US-backed Billionaire Vowed to Take to Streets Just Months Ahead of “Organic Protests”
Just months ago – after losing the 2019 elections by millions of votes and his party being disbanded for blatant election law violations – Thanathorn vowed to take his pursuit of power to the streets.
Thai PBS’ article, “Thanathorn vows to bring people onto streets after rally in downtown Bangkok,” would note as early as December 2019 that:
Addressing the demonstrators, Thanathorn said the rally was just a harbinger of more political activities against the Prayut government. He threatened to “bring people to the streets…”
Many of the protesters and organizations present during rallies openly led by Thanathorn are now the very same ones leading current protests. And while Thanathorn is not leading the protests from the front in order to maintain the illusion they are “student-led,” they have adopted his “3-finger salute” and he openly eggs them on through the media his family owns and personally on social media through is official public account.
Members of Thaksin and Thanathorn’s political parties regularly attend and directly participate in recent protests.
Mobs that billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit vowed to put into the streets just months prior are finally here and receiving widespread support from the same Western media organizations, embassies, and fronts that backed his and Thaksin’s bid for power during the 2019 elections.
US Government Funds Core Protest Leader Anon Nampa
While these billionaire-led opposition parties push the protests from behind politically and through media concerns they own in the country – the protests themselves are led by an army of US-funded fronts posing as “nongovernmental organizations.”
The most prominent of these is “Thai Lawyers for Human Rights” (TLHR) whose staff member – Anon Nampa – is openly a member of the protest’s core leadership.
TLHR’s US government funding was openly displayed on the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) website in 2014.
Its name has since been removed from NED’s website but continues to receive US funding through the NED via the “Union for Civil Liberty” (UCL) of which it is a member.
The UCL is still listed on NED’s current webpage for programs it funds in Thailand. TLHR is listed as a member of UCL on its official website next to other recipients of US NED funding including the Cross Cultural Foundation, the Human Rights Lawyers Association, and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL).
Before TLHR and its members began leading rallies – founding members admitted TLHR is entirely funded by foreign governments.
Even the Bangkok Post previously reported this – despite apparently “forgetting” this fact more recently in its reporting.
The Bangkok Post in a 2016 article titled, “The lawyer preparing to defend herself,” would admit (emphasis added):
…[TLHR] receives all its funding from international donors including the EU, Germany and US-based human rights organisations and embassies of the UK and Canada.
Thus, a front posing as “pro-democracy” and representative of the Thai people receives none of its support from people actually living in Thailand and instead – from foreign capitals with obvious ulterior motives.
In addition to an award presented by the French Embassy, the US State Department awarded TLHR member Sirikan “June” Charoensiri the 2018 “International Women of Courage Award” presented by US First Lady Melania Trump.
The US embassy in Bangkok openly praised TLHR in its own post celebrating the award, exclaiming:
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok is proud of Sirikan “June” Charoensiri’s work as a lawyer and human rights defender, and for being recognized by the Secretary of State as an International Women of Courage award recipient.
Ms. Sirikan is a co-founder of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a lawyers’ collective set up to provide pro bono legal services for human rights cases and to document human rights violations.
Thus – an organization carefully cultivated by the US government for years – propped up financially and politically and even awarded for carrying out Washington’s agenda in Thailand – is now leading protests aimed at overthrowing the elected government of Thailand.
Anon Nampa shares the stage with likewise compromised “student leaders” of the “Student Union of Thailand” (SUT) – who are open supporters of Thailand’s US-backed billionaire-led opposition parties and enthusiastic supporters of US-funded unrest in Hong Kong.
|Image: Rangsima Rome used to protest side-by-side US-funded agitator Anon Nampa before “graduating” into billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s political party Future Forward/Move Forward as a member of parliament. Claims that protests are not a function of the billionaire-led opposition are clearly false.
Some of these “student protesters” have even “graduated” into Thanathorn’s Future Forward/Move Forward political party – including Rangsima Rome who used to regularly lead protests side-by-side with Anon Nampa. He still regularly attends protests and provides direct support for leaders including offering transportation – the Bangkok Post would admit.
Others supporting the unrest are students and academics indoctrinated through US State Department programs including the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and scores of “workshops” run by USAID and other US entities across Thai schools and university campuses each year.
US Government Funds Orgs Trying to “Rewrite” Thailand’s Constitution
If Russia was funding an NGO in the US petitioning for the US Constitution to be rewritten – and rewritten specifically to make it easier for Russian-backed politicians to get elected into the US government – one could expect an immediate and extreme backlash across the media exposing this.
Yet in Thailand where US government-funded groups are doing precisely this in regards to the Thai constitution – the media not only conceals US funding, it spins the move as “pro-democratic.”
English language newspaper The Nation in an article titled, “iLaw launches petition for charter rewrite,” would claim:
The Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), a human rights NGO, has launched a campaign seeking signatures from 50,000 voters to sponsor a motion for a Constitution rewrite.
