I was very delighted to see the big red shirt rally last weekend. However, we have not seen the progressive demands yet from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). However, the UDD response to the latest yellow shirt accusations was not very progressive. The yellow shirts claimed that the red shirt rally was full of migrant workers. In 1976 fascist groups made similar false accusations about students in Thammasat University by saying that they were Vietnamese communist infiltrators. This helped to legitimise the brutal killing of students and some of them were even burned alive. Today the Anti-Democrats and their friends want to use the same racist tactics again. Sadly, the majority of the red shirts are still under the influence of nationalist propaganda. They fought back by showing their Thai ID cards instead of showing solidarity with migrants. If we want to have equal rights we should see migrants as human beings too because we should believe in human dignity. The differences in language, ethnicity and skin colour should not be a barrier to building a progressive society. Better, more progressive, politics would help us get out of the current political crisis too. Let the yellow shirts breathe their filthy politics but we must not follow their rules. We need to be better in all aspects.
The red shirts should deny the concept of “Thainess”. The politics of “Thainess” seeks to enhance inequality and backwardness in society because it demands loyalty to the Thai ruling class. In reality greater harm is likely to come from the yellow shirts than from any migrants. Ordinary Burmese have suffered for a long time from political repression and they desperately need safe shelter and employment in Thailand. If the red shirts want a better society they need to show solidarity with them.
Migrants in Thailand work in hard, dirty and low paid jobs that Thai workers do not want. Examples are in the seafisheries or domestic jobs. Lots of them are being treated like slaves and some of them are killed by police or employers. There are NGOs groups who campaign for migrants rights but only a few Thais are in sympathy with them.
The migrants make a huge contribution to society which is good for all of us. The majority of migrants are young and therefore they can fill the gap left by older workers who retire. Thailand should legalise all of the illegal migrants and therefore they can pay taxes, have access to health care and education. Big cities in the world are full of migrants and this is an indicator that those countries have healthy economies. If migrants have equal rights in our country it means that our democracy is very strong. We should welcome migrant workers, not fall into the trap of the anti-democratic racists.
Our political goal should be to fight for a society that belongs to everyone, not only the elites. Migrants are not our enemy but those at the top are. Those who want to destroy democracy and kill citizens who hold different views are our real enemies.