Red shirt resentment and action

4 10 2010

There’s a useful report on red shirts outside Bangkok in a U.N.-based newsletter that warrants consideration. It does considerable summarizing of already well-known information, and continues the theme of lack of reconciliation by the government as it hunts and arrests red shirts. As the report states, “though many of its leaders have been detained, the Red movement is, in fact, far from over, as community grassroots groups … continue to collect money for the cause and as Reds convene more rallies…”. See some clips of recent events below.

It cites Jim Della-Giacoma, South East Asia project director for the International Crisis Group: “Genuine reconciliation can only happen when the government stops suppressing the Red Shirts and allows them to voice their aspirations and grievances through peaceful political channels.” The report continues: “That means restoring electoral democracy and respecting the vote, even if those in power lose.”

One of the surprising aspects of the report is the claim by [m]any Reds” that there was “a utopia completely void of corruption during the Thaksin [Shinawatra] years…”. That may be a rural villager’s perspective on the changes that have taken place post-Thaksin as the military and civil bureaucracies have reinforced their control, and this allows for increased demands on the public for “support.”

As PPT has also pointed out, “there is little awareness on the part of the ruling elites as to how deep-seated change needs to be.” Michael Montesano is quoted: “There are people who get it and are virulently opposed to change, and there are even more people who don’t get it…. I don’t think there’s an understanding in the top rungs of the government that the old tricks just won’t work any more.”

The report also comments on “Red Sundays” partly organized by Sombat Boonngamanong. Some of these are seen in the clips below. Sombat says: “The government can now see that the Red Shirts will not be defeated…”.

PPT is pretty sure that Thai E-News remains pretty much blocked in Thailand. Our recent scan of their posts revealed some recent video gems, which we wish to post here for those interested in current red shirt activism:

The site also includes links to Picassa pages of photos.

On the government’s part, repression and startling claims regarding “terrorism” remain the order of the day. The government’s leading supporter, banned politician and former Thaksin supporter Newin Chidchob has claimed that a former “boss” has put out an assassination contract on him. Newin says the”former boss” – PPT and everyone else assumes he means Thaksin – has put up 20 million baht for the assassination. The claim seems odd given that Newin is often in highly public situations, not least at football games, so he would be a relatively easy target if a professional assassin had really been hired. Maybe he’s been watching Bangkok Dangerous.

PPT notes that claims of assassination plots are legion in recent years, but that the only ones that had any basis appear to be that against Thaksin when he was premier, and another against yellow-shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul. Neither seems to have seen any effort to get the masterminds brought to justice.

This claim by Newin follows hard on the heels of a government report that it has busted a ring of 11 “red shirt” assassins-in-training “at a resort in Chiang Mai in preparation to launch violent acts and political assassinations.” That is convenient given Newin’s accusation. The Post states that the police “acknowledged the arrest but refused to provide details.”

Red shirt leader and parliamentarian Jatuporn Promphan, in the story on Newin, called the the arrest “a birthday gift for Mr Newin.” He added that the arrests and confessions “seemed to be scripted.” He denied all knowledge of the men and suggested that they weren’t red shirts.

At the very least, the claims of terrorists need to be substantiated and more information supplied; usually, it is at this stage that the claims seem to melt into history…. Let’s see if anything happens this time.


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5 10 2010
Anti-monarchy plots alleged « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] plots alleged Yesterday, at the end of this post, PPT had mention of 11 men arrested in the north initially said to be “red shirt” […]