No where in The Nation’s article is mentioned that iLaw’s primary source of income is the US government via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) – a notorious US government arm involved in political interference and regime change operations around the globe.
The organization’s US government funding can be found on NED’s official website under the name, “Internet Law Reform Dialogue” (iLaw).
On iLaw’s own website under “About Us” it admits:
Between 2009 and 2014 iLaw has received funding support from the Open Society Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and a one-time support grant from Google.
Between 2015 to present iLaw receives funding from funders as listed below1. Open Society Foundation (OSF)2. Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBF)3. National Endowment for Democracy (NED)4. Fund for Global Human Rights (FGHR)5. American Jewish World Servic (AJWS)6. One-time support donation from Google and other independent donors
A foreign-funded organization – an organization that would not exist without this foreign funding – petitioning for Thailand’s very constitution to be rewritten is not only a clear cut case of conflict of interests and foreign political meddling – it undermines the very foundation and fundamentals of democracy and self-determination.
Democracy and self-determination means that Thailand’s constitution and efforts to either maintain or amend it should be determined solely by the Thai people – not by Washington and fronts it funds like iLaw.
|Image: “ConLab” works with US government-funded iLaw to rewrite Thailand’s constitution. Here it holds a recent event at the US Embassy’s “American Corner” at Chiang Mai University. Large format professionally printed ConLab and iLaw banners can be seen at virtually every university protest across the country illustrating the direct role US-funded fronts play in organizing and directing anti-government unrest.
Other groups working to rewrite Thailand’s constitution include “ConLab” or “Constitution Lab” (only on Facebook) who do so in partnership with US government-funded iLaw and which recently held an event at the US Embassy’s “American Corner” at Chiang Mai University.
The rewritten constitution aims specifically to remove sections meant solely to prevent Thaksin Shinawatra and his proxies from returning to power. Thus iLaw’s US-funded activities would make it easier for US-backed opposition parties to retake power and help the US reverse Thailand’s growing ties with China.
US Government Funds Fake News Fronts Posing as “Independent Journalism” Supporting Protests
There are also a number of fake news websites funded by the US government and providing decidedly lopsided coverage of the ongoing protests including Prachatai.
Prachatai receives millions of Thai Baht a year from the US government to advance narratives that divide and destabilize Thailand and promote US interests within Thai borders. It is also an echo chamber for US State Department talking points including US policy regarding the Mekong River, the South China Sea, and other opposition fronts the US backs in the region.
It is listed on the US NED’s official website under the name “Foundation for Community Educational Media,” which appears at the very bottom of Prachatai’s website.
The media front’s “executive director” Chiranuch Premchaiporn is also a “fellow” of the National Endowment for Democracy – an organization chaired by representatives not of promoting democracy and human rights – but inveterate pro-war proponents and actual war criminals like Elliot Abrams, propagandists like Anne Applebaum, and representatives of America’s arms, oil, and banking sectors.
Prachatai’s activities include promoting and defending opposition groups and parties the US seeks to place into power. It has recently served as a central platform promoting ongoing unrest, protesters’ demands, and attempting to build legitimacy around all three while omitting any mention of documented foreign funding or ulterior motives involved.
Prachatai has in the past and still currently hides its US government funding. A partial disclosure made in 2011 is buried on its English website and has not been updated since. No financial disclosure at all has been made on its Thai language website.
Prachatai also supplied at least one member of its staff – Nalutporn Krairisksh – as a “founding member” of billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s Future Forward Party. Prachatai even “interviewed” her regarding her role as a Future Forward co-founder but never disclosed her relationship with Prachatai or the fact that she still worked out of their offices in Huay Kwang Bangkok even after joining Future Forward.
The conflicts of interest are numerous and alarming – but also being entirely unmentioned or even covered up. It is impropriety that should help further illustrate the true nature of Thailand’s so-called “opposition” and undermine dishonest or naive claims that US interference in Thailand is not a serious problem.
In fact – the easiest way to illustrate how what the National Endowment for Democracy does is wrong, is to note how if any other country did what it does, inside the US, it would be considered an act of war.
The US has leveled sanctions on both China and Russia over mere accusations of similar behavior it has yet to prove with evidence and has used claims of Chinese and Russian interference in Western affairs as impetus to place troops on Russia’s boarders and sail warships off China’s shores.
Yet it openly interferes abroad in ways many times worse in reality than it baselessly claims others are doing within its own borders.
The Human Rights Racket
Despite the current protests making “human rights” a central theme of their rallies – their sponsor Thaksin Shinawatra holds the odious title of worst human rights violator in Thai history.
The protesters themselves are at least partially made up of Thaksin Shinawatra’s “red shirt” street front – guilty of some of the worst street violence in Thailand’s modern history.
