Ex-Junta Leader, PM Prayuth Denies Role in Attack on Monarchy Critic in Japan

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Monday the government was not involved in an assault on a dissident exiled in Japan last month.

Gen. Prayuth said he sympathized with monarchy critic Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who says a masked man broke into his home and sprayed him with unknown chemicals on July 8. The General added that he was not behind the incident.

“I sympathize with him, but he was assaulted in Japan,” Gen. Prayuth said at a news conference. “If you are accusing the government of sending someone to do it, who would dare do that? The government didn’t do it, and we would never do so.”

 

Continue reading Khaosod English: Prayuth Denies Role in Attack on Monarchy Critic in Japan

Thai regime seeks more than 10 suspects for series of explosions in Bangkok

Thai security forces are hunting more than 10 suspects in connection with a series of bomb attacks in Bangkok last week, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Monday.

Six bombs exploded in the Thai capital on Friday as the city’s hosted a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers, that was also attended by top diplomats from the United States, China, and other world powers.

Authorities now say that six other fire-bombs also went off on Friday in central Bangkok, including two that caused fires a in shopping malls in a central shopping district popular with tourists.

On Saturday, three more bombs also went off at three ATM machines in southern Pattani province on Saturday, no one was hurt or claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

Continue reading Reuters

Thailand’s Failure to Protect Rights: Mothers of Bombing Suspects Barred From Visits

The families of two men detained for alleged connections to a series of bomb attacks in Bangkok last week said Monday they have been barred from visiting the pair.

Narathiwat natives Wildan Maha and Luai Sae-ngae have been held by police in Yala province since their arrest on Friday early morning. Their families say police never contacted them about the arrests, and they only found out about the whereabouts of the two detained men from media reports. They have expressed worries about the safety of Wildan and Luai.

“I’d like to ask the officials to take care of my son and his friend,” Luai’s mother told reporters today. “I want him to have fair proceedings. Whether he’s right or wrong, let the law have the final say. That is all I ask for.”

 

Continue reading Khaosod English: Mothers of Bombing Suspects Barred From Visits

The End of Thailand’s Disgraceful Human Rights Commission?

The resignation of two prominent human rights advocates from the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) is an alarm bell signaling the need for a total revamp of the flawed and scandal-ridden agency.

Commissioners Angkhana Neelapaijit and Tuenjai Deetes announced their resignations on Tuesday, stating they could no longer perform their duties independently and effectively due to restrictive regulations and a hostile and unsupportive office environment. Two other commissioners had resigned earlier. The seven-member commission now cannot function, unable to muster a quorum.

Once a model for human rights commissions throughout Southeast Asia, the Thai commission’s international ranking was downgraded in 2015 by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and the United Nations Human Rights Council because of the government’s manipulation of the selection process for commissioners to ensure a pro-government political bias. The situation went from bad to worse as a result of the 2017 NHRCT Act, which further stripped away the agency’s independence and transformed it into a de facto government mouthpiece, contrary to the United Nations Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles).

Angkhana and Tuanjai tried to defy such restrictive regulations but faced administrative reprisals. In May 2019, the commission’s chairperson targeted Angkhana with a disciplinary inquiry and threatened to impeach her for observing legal proceedings and documenting human rights violations against opposition politicians and critics of the government. On Friday, Angkhana was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award, known as “Asia’s Nobel Prize,” for “championing justice, case after painful case.”

 

Continue reading Human Rights Watch: The End of Thailand’s Human Rights Commission?

‘I thought they would kill me’: Thai dissidents targeted in brutal crackdown

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The blows came hard and heavy on Sirawith Seritiwat’s head. The four men, dressed in motorcycle helmets, black gloves and balaclavas, brought their metal truncheons down again and again down onto the young activist’s face, shattering his nose and eye socket as blood poured from a wound in his head.

“I have never felt so much excruciating pain, I thought they would kill me,” said Sirawith, popularly known as “Ja New”. But as cries of “the police are coming” reverberated across the busy suburban Bangkok junction, the attackers jumped on motorcycles and drove off, disappearing as quickly as they had come.

This brutal assault on Sirawith, a prominent face of the anti-military, pro-democracy opposition movement in Thailand, on 27 June, was not the first. Just three weeks earlier, a group of six men, again dressed in helmets and gloves to conceal their identity, lay in wait for him outside his home and beat him to the ground with wooden rods. Both times he ended up in hospital, the second time unconscious and in intensive care.

It is the latest in a series of violent attacks on Thailand’s opposition activists in recent weeks, an unprecedented escalation in brutality that has left campaigners and human rights groups reeling.

“Without a doubt that the military are responsible for ordering the attacks,” said Sirawith, brandishing a bloodstained briefcase he had used in a futile attempt to fight off his attackers. With his head and broken nose still bandaged and the vision in his bloodshot right eye unlikely to recover for at least five months, he spoke of PTSD symptoms, experiencing flashbacks of his attacks and extreme anxiety.

 

Continue reading The Guardian

Thailand’s Pro-Democracy Opposition Parties Aim to Amend Pro-Military Constitution

Having trounced the military’s proxy at the polls in March, Thailand’s pro-democracy parties may very well have formed the country’s next government by now were it not for the new Constitution the military drafted after seizing power in 2014.

Instead, coup-leader Prayuth Chan-ocha secured a second term as prime minister thanks to a Senate wholly appointed by the junta and empowered for the first time by the new charter to join the popularly elected lower house in voting for the premier.

Now relegated to the opposition, those anti-junta parties have made amending the Constitution their top priority.

“We are talking about restoration of democracy here. Without amending the Constitution, there will be no full restoration to democracy in this country,” said Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward party.

 

Continue reading VOA: Thailand’s Opposition Parties Aim to Amend Pro-Military Constitution

Police officers keep up surveillance of Thai activists despite junta’s dissolution

Even though the NCPO was formally dissolved once the new cabinet took the oath of office before King Vajiralongkorn on Tuesday (16 July), several activists have reported being visited at home by police officers.

Most of the activists visited by the police were part of the People Calling for Election group, who staged several demonstrations during the first half of this year after the general election was postponed from the previously scheduled date in February, or were among the guests at the cremation ceremony of Thong Jamsri, the last Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Thailand, on 14 July.

 

Continue reading Prachatai English: Police officers keep up surveillance of activists despite junta’s dissolution