้านสิทธิมนุษยชนลาว-ไทย ณ กรุงวอชิงตัน ดีซี

แถลงการณ์โดยแอน นอร์แมน ประธานบริหารภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน ณ งานสัมนาด้านสิทธิมนุษยชนลาว-ไทย ณ กรุงวอชิงตัน ดีซี
(ฉบับภาษาอังกฤษ พร้อมคำแปลภาษาไทย)

ดิฉันจะพูดถึงการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนสามราย มันจะไม่น่าเบื่อ เพราะมันจะเป็นเรื่องที่น่าสะเทือนขวัญ

กริชสุดา คุณะเสน

สตรีวัย ๒๗ ปี ซึ่งเป็นผู้นำเสื้อแดงคนหนึ่ง เป็นหนึ่งในคนหลายพันคนที่ถูกจับตัวไปจองจำโดยไร้หลักเกณฑ์ ณ จุดที่ไม่เปิดเผย หลังจากการรัฐประหารในเดือนพฤษภาคม ๒๕๕๗ ซึ่งก่อการโดยพลเอกประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา

ครอบครัวของกริชสุดาตื่นตระหนกยิ่งเพราะเธอไม่ได้ถูกปล่อยตัวกลับบ้านเหมือนรายอื่น ๆ ภายในเจ็ดวันที่รัฐบาลทหารโจรได้ให้อำนาจตัวเองกักกันผู้คน แต่ในวันที่ ๒๘ ของการกักขัง เธอก็ปรากฎตัวทางโทรทัศน์และให้สัมภาษณ์แบบฟังแล้วขนลุก คือเธอยิ้มเหมือนมีเลศนัย ยืนยันว่าเธอได้รับการปฏิบัติอย่างดีโดยทหาร ทุกอย่างวิเศษและเธอใช้เวลากับการดูโทรทัศน์และท่องอินเตอร์เน็ต และยังได้บอกอีกด้วยว่า ทหารได้ปล่อยตัวเธอกลับบ้าน แต่เธอพอใจมากกับการถูกกักขังจนได้ขออยู่ต่อ!! แล้วพวกเขาก็ปล่อยตัวเธอ รัฐบาลทหารโจรหวังอะไรจากการปล่อยบทสัมภาษณ์ที่ดูแล้วไม่น่าเชื่อว่าเป็นจริงนั้น คงเป็นไปไม่ได้ที่จะรู้ว่าพวกเขาได้คาดหวังอย่างโง่เง่าว่าผู้คนจะเชื่อเรื่องนี้หรือไม่ หรือว่าพวกเขาต้องการจะข่มขู่ผุ้คนด้วยอำนาจอันมหัศจรรย์ของพวกเขาในการจะทำให้คนต้องสยบยอมตาม Continue reading

Some of the speeches from the Lao-Thai Human Rights Conference on Capital Hill, Washington DC, April 26, 2017

วันที่ 26 เมษายน 2560 ที่อาคารรัฐสภา กรุงวอชิงตันดีซี สหรัฐอเมริกา องค์กรสิทธิมนุษยชนลาวและไทย ซึ่งอาศัยอยู่ในสหรัฐฯ ได้ร่วมกันรายงานสถานการณ์ปัญหาการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนทั้งในลาวและไทย ต่อเจ้าหน้าที่กระทรวงการต่างประเทศสหรัฐฯ ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนที่ นาที 5:15 ค่ะ

On April 26, 2017 on Capital Hill, Washington DC, the United States of America, Lao and Thai human rights organizations in the United States joined together to report on the situation with regard to human rights infringement in both Laos and Thailand for the US State Department. The speech of Thai Alliance for Human Rights is at 5:15 minutes and is in English. Some of the reports are in Thai and some in English.

International Law on “licensing of media workers”

From the Article 19 organization on the international law pertaining to “licensing of media workers”:

The Article 19 organization takes it’s name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

19) Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

“Responding to the argument that a licensing regime is simply the ‘normal’ way to regulate certain professions . . . In contrast to lawyers and physicians, the activities of journalists – the seeking, receiving and imparting of information and ideas – are specifically protected as a human right, namely the right to freedom of expression.”

“The three special mandates for protecting freedom of expression – the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression – adopt a Joint Declaration each year setting out standards relating to important freedom of expression issues. In their 2004 Declaration, they stated: “Individual journalists should not be required to be licensed or to register.

It is thus clear that, under international law, licensing and even registration of media workers is prohibited. In practice, licensing schemes for journalists are virtually unheard of in established democracies.”

https://www.article19.org/pages/en/licensing-of-media-workers.html

Remarks by Sukit Subaneksanti at the Laotion-Thai Human Rights Conference on Capital Hill, Washington DC, April 26, 2017

Good afternoon everyone.

