Sunday, May 30, 2010

Enemy of the State #13 - The Military

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” ~Albert Einstein

Does Thailand need a huge standing Military in this day and age and if so why?

That’s a good question and in my view it does not. Although the military comprises units like the Navy and the Air Force it’s the Army that has headed the charge in dispersing the recent protests. So for argument sake let’s just call the entire Military the Army for now. There is a self centered reason for this, later on I’ll give some figures and I’m too lazy to break them all down, if that’s even possible to do.

"They talk about conscription as a democratic institution. Yes; so is a cemetary". ~Meyer London

For those that don’t know the system. Thailand has military conscription on a sliding scale depending on your education level. High school or under you have to serve 2 years, Bachelors degree – 1 year and if you have a masters or a doctorate you get to do 6 months or less of pretty easy service. As an example Abhisit with a Masters got to lecture at the Military collage on economics. It also involves drawing a ball and if you get the right color you are off to the Army, Navy or Air Force. Compulsory service is also in the area you are registered in your house book. If you are in the North or Northeast, that means the Army in almost every case. As the North and Northeast also have the worst education in the country chances are the majority are serving 2 years. This also puts a huge burden on the farming community of the North and Northeast through the loss of part of their traditional workforce for 2 years on a continuous basis.

“The military caste did not originate as a party of patriots, but as a party of bandits” ~Henry Louis Mencken

Thailand’s military spending is 1.53% of GDP. That is lower than Malaysia (1.78%) and Myanmar (25.75%) but higher than Laos (0.28%) and Cambodia (1.23%). Where you really see the difference is in the Total Forces of each nation. Laos (129,000), Cambodia (191,000), Malaysia (160,000) and then there is Thailand (506,600) and Myanmar (513,250). It appears that Thailand is closer to the Burma model than any other nation in the area.

The difference is that Thailand and Myanmar have large armies where the others do not. In fact Thailand with a Military force of 506,600 outnumbers the combined military of Laos and Cambodia by 186,600. We know from our history the last time Thailand and Laos came to blows,Thailand lost decisively. But, do we have to outnumber the Cambodians by 2.65 times or Laotians by almost 4 times?

"Never base your budget requests on realistic assumptions, as this could lead to a decrease in your funding." ~ Scott Adams

Other things come to light as well from the numbers alone. Malaysia with a similar overall military budget ( 3,940 MillionUSD) has far outstripped Thailand ( 4,180 Million USD) by investing in high tech weaponry which needs less but higher trained forces to operate.  Thailand is stuck in the trench with foot soldiers which are very vulnerable to high tech things. On April 10th this year we witnessed first hand that a group of flip flop toting farmers from Issan were more than enough match for the arms and APC’s of the Thai army. Leaving a fleeing military and the hulks of 6 APS’c in the wake.
 Another question we have to ask, has the huge forces of the army outlived it’s usefulness on the modern battlefield in this day and age. The only answer is yes to this question unless the main aim of the Army is and has always been to suppress its own people and then the answer is still, yes.

Thailand needs to drastically readjust the military and upgrade it to more modern and streamlined units.

We need to drastically cut the huge amount of general and officer staff and to cut the numbers of foot soldiers down to acceptable limits for the risk in the area. Make the forces 100% volunteer and end conscription. Make them directly accountable to the Government and have an independent committee audit their spending, every baht of it.

“If there is one basic element in our Constitution, it is civilian control of the military” ~Harry S Truman

Cutting military numbers by half would be a good start while maintaining the budget at a rate just slightly under what we are spending now. That way we can invest in the long term training of long term highly trained military personnel and the purchase of more modern higher tech hardware rather than golf courses, swimming pools and flashy housing for Generals who have nothing better to do. Thailand would then be in a position to protect herself in the event that it was ever necessary.

“Military glory - that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood” ~Abraham Lincoln

At the moment the Army may be hard pressed to fend off the battle hardened Cambodians with their Vietnam vintage weaponry and ho chi min sandals.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Figures derived from:- World Armed Forces and Defence Budgets.

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 8:40 AM   3 Comments

Friday, May 28, 2010

Enemy of the State #12 - Media Censorship

"Though I disagree with everything you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it." ~Voltaire

This was an interview from April 2006 with Thai scholar and activist, Ubonrat Siriyuvasak. Dr. Ubonrat is associate professor and deputy dean of research and International affairs in the faculty of communication arts at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

It’s quite long but very informative and interesting and will set the stage for what we are about to talk about here. Government censorship of the media in Thailand.

In March 2009, all existing Community radio stations had to register before the end of that month. The stations of the North had to do so at a big meeting in Chiang Mai. Already registered stations received a temporary licence for the next 300 days. The government announced it hoped to be able to prepare a new law regarding radio stations in Thailand and issue proper licences to the ones which meet the (to be defined) criteria. Since the meeting the government has announced that only stations that broadcast “government approved” content would be licensed. This law will restrict the power of the sender, advertisements, the height of the antenna, the range, etc... However, all existing stations can still operate until the new law appears. So far this new law is not in effect in the 300 day time frame of the temporary licences.
What was made very clear at the meeting is that radio stations operating without the temporary licence are considered as illegal. In other words, from April 2009, any new station is illegal as it is not possible to register a new radio station. Many operators not care about this and operate illegally.

