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The price of opposition in Thailand

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“They create an atmosphere of fear by attacking us, even in broad daylight in the streets.”

Ja New says, even as the new government is formed, ‘they’ want to send out a strong message “that they still hold all the control.”

Ja New currently faces 13 criminal charges for his protests, mostly through social media and street assemblies.

Anurak Jeantawanich has also been violently attacked twice since the election. The first time, he was returning from a protest against the military when a man in a motorcycle helmet forced his way into his house and beat him with a large wooden stick before escaping.

Then, just hours before staging another anti-military protest outside the Thai parliament, he was beaten again, this time by six men on three motorbikes. They crashed into his motorbike and then beat him with metal batons.

“This was a professional attack and is the work of the junta,” Anurak claimed.

“They have hit me with so many legal charges, detained me, come to my house so many times but I have never stopped fighting.”

The price of opposition in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

Opposition activists in Thailand, peacefully opposing the military’s grip on power, say they are no strangers to intimidation.

Whilst the excessive brutality dished out on Ja New and Anurak is a show of force designed to intimidate anti-military activists, the previous Junta’s steering of the ‘return to democracy’ has been ham-fisted and fended off opposition using the blunt weapon of the Constitutional Court to skew the processes of forming the new ‘democratic’ government.

Pro-democracy and anti-military elected MPs are facing a different form of government bullying as charges are brought against them over technicalities in efforts to remove them from the political limelight.

Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is currently facing a number of charges and awaits deliberations by the Constitutional Court. Thanathorn has spoken out against the military and the need to “rid Thailand politics from involvement of the Army”.

He has been suspended from his duties as an MP over allegations he held shares in a media company at the time of his registration to run in the election. When Future Forward lawyers petitioned the Court with similar allegations of pro-military MPs holding media shares, the Constitutional Court allowed them to continue their duties as MPs, pending a hearing.

If the Constitutional Court had meted out the same suspension on the pro-military MPs the fragile coalition government would have fallen without enough eligible MPs to form a government.

Even to get their prime ministerial candidate (Prayut Chan-o-cha) over the line, the Palang Pracaharat coalition spent weeks lobbying smaller parties, some of them opposition parties in the run up to the election, to vote for Prayut as PM in a parliamentary vote on June 27. In return the Palang Pracharat coalition offered ministerial positions – a situation that now leaves Thailand with some ill-equipped ministers controlling vital ministries and billion baht budgets.

Pol Major General Nithinand Petchborom, deputy metropolitan police commissioner heading up the investigation into Ja New’s attack says they were “working hard on this case and we will not abandon it until we can bring the culprits to justice,” according to The Guardian.

The military have denied any role in the attacks and PM Prayut has instructed police to investigate all cases of violence.

The price of opposition in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

The attack on Ja New on June 27 was recorded on CCTV in broad daylight at a busy intersection

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Protests

Palang Pracharath MP calls for probe into Pheu Thai MP who cut own arm in parliament

Maya Taylor

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Palang Pracharath MP calls for probe into Pheu Thai MP who cut own arm in parliament | The Thaiger
Wisarn pictured with his daughter - PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com / Facebook

Opposition politicians are clashing over the actions of one MP who deliberately cut his arm in an act of self-harm to draw attention to the plight of anti-government protesters. Palang Pracharath MP, Sira Jenjaka, is threatening Wisarn Techathirawat, Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Rai, with removal from office for what he’s calling a publicity stunt.

On Tuesday, during a special joint parliamentary session aimed at finding a solution to the ongoing political unrest, Wisarn produced a knife and proceeded to cut his left arm 3 times. Prior to producing the knife, he had criticised the PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, for using unnecessary force against peaceful protesters, and called on him to listen to their demands.

He said he did not want to see their blood shed and would rather lose his own. He then produced the knife and ignored calls from parliament president Chuan Leekpai not to cut himself. He subsequently received 9 stitches at Bangkok’s Vachira Hospital.

Sira says he plans to petition the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate Wisarn for allegedly violating the ethical code for MPs. He is also calling on Parliament to investigate the Pheu Thai MP’s action. He accuses Wisarn of having cut himself to garner media attention ahead of provincial elections around the country, pointing out that Wisarn’s daughter is contesting an election in Chiang Rai.

Sira says Wisarn’s actions are a disgrace to parliament, adding that security should be improved to prevent people bringing weapons into the building. However, Ubonsak Bualuang-ngam, Wisarn’s fellow Pheu Thai MP, says Wisarn borrowed the fruit knife from a maid working in the building. He says that, in his opinion, his colleague did not breach any ethical code.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Contempt charge dropped against protest leader Parit

Maya Taylor

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Contempt charge dropped against protest leader Parit | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Prachathai

The leader of the Free People protest group, Parit Chiwarak, aka, “Penguin”, has had a charge of contempt dropped. He had been charged after calling on activists to gather at the court on August 8 to obstruct proceedings in a case against fellow protest leaders, Anon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok. The Bangkok Post reports that the Criminal Court dropped the charge yesterday after an apology from Parit.

Fellow protest leader Anon Nampa, who also serves as Parit’s lawyer, told the court that on August 8, while attending the Criminal Court, his client had spoken out without thinking, and that he hadn’t intended to disrupt proceedings. He added that Parit understood his action was unacceptable and had given an undertaking not to break the law again. After being admonished by the court, the charge was dropped. Parit remains in prison on other charges related to anti-government rallies.

In a separate development, 4 other protesters have been charged with violating the state of emergency by attending a rally at the Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok on October 16. Yesterday, Korakot Saengyenphan, Suwanna Tarnlek, Chartchai Kaedam and Sirapob Phumpheungphut, all arrived at Pathuman police station, accompanied by their lawyers. Korakot says they refute the charges, accusing officials of introducing the State of Emergency without just cause.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer Anon has been re-arrested on another protest-related charge, after being released on bail earlier this week.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

PM refuses to resign, citing concerns over political divide, the economy, Covid-19

Maya Taylor

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PM refuses to resign, citing concerns over political divide, the economy, Covid-19 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

“I refuse to comply with the proposals that do not represent the needs of the majority of the people.”

The Thai PM has made it clear he will not resign, saying he has no intention of “abandoning the country during a crisis”. Addressing Parliament yesterday, Prayut Chan-o-cha pointed to the current problems facing Thailand, including the political divide in society, the crisis brought on by the slowdown of the economy, and the dangers of a Covid-19 resurgence. He was responding to opposition calls for his resignation.

“You should think back to the political rallies in 2006 and 2014, when the ones in power also did not resign. I refuse to comply with the proposals that do not represent the needs of the majority of the people and will not run away from problems or abandon the country during a crisis. Ask yourself whether the victory you will gain on top of the country’s wreckage will be worth it or not, because by then we will have nothing left to change. Think about the children. Don’t use them to drive political movements.”

The PM went on to thank MPs who’d offered suggestions for a way out of the ongoing crisis, but pointed out that one of his biggest concerns about the protests is the risk of a resurgence of the Covid-19 virus. He says the country must do everything to avoid another lockdown, adding that the protests risk undermining economic confidence and are creating division in Thai society.

“The political rallies could undermine the confidence in our economy, but what worries me is that it could cause a rift in Thai society. We used to say that Thais treat each other as family members and respect one another. I don’t want to see this culture disappear because of misunderstanding between generations.”

Referring to yesterday’s incident in Parliament, in which opposition MP Visan Techatirawat cut his arm in protest at the treatment of anti-government activists, the PM claims the incident was pre-meditated in order to get media attention.

“However, I regret that it happened, as such an incident has never taken place in Parliament before.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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