As we mentioned in our previous post on The Dictator deciding that he would define red shirt anti-fraud referendum watch centers illegal, today was likely to be an interesting day.
Predictably, as the red shirts tried to open their centers, the military dictatorship repressed them and closed the centers even before they opened.
In our previous post we also mentioned that the junta’s motive was the desire to repress opponents,
The Bangkok Post reports that police “deployed all around Imperial Lat Phra department store to prevent the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship from launching its system of provincial centres designed to monitor fraud…”. In other words, the regime used force and its threat to surround the Bangkok center.
The police arrived in force “at about 9am and set up a forward operations headquarters” at the mall. Anti-riot police were also deployed despite no reports or threats of violence. They blocked “all gates and entrances to the mall. A vehicle to hold detained suspects was also brought to the store.”
Police posted a sign in front of the UDD office reading: “Announcement. This is not a referendum fraud monitoring centre.” All those near the office were ordered to leave. Police then occupied the center.
Unsurprisingly, the UDD did nothing beyond saying they might complain to some international organization. It seems the UDD is devoid of political strategy for challenging the junta. It had huffed and puffed but then fizzled.
Update: This is how the Bangkok Post described the junta’s actions: “Police stormed, occupied and shut down the planned “UDD Referendum Monitoring Centre” at the red shirts’ headquarters at Imperial Department Store, Lat Phrao.” The military dictatorship wants no opposition or any promotion of a No vote. If this wasn’t already clear, “National Security Council secretary-general Thawip Netniyom said Sunday the UDD leaders would face legal action if the group continues to defy the NCPO’s order.” The junta continued to claim the centers were “illegal,” stating: “the UDD centres were politically driven and could be exploited to give distorted information ahead of the charter poll.” The junta’s mouthpiece declared: “There is a political motive behind the setting up of the centres. We’re afraid that people may fall victim to distorted information,” adding, the “UDD was a party barred from conducting any political activities.” As should be clear to all, fraud is the stock-in-trade of the junta, and the referendum is a massive fraud, from beginning to end.