Thailand: `The Red Shirts will fight on!' -- Eyewitness account, photos of Sept. 19 Red Shirt protest

Photos by Klaus Crimson.

[See also "Thailand: Return of the Red Shirts -- big protests mark massacre anniversary". For more on the Thai people's struggle for democracy, click HERE.]

By Peter Boyle

September 20, 2010 -- “It was truly an amazing experience yesterday. I expected that in the afternoon people would start to join. However after my ‘morning walk’ around 9am it was pretty clear to me that it might grow into something big”, “Klaus Crimson” – whose photographs of this historic rally of Thailand’s resurgent Red Shirt movement (popular name for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, UDD) appear above (and here) – explained to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal and Green Left Weekly.

“Later in the morning Khun Sombat [Boonngamanong, leader of the Red Sunday group that organised the rally] was really stressed because he didn’t expect so many people to join and he was worried about people getting arrested if they blocked traffic on Ratchaprasong Intersection.

“Around noon it was quite clear that there would be more than 10,000 joining and the intersection would be blocked completely. The police finally allowed Sombat to use his own loudspeaker trucks to address and hopefully control the crowd, which he did perfecttly. The police finally allowed the crowd to flood the intersection and issued the order to the crowd to disperse by 8pm or else …

“The mood was truly jubilant and absolutely peaceful throughout the day. You could always find groups of people singing and dancing. No one down here was paid. Everyone came of their own free will without any strong leader calling them to get here. Many Reds now go with the slogan: ‘Everyone is his own leader’.

“The arguments of the elite that these are not real protests because the Red Shirts are nothing but a paid mob helping [deposed prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra is now completely proven to be wrong.

“The only thought that worries me is that now the elites will realise again that they will have no chance in any future free elections. As a result future elections might be even more of a dream now. Maybe even a coup by hardliners around the new military chief is more likely.

“We’ll see – we have to hope for the best. Only one thing is for sure, the Red Shirts will fight on!”

[Peter Boyle is national convenor of the Socialist Alliance of Australia, which supports the struggle for democracy in Thailand.]

Photo essay: Red Shirt resurgence in Thailand, Bangkok, September 19, 2010

Photos by Ooi Thai Delphi, CBN press (published with permission)




Whereas I agree in essence with the article and its suggestion the red shirt movement is here to stay, that movement has not yet really managed to distance itself enough from the stigma of Taksin. Was Taksin railroaded? Most certainly. Was he a crook? He is a multi-billionaire. As elsewhere, you cannot get to the top of the heap in Thailand without having joined in on the ubiquitous corruption.

I am also worried about the elite and its tight joining of hands with the military which, through recent appointments has strengthened its reactionary faction. The king of course sanctioned these appointments.

Should the people's movement ever become so strong the top of the pyramid feels under threat of being toppled, those wielding power would stop at nothing to crush the people, including killing them in numbers far exceeding those we saw this year.

Currently the government and military (in full control of almost all the media) are carrying out an onslaught against the UDD, branding them as terrorists. This fiction is pushed down people's throats on a daily basis; is used an excuse to keep red shirt leaders imprisoned, and; their media shut down.

The red shirts themselves know this to be untrue. In fact, many of its supporters would possibly wish there were a more active movement against the military and government. But it just is not so.

Another worrisome element is the hero worship by some of characters like Seh Deang. The latter was a notorious leader of para-military groups hunting down and murdering communists before, and using CIA tactics like burning down villages wholesale and carrying out executions for the sake of instilling fear. In fact the US military and/or CIA participated in setting up and training these groups. Last weekend there was a SD look-alike who was happy to have his photo taken with red shirt members.

Seh Deang's daughter also showed up and putting in a appearance made one wonder what her intentions are. Familial love distorts facts, as everyone should know. Of course in no way is the assassination of her father to be considered acceptable. But his presence risked sidetracking the movement and in fact, it in part did exactly that. The government/military were desperately trying to find a way to excuse attacking the red shirt demonstrators and crushing the movement and, pointing the finger at SD and his men in black was the perfect excuse: "terrorists"!

Living in Thailand most of the year I refrain from writing about certain aspects of the current situation and what I consider it to be the outgrowth of.

Having said that, we must remember Prem and his hold on power. He leads the privy council which, in case of a dramatic change in the country and its system of government, would risk losing his raison d'etre and, consequently his hold on power and control of enormous wealth. Some people just can never get enough. And of course he is not alone on the privy council.

As far as the "subject" title I chose goes, the blue shirts are not to be discounted in all of this nor their offshoots and extreme right alliances which can create the sort of havoc needed for the military and government to blame it on fictitious red shirt terrorist groups and keep the emergency decree in place. Many suspect these wight-wing extremists to be the real instigators of the violence in Bangkok this year, as they were during the ASEAN meeting last year when they were allowed to attack the red shirt demonstrators at will, causing a reaction which led to the demonstrations going awry. While the military, on both occasions, turned a blind eye.

PS Less than two weeks ago the general who led the coup of September 2006 held a press conference in Bangkok. In that speech he clearly stated the US embassy was kept abreast of what was being planned on a daily basis during the the weeks leading up to the coup itself. He also stated the US, through its embassy was in full agreement the coup was needed and that "something had to be done" about Taksin. Nobody seems to be asking the general any questions about this. Nor the US embassy...