Eight long years

Another year has passed for Political Prisoners in Thailand. How sad it is that we are still actively posting on authoritarianism, monarchy and political repression in Thailand.

As we said a year ago, PPT should have gone the way of the dinosaurs, being unnecessary as Thailand’s political prisoners would have been released and political repression gone.

We began PPT on 21 January 2009, thinking our endeavors would be temporary. More than 6,000 post later, we are still at it, and Thailand is arguably in a more authoritarian political location than it was in 2009.

Thailand has an illegal military regime, founded in nonsensical royalism and bound to a monarchy that remains feudal in its politics and grasping in its economic location. A better, more representative and more democratic politics remains a dream. The “reform” promised by the military junta and now embedded in a military-royal constitution promises that Thailand will remain dominated by an authoritarian elite for years to come.

When we sputtered into life it was as a collaborative effort to bring more international attention to the expanded use of the lese majeste and computer crimes laws by the then Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and his anti-democratic Democrat Party. That regime’s tenure saw scores die and thousands injured in political clashes and hundreds held as political prisoners.

The royalism and repression that gained political impetus from anti-democratic street demonstrations that paved the way for the 2006 military coup and then for the 2014 military coup have become the military state’s ideology.

Opponents of the military and the monarchy are detained, coerced and threatened. Lese majeste has been used against them, silencing them and those who become fearful that they too might be whisked away into detention.

The 2006 and 2014 coups, both conducted in the name of the monarchy, have seen a precipitous slide into a  political dark age where the lese majeste law has been a grotesque weapon of choice in political repression.

Royalists have fought to maintain a royalist state that lavishes privilege, wealth and power on a few. The military junta is seeking to institutionalize this control and power.

On this anniversary, as in past years,  we want an end to this political repression. We hope for the release of every political prisoner.

We especially remember the unconstitutional and illegal treatment of brave individuals like Somyos Pruksakasemsuk and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (Pai). Their continued imprisonment is a travesty of justice and their treatment has been inhumane.

Under the current regime, hundreds of people have been jailed or detained, subjected to military courts and threatened by the uniformed masters of Thailand.

In recent years, lese majeste cases have grown exponentially. Worse, both military and civil courts have held secret trials and handed out unimaginably harsh sentences. And even worse than this,  the definition of what constitutes a crime under the draconian lese majeste law has been extended to include implied lese majeste and the “protection” of royals not cover by the law and even royal dogs and kings long dead.

PPT has now had more than 3.4 million page views at our two sites. We aren’t in the big league in the blogging world, but the level of interest in Thailand’s politics and the use of lese majeste internationally has increased. We are pleased that there is far more attention to the issue than there was when we began and that the international reporting and understanding of the issue is far more critical than it was.

In Thailand, however, political repression and the use of lese majeste has deepened. Unfortunately, we see very little light in this long, dark tunnel.

We want to thank our readers for sticking with us through all the attempts by the Thai censors to block us. We trust that we remain useful and we appreciate the emails we receive.

As in the past, we declare:

The lese majeste and computer crimes laws must be repealed.

All political prisoners must be released.

The military dictatorship must be opposed.

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