"You have not converted a man because you have silenced him." ~John Morley

Directly after the Coup, 2000 community radio stations in the North and Northeast were closed by the Military. Most of those stations have again taken to the airwaves mostly illegally. A fair portion of those stations were anti coup and since anti Democrat. Some of those stations have defiantly pushed the envelope, if not outright broken the law. There is a rule in the broadcast industry, if you do not appeal to your audience you will not survive for long. These stations, although radical, command a huge audience. Unlike the Police, Government and Military which have huge budgets to broadcast, listeners or not, community stations are dependent almost entirely on donations from their listeners. At this point the Government of Abhisit is pressuring stations to self censor and if they do not conform to the government model they have been closed.
The Government or Military also controls almost all of the TV channels available in Thailand. Of the 2 big non government channels ASTV, which supports the government, has never been censured while PTV and the subsequent channels for the UDD have all been closed. The UDD was very successful during their protest at getting around the government’s attempts to get it off the air. They managed to keep broadcasting live until the final minutes of their protest when troops overran their encampment.

"Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime". ~Potter Stewart

It’s not just community radio it’s also the print media. Any organization that comes out against the government or its policies instantly finds the government on the offensive to close it down. The government has asked the print media to self censor. Some newspapers like the Post and the Nation have taken the request to heart and now never print anything opposing the Government. This attitude is no longer news reporting, they have now become just an outlet for government propaganda.

“The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.” ~George Bernard Shaw

The internet in Thailand is so heavily censored that it resembles North Korea or China in it’s gusto to stifle any dissenting voice.

The government just yesterday extended censorship to stifle communications through four publications related to the UDD. Reuters reports, the outlawed publications include the twice-weekly Truth Today newspaper, the weekly Thai Red News and Vivatha, and bi-monthly Voice of Taksin, which mimics the U.S. news magazine, Time.

"These media outlets are not real newspapers. They are tools for groups to create chaos in the country," Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban.

This is the line we continually hear from the government. It’s always the same line by the government it’s for “national unity” or “national security” or “causing chaos”. I’ll bring you back to an earlier point, “if you do not appeal to your audience you will not survive”. For the government to be so concerned to ban these publications these publications must have mass grassroots support.

"The test of democracy is freedom of criticism". ~David Ben-Gurion

These actions by the government go directly contrary to one of the five key elements of the Prime minister’s roadmap to reconciliation. It says that is to form an independent body to monitor all media, including state-controlled outlets, to ensure unbiased and balanced reporting. If you censor all dissenting media how can you have “Fair and balanced reporting”. It’s not only impossible but it’s hypocritical.

For Thailand to reconcile all sides from ASTV to the People’s channel have to be allowed to voice their opinions otherwise Thailand is just Myanmar in the mask of Democracy.

“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” ~Henry Steele Commager

AND just maybe, that is exactly what the Abhisit government and the Military are trying to achieve as they guide Thailand from 65 in the world in 2002 for press freedom to 130 in 2009, according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 12:26 AM   3 Comments

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Enemy of the state #11 - The Terrorists

“There is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression” ~ John Locke

The Thai government was quick to brand the UDD and their leaders Terrorists. Are they or are they not? Or is it someone else?

First lets look at who is a terrorist which is not always easy to define. Sometimes it is easy like with the PAD occupation of the airports and control tower. It’s covered in documents like the Montréal protocols and the UN’s Supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation even if the Thai government does nothing.

The position taken by the Thai government against the UDD and it’s leaders is much more murky. Until the night of April 10th when the Government sent the Police and Army, with war weapons, to disperse the protesters there had been no instance of the UDD with weapons. Unless you class water bottles and flagpoles as weapons. From many videos I have viewed the Military opened fire with live ammunition on unarmed protesters. From videos it is also apparent that there were snipers stationed on tall buildings overlooking the protesters and that at least one sniper was firing. No one can say with any certainty who the sniper was firing at. That night there also appeared the black clad men who appeared to be well trained and they inflicted casualties on the Army.  To date, no one has been able to say who these black clad fighters were.

The Government was quick to brand them as terrorists and to brand then as part of the UDD which they also branded as terrorists. There are many theories about who they are/were. The government and CRES says UDD terrorists, some say they were disgruntled regular military, some say they are mercenaries and some say they were trained by General Khattiya Sawatdiphol (Seh Daeng).

So what is a terrorist? Definitions are few and far between but here goes.

~ a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells

~ An individual who uses violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve a result.

None of these seem to fit the UDD prior to the final dispersal by the military when factions rioted in Bangkok.  Between April 10 and the final crackdown the protesters at best could be called disruptive, unruly and unorganized at least outside the stockade.

