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Protesters mustn’t insult monarchy: army chief

Jack Burton

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Protesters mustn’t insult monarchy: army chief | Thaiger
PHOTO: Human Rights Watch

Thailand’s army chief warned student protesters today against insulting the monarchy in their anti-government campaigning. At a news conference, with tears in his eyes, Apirat Kongsompong urged students to respect the Royal Family and refrain from using offensive language about them. His remarks followed some veiled references to the monarchy at the protests, which as of today have continued for almost a week.

“I’d like to ask Thai citizens to set a neutral mind and consider what they see at the protests. I understand that they’re exercising their rights under the democratic regime, but I think those criticisms and inapt language are making many feel uncomfortable.”

Apirat said he was hurt to see such inappropriate remarks, when the Chakri Dynasty has accomplished so much for the Thai people. But one of the protest organisers said his comment reflects an overbearing attitude toward the people. According to Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, who helped led the Saturday’s large protest:

“He’s belittling the citizens’ voice. People came out because they wanted to see the change. I say once again that we’re not hired or backed by anyone.”

Apirat was speaking on the same day the army held ceremonies to celebrate His Majesty the King’s birthday, which falls on Tuesday.

Although protest leaders say the rallies are aimed at the government, placards held by many of the protesters went far beyond that and made subtle references to the monarchy. Criticism of the Royal Family is widely considered taboo and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law.

Apirat, an self-desribed hardline royalist, also characterised the students as part of a “conspiracy” against Thailand’s institutions. He said the army is monitoring their activities, but declined to answer reporters’ questions whether politicians are masterminding the plot.

“I can’t say more than that. I’d like to cite a 2015 story by BBC Thai about conspiracy theories. I think it’s interesting because it involves many parties and I see that they’re now operating systematically. We as an army only keep our eyes on it.”

When asked about the Tuesday rally in front of the army headquarters where activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak tore up his portrait in protest, the general jokingly referred to the 1992 film “Batman Returns”.

“It’s fine. I’ll ask Batman to take care of it because he defeated the penguin”, an apparent reference to Parit’s nickname.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    MARK GOODYEAR

    Friday, July 24, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    maha vagina-longhorn!!!!!!!

  2. Avatar

    Roberto Zabarte

    Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 9:29 am

    It’s easy for many to ridicule the Thai government. To say this and that about freedoms.
    But look at the US. Freedoms come with a whole boat-load of responsibility attached. When those responsibilities are ignored then other’s freedoms, of life, liberty and property, are ignored. The result, chaos, destruction, hatred and death. Bad bad on top of more bad.

  3. Avatar

    Alexandra

    Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 9:01 am

    King Rama X should be arrested on les majeste for his insult to the Chakri dynasty by bringing shame, embarrassment, selfishness and a disdain for fulfilling his duty to country and citizens. King Rama X isn’t worthy of respect. What’s the value to Thai to have this king?

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 11:15 am

    The king has announced he wants no one arrested under this les majeste law. He is not offended, yet this copper want to hang onto this power.
    Why? to put down a protest?
    If his men watch closely he might spot the protesters littering, and then he can put down the protests. He is a puppet of a dictatorship.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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Myanmar could descend into a civil war comparable to Syria- UN

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Myanmar could descend into a civil war comparable to Syria- UN | Thaiger
Stock photo of UN via Jurist.org

A top UN official is warning that Myanmar could follow that of Syria in terms of descending into a bloody civil war, unless the violence subsides. Michele Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights is calling on all countries with influence to apply concerted pressure on the ruling military junta to end its campaign of repression and the slaughtering of its people. Bachelet says neighbouring countries are especially being called upon.

She says the military has committed, what amounts to, crimes against humanity, and the human rights violations must be stopped. Ravina Shamdasani, who is Bachelet’s spokeswoman, says the high commissioner feels that a continuation of such crimes could lead to a civil war.

“The high commissioner states that there are clear echoes of Syria in 2011. There too, we saw peaceful protests met with unnecessary and clearly disproportionate force. The state’s brutal, persistent repression of its own people led to some individuals taking up arms, followed by a downward and rapidly expanding spiral of violence all across the country.”

Shamdasani said the country’s armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, attacked civilians last weekend with rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire, killing at least 82 people. She said credible reports also indicate that people are fighting back by using makeshift or primitive weapons with clashes between the military and ethnic armed groups in Kayn, Shan, and Kachin states are picking up steam.

“As arrests continue, with at least 3,080 people currently detained, there are reports that 23 people have been sentenced to death following secret trials — including 4 protesters and 19 others who were accused of political and criminal offenses. The mass arrests have forced hundreds of people to go into hiding.”

