Thailand dictatorship humiliates woman for free speech


This video from Thailand says about itself:

17 October 2016

Thai woman made to kneel before king’s portrait over royal insult

In this image made from video taken on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, Umaporn Sarasat, 43, kneels before King Bhumibol Adulyadej‘s portrait after she is accused of insulting the royal institution. Pic: AP.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Thai woman made to kneel down as punishment for insulting Bhumibol

Today, 14:14

After the death of King Bhumibol last Thursday Thailand is in deep mourning. … but that is not true for everyone. As for Umaporn Sarasat who posted critical comments on social media about the royals.

She was arrested immediately and afterwards a mob of angry [monarchists] went to the police station on the island Koh Samui. The woman had to prostrate herself in public before a photo of the king, while the crowd screamed abuse at her. She will be prosecuted for lèse majesté.

A conviction for lèse majesté may mean fifteen years in jail in Thailand.

An award-winning Thai film director has told the BBC he does not want his latest film shown in Thailand as he would be required to self-censor: here.

A cleaning lady in Thailand is being charged by the government for posting the words “I see” on Facebook. She is accused of insulting the monarchy – a charge that can lead to jail sentences of up to 15 years. However, she says she is being punished because her son is an activist, as the BBC’s Jonathan Head reports: here.

After the announcement of the King’s death Thursday evening, all television channels including foreign networks such as the BBC were replaced with government-produced footage eulogizing the king. BBC correspondent Jonathan Head confirmed their coverage about Thailand had been blocked in the country several times ever since. “Whenever reporting on Thailand comes up our transmissions are blocked. Just now when I was reporting live,” Head told Khaosod English Sunday: here.

The autocratic record of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej: here.

King of Thailand dies


This video from the USA says about itself:

Don’t Mess with Thailand King’s Dog

16 December 2015

James Corden looks at a few stories about animals, including a man facing a harsh sentence for insulting the first dog of Thailand and a painting seal.

On the same day that Italian Nobel Prize winning playwright Dario Fo has died, another man has died: King Bhumibol of Thailand.

These two men were both well-known persons. They died at nearly the same age: Dario Fo was 90; King Bhumibol was 88.

However, for the rest there were big differences. Dario Fo mocked oppressive authority. King Bhumibol allowed himself to be used as a symbol for oppressive authority, often wielded by cruel military dictators.

The dictatorship in Thailand meted out draconian penalties for supposed lèse majesté against the king; though the criticisms for which people were punished harshly were often not against the king, but, eg, against the king’s dog or against the military dictators.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Thai King Bhumibol is dead. This was announced by the Thai court. King Bhumibol (88), also known as Rama IX, struggled for years with poor health. …

His son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn (63), is the intended successor. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Bhumibol appointed him in 2002. …

Prayuth further said that the government will observe a mourning period of one year and for thirty days flags will hang at half-mast. …

The Thai king was the longest reigning monarch in the world. He ascended the Thai throne in 1946 after his brother had died from a gunshot wound. Who fired the bullet was never cleared up completely. Two members of the royal household got the death penalty for it. Bhumibol was crowned king in 1950.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (90) is now the longest reigning monarch. She has today been on the throne for 64 years and 250 days.

The death of the Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej yesterday afternoon at the age of 88 has provoked fears in ruling circles in Thailand and internationally that the country’s protracted political crisis will worsen. The king had close ties to the armed forces and was the linchpin of the state apparatus, currently presided over by a military junta: here.

Monarchist mob threatens Thai who, long before the king’s death, had written that ‘everyone will die at some time’.

Torturing Thai tyrants threaten arrest of Amnesty International


This video says about itself:

Amnesty International Cancels Talk on Torture in Thailand

28 September 2016

Amnesty International cancels their conference on torture in Thailand after officials threaten to arrest the organization’s speakers

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Amnesty reps banned from conference

Thursday 29th September 2016

Thai police accused of torture in Amnesty report

by Our Foreign Desk

AMNESTY International was forced to abandon a news conference in the Thai capital Bangkok yesterday after the authorities threatened to arrest its speakers.

The human rights group was due to a release a report at the conference that accuses Thai soldiers and police of carrying out torture and abuse including beatings, suffocation by plastic bags and electric shocks to the genitals.

