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Thailand: After the bloodbath

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

By Danielle Sabaï

May 24, 2010 -- Asian Left Observer -- On Wednesday May 19, 2010, the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva finally launched an assault on the Red Shirt camp in the neighbourhood of Rachaprasong. Television stations from around the world broadcast brutal images of assault tanks destroying the bamboo and tyre barricades and soldiers armed with rifles firing live ammunition at demonstrators. The disproportion between the images of war and the faces of the demonstrators, mostly peasants and urban workers, was striking.

Thailand: Past the point of no return

By Danielle Sabai

[This article was written before the Thai government's crushing of the Red Shirts' protest site in Bangkok on May 19, 2010. However, it provides important background to the events. This article first appeared at Danielle Sabai's Asian Left Observer.]

May 17, 2010 -- The political crisis engulfing Thailand is not a clap of thunder in an otherwise calm sky. The discourse about a country where “everyone lives in harmony and where there is no class struggle but a people united behind its adored sovereign” has nothing to do with reality. For several decades, the Thai people have been subjected to authoritarian regimes or dictatorships and a king in their service. The Thai élites have however not succeeded in preventing regular uprisings against the established order, including those in 1973, 1976 and 1992, all repressed by bloodbaths.

Democracy Now! debate: Is Thailand's Red Shirt movement a genuine grassroots struggle?

Democracy Now! -- May 18, 2010 -- In Thailand, the government has rejected an offer by anti-government protesters to enter talks after a bloody week in Bangkok that has left at least thirty-eight protesters dead. Some fear the standoff could lead to an undeclared civil war. The protesters are mostly rural and urban poor who are part of a group called the UDD, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, more commonly known as the Red Shirts. We host a debate between Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai dissident living in exile in Britain who supports the Red Shirt movement; and Philip Cunningham, a freelance journalist who has covered Asia for over twenty years.


Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Thai dissident living in exile in Britain. He was a university lecturer in Thailand before having to flee after writing a book criticising the 2006 military coup. He is a Red Shirt supporter.

Thailand: Why Obama is silent on the Bangkok massacres

By Shamus Cooke

May 16, 2010 -- When the White House is quiet as protesters are butchered in the streets of Bangkok, suspicions are raised. Silence often equals complicity. One can only imagine what the US government's response would be to a Venezuelan government slaughter: the US media and US President Barack Obama would loudly condemn such an act, in contrast to the muted response to Thailand's bloodbath.

The history of US-Thailand relations explains why. During the Vietnam War, the US used Thailand as one of the main “anti-communist” bulwarks in an area that included China, Vietnam and other countries that were challenging capitalism.

Thailand was thus transformed into a US client state and given money, guns and US government intelligence to battle Thailand’s “communists”. This relationship has equalled numerous Thai dictatorships that have a very bloody history, including the shooting of untold numbers of protesters who the Thai government named “communists” or the modern equivalent, “terrorists”.

The US-Thailand relationship began to sour when the recently deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra formed a closer relationship with China that included economic and military deals. The November 7, 2008, Asian Times summarises the consequences:

จดหมายด่วนเปิดผนึกถึงนัก สหภาพแรงงาน

ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์

ท่ามกลางการนองเลือดในกรุงเทพฯ ที่มาจากการปราบปรามประชาชนมือเปล่า โดยทหารและรัฐบาลของอำมาตย์ คนงานในประเทศไทยจะนิ่งเฉยได้อย่างไร?

(Updated May 21) Thailand: International left solidarity with the democracy movement

Photo by Lee Yu Kyung, Bangkok.

Statements by the New Anti-Capitalist Party of France, Socialist Alliance of Australia, the Socialist Party of Malaysia, the Fourth International, Focus on Global South, Australia Asia Worker Links. See also Asia-Pacific left statement -- `Resolve crisis through democracy, not crackdown!', by Asian left and progressive organisations.

