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  • French expat known for political parody deported

    On 27 November, the Thai immigration Department issued an expulsion order to Yan Marchal, an expat who have lived in Thailand for 18 years, on the grounds that his behaviour posed ‘a possible danger to public.’ Marchal does not face any legal charge.

    Yan Marchal in his music video parody of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha's song "Returning Happiness to the People"

    After being denied entry to Thailand at the Phuket Airport, Marchal travelled to Suvarnabhumi Airport yesterday afternoon to wait for a flight to Paris in evening.  He was considering filing an appeal to the expulsion order.

    On 27 November evening, Marchal decided to take a plane to Paris.

    The Immigration officer at Phuket reportedly told him that he had been blacklisted and was not allowed to enter the country. Although the officer did not explain further, Marchal says that officers who expelled him were talking to each other about the lese majeste law, Article 112 of the criminal code which penalises individuals who defame, insult or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent.

    According to the Immigration Act of 1979 (B.E. 2522), Marchal has 48 hours to appeal the expulsion and a decision in his case must be reached within 7 days.

    Natthasiri Bergman, Marchal’s lawyer, said that the case was unusual. Heretofore, blacklisting and expulsion under the act has mostly involved foreigners who overstayed their visa for lengthy periods or been convicted of crimes.

    “Normally, with an administrative order like this, the individual being denied entry should be told who he has been accused by, and why he has been deemed a threat to the society and should not be allowed in … there should an opportunity for explanation,” said Natthasiri.

    Marshal expressed concern about his situation. He stated that it will take time to sort out his affairs in Thailand, where he has a game development company, employees and children.

    He called on fellow foreigners and tourists to remember that lese majeste matters in Thailand are very sensitive and suggested  that anyone planning a visit avoid involvement in activities that might be illegal to ensure that no problems arise during their stay.

    Marshal was well known for his activities on Facebook and Tiktok where he made parodies about the Thai government and the monarchy. His social debut was in 2019 when he published a music video mocking NCPO leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s song “Returning Happiness to the People”.

    The police went to his house afterward, ordering him to remove the video clip and sign a “memorandum,” the English version of which Yan posted on his Facebook page. Part of the document stated that the music video was an “improper act” and that he is “now repenting for the bad action and will not do it again.”

    27 November 2021
    9581 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Broadcasting Commission warns media against covering calls for monarchy reform

    The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has warned the media against reporting on calls for monarchy reform after the Constitutional Court ruled that such messages are treasonous.

    Workpoint News reported on Friday (26 November) that NBTC commissioner Lt Gen Perapong Manakit said during a meeting with representatives of various media outlets that they should not broadcast the 10-point demand for monarchy reform put forward by the activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration at a protest on 10 August 2020, after the Constitutional Court ruled on 10 November that speeches made by protest leaders Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Panupong Jadnok, as well as subsequent calls for monarchy reform, were an intentional abuse of constitutional rights and liberties in an attempt to overthrow the “democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.”

    Peerapong said that, due to the ruling, calling for monarchy reform is against the law and reporting on such calls could be repeating the offense. He also said that reporters should not interview protest leaders, protesters, or those who agreed with the demands, but may report on the events that happen. However, he said that they should avoid long live broadcasts of protests to prevent the re-broadcast of speeches made during protests and calls for people to join the movement.

    The NBTC also recommended that the media avoid inviting guests for talk show interviews about the demands, especially inviting representatives of both sides in to give their opinion on air.

    Perapong said that it is possible to interview experts about the ruling, but that reporters should be aware that some content could go against the ruling, and they should consider the content before airing it.

    Meanwhile, the NBTC said it is still possible to report on calls for the repeal of the royal defamation law, but the media should only report the facts and the events that take place.

    27 November 2021
    9580 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • State of emergency extended despite easing Covid-19 restrictions

    The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced today (26 November) that it will extend the state of emergency for another 2 months, while also announcing that current Covid-19 restrictions will be eased from 1 December onwards.

    On 23 November, a musicians' network staged a small performance at the Misakawan Intersection and filed a petition calling for entertainment businesses to be allowed to reopen.

