Early Songkran on Ladprao

It has been a quiet start to Songkran in this part of Ladprao – well, I only popped out to Foodland around 11 to collect some Raad and Kaeo Savoey mangoes for she who must be obeyed. A few kids were setting up their stations (and a few more on my back home less than an hour later) and some daddies were transporting their kids on the back of their motor cycles with their water pistols and so forth (I assume they were daddies, I know the look). It would be a pity if the kids cannot have their fun at all.

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I noticed that the troops and their vehicle had been withdrawn from outside the courts on Phahonyothin Road and the Songkran facilities (an indoor pond, some little fountains and so forth where people can pour water respectfully over each other) had been removed – it is a fixture every year and no one had managed to stop the festive music coming over the PA system.

It is a strange atmosphere: people along Ladprao Road still openly display red shirts, banners and so forth (some people of course just wear work uniforms that are red and some are wearing Manure or Liverpool shirts but still) – some wear pink (not sure if they are the PAD coming back onto the streets or just people wearing pink shirts – it is very tempting, invidious in fact, to judge people by the colour they are wearing because I feel very sensitive to it but one must be careful in doing so). People still travel to the occupied sites in their red shirts to join the protests but everyone knows now what Abhisit has ordered the soldiers to do. It will not be the same again. Even knowing that Abhisit has been declared a non-person by the establishment has not yet made much difference. Symbols are still important – it has not been hard to interpret the meaning of a very well-known person with a record of supporting reactionary interests lighting incense to the officer among the soldiers killed and ignoring the rest, not to mention (obviously) the small people murdered by the state. Perhaps new pictures will emerge tomorrow.

Abhisit Vejjajiva: Butcher of Bangkok

After all those yearsof being groomed for the position,  Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally lived up to his destiny as the Butcher of Bangkok.

He tried to run away to Australia but Prem banned him.

He tried to run away to Vietnam but Prem banned him.

Now, on orders, at least eight are dead and hundreds injured after Abhisit Vejjajiva was responsible for the murder of unarmed civilians. Update: 21 are confirmed dead and more than 800 injured.

These despicable crimes against humanity can only be ended by the immediate arrest of Abhisit and those who ordered the massacre of unarmed, innocent civilians. Irrespective of whether anyone in the crowd was armed or fought back, those soldiers were armed with live ammunition and used it against civilians. Abhisit must take responsibility for what was done.


How Long Should We Remember the Crimes of the Past?

The alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk has been extradited to Germany to face trial as accessory to the murder of 29,000 Jewish people during WWII and his American citizenship has been revoked. In Hong Kong, pro-democracy MPs were outraged when it was claimed that most Chinese people had moved on from the Tiananmen Square massacre (with the 20th anniversary due to be marked in a few days). Meanwhile, celebrity scientist Pornthip Rojanasunant is to accompany navy divers to investigate the cargo containers at the bottom of the sea off Chonburi and which are said by some to be stuffed full of human remains. It has been claimed that the bodies were hidden there by the military after the massacres following the 1992 coup.

How long should people remember the crimes of the past? For how long should people he held responsible?

Many countries have statutes of limitations covering various offences, primarily on the basis that it discourages the over lengthy prolongation of court cases against people (who are or at least should be, after all, innocent until proven guilty). These statutes vary in length and are generally not applicable in very serious crimes or acts of violence.

We have seen recently the problems that can be caused when justice is not served, no matter how far ago the original acts may have taken place. At a wedding in Turkey, dozens of people were murdered apparently, it is said, as a result of a long-standing vendetta between families (I have no idea who may or may not be guilty of any of these events). The same level of resentment and hatred might build up in Thai people, it is reasonable to assume, who have not received justice from the numerous massacres perpetrated by the Thai military over the last few decades. Perhaps the same level of resentment and rage might not occur in Thailand for ‘cultural’ factors – the different nature of the state-mandated official religion and appropriate forms of behaviour, for example.

Even so, there is a lot of unhappiness that has festered so much throughout the nation that it is not surprising if it manifests itself from time to time. Unfortunately, there is not much chance of the people culpable ever permitting the law to be changed so that they might be held accountable for their crimes.

The most recent military coup was in 2006.

‘Cargo Containers Stuffed with Human Remains’

News reports (apparently, I had not seen any) say that three to five cargo containers ‘stuffed with human remains’ have been found in the Gulf of Thailand. Activists and relatives of those who were killed or are still missing after the Black May of 1992, when pro-democracy protestors were gunned down by the military, again called upon the government for a thorough investigation of the events and prosecution of those who ordered them. Yesterday was the 17th Anniversary of the state-ordered murders.

Local trawlers are reported as having brought up human skulls. Of course, the remains need not belong to the Black May missing people as there have been so many uninvestigated murders and massacres in modern Thai history – we still have no proper evidence as to how many were killed or wounded by gunfire during the military’s use of force this Songkran and that was during events that were quite well-covered by modern media techniques.

Even so, activists called for a proper investigation to take place. They also railed against the continuing use of double standards in Thai society:

“The person who ordered the mass killing has not been punished, nor have the others involved … who still are living a happy life, playing golf, sipping wine and making comments to the media.” The official number of Black May dead was 38, but the figure reported to the United Nations by a committee representing victims was 357, said Adul Khiewboriboon, who heads the committee.

There is very little chance the current government, given how it owes its power to the military and given the shameful way PM Abhisit behaved when news about the Rohingya refugees emerged, ever investigating these issues properly.

Justice becomes even less likely when the state uses bodies such as the National Human Rights Commission as opportunities to protect the dirty secrets of the elite.