* * *

New Anti-Capitalist Party: Stop repression in Thailand

By the New Anti-Capitalist Party/Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA), France

Australia/Thailand: In solidarity with the democracy protests in Bangkok

On May 16, 2010, an emergency rally in solidarity with the democracy movement in Thailand was held outside the Sydney Town Hall. More photos below.

By Thai Red Australia Group for Democracy

May 16, 2010 -- Since March 14, Bangkok has been the scene of mass pro-democracy protests. The protesters known as “Red Shirts” have demanded the resignation of unelected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and new elections. Abhisit came to power in December through the overthrow of a democratically elected government by right-wing “Yellow Shirt” gangs, assisted by the military and elements of the royal family.

(Updated May 20) Thailand: The anger of the people is justified; Tyrants cling to power over dead bodies

Bangkok, May 19, 2010.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 19, 2010 -- Now that the official protest has been drowned in blood and stopped [read Giles Ji Ungpakorn's accounts of the May 19 assault as it unfolded, HERE], there will not be peace because there is no justice. The anger of the ordinary people has finally erupted into violence with numerous buildings being set of fire in Bangkok and the provinces. People are also trying to use any means to fight the army. There are reports that government buildings, banks, the stock exchange, luxury shopping malls and pro-military media are all being set on fire.

All this is totally justified.


คนเสื้อแดงได้อะไรจากการ ต่อสู้??

ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์

จุดจบของการต่อสู้รอบนี้ ซึ่งเริ่มในเดือนมีนาคม เป็นการประนีประนอมระหว่างแกนนำคนเสื้อแดงกับรัฐบาลของอำมาตย์ หลายคนคงจะผิดหวัง แต่เราควรใช้เวลาพิจารณาสถานการณ์และกำหนดแนวทางในการต่อสู้ต่อไป เรื่องมันยังไม่จบจนกว่าอำมาตย์จะถูกโค่นล้ม ดังนั้นอย่าไปเสียเวลากับอาการ “อกหัก” อย่าไปท้อ อย่าไปเดินออกจากเวทีการต่อสู้ด้วยความน้อยใจ

Thailand: Red Shirt protests -- what has been achieved? คนเสื้อแดงได้อะไรจากการ ต่อสู้??

`The Red Shirts have shown that they are a genuine mass movement for democracy, made up of ordinary working people in rural and urban areas.'

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 11, 2010 -- Pro-democracy Red Shirt protests in Bangkok, which started in mid-March, are about to be wound up. Leaders [of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, UDD] have accepted a compromise with the military-backed government of Abhisit Vejjajiva. Elections will not be held immediately, but on November 14. Earlier Abihist had indicated an election in February 2011 at the earliest.

It is unclear whether the blanket censorship of the Thai media will be lifted. One clear demand that the Red Shirt leaders are expecting to be met is that the Red Shirt's TV channel (People Channel TV) will be allowed back on air. Whether websites like Prachatai will be unblocked is also unclear. Another demand is that the law be applied equally to all.

The government claims that the prime minister and deputy prime minister will "surrender" to the police in relation to charges of murdering citizens on April 10, 2010. But it is unclear whether any real charges will be filed against them.

Thailand: Land of smoke and mirrors

By Justin Alick, Bangkok, photos by Nick Nostitz/New Mandala

May 5, 2010 -- FM4 -- Thailand is many things, but a bastion of transparency it is not.

On the night of April 10, 2010, a distraught group of red-shirted, pro-democracy activists stormed into a Bangkok hospital and demanded that it hand over the bodies of fellow protesters they had witnessed being shot to death by the Royal Thai Army in a bloody military crackdown, which was still in progress. At first they were turned away by the hospital director, citing medical procedures as well as specific regulations that had been handed down by the military regime -- but as more angry protesters arrived, he had no choice but to relent.

