A semblance of calm has returned to Bangkok as the royalist anti-democratic Yellow Shirt protesters were allowed to symbolically occupy Government House. They took pictures and left. A temporary truce has occurred around the king’s birthday (December 5), since the royalists did not want to appear disrespectful to their “dear leader”.
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a long time left-wing union and democracy activist in Thailand, has been in jail since April 30, 2011. He faces a further 10 years jail under the repressive lese majeste (insulting the monarch) law. Somyot became active in the democracy movement as a high school student in the 1970s. In the '80s, he became a key figure in building genuine, democratic unionism.
The death in prison of poor odd-job man Aa-Kong (also known as Ah Kong) is yet another indication of the barbarity of the lese majeste (insulting the monarch) law, the injustice of the Thai legal system and the brutality of the Thai ruling class. The fact that he was refused bail to get medical treatment, and the that the prison authorities waited three days after he became ill before sending him to the prison clinic, is an indication of the terrible conditions in Thai prisons.
The statement below was initiated by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), in solidarity with workers' rights and pro-democracy activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk ― jailed in April last year under the lese-majeste (insulting the monarch) law. It has been signed by the Australian Socialist Alliance, the Party of the Masses in the Philippines, the Indonesian People's Liberation Party, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Unions Alliance (KASBI), Indonesia, and the Labour Party Pakistan . * * *
Serious flooding in Thailand has affected millions of people. Houses, property and infrastructure have been seriously damaged. Factories and workplaces have been closed and hundreds of thousands of people have become temporarily unemployed. Agricultural land has been flooded, leading to further loss of incomes. Millions of people who are living modest lives will have their incomes and savings drastically lowered and the economy will be dragged down. The waters are predicted to remain high for at least a month.
The results of Thailand's July 3 general election are a slap in the face for the dictatorship. They prove without any doubt that most people have rejected the military, the Democrat Party (PP) and the royalist elites. Pheu Thai Party (PTP), the party closely allied to the Red Shirt pro-democracy movement, won a clear majority. The result is all the more remarkable, given the election was held under conditions of severe censorship and intimidation of the Red Shirt democracy movement by the military and the military-installed PP government of Abhisit Vejjajiva.
Sombat Boonngamanong is a long-time NGO activist in Thailand and has been of great help to renewing public Red Shirt activity following the bloody April-May military crackdown. Lee Yu Kyung spoke to him about the prospects for the democracy movement in Thailand. * * *
Thousands of supporters of Thailand’s Red Shirt movement (the popular name for the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) once again turned Bangkok’s busy Ratchaprasong Intersection into a sea of red on November 19. Protesters turned out in their thousands to mark six months since the military attacked and dispersed a mass protest camp that occupied the area in April and May. More than 90 people were killed and thousands injured. Hundreds of protesters are still imprisoned.
Sombat Boonngamanong, a cultural activist and NGO organiser, was not a central leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (popularly known as the Red Shirts) when their mass protest camp at the Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of Bangkok was bloodily dispersed by the Thai military on May 19. Thousands were injured and 91 killed in the crackdown. Hundreds remain political prisoners. But Sombat has since emerged as a popular figure in the dramatic Red Shirts' resurgence over the last month.
Popular Thai newspaper Prachatai has reported that, a woman was arrested on October 3 at a freedom bike ride by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship supporters (popularly known as the Red Shirts) in Ayutthaya for selling slippers with Thailand’s military-installed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s face on them. The slippers were printed with the message, “People died at Ratchaprasong” — referring to the May 19 military massacre against the Red Shirts’ mass protest camp in Bangkok.