Imprisonment in Thailand for ‘insulting’ 400-year-dead king?


This video from Thailand says about itself:

Sulak Sivaraksa on lèse majesté, nationalistic history, coup, and succession

6 November 2014

The self-proclaimed royalist Sulak Sivaraksa has faced at least three lèse majesté charges. The latest one filed against him at the age of 82 was brought by two retired generals who were not satisfied with Sulak’s speech on King Naresuan, a monarch who ruled Ayutthaya Kingdom about 400 years ago.

Prachatai’s Thaweeporn Kummetha interviewed Sulak Sivaraksa, a renowned royalist and lèse majesté critic at his home in Bangkok.

In Thailand, there is draconian lèse majesté punishment for ‘insulting’ a living king or other royal. There is draconian lèse majesté punishment for ‘insulting’ a living king’s dog.

Now, things in Thailand are getting ‘curioser and curioser‘ as Alice used to say in Wonderland.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

One is not allowed to offend a king who died 400 years ago in Thailand

Today, 12:52

An 85-year-old Thai man may go to a prison cell for insulting a king who reigned 400 years ago. He appeared before the military court in Bangkok today and is accused of lèse majesté.

Sulak Sivaraksa three years ago in a speech at a university asked a question about what happened in 1593. He wondered if the story is true that at that time the Thai king Naresuan killed the Burmese crown prince in a personal duel on an elephant. This ‘battle of Nong Sarai’ is still commemorated every year.

Sulak, who has often expressed criticism about the rulers in Thailand, does not understand why he is still prosecuted for statements he made in 2014. “Maybe they do not like me because I never keep my mouth shut. I speak the truth. I have to be critical. That’s my job.”

People accused of lèse majesté in Thailand may be imprisoned between 3 and 15 years. There is nothing in the law about insulting dead kings, but according to Sivaraksa’s lawyer, it is just how someone interprets the law.

According to a human rights organization, since the army did a coup in Thailand in 2014, 138 people have been accused of lèse majesté.

What next? Will Theresa May in Britain now jail people for saying 16th century King of England Henry VIII had some of his wives beheaded (which is true), because Ms May wants ‘Henry VIII powers’ for herself?

Theresa May as Henry VIII

This picture shows how Theresa May might look if she was Henry VIII, which she isn’t.

This 2015 French video, with English subtitles, asks itself whether French author Charles Perrault based his Bluebeard tale on King Henry VIII.

Five people accused by Thailand’s military junta of hoarding military weapons were charged on Thursday. The charges are a thinly veiled attempt to suppress political opposition and potentially to create a pretext for delaying or calling off elections promised for next year: here.

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Thailand military dictatorship threatens scientists


This video says about itself:

Introduction and Opening to ICTS13 [13th International Thai Studies Conference] (15/07/17)

Introduction to ICTS13 by Dr. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Academic Chair,

ICTS13 Welcome and Opening, by Professor Emeritus Avudh Srisukri, M.D., Vice Chairman of University Council and Acting President of Chiang Mai University

That was before the military dictatorship of Thailand intervened.

From the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands today:

International Statement in support of Dr. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti and colleagues

As representatives or heads of international academic organizations or academic programs, we view with deep concern the recent news that the Royal Thai Police may be about to charge Dr. Chayan Vaddhanaphuti from Chiang Mai University along with four others – Chaipong Samnieng, Ph.D. Candidate and Lecturer, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Chiang Mai University; Teeramon Buangam, M.A Candidate, Faculty of Mass Communication, Chiang Mai University (and Editor, Prachaham News); Nontawat Machai, undergraduate student, Faculty of Mass Communication, Chiang Mai University; and Pakavadi Veerapaspong, independent writer and translator – with illegal political assembly.

