Remarkably, the current anti-government protesters have not had to consider dealing with the foreign media, being content with the mainstream Thai media being largely in their camp and making their positions clear and even justifying their illegal actions as “legal protest.” Following the attack on German journalist Nick Nostitz, condemned by, amongst other, Human Rights Watch, however, the angry lot has decided that they need to make statements to the media.
On 26 November, they sent out two statements. The two are so sadly contradictory that they are revealing of a lack of media savvy, a patronizing view of the foreign media, and the politics of hatred. The first announcement, looking a bit like Announcement 1 by the CNS on the day of the September 2006 coup, is below, with PPT emphasis added:
Issued: 26 NOV 2013
Statement for Immediate Release
Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD)
Rejecting the divisive, color-coded politics of recent years, the Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is a broad-based people’s movement committed to rooting out Thaksin’s regime and to building an inclusive Thai society based upon sustainable democratic principles.
This broad-based peoples’ movement was triggered by the government, with Thaksin’s younger sister as the puppet Prime Minister, passage through the Parliament of an Amnesty Bill which sought to give a blanket amnesty covering the last 10 years, including not only political and violent activities but also some 20,000 on-going and indicted corruption cases, involving Thaksin and many of his cronies. It was this outrageous attempt to pardon widespread corruption, rammed through parliament at 4am in the morning that has so incensed a broad spectrum of Thai people. The amnesty bill ignited a smoldering discontent that has been building over many years characterized by the worst levels of corruption in modern memory with no regard of check and balance.
By denouncing the constitution court’s verdict, the ruling Pheu Thai Party has in effect violated the Thai constitution, which in principle binds all democratic institutions. For this reason, on the 24th November the largest mass political gathering in modern Thai history took place. It was noted that this mass demonstration attracted people from all segments of society. Subsequently, the peaceful sit-in staged at the Ministry of Finance on the 25th November was organized as part of the CMD’s non-violent movement.
Today, the CMD calls on the government to take responsibility for their actions. We urge for comprehensive reforms to restore the values of true democracy in Thailand. We call on the government to respect and abide the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Most importantly, we will strictly adhere to the principles of non-violence in all of our actions.
We are staggered by some of these claims, more so by the apparent contradiction of several of them in the second announcement, reproduced below with emphasis by PPT:
CMD Statement Number: 2
Issued: 26 Nov 2013 (Time)
CMD leadership regrets incident involving German reporter
Bangkok, 26 November, 2013 – The leadership of the Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD), the broad-based peoples’ movement now pushing for the dismantling of the Thaksin Shinawatra controlled-government, today issued a statement regretting an incident involving a German reporter which took place yesterday at approximately 1:15pm (Monday, 25 November) outside the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Speaking on behalf of the CMD’s collective leadership, spokesman Mr. Akanat Promphan said the CMD leadership regretted the incident involving German freelance photo-journalist, Mr. Nick Nostitz, who said he was punched by angry anti-government protesters. “In spite of the fact that the protesters recognized Mr. Nostitz as a well-known government supporter who has long since abandoned the principle of objectivity required by journalists, this was no excuse for the use of any level of violence and we apologise to Mr. Nostitz unreservedly,” said Mr. Akanat.
“We wish to emphasise we are attempting to maintain the principle of non-violence at all times and will do our best to make sure members of the media and outside observers from non-governmental organizations are able to perform their duties safely and without restriction at all times,” added Mr. Akanat.
Mentioning inaccurate descriptions of events issued by the Government’s public relations machine, Mr. Akanat said the protesters’ entry into the Finance Ministry’s compound yesterday morning did not involve the use of force or the damage of any government property, contrary to the Government’s claim.
Reading the two Announcements is an odd experience. We have rejected color-coded politics, they say, in No. 1. Then, in No. 2, they attack Nostitz as a “government supporter,” which matched the identification of Nostitz as a red shirt journalist. Announcement No. 2 is said to be an apology to Nostitz but is actually an attack on him, questioning his professional ethics.
Announcement No. 1 states that the protesters want “an inclusive Thai society based upon sustainable democratic principles.” Unfortunately, they provide no account of what this might be or why they reject the current constitution (which favors them) and the idea of electoral representation as it currently exists. There attention is to corruption, which is not a function of any particular form of government, and the “many years” seems odd when this government has barely completed two years. In fact, the mention of corruption is part of the mantra that only elected politicians are corrupt, which is a complete nonsense for Thailand. Jumping on another track, the announcement then claims that the reason for the demonstration is that the Puea Thai Party has (verbally) rejected the Constitutional Court’s recent judgement.
We are left to conclude that the reason for the demonstration has to do with the politics of hatred rather than any particular principle or philosophy.
Finally, No. 1 “calls on the government to take responsibility for their actions. We urge for comprehensive reforms to restore the values of true democracy in Thailand.” What does this mean? The leadership of the protesters has already stated that it will only be satisfied with the overthrow of the government and the rooting out of the so-called Thaksin regime. Given that pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2000, the protesters need to say what their demands really are.