Tag Archives: pro-democracy

Thai Junta’s continuing repression shows they have no plans for democracy

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The manner in which the military junta has treated the protests by the “People Who Want Elections” on the 4th anniversary of the military coup shows that they have no intention of restoring real democracy.

Before the planned protests soldiers and police were sent to activists houses as a crude form of intimidation. The parents of student leaders were told to rein-in their children. Trade unionists were also paid nasty visits at home. Road blocks were set up on approaches to Bangkok in order to deter people travelling from the countryside. The police lied that they were trying to look for weapons. The vehicle number plates of activists were placed on a black list. The person that provided the sound system for the protest was taken off to a military camp for an attitude changing session.

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security forces pay a visit to someone’s home to intimidate them

The anti-junta protest assembled at Thammasat University. Previously the university authorities, working hand in glove with the junta as usual, closed the football pitch, claiming they needed to destroy weeds!

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photo from BBC

Initially the police would not allow the protest to leave the university, but some people managed to evade police lines and get as far as the UN building where they read out a proclamation. The protest leaders were informed by police that they had broken “the law”. They then gave themselves up to the police and were detained for two nights in police stations before being taken to court.

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Visits to activist’s homes take place on a regular basis and some are followed around where ever they go. Soldiers deem it that they have a right to enter buildings and attend seminars and meetings without asking permission. There isn’t a single Thai-based pro-democracy activist who isn’t facing some charge or other.

A few days ago prominent members of Pua Thai Party, including junta critics Chaturon Chaisang and Watana Muangsook, were summoned by the police because they had given a press conference demanding an end to the junta. They were given a warning and released. At any time the junta could ban them from taking part in future elections or even order the dissolution of the party. Many believe that Pua Thai would win substantial numbers of votes in a future election.

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Chaturon Chaisang
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Watana Muangsuk

All this gives the lie to the junta’s laughable claim to “respect human rights” or to have a “road map” towards holding free and fair elections.

The latest rant by Generalissimo Prayut seeks to confirm that elections will be held in Thailand in early 2019. Election dates have been announced before and the junta’s record is littered with broken promises and bare-faced lies. However, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that the junta cannot carry on ruling as it does now for the next decade. The junta understand that they need to create the image of restoring democracy and holding elections. Otherwise popular opposition to the junta will increase and at some point they will be overthrown, a fate which befell most previous Thai military regimes.

The junta’s plan is to set its rules in concrete under the National Strategy and to place all its appointees in powerful positions in the Senate and the judiciary before elections are held. They have already forced through a military-inspired constitution. All this is in order to fix election rules, censor manifestoes of political parties and tie the hands of future elected governments to junta approved policies for the next 20 years. In addition they may even set up an “army party” with the hope of transforming Prayut into an “elected Prime Minister”, much like what happened in Egypt.

A number of political parties, including Pua Thai Party, Future Forward Party and the Commoners Party have stated that they would scrap the military constitution if they win enough seats in parliament. But without a mass movement on the streets to back them up this “illegal act”, according to the junta’s rules, cannot be achieved as it will be sabotaged by the Senate and the judiciary. Unfortunately none of these parties seems interested in building a mass social movement to fight for democracy. This is another reason why we need a genuine left party allied to workers.

[One photo in the featured image is from the BBC]
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Students call on people to rise up and oppose the junta

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

On the anniversary of the 24th June 1932 revolution which toppled the Absolute Monarchy, groups of pro-democracy students have defied the illegal military junta and staged protests outside a Bangkok police station. They did this in order to defy the police warrant for their arrest because they refused to report to the police over their peaceful protests on the first anniversary of General Prayut’s May 2014 coup d’état.

students at Patum Wan police station (from Prachatai)
students at Patum Wan police station (from Prachatai)

Students and their supporters, along with many reporters, gathered outside Patum Wan police station, near Chulalongkorn University. They read out a declaration calling on people to join them and rise up and oppose the junta. They also accused the police of using violence against them in order to break up their peaceful protest in May.

The military spokes-person for the junta accused the students of being “trouble makers with a hidden agenda”. Fighting for democracy in the open and on the streets can hardly be classified as a hidden agenda, nor can the military’s wilful destruction of democracy! On previous occasions military loud-mouths have accused the students of “being too young to understand politics and democracy”.

spokesman of the illegal junta
spokesman of the illegal junta

Meanwhile the military still calls people in for “attitude-changes”. The latest case is that of people from a north-eastern women’s group who dared to make merit at a temple on former elected Prime Minister Yingluk’s birthday.

celebrating the 1932 revolution (from Prachatai)
celebrating the 1932 revolution (from Prachatai)

 

Also on 24th June this year, at the metal plaque commemorating the 1932 revolution, a group of activists laid flowers as a symbol of democracy.

Fat-head general Prawit
Fat-head general Prawit

 

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Fat-head General Prawit tried to claim that the military junta was “protecting the tradition of the Peoples’ Party Revolution” because it was “building and protecting democracy”. From somewhere around his hindquarters, he was heard to exclaim that the government was “not a dictatorship”. … Perhaps he is too old, too stupid and too military to understand politics and democracy?

Anti-junta rumblings among students

University students in Thailand have continued to show their opposition to the military junta and the destruction of democracy.

Last weekend Thammasart students defied the military, police and university authorities to show mass opposition to the junta at a football match, despite strange men with military-style hair cuts mingling with the crowds, pretending to be students. This week the military have set up check points on the Rungsit campus.

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At Chulalongkorn University, Prachom-Klao Technical University in North Bangkok, Chiang Mai University and Burapa University near Pattaya, anti-dictatorship posters have also appeared.

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The struggle for democracy lives on!!