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- Police summoned military crackdown commemoration team, driver and rental companies includedSubmitted on Sat, 4 Jul 2020 - 10:36 PM
The Progressive Movement team that projected laser images and messages about past political violence on public buildings around Bangkok has been summoned for questioning after a Ministry of Defence complaint. A leading figure in the Movement fears legal harassment.
Left to right: A police summoning warrant and the laser projection upon the Ministry of Defence.
On 2 July, Pannika Wanich, a leading figure in the Progressive Movement, said that members of the team involved in the laser projection campaign “May 35l53 The Truth Must Revealed” in Bangkok in May 2020 have been summoned by the police as witnesses.
The summonses concern a criminal case filed by Lt Col Anantaphon Nutsathian on behalf of the Ministry of Defence against “A group of individuals who use a laser to project images and messages in many spots in Bangkok”
Those who received a summons include the driver, an independent photographer, and companies that loaned the power generator and laser projector. According to the warrant, they will be interrogated on June 25 by the Deputy Commander of the Metropolitan Police, Pol Maj Gen Somprasong Yentuam.
Pannika, via the Movement media team, said the driver and rental companies were subject to searches by plainclothes and uniformed police officers without being notified of any charge. The summonses arrived on 23 June, one day before nationwide commemorations of the 1932 Siamese democratic revolution.
Pannika suspected that this may be a threat from the police and the Ministry to deter people from carrying out similar activities. There are many cases where people who are summoned as a witness later face charges. Witness interrogation can be to the disadvantage of those summoned as lawyers are unable to attend.
The campaign was to remember the military crackdown against the protests in May 1992 and 2010 . The messages were projected at Wat Pathum Wanaram, Soi Rangnam, the Ministry of Defence, and the Democracy Monument, locations involved in the crackdown.
The projections appeared only a week before the 10th anniversary of the May 2020 crackdown on Red Shirt protestors on 19 May. During the crackdowns in April and May 2010, 94 people were killed and around 2000 were injured. More than half of those who died were killed between 13 and 19 May.
A projected message #ตามหาความจริง (#SeekingTruth) trended on twitter after the campaign was publicized.
On 12 May, Defence spokesperson Maj Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said that the campaign was “politically motivated” and sought to create disunity in the country. He said that he “personally believes it is inappropriate” and that it is “not beneficial to the current situation.”
The Metropolitan Police Bureau is also investigating the campaign. However, Pol Maj Gen Methee Rakpan, Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Division 6, said that he could not tell whether the campaign had broken any law.Source:https://prachatai.com/journal/2020/07/884294 July 20208633 at https://prachatai.com/english
- King’s birth month: Government agencies and the public urged to celebrateSubmitted on Sat, 4 Jul 2020 - 10:09 PM
All government agencies have been told to organize ceremonies for His Majesty the King’s 68th birthday while everyone is urged to wear yellow in July.
A commemoration stage to the King Vajiralongkorn at Nonthaburi province. (Source: Thai Public Relations Department)
On 30 June, Oranuch Srinon, Deputy Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister, sent a letter to all ministries encouraging them to hold ceremonies to show loyalty to the King and acknowledge his royal grace as 28 July is the King’s birthday.
Each government agency is encouraged to:
Set up altar tables displaying the King’s portrait with royal offerings
Set up places for people to write messages of goodwill for the King
Display Thai and royal flags at government buildings and residential areas
Decorate government buildings and residential areas with yellow and white cloth
Decorate main streets with lights for an appropriate period of time
Post messages of goodwill on the main page of agencies’ websites
Wear yellow from 1-31 July
Ministries are encouraged to hold celebrations for the King with the leader of each agency as the guest of honour to pay respect, say a blessing and sign a blessing for the King. Due to Covid-19 concerns, the Office of the Prime Minister asked all agencies to hold ceremonies at special locations and take proper precautions.
Participants will wear their white civil servant uniforms and display the royal commemorative pin from the King’s birthday ceremony in 2012 with the royal commemorative pin from the 2019 coronation.
The letter said the agencies can publish photos and videos of the ceremonies on their websites.