    BBC Thai reported that, according to resolutions made during the CCSA’s meeting today, the state of emergency, which was first declared in March 2020 and was previously extended to end on 30 November, will be extended until 31 January 2022. This is the 15th extension to the state of emergency since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

    The continuous use of the Emergency Decree during the pandemic has been criticized by civil society, as its provisions have been used to prosecute pro-democracy activists and critics of the government. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 1337 people are facing charges under the Emergency Decree for joining protests since the first case in May 2020.

    The government had also issued an order under the Emergency Decree banning the reporting or distribution of information which may cause public fear or which intentionally distorts information creating misunderstanding during the emergency to the point where it affects national security, or peace and order, or the good morals of the people, whether through printed publication or any other form of media. The order was later suspended by the Civil Court following a lawsuit filed by members of the press and civil society organizations.

    The CCSA also said that no province is now considered a “dark red zone,” or area where disease control measures are at the strictest levek. It is also lifting the curfew for the entire country from 1 December onwards, and increasing the number of provinces in the “blue zone,” or areas open for tourism, from 4 to seven; these now include Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Krabi, Kanchanaburi, Pathum Thani, Phang Nga, and Phuket.

    Restrictions for those arriving from overseas will also be eased. Travellers with a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours before arrival will be allowed to enter the country immediately if an on-arrival rapid test also comes out negative. Travellers arriving through the immigration checkpoint at Nongkhai will also not have to undergo a quarantine period if they have a negative PCR test result and have received full dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

    Meanwhile, entertainment businesses will be allowed to reopen on 16 January 2022, despite demands from businessowners and entertainment workers to be allowed to return to work on 1 December.

    CCSA spokesperson Taweesin Visanuyothin said that entertainment businesses are not yet allowed to reopen since they risk spreading the virus and creating clusters of infection because these venues often have ventilation issues and customers often stay longer than they would at restaurants. He also said that they might be allowed to reopen sooner if businessowners comply with government measures.

    Signs displayed at the performance staged by the Workers' Union and the "Musicians Have a Voice" group say "Open on 1 December 2020" and "We've been waiting for two years. What's the point?"

    Since March 2020, the CCSA has continuously issue closure orders for entertainment businesses and bans on gatherings. Meanwhile, businessowners and workers, including musicians, artists, service staff, and security staff, who are left without income, received no compensation from the government and were not provided with effective vaccines.

    According to the labour rights group Workers’ Union, around 40-50% of entertainment businesses have closed permanently, causing difficulties for those who work in the sector, while the closures do not seem to have helped lower infection rates. 

    The Workers’ Union and the musicians’ network นักดนตรีมีเสียง (“Musicians have a voice”) also filed a petition addressed to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on 23 November demanding that nightlife and entertainment businesses be allowed to reopen on 1 December, as previously stated by the Prime Minister, as well as to delay the curfew on alcohol sales from 21.00 to midnight.

    They also asked that the government and financial institutions provide them with a 6-month moratorium and to promote low-interest loans, and that those who are employed by businesses that are unable to reopen on 1 December must receive compensation.

    26 November 2021
    9579 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Charge over claim Suvarnabhumi Airport had no Covid-19 screening dismissed

    The Criminal Court ruled on Thursday (25 November 2021) to dismiss the charge against Danai Usama, a graffiti artist from Phuket, who was charged with violation of the Computer Crimes Act for posting that he encountered no Covid-19 screening at Suvarnabhumi Airport after returning from Spain in March 2020.

    Danai Usama (Picture from TLHR)

    On 16 March 2020, Danai posted on his Facebook profile that he was not subjected to any Covid-19 screening process at the immigration checkpoint at Suvarnabhumi Airport after returning from Barcelona, Spain, which at the time was a Covid-19 hotspot. However, the photo he uploaded to show no screening activity was taken in 2019.

    Danai was subsequently arrested at his gallery in Phuket on 23 March 2020, while undergoing 14-day self-quarantine. He was charged with putting into a computer system false computer data in a manner that is likely to cause panic in the public under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act, filed against him by the Airports of Thailand PCL.

    The public prosecutor decided to indict him on 12 May 2020 on the grounds that the photo he used constituted false information as the airport at the time had deployed thermoscan machines and had officials in every area including the arrival hall, and that the false data might have misled the public and led to panic and loss of trust in the airport authorities.