In order to respond to terrorism, a clear definition is necessary. Terrorism is defined by Title 22 of the U.S. Code as politically motivated violence perpetrated in a clandestine manner against non-combatants. Experts on terrorism also include another aspect in the definition: the act is committed in order to create a fearful state of mind in an audience different from the victims.

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wait, just wait a gall darn minute.

That more describes the actions of the Government, CRES and the Military than the actions of the UDD. The UDD prior to the final crackdown by the Army did not work in a clandestine manner with violence against non-combatants. Although there were small incidents it was not widespread. The government on the other hand, either through their orders or the actions of those they control DID USE politically motivated violence in a clandestine manner against non-combatants. Things like the use of live fire, live fire zones, Snipers and the Assassination of Seh Daeng can only be seen as acts to cause terror and panic inside the Reds encampment. The arbitrary shooting and killing of unarmed citizens, who may or may not have been aligned with the Reds is also a terrorist act.  Furthermore the turning off of water and the stoppage of food supplies, although unsuccessful, is also a crime against humanity.

“A suffocating siege and ongoing oppression.”  ~ Yasser Arafat

The terms "terrorism" and "terrorist" (someone who engages in terrorism) carry strong negative connotations. These terms are often used as political labels, to condemn violence or the threat of violence by certain actors as immoral, indiscriminate, unjustified or to condemn an entire segment of a population.

This is exactly what the Government and CRES have done, labeled the UDD and it’s leaders Terrorists without any provocation other than political motive.  The numbers tell another story,  88 dead, 1,885 injured, 17 still in ICU almost exclusively from the so called "Terrorist UDD Side" a body count that would even make Dick Cheney shake his head. It was a planned massacre, not a dispersal.

Those labeled "terrorists" by their opponents rarely identify themselves as such, and typically use other terms or terms specific to their situation, such as separatist, freedom fighter, liberator, revolutionary, vigilante, militant, paramilitary, guerrilla, rebel, patriot, or any similar-meaning word.

The UDD labels itself a peaceful Pro-democracy group but there are defiantly units that are aligned with the UDD who would not hesitate to break away and form armed militias or subversive cells as seen on the evening of the overrunning of the UDD site by an armed military.

It very well might be worth noting at the end of this blog that some groups involved in a struggle, have been labeled "terrorists" by governments or media. Two examples of this are the Nobel Peace Prize laureates Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela.

"The risk of a terrorist victory is greater when in fighting terror, democracy betrays its own essence". ~ Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

Thaksin and Terrorist charges , a blog add on.

“He who lives by fighting with an enemy has an interest in the preservation of the enemy's life.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Thaksin may be many things but a terrorist he is not. If he ever had the intention of causing havoc in that way he has the capital to raise a small army. After seeing some of the actions of the Thai Military over the last month, only a small army would be needed. Thailand does not have, at this point, an armed insurgency in the North and Northeast so he’s not supporting that sort of action.

The Thai Government’s latest action just raises a huge Red Flag to all foreign governments. Thailand’s current government has to ask themselves why they can’t get anyone to extradite Thaksin now.   Just in case they don’t already know it’s because they found him guilty of a crime the Junta had to write a law for and then use retroactively. Almost every legal rights group on earth came out against the use of this retroactive law.  Foreign governments also see the way the Abhisit Government threw away the extradition agreement with Canada in the Sexana case.
"To vilify a great man is the readiest way in which a little man can himself attain greatness". ~Edgar Allan Poe

So what will this latest arrest warrant do? Absolutely nothing. It’s an attempt by a failing government to criminalize and vilify an opponent they know they cannot defeat at the ballot box and the governments of the western world know that . They should know this from recent statements from agencies outside Thailand
What we are witnessing is the final panic of the death roll of the Democrat led coalition. Their way is not the way to reconciliation but to further and likely much bloodier confrontation. If the only way to stay in power is to kill or imprison your opponents is there actually any victory at all?  And they have a name for that too.

“He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves: one for his enemy and one for himself”

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 10:05 PM   0 Comments

Enemy of the State #10 - The Witch Hunt and Denial

Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within. ~ Stephen Jay Gould

I was reading Tony Hedges's Blog and this idea came to me from something he had said about reconciliation.

The Abhisit government keeps trying to reassure the people that they are all for reconciliation but in reality they are conducting a Which Hunt on the UDD, the Reds, banned politicians, the PTP and still on Thaksin.

Someone on Twitter, I think @tri26, mentioned the Wiki page “Denial”. I opened it and read “Types of Denial”. Lo and behold there it was in black and white, jumping off the page - Denial of fact & Denial of responsibility - and I quote:-

In Denial of fact, someone avoids a fact by lying. This lying can take the form of an outright falsehood (commission), leaving out certain details to tailor a story (omission), or by falsely agreeing to something (assent, also referred to as "yessing" behaviour). Someone who is in denial of fact is typically using lies to avoid facts they think may be painful to themselves or others.