She added that the country’s economic, education and health infrastructure are at the point of collapse, making the situation untenable. She said nations must cut off the supply of arms and finances to the military leadership that allow it to kill and seriously violate its people’s human rights.

Myanmar’s military took over in a coup on February 1, arresting the democratically-elected leader of National League for Democracy and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Since then, other top leaders have been arrested over what the junta says is fraudulent election results, without giving any evidence.

Suu Kyi has not been seen since her arrest, and is now facing even more charges that could see her barred from political office or worse. The junta military has been accused of killing innocent civilians and peaceful protesters since the coup began, censoring the media, and shutting down the internet.

The US, UK, and other nations have imposed sanctions against the military, but to no avail. Neighbouring countries, including Thailand, are expecting an influx of refugees to cross the border, but conflicting reports point towards Thailand turning away such asylum-seekers.

SOURCE: VOA News

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Independent candidates polling well in Bangkok governor race

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Independent candidates polling well in Bangkok governor race | Thaiger
PHOTO: Chadchard Sittipunt currently leads in Bangkok governor polls

Independent candidates are trending in polls for the Bangkok governor election later this year, with undecided voters leaning independent. Undecided voters have grown to nearly 1/3 of all voters up from just under 30% in March, possibly due to voters being tired of political polarisation. The exact date of the election has not been announced yet but independent candidates have jumped into the race before the major party candidates. Three have announced so far, former senator and rights activist Rossana Tositrakul, former national Police Chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda and former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt. Though many are still undecided, Chadchart seems to be the early favourite pulling 25% support in a recent poll while Chakthip earned just 12%, a lead that seems to be widening.

Bangkok voters traditionally did not vote independent, but rather along party lines, though they are known to decide last minute basing their choice on immediate factors. Surveys show that voters tend to make their decisions less than 5 days before elections normally. In the last election for governor in 2013, Sukhumbhand Paribatra performed badly in polls and yet won in the last minute vote after accusations that his opponent had plans to nominate red-shirt leaders.

Political analysts were not shocked with Chadchart’s dominance in the polls, but are also unconvinced that he can maintain his lead when the major party candidates enter the Bangkok governor election cycle. They believe that candidates from Kao Klai Party or the Progressive Movement, both splinters from the Future Forward Party, would offer formidable opposition. The Future Forward Party sprung to the spotlight in 2019, gaining 6 million votes in the country, 800,000 of which were from Bangkok, making it the third-largest party. There is a rumour that Parit “Itim” Wacharasindhu, the co-founder of the Progressive Constitution Group, might run under one of these two parties. His pro-democracy leanings may pull a lot of voters away from Chadchart.

The poll in March showed that 66% of Bangkok voters favoured independent candidates now and are leaning away from major party affiliations. The results are thought to indicate Bangkok residents’ frustration in extremely polarized political parties. Elections began 4 months ago in provinces, aside from Bangkok and Pattaya, considered special administrative zones.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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London’s anti-coup Burmese Ambassador locked from embassy

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London’s anti-coup Burmese Ambassador locked from embassy | Thaiger
Kyaw Zwar Minn, Burmese Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 2013.

In London, the Myanmar Ambassador has been tossed from his own embassy, locked out because of his stance against the military junta in his country. The lockout occurred as a result of Kyaw Zwar Minn’s breaking ranks with the Burmese military leadership and calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader who was jailed when the military coup overran the country. Military leaders inside the London embassy are believed to be responsible for locking Ambassador Kyaw out of the embassy. The Burmese Ambassador had previously drawn praise by British foreign minister Dominic Raab for his courage in standing against the military coup, calling for the release of Suu Kyi and the elected President Win Myint and standing for pro-democracy causes. The United Kingdom have sanctioned the Burmese military and some of its business interests in response to the military coup and the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, calling for a return of democratic rule to the conflicted country.

Speaking outside the embassy where police were waiting and guarding watchfully, Kyaw spoke with protesters saying he’d been locked out of his own building and that he was waiting to go back inside. He says he has been in touch with Britain’s foreign ministry about the situation, but no action or formal statements have been made yet. He referred to it as a coup in the middle of London, referring to the fact that his building was now occupied by military leaders inside. It is believed that deputy ambassador Chit Win has taken control of the embassy with a military attaché and locked the building to their own diplomat.

The British foreign office has not commented yet on the incident, but the police did release a statement saying they’re aware of the protest going on regarding the Burmese Ambassador and that police are present and watching but have not made any arrests or taken any action at this time.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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