Wednesday, June 8, 2011

THAILAND - A year later, the wounds remain open

Those in the ranks of the ruling elite, believed that by suppressing their opponents in the blood - the violence [of April and May 2010] that killed 92 people in both camps, but especially in the "red shirts", and having done more than a thousand wounded - they had achieved their purpose would do well to think twice.

For now, the red shirts are even more critical and more angry against the establishment they accuse of orchestrating all the political manipulation behind the scenes over the years, especially since the military coup of 2006 [which overthrew Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra]. The country has marked May 19 the first anniversary of the crackdown, and many red shirts seem more than ever determined to continue the fight, not only on behalf of their political idol Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister pursued by justice but also in memory of their fallen loved ones in the streets of Bangkok in 2010.

A year later, none of these deaths has been cleared by the authorities. Not one person has been brought to trial. And, frankly, nobody expected that this impunity ends, while the army is working now to arrogate more power to vote and a larger budget after self-proclaimed guardian of national security and the monarchy.

Essentially, the rage and resentment expressed covertly now, because of laws that restrict freedom of political expression, like the law on computer crime and the crime of lese-majeste. Under cover of these two texts, the authorities have carried out numerous arrests during the past year.

The red shirts have learned to talk politics in metaphors, coded words and innuendo. Some of their leaders, as Somyos Phrueksakasemsuk, editor of Red Power, and Surachai Sae-darn are behind bars within the ambit of the law on the crime of lese-majeste. Also, many of their supporters, rightly or wrongly, are now firmly convinced that they really do not enjoy equal rights in politics or the possibility to express their opinions and beliefs.

Since he began working for the newspaper there are nearly twenty years, never the author of these lines have so many people express such anger and such hatred against the elite, nor feel so deeply felt that the country lives under an unjust system and unfair. Maybe the red shirts doubt they can have full confidence in Thaksin's Thai party Pheu, but they feel they have no choice but to entrust their fate, and their votes.

Last year, shortly after the crackdown in May, Thai society has seen Sombat Boom-ngam-Anong, the head of Bloody Sunday, turning into a political actor capable of organizing rallies and peaceful and innovative activities to challenge Decree on state of emergency. Imprisoned without cause during a short period he has been all the more visible.

Today, his page on Facebook, regularly updated, is a kind of virtual political school, twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, as the reds of the middle class. Another unintended consequence of repression, those who are victims of these draconian laws receive more attention from the international community.

Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai. com, and Somsak Jiamteerasakul historian Thammasat University, are two examples. At the end of 2010, Chiranuch, which manages Prachatai. com, website and left a supporter of red shirts, was charged in accordance with the law on computer crime, not to be removed quickly enough from his website offensive comments vis-à-vis the monarchy, which it did was not the author.

She faces a maximum sentence of fifty years of combined prison. Prachatai. com is now the epitome of the struggle for freedom of expression in Thailand. Similarly, the historian and Somsak red shirt was the victim of unintended consequences when, on May 12, he found himself propelled into the front page of the International Herald Tribune after being charged with two of his articles under the law on the crime of lese-majeste.

The company is a very complex thing, and when considered unjust acts are committed, we must learn to distrust their unpredictable consequences.

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