Thailand: What Abhisit has really offered; UDD's response

Solidarity in Australia with the Thai people's struggle for democracy. Photos by Thai Red Australia, Peter Boyle and Mat Ward.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

May 4, 2010 -- Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva trumpeted today that he was taking an important initiative to “solve” the political crisis. He offered to dissolve parliament in September and hold elections on November 14, 2010. Previously he had said that he would not dissolve parliament until December. Yet even this offer was conditional on there being “peace in society”. That means that he and his military-backed government can go back on this proposal and claim that conditions were “not yet right” for elections nearer the time.

Thailand: It's about democracy

Red Shirt barricade, Bangkok.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

April 29, 2010 -- In a democratic society, when there is a deep crisis, it is customary for the government to dissolve parliament and call elections in order for the people to decide. This happened in Britain and France after mass strikes and demonstrations in the 1960s and 1970s.

After mass right-wing Yellow Shirt protests against the government in Bangkok in 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai government dissolved parliament and called elections. Yet the Democrat Party and others refused to take part in these elections because they knew they would lose. This led to a military coup. The military wrote their own undemocratic constitution. Fresh elections were held under the control of the military, yet Thaksin’s party won an overall majority again. Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government is only in power by using two judiciary coups, Yellow Shirt violence at Government House and the airports, and the actions of the army. It has never been elected.

Pernyataan Bersama untuk Thailand: Selesaikan Krisis melalui Demokrasi, Bukan Represi

Pernyataan Bersama Regional

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM); Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja (PRP) Indonesia; Partai Rakyat Demokratik (PRD) Indonesia; Turn Left Thailand; Socialist Alliance (Australia); Partido Lakas ng Masa (Philipina); Solidarity (Australia)

April 10, 2010 -- Kami sangat prihatin dengan situasi yang kini terjadi di Thailand, dimana Perdana Menteri yang didukung militer, Ahbisit Vejjajiva telah menyatakan Negara dalam keadaan darurat dan memulai tindakan represi berdarah dalam menghadapi meningkatnya eskalasi protes menuntut pemilihan umum ulang yang bersih.
Keadaan semakin mengkuatirkan karena pemerintah Thailand telah menutup semua media oposisi dan memberikan kekuasaan kepada angkatan bersenjata untuk melakukan tindakan represif terhadap demonstran Red Shirts. Pasukan bersenjata Thai telah mempergunakan persenjataan yang berlebihan termasuk tank dan peluru tajam, dalam menghadapi para demonstran pro demokrasi di Bangkok.

Malaysia: Solidarity protest with Thai people's movement for democracy

Protest outside th Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Dr Nasir Hashim (left) and S. Arutchelvan (right).

April 14, 2010 -- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Today, a delegation of 30 people led by the Socialist Party Malaysia (PSM) staged a protest at the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Those present included Dr. Nasir Hashim (chairperson of the PSM and Selangor state assemblyperson for Kota Damansara ), Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj (central committe member of PSM and federal member of parliament for Sungai Siput), and S. Arutchelvan (secretary-general of the PSM). There were also representatives of Suaram, a leading human rights organisation in Malaysia, as well as a representative from the Student Federation of Thailand.

According to Arutchelvan, the purpose of this action is to voice concern over the situation in Thailand as well as to condemn the brutal crackdown on Red Shirt protesters on April 10. Dr Jeyakumar said the Red Shirts' demand for a fresh election is a fair demand and the Thai government should recognise the democratic rights of the people to protest and to choose their government. Choo Chon Kai, PSM international coordinator, then read PSM's demands in the memorandum.

Tailandia: Resolver la crisis a través de la democracia, no con la represion

Tailandia se encuentra en una profunda crisis. Las cargas policiales y militares han matado a 21 personas y herido a unas 900. Los “camisas rojas” protestan por la falta de libertades en el país. Os envío la declaración solidaria con la lucha del pueblo tailandés suscrita por organizaciones de Malasia, Indonesia, Tailandia, Filipinas y Australia. (Gracias G. Buster.)

