Red Shirts not packing up

The following statement was released by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), the organisation of the “Red Shirts”, on May 6. It is abridged from wdpress.blog.co.uk.

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UDD leaders have again debunked speculation that the Red Shirt rally at Ratchaprasong will soon be packing up and the protesters returning home.

UDD secretary-general Natthawut Saikua said Red Shirt leaders were waiting to see the sincerity of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s five-point road map for reconciliation, and whether it was a concrete proposal with the support of opposition factions and parties, or just hollow rhetoric.

“We have made no plans for packing up our tents ... and returning to our homes ... until we see this is a concrete plan and not just words”, Natthawut said. “Once we know for certain that the reconciliation plan is a firm road map ... then we will discuss amongst ourselves what is needed to demonstrate its sincerity”, he said.

Natthawut said Abhisit needed to do more than just set a parliamentary dissolution date before the Red Shirts would leave.

“It has been widely reported that all we want is a firm dissolution date ... When we acknowledged our acceptance of Abhisit’s reconciliation offer it was simply agreeing to the concept of the plan as what it contained is what we have been lobbying for all along.

“Abhisit has made this look like this is his idea. In reality it is what the Red Shirts have been asking for since our protest started and since the government attacked our peaceful protest with heavy war weapons and killed our supporters.”

Natthawut said: “The proposal of PM Abhisit needs to be backed up with actions to demonstrate its sincerity ... [including] the lifting of the current state of emergency, the freedom for people to move and assemble for political purposes free of intimidation and harassment by soldiers and police armed with weapons, the return to air of the People Television Channel, and the lifting of censorship and blocking of media and websites supportive of the Red Shirt movement to name a few.”

Natthawut said speculation over the last couple of days that the Red Shirts would dismantle their stage, tents and barricades at Ratchaprasong was pure conjecture.

“We’ve said we agree to the points outlined in the Abhisit plan, but now we want proof he can deliver what he has offered. This government has used the might of the Thai Army against peaceful protesters, injuring more than 1000 people and causing the death of 27 others.

“We want proof that the reconciliation plan is more than just words crafted for the international and community and Bangkok elite.”

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