As the lese majeste arrest of Patnaree Chankij, mother of student activist Sirawith Seritiwat, began to be criticized domestically and internationally, the military junta decided to respond.
The Bangkok Post reported that the junta’s thugs insisted that “there is solid evidence behind the arrest of an anti-coup activist’s mother, despite information circulating online suggesting there is little to support a lese majeste charge.” At least some of that information was from the police charge sheet, which suggested a fit-up and hostage taking.
In order to justify its actions, a junta “legal officer” was sent out to “explain” that the charge against Patnaree “as based on evidence which investigators were not willing to divulge to the media.”
That “legal officer” also found it necessary to declare that the “authorities had not intimidated witnesses or used illegal means to obtain their evidence.”
Based on these statements, the junta’s track record and its lack of transparency, reasonable people can assume that the regime has concocted charges and has used intimidation and illegal means to gain evidence.”
Meanwhile, international outrage was apparent. Social media lit up. The international media reported the event in deservedly incredulous terms. Human Rights Watch stated:
“The Thai junta has sunk to a new low by charging an activist’s mother under the ‘insulting the monarchy’ law, which has been systematically abused to silence critics,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Prosecuting someone for her vague response to a Facebook message is just the junta’s latest outrageous twist of the lese majeste law.”…
“In the name of protecting the monarchy, the junta is tightening a chokehold on free expression and heightening a climate of fear across Thailand,” Adams said. “The arbitrary enforcement of the lese majeste law against an activist’s mother is yet another example of Thailand’s blatant contempt of its human rights obligations.”
The junta initially seemed unperturbed, sending goons to search “the family home of Mr Sirawith, confiscating two computer CPUs, as they attempt to widen the lese majeste probe into his mother and several other suspects.” The impression is that the junta has decided to smash the little remaining activist opposition to its mandates.
General Thawip Netniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council “warned the activists Sunday not to break the law or the regime’s orders, saying they could face legal action.” He also “criticised attempts to bring in international organisations to put pressure on the government, saying the charges against the suspects including Ms Patnaree were based on evidence.”
We assume that this is the evidence that no one can see.
Parroting his boss, he demanded that “foreign groups study Thai laws to understand the fact that authorities were only enforcing the law.”
What he doesn’t get is that “foreign groups” are unlikely to be dolts who will not see that the law the general refers to is the junta’s law, designed to be selectively used against political opponents.
Suddenly, however, the situation turned. The military court, which hours earlier reportedly refused bail and extended detention, granted bail.
The Post states that this might have something to do with “pressure on a Thai delegation set to defend the country’s human rights records in Geneva on Wednesday.” We posted on this earlier. There may be something to this, although we are sure that the junta knows nothing of human rights.
Sirawith bravely “slammed the regime over the legal moves against her saying it was holding his mother hostage. He said he was confident his mother did nothing wrong and did not break any law…. The activist said he was not deterred by the military’s move and would continue to fight for his cause.” The Neo-Democracy Movement also rallied at Thammasat University “to criticise the regime over its legal moves against critics.”