Thai Insider. Part 2
With the recent spate of stories regarding alleged lese majeste cases, the jailing of Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp and Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha, and the “death in custody” of the latter, I have not provided any attention to the actions being taken to contest the military dictatorship’s “single gateway.”
Fortunately, there are several reports that do focus on this attempt by the junta to more broadly censor the internet.
Siam Voices has a roundup of recent reports, beginning with Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak telling business leaders: ”We will not talk about this [the single gateway] any more. If we say we won’t do it, we won’t do it…”. But what would he know. He’s only a civilian and he was soon over-ruled and contradicted by The Dictator.
Sending internet traffic through a single gateway, will allow “officials to filter and block undesirable content.” This is usually defined as kids gaming, a bit of porn and some gambling sites, but the real aim is to support “the military junta’s ongoing efforts to monitor and censor dissenting voices…” on the monarchy and those who oppose the junta.
Following outcries, the junta tried to “sell” its plan as some kind of effort to make Thailand a regional digital hub. No one believes that a bunch of toady generals has any interest in business unless to enrich themselves.
Meanwhile, VICE News has a story that outlines opposition to the single gateway from the international hacker collective Anonymous. It apparently began by bringing down “the website for CAT Telecom, the state-run telecommunications company tasked with implementing the gateway…”.
Thailand F5 Cyber Army, reportedly an activist group opposed to the gateway,” tweeted images saying that thousands of CAT Telecom customer logins and passwords had been compromised.”
The state telecom agency denied that it had been hacked, but nobody believes them. Like the junta itself, CAT deals in falsehoods.
Given that the military has been anxious to more closely control its population since the 2006 coup, I assume that it will continue to bumble and stumble towards its Great Thailand Firewall.
Anonymous released a statement on Thailand:
Greetings citizens of the world, we are anonymous.
Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, it has come to our attention that you have decided to disregard your citizens, the people of this country, and have persisted to project an unique Gateway to the Internet, in running a system which only benefits yourselves and the giant corporate bodies operating.
I saw the situation in Thailand for the past months going too far, restricting basic access to freedom of speech, protests and basic human rights against anyone who criticized the Thai Junta.
The latest project of the Thai military government is to deploy a single gateway in order to control, intercept and arrest any persons not willing to follow the Junta orders and your so called moral.
No interception systems ever stopped any terrorist attacks, neither any national security threats in Asia nor any western countries. It only allows greedy governments and large corporations to get more profits and less freedom of speech for the people of this country.
The land of smile will soon be similar to China, North Korea or any tyranic country providing intrusive electronic systems to spy and prosecute their own citizens having different ways of thinking.
It is unacceptable that you promote your own people, army executives at the Head of the largest Telecommunication operator: CAT Telecom. Any Corporations or individuals helping to deploy this single gateway will be targeted by any electronic means.
We will not only fight against the single gateway project but will expose your incompetence to the world, where depravity and personal interests prevail.
More than 6,000 people died and 10,000 injured in south of Thailand you have no budget to end this daily terrorist genocide killing innocents, but find 15 million USD budget to censor your own citizens. Our Thai brothers will understand what ความไม่สงบในชายแดนภาคใต้ของประเทศไทย means.
Together we stand against the injustice of your Government, tomorrow you will pay the price of your oppression against your own people.
You can arrest us, but you can’t arrest an idea.
We are anonymous.
We are Legion.
United as ONE.
Divided by zero.
We do not forgive Censorship.
We do not forget Oppression.
In an earlier post, I complained about a lack of mainstream media reporting on the unexplained death in custody of Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha.
At the time that he allegedly hanged himself, Prakrom was in military custody, at a military base and accused of lese majeste by the military junta. Already conflicting information is leaking about the case.
The Bangkok Post has now provided a report that appears to have been written late on Sunday, Oct. 25.
It refers to “[h]uman rights activists” as “calling on authorities to shut down the temporary prison set up at a Bangkok military compound, where one of the three latest lese majeste suspects died by hanging on Friday.” The “activists” in the report are from the Cross Cultural Foundation.
It is stated that the prison at the 11th Military Circle base was “initially set up to deal with the Erawan bombing suspects…”.
While that squares with an earlier Post report, I don’t think it tells the whole story. It has also been used for those “invited” in and detained by the military dictatorship as opponents and lese majeste suspects. I am not convinced that this is a “temporary” prison. More cynical observers might wonder if this site was Detention Site Green, now converted to domestic use.
The report states that Prakrom “was pronounced dead on Friday night.” According to the Post, by Sunday evening, his body had not been transferred to the Institute of Forensic Medicine for the required autopsy.
It also states that “[o]fficers said they found him hanging by a noose made from his shirt in his cell at the detention facility attached to the 11th Military Circle.” It is also reported that his “cell had no windows and corrections officers could not see the inmate from the outside.”
Given that it was earlier reported that “special wardens, made up of military officers and guards from the Corrections Department, has been appointed to take care of three suspects detained over in a high-profile lese majeste case,” and that the “wardens’ key responsibility is to ensure the three men’s well-being during detention…”, we can only be open-mouthed aghast about what this means at the 11th Military Circle Detention Site.
Update: A reader tells us that one reporter is saying this: “The justice minister just announced that there will be no forensic examination on the body of lese majeste suspect Pol Maj Prakrom whom the Corrections Department said he committed suicide while under detention in temporary cell inside a military camp. The minister said family came to take his body and there won’t be any autopsy. How is that even possible or just?”