In 2003, while Thaksin Shinawatra was in office he initiated what he called a “war on drugs.” Nearly 3,000 were extrajudicially murdered in the streets over the course of just 90 days. It would later turn out that more than half of those killed had nothing to even do with the drug trade.
In 2004, he oversaw the killing of 85 protesters in a single day during his mishandled, heavy-handed policy in the country’s troubled deep south. The atrocity is now referred to as the “Tak Bai incident.”
Throughout his administration he was notorious for intimidating the press, and crushing dissent. According to Amnesty International, 18 human rights defenders were either assassinated or disappeared during his first term in office. Among them was human rights activist and lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit. He was last seen in 2004 being arrested by police and never seen again.
Somchai’s disappearance under Thaksin Shinawatra’s regime is particularly ironic – with protesters today now carrying his portrait around in an attempt to insinuate the current government is somehow responsible.
Also throughout Thaksin’s administration, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claimed in its report, “Attacks on the Press 2004: Thailand” that the regime was guilty of financial interference, legal intimidation, and coercion of the press.
While Western human rights fronts studiously documented Thaksin Shinawatra’s abuses while he was in power – it was only as a means of leverage to keep him and his policies in line with Washington’s agenda – similar to their relationship with pro-US dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.
These same rights organizations have now collectively “forgotten” these violations as they attempt to pressure the current government to step down – paving the way for Thaksin and his proxies to return to power and resume their abuses.
The Western media still writes entire articles about Thaksin Shinawatra and his role in Thai politics – including this piece from last year in the Washington Post – never once mentioning the thousands put to death under his regime.
Worse still – organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others are deliberately fabricating claims about the current government while misrepresenting abuses they previously attributed to Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters to paint the current government in a negative light.
Thanathorn “The Billionaire Commoner” and his History of Union Busting
…the unjust dismissal of ten union members, obstruction of workers’ right to freedom of association through threats, intimidation and harassment, and failure of the company to respect the right of workers to collectively bargain.
The statement noted that among workers’ demands were that Thanathorn’s Thai Summit, “[cease] and [desist] from any further threats, harassment or intimidation of workers and union members.”
And in 2010 according to, Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights, Thanathorn’s union-busting included:
…a systematic pattern of obstruction and violation of the worker rights to form and join a union.
The report also noted that:
Over 400 Thai Summit Eastern Seaboard workers had joined the Ford and Mazda Thailand Workers’ Union in November 2006 but were harassed and coerced until all union members had resigned under duress.
It is particularly ironic and telling that mobs Thanathorn now backs are demanding the government not “intimidate them” – echoing demands made by workers in Thanathorn’s family’s factories – demands that, under his leadership, were ignored for years.
While the US clearly backs his bid for power – US-funded groups posing as rights advocates were forced to pay lip service to his past abuses – but only once, and with little fanfare.
Phil Robertson– Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division questioned Thanathorn in a tucked-away response to a social media post, asking:
I’d be interested in hearing your take on Summit Group’s continuous anti-union stance that has seen auto workers fired for exercising their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining! Ask Thailand Auto Workers Federation what they think. End union busting now!
Unlike pressure HRW places on Thanathorn’s opponents both on their official website and throughout the Western media daily – Robertson’s feigned concern started and ended with a single anemic social media reply 2 years ago utterly ignored, un-liked, and un-retweeted even by other colleagues at HRW.
It is the same sort of concerted propaganda campaign and feigned, selective concern over human rights the US, UK, and EU have used to undermine and destroy nations like Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and many others.
The presence of large expensive stages, sound systems, massive diesel generators, spotlights, professionally mass-produced signs and t-shirts, and trucks providing logistics are all features of a centrally led, well-funded protest – not spontaneous “student protests.”
|Image: Nice stage. Nice sound system. Who paid for it? Students? The Western media doesn’t ask.
That the media claims otherwise but refuses to name organizations and political parties involved – while never investigating or disclosing their funding and foreign ties – illustrates wide scale media complicity and just how large and powerful the special interests – not students – are who are organizing these protests.
While many claim US involvement is somehow “not bad,” it should be pointed out that literally nowhere on Earth where the US has intervened has turned out “well.”
Nations from Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt in North Africa, to Ukraine and Serbia in Eastern Europe, to Iraq, Syria, and Yemen in the Middle East, to Afghanistan in Central Asia to Hong Kong in China – everywhere the US has interfered has led to death, destruction, division, destabilization, and chaos.
There is also the fact that real democracy is a process of self-determination – where a nation’s political future is decided by the people within its borders – not by a foreign capital thousands of miles away.
In addition to vast amounts of documented evidence the US is behind these protests and that their true agenda is to hinder, not help Thailand and bring about setbacks for wider Asia – basic common sense should help global audiences see through tired lies the Western media has repeatedly used to set up and destroy one nation after another in region after region of the planet.
Thailand is just the next in line and is in no way going to be the “first” nation the US meddles in that turns out “well.”