Thai Red U.K. Condemns the arrest of Redshirt Leaders
No to the State of Emergency! No to the Military Crack-down!
Return Thailand to Democracy Now !
Giles Ji Ungpakorn and Watana Ebbage, on behalf of Thai Red U.K.
Thai Red U.K., the association of Redshirts in Britain, condemns the declaration of a State of Emergency by the illegitimate government of Abhisit Vejjajiva. We condemn the Military’s use of tanks and live ammunition against protestors. We say no to another coup. We also condemn the arrest of Redshirt leaders and demand that all of them be released. We are concerned by the creation, by pro-government politicians, such as Newin Chitchorp, of armed Blueshirted thugs, who have attacked pro-democracy demonstrators. The government should resign immediately to allow genuine democratic elections to be held as a matter of urgency. This would be a first step in allowing for a peaceful resolution of the long-running crisis.
Why the Redshirts are not merely a mirror image of the Yellowshirt Royalists
It is tempting for those watching the Thai events to merely conclude that the Redshirt protests are merely a mirror image of the Yellowshirt Royalists who seized the international airports late last year. There can be nothing further from the truth.
The Yellowshirt Royalists built the PAD, a movement with worrying fascist tendencies. Since 2006, they have demanded that Thai Democracy be scrapped in favour of a “New Order” dictatorship. They have consistently claimed that the majority of Thais, especially the poor, are too ignorant to be allowed the right to vote. They welcomed the 2006 military coup, seized Government House and blocked Parliament with armed gangs claiming to be “fighting for the King”. Late last year, with the collusion of the Army, they took control of Thailand’s international airports and nearly caused a war with Cambodia. They are an integral part of the present (mis-named) Democrat Party government. This government does not represent the democratic wishes of the majority of Thais. It only came to power after the courts were used as political tools of the Yellowshirts to twice dissolve the most popular political party. The Army then bribed and threatened shady politicians like Newin Chitchorp to change sides. (This politician was named after the Burmese military dictator Newin!)
The Yellowshirts represent an elite, reactionary, alliance between the Army, the Palace and Privy Council, the PAD and the Democrat Party. They are fearful that their privileges will be jeopardised by further empowering the poor, who make up most of the electorate. The Democrat Party has never succeeded in winning a majority of the popular vote. Unfortunately the majority of Middle-Class academics and many N.G.O. leaders also support the Yellowshirts and welcomed the 2006 coup which ripped up the democratic Constitution of 1997.
During the violent Yellow shirt protests of 2008, the entire Thai state apparatus and media supported them. The PAD wrecked the interior of Government House, staged violent attacks on the police and created much damage to the economy by blockading the airports. Yet no PAD leader has been punished for this use of violence and none have been condemned by the Thai mainstream media or by academics and N.G.O. leaders. The Military have never been punished for their illegal coup or their rampant corruption. Talk now of “respecting the law” by Thai PM Abhisit, is therefore hypocritical nonsense.
The Redshirts are a pro-democracy movement. Many support the policies of former PM Thaksin Shinawat because his government provided the first ever Universal Health Care system and other pro-poor measures. His party has repeatedly won elections, even after the coup. However, the Redshirts are not just supporters and puppets of Thaksin. They are ordinary citizens, most of whom believe passionately in freedom and democracy. There are many Redshirts who are not supporters of Thaksin. It is also a movement of the urban and rural poor, people who have had their democratic rights stolen from them by the Yellowshirts.
Today, in addition to fighting for democracy, the Redshirts are starting to question the “silent dictatorship” of the King’s advisors in the Privy Council. They have broken a decades old taboo about the Monarchy. Significant numbers are also becoming Republicans, while many still want a genuine Constitutional Monarchy which is not involved in politics.
The Redshirts do not have an armed guard like the Yellow or Blue shirts. They are not rich people who can protest for days on end without going to work. They have made great efforts to avoid violence, despite being attacked. The behaviour of Redshirts in surrounding the Prime Minister’s car or breaking into the hotel in Pattaya to close down the Asian Summit, did not result in serious injury or serious damage to property. This is in contrast to the actions of the Yellowshirts.
Both in terms of “Means” and “Ends” the Red and Yellow shirts are opposites. We call on all freedom-loving people throughout the world to support the fight for Democracy in Thailand. We support the recent comments by Redshirt Jakrapop Penkair, when he says that the Thai people have the right to mount a Peoples’ Struggle for Democracy.
Thai Red UK plans a peaceful protest outside the Thai Embassy in London on Tuesday 14th April. For more details contact Khun Wattana +44(0)121243619, +44(0)7780801763.