The reasemblance to what the Government, CRES, the Government PR people have been doing and saying is remarkable.  They have all been using Denial of Fact and the UDD is not off the hook with this one either but to a much lesser degree IMHO.

Denial of responsibility involves avoiding personal responsibility by:

blaming - a direct statement shifting culpability and may overlap with denial of fact

minimizing - an attempt to make the effects or results of an action appear to be less harmful than they may actually be, or

justifying - when someone takes a choice and attempts to make that choice look okay due to their perception of what is "right" in a situation.

Someone using denial of responsibility is usually attempting to avoid potential harm or pain by shifting attention away from themselves.

There it was wrapped up with a big Red bow. That is what the government and CRES has been doing all along. We all knew it but this made it too simple, too easy to see and explain the Witch Hunt that’s going on.

"This is a vicious witch-hunt aimed at crushing the voice of dissent". ~ Aidan White

Carl Forti had an interesting quote some years ago, “I'm going to call Roswell (N.M.) and warn them that Ronnie Earle is on the witch hunt for the Martians they have there“. The quote can be rearranged to reflect the current situation. “I'm going to call (Add any North or Northeatern town) and warn them that (CRES, Abhisit, Suthep, etc) is on the witch hunt for the Reds they have there".

What Thailand needs is some outside independent inquiry into what happened in April and May in Bangkok.

Abhisit has resisted any attempt by outside governments, Amnesty International or the UN to intervene. It's time he swallowed his pride and allowed an independent outside review. If the blame is all on the Reds, as he and Suthep keep stating, what has he to fear. Thailand deserves this let someone independent, who will not sway with the pressure exerted on them, from all the influences inside Thailand come up with a finding. Lay blame at the feet of the UDD if that is their finding; lay it at the feet of the army or CRES or government or media or all of them. We need to know the facts, not the facts as seen through a prism reflecting highly divided and transfixed views of the occurrences in Bangkok.

"You don't want a witch hunt and you don't want a whitewash". ~ William Doherty

BUT: - You do want the truth to come out, whatever it is. and you want those truly responsible for the bloodshed punished. Something that is not happening in Thailand at the moment.

"Better a thousand fold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech". ~ Charles Bradlaugh

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 1:03 AM   1 Comments

Monday, May 24, 2010

Enemy of the state 9 - Guerrillas, Abhisit and CRES

“The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.” Henry Kissinger

Some time ago an international correspondent friend and I were warning of a major problem in the North and Northeast. It was shortly after the coup we both thought may be a prelude to a civil war or popular uprising. Both of us received a lot of flack for our stand and comments. In retrospect it probably sounded absurd but may well be close to inevitable at this point. After all these years I’ve adjusted my thinking a bit. Now I do not feel there will be a full blown civil war, in the strict sense of the word, but rather a protracted Guerrilla war fought more like the southern insurgency which has proved almost impossible for the Thai Military to control.

After April 10th, 2010 Abhisit Vejjajiva should have done the right thing, manned up and taken his own advice.

On 8 October 2008 he was pressing for an inquiry into the violence in the actions taken by the police to clear PAD protesters leaving many injuries and a couple of deaths, none from bullet wounds. He loudly called on the government to admit responsibility for its handling of the People's Alliance Democracy (PAD) demonstration. In a statement, party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would no longer help the four-party discussion to find political solutions for the country unless the government investigated the order for police to suppress the rally earlier in the day.

Fast Forward to April. All calls by the PTP for Abhisit to hold an inquiry into the brutal April 10th crackdown or for him and Deputy PM Suthep to take responsibility for the actions taken against the UDD protesters have so far fallen on deaf ears.

“Whoever stands by a just cause cannot possibly be called a terrorist” Yasser Arafat

With the Prime Minister’s reluctance to take responsibility, he again ordered yet another evens more brutal and oppressive crackdown on the protesters. This time resorting to using snipers who, from many reports, fired on unarmed civilians. This was rationalized by the Abhisit administration and CRES by labelling the Reds as Terrorists. Along with this campaign to vilify the protesters the government embarked on a campaign to spread the word that the Reds were not loyal to the Palace and to censor all media that was opposed to the government. This amounted to closing more radio stations, the Reds TV station and blocking countless websites. The government and the CRES almost stole the script from previous times when bloody crackdowns were preceded by attacks against the protesters as not loyal to the Palace and they were all communists. This is despicable and shows a total disregard for the rights and freedoms of the people of Thailand.

Once the latest crackdown was in operation you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what would happen next. We had a preview a year ago, but this time the radicals in the UDD were more organized. These elements in the UDD not having any leadership, as they were all arrested, ran amuck, burning and pillaging. If this is a shock to anyone then you must have your head in the sand. Losses were exacerbated by the CRES having turned off the water in the area, to make the protesters suffer, rendering the building’s fire protection systems inoperable.


