Tag Archives: Thai military

Soldiers murder young Lahu activist in cold blood

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

On the 17th March soldiers in Chiang Mai shot down Chaiyapoom Pasae, a 17 year old Lahu activist. The killing was committed in cold blood. A villager who witnessed the event, which took place at a military check point, told Thai PBS news channel that soldiers dragged Chaiyapoom out of his car and beat him up, stamping on his face. They fired two warning shots and then deliberately let him go. While he was running away they shot him dead. [See news report here https://prachatai.com/english/node/7013 ].

Chaiyapoom was a well-known Lahu activist who was engaged in cultural youth work among the Lahu people in order to help them avoid taking drugs. He wrote songs and received a prize for a short film that he directed.

Another young man who was the driver of the car was arrested and charged with narcotics offences. This young man has been detained in prison because his family cannot come up with the 2 million baht bail set by the courts.

The soldier who murdered Chaiyapoom was briefly questioned by police and given bail until his court hearing.

Military sources claimed that Chaiyapoom attacked them with a knife and was shot “while trying to escape”. The military also claimed that he tried to throw a bomb at them. Conveniently after the event, drugs were found in his car. Thai police and military are famous for planting drugs and weapons on people after they shoot them or after they raid their homes. Villagers who witnessed Chaiyapoom’s murder said security forces planted drugs in his car after the shooting.

There are contradictory reports about whether the military check point had any CCTV. It is usual for check points to have CCTV to take pictures of cars passing through the check points. No CCTV video clips have been released, despite damands for this. Some military sources say there was no CCTV while others claim they have CCTV evidence.

Military and police sources also claim Chaiyapoom had “too much money” in his bank account and that he telephoned people and spoke to them in his Lahu language!

General Wijuk Siribanpot, commander of the 3rd Region Army

General Wijuk Siribanpot, commander of the 3rd Region Army gave a televised interview saying that if he had been at the scene he would have switched his gun to automatic mode and riddled Chaiyapoom with bullets.

Members of the Lahu community report that there was long-standing ill feeling between locals in Chaiyapoom’s village and members of the security forces. Police and soldiers have attacked and injured villagers in the past and they threatened people who exposed this on social media. Chaiyapoom’s elder brother has been threatened by someone who place a bullet on his door step.

Recently another local was shot dead in cold blood at a check point in the same area. This case has not been properly investigated.

A local academic commented that it would be very stupid for anyone to try and transport drugs through the permanent check point where Chaiyapoom was murdered. Drug smugglers used other routes to avoid check points.

It is normal for members of the Thai security forces to be able to commit crimes with impunity. No police or soldiers were ever charged with murder following ex-Prime Minister Taksin’s bloody war on drugs where 3000 people were killed without trial. Many of those killed or disappeared in Taksin’s war were from minority ethnic groups.

No members of the security forces has ever been charged with the cold-blooded killing of unarmed red shirt protesters who were demanding democratic elections. General Prayut, the present Thai dictator was in charge of the military at the time.

The Thai State is run by nationalists who are wedded to the extremist ideology of “Nation, Religion and Monarchy”. The military, who are in charge of the country, have always subscribed to this ideology in an aggressive manner. From Privy Council Head, General Prem, down to various local commanders, the notion that the country is peopled by citizens of various non-Thai ethnicities is deemed to be blasphemy. All Thai schools enforce the Thai language and students who speak to each other in local dialects or languages are often punished. Manic flag waving is encouraged and every citizen is supposed to stand to attention twice a day when the Thai State’s national anthem is played in public places. The lèse-majesté law is designed to support this nationalist ideology and also to protect the elites, especially the military, because the military claim to be the guardians of the monarchy. The religion in this racist ideology is of course Buddhism, thus excluding Islam and other faiths including animism.

This racist nationalist ideology results in the oppression of Muslim Malays in Patani and people who live in remote mountainous areas of the north and west.