Government agencies include those inside in the country, such as public schools, and those abroad, such as Thai embassies.
On 1 July, Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Chatchai Promlert sent a letter to all 77 provincial governors asking them to organize ceremonies.
Governors are asked to display the King’s portrait in front of their provincial halls, decorate them with flags and cloth, put up decorative lights on main streets, set up a place for the public to write messages of goodwill and tell other local government agencies to do so.
Chatchai also asked the governors to encourage private businesses and the public in each province to do the same things at their business locations and their homes.
On 30 June, Traisuree Taisaranakul, Deputy Spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister said Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha had asked cabinet members, civil servants and the public to wear yellow for the whole month of July.
On 1 July, Wissanu Krea-ngam, Deputy-Prime Minister, said cabinet members were asked to wear yellow only at their meetings on Tuesdays while they are asked to wear a yellow tie on other days if possible.
King Vajiralongkorn was born on 28 July 1952, which is a Monday. According to Thai concept of colours for every day, yellow is the colour for Monday.
Most of the time during the regime of King Bhumibol, the government asked the public to wear yellow at many royal ceremonies, as he was also born on a Monday. Wearing yellow became a symbol of honouring the King, acknowledging his royal grace and the people’s loyalty to him.
In the case of former Queen Sirikit, who was born on Friday 12 August 1932, the public has been encouraged to wear blue in the month of August. The colour associated with Friday is blue.4 July 20208632 at https://prachatai.com/english
- Southern Peasant Federation opposes ill-conceived land rights policySubmitted on Sat, 4 Jul 2020 - 12:38 AM
The Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT) met with the Parliamentary Committee on Land Issues and Land Deeds on 26 – 27 June to discuss land rights issues and called for realistic allocation of land to achieve sustainable livelihood for the landless.
Members of the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT) attending the meeting.
On 26-27 June 2020, the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand discussed land rights issues with the Parliamentary Committee on Land Issues and Land Deeds, led by Sathit Wongnongtoei, during its official visit to the province of Surat Thani.
Members of the delegation in visit to the province of Surat Thani during the meeting.
Bangkok 3 July 2020 – The Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT) – one of protection international’s W/HRDs collective partner – restated its opposition to the National Land Policy Committee (NLPC) policy and called on the Parliamentary Committee on Land Issues and Land Deeds to provide for the realistic allocation of land in order to allow for sustainable livelihoods for the landless. The Parliamentary Committee on Land Issues and Land Deeds will have 90 days to study the land issues and make recommendations to Parliament.
Sathit Wongnongtoei, who formerly chaired the Southern Region Working Group, visited the province of Surat Thani along with three other parliament members in order to hear the concerns of the local community. The deputy provincial governor of Surat Thani Province, the Chai Buri district chief, and representatives of the Agricultural Land Reform Office and Police, also joined the visit to speak with women and men human rights defenders (W/HRDs) of the Klong Sai Pattana Community, the Chaiburi District, and Surat Thani.
The Klong Sai Pattana Community in Surat Thani Province is one of the five peasant communities of the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand (SPFT). The community was established in 2008 by landless farmers who, on seeing the expiration of a private company’s license that had been illegally occupying the land, moved in to utilize part of the area.
The right to defend land rights is critical for the landless farmers in Thailand. Access to land is a multidimensional issue that affects a number of other economic, social and cultural rights, and disputes over land are often the cause of conflicts. It is key for their security and food sovereignty, eradication of poverty, and as well as their struggle to promote organic agriculture. It also contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming.
After discussing with representatives of SPFT and visiting the Klong Sai Pattana community, Sathit admits that land allocation and use should be determined by the types of land and the communities’ needs. The proposed cookie-cutter approach to land allocation such as those imposed by the NLPC would only cause further problems. The Committee members also recognize that SPFT’s collective land management approach is more sustainable as it is based on collective decision-making and management of the land.
“What we truly want is the guarantee for land rights use, especially for those who have been utilizing the land for more than 10 years. We should be entitled to legal rights to use it. How are we supposed to be intruders, and still remaining as intruders for the rest of our lives?” said Mr Boonrit Pirom, a member of SPFT.
