(Updated May 20) Thailand: The anger of the people is justified; Tyrants cling to power over dead bodies
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.
1. The government and the army have repeatedly used armed soldiers, assassination squads, snipers and tanks to kill unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators since April. The death toll will easily reach 80 with thousands injured.
2. This state-sponsored violence against civilians was carried out in order that Abhisit Vejjajiva's military-backed government could stay in power and avoid elections for as long as possible. It was never elected in the first place. The government is a product of military and judicial coups since 2006.
3. The Red Shirts have repeatedly offered talks and compromises, yet the government has answered with bullets.
4. In a democracy, the people should be the ultimate decision makers, not the military, the elites and the palace. Any demand for democratic elections is totally justified, even if it disrupts shopping centres and luxury hotels.
5. Mealy mouthed so-called non-violent groups could never bring themselves to put the blame entirely on the shoulders of the government, the military and royalist elites, despite the fact that the violence was from the army. They never put their weight behind the huge struggle of the UDD leadership to try to maintain a peaceful and disciplined protest. This is because these organisations supported the coup in 2006 in the first place. They allowed the government to claim that there would be no peace until the protests stopped.
What YOU can do. Don't forget the prisoners
May 20, 2010 -- I often get asked about what people can do outside Thailand to help in the struggle for democracy and social justice. After the appalling events of the past few days we can all help in the campaign against the Abhisit government’s misinformation in our local media. We can also help support any campaign to bring these bloody rulers to justice and any campaign for free and fair elections.
But a new priority now, is to defend the political prisoners. The Red Shirt leaders are facing the absurd charges of “terrorism”. They are also accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy. Although the belief in a republic is not a crime, especially after the fact that the king refused to say anything to stop the bloodshed, the top Red Shirt leaders have never expressed anti-monarchy views.
Equally important, we must not forget and ignore the hundreds of ordinary Red Shirt people who have been rounded up by the military and thrown in jail. They will face a number of different charges, but they must all be seen as illegitimate and political charges, even if they involve fighting back physically, blocking roads or even setting fire to buildings. It is the oppression and brutality of the military and the elites which is the root cause of any violence among the Red Shirts.
We cannot rest until they are all released. So we can all support any campaign for the prisoners when such campaigns are organised.
* * *
Update, 03.25 hrs Sunday, May 16, 2010, Bangkok time -- Earlier on Saturday, unconfirmed reports indicated that Abhisit Vejjajiva's soldiers had shot dead at least 50 people. Later, 22 named deaths were confirmed by the Erawan emergency centre, and 172 injured (including one Canadian, one Polish, one Burmese, one Liberian). But an official from the centre says that the real death toll is higher but cannot be reported at the moment.
Po-tek-tung emergency service official says that there are at least 14
corpses in the Ratchaprasong area which cannot be retrieved because of the danger of being
shot at by the army; one of their crew has been killed. That would
take the death toll to 36 (http://www.prachatai.net/j
* * *
May 15, 2010 -- Bangkok is bathed in blood, yet again. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Abhisit Vejjajiva's soldiers have shot dead at least 50 people so far since. The latest military attacks on protesters resumed on May 13. Hundreds have been injured. The government and military say there are 500 "terrorists" at the protest site in Bangkok. Earlier they said that they would use snipers to shoot "terrorists".
The only terrorists are in the government, the army and the palace.
The tyrants say that the Red Shirts are determined to overthrow the monarchy and therefore it is justifiable to kill them. So having a monarchy is an excuse to kill anyone who fights for democracy and social justice?
Various government spokespeople, including Abhisit's academic-for-hire Panitan Wattanayagorn and censorship boss Satit Wongnongtuay, continue to lie and lie again, claiming that troops are only firing in self defence. Yet all press reports show indiscriminate shooting of unarmed civilians, including a 10-year-old boy, a paramedic and foreign news reporters.
Splits are appearing in the security forces with reports of some police or army units returning fire with the advancing troops. This is indeed a civil war situation and the government cannot hope to control the situation. Red Shirts are determined to stand firm. Millions of people are extremely angry with the government, the military and the monarchy.