However, just before the news conference was to begin, Ministry of Labour officials warned Amnesty that the two speakers set to talk about the damming report did not possess work permits and were at risk of being arrested if they spoke on stage.

“We know that the current government does not accept criticism very well,” said Amnesty legal adviser Yuval Ginbar, who had been due to address the press conference.

“But what is happening in the unofficial places of detention — people being beaten up, people being suffocated, people being waterboarded — this is more important than what we’re facing here.”

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd defended the Ministry of Labour’s actions by saying that, no matter which organisation the speakers were from, they must comply with the law.

“Our laws don’t have multiple standards, we have only one standard. We all have to follow these laws. Even if we are criticised, the law is the law,” Mr Sansern explained.

Without mentioning the Amnesty report directly, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha defended military detention of “so-called political prisoners,” saying that they are given good housing and food but sometimes complain about things like the quality of air conditioning.

“We’ve released so many of these so-called political prisoners, but some are charged so we have to hold them,” Mr Prayuth said.

“I hope you understand, I’ve been very forgiving. Only a few people suffer because they want to violate things all the time.”

Dictatorship’s referendum in Thailand


This video says about itself:

Thai prime minister threatens to ‘execute’ journalists

25 March 2015

Thailand’s military leader has lashed out at journalists saying he would “probably just execute” those who did “not report the truth”, in the latest outburst aimed at Thailand‘s media.

“We’ll probably just execute them,” Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday, when asked by reporters how the government would deal with those that do not adhere to the official line.

“You don’t have to support the government, but you should report the truth,” the former army chief said, telling reporters to write in a way that bolsters national reconciliation in the kingdom.

Prayuth, who is also prime minister, heads the ruling military junta or National Council for Peace and Order. He toppled the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in a coup last May, that followed months of protests aimed at ousting Yingluck.

Prayuth launched a crackdown on dissenters after seizing power in May. He has said Thailand is not ready to lift martial law, which gives the army sweeping powers, including for arrest and detention.

‘Notoriously hot-headed’

Bob Dietz, coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists‘ Asia Programme, condemned Prayuth’s statement saying, the Thai leader “is being more than just gruff here, it’s a threat”.

“He is notoriously hot-headed, and prone to outbursts like this,” Dietz said in a comment to Al Jazeera.

“Last September he announced a one-year plan to overcome the deep political fault lines in Thailand. So far the plan seems to just be to tell everyone to just be quiet and stop being critical of the government and each other.”

In January the junta forced a German foundation to cancel a forum on press freedom saying Thailand was at a sensitive juncture. Since taking power, the junta has made full use of martial law, which also bans all political gatherings.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Thailand: Junta asks voters to back negation of democracy

Saturday 6th August 2016

THAILAND’S voters will be asked to decide tomorrow on a new constitution, along with an accompanying measure to keep the military government in control for several years.

A Yes vote would also enshrine the vesting of a great deal of power in appointed rather than elected officials.

Despite the importance of tomorrow’s decision, there have been no political rallies, no independent campaigns and virtually no debates by order of the ruling military junta.

Over 100 people who tried to campaign against the referendum on social media have been jailed, while open criticism has been made punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.

“The lack of open campaigning is effectively a one-sided campaign,” said Chulalongkorn University political analyst Thitinan Pongsudhirak in Bangkok.

“The intention is to have campaigns for the constitution, not against the constitution, because a lot of credibility is on the line for the junta.”

He suggested, however, that the political repression “has boomeranged because the other side has gathered some steam and we are seeing more anti-charter movement rising.”

The junta, which took power in a May 2014 coup, claims that the new constitution will usher in a new era of clean politics and stable democracy in a country chronically short of both in recent years.

Critics note that, for at least a five-year “transition” period, the senate will be a 250-strong chamber whose members would be appointed by the junta and include the commanders of the army and other security services.

Thai constitutional referendum entrenches military dictatorship: here.

Thailand dictatorship police arrests eight-year-old girls


This video says about itself:

Thai army threatens coup opponents with military courts

25 May 2014

Protests against the military coup in Thailand have multiplied and appear to have plenty of steam driving them despite the army’s warning that anyone violating its orders would be tried in a military court.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Thai police arrests two eight year old girls

Today, 07:38

The Thai police have arrested two girls aged eight years because they had removed voting posters from the wall of a school. Indictment: “Obstruction the referendum process” and “Destruction of public property.” The motive of the couple: they thought the colour of the posters – pink – was so beautiful.

