Red shirt actions

2 12 2011

It has been interesting to see several actions that relate to the Battle for Bangkok of April and May 2010. Clearly, the election result has brought no end to the efforts of royalists to win the bigger political battle now focused on the monarchy. Red shirts may be the target but they are also fighting back. In no particular order the stories include:

1) Prachatai reports that Reporters Without Borders has commented on the “latest developments in the investigation into the fatal shooting of Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto in Bangkok in April 2010, including Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung’s statement about the involvement of the security forces.” Chalerm has apparently stated that the security forces were clearly involved and cites forensic evidence and witnesses.

RWB adds that “The Thai authorities finally seem determined to shed light on all aspects of this case and to recognize the army’s role in Muramoto’s death…. We urge them to display the same determination with the investigation into the Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi’s death in May 2010, in which no progress has been made. It continues to be hampered by procedural obstacles and a failure to explore leads.”

PPT would hope that the same energy is applied to all investigations of these events where the military, with the mass of weapons and snipers at work, clearly bears considerable responsibility for the deaths.

That the Department of Special Investigation said on 24 March 2011 “that the army could not have been to blame because forensic tests had established that the round that killed Muramoto came from a type of gun that government troops had not been using that day,” should be sufficient for DSI’s posterior polishing boss Tharit Pengdit to be sacked.

2) While on the politically-disgraceful and incompetent DSI, according to the Bangkok Post, it “has ordered a review of evidence to decide if it will pursue lese majeste charges against 19 red shirt leaders.” It is stated that “DSI deputy chief Pol Col Prawes Moonpramuk, the newly appointed chief investigator in the lese majeste cases” explained the order from Justice Minister Pracha Promnok. He claimed that “investigators have found new evidence, received more detailed statements from suspects and examined their speeches which were alleged to have offended the monarchy.”

Based on recent cases, evidence hardly matters to the courts on lese majeste, so the sudden desire to be “thorough” is a welcome advance!

Interestingly, the DSI man states “a team of special DSI consultants initially found the speeches were directed at the then government rather than the monarchy.” He added that “not all of the accused would be charged with lese majeste.” We wonder how Arny boss Prayuth Chan-ocha will react to this. He was the one who pushed charges of lese majeste.

3) The Bangkok Post reports that the Election Commission “has resolved to disqualify Pheu Thai Party MP Jatuporn Prompan because of the doubts that he still had party membership at the time of the general election, not because he was in jail and did not get to vote, as widely reported, Somchai Juengprasert said on Thursday.”

Now are we reading this right: the EC has “doubts.” It is unable to say, so it disqualifies him? Really? It seems the EC is making yet one more politicized decision, but its explanation is that if they don’t know, the Constitutional Court must make the decision. “The EC voted 4 to 1 to ask the House speaker to seek the Constitution Court’s ruling on whether Mr Jatuporn was disqualified under  Section 106 (4) of the constitution,” but disqualified him because they say this is the only way to have the Court make a decision?

Of course, this is all because the Democrat Party-led government had Jatuporn locked up essentially for no other reason than he was a red shirt leader, they hated him and wished to silence him during the election. So the disqualification is “not that Mr Jatuporn lost MP status because he failed to vote in the July 3 election because he was at the time in jail…”. So there’s a way to win elections in the future….

4) The courts have sentenced 7 men claimed to be red shirts who “took part in the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protest” to 6 months jail “for violating the emergency decree in connection with the torching of CentralWorld shopping complex on May 19 last year. One of them was additionally sentenced to three years imprisonment for theft.”

Note that most of the charges relate to the emergency decree. While the Bangkok Post headline is “Reds get 6 months in CentralWorld fire,” the men were not charged with arson. Rather, they were initially charged with “armed robbery, obstructing authorities in the performance of their duty, and violating the executive decree for administration in the emergency situation of 2005.”

It seems there was no evidence for the first two charges.As the report with the (deliberately?) misleading headline states, the “court found that the seven were arrested during a state of confusion and there was no evidence to back the charges of armed robbery and obstructing authorities performing their duty.” Further, police “had no evidence to confirm that the seven had anything to do with the 100 rounds of M60 ammunition found in the complex.”

In essence, the men, with the exception of the one convicted of theft, have been charged with breaking a Democrat Party-led government political law activated by Abhisit Vejjajiva in cahoots with the military.

5) One aspect of all of this that represents something of a response by red shirts is the report that noted that the police have “sent a letter inviting former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban to … talk about the government’s crackdown on red-shirt protesters last year…”. They have been asked to “give more information about the crackdown, because the Metropolitan Police Bureau had been assigned to re-investigate the deaths of 16 people” where the police think state officials were involved (see comment 1 above).

The battle for Bangkok Thailand continues.



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