Fake human rights groups call on "both sides" to stop the violence. Yet it is only one side that is using lethal violence against unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. Even Reporters Without Borders demands that "both sides" guarantee the safety of reporters. How can Red Shirts guarantee anyone's safety when they are being murdered in cold blood.
Many so-called news reports write that troops fired on "rioters". No one is rioting except the army. Others talk about "protests turning violent". It is not the protesters who are violent.
Unarmed pro-democracy protesters are being systematically murdered in order to keep Abhisit and his military-backed government in power. The king is silent as usual. His only job, apart from counting his wealth, is to legitimise every bloody act that the army commits. Yet so-called analysts write that he has "held the country together". The fact is he has supported every crack down on democracy. He is weak and spineless. That is why millions of Red Shirts are becoming republicans.
The United Nations has just selected Thailand to be on the Human Rights Committee. What a joke! But what can one expect from a body controlled by warmongers.
Red Shirts throughout the country are standing firm in the bloody fight for democracy, social justice and human dignity. I salute them!
* * *
May 16, 2010 -- Some basic facts about the violence in Bangkok
1. Abhisit's government was NEVER elected. It came from a process started by the 2006 military coup. That is why they are very afraid of an election.
2. The Red Shirts are a mass movement of the poor. They want democratic elections. It is totally legitimate to stage peaceful protests for this demand, even if it disrupts a shopping centre for two months. Military coups, undemocratic governments and censorship are illegitimate.
3. Abhisit and the army turned Bangkok into a war zone and started the violence. They have indiscriminately killed unarmed protesters by using snipers to shoot at civilians. Nearly 40 are already dead from the actions of the army in the last few days.
4. Dissolving parliament and holding democratic elections would put an end to the protests. This is what any democratic government would do in this situation. That is what any responsible leader would do. Return power to the people. So why is Abhisit refusing and answering with live bullets?
Judge news reports and the commitment to the truth by journalists on the basis of these four points.
Judge foreign governments by their public positions on Thailand in this crisis.
Judge academics and NGOs on their positions.
What would end the violence in Bangkok?
By Giles Ji Ungpakorn
May 18, 2010 -- If the military-backed government of Abhisit Vejjajia dissolved parliament, announced fresh elections and ordered a ceasefire, the violence would end immediately and the Red Shirts would all go home.
In capitalist democratic countries, when there is a crisis, dissolving parliament and calling elections is a normal way to defuse serious tension. In the 1970s British Prime Minister Edward Heath called elections when faced with a massive strike wave. In 1968 the French government called elections in the face of a crisis. The Abhisit’sg overnment can only cling to power by shooting civilians, announcing a state of emergency in a quarter of the country and censoring the media and the internet. If the government wants to claim legitimacy it should submit to the wishes of the people through a general election and prove that it has legitimacy.
The UDD (Red Shirt) leadership has called for an immediate ceasefire and talks with the government. This would also end the killing and violence. Yet Abhisit has refused. Instead he and the army generals have sent snipers and assassination squads into the centre of Bangkok to kill unarmed civilians in their so-called “live firing zone”. Sixty-five people have been killed since April and nearly 2000 injured. Among the dead are paramedics, journalists and at least one ten year-old boy. The government continues to lie about the military actions and continues to lie that the Red Shirts are “armed terrorists”. Numerous media reports from the BBC, CNN and ABC show this not to be true.
One important reason why the government will not end the violence is that it knows that they would lose an election. They were never elected in the first place and are only in power because of the army and the judiciary that have repeatedly frustrated the democratic process since the 2006 coup. The government, the military, the palace, the majority of the business class, the judiciary and the top bureaucrats are the elites. For years they have used their extra-constitutional power to exploit and repress the majority of the population. They have shot down pro-democracy demonstrators in 1973, 1976, 1992, 2009 and now in 2010.
