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Thailand: What the September 19 mass Red Shirt rallies mean for Thai politics

Bangkok, September 19, 2010. Photo by Ooi Thai Delphi, CBNpress (published with permission).

[For more on the Thai people's struggle for democracy, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

September 21, 2010 -- In the afternoon of Sunday, September 19, 2010, tens of thousands of Red Shirts returned to the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok to remember the coup four years previously, and the deliberate murder in April and May this year of around 90 unarmed demonstrators, many of whom were gunned down by army snipers near Ratchaprasong.

Since the brutal killings by the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva junta, there has been a climate of fear, with hundreds of political prisoners locked up and evidence of extrajudicial killings of some Red Shirt activists. Censorship has remained tight. Thai mainstream TV failed to report the extent of the demonstration, playing down the numbers, as usual.

Thailand: Return of the Red Shirts -- big protests mark massacre anniversary

A huge crowd mobilised at Ratchaprasong Intersection to mark four months since the May 19 massacre of pro-democracy protesters. Video by Richard Barrow.

By Thailand Troubles and Peter Boyle

Thailand: September 19 coup, four years on... bloodbath at Ratchaprasong, four months later

[For more on the Thai people's struggle for democracy, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

September 19, 2010 -- Over this weekend protests are taking place in many parts of Thailand and in many cities around the world. We are Red Shirts and we shall be remembering those who were killed by the Thai military and those who are in prison. We shall demand democracy and human rights and an end to this brutal dictatorship. The military government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva hoped that by sending snipers to deliberately kill unarmed civilians [at Ratchaprasong in May this year], they would break the democratic spirit of the Red Shirts. They are mistaken. Their dreams of “stability” and a long secure future for the conservative elites are built on sand.

Thailand: Thousands demand release of political prisoners (+ photo essay)

Outside Klongprem prison on September 17. Photo by Ooi Thai Delphi CBN Press.

[See also "Thailand: Red Shirt protests on the rise again". For more on the Thai people's struggle for democracy, click HERE.]

By Peter Boyle

September 18, 2010 -- Up to 3000 members and supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) – popularly known as the Red Shirts – rallied peacefully outside Klongprem Remand Prison in Bangkok on September 17 to demand the release of the estmated 470 political prisoners held since the military violently suppressed the mass Red Shirt protest camp in Bangkok on May 19.

The protesters laid wreaths of red roses at the gates to the prison. Similar protests were held outside several other prisons around the country.

Thailand: Red Shirts allege military behind activist killings

Krissada in Chiangmai hospital ICU. Photo by Ruangsil.

[See also "Thailand: Red Shirt protests on the rise again". For more on the Thai people's struggle for democracy, click HERE.]

By Peter Boyle

September 16, 2010 -- Chiangmai, in Thailand’s north, is considered to be a Red Shirt stronghold. On August 29, a 21-year-old local Red Shirt (popular name for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, UDD) activist “James” Krissada Klaharn and his girlfriend Nongnuch Kampor were driving home at about 1.15 am after a long day selling popular stickers at a roadside stall, when the killers struck.

Nongnuch was driving. They noticed a vehicle, with headlights off, following them. Suddenly the vehicle accelerated, pulled alongside and sprayed their cars with bullets. Krissada was hit in the legs, abdomen and shoulder.

Thailand: Aksi Protes Kaos Merah Marak Kembali

Rabu, 8 September 2010

Oleh Peter Boyle

Berdikari Online -- Pada 4 September lalu, sekitar 20.000 pendukung Kaos Merah berkumpul dalam sebuah konser di Pattaya, kota pariwisata Thailand yang terletak di tepi laut. Mobilisasi ini salah satu yang terbesar sejak militer dengan berdarah membubarkan perkemahan protes mereka di Bangkok pada 19 Mei 2010, menewaskan 91 orang dan melukai ribuan lainnya.

Pemimpin Kaos Merah dan Anggota Parlemen dari Partai Puea Thai, Jatuporn Prompan, menyerukan kepada rakyat untuk meletakkan mawar merah di depan seluruh penjara di negeri itu pada 17 September nanti. Ratusan pimpinan dan aktivis Kaos Merah masih ditahan. Pada 18-19 September, akan digelar aksi-aksi massa di penjuru negeri dan di luar negeri untuk menandai empat bulan sejak pembantaian berdarah.

