Tag Archives: Patani

Repression, Nationalism, Racism & anti-women: Thailand’s Parliamentary Dictatorship

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

It is difficult to spot the difference between one year ago under the rule of the military junta, and today under the rule of the military Parliamentary Dictatorship. In fact the only difference is that after the fixed elections earlier this year, the junta is using parliament as a fig-leaf for the continued dictatorship.

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Following the brilliant ant-junta protests a week ago, the police have filed charges against the organisers of the peaceful and legitimate protests in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. This is yet another example of the continued repression against the right to protest. It is hoped that any prosecutions will be met with an escalation of action on the streets.

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To prove who is really in charge, the Ministry of Defence has come out and condemned these pro-democracy protests. This again highlights the militarisation of Thai society and politics which has been going on since the 2014 coup.

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Added to this is the ridiculous accusations of lèse majesté by ultra-conservatives against people posting pictures of the protests with posters of the dead king in the background. These anti-democratic dinosaurs wish to make previous monarchs into holy relics. Yet, the individual most responsible for bringing the institution of the monarchy into disrepute, in the eyes of Thai citizens, is the present king Wachiralongkorn.

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This is due to his debauched life-style in Germany, his insulting behaviour towards women and his never-ending greed. This is why the Thai ruling class need to keep putting up posters of his dead father in their desperate attempt to prop up royalism.

The junta is trying to stir up racism and nationalism to deflect attention away from the lack of democracy and the deteriorating standard of living for most Thais. The Parliamentary Junta’s aristocratic Minister of Labour has been mouthing off about the need to arrest so-called illegal migrants who he accuses of “stealing jobs from Thais”. This is an age-old process of racist scape-goating. It is never true. Migrant workers fill low income and dirty-job niches vacated by locals. The Thai economy would be in a serious state without migrant workers.

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Rescuers carry body of civilian killed by military rangers

In Patani, the hated military rangers have murdered three innocent civilians in the province of Naratiwat. The rangers planted weapons and ammunition around the corpses and tried unsuccessfully to claim that those killed were insurgents. Eventually the military were forced to admit this and issued an “apology”. But that is not good enough. The rangers are hated and feared by local Malay Muslims for their trigger-happy and racist behaviour. The situation is made worse by having a military national government and by the deep racism and nationalism supported by the Thai ruling class. Peace can only be achieved if the military are forced to withdraw from Patani and national politics and citizens are able to exercise self-determination.

Thailand is one of the most unequal societies in the world. This is due to the monopoly of power by the conservative elites. Yet the present military government has defined women’s sanitary towels as “luxury” items for tax purposes. Women’s sanitary products are more expensive in relation to Thai incomes than in Western societies. This injustice has quite rightly caused a storm of indignation on social media. Sanitary products for women should be supplied free of charge as a necessary service to all women. They are not things that women can choose to buy or not to buy.

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As we turn the corner to 2020, it is to be hoped that the level of protests against the Parliamentary Junta will increase and the military will be forced out of politics. For that to happen it will take organisation.

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Murdered by the military; Murdered by the junta

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Abdullah Isomuso, a Patani activist, has now died of injuries suffered at the hands of the Thai military and Prayut’s junta. He was murdered by the Thai military-run state.

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This is what I posted on this site at the end of July…

“Abdullah Isomuso, 32, was found unconscious inside his holding cell in the notorious “Fort Ingkhayut” military base in Patani. He was arrested the day before, suspected of involvement in an anti-Thai government insurgent group.

Local Malay Muslims in Patani have been fighting a war of liberation against the brutal Thai imperialist state for decades. [See https://bit.ly/2bemah3 ].

Doctors found an accumulation of excess fluid inside his brain, suggesting he suffered from a prolonged shortage of oxygen. No sign of physical violence was found on the surface of his body. This is in keeping with the belief that Abdullah Isomuso had been tortured by security forces at Fort Ingkhayut. Instead of water-boarding, he may well have had some kind of bag put over his head to deprive him of oxygen. He became brain-dead.

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Previously the legal rights group iLaw reported that a Bangkok detainee of the military was tortured by using a plastic bag over her face. [See https://bit.ly/2Yd9wGS ].

Abdullah Isomuso’s wife, Sumaiya Minka, said she was only informed of his condition when she went to Fort Ingkhayut to visit her husband, at which she was told instead to go to a hospital’s ICU ward. The military told her that her husband had “fallen down” in his cell.

Relatives and friends of Abdullah Isomuso, who attempted to visit him in hospital, were filmed and harassed by security forces.

