Aljazeera: Thai media trying to twist story

A blog on the Aljazeera website accuses the media of trying to twist the story behind Aljazeera’s video footage of a man in a red bandanna brandishing a gun on April 28. Thai media has been trying to lead viewers to believe that this man in the video may have something to do with the soldier who died that day. It’s been 6 days and the government has yet to conclude the investigation into the death of this soldier.

“Despite the best efforts of various organisations who are trying to twist the story, we did not in any way suggest that the man we filmed with the gun had anything to do with the death of the soldier. We filmed him about an hour before we saw the body of the soldier being carried out.”

Aljazeera mentions their suspicion about a possible staging of this incident when these men intentionally went pass the news crew. It’s interesting that this man with the gun decided to wear a red bandanna even though the red shirts were instructed to drop their colors in order to confuse the security forces. It’s also questionable that this man in the red bandanna just happens to be accompanied by some men in black which fit the government’s descriptions of the  terrorists spotted during the April 10th crackdown.

“He was right in front of us and the three people in our team all saw it with our own eyes. We only saw one man carrying a gun. But he was slinking around the place with several other men. One of whom was dressed completely in black, which immediately raised my suspicion after so many mysterious men in black were spotted during the April 10 violence.”

The blog also criticizes Thai security forces for using average citizens to create a traffic jam to block the protesters. When the security forces started shooting at the red shirts, these citizens were also in the line of fire.

The police and soldiers had more than enough warning that the red shirts were coming down the highway. They were travelling en masse and were easily identifiable. They should have diverted all the other traffic.

Instead, innocent people were sandwiched between the riot police and the red shirts. Many remained in their cars, expecting to be let through the road block eventually. But when the security forces started firing their guns, people were trapped, lying down in their vehicles, trying to avoid being shot while others ran to the relative safety of the side of the road.

This should never have been allowed to happen. They could easily have cleared those people out before the reds arrived.”

The Department of Special Investigation is accused of lying

On Monday, May 2, the red shirts accused the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) of lying about the investigation into the grenade attack near the Defense Ministry on March 20.  According to an article in the Bangkok Post, the DSI reported that they arrested five suspects, Bandhit Sitthitum, Supanas Hulavej, Supachai Puikaewkam, Passakorn Sirilak and Wayuphak Noree. Supachai’s wife is a red shirt supporter. The DSI also claimed that Bandhit confessed to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha as being the real target of the attack and that he was paid 500,000 baht for carrying out the attack. Supposedly the grenade never reached the temple because it hit an electrical line and landed near the ministry. This explanation on why the grenade never reached the temple seems a bit far fetched to me. Supachai’s wife refuted the charges. She states that Bandhit  has been denying all accusations, so for the DSI to claim that he confessed to the crime is a complete lie. The red shirt leader, Dr. Weng Tojirakarn also pointed out that it would be impossible for the grenade to reach the temple from the believed launch location. Dr. Weng questioned the impartiality of the DSI. The government seems to be working hard  to discredit the red shirt movement by spreading “misinformation”. First painting them as terrorists, anti-monarchists, and now a threat to Buddhists. The government is obviously trying very hard to stoke public anger against the red shirt movement by painting them as hostile to everyone in Thai society so as to pave way for a violent crackdown. Considering all the money Abhisit is willing to spend to deploy the forces in the capital for months, the deaths he’s willing to tolerate in order to stay in power for supposedly a few more months: It’s possible that Abhisit may be planning to stay in office much longer than most people expect.