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Well-informed citizens are the true democratic forces.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thailand turns into Indonesia - and vice versa

Please visit the original version also HERE.

By Peter Hartcher
May 12, 2009
Thailand likes to call itself The Land of Smiles. And for a while after the advent of democracy in 1992 this seemed to be unusually accurate for an official slogan.

Democracy seemed to flourish. Even during the traumatic Asian economic crisis of 1997 the generals stayed in their barracks. Growth quickly returned. The tourists flooded in. Foreign investors smiled on the Thais, who returned the favour.

In the parallel universe known as Indonesia, the picture was more ominous. Its slogan, Unity in Diversity, seemed an exercise in dark sarcasm. Diversity was hammered into frightened unity by its military dictator, Soeharto. When the Asian crisis forced Soeharto out of power in 1998 the outlook only seemed to darken.

A succession of simpletons and underperformers took the presidency. The economy was moribund. Islam woke from its long slumber under Soeharto and seemed to be asserting itself. Its diversity would now be repressed by the Muslim majority, it appeared.

Indonesia's prospects seemed to go from bad to worse. Terrorists bombed tourists in the peaceful holiday destination of Bali. The Petri dish of Indonesian Islam seemed to be breeding a newly virulent form of violent extremism. Investors gave the country a wide berth.

If Thailand seemed to represent sunrise in South-East Asia, Indonesia appeared to be the region's nightfall.

Today we see an extraordinary role reversal. Thailand is now a wreck, suffering a constitutional crisis, emergency rule and an investment strike.

As the Bangkok Post put it last month: "How could the Rice Bowl of Asia, a trade and transport hub of the Greater Mekong sub-region, an erstwhile Asian Tiger and 'Amazing Thailand' in tourism terms … come dangerously close to becoming a failed state?"

Indonesia, on the other hand, is stable and tolerant under a mature and clean president, with better growth prospects than any of the states in the region. The US think tank Freedom House has designated Indonesia for the first time as the only fully free and democratic country in South-East Asia.

As Andrew MacIntyre and Douglas Ramage put it in a paper for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute: "Indonesia in 2008 is a stable, competitive electoral democracy, with a highly decentralised system of governance, achieving solid rates of economic growth, under competent national leadership, and playing a constructive role in the regional and broader international community."

While Indonesia glowed with the success of hosting 189 nations' representatives at the Bali climate change conference in December 2007, Thailand was humiliated last month when it had to abort a summit of 16 national leaders for the East Asian summit.

With the Thai Army rendered impotent by surging red-shirted protesters in Pattaya, the leaders of China and Japan were evacuated by helicopter, and other leaders' planes turned around in midair. It was a shocking blow to Thai credibility, unable to host a meeting, incapable of protecting world leaders on its soil.

Consider the same point and counterpoint last weekend.

While about 20,000 red-shirted protesters took to the streets of Bangkok to demonstrate against the violently repressive tactics of the unelected government, Indonesia announced the results of its peaceful parliamentary elections.

What happened? How did these two key states of South-East Asia come to trade places so dramatically?

Thailand's trajectory changed with the decision to mount an unconstitutional coup against the prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, first elected in 2001 and resoundingly re-elected in 2005.

The billionaire businessman was a polarising leader. He was wildly popular with the rural poor and the working class, but bitterly opposed by the urban elites and the army.

The decision to send the army to remove him came from the royal palace.

The last time the king had intervened decisively in politics was to end a violent constitutional crisis. This time he provoked one.

The army and the palace imposed an unelected regime on the country, promising future elections. But Thaksin's supporters wage an unending war of civil disobedience. Thaksin himself, running from a corruption charge, continues to foment protest from abroad. Thai analysts say it is hard to see any resolution. The two sets of opposing forces are roughly equal, and an election would be unlikely to solve the stand-off, they say.

Indonesia's fortunes pivoted on the election of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, known universally in Indonesia as SBY. The former general has proved to be wise as well as popular since taking power in 2004. He is pro-business and pro-West, and also forcefully anti-terrorism and anti-corruption. Indeed, he has allowed the prosecution of his own brother-in-law on corruption charges.

Islamic political parties have moderated, not radicalised.

Indonesia now has a vibrant free press and a judiciary that is uneven but improving. Democracy has become solidly legitimised - generals and muftis alike compete for power at the ballot box, not in the streets. He is the easy favourite for the two-step presidential election due in July with a run-off in September, if required.

The region is suffering from the global financial crisis. But while the Asian Development Bank forecasts that Thai economic growth will fall from 2.6 per cent last year to minus 2 per cent this year, it expects Indonesia to suffer more mildly, slowing from 6.1 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

The essential difference is that Indonesian power elites universally respect the legitimising power of democracy. The Thais have not. And the leading source of anti-democratic arrogance in Thailand has proved to be the king. So Indonesia has emerged as a model state, a living rebuttal of the notion that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Its diversity has unified behind democracy. Thailand is turning into just another sad, broken autocracy. The smile has become a grimace.

Peter Hartcher is the Herald's international editor

Monday, May 4, 2009

Once more, military repression in Thailand

Once more, military repression in Thailand
Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn

For the fourth time in forty years, troops have opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok. Each time the aim has been the same: to protect the interests of the Conservative Elites who have run Thailand for the past 70 years.

What kind of country and society guns down its citizens who demand democracy on the streets? What society imprisons someone for making comments on the internet? What kind of Foreign Minister encourages armed conflict with neighbouring countries in order to distract attention from internal problems? What kind of government comes to power by a combination of a military coup, two judicial coups, together with street violence, bribery and threats? What kind of Prime Minister tells lies to the foreign press about his commitment to democracy and then uses the army to kill protestors and draconian lese majeste laws to stifle opposition? What kind of ruling class uses “the love of the King” to justify a military coup, terrorist acts by its supporters at international airports and severe censorship? Thailand can no longer be called a modern democracy. It has slid back to join the ranks of tin-pot despotic regimes around the world, little different from the Burmese regime.

For those watching the cold-blooded murder by soldiers on the streets of Bangkok in April 2009, it may be tempting just to assume that the present chaos is merely about different coloured T shirts and supporters of different political parties, as though they were mirror images of each other. This is not so.

Today, the Thai government, and their elite supporters, are once again using the language of the Cold War and from the era of military dictatorships, in order to throttle free speech and democracy. Instead of branding the opposition as “Communists” they are now “enemies of Thailand”. There is total government control of the mainstream media and widespread censorship of alternative websites and community radio stations.

Every thing in Thailand is not as it seems. The “Democrat Party”, who formed a government in late 2008 and ordered troops to kill protestors, never had the support from the majority of the electorate. In fact the Democrats have never won anything approaching a majority and this is why the party welcomed the military coup in 2006. They support censorship and the use of les majeste laws. The “Peoples Alliance for Democracy” (PAD), those yellow-shirted Royalists who seized the two international airports, are neither an alliance of the people, nor are they for democracy. Their membership base is among the extremist middle classes who believe that the previous Thaksin government spent “too much” money on welfare and populist policies for the poor. They believe that only they are the true guardians of the Monarchy and that the majority of the Thai electorate, who are poor, should not have the right to vote.

What we have been seeing in Thailand since late 2005, is a growing class war between the poor and the old elites. It is of course not a pure class war. Due to a vacuum on the Left in the past, millionaire and populist politicians like Taksin Shinawat have managed to provide leadership to the poor. The urban and rural poor, who form the majority of the electorate, are the Red Shirts. They want the right to choose their own democratically elected government. They started out as passive supporters of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government. But they have now formed a brand new citizens’ movement for what they call “Real Democracy”. For them, “Real Democracy” means an end to the long-accepted “Quiet Dictatorship” of the Army generals and the Palace. This situation allowed the generals, the King’s advisors in the Privy Council and the conservative elites, to act as though they were above the Constitution. Les majeste laws and intermittent repression have been used to silence opposition. Ever since 2006, these elites have blatantly acted against election results by staging a military coup, using the courts to twice dissolve Thaksin’s party and by backing Yellow Shirt Royalist mob violence on the streets and at the airports. The present mis-named Democrat Party government was manoeuvred into place by the Army.

Most of those in the Red Shirt movement support Thaksin for good reasons. His government put in place many modern pro-poor policies, including Thailand’s first ever universal health care system. Yet the Red Shirts are not merely Thaksin puppets. There is a dialectical relationship between Thaksin and the Red Shirts. His leadership provides encouragement and confidence to fight. Yet the Red Shirts are also self-organised in community groups and some are showing frustration with Thaksin’s lack of progressive leadership, especially over his insistence that they continue to be “loyal” to the Crown. Over the past few months, the Red Shirts have shown signs of self-leadership to such an extent that the old Thai Rak Thai politicians are running to keep up. A Republican movement is growing. Many left-leaning Thais like myself, are not Thaksin supporters. We opposed his human rights abuses. But we are the left-wing of the citizens’ movement for Real Democracy.