It is no surprise that in parliament Generalissimo Prayut defended all the actions of these soldiers at Ingkhayut camp and attacked people who claimed that Abdullah Isomuso had been tortured, saying that they had “probably watched too many films”. He also complained about too much emphasis on “human rights”.

Lt. Gen. Pornsak Poonsawat, the 4th Army Region commander, promised to set up a committee to investigate the incident. But we should not expect any truth to come out of this military investigation. When reporters asked about the CCTV inside the Ingkhayut camp, they were informed that “they were all out of action”.

CCTV cameras at various sites where extrajudicial killings by police and the military take place are usually “out of action”. This not only occurs in Patani, but also in the north, where members of minority ethnic groups are regularly gunned down. In 2017 Chaiyapoom Pasae, a 17 year old Lahu activist, was killed in cold blood and apparently there was a fault with the CCTV cameras. [See https://bit.ly/2o4Wq99 ].”

Thai state criminals, including Generalissimo Praytut, have a long history of impunity. It is very unlikely that anyone will be brought to account for this murder.

The struggle by the Muslim Malay people of Patani against the Thai imperialist state should be supported by all those who believe in social justice and until we overthrow the present parliamentary military dictatorship there can be no justice or peace!!

 

Patani activist suffers brain damage after being tortured

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Abdullah Isomuso, 32, was found unconscious a few days ago inside his holding cell in the notorious “Fort Ingkhayut” military base in Patani. He was arrested the day before, suspected of involvement in an anti-Thai government insurgent group.

Local Malay Muslims in Patani have been fighting a war of liberation against the brutal Thai imperialist state for decades. [See https://bit.ly/2bemah3 ].

Doctors found an accumulation of excess fluid inside his brain, suggesting he suffered from a prolonged shortage of oxygen. No sign of physical violence was found on his body. This is in keeping with the belief that Abdullah Isomuso had been tortured by security forces at Fort Ingkhayut. Instead of water-boarding, he may well have had some kind of bag put over his head to deprive him of oxygen. He is now in serious danger of becoming brain dead.

The legal rights group iLaw reported that a Bangkok detainee of the military was tortured by using a plastic bag over her face. [See https://bit.ly/2Yd9wGS ].

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His wife, Sumaiya Minka, said she was only informed of his condition when she went to Fort Ingkhayut to visit her husband, at which she was told instead to go to a hospital’s ICU ward. The military told her that her husband had “fallen down” in his cell.

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[In this photo, released by the ISOC, Abdullah Isomuso, center, is shown reading documents inside Fort Ingkhayut on July 20.  From khaosodenglish].

Relatives and friends of Abdullah Isomuso, who attempted to visit him in hospital, have been filmed and harassed by security forces.

It is no surprise that in parliament Generalissimo Prayut defended all the actions of these soldiers at Ingkhayut camp and attacked people who claimed that Abdullah Isomuso had been tortured, saying that they had “probably watched too many films”. He also complained about too much emphasis on “human rights”.

Lt. Gen. Pornsak Poonsawat, the 4th Army Region commander, has promised to set up a committee to investigate the incident. But we should not expect any truth to come out of this military investigation. When reporters asked about the CCTV inside the Ingkhayut camp, they were informed that “they were all out of action”.

CCTV cameras at various sites where extrajudicial killings by police and the military take place are usually “out of action”. This not only occurs in Patani, but also in the north, where members of minority ethnic groups are regularly gunned down. In 2017 Chaiyapoom Pasae, a 17 year old Lahu activist, was killed in cold blood and apparently there was a fault with the CCTV cameras. [See https://bit.ly/2o4Wq99 ].

Last week Ja-jur Ja-Or, a 50 year old Lahu/Mussur man, was gunned down and killed by police in Wiang Hang, Chiang Mai province. Eye witnesses that saw him lying dead stated that he was unarmed. But later police moved his body and placed a gun by his side. When his mother attempted to approach his body, police pushed and kicked her away and she fell. Angry villagers then confronted the police.

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Local community groups have protested this extra-judicial killing and demanded that the police killers be immediately moved out of the area so that an impartial investigation can take place. They insist that Ja-jur Ja-Or had nothing to do with the drug trade, as claimed by police and pro-government media.

Racism in Thai society plays a big part in shaping prejudices against Malay Muslims in Patani and ethnic minority groups in the north. This weakens attempts to hold the authorities to account. [See https://bit.ly/1JaeTJY ].

Until we overthrow the present parliamentary military dictatorship there can be no justice or peace.

 

Parliamentary Dictatorship? Now we have the real thing!

