Updated: Abhisit, restraint and irony

30 01 2011

CNN has a report, with video, on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Davos that has left PPT gobsmacked. The report begins: “has called on leaders troubled by civil unrest to exercise restraint, less than a year after a bloody military crackdown on the streets of Bangkok.” He was speaking of Mubarak in Egypt.

Yes, we are sure he is serious! And no irony at all!

The irony of this statement is revealed in the second paragraph of the report: “Abhisit Vejjajiva sent in government troops to quell long-running Red Shirt protests in the Thai capital last May. Ninety-one people died and hundreds were injured in the street battles that followed.”

Restraint? Seriously? It seems so: “When the protesters were peaceful [when they] were exercising their constitutional rights, there was absolutely no need for any kind of force to be used. Unfortunately in the protests in April and May there was violence — grenades launched, invading hospitals and so on — and we had to make sure that order had to be preserved.”

Look at the body counts and the role of army snipers and see if restraint was used and where the force of violence was located. And, look at the events of early April and note that it was the state’s forces that moved against protesters who, in Abhisit’s terms, terms were exercising their constitutional rights.

Abhisit adds his now infamous call to the rule of law: “For us what was important, we needed to enforce the law [and] at the same time, we had to exercise the utmost restraint, and try to address whatever legitimate grievances these people on the streets had.”

See our recent post on “legitimate grievances” being met. On the rule of law, PPT has pointed out that Abhisit means something other than the usual definition that “no person is immune to law.” We know this because the law is used selectively in Thailand and the state operates with impunity in a range of field including the murder of political opponents.

Update: For something that is a little more real world, see Martin Petty’s Reuters report that briefly compares and contrasts Thailand’s “slow-burn civil war” and the rebellion in Tunisia.


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