The Yellow Shirts are conservative Royalists. Some have fascist tendencies. Their guards carry and use firearms. They supported the 2006 coup, wrecked Government House and blocked the international airports last year. Behind them were the Army and the Palace. That is why troops never shot at the Yellow Shirts while they created chaos. That is why Oxford and Eton educated, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajeva from the Democrat Party, did nothing to punish the Yellow Shirts. After all, he appointed some to his cabinet. The Foreign Minister was a good example. He took part in the airport seizure and insulted the Cambodians over an infantile border dispute. The aims of the Yellow Shirts are to reduce the voting power of the electorate in order to protect the conservative elites and the “bad old ways” of running Thailand. They see increased citizen empowerment as a threat and propose a “New Order” dictatorship, where people are allowed to vote, but most MPs and public positions are not up for election. Their dishonest excuse is to claim that the poor have all been “bought” and are trapped in a Thaksin patron-client system. For them, the poor would show “maturity and an understanding of Democracy” if they voted for parties which did not provide universal health care!

The Yellow shirt Royalists are supported by the mainstream Thai media, most middle class academics and even NGO leaders. The NGOs have disgraced themselves over the last few years by siding with the Yellows or remaining silent in the face of the general attack on democracy. Some leaders put themselves forward in the hope that the military would select them as appointed Senators, while others told their members not to protest against the military junta at the closing ceremony of the Thai Social Forum in October 2006. Despite being well-meaning, their lack of politics has let them down and they have been increasingly drawn to the reactionary Right.

If one is to understand and judge the violent acts which have been taking place in Thailand, we need a sense of history and perspective. Perspective is needed to distinguish between damaging property and injuring or killing people. With this perspective, it is clear that the Yellow Shirts and the Army are the violent ones. They have openly carried and used fire arms on the streets of Bangkok. Their violent aims are to suppress democracy.

A sense of history helps to explain why Red Shirt citizens are now exploding in anger. Since 2006, they have had to endure the military jack-boot, repeated theft of their democratic rights, continued acts of violence against them and general abuse from the mainstream media and academia. If they continue to resist, cracks may appear in the Army. During the past four years Thai citizens have become highly politicised. Ordinary soldiers, recruited from poor families, support the Red Shirts. The whole of society is deeply politicised.

NGOs & Academics
That the Thai ruling elite, the military and the fascist PAD yellow shirts, together with the Democrat Party, should support the murder of pro-democracy protestors is not surprising. Nor is the fact that there is no justice and that there are double standards in applying the law. The fascist PAD leaders who used street violence and blocked the airports are still free and unlikely to be put in jail. The Generals who abused their power in a coup are still raking in the money, just like previous Thai generals. There is no transparency and accountability of any major public institutions, including the Monarchy, the Judiciary, the Government and the Army. The judges have their own version of the lese majeste law to stifle any criticism. There can be no justice if judges are not accountable to the public. The mainstream media is either directly owned by the government or the Army, or it is owned by private business interests who form part of the conservative elites. Since the 2006 coup, censorship has never been worse than at any time in Thai history.

What should surprise and worry us is that almost the entire Thai NGO movement and almost the entirety of Thai academia have kept silent, or worse, supported this destruction of free speech and democracy. And what should anger us also, is that Amnesty International in Thailand has refused to do anything of substance to defend prisoners of conscience in the country, disgracefully claiming that the Monarchy is “too sensitive an issue”!

The NGO movement turned its back on “politics” and the primacy of mass movements in the 1980s. Instead they embraced “lobby politics”. First they loved-up to Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government. Then, when they were wrong-footed by the government’s pro-poor policies that proved that the NGOs had only been “playing” at development, they rushed over to love-up to the Conservative Royalists. Such an about face was only possible by ignoring politics, international lessons and any theory. NGO leaders argued proudly that they were the “true activists”, not book worms or theoreticians. This explains why they can justify to themselves the support for the 2006 coup and why they have failed to defend democracy since. Instead of bothering to analyse the political situation, they beat a path to lobby generals, governments of every shade and anyone who has power. In the 1980s they used the slogan “the answer is in the villages”. This showed respect for the intellect of the poor. Since the poor voted on mass for Thai Rak Thai, the NGOs have become viciously patronising towards villagers, claiming that they “lack the right information” to make political decisions. In fact, there was always a patronising element to their work. NGO leaders are self-appointed middle class activists who shun elections and believe that NGOs should “nanny ” peasants and workers. They are now fearful and contemptuous of the Red Shirt movement, which is starting a process of self-empowerment of the poor.

The academics are even worse. For decades they have shunned political debate, preferring personal squabbles to principled arguments. No one is ever forced to justify or argue for their beliefs. On the occasion when papers are written, they are descriptive and ignore work by those who pose awkward questions. This leads to a climate of arrogance and a lack of debate. So when they defended their Middle-Class interests and supported the 2006 coup, they felt no need for a serious explanation other than to say that the poor “did not understand democracy”. One wonders what theories they teach about “Democratisation” and whether those theories have any connection to the real world. This un-academic behaviour has rich rewards. Many have extra earnings from collaborating with the military and the ruling elites.

Class War: Royalist vs the People
The Thai conservative elite are playing a dangerous game. They have started a civil war between the people (now represented by the Red Shirts) and the Yellow-shirted Royalists. Early in 2006 they decided that they would use extra-Constitutional means to get rid of an elected government. Their justification was the “corruption” and “abuse of power” by the Thai Rak Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawat. While there is much to criticise in the actions of Thaksin and Thai Rak Thai, it must also be said that the conservative elites, including the Monarchy, have always been corrupt and abused their power. What they didn’t like was that someone else might be getting more powerful than them through the electoral process.

This King grew in stature under the corrupt military dictators: Sarit, Thanom and Prapass. He allowed innocent people to be executed after they were falsely accused of killing his older brother. He supported the blood bath at Thammasart University on 6th October 1976 because he felt that Thailand had “too much democracy”. At the time he was also the patron of the violent gang that were called the “village scouts”. The King allowed the army to stage a coup in September 2006. Furthermore he allowed his name to be used by the army, the PAD protestors and the Democrat Party, in the destruction of democracy. He has been an advocate of economic views which reveal his opposition to state social welfare for the poor and income redistribution. But what is worse, as one of the richest men in the world, the king has the arrogance to lecture the poor to be sufficient in their poverty through the notion of the “Sufficiency Economy”. This is nothing more than a reactionary Right-wing ideology that says that the poor must know their place. Finally, this king allows his supporters to proclaim that he is “the father of the nation,” and yet his own son is not respected by anyone in Thai society! For the millions of Thais who know all this to be true, it is only fear and intimidation that stops us all from speaking this truth out loud.

The elites have for decades ruled Thailand from behind the scenes as if it were their own personal fiefdom. A poisonous patron client network draws in new recruits to this “elite feeding trough” where fortunes are to be made at the expense of the hard-working poor. This vast parasitic organism maintains its legitimacy by creating a false image that Thailand has an “Absolute Monarchy”, where the King is an all-powerful god. Yet the King is weak and has no “character” and his power is a fiction. The King has always been weak and lacking in any democratic principles. The Palace has been used to legitimise past and present dictatorships. As a “stabilising force”, the Monarchy has only helped to stabilise the interests of the elite. The King has never had the courage to defend democracy or oppose military violence. The Queen is an extreme reactionary who backs any vicious right-wing movement. However the real people with power among the Thai elites are the Army and high-ranking state officials surrounding the Palace.

Army generals, politicians, businessmen and privy councillors prostrate themselves on the ground and pay homage to the “powerful” king, while exercising the real power in the land and enriching themselves. But the King is very old and his son is hated, feared or viewed with contempt. Where will the elite’s new meal ticket come from when the King dies?

Like the story of “the Emperor’s New Clothes”, the elites relied on telling the Thai population (and maybe even the King), a pack of lies in order to promote their own agenda. The King is a God! The King is all powerful! We serve the King! And the lese majeste law and other authoritarian measures are used to back up these lies. But the boy has already spoken! Most people in Thailand can see that the Emperor has no clothes! The King hasn’t “held together Thai society”. He hasn’t created justice and equality and he has sided in public with the military and the anti-democrats throughout his reign. People are sick and tired of the elite’s privileges. All traffic is stopped for the Royals to pass in Bangkok, while emergency ambulances are stuck in traffic jams. Citizens are forced to crawl on the ground like animals and use special Royal Language when in the company of the Royal Family.

The process of destroying the corrupt, privileged and authoritarian network around the Monarchy will take time. People like Suwicha Thakor, Da torpido, Boonyuen Prasertying and many others will suffer in jail because of lese majeste laws. The Red Shirts will have to mobilise and organise on a long-term basis. Meanwhile, politicians like Thaksin, and many others, are still clinging to Royalist ideas, claiming to be “loyal subjects” of the King, while attacking privy councillors for planning the 2006 coup. Many Red Shirts are restless and want to go much further in order to build Democracy and Social Justice.

