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Thailand

Thailand: Behind the latest reactionary 'Yellow Shirt' protests

Thousands of crazed middle-class reactionary royalists, led by the notorious blood-stained Democrat Party, have been demonstrating in an attempt to get rid of the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

November 24, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The disastrous and disgraceful amnesty bill, put forward by Yingluck Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai government in early November stirred up a hornet’s nest of “Yellow-Shirt” buzzing. Thousands of middle-class royalists, led by the notorious Democrat Party, have been demonstrating in an attempt to get rid of the government and all of Thaksin’s influence. They were very upset that the amnesty bill would have allowed Thaksin Shinawatra to return. These are the people who called for and supported the 2006 military coup against Thaksin’s democratically elected government. These are also the people who supported the bloody crackdown on Red Shirt protesters in 2010. Democrat Party strongman Sutep Tueksuban, addressing a crowd of supporters, called for the “restoration of full monarchy rule”.

Thailand: The bloody civil war in Patani and the way to achieve peace

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn[1]

October 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This article is an attempt to analyse the political situation surrounding the bloody civil war in “Patani-Southern Thailand” from the perspective of those who seek freedom, justice and self-determination. Unlike most academic papers or books on the subject, this article is not aimed at top politicians, military generals or officials of foreign powers, all of whom seek to maintain their own class interests by stressing “stability” or measures to “contain” the situation without any regard to the wishes of ordinary people.

Thailand’s 'game of bodies'

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra reviews the troops.

For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

June 17, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- One might be tempted to celebrate the fact that Tarit Pengdit, head of the Department of Special Investigations, has forwarded the cases against former PM Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Sutep Tuaksuban to the public prosecutor. Tarit stated that there was ample evidence that they had ordered the killings of Red Shirt pro-democracy demonstrators in 2010.

Thailand: Puppets on a string, dancing to the tune of the military

For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

April 21, 2013 -- Links International journal of Socialist Renewal -- As Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra posed, smiling and holding hands with the butcher of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Thai foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul was acting out an extreme nationalist game with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple.

The Preah Vihear Temple was built by the Khmer, in Khmer style, when the Khmers ruled a large empire covering the area that is now Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. It belongs to Cambodia. Almost everything that the Thai ruling class claim to be “Thai” was copied from the Khmer, including royal language and so-called Thai-style architecture. Sukotai was a Khmer city with a Khmer king. Ayuttaya also had some Khmer kings. Therefore when the Yellow Shirt nationalists and the military demand that “Thai territory” be returned they are merely playing out an imbecilic myth. It is a myth to divert attention from the inequality, exploitation and repression within Thai society.

Socialist Alliance: Free Somyot and all political prisoners! Democracy for Thailand!

[Please continue to send protest notes to the addresses contained in this link. For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

Socialist Alliance (Australia) statement

  • Free Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and all political prisoners in Thailand!
  • Abolish the anti-democratic lese majeste law!
  • Democracy for Thailand!

January 24, 2013 – The Socialist Alliance of Australia condemns in the strongest possible terms the January 23 sentencing of workers’ rights and free speech advocate Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to a total of 11 years’ jail under Thailand’s draconian anti-democratic “lese majeste” law (Article 112 of the Criminal Code). Somyot and all political prisoners in Thailand should be released immediately and unconditionally.

Conviction of Thai labour activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk condemned

Please continue to send protest notes to the addresses contained in this link.

By the Socialist Party of Malaysia

January 23, 2012 -- Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) is deeply concerned and disappointed over the verdict of Thai court today that sentenceed labour activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk to 10 years of imprisonment for charges under the Article 112 of the Criminal Code (the lèse-majesté law) and another year of imprisonment for a violation of printing act in 2009, totaling 11 years of jail terms.

The PSM is of the view that those charges and convictions of Somyot are politically motivated, with the aim to suppress the right to freedom of expression and activism of political dissidents who not adhere to the will of ruling elite in Thailand.

The prosecution and conviction of Somyot are regressive and push the country back to the Middle Ages. Such persecution against a political activist is devastating to the democratic process in Thailand.

Thailand: Protest letter demands: 'Free Somyot'!

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.

January 17, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following protest letter, signed by 381 organisations and individuals inside and outside Thailand, was submitted to Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and other Thai authorities on January 17. The letter was organised by the Thai Labour Campaign. Many more individual letters are due to be delivered on and before January 23, organised by Amnesty International, Australia Asia Workers Links and Clean Clothes Campaign. Readers of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to send their own letters to the addresses below. Please cc a copy to freesomyot@gmail.com

Thailand: The farce of the Pitak Siam protests

Pitak Siam protesters.

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

November 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Karl Marx once wrote that “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”. The tragedy was the 2006 military coup and the cold-blooded murder of unarmed Red Shirt protesters who were calling for democratic elections in 2010. The farce is the current protests by a motley collection of “dad’s army” generals, monarchist Yellow Shirt PAD [People'es Alliance for Democracy] supporters and other conservatives calling themselves Pitak Siam (Protect Thailand), whose declared aim is to "put Thai society into a deep freeze”.

