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.
Thirty people gathered at Sandon Point's Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) on September 23 in a show of opposition to the reported destruction of native bushland and Aboriginal artefacts over the past two weeks by developer Stockland. Activists conducted a non-violent direct action workshop and hung banners on a highway bridge at the bottom of Bulli Pass.
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.
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.
Fresh claims have emerged that an Indonesian “counter-terrorism” unit that receives Australian funding and training has perpetrated human rights abuses against independence campaigners in Maluku and West Papua.
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 below was initiated by Working People Association (Indonesia) and Network of Progressive Youth Burma. It was released on September 16. Other left groups from the Asian region that have signed it are: the Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance; the All Nepal Federation of Trade Unions; the Socialist Party of Malaysia; Socialist Alliance (Australia); and Socialist Alternative (Australia). If your organisation would like to sign, email email@example.com. * * *
After a record high vote for the Greens in the August 21 federal election, it did not take long for the corporate media to get its claws out. In particular, Rupert Murdoch-owned News Ltd’s flagship newspaper The Australian has been called out for its string of critical stories and headlines targeting the Greens. In a September 9 editorial, the paper responded to Greens Senator Bob Brown's criticism that the paper was openly attacking the Greens-Labor deal, saying the Greens “are bad for the nation; and ... should be destroyed at the ballot box”.
As the people of Australia face acute shortages in health, public transport, housing and welfare, the federal and NSW governments will spend about $3 million to get Oprah Winfrey — the US talk-show host and billionaire — to visit Australia. Wait a minute, WHAT? Winfrey will fly to Australia in December — with 300 members of her audience — to shoot several episodes of her talk show. It has been reported that the federal government will chip in $1.5 million to the trip; the NSW government with throw in a further $1-2 million.