Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The King and Pai, Part 18: Buddhism

By Ann Norman

Even in Thailand, where over 90% of the population is Buddhist, it would be a mistake to go around assuming that everyone is Buddhist. There are also Muslims, Christians, and Atheists (of both the Buddhist and non-Buddhist variety). The Thai Alliance includes Buddhists, Christians, and Atheists. We all get along united by humanist values, and the guidelines for our choices as an organization are listed in the UN Universal Declaration of Human. One of these values is Freedom of Religion:

Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

No ruling group should be imposing its preferred religion on all the other groups, or announcing what is and isn’t blasphemy. No religion or religious group should be persecuted.

Pai Daodin seems to be a Buddhist. His father has posted a picture of him, head shaved wearing orange robes, sitting cross-legged on top of a mountain. It is traditional, for Thai young men to be ordained as a monk for a short period before going back to their normal lives. Pai’s father also posted a picture of Pai bowing at the feet of his teacher at the temple Wat Pong Chang, the same temple where he was ordained. At the moment he was arrested, for sharing a mainstream news article on Facebook, he also happened to be at this temple participating in a “dhammayatra activity,” which is a pilgrimage in accordance with the Buddhist principles of right mindfulness, right intention, right speech, and right action. In the Facebook Live video he posted as he was being arrested, we see that Pai is stunned to learn he is being accused of lese majesty just for sharing a BBC news article on Facebook, yet he is polite to the arresting offers, and his last words as they take him away are “This is the atmosphere” and his camera scans across a quiet scene outdoors with many orange-robed monks in the distance under trees. It seemed like a plea: “Why are you bothering me when I have done nothing wrong and am just practicing my religion?”

I only know about Buddhism from the example and explanation of my friends who are Buddhists, but I gather it is about moderation, tolerance, acceptance of impermanence, and a personal journey to find enlightenment in which a person should test everything they are told. A quick google search finds that “Five precepts, or ‘guides’, are often given as advice as to actions that will often most lead to beneficial outcomes. They are: not to lie, steal or defraud, kill or injure others, hurt via sexual relationships, and to not further cloud your mind with too many intoxicants.”

If this is what Buddhism is about, King Vajiralongkorn, a hedonistic, multi-billionare, sadistic, playboy, who lives like a mafia boss, in every sense of the word, is not a very good Buddhist. He appears to be a serial offender of most, if not all, of the five precepts. (If you think I am exaggerating just look at his biography. You can begin HERE with the English version of the article Pai shared.) And yet King Vajiralongkorn is a Buddhist by definition because Section 7 of the new Thai Constitution (written by the junta) clearly states:

“The King is a Buddhist and Upholder of religions.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

การแสดงจุดยืนทางการเมือง ไม่ผิด กม.!! เสียงประเวศ Voice of Prawais 26 กพ 2561

การ์ตูนอีกชีวิตที่ หลุดลอย ตอกย้ำม 112 หลุมดำของคนไทย

Congratulations to Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal invited to be a Speaker for the 2018 Oslo Freedom Forum

Note that Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal is one of the 7 Thai pro-democracy activists accused of sedition for calling for elections and drawing attention to Deputy Dictator Prawit Wongsuwan's expensive watches scandal. The outside world sees that he is a remarkable man who is being persecuted for spreading democratic values, including as a former Student Council President of Chulalongkorn University.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

ประเทศไทยต่างจากนรกตรงจุดไหน (Just How is Thailand Any Different from Hell?)

