- Human rights
A Bangkok monk says claims by the Thailand government that the army only fired blanks at red-shirted pro-democracy supporters at Din Daeng last Monday are not true and that those shot include a Buddhist monk.
The accusations by the head monk of a Bangkok city temple come despite repeated claims by Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Veijajiva that the only fatalities from the government crack-down on pro-democracy supporters were the result of clashes between protesters and residents in the Nang Lerng market area on Monday (April 13th) night.
The monk, who chose the pseudonym “Sajja” (the word truth in Thai) for his safety and asked that his temple not be named, said he went to the Din Daeng area around 6.00am on April 13 after hearing reports of clashes earlier that morning between the Thai army and red shirt protesters.
Prakal Riddiloy, a PPT complaints officer said “we know many people have been killed, hurt or are missing after the military action earlier this week. We intend to raise this matter as soon as parliament opens next week.”
The state of emergency and clash between red shirt protesters loyal to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and government troops was the latest in a long-running back-and-forth battle over Thailand’s political future following the ouster of the elected People’s Power Party government of Thaksin Shinawatra by a military coup d’état in September 2006.
Late last year hundreds of thousands of tourists were stranded after both of Bangkok’s airports were seized by yellow-shirted so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters.
The siege ended when Thailand’s Constitutional Court disbanded the ruling People’s Power Party (PPP) under changes to Thailand’s constitution introduced by the military junta in 2006.
Following the de-registration of the PPP a number of former government coalition members, including members of the PPP, switched sides enabling the Democrat Party lead by Mr Abhisit to form government. Those PPP members who did not change sides formed the PPT party.
The so-called “red shirts” formed under the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), a group with close links to Shinawatra, first laid siege to Thailand’s Government House on March 26 demanding prime minister Abhisit dissolve parliament and call fresh elections.
The UDD stepped up its campaign against the government of Mr Abhisit with a mass rally on April 8 which attracted over 150,000 people.
On April 11 thousands of red shirt protesters caused Thailand enormous loss of face when they stormed the luxury Royal Cliff Hotel and Resort in Pattaya forcing the 10 Asean member heads of state plus those of six regional dialogue nations to flee and the 14th Asean Summit to be postponed.
© John Le Fevre, 2009
More background on Thailand’s political problems can be found at Thailand on the edge ahead of mass pro-democracy protest
Photos of Monday’s clash between red shirt protesters and the Thai military can be found at Battle for Bangkok photo special
A video compilation of the five days is at Songkran Battle for Bangkok, April 8 – 13, 2009, red shirt pro-democracy protests in Bangkok
A video clip distributed by the UDD showing two military assaults on red shirt protesters at Din Daeng on April 13, 2009 can be found here Battle for Bangkok – Thai army verses red shirt protesters.
More video on the Thailand military action at Din Daeng can be found here:
Din Daeng military action – ทหาร vs นปช สลายการชุมนุม สามเหลี่ยมดินแดง and also here:
“Din Daeng” – ทหารยิง m16 ปะทะเสื้อแดง 13.04.09
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Monk – I saw Thai army shoot monk and others at Din Daeng,
He is currently deputy editor and Thailand / GMS region editor for The Establishment Post
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