The recent 13th International Thai Studies Conference (ICTS) and the 10th International Convention of Asia Scholars were major international academic events each attended by around 1300 participants, from 37 countries (ICTS) and over 50 countries (ICAS) respectively, that brought a global presence of scholars to Thailand. These conferences enjoy high international prestige and produce work of impressive and lasting significance. Dr. Chayan was entrusted by his university to facilitate the organization of these two major events, both of which received official support from the Governor of the Province of Chiang Mai. Dr. Chayan’s organizational skills and intellectual leadership are celebrated worldwide, and were certainly in evidence on these occasions.

The presence of military officers at the ICAS conference apparently prompted some individuals to affirm that the conference was an academic forum and not a military barracks, a statement made in defense of the academic nature of the conference.

We are sure you will agree that Chiang Mai Convention and Exhibition Center is indeed not a military barracks. We believe that making this factual statement was a legitimate expression of their rights and liberties, as permitted under Article 4 of the 2017 Constitution; and one that in no way threatened Thailand’s peace and order.

We would therefore urge that all charges be dropped against Dr. Chayan and the other individuals named above, who clearly had no intention of violating any laws on political assemblage. Chiang Mai University and other universities in Thailand have hosted many international academic conferences, each important not only for the opportunities for scholars to share current research, but also for generating economic revenue for Chiang Mai and other hosting provinces. Holding such international conferences is a vital component if Thailand is to reach the stated goal in its “Thailand 4.0” plans of ensuring that at least 5 Thai universities are ranked among the world’s top 100 higher education institutions within the next 20 years. We hope, too, that Thailand will continue to welcome serious scholars of all disciplinary inclinations and to benefit from the global contributions of Thailand’s own most important academics – of whom, without question, Dr. Chayan is an outstanding representative.

Issued on behalf of the following:

International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands. Dr. Nira Wickramasinghe, Chair of the Board. Dr. Philippe Peycam, Director
International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS). Dr Philippe Peycam, International Council Charles. Dr. Paul van der Velde, Secretary
Association for Asian Studies (AAS). Dr. Katherine A. Bowie, President (AAS is an international academic association with more than 7000 members)
Committee of the Thai Studies Program, Asia Center, Harvard University. Dr. Michael Herzfeld, Director
New York Southeast Asia Network (NYSEAN). Dr. Duncan McCargo, Co-Founder
Humanities Across Borders, Asia and Africa in the World (HaB) program. Dr. Aarti Kawlra, Academic Director (HaB is a consortium of 22 universities and institutes in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America)
Southeast Asian Neighborhood Network (SEANNET). Dr. Rita Padawangi, Co-Director. Dr. Paul Rabé, Co-Director
The Board of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS). Dr. Silvia Vignato, President
The Board of the Association of Southeast Asian Studies (ASEAS) (United Kingdom). Dr. Deirdre McKay, Chair

35 years prison for criticizing Thai royals


This video says about itself:

8 June 2017

Prosecutions have continued under Thailand’s new king Maha Vajiralongkorn, who took the throne in late 2016 after the death of his … father.

A Thai man was jailed for 35 years on Friday for Facebook posts deemed insulting to the royal family, a watchdog said, in one of the harshest sentences handed down for a crime that insulates Thailand’s ultra-rich monarchy from criticism.

A Bangkok military court convicted the 34-year-old of ten counts of lese majeste for posting photos and videos of the royal family.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Highest punishment ever for insulting Thai royal house

Today, 15:16

In Thailand, a man has been sentenced to 35 years for insulting the royal house. A 34-year-old businessman according to a military court wrote unacceptable things on Facebook. It is the highest punishment ever for someone who is guilty of lese majeste.

Actually, the man would get 70 years in prison, but because he confessed, his punishment will be halved. Lese majeste in Thailand is punished with imprisonment from 3 to 15 years, but the man had committed the same crime several times.

Thailand has a history of severe punishment for lese majeste. For example, a Swiss man was convicted in 2007 when in a drunk mood he spilled paint on portraits of then King Bhumibol. Someone else was charged in 2015 because he was said to have offended Bhumibol’s dog.

No change

King Bhumibol died in October 2016 and was seen as a strict enforcer of Article 112, the article that makes lese majeste a crime. Even after his death, there seems to be no less harsh punishment in Thailand for insulting the Royal House.