We must not be afraid anymore. But that is easier for me to say from the safety of Britain! We must all be the little boy who says what he sees as the Emperor walks past, naked. Why should we, the Thai people, be “loyal subjects of the King”? In a democratic and equal society the King should be loyal to us. If he or any future Monarch is not prepared to listen to the people, respect the people as his master, and defend democracy, then we definitely need a republic.

What happened to Thai Democrcay?
Five years ago, Thailand, under the elected Thaksin government, had a developing democracy with freedom of expression, a relatively free press and an active Civil Society where social movements campaigned to protect the interests of the poor. This was not, however the work of the Thaksin administration, since there were serious problems of human rights abuses. Thaksin’s government used murderous repression in the Muslim Malay southern provinces and killed over 3000 people in the so-called “War on Drugs”.

Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party was modernising. For the first time in decades, a party was gaining mass support from the poor because it believed that the poor were not a burden. They argued that the poor should be “stake-holders” rather than surfs. This was no Socialist party, but a party of big business committed to free-market policies at a Macro and Global level and Keynesian policies at village level. It represented the modernising interests of an important faction of the capitalist class.

The Thai crisis started with mass demonstrations led by the PAD in early 2005. The PAD began as an “alliance from hell” between disgruntled Royalist media tycoon Sonti Limtongkul and a handful of N.G.O. and social movement leaders. They attacked Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government for corruption. But they were never interested in criticising his human rights abuses or attacking the corruption of other elites. Thaksin responded to the growing crisis by dissolving parliament and calling fresh elections. The opposition boycotted these elections and “liberal” academics “explained” that calling fresh elections was “undemocratic”. The courts then annulled the election. The anti-democratic forces knew that Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party was immensely popular and would win any vote. Rather than accepting that the electorate support for Thaksin was because of the government’s first ever Universal Health Care scheme and many other pro-poor measures, they claimed that the poor did not understand Democracy. The Democrat Party spent most of the time attacking these pr-poor policies as being a waste of money and against “fiscal discipline”. No wonder no ordinary Thai would want to vote for them!

The N.G.O. and social movement leaders of the PAD moved sharply to the Right, becoming fanatical Royalists and calling on the King to sack Thaksin’s elected government. This, the King refused to do, but the PAD demands were seen as a green light for a military coup and the military obliged in September 2006. PAD leaders and military junta leaders were seen celebrating their victory at a New Year party in 2007. At that time, the Democrat Party also welcomed the coup.

The army ripped up the best Constitution Thailand has ever had, and replaced it with their own. A referendum was held to approve the military Constitution. Many provinces were under martial law, campaigning for a “no” vote in the referendum was deemed to be illegal and full page advertisements in the press urged people to vote “yes”. The referendum result was extremely close, a small majority being in favour. Half the NGOs, the PAD, most academics, the main stream media and the Democrat Party all supported the new Constitution. The military Constitution allowed for half the Senate to be appointed by the military, rather than elected. It decreased the role of political parties and installed a crony system where members of the elite appointed themselves to the Senate, the Judiciary and to so-called “Independent Bodies”. The Constitution stated that neo-liberal free market policies must be used in the interests of fiscal discipline, but it also stated that the military budget must be vastly increased. The final clause in the Constitution, which used to state that citizens had the right to oppose military coups, was changed to legitimise the 2006 coup and any future coups.

The courts in Thailand have never been independent or just. The military used the courts to dissolve the Thai Rak Thai Party and then they held elections. But again, Thaksin’s party won a majority. So the courts were used for a second time to dissolve the new party which evolved from Thai Rak Thai. It is clear that the aim was to cripple the most popular party and never to allow it to form a stable government. At the same time the PAD launched their deliberate “campaign of chaos” in order to achieve their “New Order”. They violently took over Government House, wrecking the interior. They staged violent actions to try to prevent an elected parliament from opening and then they seized the two international airports with the support of the military and the Democrat Party. They cared little about the damage to jobs and the Thai economy, feeling that the elites would always be alright and the poor could just suffer. No one from the PAD has been punished.

After the 2006 coup, the P.A.D. descended into a fascist type of organisation. It took on ultra-Royalist and ultra-Nationalist politics. Its supporters wore Royal yellow shirts. It nearly caused a war with Cambodia over an ancient hill-top ruin. It built up an armed guard who openly carry and use weapons on the streets of Bangkok. The P.A.D.’s media outlet, Manager Group, have a history of witch hunts against academics and social activists who question the deterioration of democracy and question the use of the lese majeste law. It encourages people to commit acts of violence against those who think differently.

Finally, at the end of 2008, the army bullied and bribed some of the worst, corrupt elements in Thaksin’s party to change sides and support the Democrats. Foremost among them was Newin Chitchorp, named after the Burmese military dictator. He and Democrat politicians also set up the paramilitary “Blue Shirts” who carried arms and attacked Red Shirt protestors in April. Abhisit became the Prime Minister. His name sums it all up. It means “privilege”.

In early 2007, I published a book called “A Coup for the Rich” . This short academic book was written as a protest against the shrinking democratic space in Thailand. I tried to analyse what exactly was happening to Thai democracy. I criticised the gross human rights abuses of the democratically elected Thaksin government. But I argued that a military coup was not the answer. Because I discussed all this, I was charged with lese majeste or insulting the King. How can there be academic freedom when my own university, Chulalongkorn University, gave my book to the police? How can there be academic standards if political scientists like myself are not allowed to discuss what the King, the army and the elites do? And through all this, most Thai academics remain silent, some supporting the destruction of democracy, others censoring themselves because of fear.

A new Civil Society is emerging from the “Red Shirt” movement. Many will feel uncomfortable that this is a movement of ordinary citizens and not the educated middle class. But this is what is really required to build a democratic society with social justice. We need to cut down the military’s influence in society, reform the judiciary and the police and to expand freedom and democracy from this grass-roots movement. And we need to abolish the Monarchy too. For it has now become an obstacle to freedom and human dignity. Thais need to create a culture of citizenship rather than being merely “Royal subjects”.

The stakes are very high. Any compromise has the risk of instability because it will satisfy almost no one. The old elites might want to do a deal with Thaksin to stop the Red Shirts from becoming totally Republican. But whatever happens, Thai society cannot go back to the old days. The Red Shirts represent millions of Thais who are sick and tired of Military and Palace intervention in politics. At the very least they will want a non-political Constitutional Monarchy. It is hoped that the Red Shirts will continue to move to the Left during this round of struggle, but in the real world there are no cast-iron guarantees.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dear President Obama and Secretary Hilary Clinton:

Dear Sir and Madam:

Having watched the video of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton shaking hand with the controversial and torrorist Minister of Foreign Affairs from Thailand at http://www.state.gov/video/?videoid=20844074001, I felt betrayed by the greatest democratic nation on earth. This gesture alone may have sent a wrong signal to the citizens of the many countries fighting for a true democracy. Mr. Piromya is one of the most hated and disgusted figures in the Thai politics, for he clearly represents the royalists and the PAD that seized international airports and illegally occupied the Thai Government House as well as caused protests nationwide after he had been appointed a Foreign Minister. The parties with whom he has been associated have conspired to sabotage Thai democracy and thus brought Thailand backward from its path toward a fuller democracy and properity and constructive leadership among Asian countries.

With the intelligence that the U.S. has, how can it be possible that Mr. President and Mrs. Secretary are not correctly informed about what actually has happened in Thailand since September, 2006? I am a Fulbrighter from Thailand, so I came to the U.S. with a hope to help the world understand many great things that the world could adopt as a model for the common progress of humankind. Instead, I found that even Fulbrighters from certain parts of the world, especially those from Latin America, came to the U.S. with extreme hatred against the U.S. as a nation mainly because of the foreign policies! I am sad to report that many of them have left the U.S. unconvinced of the opposite reality that I have been blessed to experience.
As you are trying to promote a true democracy across the globe, committing to it so deeply that you even removed many leaders and killed many innocent people in hope for planting seeds of democracy, you have shown hypocrisy, as presently again illustrated in the above video.

Thai people who fight for a true democracy have been unfairly and brutally oppressed by a network of undemocratic forces comprising the monarch's privy council members, the military, the surrounding interest groups associated with the first two groups, the PAD, which was established by Sondhi Limthongkul (check his records!) so as to carry out the propaganda dictated by the orders from the other three groups. I believe it is unnecessary to provide you both with too much information that you already have on file somewhere. I have heard that the new Ambassador, briefly after his first day in office in Thailand, went to see Prem Tinnasulanondha, who as allegedly known as a mastermind of the 2006 coup. Soon after such a meeting, the military was ordered to shoot at the protesters with an aim to suppress the redshirt protesters.

