The war with red shirts

14 04 2011

It seems that the Army has April fever, spoiling for yet another fight with the red shirts.

When red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan made a fiery speech on 10 April, attacking the army for killing protesters while claiming to be protecting the monarchy (see the speech and read about Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha’s heated response here).

The Nation reports that the war between the red shirts and the Army and royalist regime is continuing  to heat up.

Nattawut and Jatuporn (Bangkok Post photo)

Prayuth’s personal response to Jatuporn’s speech was to lay complaints of lese majeste.

In response, the red shirt leaders have reportedly “threatened to file libel and lese majeste charges against the political establishment…”. Jatuporn said “he would lodge a complaint with … [police]  against General Prayuth Chan-ochar for falsely claiming lese majeste by three red leaders.” That seems like a reasonable response to Prayuth’s undisguised political bile.

What might be less appropriate is the suggestion that the red shirt leaders might consider “filing a lese majeste suit against Privy Council Chairman Prem Tinsulanonda for his recent statement on WikiLeaks…”. The last thing red shirts need to do is engage in a competition over elite notions of “loyalty” built on a political charge of lese majeste.

Jatuporn is right to protest the political exploitation of the monarchy and the use of lese majeste as a means of repression.

Another red shirt, Nattawut Saikua, warned: “Don’t corner us, our patience is wearing thin…”. He said: “The move against the red-shirt group was simply an attempt by a conservative wing to find an excuse to stage a coup or suppress the red shirts again…”. Interestingly, he added:

If you want to protect the monarchy, fine. But let me tell you |one thing, please don’t use stupid people to protect the monarchy with stupid means. It could be worse….

PPT assumes he is playing the Prayuth chip. The hot-tempered army boss will undoubtedly respond.

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