Activism and ingrained despotic paternalism

Prachatai has a series of reports that deserve attention.

Anti-military base activism:

The military in southern Thailand have summoned villagers campaigning against a junta development project to a military base.

On 19 February 2017, the Assembly of the Poor, a civil society organisation advocating for marginalised communities in Thailand, reported via its Facebook page that 15 soldiers have visited villagers of Tha Sae District in the southern province of Chumphon.

Activists call for justice:

Human rights defenders accused by the military of criminal defamation for exposing torture in the Deep South have urged prosecutors to seek more witnesses.

On 21 February 2017, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF); Somchai Homla-or, Advisor to the CrCF; and Anchana Heemmina, President of the Duay Jai group, submitted a letter to the Prosecutor Office of the Deep Southern Province of Pattani.

The letter asked the prosecutors to demand police officers interrogate 14 more witnesses, reasoning that the police have only questioned some 10 witnesses even though there are more than 20 witnesses willing to testify in the three’s defence.

Activist calls for a counter-coup:

A leader of the recent protest against a coal-fired power plant has urged a high ranking general to stage a coup against the ruling junta if it does not keep its promise to postpone the power plant project.

On 20 February 2017, ML Rungkun Kitiyakara, one of the leaders of the recent protest at Government House, posted on his Facebook urging Army Region 1 Commander Lt Gen Apirat Kongsompong to side with protesters if the junta breaks its promise to delay the power plant project.

While the first two stories refer to political activism defending human rights, the final story suggests how yellow shirt activists continue to rely on the military. This is an elitist “activism” of rightists who seem unable to dispense with the military’s despotic paternalism.

That story went on, indicating the elitist activists identifying splits within the military:

Rungkun posted that if the junt[a] pushes the power plan project forward, he will ask for more than bus tickets.

“I believe the junta won’t dare to break the agreement. But if it does… in addition to the bus tickets, there’s a high chance that we will need your [Apirat’s] tanks,” read Rungkun’s post.

[Ultra-nationalist yellow shirt] Veera Somkwamkid, the secretary-general of Anti-Corruption Network and an opponent to the power plant project, also posted a similar message on his Facebook.

“Dear ‘Daeng’ (Apirat’s nickname), I believe you’re a soldier, a soldier of the King. If the junta betrays the people and the nation, you will not let it remain in power and keep ruining the country, will you? You will not disappoint the people, right?”

The monarchism expressed here reinforces political notions of despotic paternalism.

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