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Who is really avoiding justice in Thailand?

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

February 6, 2010, is the first anniversary of the day I had to leave Thailand and seek political exile in Britain. I left Thailand because it had become a dictatorship with no regard to international standards of justice, democracy or human rights. I was charged with lese majeste for writing a book which criticised the illegal military coup in 2006.

In the book I questioned the role of the king and the relationship between the army and the monarchy. I asked whether the monarchy should have defended the constitution and democracy. The perverse thing about the lese majeste law is that a person can still be “guilty” for telling the truth. It is a law which tries to prevent open discussion. Court cases are heard in camera in a kangaroo court. Human rights activist Da Torpedo was sentenced in such a court to 18 years in prison.

The Thai government has failed to show how I made any untrue statements in my book. Yet it accuses me of “avoiding justice”. The same accusation is made against Jakrapop Penkare. Yet, who are the real criminals in Thailand who avoid justice? They are the military and conservative elites who use bully-boy tactics to destroy justice.

Sonti Boonyakarin and his fellow junta members, who staged the illegal coup in 2006 and committed treason against the Thai people, are avoiding justice for the crimes they committed. He and his mates are avoiding justice on charges of “conflict of interest and corruption”. They staged an illegal coup and then appointed themselves to lucrative state enterprise and governmental positions. They wrote their own constitution which made sure all governments must increase military spending. They even used public money to stage the coup.

Ex-prime minister Surayut Julanon is avoiding justice for his violence and brutality in the May 1992 military crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators. He is also avoiding justice on charges of taking over land in a national park. He is corrupt because he took a position as an illegitimate prime minister after the coup, drawing a salary from public funds.

King Pumipon is avoiding justice and has been doing so for decades. He knows how his brother died because he was there and yet he gave false testimony about it. He allowed innocent people to be executed. More recently he has become “unusually rich”, arising from his public position. He is now the richest man in Thailand and the richest monarch in the world. He is avoiding justice for this and for “failing to do his duty” in protecting democracy.

Prem Tinsulanon is avoiding justice for corruption. He still lives in a state-owned house despite being retired. He “abused his power” by becoming an unelected prime minister in the 1980s and “neglected his duty” to properly advise the king to protect democracy.

Sonti Limtongkul, Jamlong Simuang, Somsak Kosaisuk, Pipop Tongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Wira Somkwamkit, Suriyasai Katasila, Kasit Pirom and the entire Peoples Alliance for Democracy "Yellow Shirt" gang are avoiding justice for  “violent acts" and "using weapons” on the streets of Bangkok. They are avoiding justice for “wrecking Government House and blocking the airports”. They are avoiding justice for “aiding and abetting an illegal coup” and for “causing a disturbance of the peace” on the Cambodian border.

Government politicians Abhisit Vejjajiva, Korn Jatikavanit, Sutep Tuaksuban and Satit Wongnongtuay are avoiding justice for “aiding and abetting an illegal coup”, murdering demonstrators in Bangkok in April 2009, “abusing their power and relationship with the military” to set up an illegitimate government, “illegally abusing their power” to instigate widespread censorship and they are also avoiding justice for a “conflict of interest” because they all stand to gain personally from the illegal coup in 2006. Newin Chitchorp is also avoiding justice for “gangsterism” by setting up the pro-government Blue Shirt thugs.

Yellow-shirt academics and NGO activists are avoiding justice for “aiding and abetting an illegal coup” and “libelling” the Thai electorate by considering it stupid. They are avoiding justice for having a “conflict of interest” in receiving wages from public funds for accepting positions on bodies set up by the illegal junta. Members of the illegal junta government are also avoiding justice for this crime.

Mainstream Thai media moguls are avoiding justice for the continuous libel of pro-democracy Red Shirt activists, who are usually too poor to sue them.

The list of those avoiding justice goes on ... top politicians, army generals and police commanders who killed people in the South at Takbai and Krue-Sa, in the war on drugs, in the 1992, 1976 and 1973 bloodbaths. Those who killed defence lawyer Somchai and social movement activists and the capitalists who caused serious industrial accidents like the Kader fire etc., etc., etc...

Compare the above crimes with what I or Jakrapop or Da Torpedo are accused of.

One day, when we win democracy, we shall have to bring all those who are avoiding justice to court to be tried by a jury of people randomly selected from the population. The old corrupt judges, who are also avoiding justice, cannot be trusted.

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn worked in the faculty of political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He was forced to leave Thailand after being charged under Thailand's anti-democratic les majeste laws. He is an activist with the socialist Turn Left Thailand group. Visit and]


United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship: RED IN THE LAND

This message is intended for journalists and commentators interested in the current political crisis in Thailand.

In the face of continued smears, propaganda and a general effort to destroy the democracy movement using all means available to the government and the conservative establishment in Thailand, the UDD is attempting to build upon an international media network aimed aimed at getting their side of the story across to the international audience. Please understand that the UDD is a fledgling organisation with a support base made up of mainly volunteers who speak very little English and have just as little in the way of resources to spare.

They are nevertheless determined to be successful in their struggle for democracy, and appreciate your continued support in breaking the silence imposed by the governments censorship and propaganda campaigns.

Below is a media release which will be issued to all major news networks operating in the South East Asian region. It would be appreciated if you could forward it on to your readers, or incorporate it and the media releases to come in your continued coverage of the struggle for democracy and social justice in Thailand.

The coming months will bring many defining moments in Thai history, and it is essential that the Red Shirt movement are able to provide a narrative on what is to come.

Gratefully yours,
the UDD International Media Team.

Media release


Thailand has existed as a democracy in name but not substance for too long. We have stood by as our elected governments were brought down by the might of vested interests. We have endured the hijacking of our media and our judicial system. We have remained silent as those who would lead us failed time and time again to address our legitimate concerns. But a turning point is about to be reached in Thai history.

We, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) are determined to see Thailand become a nation where the principles of democracy, human rights, and equal justice are not only espoused but upheld. As such, we stand opposed to the illegitimate government of Abhisit Vejjajiva and the aristocracy that backs him.

In the coming months, we will launch a campaign aimed at uniting the Thai people in opposition to this junta and bringing about free and fair elections. This campaign is based upon 6 principles:

1) Achieving the goal of establishing a genuine democracy that has the King as our Head of State, with political power belonging exclusively to the people. We reject any attempt, past or future, at using the monarchy to silence dissent or advance a particular agenda.

2) Dissolving the 2007 Constitution and restoring the 1997 Constitution, which may then be amended through a transparent, consultative and democratic process.

3) Bringing Thais together in an effort to solve our political and socio-economic problems, recognizing that such efforts must stem from the power of the people.

4) Implementing the rule of law, due process and a system of equal justice for all, free of any obstructions or double-standards.

5) Uniting all Thais who love democracy, equality, and equal justice within all facets of society, in an effort to deconstruct and move beyond the Amartyatippatai (Aristocracy) system.

6) Using exclusively non-violent means to achieve these objectives.

We are a peaceful movement, whereas the aristocracy maintains its power through the barrel of a gun. We know that the coming struggle will be as long as it is painful. But our cause is virtuous, just as the status quo is unacceptable. In the coming months, the establishment will use every means at its disposal in its efforts to counter us, including lies and propaganda, legal wrangling, intimidation and violence.

This is an opponent that supported the hijacking of our airports and the use of military force to bring down an elected government and suppress the dissenting public. But whatever they throw at us, we will endure it, and we will succeed.

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