Chiang Mai, Thailand – Fifty representatives of the residents of Omkoi filed a lawsuit at the Chiang Mai Administrative Court against the Expert Committee on EIA Consideration in the mining and extracting industry as the first defendant, and the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning as the second defendant. The lawsuit aims to ensure that the flawed environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the Omkoi coal mine project developed by the 99 Thuwanon Company is revoked. If implemented, the coal mine project will cause long-term health impacts and loss of livelihoods of the Omkoi residents. The lawsuit specifically challenges the coal mine’s EIA and aims to ensure that the flawed EIA is revoked, and a new assessment is conducted in a transparent manner and with meaningful participation from the affected communities.
Off the shores of Thailand, a seafood industry flourishes and feeds the multi-billion-dollar global appetite for tuna, prawns, and squid. But in the ground zero of the global supply chain for seafood, exploitation and debt-bondage are standard workplace practices. The men who work the boats are in the main Burmese and Cambodian nationals driven from their homelands...
Under Thailand’s new government, efforts to ban toxic pesticides and herbicides including those made by US agricultural giant Monsanto were first accelerated, and have now finally succeeded. Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul bluntly stated that “the US was worried only about trade. The Thai government was concerned about the health of Thai consumers,” in response to complaints from the US embassy over the ban, Bangkok Post would report in its article, “Govt rejects US opposition to farm chemicals ban.”
The protest leaders vowed to gather weekly until their demands were met. This is a thinly veiled threat, with the protests taking place precisely where previous protests organized by the same interests carried out gun battles with government troops, mass murder against counter-protesters, and committed widespread and devastating arson in the surrounding areas. The protesters seek to overthrow Thailand’s independent institutions including its military and constitutional monarchy, and return US proxies to power, particularly billionaire and former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP). Thaksin Shinawatra is a convicted criminal who fled Thailand to evade a two year jail sentence.
By Laura Villadiego for Aljazeera - Surat Thani, Thailand - For many years, farmer Noppadol Tawee lived with the constant fear of waking up and finding all the shrimp that were growing in his pond floating dead in the water. "The shrimp used to get sick, and I lost all of them several times. Some years, I could make a lot of money; in others, I could lose everything," explains Noppadol, a shrimp farmer living in Kanchanadit, a district in the province of Surat Thani in Southern Thailand.
By Caroline Holmund for Truthout - In what came as a shock to many, in February, the United States took the step of completely banning the import of goods made by slave labor. Indeed, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, closing an 86-year-old loophole that had allowed the United States to purchase foreign goods produced with child labor or forced labor. Hold the applause, for this moral awakening did not come from Washington, DC, but stemmed from the efforts of journalists working for The Associated Press as well as from Nestlé's surprising admission of guilt that its global supply chain relied on impoverished migrant workers in Thailand.
By Ashoka Jegroo in Waging NonViolence - After days of protests against the ruling military junta, police in Thailand arrested 14 students on June 26 for violating the ban on public gatherings. The students had staged multiple protests in Bangkok this week against the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, as well as the charges brought upon students for staging a protest on May 22 — the one-year anniversary of the junta’s seizure of power from former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The junta, led by now-Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, overthrew Yingluck, Thailand’s first female prime minister, in a bloodless coup last year after months of violent protests against her elected-but-corrupt regime.
Thailand’s Red-Shirt and Yellow-Shirt factions don’t agree on much, but they do have one thing in common: invoking Section 69 of the now-suspended Thai Constitution, which grants citizens a “right to peacefully resist any act committed to obtain powers to rule the country by means not in accordance with the modus operandi as provided in the Constitution.” For years, during the slowly escalating crisis of protests and political polarization that eventually precipitated Thailand’s recent coup, leaders of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling party warned against elite plots to subvert the democratic process—an outcome for which the “right to resist” served as a shield. Meanwhile, opponents of Thailand’s former government also invoked the provision, arguing that the real interruption of the constitutional order occurred with the hijacking of national institutions by a harsh and subversive majoritarian populism—one machinated from afar by the exiled billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra and his allies.
Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal. A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco. The investigation found that the world's largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves. Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them.
