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  1. #1
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    11/04/2014 : Rivals mourn clash victims

    Rivals mourn clash victims

    Pro- and anti-government demonstrators have held separate ceremonies to mark the fourth anniversary of the crackdown on demonstrators in Bangkok on April 10, 2010.

    Leaders of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship attend a religious ceremony at the Imperial World department store on Lat Phrao Road yesterday to remember compatriots killed during the April 10, 2010 clashes.

    (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

    Leaders of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) conducted a religious ceremony at the Imperial World department store on Lat Phrao Road in Bangkok Thursday to mark the 4th anniversary of the clash between the red-shirt protesters and military officers at Khok Wua intersection, which claimed 26 lives including five soldiers and one Reuters journalist.

    The UDD was calling for the ouster of the Democrat Party-led government at the time.

    UDD leaders Thursday gave donations to nine Buddhist monks in a press conference room on the sixth floor of the department store and then offered lunch to the monks on the fifth floor of the premises. A group of UDD members also joined the ceremony at the department store Thursday.
    UDD members screened video presentations of the crackdowns on the red-shirt protests in 2010.

    Another red-shirt movement known as the People's Radio for Democracy Group held its own religious ceremony in front of the office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission to remember those killed on April 10, 2010.

    PRDG spokesman Sornrak Malaithong said his demonstrators would leave for their homes to celebrate the Songkran festival and return to Bangkok on April 18.

    Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), led his demonstrators to Din So Road near the Democracy Monument in Bangkok Thursday to remember the soldiers who were killed there four years ago, including operational commander Gen Romklao Thuwatham.

    Mr Suthep was then deputy prime minister and director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation dealing with the UDD protests.
    Mr Suthep said Thursday soldiers had tried to protect democracy and the general public but they were attacked with war weapons.

    According to Mr Suthep, during the April 10 incident, he prohibited soldiers from using weapons and five soldiers were killed there.

    Mr Suthep said Thursday the death of the soldiers on April 10, 2010 had caused great caused sorrow to the Thai people and he would always remember that troops had made enormous contributions to the country.

    He and his PDRC demonstrators placed flowers on the road where the soldiers were killed and observed a moment of silence.

    Leaders of other anti-government movements, namely the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism and the Dhamma Army, also joined the PDRC ceremony.

    Relatives of the soldiers killed in the incident made merit at nearby Wat Bowon Niwet Thursday morning.

    People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters lay roses near the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue to mark the fourth anniversary of the April 10, 2010 clashes between troops and red-shirt protesters.

    (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

  2. #2
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    Subdued Vigil Marks Red Crackdown Anniversary

    (10 April) The Redshirts have marked the anniversary of the military crackdown on their protests 4 years ago, while anti-government protesters held a separate vigil for the soldiers who died in the operation.

    The Redshirts had been occupying Ratchadamnoen Avenue and the financial district in Bangkok for weeks to demand a fresh election when former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva authorised the military to disperse the protest campsite around Democracy Monument on 10 April.

    The operation failed to dislodge the protesters, and dragged on into a night of chaos. Masked gunmen allied to the Redshirts later appeared and exchanged gunfire with the soldiers, while the troops responded by firing live ammunition towards the demonstrators, before Mr. Abhisit eventually called off the operation.

    By the next morning, 29 people were dead, including five soldiers and a Japanese cameraman who was working for Reuters. Another military crackdown in May 2010 finally brought the protests to an end, with a total death toll of more than 90 lives.

    Bangkok is experiencing a reverse situation on the 4th anniversary of the "Bloody April" crackdown, with the Prime Minister elected by the Redshirts in power and anti-government protesters led by a deputy of Mr. Abhisit at the time occupying parts of Bangkok, calling for the election in Thailand to be suspended until their demands for nation "reforms" are met.

    The Redshirts chose to mark the anniversary with simple exhibition detailing the incident on 10 April 2010 at Imperial World Lat Phrao shopping mall in eastern Bangkok, and a Buddhist ceremony in the morning in memory of Redshirts demonstrators who lost their lives 4 years ago.

    The exhibition also featured a musical performance and speeches by core leaders of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) in the evening.

    The low-profile event contrasts with mass rallies called by the UDD to commemorate the 10 April crackdown in previous years. Mr. Jatupon Prompan, chairman of the UDD, explained that the idea of holding a rally around Democracy Monument was abandoned due to the presence of anti-government protesters who are encamped near the monument.

    "We don't want to provoke any violence, it may affect our brothers and sisters," Mr. Jatupon said.

    A separate ceremony to honour Redshirts demonstrators killed in the violence was conducted by a UDD splinter group in their rally in front of the National Anti-Corruption Commission HQ in Nonthabuir province.

    In an ironic twist, a group of anti-government protesters also briefly rallied on Ratchadamnoen Avenue to mark the 4th anniversary of the crackdown, led by Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, sec-gen of the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD) and former Deputy Prime Minister who oversaw the deadly crackdown 4 years ago.

