Red shirts one year on

3 03 2011

Nelson Rand is a Bangkok-based Canadian journalist. He has a post at UBC’s Asia-Pacific Memo that may be of interest to PPT’s readers for some of the claims it makes about red shirts.

He points out that 12 March “will mark the first anniversary of Thailand’s red-shirt protesters’ massive street campaign in Bangkok that ended in some of the worst political violence in modern Thai history. 91 people were killed and over 1,800 were injured in a military crackdown that resembled more of a civil war than a restoration of order.”

Red shirts killed in 2010, from the Telegraph.

That all seems reasonable. Then he blames the violence on the red shirts: “This [the deaths and injuries] was mainly due to the appearance of mysterious black-clad men on the side of the protesters who engaged the Thai army with automatic rifles and grenade launchers.”

That is  misleading. Rand may have forgotten that this was a “military crackdown” and that civilians, mainly red shirts, bore the brunt of deaths and injuries. No matter what the Department of Special Investigation eventually cobbles together as the regime’s story, nothing can change the casualty figures.

He goes on to make claims about the red shirts being manipulated by some shadowy “command structure,” while acknowledging that the red shirts continue to engage in “peaceful protests” that “regularly musters about 20,000 supporters for daylong protests in Bangkok.” Rand also correctly notes that the “UDD’s main long-term goal is to see a fundamental change in Thai society. They would like to end the domination of power by the country’s elite and see the empowerment of the underclass.”

And, he is right to observe that the red shirts are a “social movement” that is not “a cohesive group.” That tactics will differ is clear as is the perspective that “peaceful measures have failed so far.”



One response

3 03 2011
Reds struggling under charter : New chief - Page 2 - - The Thailand Forum

[…] Thai Political Prisoners, who take issue with some of his conclusions… Red shirts one year on http://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpr…s-one-year-on/ That is misleading. Rand may have forgotten that this was a “military crackdown” and […]

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