Thailand military dictators abolish elections


This video says about itself:

Protesters in Thailand invoke Hunger Games

4 June 2014

Protesters in the Thai capital Bangkok have adopted a hand gesture from the film series The Hunger Games to express dissent against the military junta.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Voters to have no say in selection of junta‘s new senate

Thursday 26th February 2015

A COMMITTEE appointed by Thailand’s military rulers said yesterday that the country’s new 200-member senate will be nominated and not directly elected by voters.

The new senators will be chosen from pools of candidates including former premiers, ex-military leaders and representatives from different professions, committee spokesman Lertrat Ratanavanich told reporters on Wednesday.

Drafting the new constitution is being carried out by the 36-person committee hand-picked by the junta after it overthrew the civilian government and abolished the last charter in last May’s coup.

Under the last constitution, half of the 150-member senate was directly elected and the rest appointed. Now, there will be no place for election.

The new senate structure has been designed to limit the power of elected politicians in the parliament.

It follows years of landslide electoral triumph by political parties allied with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai Party.

The power struggle between the military-backed upper and middle class and Thaksin’s pro-democracy supporters has fuelled the sometimes violent political conflict over the past decade.

“There’s a likelihood that the Pheu Thai Party will win again once there’s an election, so they are designing the constitution to do whatever it takes to limit the power in parliament of the elected politicians,” warned Kan Yeunyong, executive director of the Bangkok-based think tank Siam Intelligence Unit.

Completed, the constitutional draft will be reviewed by the military-appointed national reform council, the cabinet and the junta leaders.

Thai dictatorship jails theatre makers for play


This video says about itself:

29 December 2014

Two Thai students have admitted insulting royalty in a play they performed about a 1973 uprising.

Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Pornthip Munkong, 25, face up to 15 years in jail under lese majeste laws, which protect the royals from any insults.

The play called Wolf Bride featured a fictional king and his advisor.

Thailand’s lese majeste laws are the world’s strictest, but critics say they are often used to settle personal rows or silence political opposition.

The play was performed at Bangkok‘s Thammasat University in October 2013, but the pair were not arrested until August this year.

Both students have been denied bail, and have been held in custody since their arrest.

Several other people involved with the performance are also facing charges.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Two Thais jailed for ‘insulting’ royal family in university play

Activists sentenced to two and half years in jail as the junta intensifies its crackdown on slurs against the royals under controversial lese majeste law

Monday 23 February 2015 01.08 GMT

Two young Thais accused of insulting the monarchy in a university play were jailed for two and a half years on Monday as the ruling junta intensifies its crackdown on perceived royal slurs under the kingdom’s controversial lese majeste law.

Patiwat Saraiyaem, 23, and Porntip Mankong, 26, were sentenced after admitting defamation after their arrest last August, nearly a year after The Wolf Bride, a satire set in a fictional kingdom, was performed at Bangkok’s Thammasat University.

The pair were originally sentenced to five years in prison each but the term was reduced to two years and six months due to their confessions, said a judge at Ratchada Criminal Court in Bangkok.

“The court considers their role in the play caused serious damage to the monarchy and sees no reason to suspend their sentences,” he said.

They were each charged with one count of lese majeste linked to the play, which marked the 40th anniversary of a pro-democracy student protest at the university that was crushed by the military regime in October 1973.

Police are hunting for at least six others involved in the performance for allegedly violating “112” – the feared section of the Thai criminal code which carries up to 15 years in jail for each count of insulting the king, queen, heir or regent.

Of those on the wanted list, at least two have fled Thailand, joining dozens of academics, activists and political opponents of the coup in self-exile amid a surge in royal defamation cases since the military seized power in May.

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 87, is revered by many in the country as a demi-god and shielded by one of the world’s most draconian royal defamation laws.

The Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights said at least 40 people have been arrested since the coup – seven of them have already been sentenced to between three and 15 years in prison.

Rights activists as well as local and international media are forced to censor discussion of cases as even repeating details of charges risks breaking the law.

Under junta rule Thailand has seen a rapid deterioration in civil rights with the military crushing any criticsm of the coup from banning protests and censoring the media to arresting and detaining opponents.

The Wolf Bride was performed in October 2013, several months before the coup, but the case is just one of many driven through by the junta, which is bolstering its self-designated role as protector of the monarchy.