In Thailand, on 7 August there will be a referendum on constitutional reforms which, according to the military rulers should bring more stability. Critics say the proposed measures only give the military more power.

The regime, in power since May 2014, does not seem to be entirely comfortable on the outcome of the referendum. There have made a law prohibiting both debate on the constitution and campaigning for or against it.

Unique swimming centipede discovered on honeymoon


Scolopendra cataracta, photo by Warut Siriwut

From National Geographic:

‘Horrific’ First Amphibious Centipede Discovered

This giant, venomous creepy-crawly is as comfortable swimming and walking underwater as it is on land, in a finding that surprised scientists.

Meet S. cataracta, a new species of centipede that hunts in the water, a first for the group.

By Mary Bates

PUBLISHED June 26, 2016

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water—look out for giant, swimming centipedes!

Scientists have recently described the world’s first known amphibious centipede. It belongs to a group of giant centipedes called Scolopendra and grows up to 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) long.

Like all centipedes, it is venomous and carnivorous. Thankfully, this new water-loving species appears to live only in Southeast Asia. The creature’s description was published last month in the journal ZooKeys.

Centipede Serendipity

George Beccaloni of the Natural History Museum in London was on his honeymoon in Thailand in 2001. And like any good entomologist, he was looking for bugs.

“Wherever I go in the world, I always turn over rocks beside streams, and that’s where I found this centipede, which was quite a surprise,” says Beccaloni.

“It was pretty horrific-looking: very big with long legs and a horrible dark, greenish-black color,” he says.

When Beccaloni lifted the rock it was hiding under, the centipede immediately escaped into the stream, rather than into the forest. It ran along the stream bed underwater and concealed itself under a rock.

With some difficulty, Beccaloni captured the centipede and later put it in a large container of water. He says it immediately dove to the bottom and swam powerfully like an eel, with horizontal undulations of its body. When he took the centipede out of the container, the water rolled off its body, leaving it totally dry.

Beccaloni brought his specimen back to the Natural History Museum in London and asked a centipede expert about his observations. The expert was skeptical, because Scolopendra are found in dry habitats and no centipedes were known to be amphibious. So the specimen sat in the museum’s collection for years.

Finally, a New Species

Meanwhile, Beccaloni’s colleague at the Museum, Gregory Edgecombe, and his student in Thailand, Warut Siriwut, were on the verge of describing a new species of centipede.

They had collected two specimens near waterfalls in Laos, and DNA analysis confirmed it was a new species. They named the centipede Scolopendra cataracta, from the Latin for “waterfall.”

Beccaloni shared the observations of his specimen’s amphibious behavior with Edgecombe, and they confirmed that his honeymoon centipede was an example of S. cataracta.

The entire species is known from just four specimens: the two collected in Laos, Beccaloni’s swimming specimen from Thailand, and a fourth specimen that was collected in Vietnam in 1928 and was in the collection at the Natural History Museum in London, misidentified as a more common species.

Beccaloni believes S. cataracta exploits a different ecological niche from other centipedes.

“Other Scolopendra hunt on land,” he says. “I would bet this species goes into the water at night to hunt aquatic or amphibious invertebrates.”

Like all centipedes, this new amphibious species is venomous. Although you would not want to be bitten by one, it probably wouldn’t kill you—it would just cause agonizing pain.

“All large Scolopendra can deliver a painful bite, the ‘fang’ of the venom-delivery system being able to pierce our skin,” says Edgecombe.

Bites from related centipedes of about the same size as S. cataracta cause a burning pain that can spread the length of the entire arm or leg if a finger or toe is envenomated. Edgecombe says the pain may persist for a few days, but probably won’t leave one with any longer-lasting effects.

It sounds like some people’s worst nightmare: if you go for a dip in a nice stream at night, there might be giant centipedes lurking in the water.

But to scientists like Beccaloni and Edgecombe, the new discovery is further proof of all the wonders of nature that are still unknown to us.

“People tend to study streams in the tropics during the day, but there is probably a whole other range of interesting amphibious things that come out at night,” says Beccaloni. “It would be good to study these streams and their fauna then to see what is actually going on under the cover of darkness.”