    The prosecutor also asked the court for a heavy sentence because the defendant committed the offence knowing that this false information on a popular social media platform like Facebook would lead to fast and widespread sharing. Posting such misleading information about an important national airport could cause widespread public confusion and panic.

    Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported on Thursday (25 November 2021) that the Criminal Court ruled to dismiss the charge against Danai on the ground that the post was made according to what he encountered and that he did not intend to cause panic among the public or spread false information.

    TLHR said that evidence presented to the Court included security camera footage showing Danai walking past a screening checkpoint without apparently noticing the temperature screening equipment. One witness said that the monitor showing the temperature scan result was turned towards the officers on duty.

    Another witness said that the health screening measures at the time used a temperature scan camera to measure the body temperature of those who went through the checkpoint, and officers would take another reading from those who measured above 37.5 degree Celsius.

    Danai also told the court that he read about the Covid-19 control measures at the time from a post on the Facebook page of the Thai Embassy in Madrid, made on 15 January 2020, which said that the screening would involve answering a questionnaire. It is therefore possible that he did not encounter an officer and did not see the thermoscan camera on arrival.

    Regarding the photo, Dr Jenpon Thongyuen, an expert witness, said that it was widely used by the media when running stories about Suvarnabhumi Airport, while Danai said that he only used the photo to accompany the post.

    After the ruling, Danai told TLHR said that, when he was arrested and charged, many people told him that he would lose the case. Some people also told him to confess, and he questioned how he could confess when he did nothing wrong and only posted about what he saw.

    “Usually, if anyone does something good, I compliment them. If someone does something bad, I tell them off. Isn’t criticism normal? Even if it was my father, if he did something wrong, I’d call it out,” Danai said.

    26 November 2021
    9578 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Women workers, trade unions and grassroots organisations call for safety of women in all workplaces

    Feminists, women workers and grassroots women from Asia and the Pacific gathered together, albeit virtually, to kick off the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism and International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women through the regional online protest, “Ratify C190 - End All Forms of Violence at All Workplaces”.

     

    More than 100 women workers, women human rights defenders, peasant women and women migrants representing over 30 organisations from Australia, Bangladesh, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Uzbekistan joined the online protest that spotlights the plight of women workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and worsening work conditions across the world and calls for the urgent ratification of C190.

    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190, or C190, and its accompanying Recommendation No 206 (R206) have been pushed by women workers and its allies as a pathway to end violence and harassment in all workplaces.

    To date, only nine countries have ratified C190 worldwide. In Asia and the Pacific, only Fiji has ratified the Convention. Organisations of women workers and grassroots women, however, commit to continue urging their governments to ratify C190 until all women are safe and protected in all workplaces. 

    Asia Floor Wage Alliance Sri Lanka Coordinator Abiramy Sivalogananthan said that C190 needs to be urgently ratified especially by countries where gender-based violence and harassment in workplaces are persistent and pervasive.

    “Preventing gender-based violence is essential to ensuring the health, safety and dignity of women workers. It is also a precursor to freedom of association and collective bargaining in industries dominated by women workers. These in turn, are foundational to achieving living wages - a decade-long mandate of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance,” Abiramy explained.

    Shiela Tebia-Bonifacio of Asian Migrants Coordinating Body International Migrants Alliance (AMCB - IMA Hong Kong and Macau) also pointed out that C190 will be critically helpful for migrant women who have long been struggling with dirty, dangerous and demeaning jobs abroad without the protection from either the sending or receiving countries.

     “In cases of migrant women especially those who engage in domestic work and other low wage jobs, protection, support and government accountability are either lacking or very little. Migrant women are left to fend for themselves, which has become extremely difficult during the pandemic,” Sheila noted.

    The ratification of C-190, according to workers, could also help in exercising women’s right to freedom of association and protect women labour rights and human rights defenders from attacks and threats. Stories of women workers noted that union-busting has become a common practice among companies to prevent women workers from organising and empowering themselves to assert their human rights.