The military government of the country says that Article 112 is necessary for maintaining the monarchy and national security. Human rights organizations say that the law is in violation of international human rights agreements, because criticism is oppressed.

Lindsay Lohan’s ‘burkini’ in Thailand


Lindsay Lohan in Thailand, Credit: Instagram | @awilloughby

By Stephanie Marcus in the USA:

04/05/2017 06:16 pm ET

Lindsay Lohan Wears A Burkini In Thailand

Not something we expected.

Lindsay Lohan has been vacationing in Phuket, Thailand, and wearing more clothing than one might expect.

The 30-year-old actress was spotted wearing a burkini before she went paddleboarding last week, according to The Daily Mail. The burkini was created in 2004 and allows Muslim women to uphold modesty traditions, though Australian designer Aheda Zanetti has said many non-Muslim women have bought the design as well.

‘Burkini’ is not really a good name for these full-body swimsuits:

1) They are very different from what Western corporate media call a ‘burqa’.

2) What Western corporate media call a ‘burqa’ is not a real burqa, but a chadari.

It’s unclear exactly why the “Mean Girls” actress chose to wear the burkini, though based on the photos, it did seem like she might be posing for some sort of photo shoot.

There is a vicious military dictatorship in Thailand. Banning everything from George Orwell’s novel 1984 to the New York Times. Arresting people for almost everything, from playing bridge to joking about the king’s dog to criticizing government corruption.

However, Thai police did not arrest Ms Lohan for wearing a ‘burkini’. Apparently, the dictatorial monarchy Thailand has not yet sunk to the level of officially democratic and republican France; where politicians ban ‘burkinis’ and armed policemen force women on beaches to undress for wearing ‘too many’ clothes.

Baby tigers again in Thailand


This video says about itself:

28 March 2017

Credit: Freeland/Panthera

A rare population of Indochinese tigers has been discovered and filmed in the jungles of Eastern Thailand.

The tigers were found thanks to the efforts of Freeland and Panthera, two wildlife conservation groups working in conjunction with Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

These images and video, captured via camera trap and released on March 28, show not only adult tigers, but cubs. This is evidence of the “world’s second breeding Indochinese Tiger population…[and] the first evidence of a breeding population in Eastern Thailand in over 15 years” according to a press release issued by the organizations.

Only about 8 percent of tiger grounds have confirmed breeding populations, Panthera reported, and this discovery indicates that the tigers could potentially disperse and repopulate the surrounding countries of Cambodia and Laos.

Only 221 Indochinese Tigers are estimated to be alive in Thailand and Myanmar, according to the Freeland and Panthera press release. Thailand’s Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is the only other known breeding ground for the giant felines.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

For the first time in fifteen years wild tiger cubs have been seen in eastern Thailand. The tiger family was captured on camera in a national park. The new additions give the researchers hope for the future of the endangered species. …

The Thai government is working with organizations Freeland and Panthera to protect tigers. To investigate how many tigers live in the park 156 cameras with sensors were placed there. If they detected motion, then the cameras started and recorded images.

In 2010 “tiger nations” made the appointment that in 2022, the Chinese year of the tiger, tiger populations should have doubled. The number stood at 3200 and increased to 3900. “There have since been anti-poaching patrols deployed. Those eyes and ears in the field discourage poachers,” says [WWF conservationist] Hilbrink.

Extinct vultures returning to Thailand?


