Giles Ji Ungpakorn
After pretending that it wasn’t a coup when they initially declared martial law two days ago, the military has now admitted that in fact it is a coup with General Prayut Chanocha as head of the military junta. This will come as no surprise to anyone except some naïve commentators.
It is the second military coup in 8 years and follows 3 judicial coups, the last of which overthrew elected Prime Minister Yingluk.
Over the last couple of days the military has taken control of all mass media, shut down redshirt satellite and community stations, raided bookshops to remove “political books” and started to increase even further the censorship of the internet. The raiding of bookshops and libraries was last carried out in Thailand after the brutal 6th October 1976 bloodbath and coup.
They have now cut foreign media broadcasts and announced a curfew.
Following the “official” announcement of the coup, Prayut claimed that he “had no choice” but to step in to protect peace and security. He is lying. The army sat on its hands for months and watched Sutep’s mob take over government buildings, use armed violence on the streets and then wreck the February elections.
Prayut is also lying when he claims that the army will now “reform” Thai politics. The military are the main obstacle to democracy, freedom and social justice in Thailand. What the military and the other anti-democrats really have in mind is to fix the system so that the democratic space is reduced. They also want any elected governments, after elections in the distant future, to be powerless and under the control of unelected forces.
General Prayut is a man with blood on his hands. Four years ago he oversaw the shooting down in the streets of almost ninety redshirt demonstrators.
Democracy can only be built if significant numbers of redshirts realise that Pua Thai and the redshirt leadership are unwilling to lead a fight. Taksin is a billionaire who does not want to lead an all-out struggle for democracy. The building of an independent pro-democracy movement based upon the redshirts, with clear links to the progressive working class and peasantry is long over-due.