Thailand: Appeal against repression

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has used the repressive legal arsenal (accusations of conspiracy against the monarchy and of te

News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children, injured people chained to their hospital beds and several assassinations of local leaders of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement.

The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of most Thai citizens.

Thai society is deeply unequal. The Red Shirts have made clear their determination to fight the injustices they suffer: they are a class movement.

The Red Shirt movement is not without divisions and problems. Some support the return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a corrupt politician. But overwhelmingly, the movement expresses the revolt of the downtrodden demanding democracy and social justice.

By demonstrating in the streets, the Red Shirts exercised the basic right to express one’s political views and demands. Abhisit bears full responsibility for the repression and the casualties because, rather than holding meaningful negotiations, he gambled, in vain, on the disintegration of the movement.

He then used the repressive legal arsenal (accusations of conspiracy against the monarchy and of terrorism) and finally organised a bloodbath.

The appeal published below has two simple aims: to kick-start international solidarity, and call on the Thai regime to stop the repression against the Red Shirts and to respect fundamental freedoms.

More than a hundred university lecturers, researchers, writers, journalists, trade union and political activists and elected representatives from all regions of the world have already signed the appeal.

To sign, please email solidaritythailand@gmail.com. Visit www.europe-solidaire.org for the full list of signatures.

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For more than two months, the Red Shirts have mobilised with decisiveness and purpose in the streets of Bangkok to support their demands of democracy and social justice.

The government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva chose to respond to these demands with violence and repression. It committed a serious violation against human rights when it authorised the use of military hardware to dissolve the demonstrations. The result was extremely serious: there were at least 89 dead and nearly 2000 wounded.

Today, democratic rights are not respected. There are 99 arrest warrants against opponents. The places where most of the detainees are held are kept secret.

The government has imposed censorship on the alternative media. The penalties incurred are especially severe: from three-to-15 years for “lese majesty” to the death penalty for “terrorism”.

The Red Shirts are being treated as if they were “terrorists”. It is a complex movement, but its members are mainly ordinary poor people whose most elementary political rights — like the respect due to the result of an election — have been ignored.

The Thai government can continue to repress the Thai people freely, because its constant violations against human rights have not been confronted by international solidarity and condemnation.

We make a call to all progressive and democratic organisations to demand an end to the repression and the respect of fundamental rights in Thailand; to start an international campaign to obtain the freedom of political prisoners and the end of intimidation of the Red Shirts.

We demand the Thai government lifts the state of emergency and immediately re-establishes democratic freedoms in the country; that it ends the repression against the Red Shirts; and that all prisoners are freed without any delay.

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