    Daw Myo Myo Aye of Solidarity Trade Union of Myanmar (STUM) in Burma/Myanmar shared how the authorities violated women’s human rights when a series of arrests happened earlier this year. 

    “When I was arrested, I was still in my workplace. The regime’s armed forces came into an office compound where a project under the UN is operating and arrested a woman. When I requested to change my clothes, the policemen were standing in front of the room. Is this violence or not?” Daw Myo Myo recalled. 

     Daw Myo Myo further noted that women are often subjected to threats, torture and various forms of harassment, and that women leaders of unions are targeted. Worse, the government uses family attachments as a threat to weaken women’s collective power.

    “Women were arrested when they assert their rights as citizens in political events. In such arrests, women were beaten by the regime’s male uniformed personnel. Sometimes, when a warrant has been issued against the father, the daughter or the spouse will be arrested as hostages and will be tortured to force the father to surrender. The arrests of infants and children, pregnant and elderly as hostages only reflect the brutality and lack of regard for women’s lives of these regime leaders,” she added.

    APWLD Deputy Regional Coordinator Wardarina emphasised that gender-based violence and the systemic oppression that women are experiencing in workplaces are deeply rooted in an extractive and exploitive model of capitalism, and that the only way for women to break free from the cycle of oppression and violence is by challenging and dismantling the system together. 

    “Fighting to end gender based violence for all women in all workplaces is at the center of dismantling the oppressive system of capitalism, fundamentalisms, militarism and patriarchy. And only with cross-movements, struggle, actions and solidarity can we really achieve it. Today we make our resolution to continue that struggle collectively until we achieve our win in ending all forms of gender-based violence and harassment against women in all their diversities in workplaces, and everywhere,” Wardarina shared.

    26 November 2021
    9577 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Activists, academics received ‘state-sponsored attackers’ warnings

    Several pro-democracy activists and academics have reported receiving an email from Apple warning them that “state-sponsored attackers” are targeting their devices.

    Activist Elia Fofi, a member of the artists’ network Free Arts, said on Wednesday (24 November) that he received an email from Apple saying that it believes that he is being targeted by state-sponsored attackers who are “trying to remotely compromise the iPhone associated with [his] Apple ID” and that, if the device is compromised, these attackers may have access to “sensitive data, communications, or even the camera and microphone.”

    Other activists also received the same warning, including We Volunteer member Rattaphum Lertpaijit, United Front of Thammasat Demonstration member Chayapol Danotai, Coalition of Salaya for Democracy member Chatrapee Artsomboon, and iLaw manager Yingcheep Atchanont.

    Rap Against Dictatorship member Dechatorn Bamrungmuang, or “Hockhacker,” also said that he received the warning email. Several academics also said that they received the warning, including Puangthong Pawakapan, lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University; political scientist and Progressive Movement member Piyabutr Saengkanokkul; Prajak Kongkirati, lecturer at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University; and independent researcher Sarinee Achavanuntakul.

    Sarinee speculated that, while the email did not specify which spyware was used, it is likely to be Pegasus, made by the Israeli NSO Group and said to be mostly used by governments, armed forces, and intelligence agencies.

    Apple issued a press release on Tuesday (24 November) stating that it has filed a lawsuit against the NSO Group and its parent company “to hold it accountable for the surveillance and targeting of Apple users” and is seeking a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using Apple products.

    Apple said that Pegasus spyware attacks are aimed at “a very small number of users” and that there are reports of this spyware being used against journalists, activists, dissidents, academics, and government officials.

    The press release also said that Apple is notifying the targeted users and that it will continue to do so whenever it discovers activities likely to be state-sponsored attacks.

    The warning messages received by the activists recommended that they update their devices to iOS 15.1.1, which is believed to be capable of preventing attacks, and to keep updating to the latest software, or contact an expert.

    26 November 2021
    9576 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Student activist arrested at vaccination centre

    A student at Prince of Songkla University’s Hat Yai campus has been arrested on a royal defamation charge while receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at the university’s vaccination centre.

    Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Supakorn Khunchit, a student from the Faculty of Economics, Prince of Songkla University, was arrested by a group of plainclothes police officers in the parking lot in front of the Songklanagarind Hospital’s sport complex after he went to receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

    Supakorn said that, at first, a man called out to him in the parking lot. He thought the man wanted to ask for some information, so he walked over, but was then surrounded by 3 – 4 other men who said they were police officers and presented a warrant issued by the Phatthalung Provincial Court on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, a sedition charge under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, and a charge of entering into a computer system data which is an offense relating to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.

    7 – 8 more plainclothes officers then came out of a vehicle and surrounded him. Supakorn said that he was shocked, and asked the officers for the opportunity to contact a lawyer and his friends. He was allowed to do so, but the officers did not allow him to wait on campus for his lawyer to arrive as they wanted to take him to a police station to record the arrest immediately.

    Supakorn also asked the officers why an arrest warrant has been issued for him, since he had never received a summons, but the officers who arrested him said they did not know.

    Supakorn was held overnight at Muang Phatthalung Police Station. A lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), along with Suthichai Ngamchuensuwan, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prince of Songkla University, went to meet him on Wednesday morning (24 November).

    According to the inquiry officer, Supakorn was charged because he was allegedly part of a group of people who took pictures of various locations in Phatthalung and posted them on the Facebook pages ‘Free Phatthalung’ and ‘Democracy of Southern Thailand’ along with messages which the police claimed were insulting towards the King and the Queen and aimed to incite unrest among the people.

    TLHR said that the inquiry officer did not specify which messages were the offending ones in the temporary detention request, but included them in the interrogation record. TLHR also noted that many of the messages, including “1 2 3 4 5 fuck you,” “Down with feudalism. Long live the ducks,” “The people own the country” do not correspond to the accusation.

    The inquiry officer then took Supakorn to court for a temporary detention request. They were later granted bail using Suthichai’s academic position as security.

    Supakorn said that he found the process of his arrest unacceptable, since he was arrested by a large group of officers even though he has never received a summons and he had just reported to the police on charges relating to another protest but did not receive an arrest warrant for this case. He was also held in the police station holding cell, which was in poor condition, and was not allowed visitors, since the officer claimed that his photograph would be taken and used to incite conflict, but other detainees were allowed visitors.

    TLHR also said that an arrest warrant has also been issued for 2 other student activists on charges relating to the same incident, and that they would be reporting to the police on Friday (26 November).

    According to TLHR, at least 160 people are facing royal defamation charges since November 2020. Several activists are also facing several counts of the charge, including Parit Chiwarak, who faces 22 counts, Anon Nampa, 14 counts, Panupong Jadnok, 9 counts, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, 9 counts, and Benja Apan, 6 counts.

    Parit, Anon, Panupong, Panusaya, and Benja are detained pending trial on the royal defamation charges, along with activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa.

    26 November 2021
    9575 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Monarchy supporters vow to drive Amnesty International out of Thailand

    The Citizens’ Network to Protect the Monarchy, the People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy and the Thai Raksa group have submitted a letter at Government House urging the Prime Minister, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, to check whether the international human rights NGO Amnesty International has damaged the security of the nation and monarchy.

    The pro-monarchy group take a group photo at the Government House.

    On 25 November, a pro-monarchy group of 50 people were led by Noppadol Phrompasit and Anon Klinkaew to ask the PM to check Amnesty International (AI) Thailand’s operations and sources of finance.

    The group was welcomed and admitted to Government House, unlike the network of musicians and entertainment workers who on 23 November were blocked by police from submitting a petition.

    The group’s representatives said that AI’s Write for Rights campaign invites members around the globe to write to the Thai government asking for lèse majesté charges to be dropped against Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, one of the pro-democracy student activists.  This, they claim, may be considered as interference in Thailand’s domestic affairs by a foreign entity and ignoring a Constitutional Court ruling.

    This last charge refers to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on 11 November that found that calls for monarchy reform were unconstitutional.

    The group urged that the government urgently look into AI’s activities. If evidence of domestic interference are found, AI must be expelled from the Kingdom.

    Seksakol Atthawong, a former red shirt now assistant to the Prime Minister's Office came to receive the group’s letter. He said if he could not oust AI from Thailand, he would quit his post. He also said pressure to get rid of AI can be made via the law and people who are loyal to the monarchy.