I’ve always said and had this reinforced in March when I personally surveyed five provinces in the North asking people what they thought about the Reds. The government has underestimated badly the support and conviction of the Reds in the North and Northeast. So badly in fact, that some of the radical elements in the Reds, who were reigned in by the leadership of the UDD, have now begun to move underground. I’ve also warned about this happening but no one listened, sometimes it‘s not all that rewarding to be right.

So where does that bring us. If things stay as they are now you can expect a Southern insurgency type operation from the radical elements. You will likely see roving bombings and shootings possibly aimed at Bangkok, PAD elements or non aligned politicians.

Abhisit can no longer reconcile with the North and Northeast. It’s no longer safe for him and some of his government to travel in over half the country, without a huge security operation. If the Reds do happen to get their hands on him, as almost happened last year, he would likely not escape unscathed.

It looks very much like a protracted armed Guerrilla war will be in Thailand’s future. Arms are cheap and easy to acquire. With most of the diehard Guerrilla’s already having received 2 years Military training from the Army, as conscripts, you can also expect things to be a lot bloodier than in the South with targeting of individuals deemed to be enemies of the Guerrillas. They will probably act as individual cells, like is used by Al-Qaeda.

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.” 'Che' Guevara

The Abhisit government, or their proxy, set this ball rolling down the steep slippery slope when they assassinated Seh Daeng, the Reds Military strategist, setting the ground rules for future confrontations. If the underground Reds feel that double standards are being used to single out or persecute Reds you could see swift movement by them.

I don’t think that it’s too late to defuse the situation but for any real reconciliation to happen Abhisit would have to step down and Suthep would probably have to retire from politics. It will be interesting to see what happens with the non confidence debate put forward by the PTP. The smaller coalition members may well side with the PTP otherwise they may have little chance of winning re-election as they will be lumped with the Democrats who cracked down so brutally on the UDD and have won no friends for it in the North and Northeast.

“One Man's Terrorist Is Another Man's Freedom Fighter”

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 12:14 PM   3 Comments

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who are firing the shots that are injuring journalists?

Who are firing the shots that are injuring journalists?

Reporters without Borders - 14 May 2010

Responding to the gunshot injuries sustained by a France 24 reporter and a photographer with the Thai newspaper Matichon in clashes today in Bangkok, Reporters Without Borders calls on both the Thai army and the Red Shirt protesters to guarantee the safety of the journalists who are covering the ongoing developments in the Thai capital.
“The confusion reigning in various parts of Bangkok do not suffice to explain the shooting injuries sustained by several Thai and foreign journalists since April,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Both camps must comply fully with the requirements of international law, according to which journalists cannot be military targets. We also call for an investigation to establish who gave the orders to shoot a rebel general as he was being interviewed by journalists.”
The press freedom organisation added: “We note that Thailand has just got itself elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and we urge the government to guarantee the safety of civilians and put an end to news censorship, in particular, the blocking of the Prachatai website.”

Nelson Rand, a Canadian reporter employed by the French TV news station France 24, was badly injured today by automatic gunfire near the Suan Lum night bazaar. Cyriel Payen, France 24’s Bangkok bureau chief, said he was hit in an exchange of shots between soldiers and Red Shirts. A photographer with the Thai newspaper Matichon also sustained a gunshot injury in the same place.

“He underwent a very long operation and came out of the operating room at about 6 pm,” Payen said about Rand. “He is slowly recovering consciousness. He was hit three times by shots from an assault rifle. Once in the leg, causing the loss of a lot of blood. Once in the abdomen and once in the hand, causing multiple fractures. The doctors say his condition is now stable.”

A journalist working for Voice TV, a Thai cable station that supports the Red Shirts, was also reportedly injured in Bangkok. Red Shirt protesters harassed a TV crew working for Thailand’s Channel 3, accusing them of supporting the government. After an argument, the journalists were able to leave the scene.

Hiroyuki Muramoto, a Japanese cameraman working for the Reuters news agency, was fatally shot and a France 24 cameraman was injured in clashes in Bangkok on 10 April. The results of the official investigation into Muramoto’s death have still not been released.

Reporters Without Borders is also shocked by the methods used by the army to eliminate the pro-Red Shirt general Khattiya Sawasdipol, who was shot in the head yesterday while being interviewed by International Herald Tribune reporter Thomas Fuller. Another journalist who was there said the shot appeared to have been fired by a sniper.

Fuller told CNN: “I was facing him, he was answering my questions, looking at me and the bullet hit him in the forehead, from what I could tell. It looks like the bullet came over my head and struck him.”

At least three people have been killed and more than 60 have been injured in the past 24 hours in Bangkok.

posted by Ricefield radio @ 1:17 AM   2 Comments

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Enemy of the State - The State #8

"Hypocrisy, arrogance, pride, anger, harshness, and ignorance; these are the marks of those who are born with demonic qualities."