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

During the period of the democratically elected governments led by Taksin Shinawat, many Thai reactionary academics, NGO activists and Yellow Shirts whined about a “Parliamentary Dictatorship”. This was merely because Taksin’s party had an overwhelming majority in the elected parliament and many of his supporters were also in the fully elected Senate. Of course, it was pure nonsense and it was obviously a ploy to justify opening the door to military intervention.

But now in Thailand we have the real thing. We have a military-appointed Senate and an engineered parliamentary majority for Generalissimo Prayut and his junta, despite the fact that Prayut’s party and various allies, won less votes than anti-military parties. [See https://bit.ly/2Wm6bzI ].

So what are the consequences of the present Parliamentary Dictatorship?

The junta will continue in power and there will be no change to the militarisation of society. Soldiers will act like policemen, hounding and interrogating anyone suspected of having pro-democracy sympathies. Soldiers will muscle their way into public meetings, filming participants at will. They will sit in at negotiations between trade unions and employers and any improvement in wages and conditions will be suppressed by soldiers. Troops will intervene in all forms of protests, from strikes to local village protests over environmental issues.

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The militarisation of schools and colleges will continue and pro-military brain-washing of the younger generation will continue through the media and through Children’s Day events.

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“Academic conferences are not military camps”

Military corruption and nepotism will continue and the generals will carry on with their arms shopping sprees, paid for by an ever-bloated military budget.

The use of the draconian lèse-majesté law and the so-called computer crimes law will continue as a tool to stifle freedom of expression. Prisoners of conscience will still spend years in jail. Alternative media will be persecuted.[See https://bit.ly/2wFBxXt Also https://bit.ly/2WCrr44].

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Migrants and refugees in Thailand will receive poor treatment and some will be deported back to be jailed or killed by despotic regimes. [See https://bit.ly/2KBFchd ].

The courts will continue to act as agents of the military junta and the National Human Rights Commission will carry on turning a blind eye to government abuses of human rights. Rich people and generals will get away with all kinds of crimes, including encroachment of National Parks, while poor villagers are subjected to stiff punishment.

Violent attacks upon and disappearances of dissidents will continue, both by the junta’s thugs in Bangkok and the junta’s death squads acting across the border in Lao or Cambodia. [See https://bit.ly/2WYJ2aGhttps://bit.ly/2WW4dqB ].

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The military will still be in charge of policy in Patani, with military suppression of the right to self-determination by the Muslim Malays being prioritised over a political and peaceful solution. [See https://bit.ly/2QTqJ1n , https://bit.ly/2bemah3 ].

The junta will continue its neo-liberal economic policies which favour the rich and increase inequality and any dreams of building a genuine Welfare State will have to be put on hold. The untold wealth controlled by the nasty idiot King Wachiralongkorn will not be curbed. Nor will his disgusting behaviour.

All this will continue unless ordinary Thais get organised in a pro-democracy social movement which eventually overthrows the military junta and the system of Guided Democracy.

 

The reactionary legacy of Prem Tinsulanon

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

General Prem Tinsulanon, who died last week, was a true representative of the reactionary Thai ruling class. He held the office of Prime Minister in a “Guided Democracy” system between 1980 and 1988. In this system he was not an elected Member of Parliament, but held office with the support of various right-wing political parties in an elected parliament. This is the kind of scenario that Generalissimo Prayut dreams about for his own political career.

Along with most military officers since Pibun, he was a royalist. This meant that he understood the importance to the military of using, promoting and defending the monarchy.

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After the bloodbath at Thammasart University on 6th October 1976, hundreds of students went to join the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) in jungle strongholds. At the time, the Communist Party had a great deal of support among sections of the population and started to pose a threat to the ruling class. However, as the students became disillusioned with the lack of internal democracy inside the party and the loss of support from the China for the CPT struggle, which was a result of the changing geo-political situation, they started to drift back to the cities. The Chinese government placed more importance on building ties with the Thai government than supporting the CPT. [See https://bit.ly/2d1iZbj ]

Prem took advantage of this situation and reversed the hard-line policies of the post 6th October governments towards the communists. When he became Prime Minister in 1980, he announced the “Prime Ministerial Order 66/23”, which in effect, gave an amnesty to CPT fighters who wished to return to normal life. This helped to destroy the CPT and helped to end the armed conflict. Prem showed his political insight when he told the media that “the students joined the Communists because they were brutally suppressed. The way to undermine the Communists was to establish justice in society”.

Prem also seemed to understand the need for a political solution to the armed struggle in Patani. His government co-opted local religious leaders into mainstream politics in order to control the situation, while at the same time never giving in to separatist demands or any progressive policies which might go against the interests of the ruling class. This resulted in a temporary peace, but it did not last, since the real grievances were never addressed.