My name is Sukit Subaneksanti. I am representing “The Union of Democracy Loving Thai People of Illinois,” a Thai organization in Chicago.

Thailand

Behind those deceiving slogans of “Thailand: The Land of Smiles” and “Amazing Thailand” is the bitterness most Thai people are enduring because of the lack of freedom, democracy, and the ever-growing, ever more powerful dictatorship.

Thai government’s worldwide propaganda…

Claims that Thailand is a democratic country under unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and the King is under the laws.

This is not true. Thailand is not a democratic country. Thailand is under a deceptive absolute monarchy, and the King is above all laws

Therefore, Thailand is under dictatorship.

To truly understand Thailand’s dictatorship, one must understand its structure.

Thailand’s dictatorship is comprised of 3 powers, 1st the monarchy system, 2nd the King, and 3rd the tools of tyranny.

The first two, the monarchy system and the King:

Fronted by the present King Rama the X, Thailand’s dictatorship is rooted in monarchy system.

Yes, the monarchy system, the very same system that Westerners wrongly see as the symbol of kindness and the center of heart and mind of Thai people.

The 3rd power of Thailand’s dictatorship structure
Are the tools of tyranny, including Article 112, Article 44, regulations, a phony judicial system, a phony legislative system, intelligence agencies, military forces, police, prisons, intimidation squads, phony accusations, harassment, attack, and more.

The center of all evil things happening in Thailand

Are the monarchy system and the King, combined.

Because they originate from the immoral belief that all men are not created equal, Thailand’s monarchy system and the King need to legitimize themselves.  Continue reading

Thailand’s Orwellian Nightmare: Three Cases

Remarks by Ann Norman, Executive Director of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, at the Laotian-Thai Human Rights Conference at the Rayburn Building, Washington, DC.

Conference organized by Lao Human Rights and Red USA – Thai Voice International; sponsored by US Congressman Markwayne Mullin)

[สวัสดีค่ะ พี่น้องทุกๆ ท่านที่รักความเป็นธรรม รู้สึกเป็นเกียรติ อย่างยิ่งที่ได้มาพูดตรงนี่ค่ะ P’ Chao asked me to talk about three human rights cases. This won’t be boring because it is horrifying.]

Kritsuda Khunasaen

A 27-year old women, a leader of the Red Shirts, was one of thousands taken away for arbitrary detention at an undisclosed location right after the May 2014 coup conducted by General Prayuth Chanocha. Kritsuda’s family was frantic because unlike most of the others she wasn’t returned within the 7 days that the junta gave themselves to “legally” detain someone. But on the 28th day of her detention she appeared on TV and gave a chilling interview: wearing an anxious smile, she insisted she had been well treated by the military, that everything was great and she had spent her time watching TV and playing on the Internet; and that in fact at one point, the soldiers had let her go, but she was having such a good time she asked to stay longer! Then they led her go. What did the junta hope to gain by airing this totally implausible story? It was impossible to know whether they stupidly expected people to believe this story, or whether they wanted to terrify people with their amazing powers to extract compliance.

Kritsuda escaped the country and from safety told a completely different story: she had been blindfolded the whole time she was in custody, her hands tied––even when she went to the bathroom, a female soldier had to pull her pants down for her! The soldiers even bathed her, which see said she considered sexual harassment. And she could hear a man’s voice in the background while they bathed her. They slapped her, and at certain points they put a plastic bag over her head and suffocated her into unconsciousness. She awoke to the words “Is she dead yet?”

The junta threatened her to stop giving interviews saying they would charge her with further crimes if she kept talking. But opposing the junta is not a crime outside Thailand, so the junta accused her of supplying guns to a group of five who had just confessed to being the so-called “Men in Black” shooters from 2010. (This strategy repeats itself in the recent Ma Noi case.) But the men accused of being the Men in Black soon rescinded their confessions saying they had been tortured­­––threatened with execution, blindfolded, beaten, suffocated, buried up to their necks, and given electric shocks while in military custody.

Chaiyaphoom Pasae

Chaiyaphoom Pasae was a stateless hilltribe boy, of Lahu ethnicity, born in Thailand but not actually a Thai citizen, as is the case with many of the hilltribe people. Chaiyaphoom was shot dead by a soldier last month at a military checkpoint. The military claimed that they had found drugs hidden in the car in which he was a passenger, that Chaiyaphoom had run from them and when they pursued, he had pulled out a hand grenade to throw at them.

Chaiyaphoom’s many friends immediately began to shout that this was impossible. It turns out was not just any hilltribe boy, he was a famous community activist, singer, and short film maker. Continue reading