When I was just a couple of years out of high school the book the Peter Principle came out. It was insanely popular. I have thought numerous times that Laurence and Raymond must have had a crystal ball dialed into Thailand 2010. For the government, police and military have indeed reached that pinnacle of success. Their "top level of incompetence". It wouldn’t be so bad if one or two reached this great zenith in their career but the entire Government, Military and Police managed to do it in unison. It they were a World Cup Team they would be unbeatable . BUT…. They are politicians, career Generals and an appointed acting Police Chief all brought together under the Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situations, AKA CRES.

The CRES appears to have the combined computing power of an old 8088, that’s less than an old digital watch for you young folk, and in this day and age it’s the Multi Core that gets things done. One has to ask, what is going on with the government. Daily they reinforce the belief that they are inept and incompetent. Every day they threaten, set demands and issue ultimatums. Every day they back down, rescind the orders and appear in total disarray while pointing the finger at anyone that happens by.  Like they could never make a bad decision, never.

The latest boner was the PM, now there’s a grown man with an arrogant schoolboy mentality, who said the Reds had to disperse yesterday.  No ifs, ands or buts they had to go.  He summoned the help of the more than incompetent CRES to help with the Task. With great fanfare the CRES PR mouthpiece told all and sundry they would cut power and water and transportation links in the protest area at midnight. No one had bothered to tell this PR Colonel he was a waste of a chair at the table or the well known fact that the UDD had generators, fuel and water tanks. That intelligence also forgot to mention that they would be turning off power to two of the biggest hospitals in Bangkok, not to mention a bunch of foreign Embassies that were pissed. Then a bolt out of the blue, turning off the water could also be construed as a crime against humanity under the UN Charter.  Hmmmm...  Guess what?  Another misconceived brain fart and another loss of credibility. Yesterday came and went in a whimper, the Reds are still there, talking it up, singing and dancing, bathing in the water of life and breathing the sweet air of another minor victory or more factually another government blunder and loss of face because of another hasty misconceived plan that went awry.
Now our egotistical and overconfident PM has decided to call off the November 14 elections. Does anyone but hard core Democrats and a few old PAD supporters really think he was sincere in that claim in the first place. His road map had more hole and escape routes than a drug trail from Burma. If this doesn’t happen no election, if that doesn’t happen no election, if this happens no election. Come on, no wonder the Reds don’t trust him. The PM has the credibility of a used car salesman who tells you it has a 100% warranty and in the fine print it stated 100% warranted, until it leaves the car lot.
It’s time for Abhisit to swallow the poison pill. He’s caused no end of problems in the country. He’s fixed none. His government is oppressive and censorship is the worst in Thai history. 

We have this to say to him.  Step down, let someone else steer the car, because you have it careening down a steep mountain road, have burned out the brakes and you are totally out of your league. You have long past your "level of incompetence" according to the Peter Principle. Finally do something right, something ethical and let all of us in the country step back from the brink of the abyss. None of us, whatever color, are lemmings, we don’t want to follow you over the cliff into the unthinkable because of your pompous prejudice against those not born with a silver spoon up their butt.

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posted by Ricefield radio @ 11:56 AM   0 Comments

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We have had some computer problems.

Here at Ricefield Radio we have had some major computer problems.  We lost a  file in our operating system and had to reinstall Win XP.  That in itself isn't that much of a problem even though it's our main computer.  Thankfully it wasn't the one that runs the broadcast portion of the station, but it is the one that has all of our audio recording software, gain control, our mail server and even our accounting software.  Reloading all the individual programs took almost 24 hours.

Finally everything was up and running and we were testing and we got a very nasty virus.   When it rains it pours.  We have no idea where it came from but may have arrived before we loaded our virus software.

Most everything we can do on our broadcast unit but some production could not be done and may be delayed for a while.  Things like an updated weather report comes directly to mind.

Please stick with us through all these problems.  We are still on the air and just a bit bruised. We are looking into buying a new main computer as our main one is very overloaded but we will have to wait and see how it goes.

posted by Ricefield radio @ 5:58 AM   0 Comments

Friday, May 7, 2010

Letter to Prime Minister Abhisit on Thailand's Candidacy to the UN Human Rights Council

May 5, 2010

Dear Prime Minister Abhisit,
Human Rights Watch is writing in regard to Thailand's candidacy for election to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/251 states that members of the Human Rights Council shall "uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights" and "fully cooperate with the Council." We believe that it is essential for countries which are members of the Human Rights Council to adhere to these criteria. For this reason, Human Rights Watch is writing to a number of countries running for the Human Rights Council about which we have concerns regarding their human rights record.
In support of its candidature for the 2010-2013 term, the Thai government circulated a memorandum dated February 22, 2010 outlining its human rights record and its commitments and pledges. Human Rights Watch asks for your commitment to make the following additional changes in Thailand's laws, policies, and practices that affect the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

Rescind reservations to human rights treaties
Thailand has voluntarily pledged to "expedite efforts towards the withdrawal of the country's reservations in respect to CEDAW and ICCPR" - the Convention on the Elimination of All Forces of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Human Rights Watch calls on Thailand to publicly proclaim before May 13 which reservations it will rescind, though we urge the government to withdraw all its reservations to these two important treaties. Thailand should also revoke its reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically on article 7 regarding birth documents, nationality, and the right to be cared for by parents; and article 22 regarding refugee status.

