Blood may be washed away but the stain of the blood can last for a long time – consider Lady Macbeth, her crimes years in the past, still waking every night into the nightmare of the guilt and shame of what she has done. Does the same destiny await the Butchers Abhisit and Suthep? On the face of it, Suthep seems to be a wholly self-satisfied knave largely untroubled by the thought process but is Abhisit the same? Is that what he learned from his privileged Etonian education and his gentleman’s PPE degree at Oxford?
Reminders of his ordering the killings of pro-democracy demonstrators will not all be psychological – some will be physical too. The relatives of one of the protestors killed by troops under the order of the Abhisit regime have begun filing complaints with the police about the actions and the killings. If this happens in a number of cases, it is possible that the Butchers may be entangled in legal proceedings for many years – until last week, it was possible to believe that all of these cases would just be brushed under the carpet, as cases against the designated organs of the establishment always seem to be in Thailand. Yet the Electoral Commission’s decision to dissolve the Democrat Party may mean that all of this has changed. If the dissolution goes ahead, it presumably indicates that the establishment no longer considers Abhisit and his pals as designated agencies and so it will be open season on them. If that is indeed the case, then there must be a genuine chance (slim perhaps but genuine nevertheless) that Abhisit will be forced to stand trial for whatever crime he is deemed to have committed resulting from the deaths of protestors (and who knows how many more there will be in the next week or two). Will he too spend the rest of his life as a fugitive from Thai justice?
I imagine this consideration must have had some influence on his decision to appoint General Anupong as head of the Committee for Resolution of Emergency Situations (although there is a story that Suthep is still actually in charge, although that just seems to be face-saving spin). Military officers do not have to face trial for the acts they commit, as the conspirators and henchpersons behind the 2006 coup demonstrate.
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.
The Abhisit regime has moved to its next step of suppression of free speech by announcing a ‘State of Emergency,’ according to regulations passed by the junta cronies known as the NLA. It has already been established that the Abhisit regime has been at the centre of spreading lies about the pro-democracy movement. Will it now resort to violence in the decades long war of the rich against the poor? Is this the night Abhisit earns his spurs as the latest ‘Butcher of Bangkok.’ It is, after all, what he was born into.
The battle is lost – state violence has crushed the pro-democracy demonstration in Bangkok and reprisals have begun. We can expect a great deal of self-righteous posturing in the media about how dreadful the pro-democracy protestors are and how it was all paid for by Khun Thaksin and other nonsense.
Yet there is plenty of reason to suspect that the war is far from over. Bangkok Pundit has this message from ML Nattakorn Devakula (also known as ‘Pleum’):
“A lot of my friends and colleagues are in agreement that in order to realize the country’s true democratic potential, Thailand needs a formal transition towards a truer more ‘popular’ form of democracy based on the needs and desires of the majority. A double standard judiciary appointed and acting in the name of a supreme leader and tacitly, yet not infrequently, intervened by particular members of the privy council as shown in a string of events over the past 3 years have to become a thing of the past. An armed forces bent on discriminating against its own population based of differing political ideology and out of the fear of ‘connected’ individuals having influences over them cannot in anyway be accepted in a modern day democracy.
The tasks of revolutionarily altering Thailand will involve a lot work over the next several years to foment the seeds of final change. An oligarchic style of managed governance where compassion and kindness are given only to those wearing the royalists’ color is a slap to the face to the majority of the Thai nation who are for the most part already living subordinated lives. This movement for democratic change must begin to sow its preliminary sinews today, while the culmination of its goals will be seen several years down the road.
Victory was theirs this time but make no mistake the definitive battle lines of the future have been drawn and the real war is yet to have experienced its days. The reds’ defeat on April 14, 2009 from now on serves as a point of origination for what will ultimately become a transitional period out of the Thai oligarchic existence.”
This is the discourse of the future – it has become acceptable to discuss the role of the Privy Council and the nature of the judges and their decision-making processes. Once this discussion is held in public it will be impossible to repress it in future, not completely.
Quite how change will be brought about is yet to be fully established. It is possible that new arenas of confrontation will be opened across the country as people outside Bangkok demonstrate their desire for democratic change regionally. Meanwhile, flashpoints are likely when the security forces begin to persecute red-shirt organizers, as people will again ask why no prosecutions have been brought against the anti-democracy PAD movement. The legitimacy of the current Democrat-led coalition will again be in the spotlight.