In April 1981, when Young Turk military officers tried to stage a coup against his government, Prem publically took the king with him to a military base in Korat, thus signalling to the Young Turks that their attempts had failed.

After stepping down as Prime Minister in 1988 he joined the Privy Council. As Chairman of the Privy Council, his main role was to be the key link between King Pumipon and the military and business class. He advised the weak and cowardly king on many key occasions.

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One such occasion was when the ruling class needed to find a way out for the generals to save face after General Suchinda Kaprayoon’s failed attempt to cling on to power one year after his military coup in 1992. A mass popular uprising overthrew Suchinda in 1993 but the ruling class needed to maintain control. Prem organised to get Suchinda and the leader of the anti-military uprising to grovel in front of King Pumipon on national TV.

Soldiers like General Surayut Julanon were under Suchinda’s command and during the attempts to put down the pro-democracy uprising in 1993, Surayut was responsible for violence against medics treating wounded demonstrators in the Royal Hotel. Later Surayut became a military appointed Prime Minister after another coup in 2006. He has now been appointed as temporary Chairman of the Privy Council.

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As so-called “Elder Statesman” and Chairman of the Privy Council, Prem always sided with military officers who staged coups and destroyed democracy, including Generalissimo Prayut’s military junta.

On the issue of the conflict in Patani he maintained his support for Thai imperialism by opposing the suggestion, made by the National Reconciliation Commission, that the local Yawee language be used as a working language, alongside Thai, in all government departments in Patani.

On the issue of Taksin Shinawat’s brutal war of drugs, where hundreds of people were killed without trial, Prem was featured of large posters warning people that using and dealing in amphetamines would send them to their graves.

Prem earned the intense hatred of red shirts because of his closeness to King Pumipon. Many red shirts mistakenly believed that Pumipon ordered the killing of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. It was in fact the military who gave the order and carried it out with the support of Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. But Prem became a target for much abuse by people who were afraid to directly criticise the monarchy because of the draconian lèse-majesté law.

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General Prem Tinsulanon was a reactionary, anti-democratic, member of the Thai ruling class. His death is being celebrated by those who wish to see a democratic Thailand.

 

Further reading: Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy (2010).  http://bit.ly/1TdKKYs

 

Thai Military and NGOs cannot build peace in Patani

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Following news of the fatal shooting of Buddhist monks at Wat Rattananupab in Su Ngai Padi district of Naratiwat, the reactionary Buddhist nationalists in Thai society have been up in arms. These people are not interested in seriously analysing the causes of violence in Patani. The Thai military has also used the event to be even more strident in its attitude to those opposing the Thai state.

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Yet, in Patani, ever since it was partitioned between Thailand and the British Empire, there has been an on-going war between the Thai state and those who want independence. The violence associated with this war is a direct result of the oppression of Malay Muslims by the Thai state. Patani is occupied by Thai soldiers like a colony. [For further reading see https://bit.ly/2bemah3 ].

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The actions of the Thai military are a serious cause for the continued violence. The military’s extreme nationalism means that since the military coup of 2014, so-called peace talks have stalled. The Thai military is not really interested in solving the problems that have led to the on-going war. It is only interested in talks as a means to get the independence fighters to surrender.

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Thai State Crime at Takbai in 2004

When considering the tragic events at Wat Rattananupab, one of the worst aspects is the reaction by Thai NGOs and Human Rights Watch. A long list of Thai NGOs was attached to a declaration condemning the events and calling on the Thai state to bring the perpetrators to justice. Human Rights Watch called the independence fighters “war criminals”. In effect, this means that the NGOs have publicly sided with the Thai state in the war because they see the military as having legitimacy to “bring the perpetrators to justice”. None of this is very surprising since many Thai NGOs welcomed the recent military intervention in Thai politics to overthrow democratically elected governments. [See https://bit.ly/1UpZbhh ].

What has often been missing from declarations of outrage is the fact that 3 Muslim clerics were murdered a few months before the events at Wat Rattananupab and that an assassination attempt was made against another cleric in January. Thai army death squads are known to target Muslim clerics and activists, who they claim are part of the separatist struggle. Those who cannot be found guilty in open law courts are often “eliminated”. In addition to this a leader of the separatist BRN was recently killed by a Thai army death squad in Naratiwat.

