UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron should press Thailand’s junta leader to respect human rights and ensure a rapid transition to democratic civilian rule, Human Rights Watch said today. Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister May on June 20, 2018, in London and President Macron on June 25 in Paris.

“Prime Minister May and President Macron should strongly express their deep concerns about the deteriorating state of human rights under military rule in Thailand,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “They should make clear to General Prayut that there will be no return to business as usual until Thailand holds free and fair elections, establishes a democratic civilian government, and improves respect for human rights.”

The UK and France are among major allies of Thailand that have repeatedly stated that bilateral relations will only be normalized when democracy is fully restored through free and fair elections.

Thailand has made no progress toward becoming the rights-respecting, democratic government that General Prayut promised as the country enters its fourth year after the May 2014 coup. As chairman of Thailand’s ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), General Prayut wields power unhindered by administrative, legislative, or judicial oversight or accountability, including for human rights violations. NCPO Orders 3/2015 and 13/2016 provide military authorities with powers to secretly detain people for up to seven days without charge and to interrogate suspects without giving them access to legal counsel, or providing safeguards against mistreatment.

Continue reading: Human Rights Watch

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The Pheu Thai and Democrat parties have slammed both the 20-year national strategic and reform plans being driven by the regime, terming them as “traps” for the country.

Pheu Thai key figure Chaturon Chaisang said the government has shown no interest in supporting national reconciliation or heeding any proposals raised by various political groups.

“Traps for the country are the 20-year national strategic plan and reform plan, through which the 2017 charter obliges the government and state organisations to follow, ” said Mr Chaturon.

Those who fail to follow through on the plans could face an impeachment petition lodged with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) or criminal prosecution, he noted, adding the trap would last 20 years, which would “make the country unable to measure up to the world”. The problem would be left to other generations to fix.

The Pheu Thai bigwig was speaking at a seminar about the future of Thai democracy, held Thursday at Thammasat University.

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said both the national strategic and reforms plans, along with the 2017 charter, would be an impediment to the next government’s work.

The former prime minister said anyone who has better plans than the government’s 20-year national strategic plan must present them to the public.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the government will today submit the draft of the 20-year national strategic plan to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). However, he said the strategic plan can be amended more easily than the constitution.

PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool, who will also present the plan to the NLA, said reforms should be a continual process which can bring about a big change to the country even after the election.

He said the previous “reforms before an election” campaign was merely an attempt by past political demonstrators to whip up political sentiment.

He was apparently referring to the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee which revved up its reform campaign during its street protests against the Pheu Thai Party-led government, which ultimately resulted in its downfall in the May 22, 2014 military coup. As a start, the government will update laws, starting next month.

Source: Bangkok Post

A public prosecutor has dismissed charges against 14 villagers in Phayao who were prosecuted for violating the NCPO’s ban on public protests. Before the case was dropped, the villagers faced repeated intimidation by the local authorities.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported on 8 June that in late May a public prosecutor in Phayao Province decided not to indict 14 supporters of the civil rights march We Walk. The police have asked them to sign a document to this effect at Phu Sang Police Station. The last protester signed on 4 June, marking the official end of the prosecution.

The prosecution was initiated on 5 February when a group of farmers in Doi Thewada Village and four student activists staged a small rally to express support to We Walk, a march for civil rights from Bangkok to Khon Kaen. The villagers walked for 500 meters and read a statement calling for welfare policies such as a progressive income tax and community rights.

In the night, the military and the police summoned 11 participants at the rally to Phu Sang Police Station and interrogated them until morning. There was no defence lawyer present throughout the interrogation. The youngest participant is only 16 years old and has a mental disability. The authorities added that they would issue a summons for three other participants who did not show up at the police station.

The military accused the 14 individuals of violating the Head of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, the junta’s ban on public gatherings of five people or more. However, according to TLHR, the police decided to press charges against only 10 of them. They had to pay 5,000 baht each as bail surety.

Continue reading: Prachatai English

The junta-appointed assembly resolved Friday to set up a committee to vet the junta’s proposed 20-year strategic plans.

Instead of voting to adopt or reject the plans as expected today, the National Legislative Assembly punted on the decision and instead impaneled a 38-member committee to look into the details of the plans, which cover six areas.

An up-or-down vote was set for three weeks from now on July 7.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told the assembly that having binding 20-year plans is appropriate for Thai society, as a new generation of Thai children will be born and grow up nurtured under future government policies that reflect the present junta’s plans.

“They will grow up along with various national strategic plans… They will become adults that will be secure, well-to-do and sustainable,” Wissanu said, adding that future elected governments should not become too concerned about being restricted under the plans, as there is room for adjustment it every five years.

He added that if the situation in the country and the world changed, the junta-appointed national strategic planning committee can inform the parliament and adjust the plan accordingly.

Wissanu stressed that the bill, if approved, would ensure that future governments cannot endorse policies that contravene the plans.

Continue reading: Khaosod English

For the past 13 years, insurgents in Thailand’s Deep South have launched major attacks during Ramadan. They’ve done this to remind security forces of an alleged crime that occurred when the Islamic holy month, which follows a lunar cycle, fell in October 2004: the Tak Bai massacre.

Army and police units allegedly opened fire on unarmed Patani Malay demonstrators in the Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province, killing seven. Another 78 protesters died from suffocation after they were stacked one on top another in military transport trucks.

This year Ramadan-time attacks started a little early, on May 20, when multiple ATMs were bombed simultaneously about half an hour after Muslims broke fast and the streets were empty.

The attacks were carried out in at least 14 locations in four southern provinces, Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, and Songkhla. Most of the blasts took place meters from military checkpoints, thus adding to the humiliation of the troops.

Sending a message

Violence in Thailand’s Malay-speaking and predominantly Muslim Deep South is political in nature. It’s a form of communicative action.

In many places around the world, video cameras and social media are often used to send out a message behind an attack. Often, the intended audience are policymakers and the general public, who may be halfway around the world.

On the other hand, the audience for the insurgency in Thailand’s Deep South is still pretty much confined to the security forces and the agency bosses. It’s a form of deadly messaging between two warring sides.

What goes into public space, including social media, doesn’t always reflect the reality on the ground.

Continue reading: BenarNews

Masked gunmen shot and killed five men in a cockfighting pen in Thailand’s Deep South province of Yala on Monday, while another was shot dead in another part of the insurgency-wracked region, officials said.

Also on Monday, police announced that an Islamic leader who was shot three days ago was pronounced dead and officers filed arrest warrants for eight suspects in the killing of four members of a family who were gunned down while panning for gold in another Muslim-majority province.

“According to initial investigation, four unknown assailants wearing black balaclavas sprayed bullets at the victims while they were talking at the premises where there was a cockfighting pen,” police Capt. Sulklifeh Rasoh told reporters.

He said the gunmen fled on two motorcycles.

Continue reading: BenarNews

The admin of one of the largest anti-junta Facebook pages has been charged with cybercrimes for spreading “false” information that defamed junta chairman Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, police said Tuesday.

Police identified Watana Ebbage, 56, as the person responsible for the page, called Thai People UK. They said Watana, who reportedly lives in London, posted about the government’s alleged plans to spend more than 90 billion baht on spy satellites, though they did not specify her alleged crime. Fourteen people were also arrested for sharing the post.

The page’s operators have denied spreading anything untrue.

“How did I ever defame you, you bastards?” the page wrote in a series of fiery responses to the news. “Open up your eyes and read the news.”

Continue reading: Khaosod English