Red-shirt side event

On 19 May, groups of red shirts under the banner of Democracy Networks held activities to mark the first anniversary of the crackdown in front of Lumpini Park, performing traditional rituals to curse the masterminds who ordered the killings, and campaigning for the release of political prisoners and the repeal of the lèse majesté law.

About 500-600 red shirts joined the activities.  Traditional Thai rituals were performed which included burning chilli and salt and cursing the killers in regional dialects as well as in Cambodian.  They had to resort to this because other methods had not worked, the activists said.

Academics, including Suthachai Yimprasert and Suda Rangupan from Chulalongkorn University, spoke to the red shirts, explaining the need to repeal Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or lèse majesté law, which had been used as a political tool to suppress dissidents, and using as examples the cases of Surachai Danwatthananusorn, Somyos Phrueksakasemsuk and others.

It was announced that the Red Siam group would hold a rally for the release of political prisoners in front of Bangkok Remand Prison on 22 May at 4 pm.

Tables were set up next to the stage to collect signatures in a campaign to repeal Article 112 and three security laws including the Emergency Decree, Internal Security Act and Martial Law.  10,000 signatures are required under the 2007 Constitution.

There were musical performances and a drama which narrated the incidents of 13-19 May last year.  Some participants drew images and wrote messages on the pavement.  Some shouted ‘People died here.’

The Democracy Networks debuted on 3 April to campaign for the repeal of Article 112 and the release of political prisoners.  It consists of groups of red shirts from several provinces, 24 June Democracy, Red Siam, East Red, Social Move, Students Federation of Thailand, etc.

Comments

Elsewhere an elaborate

Elsewhere an elaborate proposal to emend Article 112 is ascribed to Nitirassadorn, although it is billed as a repeal.

Here, a straightforward repeal of Article 112 seems to be what's advocated :

Academics, including Suthachai Yimprasert and Suda Rangupan from Chulalongkorn University, spoke to the red shirts, explaining the need to repeal Article 112 of the Criminal Code, or lèse majesté law, which had been used as a political tool to suppress dissidents, and using as examples the cases of Surachai Danwatthananusorn, Somyos Phrueksakasemsuk and others.

The 10,000 signatures required to initiate a law must be attached to a particular legal proposal, must they not?

What are those who've signed Somyos' petition subscribed to?

Has it occurred to red

Has it occurred to red sympathizers that this type of protest could not take place in an actual dictatorship? If it was tried in Burma, all of those participants would be imprisoned simply for speaking for their mind and calling for "justice."

In Thailand, there is obviously one topic where no free expression is allowed; we know this; it is unfortunate; I don't condone it and I agree reforms are in order.

But it would be good to remember that in all other areas of political expression, Thailand is a free country. Those who keep saying it isn't ignore the obvious. The proof is in the pudding - opposition rallies take place; opponents are even free to temporarily shut down city's busiest intersection to mark their anniversaries. Some people need to understand the difference between a democracy (however flawed and in need of reform) and a bona fide dictatorship.

I also wonder how much freedom of expression opponents would have in a state where red shirts have power. Will they disrupt opposition activities and threaten opponents with violence, as they have in the past? Will they shut down cultural activities they disagree with, as happened with the gay pride parade in Chiang Mai? Will de facto lese-Thaksin become an issue once he's back in power? Will anyone who disagrees with reds be able to run in a free election?

bangkokdave Actually "the

bangkokdave

Actually "the proof is in the pudding" that Thailand has one foot in a dictatorship and a couple of toes trying to step into the democratic process.

In the same way it has one foot in modernization and one still stuck in its feudal past. It wants to have the cake and eat it, too. And it does. At least the wealthy and powerful do.

Thailand is trying its best to perform a shadow-play for the outside world to make it think Thailand really is what foreigners see in the travel brochures: bikini-clad girls on sunny beaches; fun in the streets with drunken party-goers; amusement parks and fun, fun, fun and then more fun and an absolute infinity of smiling faces, preferably on traditionally dressed women with "appeal".

Meanwhile only 2% of all foreign visitors ever see Isan. They do not show that in the travel brochures or documentaries and lord forbid should the Thai Tourist Bureau transgress and show some of the poor eking out a living and living ten to fifteen people in a house. Or the vast arrangements of poverty-stricken housing areas, in particular along the canals.

Thailand is a sham democracy and in the process of trying to figure out how to permanently rig the game so those with the wealth and power will never, ever have to share anything with the people they consider beneath them; uneducated and good only for tilling the soil. And tilling the soil for meager income at that.

What, they come to Bangkok and want democracy back? They want a fair share of the national wealth? Better education for their kids? Reasonable health care? Worse...they want freedom of expression!

Send in the army; clean up the streets. Wash away the memories of these outsiders with their own blood.

Twenty military interventions in less than eight decades; censorship and closing down of almost all opposition TV and radio stations; imprisonment of its grass roots red shirt/UDD leaders without proper charges; a fiction of official spin of "terrorists" who, oddly kill only themselves; blocking of internet sites by the tens of thousands which show the massacre and dirty dealing of politicians and courts.....ad infinitum...and you dare to refer to Thailand as "free" and "democratic"?

I am appalled by such outright untruths.

Couldn't have said it

Couldn't have said it better./

Bangkok Dave The protests are

Bangkok Dave

The protests are allowed to take place because Thailand is posing as a democracy. The reality is, the military is not acocuntable to civilians and is not under government control and they will topple any government who tries to cut their cake up.

Also, there are many limitations on free speech. Many radio and internet sites have been shut down (dozens of radio stations, tens of thousands of net sites). They are not all for lese majeste, either. What is mostly important, however, is how the prospect of having your radio station shut down intimidates those who have operational radio stations - this means they are in effect being intimidated into not broadcasting their real views if said views are percieved by them not to be in line with the conservative Etsablishment that dictates such things.

The same thing also occurs with academics - the persecution of a single academic will put pressure on the whole lot of them, intimidating them into only producing work that is acceptable by the Establishment. If they chose to take risks and publish the truth, they risk a long time in jail, exile, large fines, or perhaps just the good old fashioned dissapear.

Thailand is not a free country,.