Letter from Thailand

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(336)

After the brutal repression of anti-government protests last month Comrade Sung gives her assessment of the movement

After the announcement by the core members of the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD, or the "Red Shirts") on 14 April that we were to abandon the protests, I was on the road to attend a meeting of the Missing Peoples Complaint Centre at the 14 October Memorial building in the centre of Bangkok.

Many soldiers stood guard at the expressway toll gates and intersections along the way. All of a sudden a comrade called to tell me, "Don't come to Rachadamnern because the soldiers are down the road and will 'hunt down' the protesters - they will reach the memorial building soon." I had to turn back and postpone the meeting.

My stress, fear and anxiety were not unlike how many other people would respond to the announcement of the state of emergency. This fascist provision gives the green light to use warfare weaponry against protesters, and to kill and arrest without proper charges. The scenes of the military dispersing protesters throughout Bangkok remind me of how they didn't need to justify themselves during the coup of 2006 - the coup that our comrade Ji Ungpakorn (now in exile in Britain) defined as "the coup for the rich".

Turn Left, the socialist group to which I belong, has entered into an alliance with the Red Shirts. We oppose the coup and its totalitarianism that has been sabotaging Thai democracy. The People's Alliance for Democracy administration rose to power through support from the military and the privy councillors. The tanks and infantries blocking the traffic and the violence of the "13 April bloodshed" speak for themselves.

Compare this to the military's inaction against the reactionary "Yellow Shirts" during the prolonged occupation of the government building and Suvarnabhumi Airport. While the Yellow Shirt guards are armed with firearms, knives, blunt weapons and explosives, and have even broken into the government's broadcasting station, no arrest or prosecution has been made.

Many Red Shirts hold deep respect and affection for the ex prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, thus making him appear to be the leader of this movement. We stand together on the common ground of opposing the coup and totalitarian influences while safeguarding democratic participation in grassroots elections.

The movement opposes the Yellow Shirts' proposal to introduce "new order politics" that offer more privileges to the ruling class while disenfranchising the poor from political participation and the exercise of their rights. We also oppose the government's use of lèse majesté, or insulting the monarchy, as a weapon against the progressive movements. We are against the national security laws responsible for numerous shutdowns of various progressive websites.

While Turn Left collaborates with the Red Shirts, we discuss and criticise certain propositions from Thaksin. We want to motivate people to empower themselves and take their own lead. Turn Left's proposals are for social and political reforms, abolition of the 2007 constitution that originated from the coup, and building a welfare state to reduce inequality.

Today we're inspiring a progressive red movement (Red Move) made up of people from various subgroups within the Red Shirts. The Red Shirts are in a grave situation after the dispersal of the demonstrations, with their leaders announcing their surrender. Websites and radio stations are being closed and local core members of the Red Shirts being hunted down.

With the methods of operating undergoing changes there will be a chance to provide leadership in this crisis and we are ready to put our courage and determination over our fears and anxieties. We will stand as united as ever. The battle lines between our allies and the enemies are clear. The Red Shirts are angry and this will fuel our determination to fight. We are prepared to learn from other people's experiences and welcome suggestions from socialist comrades throughout the world.

I am on the road to the next meeting of Red Move with a heart full of hope that the discussion between comrades will recharge my resolve.


The name of the writer has been changed for security reasons