Thailand's 'parallel war': Thaksin and the Red Shirts

A mobilisation by Thailand's Red Shirt democracy movement in September 2010.

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

September 9, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Six years after the September 19 coup d'état against the Thaksin Shinawatra government, it is possible to look back and assess the impact of the crisis on Thai politics and society.

One way of understanding the “dialectical” relationship between Thaksin Shinawatra and the Red Shirts democracy movement is to borrow the concept of a “parallel war” from Donny Gluckstein's book on the Second World War.[1] According to Gluckstein there were two parallel wars against the Axis powers. One was an imperialist war, waged by the ruling classes of Britain, the United States and Russia for their own interests, while the other war was a people's war against fascism, waged by ordinary working people, many of them socialists.

Thailand: Urgent appeal -- please endorse open letter for the release of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

[More background information is available here.]

By the Thai Labour Campaign

September 4, 2012 -- Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is to appear again on September 19 to hear the Criminal Court announce the date of the verdict of Somyot's criminal trial. At the same time,  it will await the decision of the Constitutional Court on the request forwarded by the Criminal Court of the Constitutional Court’s verdict as to whether or not the lèse majesté law is unconstitutional in response to a petition by him and his lawyers. Somyot, however, speculates that the decision of the Constitution Court will not be delivered on that day and the verdict in on his specific case will be further postponed until the constitutional verdict is reached.

This means that Somyot faces a further and potentially long period in prison.

Hence, we are again calling for your international solidarity to continue sending letters to the Thailand authorities  in order that Somyot can be released soon.  We need to ensure at least that Somyot be released on bail while he is waiting the verdict.

Act now! Please endorse this open letter to the Thai authoritiess before September 12. Please send the name of your organisation to:

Patchanee Kumnak, program coordinator, Thai Labour Campaign.

Email: patchanee@thailabour.org

Thailand: Who killed Aa-Kong (Ah Kong)?

The arrest of Aa-Kong.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The death in prison of the poor odd-job man Aa-Kong (also known as Ah Kong) is an outrage and it is yet another indication of the barbarity of the lèse majesté law, the injustice of the Thai legal system and the brutality of the Thai ruling class. The fact that he was refused bail to get medical treatment, and the fact that the prison authorities waited three days after he became ill before sending him to the prison clinic, is an indication of the terrible conditions in Thai prisons. He was convicted of lèse majesté for supposedly sending an SMS message to ex-prime minister Abhisit’s personal secretary. The evidence given by the state proved nothing.

In Thailand, generals and politicians who ordered repeated killings of unarmed demonstrators on five occasions since 1973 have never been charged and never been punished. But criticising the ruling class is considered to be a “grave offence”. Long prison sentences are handed down for lèse majesté.

Asian left parties: 'Free Somyot and all political prisoners in Thailand! End the medieval lèse majeste law!'

Joint statement

April 26, 2012 -- We, the undersigned organisations, are deeply concerned about the continuous repression against social activists under lèse majesté law in Thailand, including Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a labour activist who has been imprisoned without bail since April 30, 2011.

We are concerned about Somyot’s continuous imprisonment, his transfer to another prison and his bail request being denied numerous times.

Somyot is known for his tireless work in the workers’ movement and to establish democratic trade unionism in Thailand. In 2007, he became editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine (now called Red Power), a political publication opposed to the military coup. Somyot is the chair of the Union of Democratic Labour Alliance and the leader of 24th June democracy group, which was formed in the aftermath of the military coup in September 2006.

Two sides to Burma's elections

Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Turn Left Thailand

April 3, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Elections under capitalist democracy never lead to state power changing hands because many important elements of the capitalist state are not subject to elections or even accountability. For example, we never get to elect capitalists who make important investment decisions that affect millions of peoples’ lives. In addition to this, judges, military and police commanders, top civil servants and those who control the media are never elected. But that does not mean that we should ignore elections.

Elections are important political events that can be used to advertise policies, can often give encouragement and can be used to mobilise activists outside parliament. For these reasons the elections in Burma in early April were extremely important for the democratic movement. They were an opportunity for thousands of Burmese, and other nationalities in the country, to show their dissatisfaction and opposition to the military dictatorship by voting for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and other opposition and ethnic parties.

Thailand: Free Somyot Pruksakasemsuk!

[More background information is available here.]

By Choo Chon Kai

February 13, 2012 --The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) expresses its solidarity with labour activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who has been imprisoned without bail since April 30, 2011, and who faces charges under lèse-majesté law.  We are deeply concerned over his continuous imprisonment, transferring of prisons and numerous denial of bail requests.