If you want to promote democracy, you cannot send wrong signals and compromise with the undemocratic figures. Your association with the Abhisit administration and especially your meeting with Mr. Piromya, Mrs. Secretary, with due respect, are the worst signal that you could ever send to informed Thai citizens. Many redshirt Thais have expressed their sympathy for the terrorists in the Deep South of Thailand and the reasons why some suicide bombers do what they do because of the lack of justice, structural violence, and perpetuated oppression. You could help so much in Thailand, as Thailand would be the best material for your project to make it a most successful democratic country, given the resources, geography, educational levels of Thai citizens, established infrastructure, the willingness to cooperate, etc.

I hope this humble note will reach the bottom of your heart and trigger the best part of your brains.

Sincerely yours,
A Thai Citizen

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Thai king gives royal assent to coup"--Vancouver Sun one day after the coup

Thai king gives royal assent to coup
Chiefs of the army, navy and airforce met the king today to discuss the formation of interim government

Jonathan Manthorpe
Vancouver Sun

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has always found it hard to hide his distaste for Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and the billionaire businessman-turned-politician's overbearing and arrogant ways.

Now, it seems, the king has at least given quiet royal assent to a military coup that may end the political chaos and administrative dysfunction in which Thaksin's antics have mired the country for most of this year.

Thailand has been without an effective government or parliament since elections in April were declared invalid.

Thaksin called the elections to try to stem mounting public discontent in Bangkok over allegations of corruption by members of the prime minister's family.

Legal wrangling has stalled efforts to arrange new elections, which were again postponed last week.

Meanwhile Thaksin has stumbled along as caretaker prime minister and become deeply enmeshed in a confrontation with the military.

Soldiers and police loyal to army commander-in-chief Lt.-Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, a Muslim known to be close to the king, seized control of key government buildings in the centre of Bangkok, the capital, on Tuesday.

It was announced on Thai television that a group calling itself the Council of Administrative Reform -- also translated in some messages as the Democratic Reform Council -- had taken control and that it is loyal to King Bhumibol as head of state.

Chiefs of the army, navy and airforce met the king today to discuss the formation of the interim government.

A senior official in the deposed government told Reuters news agency he believes one of the king's advisers, Sumate Tantivejakul, will head the reform commission and the interim government that will administer the country until new elections can be held.

On several occasions the king has publicly rebuked Thaksin or shown his displeasure with the prime minister. After Thaksin used police and officials to attack media that had been critical of him, the king gave the prime minister a public dressing down. King Bhumibol has shown displeasure at Thaksin's sometimes brutal handling of an insurrection by minority Muslims in Thailand's southern provinces and urged the prime minister to step down after April's farcical election.

The coup came while Thaksin was in New York attending the opening of the new session of the United Nations General Assembly and followed weeks of rumours, most of them put about by the prime minister and his allies, that the military was about to take power.

There have also been allegations that some army officers aimed to kill Thaksin with a car bomb in August, but the plot was discovered before the attempt was made.

After news of the coup reached New York Thaksin launched a futile counterattack by appearing on Thai television, declaring a state of emergency and warning the military not to take any illegal actions. Thaksin also attempted to fire Sonthi from command of the army and called on the Armed Forces Supreme Commander Ruangroj Mahasaranond to implement the emergency order.

Thaksin's broadcast was cut off after 10 minutes while he was still talking.

There have been 17 military coups in Thailand since the 1930s. The last coup was in 1991 and the country was returned to civilian rule the following year at the insistence of King Bhumibol after soldiers fired on pro-democracy demonstrators killing many.

This was typical of the stabilizing role the much revered king has played in Thai politics during his 60 years on the throne.

Many Thais have been looking to the king to sort out the current political mess.

King Bhumibol has always been cautious and sparing in his political interventions, however. He has encouraged leaders of all political parties to find a way out of the impasse and has made some suggestions, but has refrained from exerting his considerable authority in a heavy-handed way.

It is therefore unlikely that the king was complicit in the coup. It is far more likely that the coup leaders received King Bhumibol's blessing -- if they have done so which is not yet clear -- only after pledging a swift and orderly return to democratic rule.

Thailand's military is highly political, but also riven by factions mostly based on groups of officers who served as cadets together.

Not least of Thaksin's problems with the military is that the political chaos has disrupted the round of new appointments that usually takes place at this time of year. Three cliques of former classmates are vying to provide the candidate to replace Lt.-Gen. Sonth, who was due to retire next year.

It is ironic that Sonthi has been an outspoken advocate of the Thai military strengthening its professional abilities and staying out of politics.

Part of Sonthi's campaign has been to criticize Thaksin, whom the general and others complain has interfered in military appointments to promote his own loyalists. In July Sonthi fell out conclusively with Thaksin when he re-assigned about 100 middle-ranking officers whom he believed had been promoted simply because of their loyalty to the prime minister.

The result has been that Thaksin has very few supporters in the military, the most notable being Maj.-Gen. Sanit Phrommas, commander of the Second Cavalry Division.

In New York Tuesday Thaksin's officials told reporters the coup could not succeed and that the prime minister would return home after addressing the UN general assembly.

In all likelihood Thaksin would want to get a firm idea of what kind of welcome awaits him before getting on a plane.

It is hard to imagine at this juncture a scenario in which Thaksin's political career continues, but Thai politics work to a highly individual cultural script with its own possibilities.

Thaksin's rise to wealth and power was unconventional in the extreme. He started life as a policeman, but one that believed strongly in the opportunities of the information age.

One such opportunity was to sell computers to his own police force. This was so profitable that Thaksin retired from the police force in 1987 and set up a software marketing company named after himself, the Shin Corp.

In 1990 the company hit the jackpot by getting a 20-year concession from the Thai telephone authorities to run cellular networks. Thaksin rapidly became Thailand wealthiest man and most powerful tycoon.

In 1994 he turned to politics and founded his own party, Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais). In 2001 Thaksin's party swept to victory and the first majority government in the country's political history.

Voters were seduced by the desire that Thaksin could do for the national economy what he had done for his own company.

Thaksin's love affair with Thailand's urban voters didn't last long. The middle class quickly began to mistrust his arrogant and authoritarian tendencies.

But the poor, especially the rural poor, remained loyal not least because his personal fortune enabled him to spread the money that is usually exchanged for votes in the countryside. He won a second term in office last year.

What brought about his collapse was the sale in January of his company Shin Corp. to Singapore's state-owned Temasek Holdings for $1.9 billion US. To the outrage of many Thaksin's family found a way of not having to pay any tax on their profits.

Through most of February there were almost daily demonstrations in Bangkok calling for Thaksin's resignation. On Feb. 24 he tried to silence his critics by calling a snap election for April 2, but the main opposition parties boycotted the poll.

It was immediately evident the election could not produce a legal parliament and early in May the Constitutional Court ruled the election had been invalid. But it was also found the Election Commission had acted improperly and its members were fired.

It was only two weeks ago that a new Election Commission was appointed and plans for a new ballot in October had to be postponed until late November or, more likely, early next year.

E-mail: jmanthorpe@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Copyright © 2009 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Human rights in Thailand: A terrible joke!

I have been overwhelmed by the incredible things that the Abhisit administration and ruling elites in Thailand have collectively said, publicized, and done. Their shameless deeds against democracy have gone far beyond what I could ever have imagined three years ago. I often become speechless as I see more of their disgusting lies and unfair treatments against their rivals and even the innocent people. Let me just talk about the very issue about human rights, in particular censorship in Thailand, so I am not too disgusted.

I was born a free boy roaming the rice fields on the buffalo back, singing as louldly as I wanted, going freely in and out of any house in my rural village in Northern Thailand, and growing up with absolute love, freedom and approval from my parents and people around me. So, censorship is truly a foreign notion to my free soul. I was too young to understand the political issues and the oppressive system that had perpetuated the vicious cycle that brought about a number of massacres in Thailand during the 60's-70's. Back then, there were no TVs, no newspapers, and nothing much beyond the peaceful, submissive, struggling images of people in my community and the little known world outside my district.

Growing up, I started to understand that there were so many restrictions; some sensible, but others ridiculous. Largely, I tried to understand and comply with whatever, pushing myself to be one of them--the successful ones under the existing systems. However, the more I learned about the structural violence in the form of suppressive propaganda, brainwashing in order to silence the people's voices, social practices that take away people's rights to be politically recognized and economically rewarded, and so on, the more I became more ideologically distant from the Thai ways. None of those negative perceptions and feelings truly got too strong until recently, after the 2006 coup and especially during the tyrannical acts of the ruling elites in creating a three-year-long political turmoil and in presently manipulating or directing the administration of Abhisit government.

The below message was erased only seconds after the submission, simply because it was titled with "The only way the Chakri Dynasty could survive"! I will find time to translate it into English later. Please revisit.