    However, the PCAD vigil was more focused on the soldiers who lost their lives in the crackdown, including Col. Romklao Thuwatham, a field commander of the attacking troops at the time.

    The demonstrators later marched back to their rally site in Lumpini Park without any incident.

    Mr. Suthep and Mr. Abhisit are facing murder charges for their roles in the 2010 crackdown, though Mr. Suthep has postponed his appearance to the court, citing the need to lead his protests against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Both men contested the charge, insisting that any death in the crackdown was caused by shadowy armed militants.

    Nevertheless, previous court inquests have indicated that a number of civilians have been killed by soldiers operating under the orders of Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep, including the six civilians who took shelter in a Buddhist temple on 19 May 2010.

  3. #3
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    The Real Tragedy Of 2010 Crackdown

    It was the Democrat administration who ordered the crackdown in 2010, but the Pheu Thai government has also failed to address the suffering of those affected by the violence.

    Today marks the fourth anniversary of the decision by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to - in the words often recited by the Redshirts - "give coffins to those who were asking for ballot boxes".

    On 10 April 2010, soldiers acting under the order of the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) which was chaired by Mr. Abhisit and his deputy at the time, Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, moved against demonstrators who were occupying stretches of Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok in their bid to call for a fresh election.

    Mr. Abhisit's decision left more than 20 people dead, mostly protesters, by the time the operation was called off. It was the bloodiest confrontation Thailand has seen in decades, but it was merely the beginning of a far more devastating outcome; the military later crushed the Redshirts in May 2010, resulting in a total body count of at least 90 people.

    The damage from the crackdown extends beyond the loss of lives: Thai society has become far more polarised than ever before, some factions of the Redshirts turned to radicalisation, while dozens of political prisoners have languished in prison since the final days of the military operation in 2010.

    Hopes were stirred among the Redshirts and human rights activists in Thailand when Yingluck Shinawatra surged to power via a landslide election victory in 2011, with a promise that her government would pursue legal prosecution against the perpetrators of the 2010 crackdown, and issue amnesty bills for ordinary citizens who had been jailed simply because they were caught up in the chaos of the protests.

    Over the next few years, we saw debates surrounding the amnesty idea, mainly about who should and should not benefit from the amnesty. The prevailing consensus among the public, and among the Redshirts supporters, was that only protesters of all sides should be dissolved from the any pending legal cases against them, while political leaders, officials, and politicians should be excluded from the plan.

    However, in November 2013, Pheu Thai Party, most likely egged on by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, eventually came up with "Blanket Amnesty" or "All-in-Basket Amnesty" which threw everyone onboard, including Mr. Thaksin himself.

    The bill would have not have only dissolved corruption convictions against Mr. Thaksin; it was written in a such a way it could absolve any responsibility for Mr. Thaksin in his heavy handed approach to the southern insurgency in 2005 as well, raising the speculation that the amnesty bill was designed only for the helmsman of Pheu Thai Party.

    The plan offends members of virtually all political sides and segments of Thai society. Outrage turned into street protests. The street protests forced Ms. Yingluck to hastily withdraw all amnesty plans from the Parliament, and she later dissolved the House in December last year.

    Now the administration of Ms. Yingluck seems doomed, along with any hope of amnesty plan for the political prisoners who are still imprisoned.

    Because of its misguided pursuit of the "Blanket Amnesty", Pheu Thai Party ended up sabotaging the hopes that these prisoners could be freed from their captivity, back into the embrace of their families and friends.

    Furthermore, it is also incredible that the Pheu Thai-led administration has not bothered to at least sign the order, via the legitimate channel of the Ministry of Justice, to grant these imprisoned citizens a temporary release throughout the previous years as a government.

    Although the court procedure against Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep, who have been charged with murders due to their roles in authorising the 2010 crackdown, still continues, it is unclear whether any justice will be administered if (or, some would say, when) the new power clique replaces Ms. Yingluck's government. Most likely, the new government, hostile to Pheu Thai Party, will order all court procedures to a halt once they take power.

    The Pheu Thai Party has unwittingly unleashed the force of anti-democracy by handing them the Blanket Amnesty Bill as a rallying point. In doing so, that force of anti-democracy is now allowed to threaten any chance of achieving the first legal prosecution and punishment of Thai state officials for their crimes against their own citizens.

    It has been four years since the first shot flew over Democracy Monument on that fateful April night, yet so little has been achieved by Pheu Thai Party, in spite of the votes and trust the Redshirts have offered them.

    There is no question that the widespread violence 4 years ago was tragic, but what is even more tragic is the missed opportunities by Pheu Thai Party to at least ease the suffering of those affected by the crackdown in the years that followed.

    This is the real tragedy of 2010 crackdown.

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