In an update to our most recent post, I noted a statement by a journalist that expressed surprise and disgust over the death in military custody of policeman Prakrom Warunprapha who had been accused of unspecified acts constituting lese majeste.
That journalist stated:
The justice minister just announced that there will be no forensic examination on the body of lese majeste suspect Pol Maj Prakrom whom the Corrections Department said he committed suicide while under detention in temporary cell inside a military camp. The minister said family came to take his body and there won’t be any autopsy. How is that even possible or just?
A report in the Bangkok Post (Oct. 26) confirms that this is not only possible, but is “explained” by Justice Minister and General Paiboon Koomchaya.
Gen Paiboon reportedly told reporters that a post-mortem had “performed” by a “committee” at the Corrections Department’s hospital. That committee included “a public attorney, police officer, administrative official and forensic doctor…”. The General advised that the committee “had already issued a death certificate…”. He added: “There’s no need to send the body to the Institute of Forensic Medicine. His family has already received the body…”
And, believe it or not, Paiboon declared: “So the case is now closed.”
That’s it. The military junta believes it is not accountable to anyone and can do whatever it likes, legal or not.
Thailand is administered, if that is the right word, by thugs and scoundrels.
If any reader was suspicious about Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha’s death in military custody, it is now time to be more dubious still.
Officially, we are told by the Minister responsible for “Justice” General Paiboon Khumchaya that “the case is now closed.”
That means the public is left to ponder a lese majeste accusation that was never explained, detention in a military prison under circumstances that will never be explained and a death in military custody that will not be explained or investigated.
It may surprise some readers, but it is reasonable to observe that this is standard military operating practice. The military has the capacity to capture, detain, disappear, torture and murder with impunity. This has been a common operating procedure when dealing with the war in the South.
A report in the Bangkok Post (Oct. 26), states that “the cause of Prakrom’s death was suffocation and his relatives arrived to fetch his body at 8.30am on Monday.”
Prakrom was said to have been “found hanging in his cell with a shirt around his neck on Friday and died shortly after at the Corrections Department’s hospital…”. Some reports state that he was hanging from a bar. This despite the fact that it was earlier reported that“special wardens, made up of military officers and guards from the Corrections Department, has been appointed to take care of three suspects detained over in a high-profile lese majeste case,” and that the “wardens’ key responsibility is to ensure the three men’s well-being during detention…”, we can only be aghast that the “Justice” Minister and his flunkies state that Prakrom’s “cell had no windows and corrections officers could not see the inmate from the outside.”
The Military “Justice” Minister rejected criticisms of a cell: “There has been no problem. If there were any, we would know now.”
The General defended the procedure under the military dictatorship of using military detention and military courts and the military prison: “We need to keep the prison to expedite investigations. As we all see, high-profile cases have progressed very quickly. Let’s not look only at human rights. National interest should also be taken into consideration…”.
What this is code for is: “We need to keep the military prison because there’s no scrutiny. We can use torture and get confessions that way. This is why high-profile lese majeste cases have progressed very quickly. We have a 100% confession rate. Let’s not look only at human rights. We are a military dictatorship and rights have no meaning”.
The “Justice” Minister went on to explain that another caught up in this lese majeste case, a fortune teller who was loved by the generals and close to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, is not dead.
The General declared: “Mor Yong’s fine. I don’t understand what caused these rumours.” Oh Minister, you are not this much of a dope, surely. The rumors come from the death in military custody and your cover up. He did say that Suriyan’s blood pressure was high and this had caused him to me moved through two hospitals. The director-general of the Corrections Department claimed that Suriyan was faking illness.
Khaosod has a similar report on “Justice” Minister Paiboon’s statements to the media but adds this important note at the end of its report:
Note: A blanket ban has been issued on reporting this issue, apart from official announcements. Due to this, portions of this story have been self-censored.
This makes the cover-up official. I recently said Thailand is administered by thugs and scoundrels. I should have added that the thugs and scoundrels are also liars.
Update: Readers will be eager to know the police have stated that they will provide “full information regarding a recent high-profile lese majese case as well as on the death of a suspect during detention” on Wednesday. I can hardly wait. I would sincerely like to know the truth or at least the story concocted on these cases. I am also keen to know more about the death of Prakrom. But, then, wasn’t it the military and Department of Corrections who were in charge of this detainee when he died in a cell in a military camp? What will the police know? Even so, I can’t wait to see what has been cooked up.
Part of the claims made will have to do with competing statements about bars and no bars in the cell, barred windows and no windows, and the ability of guards to see inside the cell. All these points have been subject to contradictory statements that form part of an ill-disguised cover-up. In the report linked below, the Corrections boss stated: “We have adjusted a building of the battalion for use as the detention centre. We have bars installed there…”. That’s in the windowless version of the story?
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has added to the confused cover story. In stating that the “temporary detention centre was still needed, pointing out to the fact that the country is not in a normal situation yet.” He then reportedly stated that “Prakrom … was not the only suspect to have died during detention.” I assume he is talking of the same cells. If not, then he’s stating a fact: prisoners do die and disappear in police and military custody.
Sometimes of natural causes, sometimes murdered, maybe due to poor conditions and sometimes following mistreatment such as failing to get medical support or as a result of injuries inflicted in custody.
Prawit did try to get the military off the hook by stating: “… although this detention facility was located inside a military base, it was the Corrections Department which was mainly in charge of the facility.” Sure. The Thai military just adores having others in charge of their stuff and facilities. Nice try Prawit.