22 May 2024

Murdered Justice

Murdered Justice Ten Years Ago

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the 2014 coup. Just two days after the military takeover, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights was established to provide pro bono legal support for activists detained by the junta (what was euphemistically described as ‘attitude adjustment’) or prosecuted for lèse-majesté.

The Murdered Justice (วิสามัญยุติธรรม) exhibition at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre marks ten years of both the coup and TLHR. It includes casings from rubber bullets fired by riot police, the bloodied shirt worn by New Democracy Movement member Sirawith Seritiwat when he was attacked by thugs in 2019—previously shown at the Never Again (หยุด ย่ำ ซ้ำ เดิน) exhibition—and a 2016 leaflet campaigning against the constitution drafted by the junta.

Land of Compromise

The first section of the exhibition is headed “Land of Compromise”, in reference to a quote from an impromptu interview during a royal walkabout. The wall text describes the phrase as “the expression that, at least after the 2014 coup d’état, beneath the “smile” lies the enforcement of laws and violence to thwart change.” (This is also quoted in the PDF exhibition catalogue, p. 87.) At the exhibition, and in the catalogue, “Land of Compromise” is juxtaposed with a large portrait of Netiporn Sanesangkhom, a pro-democracy protester who died in prison this month after going on hunger strike.

‘Land of compromise’ has previously been quoted by several artists to make the same point as the Murdered Justice exhibition. Videos by Elevenfinger and Petchnin Sukjan both flash the words “LAND OF COMPROMISE” on screen accompanied by the sound of rubber bullets being fired. The phrase also appears in Anuwat Apimukmongkon’s exhibition A Blue Man in the Land of Compromise, and in the lyrics to songs by Paeng Surachet and Speech Odd.

Murdered Justice opened yesterday, and runs until 26th May. The exhibition coincides with the launch of a new book, Ten Years Ago (ผู้ต้องหาเสรีภาพ 1 ทศวรรษ รัฐประหาร 2557 กับการต่อสู้ของผู้ต้องคดีการเมือง), edited by Veerapong Soontornchattrawat and Noppon Archamas, which profiles some of the political prisoners assisted by TLHR. Noppon is also the editor of Dissident Citizen (ราษฎรกำแหง)