The arrest of Aa-Kong.
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
May 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The death in prison of the poor odd-job man Aa-Kong (also known as Ah Kong) is an outrage and it is yet another indication of the barbarity of the lèse majesté law, the injustice of the Thai legal system and the brutality of the Thai ruling class. The fact that he was refused bail to get medical treatment, and the fact that the prison authorities waited three days after he became ill before sending him to the prison clinic, is an indication of the terrible conditions in Thai prisons. He was convicted of lèse majesté for supposedly sending an SMS message to ex-prime minister Abhisit’s personal secretary. The evidence given by the state proved nothing.
In Thailand, generals and politicians who ordered repeated killings of unarmed demonstrators on five occasions since 1973 have never been charged and never been punished. But criticising the ruling class is considered to be a “grave offence”. Long prison sentences are handed down for lèse majesté.
As progressive Red Shirts gathered to light candles and place flowers in Aa-Kong’s memory, some held up posters that asked the question “Who killed Aa-Kong?” The simple answer is that King Pumipon, Abhisit Vejjajiva and Yingluck Shinawatra are collectively responsible for Aa-Kong’s death.
King Pumipon has limited powers. He cannot order the military to stage coups or to gun down pro-democracy demonstrators, although he provides legitimacy for such vile actions afterwards. But one thing that Pumipon has the power to do is to say that lèse majesté must no longer be used and that all lèse majesté prisoners be immediately released. After all, the Thai ruling class claims that this barbaric law is there to protect Pumipon. Yet Pumipon said not a word about releasing the prisoners. He does not care a fig about ordinary Thai people, and shows more affiliation with his pet dogs. This is not the first time that Pumipon has remained silent and allowed innocent people like Aa-Kong to die. He remained silent when three innocent palace servants were executed for his brother’s death. Pumipon knew they were innocent because he was there when his brother died of a gun-shot wound.
Pumipon lacks any basic morals. He has never carried out his duty to protect Democracy and the constitution and therefore he is unfit to be the head of state. His actions and those of the military prove that Thailand urgently needs to become a republic.
Abhisit became prime minister only because the army put him in office. He had never won a majority in any election. While he was prime minister in 2010 he ordered the killing of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. Aa-Kong was put in prison because of Abhisit’s actions.
Yingluck won a huge majority in the 2011 election. Red Shirts voted for her on mass. Yet she has betrayed all those who are in prison for political reasons and all those who died for democracy. Yingluck could have spoken out against any further use of lèse majesté and she could have called for the release of all lèse majesté prisoners. Yet she and her loathsome government ministers insisted that they would increase prosecutions under lèse majesté and they set their faces against any reform of the law. Instead of building democracy and justice, Yingluck has spent her time loving up to the military. She is responsible for Aa-Kong’s death in prison.
Aa-Kong is dead. Let us all make sure that the other lèse majesté prisoners such as Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Surachai, Da Torpedo and all the others are quickly released.
[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009
he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged
with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising
the 2006 military coup. He is a member of Left Turn Thailand, a socialist organisation. His book, Thailand’s Crisis and the
Fight for Democracy, will be of interest to
activists, academics and journalists who watch Thai
politics, democratisation and NGOs. His website is at http://redthaisocialist.com/.]