This is a class war. But only the naive believe that class war is a simple matter of rich against the poor. The Red Shirts represent workers and small farmers. They are the people who have created the wealth in Thailand, but they have not been able to enjoy the benefits. Thailand is a very unequal society. Their hopes were raised when millionaire Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai government offered a universal health-care scheme and pro-poor policies. They were inflamed when the elites staged a coup against the elected government in 2006. Now they are standing firm and facing the armed might of the ruling class.
For the above reasons, the Red Shirt protest in the centre of Bangkok is legitimate, even if it disrupts the commercial life in expensive shopping centres and luxury hotels. Anyone who believes ind emocracy and social justice should support them.
[Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai socialist currently in exile in Britain. He is a member of Left Turn Thailand and maintains a blog at http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/.]
Thailand: End Violent Assault on Red-Shirt Protesters! Ahbisit Must Resign and Elections Now!
15 May 2010
The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) condemns Ahbisit's government and the military of Thailand for the latest round of violent assault on pro-democracy Red-Shirt protesters in Bangkok.
The military-installed Ahbisit government launched its recent attacks on pro-democracy Red-Shirt protesters beginning 13 May 2010, but cutting of basic supplies to the protesters’ camp and firing live rounds has left at least 50 people dead and scores injured. Such harsh action taken by Ahbisit’s government following the bloody crackdown on 10 April 2010 shows that Ahbisit’s “road map” for reconciliation is flawed and that he has no intention of restoring democracy in Thailand.
Red-shirt pro-democracy protesters converged on Bangkok on 14 March 2010 and have continued until today because of the refusal of the military-backed Ahbisit government to resign and hold fresh elections. 25 people were killed and hundreds injured on 10 April 2010 when troops tried to clear protesters in Bangkok. Violence continues in Thailand as the unelected government continues to rule. Royalist Yellow-Shirts have also threatened to resume their fascistic protest and support the use of repressive laws and violence against the pro-democracy movement.
Ahbisit who came into power through a fascist and judicial coup must be held responsible for all the lives lost in the clash and resign immediately. Further repression would not stop the ongoing conflict.
The Red-shirt pro-democracy movement has grown into the largest democratic movement in the history of Thailand and has shaken the power structure of the ruling elite especially the royalists.
The class struggle in Thailand has been intensified yet the challenge ahead is tremendous. If the Thai pro-democracy movement can overthrow oligarchic rule through massive mobilization from below and not through another military coup, it will be a great step forward for the Thai people in the task of building a real democracy with social justice based on people's power.
PSM reiterates its stand in supporting the mass pro-democracy movement
of the Red Shirts in Thailand in their struggle for democracy and
justice. PSM calls for:
- The immediate resignation of the military-installed Ahbisit government and the holding of fresh democratic elections.
- Lifting of emergency in Bangkok and 16 other provinces, withdrawal of all troops and restoration of civilian rule.
- A halt to all forms of violent crackdown and blockade against Red Shirt protesters. Respect the right of the people to organize, to protest and to strike.
- Bringing all Thai people together in an effort to solve political and socio-economic problems, recognizing that such efforts must stem from the power of the people.
Choo Chon Kai
Socialist Party of Malaysia / Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Published: 15/05/2010 at 04:44 PM
Online news: Breakingnews
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) asked its supporters to gather at three meeting points which are far away from the Ratchaprasong rally site to collect enough people to break troops' cordons and enter the protest area, according to local reports.
The meeting points are Imperial Lad Phrao shopping mall, Imperial Samrong shopping mall and Thaicom on Kaerai intersection.
In the morning, red-shirt leader Kwanchai Praipana admitted that supplies were running low at the protest site after troops tried to seal off areas around Ratchaprasong since Thursday.
Thailands Tyrannen klammern sich an die Macht und gehen über Leichen
Artikel von Prof. Giles Ji Ungpakorn („A Coup for the Rich“), einem kritischen Politikwissenschafter, der vor kurzem zur Flucht aus Thailand gezwungen wurde.
Unbestätigten Berichten zufolge haben Soldaten gestern mindestens 50 Menschen erschossen und hunderte verwundet. Sie behaupten, es befänden sich 500 „Terroristen“ an den Versammlungsorten. Vorher gaben sie bekannt, sie würden mit Scharfschützen auf Terroristen schießen.