“I remember we discussed this issue 12-13 years ago, and we are still talking about it today. Why are we still not making any progress?” he asked.
A member of SPFT said that, in addition, problems still exist especially in terms of the necessary infrastructure needed to support the farmers in selling their produce to the market. He commented that the authorities should provide and invest in roads, as well as guarantee land rights use for all landless farmers.
These issues have persisted for over 10 years and have worsened with the junta’s incoherent land policy. After the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) came into power in 2014, the National Land Policy Committee (NLPC) was established to centralize the policies relating to land use and land titles. However, the SPFT finds there are multiple problems with the regulations that the NLPC issued. While one regulation states that only heads of the household can register for land allocation, for example, another states that those eligible must be so poor that they do not have any housing nor house registration.
Due to another problematic regulation, whoever owns land or has an annual income more than 30,000THB (82 THB/day) is not eligible to receive Sor Por Kor land*. This excludes many low-income families who already own small pieces of land from being eligible for additional land allocation from the state. Since the current minimum wage (325 baht/day) is lower than the set annual income indicator, it also excludes those that may be considered the country’s working poor.
The current land allocation managed by SPFT provides 10 rai (1.6 hectares) of land per family, in addition to collective farming areas used to grow marketable crops. The scheme is currently in conflict to the NLPC committee. The NLPC policy set the universal scheme of allocation to 6 Rai (0.96 hectare) provision per family, 5 of which to be used for farming and 1 for residence, which peasants consider to be barely enough to make a sustainable living.
In 2009, SPFT, along with the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-Move) and the National Land Reform Network of Thailand, succeeded in getting a Regulation of the Office of the Prime Minister which would result in the issuance coordinate the issuing of community land titles around the country and allocation unused public land for landless farmers to utilise. In total, 486 communities received land based on community land titles, including the SPFT. If this regulation is implemented, it will enable landless farmers to be able to do the sustainable land management, which is also key to reducing the impacts of climate change. Giving the rights to ‘community land title’ also means guaranteeing that this land will also pass on to future generations of affected families.
Formed earlier this year by the parliament, the Committee’s aim is to study the land rights issues related to land deeds nationwide and to issue recommendations to the parliament for effective solutions. The Committee commits to bringing contextualised issues forward to parliament in order to resolve ongoing land problems.
*Sor Por Kor land is agricultural land, usually found in rural areas, consisting of public land, which the government can allocate to needy families for agricultural purposes with a portion meant for residence.3 July 20208630 at https://prachatai.com/english
- Students speak out against outdated haircut rulesSubmitted on Fri, 3 Jul 2020 - 01:08 PM
Students have criticized schools’ haircut rules by holding demonstrations, submitting online petitions and sending out tweets as schools have not changed their rules in line with the Education Ministry’s latest policy.
The students met with a representative of the Ministry of Education after their demonstration this morning. (Source: Bad Student)
On 30 March, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan introduced new regulations for student haircuts to protect human dignity and to make the policy appropriate to the present day. According to the new regulations, students no longer have to keep their hair short. However, the regulations give full authority to school executive boards to determine the rules.
It sparked conversations among students that the policy still is not clear as the new regulations are vaguely written.
Some schools still have not adjusted their rules to the new regulations. The Bad Student group submitted a petition to the Parliamentary Committee on Education on 17 June with a list of 312 schools that reportedly violate the new regulations.
Bad Student has been active on the issue. A representative of the group went to various locations in Bangkok holding a sign saying “#ไม่ตัดผมเปิดเทอม” (I will not cut my hair for the new term). In another stunt, the student was tied to a chair under Siam BTS station with a pair of scissors and a sign saying “This student’s behaviour has violated school rules by having her hair longer than her ear lobes and having bangs. Ruining the identity of Thai students. Please punish this student.”
15-year-old Benjamaporn Niwad, the student in both campaigns, told The Matter that she wanted to tell society that this is actually something Thai students have to face in school. She wanted to raise the awareness of people on the rights of students.
On 3 July, Bad Student held the same demonstration in front of the Ministry of Education.