Critics say the lese majeste law has been used as a tool to suppress political dissent, noting that many of those charged have been linked to the opposition Red Shirt movement.

Before the ruling, Andrea Giorgetta from FIDH said the surge in lese majeste cases looked set to continue.

“We’re expecting a lot more people to go to jail in the next month. Almost all cases have been backdated (for alleged offences) before the coup,” he told AFP. “It’s a very grim situation for rights in Thailand.”

Recent 112 convictions include a taxi driver jailed for two-and-a-half years after his passenger recorded their conversation on a mobile phone, while a student, 24, was sentenced to the same period of time for defaming the monarchy in a message posted on Facebook.

Analysts say the most recent chapter of Thailand’s long-drawn political turmoil is fuelled by anxieties over who will run the country when the more than six-decade reign of the ailing king, the world’s longest-serving monarch, eventually ends.

Discussion on succession is also restricted in Thailand under the lese majeste law.

Will marine area in Myanmar be protected?


This video says about itself:

Reef Life of the Andaman (full marine biology documentary)

“Reef Life of the Andaman” is a documentary of the marine life of Thailand and Burma (Myanmar).

Scuba diving more than 1000 times from the coral reefs and underwater pinnacles of Thailand‘s Similan Islands, Phuket, Phi Phi Island and Hin Daeng, to Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago and Burma Banks, I encountered everything from manta rays to seahorses, whale sharks to shipwrecks. The 116-minute film features descriptions of 213 different marine species including more than 100 tropical fish, along with sharks, rays, moray eels, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, sea slugs, cuttlefish, squid, octopus, turtles, sea snakes, starfish, sea cucumbers, corals, worms etc..

From Wildlife Extra:

New Marine Protected Area for Myanmar

A new, possible Marine Protected Area in Myanmar’s Myeik archipelago is under consideration by the country’s government, Flora and Fauna International have reported.

Situated in the north-eastern Andaman Sea the archipelago comprises over 800 islands of white sandy beaches and coral reefs teeming with a diverse array of marine life.

Scientific surveys of the area have revealed around 287 species of coral and 365 reef fish species, as well as reefs rich in echinoderms, crustaceans, molluscs and sponges.

The MPA has been proposed in a bid to conserve this unique biodiversity from the serious threats it faces, such as overfishing, destructive fishing methods, and to support sustainable fisheries.

Frank Momberg, FFI Myanmar Programme Director said, “Myanmar’s fisheries resources have declined dramatically over the last decade. However, by establishing a marine protected area network Myanmar will protect important nursery grounds for fish, coral reef and mangrove areas critical to maintaining the livelihood of coastal fishing communities and the fishing industry.”

Tiger discovery in Thailand


This video is called Wild Indochinese Tigers in Thailand.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tigers recorded in Thailand’s Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time

Conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have for the first time captured images of a tiger in Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand, officially confirming the presence of these cats in the Sanctuary.

Covering 868km squared, Salakpra is part of the Western Forest Conservation Complex (WEFCOM), a priority tiger area located close to the Myanmar border. Although tigers have been known to live and breed in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in the northern part of WEFCOM, no tiger has been recorded as far south as Salakpra until now. The two sanctuaries are connected through the Srisawat Forest Corridor, which ZLS say could be an important area for tigers providing that the right protection is in place.

For years rangers, villagers and hill tribes people in the area have maintained that they have seen tigers and signs of tigers south of Huai Kha Khaeng, which prompted researchers at ZSL to undertaken the first comprehensive survey of Salakpra to investigate the presence of the big cat.

Last spring, they set up camera traps along known wildlife pathways into two areas of the sanctuary, and almost one year later they were rewarded with the first image of a tiger in Salakpra. Three days after the first image, another shot was taken of a tiger in a different part of the sanctuary. It was confirmed that it was the same animal in both images, and has been identified as a female born in Hui Kha Khaeng. “These two images confirm what rangers and villagers have long suspected – that tigers born in Huai Kha Khaeng are moving at least as far south as Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary,” says Craig Bruce, ZSL’s Senior Programme Manager for Asia. “Tigers are facing a very real threat of extinction in Thailand and across their range. That we now have evidence of tigers in an area where they have not previously been recorded is extremely positive news – it suggests they are using more of the WEFCOM landscape than previously thought. The next stage of our work will be continued camera trapping to build a picture of prey availability in Salakpra and determine whether other nearby areas are also being used by tigers.”