Somyot is known for his tireless work in the workers' movement and the establishment of democratic trade unionism in Thailand. In 2007 he became editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine (now called Red Power), a political publication opposed to the 2006 military coup. Somyot is the chair of Union of Democratic Labour Alliance and the leader of 24th of June for Democracy Group which was formed in the aftermath of the September 2006 military coup.

Thailand: In 2012 lèse majesté will be litmus test for democracy

Yingluck Shinawatra tours flood-ravaged areas with army commander-in-chief General Prayut Chan-ocha.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 2, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In July 2011 millions of Red Shirts turned out to vote for the Pheu Thai party, headed by Yingluck Shinawatra. The party won a landslide majority despite various attempts by the military, the media and the elites to place obstacles in the path of the party's victory. The election result was a slap in the face for the military and the “party of the military” (the mis-named Democrat Party).

But the signs were bad for the Red Shirts from the beginning. The new government did nothing about the Red Shirt political prisoners and the important issue of bringing ex-prime minister Abhisit, his deputy Sutep and the military generals Prayut [army commander-in-chief Prayuth Chan-ocha] and Anupong to justice for their key roles in gunning down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in 2010.

Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra's government lines up with the military

Protesters gather outside the criminal court in Bangkok December 9, 2011. Protesters wore masks and hold pictures of Amphon Tangnoppaku, dubbed "Uncle SMS", outside the court protesting after he was jailed for 20 years last month for sending text messages deemed to have disparaged Thailand's Queen Sirikit. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 11, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the July 2011 election we have seen Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's Pheu Thai party government and the conservative elites move towards a settlement in the interests of the elites and at the expense of democracy and human rights.

This is a serious betrayal of the Red Shirts who fought and sacrificed for democracy over the last few years. In many ways this “sell-out” by the Yingluck government was hardly surprising. The vast majority of Pheu Thai politicians are not at all radical. Most never took part in the Red Shirt protests. Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai party always made it clear that they were royalists as well.

Lèse majesté

Thailand's flood crisis: neoliberalism is not the answer

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

October 27, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The serious flooding in Thailand has affected millions of people. Houses, property and infrastructure have been seriously damaged. Factories and workplaces have been closed and hundreds of thousands of people have become temporarily unemployed. Agricultural land has been flooded, leading to further loss of incomes. Millions of people who are living modest lives will see their incomes and savings drastically lowered and the economy can only be dragged down. The waters are now predicted to remain high for at least a month.

The longer-term effects of the flood damage will become a real test for the Peua Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra. If this crisis is not solved to the satisfaction of most citizens, the government risks losing long-term public support.

Thailand: Why aren’t the generals in jail?

Thai soldier during the September 19, 2006, coup sports the monarchy's colour, yellow.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

September 19, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the fifth anniversary of the September  19, 2006, military coup in Thailand, General Sonti Boonyaratgalin should be facing charges for staging an illegal coup and tearing up a democratic constitution. General Prayut Junocha should also be facing charges for ordering the killings of nearly 90 unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators last year. But this is not happening because we do not have equality, freedom and justice in Thailand, and we do not have a government that respects the Red Shirts who voted for it in the first place.

The Pheu Thai Party may have won the election in July, but the repressive ruling class is still all powerful. The army continues to intervene in politics and society, the judiciary has not been reformed and the king still acts as the figurehead to give legitimacy to those opposing real democracy, with the draconian lèse majesté law as back-up. Pheu Thai is clearly in the process of reconciling its differences with the military.

Thailand: Free Somyot Prueksakasemsuk!

September 17, 2011 -- Australia Asia Worker Links reports that jailed trade union activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was denied bail on September 12. Somyot is in jail for allegedly insulting the Thai king, under the country's notorious lèse majesté law.

The new Thai government, headed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra of the Pheu Thai Party, has jailed three people under lèse majesté law since coming to power two months ago. The Pheu Thai Party campaigned in the recent election campaign as the party of democracy and freedom,.

The campaign to free Somyot and all other Thai political prisoners continues. The background to the case is explained by the following article, gleaned from the posts at The Librarian of Bangkok Prison.

Thailand: A new 'settlement' between Yingluck Shinawatra's government and the elites?

Thai MPs elected Yingluck Shinawatra on August 5 as the country's first female prime minister.

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

August 14, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- We are starting to see the results of a “new settlement” between the Pheu Thai party [led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra] and the elites, in order to “resolve” the Thai crisis in the interests of the latter. This may or may not be a formal agreement, but we are already seeing the effects.

Following the last crisis during the Cold War conflict with the Communist Party of Thailand, the elites crafted a settlement in which parliamentary democracy was tolerated so long as elections could be dominated by money politics and there was no challenge to the ruling class. Today’s “settlement” is designed to allow the Pheu Thai party to form a government and to bring its leaders, including deposed PM Thaksin Shinawatra, back into the elite’s exclusive club. We must remember that previous to the 2006 crisis, Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party were a recognised part of the ruling elites.

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