Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai academic, socialist, and dissident currently wanted for lèse majesté shares this analysis of the Red Shirt movement as they prepare to conclude their Bangkok protests.
Red Shirt protests in Bangkok, which started in mid-March are about to be wound up. The leaders have accepted a compromise with the military-backed Abhisit government. Elections will not be held immediately, but on 14th November. Earlier Abihist had indicated an election in February 2011 at the earliest.
It is unclear whether the blanket censorship will be lifted. One clear demand that the Red Shirt leaders are expecting is that the Red Shirt TV channel (People Channel TV) will be allowed back on air. It is unclear whether websites like Prachatai will be unblocked. Another demand is that the law be applied equally to all. The Government claims that tomorrow the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will “surrender” to the police regarding charges of murdering citizens back on 10th April. But it is unclear whether any real charges will be filed against them.
Nothing has been said about the political prisoners, both those in jail for lese majeste and those in jail for blocking roads during the recent protest.
On Friday, Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled to seize over $1B in assets from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was deposed in a coup in 2006 on the pretext that he used his position to benefit his private businesses. The ruling prompted a few protests lead by the overthrown government’s red-clad supporters but the coup regime used the ruling to turn Bangkok into something of a police state.
Last week, Thai politics worked its way back onto Western newscasts when the supreme court in Bangkok convicted Thaksin Shinawatra on corruption charges and ordered the seizure of his assets. His conviction ostensibly lent legitimacy to the coup which forced him from power but as we all know, the first casualty of any war is the truth. What should we really know about Thaksin’s trial, its predictable conclusion, and the recent actions of the government?
The trial was supposed to “prove” that Taksin had used his position as Prime Minister to bring in regulations favouring his mobile phone company. Yet it was merely a political trial to give legitimacy to the illegal 2006 coup. A trial held in a society with double standards in applying the law and a judiciary eager to serve the generals.