- Human rights
One year ago today as red-shirt (เสือ้แดง) protesters hunkered down behind fearsome looking bamboo and tire barricades blockading about 8 sq.km (3 sq.miles) of the central Bangkok business district, surrounded by heavily armed Royal Thai Army (RTA) (กองทัพบก) troops, one of the protest movements most colorful figures, RTA (กองทัพบก) specialist, Major-General Khattiya Sawatdiphon (ขัตติยะ สวัสดิผล), affectionately known as ‘Seh Daeng (เสธ.แดง)’ or ‘commander red’ by his legion of admirers died, victim of a single bullet fired from either the nearby Dusit Thani hotel or the building adjacent to it on Rama IV Road.
Seh Daeng (เสธ.แดง) was shot while giving a media interview directly in front of the Lumphini Park entrance to the Silom MRT station, the light of the video camera illuminating his face for just a few seconds before the sniper’s single round entered his head near the right temple before exiting at a 30 degree angle from the rear, left side of his throat.
Tourists at the Dusit Thani hotel at the time claim to have seen what appeared to be a long stick protruding from the hotel’s roof moments before the shooting, which was pulled back immediately after Seh Daeng (เสธ.แดง) was shot. Others claim to have seen a person dressed in black and wearing a black hood escorted out of the hotel into a waiting black police van.
The same group of people claim RTA (กองทัพบก) officers were smiling and shaking each others hands and that they were told by an RTA (กองทัพบก) officer “you have seen nothing, go back to your hotel at once or you will be arrested and deported… you’ve seen nothing, nothing to see here… go back to your hotels”.
Originally taken to Hua Chiew Hospital, Seh Daeng (เสธ.แดง) was subsequently transferred to the Wachira Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 9.20am on May 17, 2010.
One year after the lone sniper’s bullet was fired Seh Daeng’s daughter, Khattiyaa Sawasdipol, along with the legions of red-shirt (เสือ้แดง) supporters who viewed him as a larger-than-life folk-hero, are still waiting for answers as to who fired the fatal shot that killed Seh Daeng (ใครฆ่า เสธ.แดง).
Also waiting for answers are the families and friends of the more than 90 red-shirt (เสือ้แดง) protesters killed and those of Japanese cameraman Hiro Muramoto and Italian photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi.
At the same time the widow of Colonel Romklao “Pee Pao” Thuwatham (ร่มเกล้า ธุวธรรม), the highly respected deputy chief of staff of the Prachin Buri-based 2nd Infantry Division who was killed in a battle with red-shirt (เสือ้แดง) protesters at Khok Wua intersection on April 10, 2010 and the families of more than a dozen RTA troops killed over the two months are also still searching for closure.
With parliament now dissolved ahead of next month’s general election the much promised open and transparent investigation and various committees and inquiries set-up in the wake of last year’s protests, including the Truth for Reconciliation Commission, have failed to identifying a single perpetrator for the more than 90 killings that took place last April and May.
In a country where getting to the truth is more evasive than the centuries-old search for the Lost Ark of the Covenant the deaths have been pushed aside like rice hulls on the milling room floor, with neither the Democrats or opposition Pheu Thai Party (PTP) pursuing the matter, lest the topic open festering wounds and disenfranchise even the smallest number of people resulting in lost votes on polling day.
Irrespective of whether one is a supporter or opponent of the red-shirt (เสือ้แดง) movement, the families and friends of those killed on the streets of Bangkok in 2010 deserve an explanation, with the guilty from both sides deserve to be brought to account.
That men dressed in military uniform were seen on rooftops in areas under the control of the RTA (กองทัพบก) sniping at the red-shirt (เสือ้แดง) protesters is irrefutable – this correspondent having seen several unarmed protesters killed – the majority shot in the head – by silenced rounds that could only have come from the RTA (กองทัพบก) controlled positions. At one point I felt the wind of a bullet (later recovered) jet past my face, while on another occasion bullets fired by troops in an armored personal carrier on the Rama IV flyover struck the ground less than a meter from my feet. ( Continues … )
Who killed Seh Daeng (ใครฆ่า เสธ.แดง)?,
He is currently deputy editor and Thailand / GMS region editor for The Establishment Post
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