People from ethnic minority groups in the north and west of the country, like the Lahu, who have lived either side of the various nation state borders for centuries, are not regarded as “true citizens”. Many are denied Thai citizenship despite being born within Thailand. They hold special identity cards which prevent them travelling outside their local areas without permission from the military and local authorities. Many are forced to register themselves with Thai-language names rather than using their real ethnic names.

In Thai society in general, it is still acceptable for people to refer to various ethnic groups using racist names rather than showing them any respect. Because people from ethnic groups were so poor that they often had to rely on growing opium or being involved in the drug trade, everyone is seen as being involved with drugs. Yet the drug trade is controlled by top military and police officials and gangster politicians from Bangkok.

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Thai State set to execute five Patani fighters

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

It is an outrage that the Thai state is set to execute five captured southern rebels who were allegedly involved in an ambush attack on soldiers in July 2012. Four soldiers from a motorbike patrol were killed and a number of others seriously wounded in this attack.

Even if the five captured rebels are in fact guilty, and we all know how the Thai justice system works in finding scape-goats, the execution of captured enemy combatants is unacceptable. They should be treated as prisoners of war, not common criminals. What is more, the death sentence is an abomination under any circumstances.

The present Thai military dictatorship is headed by the general who ordered the shooting of nearly a hundred un-armed prodemocracy demonstrators in 2010. The Thai state murdered 85 unarmed Muslim Malays at Takbai in 2004 and throughout Patani more civilian Muslim Malays have been killed than Thai soldiers. Often these killings are carried out by state run or state-sponsored death squads. Not one single Thai military official or politician has ever been charged with these state killings, even when we know who they are. This puts the death sentences for the five rebel fighters in context. It is sheer brutal hypocrisy.

The fact that the Thai state attempts to treat attacks by southern rebels as “criminal acts” is not unique. Many states including those in the West have tried to paint liberation fighters as “terrorists and bandits”. However, this attitude never leads to a political solution to the conflict because it denies that oppressed people have genuine grievances which force them into taking armed action. In the end states are forced to negotiate. One such freedom fighter who was branded as a “terrorist” was Nelson Mandela.

The long-running war in Patani is the result of years of oppression and violence by the Thai state. The conflict can only be brought to a peaceful end by a negotiated political settlement which recognises the rights of the people of Patani to self-determination, even if that means autonomy or independence.

Yet various Thai governments have set their face against a genuine political solution. They may enter into negotiations with some rebel groups from time to time, but they continue to emphasise military methods to suppress dissent and the struggle for liberation.

The problem has been made even worse by the military coups and suppression of democracy in the country as a whole.

For more detail on the conflict between rebels and the Thai state in Patani see my paper:

“The Bloody Civil War in Patani and the way to Achieve Peace”.

https://www.scribd.com/doc/207169526/The-Bloody-Civil-War-in-Patani

Let’s talk about political reform (4) Reduce the role of the military

Numnual Yapparat & Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The two main activities of the Thai army are to kill pro-democracy citizens and to tear up democratic constitutions by staging military coups.

The army has committed crimes against civilians again and again, but none of the generals have ever been punished. Most disgusting is the way that those generals who staged coups, are constantly invited by the media to give opinions about democracy. In fact they are interviewed by the media on all aspects of Thai politics. If the murderous generals are not charged with crimes against the people, how can we establish justice? The military is the main barrier to democracy.

Today, they are not yet staging a coup, but they refuse orders from an elected government to ensure that elections take place. They are a law unto themselves.

In the process of “political reform” we need to challenge and weaken the power of the military in all aspects of society. We need to raise questions in public about whether we should have a military at all.

If we have a military, it should be drastically reduced in size. We should abolish military service. We should retire most of the generals without the usual retirement perks and abolish the post of “commander in chief of the army”. The military should be firmly under the command of the elected government of the day.