In addition to the activities of Bad Student, there are many petitions on Change.org. One of them calls on the Education Ministry to abolish all haircut regulations for Thai students, and over 24,000 people have signed it.
Other petitions demand that schools include students and parents in the process of developing the new rules at Suksanari School and demand a clearer policy from the education authorities. A petition calling for rule changes was successful at Princess Chulabhorn's College Mukdahan when the director changed the rules after the petition received over 800 names.
Students who spoke out against school policy on social media faced pressure and many attempts by their teachers to censor their opinions, including threats of prosecutions under the Computer Crime Act and of being refused enrolment.
On 30 June, Bad Student claimed to have negotiated the issue with Kowit Khuphaniat, Director of the Education Law Group. Benjamaporn from Bad Student said the group was told three things — rules that schools enforced before the new regulations were announced are void; schools must develop new rules with the participation of students; and schools must use the Ministry’s regulations during the rule development process.
Benjamaporn said in the video that Bad Student was not allowed to disclose the negotiations but the authorities failed to release an official document as promised, which left them no choice but to share it with the public. Bad Student claimed to have an audio recording of the negotiations.
On 1 July, the Education Ministry released the official document that was sent to every school. It was dated 4 June.
Bad Student also said on their Twitter account earlier today that the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education has confirmed to them that every school has to amend their student haircut regulations to match the new ministry policies, and that the Ministry will be sending a letter out to every school to remind them to do so.3 July 20208629 at https://prachatai.com/english
- Administrative court orders temporary halt to 2.7 km Muang Ngam seawallSubmitted on Fri, 3 Jul 2020 - 11:25 AM
The Songkhla Administrative Court has issued a temporary injunction, halting construction of a 2.7 km seawall which will have an irreversible impact on the community and the environment with no proven effectiveness.
A seawall construction site at Muang Ngam Beach.
On 30 June, the Court issued the order to halt construction of the seawall at Muang Ngam beach, Singhanakhon District, Songkhla Province, until the Court makes a final judgement.
The order came after 5 Muang Ngam residents, with 541 supporters, filed a lawsuit on 14 May against the Department of Public Works and Town and Country Planning (DPT) and the Harbour Department, claiming that the project was illegitimate as there were no proper public hearings, Environmental Assessment Impact or legal permission.
The order, published by the Community Resource Centre Foundation, states that the over 200 metre long seawall may have an irreversible impact on the community and the surrounding beach. The DPT did not provide enough evidence to defend its claims that the seawall will preserve the beach and prevent erosion both at the site and on surrounding beaches.
Sor Rattanamanee Polkla, a lawyer from the Community Resource Centre Foundation, told Siamrath that the court issued a temporary order after consideration of the technical features and project merit. A report from the National Ombudsman found that only 30 percent of the seawall project was worthwhile.
Sor believes that this order will serve as a norm for similar cases. She suggests that other communities experiencing the same situation should utilize their legal rights to protect their livelihoods.
Siamrath also cited one of the plaintiffs as saying that the villagers are relieved to hear the court decision. But the community will have to keep insisting that the project must be withdrawn.
Muang Ngam beach is 7.2 km long, located at Muang Ngam Subdistrict, Singhanakhon District, Songkhla. The beach has a fishing pier and is used as a public recreation space and tourist spot. The 2,705 m long seawall construction project has taken place at Mu 7 - 9 along the beach. The first 710 m construction phase has already started.
Despite the authorities’ claim of having conducted public hearings, many people have expressed their opposition to the construction out of concern for the impact on the environment and their livelihoods. On 23 May, people tried to gather at the beach to protest but faced a large security force deployed there. Their request for a public gathering was also turned down by the police.
Pol Col Somchai Noppasri, Muang Ngam Police Station Superintendent affirmed to Prachatai that he had refused the gathering because it would be held under the Emergency Decree and would enhance the risk of Covid-19 contagion.
Beach for Life, a beach conservation group, questions the necessity for the Muang Ngam seawall. It says that the erosion rate at the beach is 0.5-1.49 metres per year, according to the seawall project study. This rate is low when compared to the erosion rate index of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR).
