Regional left statement: Thailand needs democracy!

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); Working People's Association (PRP) of Indonesia, People’s Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, Turn Left Thailand, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) of the Philippines, Socialist Alliance of Australia, and Solidarity (Australia) issued the following statement on April 10.The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); Working People's Association (PRP) of Indonesia, People's Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, Turn Left Thailand, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) of the Philippines, Socialist Alliance of Australia, and Solidarity (Australia) issued the following statement on April 10.

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We are deeply concerned about the situation in Thailand, where military-backed Prime Minister Ahbisit Vejjajiva has declared a state of emergency and started a bloody crackdown amid escalating protests calling for fresh elections.

The Thai government has closed down all opposition media and given sweeping new powers to the security forces to prepare for a violent crackdown on the Red Shirt protesters.

Thai troops are using excessive force including tanks and live ammunition, against pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok.

The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), better known as the "Red Shirts", has relaunched massive protests against the military-installed, unelected Ahbisit government. This pro-democracy movement is made up of rural and urban poor, who are standing up against military-backed, oligarchic rule.

The crisis unfolded in September 2006, when the military staged a coup against the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, scrapped the 1997 popular constitution and replaced it with a military-sanctioned constitution.

The royalist Yellow Shirts started to organise fascistic demonstrations when the pro-Thaksin party won in the 2007 election. The current government was installed by the military after the Yellow Shirt mobilisations and a coup by the court.

The government, the army and the Yellow Shirts are afraid to face real democratic elections, as they know that they would lose since the majority of the poor support the Red Shirts.

Ahbisit and the ruling elite are refusing the call for elections and are trying to buy time, preparing for a violent crackdown. It is becoming clear that Ahbisit and the old elite are taking the country towards a fascist dictatorship.

Thailand has entered a new phase of class war. The old ruling elite, with the backing of the military, is using all means to scrap democracy in Thailand.

The pro-democracy Red Shirts make upof the majority of the working class, peasantry and poor. They have shown their real popularity and mobilising strength, which has definitely shaken the royalists and the military. With the broadening of the masses' support for the Red Shirts, it could be a new and important step in the struggle of the ordinary people in Thailand for the restoration of democracy and social justice.

We call for:
• The immediate resignation of the military-installed Ahbisit government and the holding of fresh democratic elections;
• a halt to all forms of violent crackdown against Red Shirt protesters. Respect the right of the people to organise, to protest and to strike;
• a halt to the suppression of democratic rights and clampdown on the media; and
• the Thai government to not resort to any military coup.

The current crisis in Thailand can only be resolved through genuine democracy and people's power. We extend our support and solidarity to all workers, peasants and poor in Thailand who are struggling against the anti-democratic government and for the restoration of real democracy.