คนผิดมันไล่มาตั้งแต่คนทำการรัฐประหาร คนลงชื่อสนอง
คนที่ทำงานรับใช้ คมช. คนที่ทำผิดกฎหมายทุกอย่างแต่ใช้เส้น
เช่น ยึดทำเนียบ ยึดสนามบิน ปิดถนน ยิงประชาชน ทำร้ายเจ้าหน้าที่
คนที่บังอาจยุบพรรคการเมืองของประชาชน คดีหมิ่น
คนที่ใช้อำนาจโดยมิชอบ (รวมทั้งศาลด้วย) และล่าสุดก็ต้องนับ
เอาพวก .ใสเสื้อสีแดง .ที่ก่อการเผารถและปิดถนน และที่สำคัญที่สุด
คือนายกทรราช และพรรคพวกเบื้องหลังการสั่งฆ่าประชาชน
และองคมนตรีบางคนที่ถูกกล่าวหาว่าเป็นฆาตรกร ทำผิดหน้าที่
ทำผิดรัฐธรรมนูญ และเป็นทรราช

ที่ว่ามาเนี่ย หากยกให้ไม่ผิดทั้งกระดาน มันก็ถือว่าเป็นเรื่องที่ไม่มีใคร
ฝ่ายไหนพอใจทั้งหมด หากจะยกเว้นเป็นบางราย มันก็ไม่จบ
งานนี้ ต้องยกผลประโยชน์ให้จำเลยครับ ยอมใจกว้างแล้วเริ่มใหม่
หากมาร์คคิดจะเอาดีใส่ตัว ทิ้งชั่วให้คนอื่นอีกละก้อ
ผมบอกแล้ว ว่า เตรียมตายโหงทั้งคณะ และฉิบหายกันทั้งชาติ

ซึ่งหนี้เลือดมันไม่หยุดง่าย ๆ และจะเป็อย่างนั้นไปตราบเท่าลูกหลาน
หรือคนไม่ปลอดภัยแม้แต่จะไปเยี่ยมญาติต่างอำเภอ หรือไปเที่ยวต่างจังหวัด
ความยากจนวิบัติ มันจะเป็นเหมือนคำสาปไปชั่วลูกหลาน

และที่สำคัญที่สุด เมื่อเกิดสงครามกลางเมืองแล้ว
ราชวงศ์จักรี ก็จะต้องสิ้นสลายไป เพราะหาประโยชน์อันใดไม่ได้

โดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งในสายตาของคนที่ต่อสู้เพราะคิดว่า ตนไม่มีเส้น และไม่ได้รับความเป็นธรรม
อันเป็นสาเหตุของการลุกขึ้นมาสู้ นับตั้งแต่การรัฐประหาร 19 กันยายน 49

เป็นประชาธิปไตย คือ ยึดเอาเสรีภาพ เสมอภาค และภราดรภาพ ภายใต้นิติรัฐ และ
การไม่ทำการใด ๆ ที่ก้าวก่ายอำนาจอธิปไตยของประชาชน โดยผู้ใดก็ตาม

It's truly too much for me to write about everything wrong that the Abhisit administration has done over the past few months and things that his party, along with the destructive allies of it, has done since the coup in September 2006.
For all the accounts regarding ridiculous censorships in Thailand, please visit

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Letter to the United Nations' General Secretary

I have just received this letter from the UDD, or the Redshirt group fighting for democracy in Thailand,
today (April 19). I believe that the world needs to hear their voices, as they have been silenced and
systematically marginalized in the Thai mainstream media.

Here is the letter that, I believe, has been sent to the UN General Secretary:

National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD)
Kingdom of Thailand

20th April 2009

Mr. Ban Ki-moon
UN Headquarters First Avenue at 46th Street New York, NY 10017
United States of America

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We are writing to solemnly beg you to condemn the Government of Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, the present government of Thailand, for its recent brutal crackdown on unarmed civilian demonstrators peacefully seeking a true democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

On the 14th of April, Mr. Abhisit announced an Emergency Decree so that he could use military force to crush a gathering of unarmed civilians clad in red shirts known as the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or as the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD). Hundreds of red shirts where killed and many others severely injured. This barbaric act inflicted by the current Thai Government on its own people was totally blocked from the eyes of the domestic and international public. This deception was possible because the Government cut off all types of communication signals and gateways, especially those used among the red shirts.

Nonetheless, many horrific and brutal acts were captured by the cameras of individual participants of the demonstration. Moreover, we trust that you may have seen some of the barbarous acts recorded by the major international networks, namely CNN and the BBC among others. We, the red shirts, are not violent and the cause that hundreds of thousands of us are peacefully pursuing is the restoration of a true democracy based on parliamentary elections.

Alas, our worthy cause and our employment of civil and political freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution of Thailand, the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which Thailand as a member of the United Nations has signed and ratified, were met by heavy military force by the order of the unelected and military-appointed Abhisit Government.

Factually, what we want to emphasize is as follows:

We, the red shirts from all walks of life are peace-loving and law-abiding. On many occasions since late 2008 we have gathered in great numbers to voice our sincere demand for the restoration of true democracy in Thailand. We have come unarmed and these gatherings have all been completely free of violence. The violence in Pattaya, where the recent ASEAN Summit Plus 6 Meeting was held and the subsequent Fourth East Asian Summit was to be held, and in Bangkok on the 14th of April, was instigated by an outside group some of whom were disguised in red and navy blue shirts and whom we believe to be affiliated with the Abhisit Government. Mr. Newin Chidchob, a key supporter of the current Government, commanded the actual attack against the unarmed red shirts wearing a navy blue shirt. The red shirts were there only to express before our fellow ASEAN Members and the other six countries our objection to the Abhisit Government. The violent situation was fabricated in order to put blame on the red shirts in order to justify the announcement of the first Emergency Decree and the use of military force. This fact illustrates that the Abhisit Government is not prepared to respect the freedom of peaceful expression guaranteed by both the Thai Constitution and international law pertaining to human rights.

It is known nationally and internationally that the Abhisit Government was brought into office by the military and powerful, unelected groups within Thai society. This shameful means of protecting power and privilege are against the will of the majority of the Thai people. Must we be forced against our will to accept a government we did not choose?

We would like to emphasize that our plea for true Democracy is not because we want to have power over the existing Government or anyone else. We believe and trust that everyone whether they are red shirts or yellow shirts (members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy or PAD) are equal under a true Democracy and must be treated accordingly. Thus, we are calling for the Abhisit Government to dissolve Parliament and to return the power to choose our Government back to the Thai people. By doing so, we demand the Abhisit Government use the popular and democratic Constitution of 1997, which was torn up and replaced by the 2006 military coup leaders in their attempt to reduce the power of the Thai electorate. Are we asking too much from the Abhisit Government that claims to be the government of the Thai people?

If the Abhisit Government is truly the government of the Thai people, why is it afraid to return power back to the people? We would be prepared to accept Mr. Abhisit as our Prime Minister, if he had been chosen by the democratic process. In this respect we contrast strongly with the yellow shirts, who sought to destroy the Thai economy in order to remove three democratically elected prime ministers and who, with the aid of the powerful military and civilian figures were successful in their undemocratic agenda.

It is clear to the Thai public that the current President of the Privy Council, General Prem Tinsulanonda, and certain other privy councilors have interfered in Thai politics all along. The political chaos in Thailand over the past four (4) years is no exception. Their interference has thwarted the administration of democratically elected governments. General Prem and the other councilors are not directly responsible to the Thai people nor are they granted such powers by the Constitution of Thailand, yet they have effectively undermined the ability of the elected governments to work for the Thai people as a whole. Their only legitimate role as defined in the Constitution is as the King’s advisers. As it is obvious that the current President of the Privy Council has not performed his role in good faith, we demand that he and certain of his fellow privy councilors resign.
We are not in the least anti-monarchist as has been claimed by the Abhisit Government and its yellow shirt supporters. We regard the Monarchy as a precious national institution that has held the Thai nation together for centuries. Indeed, it is because of our love for the Monarchy that we must speak out against the unconstitutional role played by the President of the Privy Council and some of his fellow privy councilors. It is their illegal actions that risk impeding true democracy in Thailand, as well as tarnishing the image of our beloved King.

Thus, when we are speaking against the acts of the current President of the Privy Council and some of his fellow councilors we do not in any shape or form criticize His Majesty the King. The Privy Council, though close to the King for the purpose of giving its opinion when asked, is not in any way regarded as the Monarchy itself.
Points 4 and 5 above may seem to be internal affairs that do not concern the international community. However, we feel that it is crucial to state our position internationally so that we are not misrepresented to the world.

During PM Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s democratically elected Government it was Mr. Abhisit, the then leader of the opposition party, together with the yellow shirts that made the scandalous and unfounded claim that PM Thaksin was not loyal to the King. The allegation gathered momentum such that, with no time to prove otherwise, the Thaksin Government was brought to an end by a military coup on the 19th of September, 2006. Staging the coup to oust the democratically elected government was an obnoxious abuse of power based on a lie.

Should we as peace-loving, law-abiding citizens of the world allow or accept the use of military force to suppress the general free will of the people in this 21st century?