Padungdech Luepiyapanich of the Songkhla Provincial Public Works and Town and Country Planning Office says that the construction project is a controversial issue, but was initiated in response to a plea from the community as erosion affected their daily lives.
Law causes controversy
An amendment to a national level law is partly responsible for the local confrontation. In December 2013, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) removed seawalls from the category of constructions that require an EIA. Previously, any seawall longer than 200 metres was subject to the EIA process.
Beach for Life and Thai Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism report a significant increase in the number of seawall projects after the requirement was lifted. In 2014-2019, 74 seawall projects with total length of 34.88 km were undertaken with an overall budget estimated at 6.9 billion baht. In 2008-2018, the cost per kilometre increased to 117 million baht.3 July 20208628 at https://prachatai.com/english
- Chinese shrine removal delayed by bureaucratic red tapeSubmitted on Thu, 2 Jul 2020 - 05:56 PM
The Office of Property Management of Chulalongkorn University (PMCU) has delayed the demolition and relocation of the Chao Mae Thap Thim Saphan Lueang Shrine amidst active opposition and legal scrutiny. The District authorities say that the University has not obtained permission for the removal and construction of new property.
A man worshipping Chao Mae Tub Tim figurine.
As of 2 July, the Chao Mae Thap Thim Saphan Lueang shrine still remains fully intact despite its relocation being scheduled for 16 June by its de jure land owner, the PMCU. The caretakers of the shrine were notified and asked to move out of the area by 15 June.
However, students and residents of the Samyan area gathered at the shrine on 15 June to protest the demolition. They said the shrine is not only a place of worship, but also has a long history and is important for Chinese descendants in the area. Netizens also showed their interest in the case. A petition to the PMCU was created online and the hashtag #SaveChaoMaeTubTimShrine (#saveศาลเจ้าแม่ทับทิม) trended on Twitter on the same day.
The demolition of the shrine is a part of the University’s plan to build a 972-unit student dormitory ty, according to a PMCU statement released on 23 June. The PMCU also will relocate the shrine to a new site near the Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park.
Masawan Pinsuwan, Director of Pathumwan District Office, said on 25 June in a letter to the shrine’s caretakers that the University has not obtained permission for construction at the new location or for workers’ accommodation at the current location. Masawan said the accommodation is already built and the District Office will start proceedings against the PMCU.
The PMCU released a statement on 23 June stating that the plan to relocate the shrine has been developed over two years, while always keeping the caretakers informed of the process, but the shrine’s Executive Committee also issued a statement stating that the University started to listen to their voice only after the protest on 15 June, not since the beginning of the plan as the PMCU claimed.
The 15 June protest against the shrine demolition.
While the PMCU said the shrine would not be demolished, the committee said the university planned to demolish and recreate the shrine as a team of Thai architects have been prepared. The Committee said the PMCU changed the plan after the shrine became controversial.
The PMCU said people can expect to visit the newly-located shrine in December.
The current Chao Mae Thap Thim Shrine was built in 1970 after it was relocated. One often cited piece of evidence of its antiquity was the trip to worship at the shrine made by King Chulalongkorn and a joss stick pot that was given by King Vajiravudh from the funeral of King Chulalongkorn in 1911. (Source: The People)
This shrine also displays unique Cantonese architectural values.
Besides the reasons of architecture and age, people are concerned that if the shrine is relocated to the park, the forms of worship, which include lighting incense sticks and burning offerings, would be troublesome.2 July 20208627 at https://prachatai.com/english
- Student Union tore police warrants at the station in resistance against the Emergency DecreeSubmitted on Wed, 1 Jul 2020 - 03:41 PM
2 Student Union of Thailand members staged a civil disobedience against their charge of an Emergency Decree violation. They went to the police station and tore their summoning warrants to signify the ongoing decree enforcement.
Left to right: Parit and Panutsaya tore their summoning warrants.
On 30 June, the Student Union of Thailand members led by Parit Chiwarak, one of the Union leading figure and Panutsaya Sitthichirawatthanakul, the Union spokesperson went to the Pathum Wan Police Station to tear their summoning warrants apart.
