A long time ago it was said that there are simple liars, damned liars, and experts. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is certainly not an expert at anything except arranging repression, so we leave it to readers to decide if he is a simple liar, a damned liar or a combination of the two.
As is well known, Prayuth has repeatedly and consistently claimed that soldiers did not shoot anyone in April and May 2010.
At Khaosod he is reported as taking this claim further, again revealing his deep political hatred of red shirts, his fears about freedom and the ways in which military bureaucrats can simply make stuff up.
The report states that Prayuth “is considered an architect of the 2010 crackdown…” and that he banned red shirts from commemorating the brutal deaths in 2010. At the same time, he called on the media “to help tell” what he says is the “true” story “of the violence that claimed more than 90 lives.” Prayuth demanded that the media “help” him: “Don’t throw away the evidence. I saw you taking many photographs…”. He observed: “Hundreds of you reporters walked behind soldiers, you dodged the bullets with them…. Why don’t you help me by speaking out? Okay?”
Of course, the media has never been silent, and thousands of photos, accounts and videos have been made available, along with several reports and the evidence to the inquests. While there are disputes about some of the evidence, none of it exonerates the military or its commanders like Prayuth.
What Prayuth wants is for the media to accept his version of events and exonerate the murder of citizens by the military. As a commander of the crackdowns, he wants to sanitize these military murders. His view, historically balmy, is that those who used “weapons of war to shoot at demonstrators” were not the military, but the same groups in 2010, 2013, and 2014.
He’s making this up. There were some armed elements amongst red shirts – the so-called men in black – yet it is not clear who they were, who they represented, how many there were, and whether they were involved in any killings. Certainly, the courts have not found them responsible in the inquests conducted to date. More significantly, the courts disagree with Prayuth. There have been 27 inquests where judges have ruled that military gunfire was responsible for the deaths of 18 victims. The other cases returned inconclusive rulings.
Apart from his call to the media – 5 years after the events – Prayuth added to his story, entering the realms of the bizarre and ridiculous. One claim he made is that “the military had no intention of harming civilians.” This is a lie that Prayuth has long repeated. A military that has no intention of harming citizens does not use 2,120 sniper rounds and use less than 7,000 blank rounds while firing 117,923 live rounds at protesters.
He goes on, slipping deeper into the slime of intentionally false statements: “Who would want to harm the people? Soldiers, police, officials, they have hearts too, you know…”. This is the former commander of a military that has organized 12 successful coups, is notoriously corrupt, regularly uses torture and is responsible for the deaths of perhaps tends of thousands of its citizens whom it has considered terrorists or insurgents or simply as political opposition. It is a military that has burned opponents alive, engaged in forced disappearances, fired on protesters from helicopters and more.
Defending his ban on the commemoration of the dead red shirts, Prayuth explains: “When I use my legal power, you say I restrict freedom, but how has freedom fared in the past?… Can it [freedom] run the country? Were there protests?” In other words, freedom is rejected in favor of order enforced by the murderous military in the interests of the royalist elite.