Given that the majority live in poverty and need improvements to their living conditions, we should cut the bloated military budget and use that money to invest in the basic needs of the people, such as schools, hospitals and modern transportation.

We must ask more important questions. Why does the military own so much of the broadcasting media? They use their power over the media to spread their anti-democratic propaganda and also to line the pockets of the generals with the huge profits. The military should be excluded from controlling the media. The generals should also be removed from the boards of state enterprises.

Pua Thai, the Democrats, the middle classes, the NGOs and the top academics, who are now all shouting about “reform”, will never raise demands to reform the military. The task must lie with pro-democracy activists and progressive red shirts.

Heading to a new level of political crisis

Numnual  Yapparat

The Free television channels have been giving more than 70% of their air time to anti-democracy protesters in Bangkok. If you look at the majority of Sutep’s supporters faces, you will see that these people are Southerners who live in rural areas. Yet Sutep and others claim that his main support comes from the Bangkok middle classes.

What sort of speeches can be heard from their stage? Dr Jate, a professor at Narasuan University, openly insulted Yingluck in a disgracefully sexual manner. What kind of political reform can this species want to push forward?

Several main roads have been blocked; if ordinary folk want to pass they need to pay a “fee” to those thugs who are Sutep’s storm-trooper guards. The fee depends on the guards’ mood.

Most Thais support the Election. Many have come out on the streets to light candles, wearing white t-shirts as a symbol. Today, some have been to one of the military bases to voice their demands that the military must not intervene in politics to destroy democracy.  Some police stations also stated that they support the election. Many who disagree with the Sutep’s gang live in Bangkok. These campaigns have spread to numerous areas, both in Bangkok and the provinces.

The most stunning pro-election rallies are those organised by the Red Shirts in a number of provinces, especially in the North and North East. The numbers of people who turned out are very impressive.  The Red Shirt leaders announced that they are going to hold big rallies in four provinces.

At the top, among the elites, it is another story. Yingluck said today that she wants to hold a special meeting to see whether they could be able to postpone the election. If this happens, it will be bad news for democracy. Pua Thai has let down their pro-democracy supporters again and again.

The good news is that some Pua Thai politicians are saying at various rallies that the election must not be postponed. Ajarn Vorajet from the progressive Nitirat Group has also written an article condemning those who want to postpone the election. These people are trampling on the rights of the majority, he said. He further explained that if some districts cannot hold the election, the law allows the Election Commission to hold special elections for those districts at a later date.

However, we know that the Election Commission is working hand in glove with Sutep. The military is also refusing to protect the democratic election and has sent soldiers to prevent the police from using violence against the protesters! No doubt they believe that in Thailand only the army is allowed to kill protesters.

Constitutional Cretins

Numnual  Yapparat

The buffoons of the Constitutional Court have been at it again. Chalermpol Egg-uru, a Constitutional Judge, stated that the government’s plan to build a high speed rail project was “unconstitutional” because it “was against the King’s Sufficiency Economy”. Supot Kaimuk, another Constitutional Clown, claimed, in all his wisdom, that Thailand is still an under-developed country and therefore “not ready” for such a railway. He said that the government should concentrate on paving the dirt roads in the countryside first. The poor deluded idiot is no doubt too afraid to venture out of Bangkok to see that most roads are already paved. Of course, there is nothing unconstitutional in spending billions on the military budget.

download Suphot_Khaimuk

In the present military Constitution, it is clearly written that the economic policies of all governments should be based on the Sufficiency Economy and Neo-liberalism.

Before this latest court “mis-judgement”, the Constitutional Idiots, ruled that it was illegal for parliament to change the law and make sure that all senators were elected rather than being appointed.

If Thailand needs real democracy we need to abolish the constitutional court. In 2007, the military junta allowed anyone who disagreed with parliament to ask the Constitutional Court to make judgements on new legislation. This encouraged these judges to pronounce on anything over and above their role.