คนเขียน: อินทรีย์แดง by Red Eagle

หลังสงครามเย็นสุดสุดลง ประเทศเพื่อนบ้านไทย ต่างล้วนปกครองแบบระบบความมิวนิสต์ ประเทศไทยไม่เคยเคยตกอยู่ภายใต้คอมมิวนิสต์ เนื่องจากได้รับการช่วยเหลือ อเมริกา เกือบเวลา 50 ปีที่ชาวโลกได้พิสูจน์ได้ว่าระบบความมิวนิสต์ มีแต่จะทำให้ประชาชนจนลง จนลง ไม่สามารถพัฒนาเทียบเท่ากับโลกเสรีได้ ทั้งนี้เห็นได้ การเปรียบเทียบ ระหว่างประเทศเพื่อนบ้านรอบๆไทย จะเห็นความแตกต่างได้อย่างชัดเจน ประเทศไทย ทุกวันแทบไม่มีการพัฒนาใดขึ้นเลย ช่วงที่ผ่านๆมาทำให้ประเทศเพื่อนมองประเทศไทยเป็น เมืองฟ้าเมืองสวรรค์ และผู้หลี้ภัยหลายๆประเทศได้พยามหลบเข้ามาอาศัย เพื่อที่จะเดินทางต่อไปประเทศที่3

After the Cold War came to an end, countries neighboring Thailand were all administered according to the communist system. Thailand never fell under communism, and this is because it received assistance from America for almost the 50 years over which the world received proof that the communist system only makes the people poor and not able to develop on a level with the free world. This path they can see through comparison with the surrounding neighboring countries. They can see the difference clearly. Thailand these days almost isn't developing upwards at all. In the period past, Thailand’s neighbors looked at Thailand as a heaven and refugees from many, many different countries tried of escape here, depending on Thailand, in order to proceed to a third country.

เมื่อลัทธิคอมมิวนิสต์ล่มสลาย ประเทศไทยถึงได้พัฒนา ไปไกลๆกว่าประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน ความซับซ้อนการเมืองไทยยังคงมีอทธิพลต่อการดำเนินชีวิตของคนไทยอีกหลายล้านคน เนื่องจากปกครองของประเทศไทยนั้น มีการปกครองรัฐซ่อนเร้น มีการปกครองแบบประชาธิปไตยแอบแฝง ประชาธิปไตยอันมีกษัตริย์เป็นประมุข ศูนย์รวมอำนาจจะขึ้นตรงกับ กษัตริย์แต่เพียงผู้เดียว คนไทยอีกหลายคนคนที่ไม่อาจเข้าใจ ระบอบการปกครองอย่างแท้จริง

When the cult of communism collapsed, Thailand could develop faster than its neighboring countries. Confusion in Thai politics still influenced the progress of the lives of people for many many additional millions of people. This is because the administration of Thailand has a secret state administration. It has an administration like a pretend democracy: Thai democracy with a king as head of state. The center of power will peak with the king, just that one person. Still many, many of the Thai people may not understand the actual system of administration.

ตลอดเวลาที่ผ่านมาระบบกษัตริย์จะถูกสร้างภาพให้ยิ่งใหญ่และมีบทบาทและมีอิทธิพลต่อความเป็นอยู่ของประชาชนเป็นอย่างมาก สถานบันกษัตริย์ถูกยกย่องให้อยู่สูงสุดในทุกๆด้าน ถูกสร้างภาพให้เหมือนเช่นเทพเจ้า มีความศักดิ์สิทธิอย่างมากมาย กษัตริย์จะทำอะไรได้ทุกอย่างโดยไม่มีความผิดอันใดมากล่าวหาได้ กษัตริย์ย่อมทำสิ่งใดถูกเสมอ

Throughout the times past, the system of the monarchy created a great image and had a huge role and influence over the people’s existence. The institution of the monarchy was esteemed so that it was higher than every side or party. An image was created so [the king] was almost a god, having so much honor and privilege. The king can do anything, and there is no wrong for which a charge can be brought [against him]. The king is likely to do whatever [he wants] all the time.