This video says about itself:

Mongolian vulture, four other birds to be released back into the wild

Bangkok, 9 May 2007

1. Wide of Royal Thai air-force C-130 cargo plane
2. Cage with cinereous vultureAnakin Skywalker‘ being loaded onto plane
3. Close-up of Himalayan griffon vulture inside cage and under green net
Doi Lang, 9 May 2007
4. Wide of vulture release team at Doi Lan mountain
5. Close-up of Anakin’s beak being measured
6. Various of satellite tag being placed on Anakin’s wing
7. Media
8. Anakin being placed inside mesh cage
9. SOUNDBITE: (English) Nyambayar Batbayar, Director of the Mongolia Wildlife Science and Conservation Centre:
“By using the satellite tracking device you can learn about migration behaviour, and also foraging patterns, and also you can learn about what areas are being used by vultures.
10. Wide of British ornithologist Philip Round having photo taken beside cage of cinereous vulture
11. Close-up of Anakin
12. SOUNDBITE: (English) Philip Round, Member of the British Ornithologists and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand:
“Anakin has been almost an ambassador for vultures, you know, because historically vultures don’t have a very good reputation in Thailand. But the arrival of Anakin has really promoted a lot of interest in the fate and the conservation of vultures.
13. Close-up of Anakin
Doi Lang, 10 May 2007
14. Wide of road where vultures are being released
15. Anakin steps out of cage and joins other Himalayan griffons
16. Media taking photos
17. Anakin spreading wings
18. Media watching
19. Himalayan griffon flying away
20. SOUNDBITE: (English) Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua, Assistant Professor of Veterinary Pathology at Kasetsart University:
“When we release them in a flock, that would be easier for them to find food, because the vulture is a flocking species, so they help each other to find the food.”
21. Chaiyan releasing Anakin
22. Chaiyan watching Anakin flying through binoculars
23. Anakin flying

STORYLINE:

A rare vulture was released into the wilds of Thailand on Thursday, after bird flu fears thwarted plans to send the young bird to nesting grounds in Mongolia.

The rare cinereous vulture, nicknamed ‘Anakin Skywalker’ after a popular character in the ‘Star Wars’ movies, was released from a cage along with four Himalayan Griffon Vultures in the mountainous area in northern Thailand near the Myanmar border.

After an hour, the four brown and white Himalayan Griffons flew off, leaving the black, cinereous vulture standing alone stretching its wings.

Veterinarian Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua then picked up the cinereous vulture and threw it into the air, forcing it to fly off toward a ridge, and ending a high-level bid to return the bird to Mongolia.

Chaiyan said they released the vultures together to make it easier for them to find food.

“When we release them in a flock, that would be easier for them to find food, because vulture is a flocking species, so they help each other to find the food,” said Chaiyan.

Thursday’s release was the final attempt to send the cinereous vulture back to the wild, after plans by Thailand’s national carrier to send the bird back to Mongolia via China or South Korea were cancelled over fears of bird flu.

Anakin and the other vultures were transported from Bangkok to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand on Wednesday onboard a Thai Royal Air Force C-130 cargo plane along with a team of veterinarians, government representatives and bird enthusiasts.

From Chiang Rai, the vultures were brought directly to the mountain area of Doi Lan in Chiang Mai to get acclimatised prior to their release on Thursday.

A satellite telemetry was attached to the cinereous vulture’s wing to monitor its whereabouts.

From BirdLife:

Can we bring vultures back to Thailand?

By Dr. Boripat Siriaroonrat and Kaset Sutasha, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, 8 Feb 2017

It’s the most dramatic bird decline ever recorded – faster even than those that robbed our planet of the Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius or the Dodo Raphus cucullatus. Since the 1990s, a staggering 99% of the vulture population in Asia have disappeared – a drop from several million to just a few thousand.

As a result of these steep declines, four species of Asian vulture – White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris and Indian Vulture Gyps indicus – are now assessed as being Critically Endangered – the highest threat category of all, and a status that indicates that if we do not continue to act, they will disappear from Asia’s skies within our lifetimes.

The main driver for the decline of vultures on the Indian subcontinent is well-publicised – the use of the veterinary drug Diclofenac to control pain and muscle fatigue in sick and aging cattle. Unfortunately, the drug proved lethal to vultures, who were unwittingly killed in large numbers in South Asia when they feasted on the poisoned carcasses of cattle who were left out in the open to die by herders.

