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Turn Left Thailand

Thailand: Challenges facing the Red Shirt movement today

On November 19, 2010, thousands of Red Shirts remembered those killed six months earlier. Photo by Lee Yu Kyung.

[Read more about the democracy struggle in Thailand HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 1, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As we approach the end of 2010, the pro-democracy movement, the Red Shirts, is at a crossroads. On the other side, the military junta and the royalists have not even begun to solve the political crisis or to stabilise their power. Since the royalist PAD protests and the military coup in 2006, the junta and the royalists have not only destroyed democracy, they have also destroyed the legitimacy of the monarchy, the military and the judiciary in the eyes of millions of Thais.

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: 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: 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.

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.

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).

* * *

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.

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.

Guests:

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.

จดหมายด่วนเปิดผนึกถึงนัก สหภาพแรงงาน

ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์

ท่ามกลางการนองเลือดในกรุงเทพฯ ที่มาจากการปราบปรามประชาชนมือเปล่า โดยทหารและรัฐบาลของอำมาตย์ คนงานในประเทศไทยจะนิ่งเฉยได้อย่างไร?

(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.

Because:

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: 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.

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.

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