We are sure that quite a few readers will have seen the Khaosod report on People’s Alliance for Democracy and People’s Democratic Reform Committee coordinator Supot Piriyakiatsakul being chased by the military for allegedly supporting the Dao Din students of the Neo-Democracy Movement.
According to Supot, a group of soldiers arrived at his home “in Nakhon Ratchasima province on 2 July and sought to talk with him, though he was not home at the time.” Reportedly, the “soldiers identified themselves to his neighbors as officers from 21st Army District, and left a message for him before leaving the scene.” Supot says that they told his neighbors to warn him: “Don’t get involved with Dao Din group. If you don’t stop getting involved, and if you don’t obey us, we will get involved with you.”
This is surprising and baffling, not least for Supot. As the report states:
In 2005-2006, Supot was a regional coordinator for the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which sought to oust Thaksin [Shinawatra] and his government at the time.
In late 2013, Supot joined the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State – another reincarnation of the Yellowshirt movement – when it launched street protests to topple the government led by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. The campaign came to an end after then-army chief Gen. Prayuth [Cha-ocha] seized power in a coup on 22 May 2014.
In the wake of the May 2014 coup d’etat, Supot was one of the hundreds of activists, academics, and politicians summoned to army camps for up to seven days of “attitude adjustment” aimed at easing the country’s political tensions.
“When the military summoned me for attitude adjustment, I joined it, and I showed my sincerity of wanting to build reconciliation and unity for people in the nation,” Supot said. “Let me insist that I do not know Dao Din students at all. I have only been hearing about them in the news. There is no reason for me to be behind or give support to Dao Din.”
Supot is said to be 69 years old, and has long been an organizer in Korat. His networks with NGOs were the initial link to PAD and while we can’t confirm it, as with most PAD stalwarts in Korat, he probably has connections with organizers trained by and with U.S. Special Forces at Lopburi in the 1960s and 1970s (see about p. 341 of this book). These organizers have had a role in managing farmers and electioneering in Korat, some with links to Chartichai Choonhavan and then with his son, Kraisak. His credentials with PAD are impeccable.
As might be expected, Supot complains:
This is an arrogant exercise of power…. Throughout all this time, I and my fellow [activists] were united in showing our stance of supporting the government of General Prayuth Chan-ocha. We recently asked him to stay in power for a long time to solve the country’s problems and deal with corrupt politicians. We have even traveled to Bangkok to show our support.
He added: “Let me insist that I do not know Dao Din students at all. I have only been hearing about them in the news. There is no reason for me to be behind or give support to Dao Din…. This kind of net-casting is like pushing friends to join the opposition.”
As well as suggesting that the military is either very dull and/or can’t abide any organizing, even by political allies, the thing about this report that struck PPT was that the military is using Mafia-like tactics. We know that the military has used similar tactics with opposition figures, but this report somehow lays bare the nature of the thuggery involved. Mafia-like, members of the military gang intimidate and display their power to the neighborhood. They could be running protection rackets as well.