From a legal standpoint, we ask that you consider the following in light of international law:
The Abhisit Government is acting in contravention to/or against the rules and principles set out in the Thai Constitution, the Charter of the United Nations, and the International Bill of Rights, which includes the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which documents Thailand as a member nation of the United Nations has signed and ratified.
The acts of the Abhisit Government and of its allied groups (including the Government of General Surayud Chulanont – the military appointed government formed after the 2006 coup) that helped the current Government come to power is clearly against the determination of the Members of the UN to establish “conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”.

The judiciary has been misused by the Abhisit Government to get rid of political rivals. The Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT), led by former PM Thaksin, which received landslide votes in two consecutive general elections, was dissolved. The legal grounds used by the Constitutional Court of Thailand to dissolve the TRT could equally have been applied to Mr. Abhisit’s Democrat Party, but the Democrat Party was not dissolved. The People’s Power Party (PPP), the successor to the TRT led by Mr. Samak Sundaravej, won the first general election after the coup despite all attempts by the army and courts to alienate this party. The PPP however suffered the same fate as the TRT. PM Samak was ordered by the Constitutional Court to leave office for moonlighting by hosting a private cooking show on Thai TV. Factually, PM Samak received a nominal amount of money to buy ingredients for the show, but this is apparently prohibited by law (as written by military appointed counsel) and he was forced to resign. To arrive at this harsh decision which defies the spirit of the law, the Constitutional Court made reference to a dictionary to clarify the legal situation instead of using the relevant labor laws, as it should have. Had the reference been made to the relevant labor laws as taught in Thai law schools, PM Samak would have been exonerated. These examples of legal double standards illustrate the desperate lengths that the establishment and opposition are prepared to go in their attempts to undermine democracy in Thailand.
We also find it ironic that while Mr. Samak was forced to leave the prime ministerial post following the decision of the Constitutional Court, at least one member of the Court, though we suspect many more, also moonlight for private companies in a professional capacity and continues to do so with impunity to this day. The use of such double standards cannot form the basis of a transparent and equitable society.

PM Somchai Wongsawat who succeeded PM Samak shared a similar fate when the PPP was dissolved by what many independent observers have diplomatically referred to as “bizarre court decisions”. Once again, the Democrat Party could also have been dissolved under the terms of the Constitutional Court’s decision but it was not touched. With the three leading parties of the governing coalition (PPP, Chart Thai & Machima Thipataya) swept out of the way the Democrats became the Government by default. Ironically, the Court ruling dissolving the PPP was delivered against the backdrop of the illegal seizure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport by the Democrat-backed yellow shirts. It seems unfair that such criminal actions on the part of the yellow shirts and their Democrat Party backers should be rewarded so blatantly. Such an outcome painfully reiterates the entrenched forces of privilege and class in this country to the detriment of the majority of the Thai electorate.
All this could not have been possible in a society where the legal system was based on equal rights for all as enshrined in international law such as Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the Abhisit Government, ALL are NOT equal under the law. This stance by the current Government flies in the face of international norms.

If being equal under the law means that everyone, regardless of who he or she is, must be tried fairly with due process for their violation of the law, then this is not the meaning the Abhisit Government takes. While the process of bringing the yellow shirts, who committed many serious crimes against the Thai nation, to justice has been excruciatingly slow to the point that even a reputable foreign journal like the Economist believes that justice may not be done or that it may be compromised, the process of bringing the red shirts to justice has been extremely quick.

We do not believe that any credible legal system would regard as trivial the illegal seizure of two major international airports by the yellows shirts. Yet somehow the Abhisit Government expects us and the world to exonerate the yellow shirts. In fact, Mr. Abhisit even appointed one of the main instigators of the illegal seizure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport as his foreign minister! This appointment of a known terrorist to an important ministerial post does not bode well for Thai Democracy.

The Abhisit Government does not respect the idea of free human beings to enjoy civil and political freedom as proclaimed by both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

More specifically, his Government takes no heed of different opinions and in fact regards those holding different opinions as his enemies. The current Government segregates the Thai people according to their political views. Worst of all Mr. Abhisit recently announced that the red shirts are the enemy of the nation. This stance is not the action of a leader who unites his country.

If the unarmed and peaceful red shirts are the enemy of the country as Mr. Abhisit is claiming, is he then suggesting that the heavily armed and violent yellow shirts who seized the international airports and stranded many thousands of tourists and Thais alike are the good friends of the country?

The Abhisit Government fails to respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly specified under Article 20(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The peaceful and unarmed gathering of the red shirts is seen as a threat to the Abhisit Government. If there is anything “threatening” about the red shirts, it would be the gigantic number of ordinary people who come from nearly every part of Thailand and who come peacefully to demand the dissolution of Parliament. Thus, if we were to be a threat at all, we would only be a threat to the unelected Government of Mr. Abhisit and not the country or the Thai people. Therefore, the acts of the Abhisit Government to suppress the red shirts are in fact a significant threat to fundamental human rights (i.e., to enjoy civil and political freedom as guaranteed by the Thai Constitution and many international conventions which Thailand has signed and ratified). It is the acts of the Abhisit Government that are a threat to the Thai Nation and the Thai People.

We, the red shirts, have made firm commitments that our movements or gatherings must comply with the rights granted by the Thai Constitution (i.e., peaceful, unarmed and lawful gatherings). We hold such commitments in our hearts and have consistently followed the law. We genuinely believe that the voice of hundreds of thousands of law-abiding and peace-loving red shirts would be heard, but for the brutal and inhumane response of the Abhisit Government. You may have noticed that the gathering of hundreds of thousands of the red shirts since 26th March in the tropical heat was without violence until the early morning of 14th April when the army began shooting, which inevitably led to a riot and the full suppression of unarmed red shirts by armed military forces.

In light of the above facts, we are asking you to condemn the Abhisit Government for its announcement of the Emergency Decree in order that it could use military force to bloodily suppress the peaceful and unarmed gathering of the true Democracy loving people of Thailand. We also implore you to urge the Abhisit Government to dissolve Parliament in order to arrange a general election under the 1997 Constitution.
We are making this urgent appeal to you because we lack the means to tell the world that our fundamental human rights are being brutally crushed and we cannot rely on internal legal institutions to help us at this time as they have been corrupted to one degree or another. Please, please Mr. Secretary-General, do what you can to help us.

Thank you very much for your valuable time and attention.
Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No justice, no peace.


Abhisit and his tyrannical gang comprised of military leaders, royalists, interest groups associated with the undisciplined Privy Council members, and the media groups may be thinking that, having suppressed the voices of the protesters, hurt the crowds, and used the legal authority to force the protest out of the scene, they have won and will be able to restore order and peace. They cannot be more wrong if they think so. Abhisit and his gang have tried to tell the citizens of Thailand and the world that the redshirts were violent mobs that needed to be eradicate and that the military did not kill anybody and to say anything opposite to the fact that has been hidden from the ignorant public's view, hoping to completely suppress the redshirt movement. The more they appear in the media as the more truths are revealed, the more redshirts will expand in size and excel in their strategies.

As of now, April 16, there's a report that some redshirts refused to yield. The propaganda that brought about hatred among ignorant Thais and the hired gangsters to hunt them, coupled with the military force that are still roaming the streets of Bangkok, may be frightening to many because there are fetal threats, but many redshirts are too determined to reach their goals to yield or stop their movement. The holidays have been extended, but can Abhisit's illegitimate tenure?

Here's a news report of the unyielding group:

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Minus red shirts, hard-core 500 refuse to quit
Wed, 15/04/2009 - 21:02
Pravit Rojanaphruk

Removing their red shirts for fear of violent reprisal and arrest, some 500 red-shirts anti-government protesters refused to quit and re-grouped at Sanam Luang and other spots like Phan Fah bridge yesterday (Tuesday) after the Government House protest site was abandoned and leaders arrested. The atmosphere was tense, distraughtful, as protesters tried to console one another not to give up their cause of overthrowing what they believed to be the elite-bureaucratic control over politics and poor people. They removed their red shirts because they have become enemy of not just the state but some Bangkok residents who were outraged at the fires and attacks unleashed by some reds since Sunday.

Some cried and sobbed while others shouted in deep anger at the military and the government. Most were distrustful of strangers whom they didn't recognise and ranted against the Thai media whom they believed to be on the government's side and haboured a deep sense of injustice against what they believed to be a double-standard treatment of them vis-a-vis the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy's protest.

"Do ask around and see if there's anyone who doesn't hate this government" one protester told The Nation.

"No I don't hate them but I dislike the fact that there's no justice in this land," a woman answered.

"We can no longer trust the Thai media," said another. A man who claimed to be a red off-duty police officer showed his bullet-proof vest with one bullet lodged in it and claimed he was shot at on Monday by soldier.

"The government kills people!" shouted another man, as some examined pictures of what appeared to be seriously, if not fatally, injured red protesters in blood. Though protesters believed that many were killed with their bodies snatched away by the army, the government insisted that nobody was killed by the troops and the two deaths on Monday's night resulted from the reds killing two local residents in Nang Lerng area. A group of political activists and the Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) is investigating the claim the alleged deaths, however.

