Updated: TRC sees a soldier

16 02 2011

The Bangkok Post says that, at long last, an “army officer who commanded soldiers during the “krachab puenti” (seizing back the area) operation against red-shirt protesters on April 10, 2010…” has finally shown up to speak with the  Truth for Reconciliation Committee’s fact-finding sub-committee. Reader’s may recall that just a week or so ago, no soldier had been permitted to talk with the administration’s own committee, chaired by Somchai Homlaor.

Colonel Thammanoon Withee, head of the 1st Army Command’s Operations Unit, was the man assigned the duty of speaking to the committee. PPT guesses that this sudden change of heart from the military is meant to be about deflecting the accusations made in the recent Amsterdam & Peroff report to the International Criminal Court.

GofHyper Photo

While the Colonel says “he regrets the loss of lives,” that “his men were overwhelmed by numbers and attacked by unknown assailants using guns and explosives,” and that the red shirts “would like to overthrow the present regime with either armed fighting or mass uprisings,” the real story he tells is of an operation that went wrong, of army unpreparedness for civil action, and of panic and failure.

He says “his troops could not accomplish the mission they were assigned by their superiors on that day…”. He claims that there were only a “few thousand troops [that] … faced tens of thousands of protesters, whose numbers grew quickly into the evening and night…”. He claims his deployment was delayed and that his men could only get into position at 5 p.m. Facing the demonstrators, his men didn’t have any supplies and were “sealed off and out numbered by protesters,” who seem not to have been aggressive given that the protesters provided the soldiers with food and water. Thammanoon said “his boss ordered to halt the operation by 18.15 but he just could not withdraw from the areas.”

He says that those doing the shooting “were not us.” Readers interested in video and pictures of the event might begin with our Battle for Bangkok page or here. There’s plenty of video of soldiers shooting, both in daytime and into the evening.

The colonel claims that the blasts that killed soldiers were, contra the Amsterdam & Peroff account, “were not from hand grenades or M-79, otherwise more military and civilians would have been killed due to the packed space. He believed they were improvised explosive devices since a dozen nails were found from the blasts.” As far as PPT is aware, and readers might correct us, we have not heard of confirmed injuries caused by an IED packed with nails.

Thammanoon says he and troops were trapped and unable to retreat, and that it was opposition politicians and red shirts who helped them get back to their fellow troops. Some soldiers were attacked, he says, because “protesters were informed that troops killed their colleagues. But there were also those Red-Shirted protesters who helped stop the beating and helped us to get out of the areas.” The videos mentioned above also show soldiers firing on red shirt medics trying to assist injured soldiers.

In an interesting footnote to this story, “Priya Nawamala, a public relations officer at the state-run TV channel 11, said his agency was part of the blame for the loss of the Thai people.” Priya says this because the “government has been using the NBT to portray the protesting side as unpatriotic and anti-monarchic. They should have been offering some more neutral voices instead of igniting the hatred against one another…”.

Update: Bangkok Pundit has a post where more attention is given to the above footnote on NBT as a pawn of the regime.

Updated: Grenade attack at government broadcaster

31 08 2010

The Bangkok Post reports that “a grenade exploded outside the head office of the National Broadcasting Service (NBT) on Bangkok’s Vibhavadi Rangsit road on Tuesday afternoon…. The blast, which caused no injuries, occurred in front of the buildings housing the state-run NBT about 1.45pm. it damaged a van and four sedans. The buildings house the NBT TV studios and the Public Relations Department.”

2Bangkok.com has some aftermath pictures as does the Post article above.

Interesting, government people have said that they did not believe the bombing “had anything to do with NBT programming. The station allowed the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to host shows with government representatives.”

Update: AP report here.

Media reform to equal media control?

31 05 2009

Several newspapers report that the Democrat Party-led government has decided on measures to reform the state-run broadcaster NBT TV.

In 2007 the NBT was invaded by PAD, some of whom were armed – did these invaders ever get charged and go to court? PAD considered NBT pro-Thaksin Shinawatra and the Democrats have taken the same view.

The Bangkok Post (31 May 2009: “NBT changes to begin this year”) reports that the station will be run by a committee of nine. Six of these will be drawn from the Press Council of Thailand, National Human Rights Commission, Lawyer’s Council of Thailand, Council for Political Development, Association of University Rectors, and the Consumers Association.

The other seats are to be filled by government appointees. It is claimed that the six association members will guarantee that there is no political interference with the station. Perhaps, but PPT observes that each of these associations has been highly critical of those now associated with the red shirts. Some of this criticism has been vehement and highly partisan.

Media commentator Supinya Klangnarong is reported to have expressed doubts that the revamp of NBT will occur, citing politics and a lack of transparency.

Given that the report of the media reform committee goes to Sathit Wongnongtoey, a Democrat Party minister who has expressed a desire to control the media, PPT is also doubtful about meaningful media reform, whether at NBT or elsewhere.