13 April 2009

United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship

Democracy Monument

Two residents of Bangkok’s Nang Loeng district have been shot dead by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protesters. Residents in several districts, especially tenants in Din Daeng apartments, have clashed with the UDD in Bangkok today.

The red-shirted UDD movement originally prided itself on protesting peacefully and legally, in contrast to the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy. The UDD’s demands (for the army and Privy Council to stay out of politics, for the violent PAD protesters to be prosecuted, for the reinstatement of the 1997 ‘people’s constitution’, and for a new general election) are reasonable, though of course they are likely to lose any public sympathy after the violence of yesterday and today.

Early this morning, the army began advancing on a group of demonstrators at the Din Daeng intersection near Victory Monument, firing shots into the air from M16 rifles. After several hours, and dozens of injuries, the protesters dispersed. UDD leaders claimed that six protesters were killed, a rumour that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra repeated in live CNN and BBC interviews this evening. Also on CNN, Thaksin pleaded for royal intervention: “I humbly urge His Majesty the King to intervene, please”.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok yesterday, and the UDD reacted by raiding several government ministries and attacking the PM’s car. Several buses and gas tankers have also been hijacked by UDD demonstrators.

4 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

how far is that from you?

Matthew Hunt said...

I don't know exactly, but at least a few miles. I've never been there.

Anonymous said...

Thaksin is a powerful businessman who entered politics to expand his business empires. Since there is a large population of desperately poor people who are ready to offer their votes for a few dollars, it was easy for him to buy votes to become a prime minister. Once in power, he changed the local laws to make it legally for him to engage in corruption. He stole Thailand’s national wealth and transferred it to Singapore and Hong Kong. He then escaped Thai’s court justice who sentenced him to prison by taking refuge in Beijing and H.K. where he has many fellow Chinese friends. Worse, he has the guts to continue manipulating Thai’s politics from abroad, using the money that he has stolen from Thailand before. If the Thai people are helpless about this, we need to ask our military to do everything possible to get him back home and put him in jail.

Matthew Hunt said...

Vote-buying and corruption are endemic in Thai politics, and Thaksin was no more guilty of them than anyone else.

His policies appealed to rural people, which is why he won so many rural votes (not just vote-buying). He sold his own satellite to Singapore, not Thailand's national wealth. But he should have paid tax on it, and not paying the tax was probably his biggest mistake.

The demands of the red shirts are very important, but clearly their methods this week are unacceptable.

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