“Hari ini adalah awal kampanye kita untuk membuka pintu penjara dan membebaskan saudara-saudara Kaos Merah kita”, seru Jutaporn dalam konser tersebut.

Thailand: Red Shirt protests on the rise again

Sombat Boonngamanong (centre) at Pattaya beach action. Photo by Gunn Redguy.

By Peter Boyle

September 8, 2010 -- Up to 20,000 Red Shirt supporters rallied at a concert in the Thailand seaside resort city of Pattaya on September 4, in what was one the biggest mobilisations since the military bloodily dispersed their mass protest camp in Bangkok on May 19, 2010, killing 91 and injuring thousands more.

Red Shirt leader and Puea Thai party MP Jatuporn Prompan called on people to place red roses outside prisons around the country on September 17. Hundreds of Red Shirt leaders and activists continue to be detained. On September 18-19, actions marking four months since the massacre will be held all over the country as well as overseas.

“Today is the beginning of our campaign to open the prison doors to let our Red Shirts brothers and sisters free”, Jutaporn told the concert.

Thailand: How powerful is the Thai military?

Troops on guard after the September 2006 coup. "The primary role of the Thai military is to police and repress Thai citizens on behalf of the ruling class."

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

September 6, 2010 -- Despite the fact that millions of Thais believe that the centre of power among the conservative elites today is the monarchy or the Privy Council, the real centre of power, lurking behind the throne, is the military. The military has intervened in politics and society ever since the 1932 revolution against the absolute monarchy. This is because the Peoples Party led by Pridi Panomyong relied too much on the military rather than building a mass party to stage the revolution. Yet it is also a cliché to just state the number of military coups that have taken place. The power of the military is not unlimited.

Thailand: Freedom of speech is a severe danger to the ruling class

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

August 10, 2010 -- Tantawut Taweewarodomkun, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) USA's web designer, known as “Red Eagle”, who was arrested on April 1, 2010, on “computer crimes” and lese majeste charges, has been remanded in custody until February 2011, when the court has set a date to interrogate prosecution and defence witnesses. That means that Red Eagle will be detained in prison for at least 10 months BEFORE being tried in court. He has only just had access to his lawyer. Red Eagle has not been charged with any crime of violence or charged with committing any physical act. He is accused of looking after a website that has comments that the royalist elites do not like (see www.norporchorusa.com and www.norporchorusa2.com).

Thailand: No justice for Red Shirt detainees

News footage. Thai regime crushed democracy protest with brute force.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

July 30, 2010 -- Pro-democracy movement Red Shirt political prisoners, detained by the Abhisit Vejjajiva military junta after the bloody crackdown against unarmed demonstrators in May are facing a total lack of justice with internationally recognised legal standards being blatantly ignored. This is more evidence of the total destruction of democracy, justice and the rule of law in Thailand since the 2006 military coup.

Prachatai, the web-based newspaper, which the junta repeatedly tries to close down, reports that Red Shirt detainees in the north-east provinces of Ubon Rajatanee, Kon Kaen, Mahasarakarm, Mukdaharn and Udon Tanee are facing the following problems and there is no reason to believe that other Red Shirt detainees are any better off elsewhere.

1. Police evidence used for warrants of arrest is unclear and lacking in legal standards. So people have been arrested and detained under conditions where there is a lack of clear evidence.

Behind Bangkok's war in southern Thailand

Thai police arrest a Thai Muslim.

Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.

Thailand: Reporting from the ‘Red Zones’

Red Shirts' barricade prior to the bloody May 19, 2010, military crackdown. Photo by Lee Yu Kyung.

By Lee Yu Kyung

July 11, 2010 -- On July 6, the Thai government approved the extension of an emergency decree in 19 provinces, which includes many in the heartland of the pro-democracy Red Shirts in the country’s north-east. The extension came a day after the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) recommended the government immediately lift the decree and hold fresh elections.

But Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva, who came to power through the army’s intervention, crushed hopes for new elections weeks ago.

There have been tireless efforts to silence critical voices before and after the bloody crackdown on the Red Shirts in May. The International Crisis Group said in a July 5 report that more than 2200 websites have been shut down for alleged violations to the Computer Crime Act since the state of emergency was imposed on April 7.

Class and politics in Thailand

Communist Party of Thailand fighters in southern Thailand.

