Abhisit’s early promises in office were that his government would not use the Computer Crimes Act for political prosecutions and that he would curtail the use of the lèse majesté laws. The reality is that there are now over 200 such cases before Thai courts, with the accused facing up to 70 years in prison.
Abhisit’s government has kept Thailand in the grip of martial law during much of his tenure. The ’emergency decree’ suspending the rule of law lasted from April 7 to December 21, 2010. During that time, two specially created military agencies made up the rules as they went along, arresting nearly 1,000 political prisoners, hundreds of whom remain in prison. They won’t be voting. Emergency powers were replaced by the Internal Security Act administered by, guess who, another military agency.
Smooth-talker Abhisit promised netizens a free Internet. As elections are held, Internet censorship is at the highest point ever, reaching 425,296 blocked pages to December 21. Furthermore, such censorship is done completely in secret and the iLaw Foundation estimates 690 additional pages are being blocked every day, meaning more than 100,000 more have been blocked so far in 2011.
As if these actions were not sufficient to make the Thai government’s intentions perfectly clear, the Democrats’ swansong before the elections was to promote a Public Assembly Act, in violation of the Thai Constitution by restricting public gatherings.
The real result of this government has been to put the Thai military into a position of unparalleled power and to use the monarchy for political ends, greatly demeaning Thailand’s highest institution. Thailand could quickly become a military state like Burma in sheep’s clothing.
CJ Hinke is a Freedom Against Censorship Thailand blogger