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.
According to a report in Prachatai, a popular Thai newspaper, a woman was arrested at freedom bike ride by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship supporters (popularly known as the Red Shirts) in Thailand’s historic city of 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.
On September 19, tens of thousands of pro-democracy Red Shirts returned to the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok to remember the military coup that took place four years ago, as well as the murder of about 90 unarmed demonstrators in April and May. Then, many of the protesters were gunned down by army snipers near Ratchaprasong. Since the brutal killings by the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva junta, there has been a climate of fear. Hundreds of political prisoners have been locked up and there is evidence of extrajudicial killings of Red Shirt activists.
On September 19, about tens of thousands of protesters from Thailand’s resurgent Red Shirt movement (popular name for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship), took to the streets of Bangkok to defy the regime. Klaus Crimson, whose photographs of this historic rally can be seen at www.links.org.au, told Green Left Weekly: “It was truly an amazing experience. By 9am it was pretty clear to me that it might grow into something big.
Thailand Troubles said on September 19 that a motorcade of 150 vehicles made their way from Bangkok to Chiangmai for a rally of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), popularly known as the Red Shirts, that was expected to draw 10,000. A growing crowd of Red Shirts gathered since morning around Ratchaprasong Intersection, the site of the April-May mass protest camp of Red Shirts that was bloodily repressed by the military on May 19.
Chiang Mai, in Thailand’s north, is considered to be a stronghold of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement the popular name for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship — UDD). On August 29, 21-year-old local Red Shirt activist “James” Krissada Klaharn and his girlfriend Nongnuch Kampor were driving home at about 1.15am after a long day selling popular stickers at a roadside stall, when the killers struck. A vehicle with its headlights off pulled alongside and sprayed their cars with bullets. Krissada was hit in the legs, abdomen and shoulder.
The statement published below was released by the Thai Red Australia Group for Democracy. You can add your name to it here. * * * Four years ago on September 19, the Thai people were concerned about a very damaging coup that toppled an elected government and resulted in the political and economic crisis that persists today. This historical event was followed this year, on April 10 and May 19, by two tragic massacres. The Thai military shot down pro-democracy activists in the streets of Bangkok.