When the White House is quiet as protesters are butchered in the streets of Bangkok, suspicions are raised. Silence often equals complicity. One can only imagine what the US government’s response would be to a Venezuelan government slaughter: the US media and US President Barack Obama would loudly condemn such an act. The history of US-Thailand relations explains why. During the Vietnam War, the US used Thailand as one of the main “anti-communist” bulwarks in an area that included China, Vietnam and other countries that were challenging capitalism.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai socialist in exile in Britain after being charged with lese majeste (insulting the monarch). He is a member of Left Turn Thailand. Ji Ungpakorn’s blog, Wdpress.blog.co.uk, covers the struggle for democracy in Thailand, and the brutal repression meted out by the military backed regime. On May 25, the blog listed the names of all the pro-democracy Red Shirt protesters being hunted down by the regime — 66 arrest warrants had been issued and 21 people were already in custody.
On May 25, 70 people protested outside the Thai embassy in Jakarta in solidarity with the pro-democracy Red Shirts in Thailand. The protest was jointly called by the Working Peoples Association (PRP), the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), the Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI); the Indonesian Nasional Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI); the National Student League for Democracy (LMND)
MELBOURNE — Protesters added their voices to the international day of solidarity with the democracy movement in Thailand on May 20, gathering outside the offices of Thai Airways. May 20 is the anniversary of the end of Black May in 1992, when the Thai government used the military against thousands of pro-democracy protesters. The rally demanded the military end its repression, not just for the sake of Thai workers, but because it gave confidence to other governments to use force against workers everywhere.
The 74-day long mobilisation for democracy that shut down the centre of Bangkok ended when the leaders of the Red Shirts movement surrendered on May 20. The surrender came after the Thai army launched an armoured assault on the capital. The military used bulldozers and tanks to destroy the Red Shirts’ four-metre high bamboo and tyre barricades. More than 75 protesters and two soldiers have been killed since the protests began in March. At least one of the soldiers was shot accidentally by another soldier.
May 17 If the military-backed government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajia dissolved parliament, announced fresh elections and ordered a cease fire, the violence would end immediately and the Red Shirts would all go home. Since the start of the latest bloody crackdown on May 13, the death toll in Bangkok, as of May 17, is 35, all civilians, except one air force personnel, all killed by the army. If you include the deaths from the April crack down, Abhisit is now responsible for 65 deaths with 1669 injured in order that his military-backed government can stay in power.
The following statement was released on May 15 by the Socialist Party of Malaysia.
Since March 14, Bangkok has been paralysed by mass pro-democracy protests. The protesters known as “Red Shirts”, have demanded the resignation of unelected Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and new elections. Abhisit came to power in December through the overthrow of a democratically elected government by right-wing “Yellow Shirt” gangs, assisted by the military and elements of the royal family.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva trumpeted that he was making an important initiative on May 3 to “solve” the political crisis. The country has been wracked by protests demanding the government — which was never elected — hold elections. The current government was installed after a military coup, far-right “Yellow Shirt” protests and judicial rulings that gave more power to the military. On May 3, Abhisit offered to dissolve parliament in September and hold elections on November 14. Previously, he had said he would not dissolve parliament until December.
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. *** UDD leaders have again debunked speculation that the Red Shirt rally at Ratchaprasong will soon be packing up and the protesters returning home.
A sea of about 150 red shirts packed a restaurant in Cabramatta on April 25 to show solidarity with the democracy struggle in Thailand, led by the "Red Shirt" movement. Organised by Thai Red Australia, the night had added importance due to the threat of a military crackdown as thousands of Red Shirts occupied central Bangkok. Speakers urged active support for the democracy uprising, in the face of brutal military attacks that have killed more than 20 civilians.
In a democratic society, when there is a deep crisis, it is customary for the government to dissolve parliament and call elections in order for the people to decide. This happened in Britain and France after mass strikes and demonstrations in the 1960s and 1970s. After mass right-wing “Yellow Shirt” protests against the government in Bangkok in 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai (TRT) government dissolved parliament and called elections.