The violence of Thailand’s tyrants

April 12, 2010

Thailand's right-wing government ordered its soldiers to open fire on pro-democracy demonstrators who have been gathered in the heart of the capital of Bangkok for nearly a month to demand free and fair elections.

The massacre on Saturday set off a day and night of street battles, but soldiers failed to drive protesters away, in spite of the bloodshed. By Sunday, the death toll among the demonstrators--known as "Red Shirts" because of their clothing--stood at 17, with nearly 900 people injured. Four soldiers were killed in the confrontations. "There is no more negotiation," said Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader. "Although the road is rough and full of obstacles, it's our duty to honor the dead by bringing democracy to this country."

Thailand's right-wing government is led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the misnamed Democrat Party. He came to power after the preceding government was forced out of power in 2008 by mass demonstrations in Bangkok mobilized by the pro-royalist, right-wing People's Alliance for Democracy--known as the "Yellow Shirts." The military is the main power behind Abhisit's regime.

But the Red Shirt movement has continued to mobilize. The struggle reached a new stage last month when pro-democracy demonstrators assembled in the center of Bangkok, vowing to remain until they won their demand for the dissolution of parliament and immediate elections.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai academic and dissident who was accused by Abhisit of the supposed crime of "lese majesty"--basically, not being loyal to Thailand's head of state, King Bhumibol. Facing a possible prison sentence of 15 years, he fled the country a year ago. Here, we reprint excerpts from Ungpakorn's most recent blog entry.

THE GANG of tyrants who run Thailand--Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's Democrat Party, the military and the bureaucratic elites--can only cling to power through violence and lies.

As they used armed troops and tanks against pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok for the fifth time in 40 years, the tyrants hope that a blanket of censorship across Thailand will allow them to do their dirty work in secret. But the censorship is not working, and the assembled masses of pro-democracy Red Shirts are resisting.

On the April 10, the army shot dead at least 17 unarmed Red Shirt protesters and a Japanese cameraman in an attempt to crush a peaceful demonstration. Yet Abhisit Vejjajiva continues to lie. He claims that soldiers "only shot into the air," and then only after they were threatened.

Many reports from foreign journalists--and the deaths of the 18 people--indicate that the soldiers fired live ammunition directly into the crowd.

The Red Shirts want democracy and immediate elections, but democracy and elections are the last things that the tyrants want. They have lorded it over the people for years. They have never won an election, and they have never been happy with respecting election results.

Red shirt protesters clash with police in Bangkok
Red shirt protesters clash with police in Bangkok

Abhisit is only prime minister because he was placed there by the army. The tyrants are supported in their bloody work by the fascist PAD Yellow Shirts, most middle-class academics and the self-appointed NGO leaders. Together, they are contemptuous and fearful of ordinary working people, the poor, the farmers, the citizens. The monarchy supplies legitimacy for this gang of tyrants.

Since late March, the Red Shirts have been holding peaceful and disciplined protests in Bangkok. They have not destroyed anything or held weapons of any kind. Their demands are for the dissolution of parliament. Any weapons that the Red Shirts have taken from the soldiers have never been used and have been safely stored.

The Red Shirt protests are in stark contrast to the Yellow Shirt PAD demonstrations in 2008. The PAD used violence and carried weapons. They occupied and wrecked Government House, and seized and shut down the international airports. No one has been punished for these criminal acts.

The PAD and their New Politics Party demand that the democratic space be reduced because they believe that the majority of the people don't deserve the vote. The Democrat Party has worked hand in hand with the PAD.

The people have risen up against the tyrants. The "refined" mask of Eton- and Oxford-educated Abhisit Vejjajiva has slipped off to reveal just another tin-pot dictator.

It is time to clear away all the gangsters and parasites who have held sway over Thai society for too long. No more killing! No to another coup! Down with the military! Down with the dictatorship! Down with the monarchy! Power to the people!

First published at Giles Ji Ungpakorn's blog.

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