The Phan Fah bridge protesters, numbering around 200, were chased away by soldiers who marched past the Democracy Monument at 4pm after the group began to gather more people and after hours of verbal abuses hurled at armed soldiers. As they ran away from charging soldiers, one local resident on Rajdamnoen Avenue cursed the reds, saying their shouting about soldiers killing their comrades were bogus.

One soldier was asked if he thought the conflict which led to two deaths and 123 injuries could end.

"I think it's going to be tough because people no longer see eye to eye," he replied.

At Sanam Luang, the protesters exchanged stories about what transpired in a climate of fear, despair mixed with some hope as they tried to console one another that somehow, if they carried on the fight, they would eventually win.

Sanam Luang, their last major gathering place, became tense as 100 anti-riot police officers arrived to carry out a mopping up operation. Police told them they're breaking the Emergency Decree which barred five persons from making political gathering.

The scene was tense and pandamonius as officers stepped closer to the protesters and the unarmed protesters booed and shouted at them.

Shortly before six, many people gathered around a foreign journalist who was interviewing Army Lt Sunisa Lertpakawat who arrived to record the scene on video.

"[The Thai media] don't broadcast all the scenes of the incidents," said Sunisa, better known as Muad Jiab, and famous for her controversial books about Thaksin Shinawatra.

Sunisa shed tears as she said bullets "bought by people's tax [were used] to kill the people."

"It's not right," she said. "Thai people don't deserve these weapons."

Upon learning that the foreign journalist interviewing was also the president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, Sunisa sobbed on his left shoulder, wept and said: "Many people need your help."

"Muad Jiab is our heroine!" shouted one.

"We will not be defeated!" another exclaimed.


Freedom of speech and human rights in Thailand: A terrible joke under the Abhisit tyrannical administration

Nine new charges against Prachatai webmaster

FACT charges conspiracy against Prachatai and online freedom

Nine new charges laid against Chiranuch Premchaiporn

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, webmaster of independent Thai online news portal Prachatai, was arrested March 6 under Thailand's Computer Crimes Act. Her charges resulted from allowing comments posted by readers of Prachatai’s online discussion fora alleged to be lèse majeste.

On April 7, Chiranuch was called to Royal Thai Police headquarters for further investigation. She was accompanied by Prachatai director Chuwat Rerksirisuk and her two lawyers. Thai police laid nine new charges against Chiranuch resulting from the information she herself gave them after her arrest.

Police claim the alleged illegal postings were allowed to remain on Prachatai fora for periods of one to fifteen days. Police consider each posting to be a separate violation of the computer law even though these were removed promptly after notification by Thailand’s ICT ministry.

None of the webboard posters have been arrested. FACT considers extra charges were laid against Chiranuch for two reasons. Firstly, police waited so long that the original forum postings had been deleted from Prachatai. Therefore they could not locate the actual posters by IP address. Secondly, they had such success in securing a draconian 20-year sentence against blogger Suwicha Thakhor on April 3.

Additional charges under the cybercrime law mean that Chiranuch is facing 50 years in prison for comments she did not create. Chiranuch is facing 50 years for not self-censoring webboard posts fast enough for government censors.

Police also told Chiranuch that six more persons will be charged later this month under the computer act.

Thai government is engaged in a political conspiracy to silence independent news and free expression. Government thinks they can silence freedom activists.

If we allow Chiranuch to go undefended by our words and actions, all of us face prison for free speech. How is Thailand different from Burma?

Now, listen to a mother of a young daughter talking about the biased media in Thailand that have ganged up to silence the protesters' voices and even collectively propaganda against them.

Related links:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Did people like them deserve to be shot at?

Some faces of the redshirt protesters

Do they look like terrorists?
Do they have a potential to harm the country?
Do they carry guns or bombs?
Would they be capable of triggering a violent act against armed soldiers?

Ask yourself why Abhisit would want to get rid of these people trying to challenge his legitimacy as a PM?

Violent protesters?

Some more photos collected by Thais and the press:


Did Abhisit kill innocent Thais protesting against his premiership?

Check the following videos to see whether Abhisit killed the innocent protesters.
Attempts to hide dead bodies are also evident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1Ph-Fn_IFs สามเหลี่ยมดินแดง ทหารยิงประชาชน

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdzSeK2zEgg มีตอนทหารลากเสื้อแดง ขึ้นรถด้วย

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2nyUVeTIo ดูมัน มันบอกมันเป็นทหารของ

Here's a short description of the killing event submitted by a cyber warrior for democracy:

Apparently, a downtown battle field sparked yesterday as the puppet government used the military troop by way of declaring the state of emergency over the area of Bangkok Metropolitan and its vicinities to specifically dissolve by force the Red-shirt protesters. Red-shirt protesters politically demand the puppet prime minister and government-entangling privy councilor head to resign.

In pictures, the troop brutally shot the Red-shirt protesters, who defended their barracks for political rally, to dead and got severe injuries, while the latter retaliated with no weapons. Not only the ordinary citizen, but also a few monks and a three-year old child were also murdered by firing bullets. Most corpses were secretly hidden, taken away and destroyed by the troop to avert any physical evidence for their committing a massacre. Up to now, nearly one hundred people were registered dead and injured, being drastically and contradictorily contrast to the government report, as saying only two persons were dead.

Some pictures exhibited the Red-shirt women kneeled themselves down with flowers in front of the soldiers while begging for their lives. Some pictures delineated the soldiers' shameful actions drawing on by dragging and yanking the hair of an unarmed woman protester.

The government also made image-smearing stories, lies and deceptions by hiring people to wear the red shirts and ordered them to create chaos and destroy public properties during the evening time in order to generate widespread civil disobedience, as if the Red-shirt protesters had done by themselves.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqRr2rfPqdE ผู้รอดชีวิตเล่าเหตุการณ์

Here's an article translated by a member at prachathai from the original version in German about what he observed during the April crashes.

( Mark Teufel, Bangkok, 15.04.2009 correspondents different under co-operation) everywhere there were collisions between red shirts and the military, between yellow shirts with or without yellow shirts, which spend themselves as „indignant adjacent residents „and with sticks, swords, machetes and other notorious weapons of the PADs proceed. And also adjacent resident had surely mixed side into the groups, both on „the yellow one “and on „the red one “. And it is unclear whether humans, who wore red shirts also always to red shirts were. The situation was perfectly obscure. And that was probably left in such a way with intention.

We were in the middle in the turmoil and with own eyes observed, what happened. As in a war, the media only carefully and is late the truth to report. Therefore the description of the procedures is so important by international observers.

The two standards of the army

A trailer of the red shirts, which did not want to call its name, explained furiously: „As the people alliance for democracy (PAD) in the last year, did the army occupied the airports to nothing. Now, if the red shirts block roads, one shoots sharp. “In pictures of the BBC one could see that the soldiers did not shoot by any means only into air. In the Thai media this was concealed.

The night „of the adjacent residents“

We observed an example in the Petchaburi road, in which a mosque had been damaged allegedly by bombs by the red ones, as was stated by „the adjacent residents “. The alleged adjacent residents were however the pure mobilization. They were armed and had straight as we in addition came a poor chap abused. They held us and a journalist DAILY telegraph to make pictures. They controlled traffic and stopped individual taxis, because most taxi drivers are the trailer of Thaksin. They acted like an armed citizen resistance, which amuses itself by power.

A Thai colleague became a witness, like a trailer of the yellow shirts a weapon fired (he was not safe whether purposefully against red shirts) and called: „No fear has the PADs “and „we to fight against the red ones “. In such a way attacked red ones are to have shot back on which the pure chaos broke out. A Thai reporter, who did not want to be called however, explained to our correspondent: „I know these faces. I often saw it on PAD demonstrations. There are definitely PAD people “.

All shots, which we noticed, came from the side „of the adjacent residents “, not from the opposing side of the red shirts. Humans with red shirts again burned a bus and threw stones and other articles. The red ones before place were in terms of figures „for the adjacent residents “underlaid, who then later named also from them „lazy Thai police “in such a way cooperated. The Thai police had control at no time. Since it was back held in the last year with its procedure against the yellow shirts by one „invisible hand “and thereupon even by courts one had attacked, they are no more order-keeping power.

One had the impression that armed elements of the PADs undertook aimed provocations again and again, in order to represent the red ones as violent, even acts committed, which were then attributed to the red shirts. In addition, the red shirts seemed to leave free run to their annoyance. Over months the restraint taken place had been put down in the course of the Ester , which on the beginning of the Buddhist New Year fell at the same time. However we could hardly observe that they began with acts of violence. They defend themselves, if they are attacked, exactly the same as it us the 41jährige red shirt leader Jakrapob Penkair in an interview had predicted.

At 6 o'clock the red ones at the government buildings had been encircled in the morning by military and police. They left an exit open to also make this possible and those, which wanted to go, - however at the risk to run later the trailer of the yellow shirts into the armed arms. It seemed only to be approx. 2000 to 3000 red shirts in the buildings, among them many women with their children from the whole country.