They called the action as a civil disobedience against the implementation and persecution in accordance with an ongoing Emergency Decree. In the open letter they read stated that the Decree was prolonged in order to control the public protest in dissent of the government.
The two and Juthatip Sirikhan, the Union president received summon warrants from the Pathum Wan Station for violating the emergency decree by organizing a demonstration in commemoration of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai activist who was kidnapped in Phnom Penh.
The event was held at the Pathum Wan skywalk on 5 June, a day after the disappearance. The event gained a lot of attention and engagement. The Union was able to see the event through the end but later received the warrant on 20 June.
The commemoration event at the Skywalk on 20 June.
Parit said that Thailand currently has no Covid-19 infection case domestically which can be recognized as safe. If the authorities are not sure of the situation, the Communicable Disease Act is able to manage it. Hence, there is no reason at all to implement the Emergency Decree.
“The accusation that we received should not be happening in the first place. We come to Pathum Wan Police Station to express our honesty that we don’t have intention to flee. But we will taking the civil disobedience. We deny any progress that stemmed from the Emergency Decree because we don’t accept the authority of this law and we will not act in line with this authoritarian law anymore.”, said Parit.
Panutsaya said that the team was threatened by the authorities every time they stage protests. Eventually, they were accused of violating the Emergency Decree.
On 29 June, Parit revealed that he was fined twice against the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country Act 1992 from Phra Ratchawang and Bang Khen police stations. The charges’ offences referred to the SUT tying white robes activities in front of the Ministry of Defence, the Thai Army Club and the 1st and 11th Infantry Battalion, King's Own Bodyguard Regiment)
The activities were also held in commemoration of Wanchalearm’s disappearance.
The Decree prohibit people from holding any public gathering that increase the risk of Covid-19 contagion. On 30 June, the Cabinet has agreed to prolong the decree enforcement for 1 more month since its first enforcement in March.
iLaw, a legal watchdog NGO reported that since the Decree implementation on 26 March, 23 people were prosecuted in 6 cases of violating the Decree.
The Decree centralizes the kingdom wide governing command to the ad hoc committee led by the Prime Minister. Many MP from the opposition party and critics criticized the long-lasting implementation over its political intention in controlling the opposition party influence and public protests.Source:https://prachatai.com/journal/2020/06/883871 July 20208626 at https://prachatai.com/english
- Regional MPs urge UN to establish independent mechanism to investigate rights violations in the PhilippinesSubmitted on Wed, 1 Jul 2020 - 01:36 PM
Southeast Asian lawmakers on 29 June called upon the UN Human Rights Council to act on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ findings by establishing an international independent investigation mechanism into the human rights violations committed in the Philippines since 2015.
President Rodrigo Duterte (Source: Wikipedia)
"As the institution responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights globally, the UN Human Rights Council must ensure that the appalling human rights abuses taking place in the Philippines do not go unpunished. Any other decision would not only undermine the Council’s legitimacy but also send an emboldening message to human rights abusers worldwide,” said Mu Sochua, APHR Board Member and former member of parliament (MP) in Cambodia.
Earlier this month, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), released a hard-hitting report, detailing persistent impunity for human rights violations occurring in the Philippines. The High Commissioner is expected to present her findings to the Human Rights Council on 30 June.
In addition to documenting the widespread and systematic killing of thousands of alleged drug suspects, the report also noted that the Philippine authorities’ oppressive response in relation to national security has seen the acute shrinking of civic space, especially for human rights organisations, lawmakers, trade unionists, religious communities, and the media. In particular, several rights activists who were “red-tagged” or labelled as terrorists were subsequently killed and their murders remain unresolved.
In response to the report, the Philippine government said it “firmly rejects” the findings.
“The Philippines government's rejection of the UN findings is nothing but confirmation that the impunity described will persist. The government’s recent use of the COVID-19 pandemic to intensify its crackdown on dissent and abuse human rights also leaves no hope that it will change course. That is why the Council must step-up. If they don't, the number of victims of human rights abuses in the Philippines will only continue to rise,” added Sochua.1 July 20208624 at https://prachatai.com/english