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Luckily, among the nationalist rants and the stupidity of the NGOs, there have been some voices of reason. Two recent articles sought to provide a more balanced understanding of events. Surapot Taweesak wrote that Buddhist monks have been closely connected to the Thai state for a long time. In Patani the military have a history of getting soldiers to become monks and some carry weapons. Soldiers are also stationed in temples and walk beside monks when they beg for food in the mornings. It is therefore not surprising that the Buddhist establishment is viewed as part of the Thai state. Surapot is a respected scholar of Buddhism and has long been an advocate of the separation of religion from the Thai state. [See https://bit.ly/2RRkMG3 ].

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Assistant Professor Channarong Boonnoon from Silapakorn University wrote that those who are enraged by the shooting of monks, and raise questions like “why kill monks?”, are seldom interested in the answer. He explained that despite many individual monks being innocent, the Buddhist Establishment has never distanced itself from those in power and never criticised any wrong-doing by the state. He also confirmed that Buddhist monks in Patani have a history of being close to the military. [See https://bit.ly/2WryRIX ].

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After the temple shootings, Thai army rangers took the opportunity to raid a Malay Muslim “Pondok” religious school in Patani. They arrested a number of young men. One was photographed covered in a net like a hunted animal. The military claim that these men were carrying out “unarmed combat training” and that some were illegal Cambodian migrants. Local villagers dispute the military’s story. They believe that the young men, some of whom seem to be under 18 years of age, were just exercising after a long day of studying. The fact that all but the Cambodians were later released, shows that there was no evidence that any combat training took place. The Cambodians were detained on immigration charges and deported.

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It is worth noting that many Muslim Cambodian citizens are ethnic Chams. The Chams originally had an empire in southern Vietnam and Cambodia. For hundreds of years they have travelled to and sometimes settled in Malaysia, Indonesia and Patani. In modern times they are drawn to Patani because of their common Malay language and their religion and the fact that Patani Pondoks are highly regarded. It is also worth remembering that Cambodian and Burmese migrants are the favourite scapegoats of Thai nationalists and the Thai military has a history of harassing people in religious schools.

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Those who are genuinely interested in building peace in Patani know that for there to be peace there has to be justice for the local Malay Muslim population. Locals of all religions and cultures who are living in Patani have the right to collectively determine their future and they have the right to separate from the Thai state if they so decide. But this cannot happen when religion is not separated from the state and the military continue to control the future of Patani.

Unfortunately, the Thai political parties who are now canvassing for votes are reluctant to propose radical progressive solutions to the war.

Other articles on Patani can be read here: https://bit.ly/2HHTwVN , https://bit.ly/2UqtRCc , https://bit.ly/1QCoOWs , https://bit.ly/2tZG5JK , https://bit.ly/1RmdMZs , https://bit.ly/2eBAzDj and https://bit.ly/2bemah3 .

See also, this report: https://bit.ly/2S2qx3N

How to access my publications

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

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The Failure of Stalinist Ideology and the Communist Parties of Southeast Asia (1998). https://bit.ly/1OEfsJo 

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Thailand: Class Struggle in an Era of Economic Crisis (1999).   http://bit.ly/2kPNX9E  Book about the Thai labour movement.

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From the city, via the jungle, to defeat: the 6th Oct 1976 bloodbath and the C.P.T. http://bit.ly/1TKgv02   or   http://bit.ly/2d1iZbj

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A Coup for the Rich (2007).  https://www.scribd.com/doc/41173616/Coup-For-the-Rich-by-Giles-Ji-Ungpakorn or http://bit.ly/2aE7zc6  Book written in response to the 2006 military coup.

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Why have most Thai NGOs chosen to side with the conservative royalists, against democracy and the poor (2009).   http://bit.ly/1UpZbhh

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Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy (2010).  http://bit.ly/1TdKKYs  Book written during the continued crisis of democracy.

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Thai Spring? Structural roots of the Thai political crisis (2011). http://bit.ly/245WxhD

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Lèse Majesté, the Monarchy, and the Military in Thailand (2011) http://bit.ly/1cLbFtr or http://bit.ly/2cexlW1

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The Festering Sore: Thai State Crimes Go Unpunished (2012)   http://bit.ly/1qGYT9r

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The Bloody Civil War in Patani (2013) http://bit.ly/2bemah3

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The role of Thai Social Movements in Democratisation (2015). http://bit.ly/2aDzest

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What led to the destruction of Thai democracy? (2016). http://bit.ly/2cmZkAa or http://bit.ly/2bSpoF2

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Thai Military Re-adjusts its Relationship with the Monarchy (2017).  http://bit.ly/2xGDiSu Paper which looks at the role of the military and the monarchy after Pumipon. Also discusses the 20 year National Strategy for “Guided Democracy”.