The leaders of the red shirts had blamed the rioters, who had attacked other humans without to have been attacked and burnt the buses, as gangsters, who would not have anything to do with the red shirts. One had never heard such expressions of the yellow shirts of the PADs. „We do not know , who dressed toward end of everything a red T-Shirt, in order to be able to run the riot, but we that we said to our trailers to only defend itself. “Veera Musikapong in a short statement said. To the question, why the red shirts would then have broken in into the congress hotel in Pattaya, it answered: „The security forces did not want to undertake anything against the murders of the blue shirts. They hurt one of our friends shot, another heavily, are partly blind and crippled 112 because of stone throws and Zwillenschüssen in critical state and will be. Therefore we did not have other choice to protect ourselves. The storm on the hotel was the answer to the underhanded assaults of the blue shirts, under which soldiers hid themselves to a large extent. “

The hidden dead ones

The statements of the army that they have only shot onetime with blank cartridges are disproved by pictures of the BBC. If one uses blank cartridge with a normal Flash suppressor, one must reload after each shot. The soldiers did not reload however. In addition and they shot purposeful.

A red shirt, which spent itself in relation to the nation as a policeman, showed its bulletproof waistcoat, in which a ball was, from which it stated, it originates from the weapons of the soldiers. In addition eye-witnesses reported of many shot wounds and also dead ones. Therefore consolidates itself the assumption that the army, as already in the past, which eliminated victims. In at least one case a reported witness, who was however not ready to call their names or to be photographed that soldiers 6 said, others 8 dead bodies on army vice loaded and to have removed. The UDD takes into account altogether over 20 dead ones on side of the red shirts. In those which were killed by blue shirts and yellow shirts, are included.

The tactical retreat

In the course of the night 14, the tensions continued to increase April. The military refused delegates of the parliament, who wanted to persuade the demonstrators for the task of the FE storage, the entrance. The army approached ever more the core of the demonstrators. Against 22:30 clock to explains Chatuporn Promphan to protect one the leader (UDD, red shirts) that it wants to place itself to the police, in order the life and the health of its trailers. Against 23:00 clock requests Veera Musikapong the demonstrators to go home and explained that the leaders would place themselves to the police. The force authors, who would have kidnapped and into fire would have been penalty or humans would have attacked, are not criminals and it red shirts were, also if they had carried red shirts. „Our demonstrators demonstrated peacefully. “Red shirts would have only defended themselves, if they were attacked.

At the same time we heard not to want not to give up from Khon Kaen, in the northeast of the country that a group about 100 talk there ski RTS a stage constructed, and . Similar reports, but still unconfirmed, arrive from other provincial towns.

Tuesday evening explained Jakrapob Penkair opposite Mark devil: „Some leaders of the UDD decided to place itself to the police in order to prevent further blood pouring and killings from red shirts to. I decided not to place me but I will continue to work straight now for the movement. I am on the way to a safe place. From there out I will continue to lead the movement. I call all supporters not to be discouraged because this was only round 1. “


It would have probably never come to this escalation, if it had not given the murders of the blue shirts, which sat down most probably mostly from disguised safety forces together, to Pattaya and the shots to the army in Bangkok. And then the acts of violence of the Mobs, which calls itself “adjacent residents “. Upon the comparison with the events forces itself into the 1970er year , and right, nationalistic organizations, which at that time for example Navapol and talk Gaur were called, which carried dirty work out, which supplied the pretext, the democracy movement to switch off. This time there was the yellow shirts and the blue shirts, which supplied the pretext.

It was an error of many red shirts to deal with the provocations. Even if there were dead ones and many hurt ones, the movement has might itself not let to carry away to this kind of reaction. They probably did this in over-estimation of their support in the safety forces, which was not sufficient however obviously for obedience opposite the superiors.

The red shirts will playful have also abroad much reliability, since the procedure of their opponents was too skillful, and who locally did not experience the provocations, primarily the red shirts as violent demonstrators in memory one keeps. In particular also, because the English-language press, and in particular the T nation permit here things to write, which let stand an observer the hair to mountains to certain editors, which will not remain however for outstanding ones without impression. The UDD believes in a fast resurrection, but looks rather like calculated optimism. Their fight against the Phu Yais, the godfathers of Thailand, as Jakrapob Penkair sees it, is only again once for months if not years back-thrown.

The kind of the prosecution will become interesting. How we know, it gives to today still no judgement against the leaders of unrests in the last year, which had been caused by the yellow shirts.


A snap shot of the Thai political development in recent years

Aljazeera, on April 14, 2009, presented an interview of experts on Thai politics.

It would also be helpful to read an article from Straits Times

Thais on the brink, again – Michael J. Montesano
APRIL 13 – Media coverage of last Saturday’s disruption of the Asean summit in Pattaya focused on two dimensions of the shocking event.

On the one hand, the press noted that the abrupt termination of the meeting represented a setback not just for Asean but also for the region. Plans to deepen regional cooperation were scuttled, at least for now.

On the other hand, the press asked how long the government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva can survive last Saturday’s debacle. In the past three years, waves of street protests, such as those mounted by red-shirted supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in recent weeks, have helped wash away several Thai premiers. It thus makes sense to wonder whether Abhisit will be next.

But Thailand has entered a period far more momentous than either of these two dimensions of the media coverage suggests. A range of evidence indicates that the country is on the brink of a revolutionary situation. In this context, the fate of the Abhisit government represents a minor consideration.

First, observers of Thai politics have long suspected the involvement of Privy Council president General Prem Tinasulanon in the September 2006 coup that drove Thaksin from power.

But the latter’s decision in his March 27 phone-in to a red-shirt rally in Bangkok to cite Gen Prem by name as an instigator of the 2006 putsch broke new ground.

Thaksin’s supporters have since followed up by calling for the resignation of Gen Prem and two other members of the Thai monarch’s Privy Council.

The directness of this attack on royal councillors has little or no precedent in recent Thai history. It is tantamount to a challenge of the “network monarchy” through which Thailand’s current sovereign has played such an active role in the government of his country over the past three or four decades.

World history shows attacks against courtiers serve, more often than not, as mere cover for attacks on the royal institutions themselves.

Second, after months of such quiet that many in Thailand had thought that the red-shirt movement had run its course, the events of the past two weeks have revealed an effective and sophisticated organisation.

That organisation now has the initiative, not only in the capital Bangkok but apparently across much of provincial Thailand.

Press coverage of last weekend’s demonstrations has left unexplored the bases of this organisation and its network of local cells. It has failed to follow up on red-shirt claims to have blocked roads, surrounded provincial halls and mounted protests across northern and north-eastern Thailand.

The current upheaval seems to extend far, far beyond the tourist town of Pattaya and a couple of neighbourhoods of the Thai capital.

Third, Thai military forces made no meaningful effort to defend the Pattaya venue of the Asean summit. Did the army’s chain of command fail on Saturday? Was the Thai military too divided to act? Was its leadership willing cynically to incur the national humiliation of a disrupted summit in order to have a pretext to move violently against the red shirts?

The answers are not clear. But none of these possibilities offers reassurance, especially when there are indications that the Thai police feel they were so ill-used by the yellow-shirted members of the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy late last year that many among their ranks now sympathise with the red shirts.

Finally, neither an election nor a mediated process of reconciliation is likely to resolve Thailand’s present revolutionary situation. A free election will return Thaksinites to power, thus provoking his enemies all over again; an unfree election will only stir the red shirts into more intense opposition to the prevailing order.

Prospects for reconciliation in the interests of the national good are also slim. The figure to whom all Thais look for national reconciliation – the respected King Bhumibol Adulyadej – seems too ill to step in.

The success of Thaksin and his partisans in seizing the political initiative and openly challenging the “network monarchy” must not blind us to his own tawdry record. It must not lead us to overlook the fact that principle, rather than mere attachment to privilege or power, motivates at least some of his opponents.

One cannot know what the outcome of the ongoing back-room deliberations of those opponents will be. The Thai military may yet use violence against the red shirts. This may require it to mount crackdowns not only in Bangkok but also across much of provincial Thailand.

At best, such an effort will bring temporary quiet. At worst, it may exacerbate divisions among Thailand’s soldiers and policemen, leading to Thais spilling the blood of fellow Thais.

But revolutions need not be violent. The revolutionary situation on the brink of which the country now seems to stand can lead to a new Thailand, one in which there is room for all Thais to participate constructively.

It may well be a Thailand in which the monarch, post-King Bhumibol, and the military play less central roles than those to which Thais have grown accustomed over the past half-century.

In many ways, the real significance of Saturday’s debacle at Pattaya may lie in its prompting Asian leaders, along with the rest of us, to anticipate the process of revolutionary change on which Thailand now seems to have embarked. – The Straits Times

Credit: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/opinion/breaking-views/23120-thais-on-the-brink-again--michael-j-montesano