    On 23 November, in the face of pressure against them, AI Thailand posted “6 Facts that you may not know about Amnesty International” on Facebook, pointing out that it is a non-partisan, human rights NGO that receives no funds from any government. It is financed by donations and membership fees from human rights supporters. And its HQ is in London, not in the US.

    AI set up an office in Thailand in 1996 and Amnesty International Thailand was registered as an association under Thai law in 2003. It faced a public backlash in 2018 when it campaigned publicly against the execution of a death row prisoner in the Kingdom. Death threats and threats of violence and rape were made online and at the AI office against staff and their family members.

    Source: 
    prachatai.com/journal/2021/11/96100
    26 November 2021
    9574 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Cartoon by Stephff: The Troglodyte is back

    25 November 2021
    9573 at https://prachatai.com/english
  • Musicians’ network calls for entertainment business reopening

    A network of musicians and entertainment workers filed a petition to the Prime Minister on Tuesday (23 November) to demand that entertainment businesses be allowed to reopen, after the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced on 12 November that their reopening date will be pushed back from 1 December to 16 January 2022.

    Group representatives staging a small performance at the Misakawan Intersection

    The musicians’ network นักดนตรีมีเสียง (“Musicians have a voice”), along with the Workers’ Union, filed a petition addressed to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha demanding that nightlife and entertainment businesses be allowed to reopen on 1 December, as previously stated by the Prime Minister, as well as to extend the curfew on alcohol sales from 21.00 to midnight.

    They also asked that the government and financial institutions provide them with a 6-month moratorium and to promote low-interest loans, and that those who are employed by businesses that are unable to reopen on 1 December must receive compensation.

    The petition said that, since March 2020, the CCSA has issued at least 4 closure orders for entertainment businesses and bans on gatherings without compensating businessowners and workers, including musicians, artists, service staff, and security staff and without providing effective vaccines. Around 40-50% of entertainment businesses have closed permanently, causing difficulties for those who work in the sector, while the closures do not seem to help lower infection rates.

    Sompat Nilapan, advisor to the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister, receiving the petition

    The groups first planned to meet in front of Government House at 10.00 yesterday (23 November). However, they found that police officers had blocked off Phitsanulok Road on both sides. They were told that they are not allowed to hold their event in front of the Government House, and that they must stay in front of the Rajavinit Mathayom School, forcing them to move to the Misakawan Intersection.

    Meanwhile, police officers asked reporters waiting at the Misakawan Intersection to move away towards the Ministry of Education, and to adjust their camera angles to avoid including an image of the King while photographing the event.

    At around 11.00, the musicians arrived at the intersection. They set up speakers and staged a short performance, before submitting their petition to Sompat Nilapan, advisor to the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister.

    Mongkol Smorban

    Mongkol Smorban, representing musicians who are members of the Workers’ Union, gave a speech saying that many of his colleagues have been forced to change their career, as they have not been able to perform for almost 2 years and are unemployed and have no income, while many have committed suicide.

    He said that the current restriction, which states that live music performances must end by 21.00 and can only include 3 – 4 performers, does not make sense, as larger groups will not be able to survive. Meanwhile, no government officials are helping them.

    “We want to work. We want to go back to having a life with dignity, money, a future, where we are able to take care of ourselves and our families. Why are you postponing the reopening?  If there is no problem, then let us open, but if you can’t do anything, then this government should get out,” Mongkol said.

    “Don’t say that we are selfish. We have put up with this for 2 years. We have no performances. We have no work. We have to suffer poverty. We have to take our families back home to the provinces. We are poor. We have less than a thousand baht to our names.

    “We have to put up with being poor now. We have been starving for many months. We have to put up with it. We have to borrow money until we are buried in debt. There’s no work. No money is coming in, but our expenses stay the same. Don’t talk to us about tolerance. Do these 2 years prove it? I’ve been putting up with it for so long. I’m in trouble.”

    After the event, labour rights activist Thanaporn Wichan said that police officers from Dusit Police Station were trying to give them a 100-baht fine for using a loudspeaker. Representatives of the group then negotiated with the police through the microphone and were told that they will no longer be fined.

    25 November 2021
    9572 at https://prachatai.com/english