As another anniversary of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s army-led crackdown on red shirts is upon us, it is worth recalling that it is only a year or so ago that the Department of Special Investigation reported its investigations of the deaths.
DSI stated back then that state authorities “may be responsible for the deaths of at least 25 people…”.
Since then, while the DSI under the Yingluck Shinawatra has made some moves towards having Abhisit and Suthep Thaugsuban held responsible, it seems the army brass is again sitting in the world of unconscionable impunity (more on this below).
A series of recent reports reflect on the tragic events of 2010 and on the events since.
At the Red Shirts blog, it is reported that on 12 May 2013, a hearing finally:
took place at the Bangkok Criminal Court on the investigation and autopsy reports concerning 6 corpses found inside the Pathumwan Temple grounds. These victims were shot dead during the government suppression of the UDD protest on May 19, 2010.
Police investigators found bullet holes and:
reported that many more bullet holes could be found all over the temple grounds. Bullet holes were found on a metal sign in front of the temple, on the wall of the temple, on the advertisement sign under the BTS sky train, on the sky walk connecting the sky train stations, on the overpass and many more on the concrete platforms of the sky train.
Soldiers denied investigators access to the sky train tracks and the sky walk area.
Police ballistic analysis showed “23 bullet holes found on the temple grounds and Rama 1 Road …indicated that these shots had been fired from a higher angle and definitely not from a horizontal line of fire.” There was no evidence reported of shots from inside the temple.
At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the “parents of a boy who was killed as security forces moved in to clear the Ratchaprasong area … claim … not enough is being done to find the people responsible for their son’s death.”
Pansak Srithep, was the father of 17-year-old Samapan, his only son. Samapan was killed on Ratchaprarop Road, where several people were shot dead. Pansak said “it has been draining for him and other families of those killed during the unrest to struggle to find witnesses willing to appear in court.”
Pansak “wants the government … to do more to help, and said investigators could do more to help with the court cases.” He claimed the Yingluck government “lacked the will to help…”.
The Bangkok Post states that there are currently “37 cases are at the initial inquest stage,” while “[a]nother 15 cases, including the death of Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto and six deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram, are at a stage where authorities are still determining if the security forces were responsible.” Another four cases “are awaiting a decision from prosecutors as to whether they will proceed,” and five others, “including that of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawatdiphol, known as Seh Daeng,” are at initial stages of police investigation.
The family of Kamolkate Akkahad, a medic shot at Wat Pathum Wanaram, are “also dismayed by the slow progress…”. They “will not join the main [official red shirt] stage during the event on Sunday.”
At Prachatai it is reported that on 29 April, “the Criminal Court began an inquest into the deaths of Mana Saenprasoetsi and Phonsawan Nakhachai who were shot at Bon Kai on Rama IV Rd on 15 May 2010…”. They were two of 16 killed at this location, where video evidence shows army operations, including snipers.
Mana “was fatally shot in the back of the head near the mouth of Soi Ngam Duplee … while he was trying to help people who had been shot there.” Phonsawan, who was assisted by Mana later succumbed to his stomach gunshot wound.
Mana’s mother Naree stated he was shot “while holding a red-cross flag in his hand”and helping two others who had been shot.
Soon after his death, the authorities (mis)used photos of Mana to justify actions that took place some distance from where he was shot.
Another story at the Bangkok Post directs attention to red shirt dissent on the Puea Thai government’s amnesty push:
Some red shirts see the proposal championed by Deputy Premier Chalerm Yubamrung as a betrayal because it would cover senior Democrat Party figures who were in government when the military crackdown on the Bangkok rally took place three years ago Sunday.
Of course, the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra lot oppose amnesty as a move to bring the man home. Thaksin is due to address supporters via videolink this weekend.
As PPT has stated several times, a blanket amnesty “would simply perpetuate the culture of impunity in Thailand, where senior figures rarely take responsibility for anything…”. The report adds:
Prominent scholars have been criticising the Pheu Thai flip-flop in social media forums. They include Nitirat Group core member Piyabutr Saengkanokkul; Thammasat University scholars Kasian Tejapira and Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Hard-core red-shirt activists Nithiwat Wannasiri, Jittra Kotchadet and Suda Rungkuphan also oppose the Chalerm plan.
They say the party is betraying the red-shirt rank and file, as if a hundred deaths and a thousand injuries were simply the price to pay for the party’s compromise with the old establishment for the sake of its own survival.
PPT reiterates that those responsible for the murder of civilians must be brought to justice as an important step to rooting out the culture of impunity that state officials and the military has when murdering civilians.