Thai army wages cyber warfare to sow social divisions: opposition lawmaker

A screengrab of pulony.blogspot.com, one of a number of sites alleged to be operated by Thailand’s military to attack its critics and sow divisions.
A screengrab of pulony.blogspot.com, one of a number of sites alleged to be operated by Thailand’s military to attack its critics and sow divisions.

Members of a now-defunct political party continued their assault on the government of Prayuth Chan-o-cha, accusing it of colluding with the military to wage a digital disinformation campaign against their critics and the public at large.

Wiroj Lakkana-adisorn, an MP for the recently disbanded Future Forward Party, said during last night’s no-confidence debate in parliament that the military had built a cyber network – websites and social media – to attack pro-democracy critics and activists, and incite divisions among the people. 

Future Forward was disbanded by a court Friday, weakening its members just days before the no-confidence debate began against Gen. Prayuth, who led the 2014 military coup and became prime minister after last year’s flawed elections.

Wiroj gave as an example the site pulony.blogspot.com, the homepage of which reads “Thailand South Situation. The ‘Fact’ You Can ‘Trust.’” Posts on the page praise the role of soldiers in the restive Deep South, where they have been accused of human rights abuses and torture, and criticizes the human rights activists who bring light to their abuses.

One of the kingdom’s foremost human rights defenders who was frequently referenced by the page, wrote afterward that her legal complaints about the page went ignored.

“I always wondered who’s behind [Information Operations] that slandered, accused and distorted the work of human rights activists,” Angkhana Neelapaijit, a former National Human Rights Commissioner, wrote after Wirot’s speech. “Now I have the answer why police didn’t arrest anyone when I reported it to the Technology Crime Suppression Division.” 

Wiroj also presented documentary evidence that Prayuth’s government maintains a list of social media accounts and profiles of people and groups who are “against” his government, such as legal rights group iLaw, social critic Winyu “John” Wongsurawat and writer Sarinee Achavanuntakul.

He described the collective effort as one to keep the public divided and inflame social ruptures.

“We don’t hate each other out of nowhere, but here is the mechanism that incites us to hate each other,” Wijoj said.

As Wiroj was speaking, Prayuth walked out of the parliament, saying he needed “some rest.”

Wiroj’s party, Future Forward, was disbanded after the Constitutional Court on Friday found party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit guilty of violating election rules by loaning THB191 million in the run-up to the 2019 election.

The no-confidence debate is expected to continue until Thursday.

Related:

Protests sweep Thai campuses after court disbands popular political party

Thai gov’t calls Future Forward’s 1MDB accusations ‘slander’

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