Below is an excerpt from Thai socialist Giles Ji Ungpakorn's latest book, Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy. It provides an historical background to Thai politics from the pre-capitalist era, through the turmoil of the 1930s and 1970s, up to the present day. This historical understanding is important in locating the dynamics of the ruling class and the changing politics of revolt from the time of the Communist Party through to the creation of the NGOs. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Giles Ji Ungpakorn's permission.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a political commentator and dissident. In February 2009 he had to leave Thailand for exile in Britain because he was charged with lèse majesté for writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. His latest book will be of interest to activists, academics and journalists who have an interest in Thai politics, democratisation and NGOs.

Appeal against repression in Thailand; จดหมายประท้วงการปราบปรามในประเทศไทย

Introduction by Danielle Sabai and Pierre Rousset

June 20, 2010 -- The crackdown on the opposition in Thailand and the abuses of the regime have not been met with the solidarity response and the international condemnation that the situation requires. The regime can thus freely operate and stifle the democratic movement.

News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children; injured people chained to their hospital beds; several assassinations of local  leaders of the Red Shirts have taken place. The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing the elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of the majority of Thai citizens.

Thai society is deeply unequal in every respect. The Red Shirts have expressed loud and clear their determination to fight the injustices they suffer: they express a class movement as well as one defending regional diversity, against the establishment in Bangkok.

New book: `Thailand’s Crisis and the Fight for Democracy'

UPDATE by Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 18, 2011 -- After struggling to read my book for more than a year, the Thai police have finally banned Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy. No one is allowed to import it. But I have nearly sold out! What is even more amusing is that there is a Thai version which is available on the internet to download for free.

Anyone who wants a copy of the Thai version can just e-mail me at ji.ungpakorn@gmail.com, or read or download at http://links.org.au/node/2105.

You can also read excerpt's from Thailand's Crisis and the fight for Democracy at http://links.org.au/node/1792 ("Behind Bangkok's war in southern Thailand") and http://links.org.au/node/1754 ("Class and Politics in Thailand).

* * *

Walden Bello on Thailand: `A class war with Thai characteristics'

By Walden Bello

May 25, 2010 -- Nearly a week after the event, Thailand is still stunned by the military assault on the Red Shirt encampment in the tourist centre of the capital city of Bangkok on May 19. The Thai government is treating captured Red Shirt leaders and militants like they're from an occupied country. No doubt about it: A state of civil war exists in this country, and civil wars are never pretty.

The last few weeks have hardened the Bangkok middle class in its view that the Red Shirts are "terrorists" in the pocket of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the same time, they have convinced the lower classes that their electoral majority counts for nothing. "Pro-Thaksin" versus "Anti-Thaksin": This simplified discourse actually veils what is — to borrow Mao's words — a class war with Thai characteristics.

Epic tragedy

Thailand: The end of the Red Shirts?

By Justin Alick, Bangkok

May 27, 2010 -- On March 3, 2010, the red-shirted leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand to outline the details of the coming mass rally to be held in Bangkok. The purpose of the rally, they said, was to force an army-backed government to make a choice: to embrace democracy and hold general elections, or to embrace authoritarianism and kill its own citizens. When asked by one journalist how the UDD would respond in the case of the government choosing the latter, the answer from Red Shirt leader Jaran Ditthapichai sent a palpable chill across the room: “We may see Thailand descend into civil war.”

Thailand: Giles Ji Ungpakorn -- `A full-blown military dictatorship' + interview

Bangkok, May 21, 2010. Photo by Chaiwat Subprasom.

[For earlier coverage of the Thai democracy struggle, please click HERE.] 

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 26, 2010 -- Make no mistake. We have a full military junta in Thailand with Abhisit Vejjajiva acting as a “democratic” mask. The repression and censorship is worse than even after the October 6, 1976 coup. More people have been killed by the army than in any previous repression. It is worse than during the Sarit dictatorship era in the 1960s and the reason is that the regime is trying desperately to suppress the biggest mass movement for democracy in Thai history. Hundreds are being rounded up. There is widespread censorship. The regime is increasingly looking like China, Burma or North Korea.

Indonesian solidarity with the democracy struggle in Thailand


Solidarity protest at the embassy of Thailand, Jakarta, Indonesia, May 25, 2010. Another slideshow below. Made with Slideshow Embed Tool.

Democracy and humanity for the people of Thailand

Jakarta, May 25, 2010 -- Since March, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the Red Shirts, began a massive protest against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. A government that came to power not through democratic elections but installed by the military and endorsed by the monarchy.

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