Seeing red

21 03 2017

As the junta approaches the anniversary of its third year of military dictatorship, it is going through another phase of red shirt repression. The regime is again seeing reds under its beds and it doesn’t like it.

There are frantic junta imaginations of fantastical red shirt assassination plots, reds infiltrating Wat Dhammakaya, separatist rebellion and more.

This reaction appears to derive from two closely related perceptions: first, a view that any opposition is an immediate threat to the junta’s stability; and second, a desire for regime longevity, where “regime” is the broader elite military-monarchy-business alliance.

At least an element of this perception derives from yellow-shirted and anti-democratic grumbling about the junta having lost its zeal for “reform” – defined as rooting out the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. That grumbling has also been associated with some southern protests over ports and cola-fired power stations. It seems the junta felt its right wing was weakening in its support.

The result has been an intensification of both anti-Thaksinism and anti-red shirt repression.

The targeting of Thaksin has involved an effort to levy Thaksin for past taxes due (although we had somehow thought that the assets stripping case was part of the “tax’) and going after loyalists in a series of legal cases.

The anti-red shirt effort has been frenzied of late, with the Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee weapons and assassination stories and the earlier (and probably related in the minds of the junta) plots said to be originating in Laos.

At the same time, the courts have been at work, dealing with red shirt cases. The most recent of those sees the Appeals Court upholding a “lower court’s sentence of a four-year jail term each, without suspension, for singer Arisman Pongruangrong and 12 other red-shirts for leading protesters who forced their way into the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel in Pattaya, where the 2009 Asean Summit was being held.”

(What has happened with the yellow shirt occupation of airports in 2008?)

They were prosecuted “for defying an order prohibiting a rally of more than 10 people and causing unrest.”

(What has happened to all the yellow shirts who broke similar laws?)

In early 2015, they were sentenced to four years each in jail, without suspension, and a fine of 200 baht. Those sentenced were:

Arisman Pongruangrong, Nisit Sinthuprai, Payap Panket, Worachai Hema, Wanchana Kerddee, Pichet Sukjindathong, Sakda Noppasit, Pol Lt Col Waipot Aparat, Nopporn Namchiangtai, Samrerng Prachamrua, Somyot Promma, Wallop Yangtrong and Singthong Buachum.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, which sentences the 13 to four years each in jail without suspension. Bail may follow, but the threat is clear.

This is a pattern seen previously, although the junta does appear more frantic in its efforts at present.

The continuing hunt for Red Shirts

17 06 2009

The Bangkok Post (16 June 2009: “Arrest warrants for red-shirt leaders”) reports that the relentless hunt for red shirt leaders continues.

It is reported that the “Criminal Court has approved arrest warrants for eight more leaders of the red-shirt protest movement, including a police lieutenant colonel, on charges of illegal assembly and instigating unrest” during the Songkhran Uprising.

Senior police have apparently “presented evidence to support the application to the court” that includes “tapes of speeches made by leaders of the red shirts on April 13 at Chamai Maruchet bridge.”

The eight suspects are said to be: Wiphuthalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Suporn Atthawong, Surachai Danwatananusorn, Somchai Paiboon, Pol Lt-Col Waipot Arpornrat, Payap Panket, Methi Amornwuthikul and Pichet Sukchindathong.

The police call on the suspects to surrender to fight the charges.

The report states that the police had earlier issued a warrants for the arrest of 14 leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and that 12 of these later surrendered to police. The two who had not surrendered were Thaksin Shinawatra and Jakrapob Penkair.

In fact, PPT is not sure that this is correct. Readers can go back through our posts and will find that far more red shirt leaders than this were arrested, including in places like Chiang Mai. Earlier, the government had claimed that 10 red shirt leaders had fled the country. If any reader has an accurate count of UDD arrests and/or charges, please let PPT know.

PPT again points to the failure of the Democrat Party-led government to seriously pursue any charges against the yellow-shirted, royalist, anti-Thaksin and Democrat Party supported PAD.

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