The three-finger salute from the Hollywood movie “The Hunger Games” is being used as a real symbol of resistance in Thailand. Protesters against the military coup are flashing the gesture as a silent act of rebellion, and they’re being threatened with arrest if they ignore warnings to stop. Thailand’s military rulers said Tuesday they were monitoring the new form of opposition to the coup. Reporters witnessed the phenomenon and individuals were captured on film making the raised-arm salute. “Raising three fingers has become a symbol in calling for fundamental political rights,” said anti-coup activist Sombat Boonngam-anong on his Facebook page. He called on people to raise “3 fingers, 3 times a day” — at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. — in safe public places where no police or military are present.
Mass street protests are usually seen as a hallmark of democratic aspirations. And elections are meant to be a culmination of such aspirations, affording people the opportunity to choose their own leaders and system of government. But in country after country these days, the hallmarks of democracy are being dangerously subverted and co-opted by powerful elites. The question is, are we recognizing what is happening under our noses? Three examples unfolding right now are indicators of this trend: Thailand, Ukraine and Egypt. Thailand has just witnessed its 19th coup in 82 years. Although coup leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha has promised “genuine democracy,” he has given no timetable for an end to martial law. The U.S. State Department initially refused to call the takeover a coup, insisting that martial law is consistent with Thailand’s constitution. It then changed its tune to issue a strongly worded condemnation. In Ukraine, voters elected a pro-Western leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled following mass protests over his refusal to sign an accord with the European Union. Although the incoming president, Petro Poroshenko, has promised democratic development, the U.S. has openly sided with pro-Western forces inside Ukraine and raised the tensions of the conflict to near Cold War era levels, rendering any promises of true democracy ineffectual at best.
On Saturday evening in Bangkok, a week and a half after the army seized power in a coup, about a dozen people gathered in the middle of a busy, elevated walkway connecting several of the capital's most luxurious shopping malls. As pedestrians trundled past, the protesters sat down, pulled out book titles such as George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" — a dystopian novel about life in a totalitarian surveillance state — and began to read. In a country where the army has vowed to crack down on anti-coup protesters demanding elections and a return to civilian rule, in a place where you can be detained for simply holding something that says "Peace Please" in the wrong part of town, the small gathering was an act of defiance — a quiet demonstration against the army's May 22 seizure of power and the repression that has accompanied it. "People are angry about this coup, but they can't express it," said a human rights activist
The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) has maintained massive protests in Bangkok for close to three months. When Prime Minister Shinawatra reacted to the efforts to oust her and her Pheu Thai party from office by dissolving parliament on December 15 and setting elections for February 2, the PDRC responded by saying no to the elections. It called on its supporters to “shut down Bangkok” until Yingluck resigned and advocated replacing her with an unelected “reform council.” While no one denies that Thailand’s political system needs reform, many observers feel that the opposition has rejected the elections not simply as a protest against corruption, but rather because it knows it will lose the vote — just as it has lost the last five parliamentary contests.
The West is continuously manufacturing and then supporting oppressive forces, be they feudal or religious. The more oppressed people are, the less disposed they are to fight for justice and for their rights. The more scared they are, the easier it is to control them. Feudalism, religious oppression and cruel right-wing dictatorships, all that serves perfectly well both the market fundamentalism of the Empire, and its obsession with controlling the planet. But such an arrangement of the world is abnormal, and therefore temporary. Human beings are longing for justice and, in their essence, are a sharing and decent species. Albert Camus, correctly, arrived at the conclusion in his powerful novel “The Plague” (analogy to fight against fascism): “there is more to admire than to despise in humans”. What the West is now doing to the world; igniting conflicts, supporting banditry and terror, sacrificing millions of people for its own commercial interests, is nothing new under the sun.
Tea Party/Guy Fawkes seeking to oust the current government and the return to a completely religious and monarchical rule and are very close to the military. The current protests are led by a former elected official of the opposition party, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy premier. While the government is opposed to monarchist and military intervention but is very pro-business. "The current conflicts are not between the right and the left but instead are between a broad spectrum of conservatives who have become tools in the hands of those fighting for authoritarian rule. Sadly, regardless of how many innocent people are killed in the coming weeks, months, and years, Thailand will remain an undemocratic country lacking social justice until it allows people to openly criticize its powerful institutions — government, military and monarchy."