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On the ground reports of coup in Thailand #Day 6

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#Day 6 after the 23 May 2014 coup in Thailand

27 May 2014: Yesterday, Head of the coup makers, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), received a royal proclamation to officially appoint him as the leader of NCPO, five days after the coup was staged (“there shall be a royal command to officially endorse the appointment of General Prayuth Chan-ocha as the leader of the National Council for Peace and Order to administrate the country from here onward”). (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/world/asia/thailand.html)

Jonathan Head, BBC News, remarked “No coup in Thailand has succeeded without the blessing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej – there have been 12 during his 64 years on the throne. So this ceremony was very important for General Prayuth – until this morning he had only had an acknowledgement that the king had been informed of his coup”. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27572726)

Asked by reporters after the sworn in ceremony when the elections can be held, Prayuth said sternly “only when law and order are restored”. Asked if he has any “timeframe’ or “roadmaps” in his mind, he abruptly called for an end and whisked away. It is very likely that Prayuth will appoint himself as Prime Minister. Insofar, he has shown his increasingly heavy-handed and aggressive manner when responding to any questions by the press. Rumor has it that one of those arrestees for protesting against the coup has been convicted to jail by the Court Martial, as they have declared officially that those charged with offences against national security (including the monarchy) will be tried in Court Martial where defendants are disallowed to have attorneys of their choice. If so, he will be the first to be convicted by the coup makers. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/thailand/10842902/What-does-martial-law-mean-for-Thailand.html)

 

Wife and daughter of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a political prisoner jailed for lese majeste charges, who were arrested on 25 May 2014 have been released yesterday.  Their house was raided and searched by security forces, apparently for no good reason, since she is not a core member of any political faction. She and her two children have been held in custody for one night in the military barrack. According to her, on Sunday, fully armed army officials and hi-tech crime police officials, about 20 of them, raided her residence and brought her and her daughter to the military barrack (her daughter asked to go along with her mother as a witness).

Six computers and four mobile phones were seized including other computer devices. The police told her openly that it is not obligatory for them to follow the law since Martial Law has been declared and the military is the supreme power. This is how practically, normal legal procedure and rights safeguard have been overruled by the military whims. During the investigation, her son asked to come to the Military Club where the mother and the daughter were being interrogated. So three of them were then held in custody and were separately interrogated by the military officials. Both video and still pictures were recorded of them during the inquiry and the police took down the note of their testimony. 

According to the wife, the military officials were so rude accusing her of clicking “like” for a facebook page made with money from Thaksin. They even asked her “Do you like Pra Barom (the Crown Prince), why did you “like” the page?” If you are familiar with recent Thai politics, it has been speculated that the protracted clash between the anti-government and pro-government camps could be attributed to the support each of them has given to two different royalties, the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess, who are tipped to succeed the throne. Then, the military decided to let her and her two children go, but they were told to stop any political activity (but in fact, she and her children have not been politically active at all, apart from expressing her view about the impact of lese majeste law in Thailand and how her husband has been treated with injustice by the law). They were strictly told not to join any anti-coup demonstrations, not to post any comment and not to speak at any event. 

More media management, business people, university administrations (http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/4032) and others have been summoned to meet with the NCPO in order that they can seek their cooperation to stop reporting any “inciteful” information. A father of the two boys who were killed by grenade attack during the PDRC demonstration in Bangkok has been summoned to meet with the military, too, apparently based on their poor intelligence that he is a core member of the Red Shirts, the allegation of which he has categorically denied. Banharn Silpa-archa and Chuvit Kamolvisit, two prominent politicians, have received the call to report themselves, too. Meanwhile, the PDRC core leaders including Suthep Thaugsuban its Sec Gen, have been released.

Now it is super-clear that the coup makers are specifically targeting the pro-government factions and those potentially are opposed to the coup. The summoning of those anti-government factions to report themselves to the military has been done so simply because the military want to consult with them, as they have laid out a blueprint for setting up an interim government and National Legislative Assembly, similar to the aftermath of 2006 coup. Pravit, The Nation’s reporter, has still been held captive somewhere, reportedly in Ratchaburi. The military refused to disclose detail of the detention places claiming their fear that people would demonstrate there.

Demonstrations

There were sporadic demonstrations in downtown Bangkok yesterday, and more arrests have been made. Probably about over 200 activists/politicians, either pro-government or against the coup have been held in custody thus far. Rumor has been spread by the authorities that anti-coup protesters received 400-1,000 baht each to protest. The pro-coup demonstrators took to the street, too. They were allowed to use their loudspeakers and to gather there to cheer up the use of military might to restore law and order in Thailand. Meanwhile, the anti-coup demonstrators have been harshly crushed and dispersed, though they still much outnumber the pro-coup demonstrators. Yet, it gives some resemblance to the climate during 1976 when the “boy scout” or “red bull” ultra-royalists were encouraged to brutally attack the demonstrators against the military. 

Situations of the demonstrators in the province become more precarious. Now it is clear that the authorities are ready to nab anyone believed to be taking side with the anti-coup factions. One Red Shirt member was arrested while having food with his friends in Chaing Mai.  More detail can be found here http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/4031.

Cyber warfare

When arrested, mobile devices and/or computers of the arrestees are seized by the military and from there they can access to a vast network of “cyber friends”, “secret chats”, etc, and they exploit the lead to further arrest more activists. Thus, anyone who deem themselves at risk have decided to go underground.  

The military seem to employ a special unit to scout for any dissents in the cyber space. Thus, net activists have to be low-profile. Several Thai reporters who used to be active on using twitter and social media to spread in formation and pictures have decided to deactivate their accounts for their own safety. Less and less social media users dare to share or like any posts or pages related to the anti-coup movement. A journo friend of us was told by the Third Army Area Commander yesterday that “We (the military) know everything in twitter or facebook world. Don’t do that.”

Image Above: Leader of lethal attack in Trat province ‘Narong Kajangkang’ died after enjaging authorities. ‘Narong Kajangkang’ is man in the picture.

 

Military Junta is going to get rid of those who do not support them.  Thailand’s military junta leader warns rivals and protesters ‘Do not criticize, do not start problems’ as he is officially endorsed by king.

Verbal summonses vs written summonses

In Bangkok, most summonses have been made in written orders. If you refuse to obey, you are subject to 2 years and a fine. But in the province, the military always resort to verbal summonses. They called up people asking them to turn themselves in at the military barracks. So several activists have decided to run instead of reporting themselves to the military since none of those reporting themselves have been released. The first batch of arrestees will have been held for seven days by this Friday. So we are watching how things will unfold and it they will be released, or pressed with charges and then proceed with the normal course of justice, or not.

 

 

 



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