Ratify additional human rights treaties
As a major migrant labor receiving nation, Thailand should immediately ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Migrant workers, primarily from neighboring countries of Burma, Laos, and Cambodia, continue to suffer from pervasive discrimination resulting in much lower wages and poorer conditions of work, and often violent retaliation from employers and authorities when they complain and demand their rights.

Thailand should go much further than its lukewarm pledge to "pursue feasibility studies" on ratification of International Labor Organization Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association), Convention No. 100 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation), and Convention No. 111 (Discrimination) and promptly ratify these important conventions, which have long been the subject of continued campaigns by the Thai labor movement.

Human Rights Watch calls on the Thai government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. Thai security forces continue to use enforced disappearance as a tool against suspected ethnic Malay Muslim separatists in southern Thailand, while elsewhere in the country the police have been found to frequently commit enforced disappearance against persons suspected of drug trafficking and other common crimes.

Human Rights Watch appreciates that Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in October 2000, but we note that the Thai government must still ratify the treaty in order to become an ICC state party. We call on the Thai government to proceed with the ratification of this important document, which will affirm Thailand's commitment to end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Expand cooperation with UN Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

Human Rights Watch notes that Thailand pledged to "engage constructively and work closely with the HRC Special Procedures." While we welcome Thailand's agreement to receive the special rapporteur on trafficking and the special rapporteur on the sale of children, we note that there are nine outstanding requests from special rapporteurs whose mandates cover critical areas for human rights protection in Thailand. Human Rights Watch urges that your government immediately extend invitations for visits to those on this waiting list and arrange to complete all nine visits by 2013. These would include visits by the special rapporteurs on (1) freedom of opinion and expression (requested in 2004); (2) freedom of religion (2004); (3) right to health (2005); (4) extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (2005, reminder sent in 2008); (5) adequate housing (2008); (6) human rights and counter-terrorism (2010); (7) the working group on arbitrary detention (2008); and independent experts on (8) minority issues (2006, reminder sent in 2007) and (9) access to safe drinking water and sanitation (2010).

In addition, as a matter of principle, Thailand should issue a standing invitation to visit to all UN special procedures mandate holders, including special rapporteurs, independent experts, and working groups.

Conduct effective investigations into disappearances of human rights defenders

Human Rights Watch calls on the Thai government to publicly make it a top national priority to make substantive progress in the investigation of the cases of 20 human rights defenders killed or "disappeared" in recent years. These include the 2004 "disappearance" and presumed murder of well-known Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, whose case was accepted by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in June 2005. We urge you to ensure investigators are provided with the personnel, resources, and serious political backing and commitment to pursue these cases despite opposition from self-interested or responsible parties.

Conduct effective investigations into major human rights abuses in the south

The Thai government should ensure that thorough and impartial investigations are conducted into the massacre at Al-Furquan Mosque on June 8, 2009 and the killing of Imam Yapa Kaseng in Narathiwat's Rue Soh district on March 21, 2008. The government should also reopen the case of the killings conducted by police and army at the Krue Se Mosque on April 28, 2004, and ensure that an impartial and transparent investigation is performed. The government should also re-visit the Tak Bai massacre case in which a provincial court declined to hold any government officials responsible for actions that resulted in the deaths of 78 persons on October 25, 2004.

Ensure accountability for "war on drugs" extrajudicial killings

Human Rights Watch commends your government for initially supporting the reopening of investigations into the 2,819 extrajudicial killings that allegedly accompanied former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's "war on drugs" in 2003. However, we are concerned that progress has stalled in holding accountable all those responsible, particularly because of strong resistance by the Royal Thai Police, which was implicated in many of these killings. We urge the government to redouble its efforts to bring perpetrators of these killings to justice, to dismiss those individuals involved, and to end systematic police brutality and abuse of power in drug suppression operations.

Concerns about Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency

Human Rights Watch recognizes the very serious challenges faced by the government in the current political crisis and urge that you address the concerns raised in our recent statements [] and []. In response to the current situation, persons who commit criminal offenses should be prosecuted under existing criminal laws and procedures in accordance with international human rights standards.

Unfortunately, your government has made extensive use of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in a State of Emergency ("Emergency Decree"). We have serious concerns about the overly broad powers granted by the decree to detain individuals without charge in unofficial places of detention without assurance of effective judicial oversight, and without immediate access to legal counsel and family members. Human Rights Watch calls on your government to abstain from using this authority for arbitrary arrest or preventive detention.