 มีไม่กี่คนที่เริ่มเข้าใจว่าปัญหาที่แท้จริงของประเทศไทย รากลึกของปัญหาทั้งหมดมาจากไหน เหตุการนองเลือดช่วง ตุลาคม 2516 ไม่มีใครทราบความจริงได้ว่าแท้ที่จริงฆาตรกรตัวจริงที่ยู่เบื้องหลังการเข่นฆ่านักศึกษาหมู่ สร้างสถานการณ์ที่ชั่วร้ายต่างๆนานา สุดท้ายแล้วโยนปาบให้นักศึกษา เป็นผู้ก่อการจราจล กล่าวหาว่าเป็นคอมมิวนิสต์ ซ่องสุมอาวุธ ให้ความร่วมมือกับคอมมิวนิตส์ ชีวิตคนหนุ่มสาวอนาคตของชาติ ต้องมาจบสิ้นลงด้วยนำ้มือของผู้กระหายอำนาจ

There aren’t that many people who begin to understand where the deep roots of Thailand’s real problem totally comes from. In the bloody events of October 1973 nobody could understood the truth of the real killer behind the massacre of the crowd of students, causing all kinds of evil difficulty, in the end creating the image that the students are stirring up rebellion, accusing them of being communists and secretly assembling weapons in order to join with the communists. The life of the youth, the future of the nation, must come to an end at the hands of the people who thirst for power.

รัฐประหารไม่ใช่ทางออกของปัญหาที่ประเทศไทยต้องเผชิญ รัฐประหารคือความชั่วร้ายที่มีกษัตริย์ไทยอยู่เบื้องหลังทุกๆครั้งและเซ็นต์รับรองจากการเป็นกบฏให้เป็นเรื่องชอบธรรม กษัตริย์ภูมิพลสั่งให้ทำรัฐประหาร เพื่อป้องกันการกระจายอำนาจสู่ประชาชน และคุมอำนาจเองทั้งหมด

Coups are not the way out of the problems that the country must face. Coups are an evil which the king is behind every time, and he signs the law that makes it into something legitimate. King Bhumipol ordered the coups in order to prevent decentralizing power to the people and to control all the power himself.

รัฐประหารครั้งล่าสุด เป็นครั้งที่ตำ่ช้ามากที่สุดในประวัติศาสตร์ เป็นที่ล่วงละเมิดสิทธิมนุษย์อย่างร้ายแรง ประชาชนที่ออกมาต่อต้านไม่สามารถทำอะไรได้ ไม่ว่าจะกินแซนวิช อ่านหนังสือ ชุมชนมากกว่า 5 คน ไม่สามารถแสดงความคิดเห็นใดๆในสังคมได้ ไม่ว่าจะทำความคิดเห็นใน โซเชียลต่างๆ การบังคับใช้ กฏหมาย 112 มาตรา 44 ซึ่งทั้งมาตราล้วน ข้อห้ามป่าเถื่อนไร้มนุษยธรรมสิ้นดี มีผู้บริสุทธิ์จำนวนมากที่ตกเป็นเหยื่อต้องโดนจับเข้าคุกโดยไม่มีความผิดใดๆ

The last coup was the most evil in history. It preceded a serious violation of human rights. The people who came out to oppose [the coup] where unable to do anything, whether eat a sandwich, read a book, or gather in groups larger than 5. They weren’t able to express any opinions at all in any sort of social situation, not even to make a comment on the different social media. They are suppressed using Article 112 (of the Thai Criminal Code), Article 44 (of the Interim Constitution), all of which were barbarous prohibitions totally lacking in humanity. There were a great number of innocent people that fell victim to it, were caught, and imprisoned without being guilty of anything.

Monday, February 26, 2018

An Appeal for International Support (for Thai Democracy) from Jaran Ditapichai

Facebook post by Jaran Ditapichai, Former National Human Rights Commissioner, Thailand
Coordinator, Thai Overseas for Democracy

Thai democracy on hold again.

For Thai observers, predictably as its general election is being delayed again until 2019. Since overthrowing the elected government in 2014, Thailand’s military junta and General-come-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha have repeatedly used a familiar mix of false promises and outright lies to suppress the Thai people’s right to a vote. The National Legislative Assembly, Thailand’s rubber-stamped parliamentary body appointed by the junta, voted on January 25th to postpone the election by another 90 days after its promulgation in the official gazette. This would mean a vote in late February 2019, but observers think it also can be postponed. Elections were first promised in 2015, only to be delayed as the junta rewrote the nation’s constitution, increasing the military’s tight grip on Thailand’s political institutions. Most recently, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said a poll would be held in November 2018. The Puea Thai Party, whose government the military ousted in 2014, alleges the amendment is a tactic by the junta to tighten its grip on power. In tactical terms, the benefit to delaying the election is simple - it gives the junta more time figure out how to preserve power beyond 2019.