Fortunately, the use of Diclofenac is now banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan, and thanks to the introduction of initiatives such as Safe Zones (areas in which threats are controlled within a 100kn radius, allowing viable populations to develop), vulture numbers are now finally stabilising on the Indian subcontinent. But why have vultures all but disappeared from other parts of Asia where Diclofenac isn’t an issue – as just as importantly, can we bring them back?

In Thailand, as in other parts of South-East Asia, Diclofenac isn’t an issue for vultures. Although the drug is widely available in pharmacies, it comes in cream and tablet forms, and is intended for human use – not for cattle. Despite this, the situation for vultures is even worse than it is in India – although two migratory species Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus and Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis, can still be spotted every winter, all three of the species that were once resident in the country (Red-headed Vulture White-rumped Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture) are now extinct in Thailand.

Of the three, the Red-headed Vulture was the most abundant and could be found right in the center of Bangkok until the late 1960s-early 1970s, when burials were not widely practiced and dead bodies were left in the open waiting to be burned.  A cholera outbreak in Bangkok in the 19th Century is immortalised by sculptures of vultures feeding on corpses at the Golden Mountain (Wat Saket), which are still standing for us to see today even if the birds themselves are not. Vultures took advantage of the dead bodies until the modernization of the country in the 20th century.  With cemeteries now becoming normal practice, vultures have struggled in the face of the reduced food availability.

Hunting, poaching and habitat destruction are also major issues for vultures in this part of the world. Red-headed vultures were last seen in Thailand’s Huay Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary 25 years ago, coinciding with a new tiger hunting method deployed by hunters which used pesticides to poison the Sambar Deer carcass – a method developed so they could obtain tiger skins without tarnishing them with bullet holes. Sadly, the very last group of about 12 red-headed vultures scavenged on one such carcass and all of them died as a result. No sightings of wild vultures in the country had been reported since. Hunting and poisoning delivered the final blow to a vulture population that struggled to adapt in the face of the vast improvements that have been made to Thailand’s health, sanitation and cattle slaughterhouse networks.

Yet, these majestic birds of prey could yet circle over Thailand once more. In June 2016, The Zoological Park Organization of Thailand (ZPO) started the formal discussion to establish a Red-headed Vulture re-introduction program at Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, in conjunction with Kasetsart University (KU), Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST). It is aimed at re-wilding the very last group of captive Red-headed Vultures from zoos, with the hope of releasing captive-bred individuals of this Critically Endangered species back to nature in 2018. But although 2018 is close, there is a long way to go to make this a reality.

ZPO are very experienced in captive breeding and re-introduction programs, having worked for several decades on re-introducing mammal and avian species such as Eld’s Deer (Cervus eldi thamin), Eastern Sarus Crane (Grus antigone antigone), Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) and more besides. But the Red-headed Vulture poses a challenge because it is very hard to breed, nest and hatch chicks in captivity.

ZPO has chosen Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, a UNESCO world heritage site that stretches over more than 600,000 ha along the Myanmar border, as the perfect place to reintroduce the species because of its biodiversity. The sanctuary, which is relatively intact, contain examples of almost all the forest types of continental South-East Asia. They are home to a very diverse array of animals, including 77% of the large mammals (especially elephants and tigers), 50% of the large birds and 33% of the land vertebrates to be found in this region. All of which should mean plenty of food to sustain small groups of this struggling scavenger.

According to Dr. Saksit Simcharoen, a tiger expert from DNP, there are currently 150 – 200 wild Indochinese Tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) and Indochinese Leopards (Panthera pardus delacouri) within the sanctuary. That mean there are more than 150 carcasses per week because tigers and leopards hunt at least once a week. Simcharoen believes that numbers of carcasses found in the sanctuary will be enough to support future vulture populations. It will be a long-term commitment, but the team is passionate about bringing Red-headed Vulture back to Thailand. And achieving this goal could ultimately save the bird from global extinction: when your species’ population trends are being mentioned in the same breath as the Dodo, you need every viable population you can get.

If you want to help BirdLife save vultures, please visit: www.birdlife.org/savevultures.