Army “Information Operations” creates misinformation in Khon Kaen “watch list”

A member of parliament from the Move Forward Party reveals information about the military’s Information Operations (IO) during the no-confidence debate in the House of Representatives on the role of the prime minister who is responsible for IO. An IO document titled, “People of Khon Kaen,” is exposed, a watch list of 80 people and organizations apparently deemed as national security threats – including The Isaan Record.

The Isaan Record

BANGKOK – August 31, 2021 (yesterday) Natcha Boonchai-insawat, spokesperson and Bangkok MP of the Move Forward Party, revealed in Parliament during the no-confidence debate on Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. He showed a slide showing the work of the Information Operations (IO), in a discussion entitled, “IO operation takes over the country.”

Natcha explained that he had received, in both video and audio clips, information about the establishment of IO under the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, designed to carry out information and cyber operations at its IO Center. 

He said that current IO operatives are acting openly. They have trained people to be cyber warriors and divide their mission into “white work,” “gray work,” and “black work.” They all aim to defend and make excuses for Gen. Prayut and the government by using Facebook pages and avatar accounts. They also are tasked with disseminating hate speech and creating fake news that targets people opposed to the government.

“During the COVID pandemic, the government has been using the IO operation to attack people who commented on the failed government administration,” Natcha said. 

“I would like to ask the Prime Minister: Do you have any consciousness of this because people reflect the truth with pain as they are then attacked, accused, and misrepresented by the IO? All the members of IO are members of the army that come under the administration of the Minister of Defense, Gen. Prayut,” he said. 

Natcha found that the IO requested 3.7 billion baht for the 2022 budget, for the development of personnel and its operations. One project proposed is to develop a big data security platform with a budget of 261 million baht that can be used to track people who have views different from the government. For example, a “watch list” of 183 people was leaked to the public in early August which included 19 social media accounts of politicians and activists. 

Natcha Boonchai-Insawat, spokesperson and Bangkok MP of the Move Forward Party, shows a slide that outlines the Information Operations under the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division

He added that in the work of the IO Operations There is a meeting to establish and report to the supervisor. They clearly share their duties. They get allowances and awards for outstanding performance staff. There is also evidence of spurious disbursement of allowances due to the documents obtained, it was found that the photoshoots and the signing of the names took place at the same time and similar partners as well.

Natcha stated that IO possesses documents on different areas, such as one entitled, “People’s Group Structure in Khon Kaen Province.” The document shows the names, addresses, and photos of 80 student activists, university professors, and the Isaan Record news outlet which has its office in Khon Kaen.

One name on the IO list is Kwankhao Tangprasert, an 18-year-old in the KKC student group. He says he is just a student who is active in education and questioning the education system. But he is listed as a threat to the security of the state, reflecting how the government views people with different views. All the lists are not related to the process like those in the document.

“I’m worried about my security and threats by the authorities. I don’t know when it will come to me or how. They might use these documents or orders as a threat to my security even though I am just a student who is questioning education,” said Kwankhao.

Read Thai version here

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