* * *

Declaración regional conjunta de Partido Socialista de Malasia (PSM), Asociación de Trabajadores de Indonesia (PRP), Partido Democrático del Pueblo (PRD), Giro a la Izquierda de Tailandia, Alianza Socialista de Australia, Partido Lakas ng Masa Filipinas

Estamos profundamente preocupados por la actual situación en Tailandia donde el primer ministro que está apoyado por los militares Ahbisit Vejjajiva ha declarado el estado de emergencia y ha empezado una sangrienta campaña en medio de una escalada de protestas pidiendo nuevas elecciones.

Thais in Australia: `Oppose human rights abuses by Thai military and government'

Australian Thais protest in Sydney, April 12, 2010. Photos by Thai Red Australia Group.

ต่อต้านการใช้ความรุนแรงต่อประชาชนและการละเมิด สิทธิมนุษยชนของกองทัพไทยและรัฐบาล

The following statement by Thai Red Australia Group for Democracy was released at a protest rally in Sydney on April 12, 2010.

“At least 19 people have died and 825 injured as a result of violent clashes in Bangkok Thailand, as troops tried to retake areas from anti-government protesters on 10th of April 2010.”

อภิสิทธิต้องลาออก ต้องยุบสภาเพื่อให้มีการเลือกตั้ง!! ต้องเคารพสิทธิในการประท้วง ต้องหยุดควบคุมสื่อ!!

แถลงการณ์พรรคสังคมนิยมมาเลยเซียและองค์กรสังคมนิยมอื่นๆ ในเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้

เรา องค์กรสังคมนิยมในประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน มีความเป็นห่วงอย่างยิ่งเกี่ยวกับสถานการณ์ในประเทศไทย เนื่องจากรัฐบาลของ อภิสิทธิ เวชชาชีวะที่มีทหารหนุนหลัง ได้มีการประกาศภาวะฉุกเฉินท่ามกลางการประท้วงของประชาชนเพื่อเรียกร้องให้มี การเลือกตั้ง
สถานการณ์ปัจจุบันในประเทศไทย ยิ่งน่าเป็นห่วงเพราะรัฐบาลปิดกั้นสื่อเสรีและใช้อำนาจตาม พรก.ฉุกเฉินที่สามารถใช้ความรุนแรงต่อผู้ประท้วงได้

Thailand: Asia-Pacific left statement -- `Resolve crisis through democracy, not crackdown!'

April 10, 2010 -- News footage of Thailand's security forces opening fire on Red Shirt pro-democracy protesters.

By Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), Working People's Association (PRP) of Indonesia, People’s Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, Turn Left Thailand, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) of the Philippines, Socialist Alliance of Australia, Solidarity (Australia)

April 10, 2010 -- We are deeply concerned over the current situation in Thailand where military-backed Prime Minister Ahbisit Vejjajiva has declared a state of emergency and started a bloody crackdown amidst escalating protests calling for a fresh election.

(Updated April 11) Thailand: Tyrants shoot the people to cling to power; Time for immediate fresh elections!

Pro-democracy protesters demand the reopening of the Thaicom TV station. Photos by Sarot Meksophawannakul Thiti Wannamontha Chanat Katanyu Thapanan Thongsubhiran/Bangkok Post.

STOP PRESS -- April 10, 2010

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Soldiers armed with live and rubber bullets and CS gas have attacked the peaceful pro-democracy Red Shirts at various spots in the centre of Bangkok. At least 12 people, Red Shirts and one Japanese Reuters reporter, have been shot dead by armed troops using automatic weapons, and tanks [were used] against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators. Hundreds more people have been injured. The military-backed government of Abhisit Vejjajiva has blood on its hands and should resign immediately. Some soldiers have been taken prisoner and weapons seized. Red Shirts outside Bangkok have seized many provincial headquarters.

Tonight at 10pm in Bangkok, a ceasefire has been announced. The questions is... what happens tomorrow?

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