Violence begets violence

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Indiscriminate violence against ordinary people, whether they be involved in politics or not, is always appalling and serves no progressive or democratic purpose. The recent killing of children is even worse. We have no idea who has been committing these latest atrocities in Bangkok or in Trat and it would be foolish to make wild guesses. It could be those on the side of dictatorship who want to create conditions favourable for a military coup or the resignation of Yingluk and it could also be disgruntled hot heads from the Red Shirt movement who are angry with the impunity of Sutep’s mob.

However, we must never lose sight of the fact that the violence in Thailand’s political crisis was started by the military when they used force to overthrow the democratically elected government in 2006. The military and the Democrat Party then shot down Red Shirt pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok in 2010. Among the dead was a young boy.

Since the beginning of the year Sutep’s thugs have been openly carrying automatic weapons in the streets and they have been filmed using them against unarmed civilians. They used systematic violence to intimidate voters. Yet no one has been arrested and the conservative elites, mainstream academics, NGO leaders and mainstream media have done all in their power to condone or ignore Sutep’s mob violence.

Violence and intimidation has been used by the anti-democratic side against progressive academics and activists like Sombat Bun-ngarmanong.

We must also put this political violence in a wider context. Over the last month children and adult civilians have been gunned down in the Patani region, probably by the Thai security forces. Sometimes they pose as separatists, like in the most recent incident when a crude note was exposed as not being written by anyone with a proper knowledge of Yawi or Malay.

Systematic state violence against civilians has taken place in 1973, 1976, 1992 and in 2004 and also in Taksin’s war on drugs. The real source of violence is the Thai ruling class. They create the conditions to breed more violence.

The solution is to establish standards of human rights by punishing the state actors and big men who commit these crimes. Today that means bringing Sutep, the generals, Abhisit and Taksin to court. The democratic space needs to be expanded and strengthened. All those who have been involved in destroying democracy since 2006 are only shedding crocodile tears over the recent tragedies.