Die einzigen Terroristen sitzen in der Regierung, der Armee und dem Palast.
Die Tyrannen sagen, dass die Rothemden alle entschlossen wären, die Monarchie zu stürzen und benutzen das als Rechtfertigung, um jeden zu erschießen, der für Demokratie und soziale Gerechtigkeit kämpft.
Verschiedene Regierungssprecher, inklusive Abhisits Hausakademiker, Panitan Wattanayagorn und der oberste Zensor Satit Wongnongtuay, verbreiten ihren Lügen immer weiter und behaupten, die Truppen würden nur aus Selbstverteidigung feuern. Doch alle Presseberichte zeigen ganz deutlich, dass unterschiedslos auf unbewaffnete Zivilisten geschossen wurde, darunter ein zehnjähriger Junge, ein Sanitäter und ausländische Journalisten.
Pseudo-Menschenrechtsgruppen rufen beide Seiten auf, die Gewalt einzudämmen. Und doch greift nur eine Seite zu tödlicher Gewalt gegen unbewaffnete Demokratie-Aktivisten. Sogar die Reporter ohne Grenzen verlangen, dass „beide Seiten“ die Sicherheit von Reportern gewährleisten. Wie sollen die Rothemden jemandes Sicherheit garantieren, während sie selbst kaltblütig ermordet werden.
Viele so genannte „News Reports“ berichten, dass die Truppen auf Randalierer feuern. Aber niemand außer der Armee randaliert. Es sind nicht die Demonstranten, die gewalttätig geworden sind.
Unbewaffnete Demokratie-Aktivisten werden systematisch ermordet um Abhisit und seine Militär-gestützte Regierung an der Macht zu halten. Der König schweigt wie üblich. Seine einzige Beschäftigung – außer seinen Reichtum zu zählen – ist es, jeden Gewaltakt durch das Militär zu legitimieren. Dennoch schreiben so genannte Analysten: „er hält das Land zusammen.“ Tatsächlich hat er bisher jedem Anschlag auf die Demokratie Rückendeckung gegeben. Er ist schwach und ohne Rückgrat. Deshalb sind Millionen von Rothemden Anhänger der Republik geworden.
Die UN hat soeben Thailand in sein Menschenrechts-Komitee aufgenommen. Was für ein Witz! Aber was kann man von einer Institution erwarten, die von Kriegstreibern kontrolliert wird.
Rothemden im ganzen Land bleiben standhaft hinter dem blutigen Kampf für Demokratie, soziale Gerechtigkeit und Menschenwürde. Ich zolle ihnen meinen Respekt.
From the Political Prisoners in Thailand blog
May 15, 2010 -- To be honest, PPT is simply reporting something seen on CNN as one member of our collective went through an airport today. That colleagues reported a ticker that said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that he wanted to finish the crackdown. Another report was that the “center of Bangkok” had been declared a “free fire zone” for the military. And, PPT saw pictures of soldiers with high-powered rifles with large scopes being fired directly at protesters, several times.
Abhisit, the Butcher of Bangkok, may say all kinds of things about terrorists and so on, but it is again clear that the vast majority of casualties are to people with the protesters. With 18 reported dead today, the military-backed government should be roundly condemned and ostracized by all governments that claim an interest in human rights.
The Democrat Party must also be condemned as a failure and its members should be ashamed of its continued murder of civilians. We imagine that its more yellow-shirted brigade will claim that they have killed fewer people than during Thaksin Shinawatra’s war on drugs. But comparing body counts means nothing when the state acts with impunity, to keep itself in power and to protect vested interests.
PPT is having great difficulty connecting to major web sites, especially in Thailand. We’ll post as we can.
Update 1: CNN’s video of the report by Dan Rivers on Abhisit’s statement to the nation, his determination to finish things off, and most dramatically, the video of army snipers at work. Clearly, the army is engaged in cold-blooded murder.
Update 2: Reports coming in of a massing of troops at 3 a.m., seemingly preparing to move on the main red shirt site. Bangkok Post reports 22 dead in clashes so far with more than 170 injured.