Sadly, most judges in Thailand do not care anything about justice or democracy.

Progressive law academic, Vorajet Pakeerat, from the Nitirat group, commented on the ill-behaviour of the Constitutional Court. He said that they behave as if they were the most powerful institution in the country, more powerful than the elected parliament. He complained that politicians are too scared of the courts. Courts protect themselves against criticism with the “contempt of court” law. Vorajet encouraged people to challenge this situation by suggesting that we should ask why the judges have no respect toward the elected government.

The anti-government protesters and the Democrats love to say that the majority of people should not have the right to vote because they are uneducated. They want to give the right to only a few people. Now we should have a close look at their “well-educated” people.  Those judges talked about the economy without having any knowledge about how the economy functions.

We have to ask why Thailand is still a developing country, why the previous governments before Thai Rak Thai did not do anything to improve living standards, why the military gain so much money each year whereas people live in poverty, why we Thailand still has a very old railway system and why road transportation is in the hands of the mafia?

Personally, I would love to have the high speed rail project. Then we can send the Constitutional Buffoons to some far away desert and make them follow the path of the Sufficiency Economy. They would have to grow their own rice, make their own clothes and travel on bullock carts. I do not like that way of life but if they want it, I fully respect their wishes.

Thailand’s Election Commission allows the electoral process to become Sutep’s hostage

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Thailand’s election commission is sitting on its hands and refusing to organise a democratic election for early February. Its actions are tantamount to support for Sutep’s anti-democratic movement.

In 28 constituencies, located in some of the southern provinces control by the Democrat Party’s patron-client machine, candidates wishing to register for the election have been blocked by violent mobs. Yet the election commission is refusing to organise registrations in police or military barracks or to extend the time for registration and make alternative arrangements.

Pua Thai is preparing to take the election commission to court, but this is unlikely to solve the crisis.

The actions of the election commission mirror those of other institutions where the conservative elite have influence. The courts have blocked the right of an elected parliament to amend the military constitution and they are refusing to issue sanctions against Sutep and his gang for using violence to frustrate the democratic process. One policeman was shot dead in Bangkok while this mob tried unsuccessfully to prevent candidate registrations.

The military are also refusing to guarantee a smooth election. But it would be wrong to believe that they are secretly backing Sutep. Unlike politicians like Sutep, the military do not depend on elections for their power and influence. What they want is for the government to give them a huge budget, let them off scot-free when they killed demonstrators or staged coups in the past, allow the military to control their own appointments, let them carry on making huge profits from the military controlled media and allow them to rake in huge salaries from the state enterprises. Yingluk’s government gave them all this and more. When there is talk of political reform, they want to be in the centre of the process in order to protect their interests. So the military don’t need to back Sutep’s mob. That doesn’t mean however, that they will lift a finger to defend Pua Thai or the election process. They can just sit back with a smug smile on their faces and see what happens, ready at any time to defend their golden goose or to defend “state stability” and act like “heroes”.

For an authoritarian regime to be installed in Thailand for any length of time, it would require severe repression and a police state. Democrat Party leaders Sutep and Abhisit may not care about the long-term consequences of restricting democracy in order that they have more immediate political influence, but the military top brass and the intelligent sections of the conservative elite know that they cannot just ride rough-shod over the wishes of the majority of the electorate by abolishing democracy. That is the logic of the situation. But in politics we must always allow for accidents and illogical decisions by any number of actors.

It will take the mobilisation of a mass pro-democracy movement to make it less likely that Sutep will be successful in his quest. The Red Shirts can perform this function, but there are many who are not prepared to just be pawns in Pua Thai’s political strategy. There are others who wish to close their eyes and mistakenly hope that the bad dream will just go away. They argue that a Red Shirt mobilisation would just lead to a military coup. But without such a mobilisation, the elites cannot be reminded that the majority will not tolerate a dictatorship. Without such a mobilisation a military coup would be more likely.