The Emergency Decree has been used in an abusive and counter-productive manner in the context of the protracted protests by the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and in ongoing counterinsurgency operations against separatist militants in southern Thailand. Article 5 of the Emergency Decree states that a state of emergency shall last a maximum of three months, but provides no limits on its extension, creating the risk of arbitrary, disproportionate and indefinite restrictions on basic rights and freedoms. We are alarmed by reports that article 12 of the Emergency Decree is currently being used to hold persons outside of police stations, jails, and other regular detention centers, and instead at military bases and other unofficial places of detention. Article 17 of the Emergency Decree provides government officials immunity from civil, criminal, and disciplinary liability for acts under the decree performed in good faith, and that are non-discriminatory and not unreasonable in the circumstances. By protecting security personnel from prosecution for serious human rights violations and denying victims a judicial remedy, Thailand is failing to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. Human Rights Watch calls to your attention that the risk of "disappearances," torture and other ill-treatment significantly increases when detainees are held incommunicado in unofficial locations and under the control of the military, which lacks training and experience in civilian law enforcement.

Ensure protection for freedom of expression

Human Rights Watch remains deeply concerned about the safety of journalists in the country and the Thai government's widespread use of censorship. In recent days in Bangkok, your government has undermined media freedom and violated the right to free expression through its use of the Emergency Decree. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban used emergency powers to shut down more than 400 websites, a satellite television station, online television channels, and community radio stations, most of which are considered closely aligned with groups opposing the government.
These actions follow actions in 2009-2010 that closed down more than 18,000 websites because of allegations they were promoting either anti-monarchy sentiments or posing other vaguely defined threats to national security. The charge of lese majeste (penal code article 112) has been used against Thai citizens and foreigners, journalists and academics, bloggers and web board discussants, and government critics, causing a number of them to flee the country. Suwicha Thakor was sentenced to 10 years in prison on April 3 under article 112 and the Computer Crimes Act. On August 28, 2009, Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was sentenced to 18 years in prison for violating article 112. On March 6 Chiranuch Premchaiyaporn of online news forum Prachatai was arrested and her office raided by police. She was accused of violating the Computer Crimes Act with website postings in October-November 2008. On November 1, the police arrested Katha Pajariyapong and Theeranan Vipuchan for posting on the internet their comments and Thai translations of international media reports. They were charged under the Computer Crimes Act with feeding false information causing harm to national security and the public.

Human Rights Watch calls on the government to repeal the Computer Crimes Act and reform other provisions of law limiting the right to freedom of expression. Thailand should also immediately lift censorship and other restraints on the rights to freedom of expression of online and broadcast media imposed during the current political protests, or appropriately charge the media operators with incitement under the criminal code in accordance with international law.

Support rights of migrant workers

Human Rights Watch extensively documented human rights and labor violations against migrant workers in its recent report, From the Tiger to the Crocodile: Abuse of Migrant Workers in Thailand, []. To date the Thai government has not acted on the major recommendations of this report.

We call on your government to establish a special commission to independently and impartially investigate allegations of systematic violations of the basic rights of migrants by police and other Thai authorities across the country. This commission should have the power to subpoena witnesses and compel provision of documentary evidence, and produce a public report. It should be empowered to make recommendations for criminal investigations in specific cases and for changes in laws, regulations, and policies that adversely affect the human rights of migrants.

Human Rights Watch also urges your government to take all necessary measures to end torture and ill-treatment of migrants in custody, and ensure that all allegations of mistreatment are promptly and thoroughly investigated and that all those responsible are appropriately prosecuted.

The Thai government should also amend articles 88 and 100 of the Labor Relations Act of 1975 to allow for persons of all nationalities to apply to establish a trade union and serve as a legally recognized trade union officer, and ensure that the revised Labor Relations Act is fully in compliance with the standards set out in International Labor Organization Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association).

Protection of the right to seek asylum, prevention of refoulement

The government should immediately ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Thailand hosts over 140,000 asylum seekers from Burma and has a strong responsibility to ensure their protection ratifications of the Convention and the Protocol and through meaningful and full cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok.

Human Rights Watch remains extremely concerned by the forced return of over 4600 Lao Hmong asylum seekers, including 158 Hmong "persons of concern" registered by UNHCR, to Laos in late December 2009. This episode remains a severe blot on Thailand's historical record of offering protection to asylum seekers, and the pledges of Laos to Thailand regarding this forced return remain unfulfilled. Thailand should work closely with the United States, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and UNHCR to ensure that unfettered and continuous access is provided to this group of Hmong, and they are given the right to be screened and if eligible, resettled to a third country.

Thailand should also publicly state that it will not seek to forcibly return Burmese asylum seekers from camps on the Thai-Burma border following the anticipated elections in late 2010 in Burma.

We appreciate your attention to these issues. We would be pleased to discuss our concerns with you or members of your government.

Sincerely yours,

Brad Adams
Executive Director
Asia Division

H.E. Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs
H.E. Chaovarat Chanweerakul, Minister of Interior
H.E. Phaitoon Kaeothong, Minister of Labor
General Anupong Paochinda Commander, Royal Thai Army
Pol. Gen. Patheep Tanprasert, Acting National Police Chief
H.E. Mr. Norachit Sinhaseni Thai Ambassador to the UN

posted by Ricefield radio @ 11:08 AM   0 Comments