Military Big Brother Stinks of Fascism
Giles Ji Ungpakorn
The military junta is waging a psychological war against pro-democracy activists. Soldiers have raided the homes of prominent red shirts, community radio broadcasters and other pro-democracy activists. Many have been arrested.
At least one woman was forced into a taxi by 4 plain-clothed police or soldiers who refused to identify themselves. Luckily she has now been freed from military detention.
Since the coup progressive academics, redshirt activists and investigative journalists have been summoned to report to army offices. Most have been temporarily detained without charge in military camps outside Bangkok before eventually being released.
None of those who have been summoned or arrested or those who have had their houses searched by armed soldiers has committed any crime. Meanwhile Sutep’s Democrat Party gang, who used violence on the streets and openly carried weapons to intimidate voters, have been allowed to go free. There are no summonses for all those academics and activists who stood against democracy. Military repression is directly only against red shirts and other pro-democracy activists.
People who have been through the process of being summoned and temporarily interned by the military have talked about their experiences. They are interrogated by many army officers who report back about peoples’ attitudes to Army HQ every day. The military has compiled files of all their activities, writings, speeches and internet posts.
Before people are released they are asked to sign a document stating that they were “well treated” and that they will refrain from any further political activities, speeches or writings. People are not given the choice of whether or not to sign because any refusal will mean facing a military court and then prison. Soldiers tell them that this is a “yellow card” warning. Any further activity will result in immediate imprisonment.
When released, many people are told that they have been assigned an army officer to monitor their behaviour. Some receive telephone calls reminding them of this.
Some detainees are “set-up” with Lèse-majesté charges and now face years in prison.
The junta is clearly trying to spread fear in society in order to destroy the democracy movement. Fear often leads to paralysis. People who have not been summoned or detained wonder when they will be next.
This is the first time since 1976 when Thais will have to wage an underground struggle against the junta. This struggle will have to be based on the mass movement, not on armed struggle. The junta isn’t a fully developed fascist regime, as in Germany or Italy, but it stinks a little of fascism.
While in a military detention camp, one experienced activist told his comrade that “we aren’t dogs that howl and whine when we get locked in a cage, we must not show the soldiers any weakness”. Many intellectuals have been brave enough to argue with their captors about the illegitimate coup.
We must overcome the fear and strike back in this war for democracy. The way to overcome fear, or at least to manage it and avoid paralysis, is for people to meet quietly together every day in small groups so that they can analyse the situation and discuss strategy and tactics. These groups need to carefully link up with other groups. Actions against the junta will necessarily be “symbolic” in the early stages, but more powerful activities like strikes, protests and civil disobedience need to be planned. This will be a long drawn out struggle, but the enemies of the people are a minority and they do not have a future; they can only hark back to the past.