The new constitution gave the military the ability to “manage” politicians, positioning generals as kingmakers even if civilian government does return. Meanwhile, political activity is still outlawed and civil rights are in freefall, with arrests for anti-junta sentiment occurring with increasing regularity. Even more disturbing are the emerging political aspirations of General Prayuth. Having promised a quick return to civilian rule in 2015, it seems that he is now seriously considering retaining the office of the Prime Minister indefinitely.
However, public opinion are increasing against the junta. The Thai people are fed up of lies. In late January and February, a thousand Pro-democracy activists and gathered in a rare show of dissent to protest the authoritarian regime. Considering the latest developments, Thai Overseas for Democracy is calling for the international community to demand that the junta keeps its promise by holding elections in November 2018.

In a most recent development after two demonstrations in late January and February, the Junta served over 100 arrest warrants to the protestors, but the protesters still called for bigger rally in May 19-22 to bring attention to this unwelcome extension of the election date to 2019.

Jaran Ditapichai
Former National Human Rights Commissioner, Thailand
Coordinator, Thai Overseas for Democracy

The Adventures of Ekachai Hongkangwan: Part 3

by Ann Norman
Petitions Dictator Prayut to use his dictatorial powers to abolish Thailand’s lese majesty law
As you will recall, Ekachai Hongkangwan spent almost three years in jail for selling CDs of an Australian documentary about the royal succession, which you can read about in The Adventures of Ekachai Hongkangwan, Part 1. When he got out, he started a nonprofit organization to help other lese majesty victims (people accused of “insulting” the monarchy) and other political prisoners.
As part of his activism on behalf of the lese majesty victims, on September 12, 2017, Khun Ekachai boldy petitioned Dictator Prayut Chan-ocha to use his self-given dictatorial powers under Section 44 of the Interim Constitution to end the lese majesty law. Makes sense, right? Dictator Prayut justified his power grab as a quick way to enact democractic reforms before returning a new, improved democracy to the people. What better way to enact democratic reform than to remove the law that blocks all serious discussion of politics in Thailand?
Dictator Prayut gave Khun Ekachai an opening to petition in comments the dictator made after Pai Dao Din was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail simply for sharing a ordinary BBC news article. Prayut claimed that the King is merciful and doesn’t like to see people punished in this way:
“Nowadays, the monarchy has always shown mercy and ordered that [he] doesn’t want people to be punished for such matters.” said Gen Prayut “The King has always given royal pardons and amnesties but there are still people trying to do it [commit lèse majesté]. I don’t understand.”
Having heard similar pleadings from Prayut in the past, right before yet another ruthless crackdown on those sharing news about the King (whether about his twisted lifestyle or his direct attacks on Thai democracy), I can re-translate this statement:
“Children, children, PLEASE stop challenging me or I will be forced to come over there and spank you.”
It was Thai scholar Thanaboon Chiranuvat, also commenting on the Pai Dao Din case, who pointed out that Thai society doesn’t really care about the international law aspects of the Pai Dao Din case because in practice Thai society hasn’t really developed a respect for the rule of law, but in practice administers the country on the model of a family, particularly the model of a father dictating to children.
Rather than begging a father for mercy, Ekachai is using logic to request that the human rights of all Thais be respected. He notes that among the European countries that used to have a lese majesty law, almost all have gotten rid of it, and that those few that still have one, don’t use it. And that General Prayut completely has it in his power to solve this problem.
There is no good answer Prayut can offer to this argument, other than to threaten people into silence. And so I fear for the safety of Ekachai Hongkangwan because he is a brave civil rights activist throwing himself against the “my clan” supremacists currently ruling Thailand.