No honor amongst paid propagandists
Tony Cartalucci, Contributing Writer
Background: After days of trying to goad Thai security forces into a violent crackdown on globalist Thaksin Shinawatra’s red shirts, protest leaders literally called on their own rank and file to donate blood to be spilled on key government buildings throughout Thailand’s capital of Bangkok.
This grisly display would foreshadow protest leaders’ plans, unbeknown to even their own followers.
On April 10, 2010, after the Thai military shut down Thaksin’s propaganda network, protest leaders brought 200 men to the gates of Bangkok’s 1st Army Region base and tried to storm the facility.
The leaders must have realized that storming a military facility has a universally high probability of provoking the use of deadly force. The Thai military however, dispersed the protesters with water cannons and rubber bullets.
The decision was made to disperse the protesters at Bangkok’s “Democracy Monument” that night. After nightfall, riot troops and protesters faced off in close quarters before troops began to advance while firing blanks into the air.
A similar operation a year earlier led by the same commanding officer, Colonel Romklao, dispersed protesters without fatalities (the only fatalities were two civilians gunned down by protesters).
This time, intent on a bloodbath, a group of mysterious gunmen intervened with a combination of grenades and sniper fire that killed Colonel Romklao and 6 other soldiers.
Troops immediately fell back in disarray while protesters were divided in confusion and adulation. The mystery gunmen weaved through the protesters firing sporadically at Thai troops who returned fire. In total, 23 would die.
Video: The initial grenade and sniper attack, explained accurately by France24. Indeed soldiers were firing back as they withdrew.
The protesters were entirely unaware of the gambit, while security guards amongst the protesters appear to have been given compartmentalized orders to keep the protesters kettled in before the attack came. It is unlikely that even the security guards knew the attack was coming, as many immediately rushed in to protect fallen soldiers from aggressive protesters, while gun battles continued elsewhere. There were also most likely members of the militant group amongst the protesters directing fire toward Colonel Romklao and his command unit, as laser markers were seen fixated on the soldiers right before the incoming sniper fire hit.
It was quite clear that a highly trained, well-prepared third party was involved. Both foreign and domestic, and amateur as well as professional cameramen caught the melee on tape. Initial blanket denials by protest leaders quickly became piecemeal confessions as footage of these “men in black” filtered out.
International spokesman for the protesters, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters that elements of the army were with their movement, including the black-clad mystery gunmen that took part in the April 10 bloodbath. He stated, “They are a secret unit within the army that disagrees with what’s going on. Without them, the black clad men, there would have been a whole lot more deaths and injuries.” The suspected leader of these gunmen, renegade general Khattiya Sawasdipol, known as “Seh Daeng,” further damned earlier denials by admitting to commanding 300 armed men trained for ”close encounters” and carrying M79 grenade launchers, before withdrawing his comment in later interviews.
This narrative has also been confirmed within the pages of Human Rights Watch 2011 “Descent into Chaos” report. The overwhelming amount of physical, photographic, and video evidence left no other alternative explanation for the violence that transpired that night, and within the pages of the report itself, we find many “witness accounts” that are verified by the evidence on hand.
It was during the April 10, 2010 firefight that saw amongst the 23 killed, the death of Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto. Muramoto was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, and while the bullet was never recovered, it is believed that the wound resulted from a NATO 5.56mm round. Opportunists amongst Thaksin’s political movement immediately seized upon this evidence as definitive proof that the Thai Army killed Muramoto and began leveraging it politically. Thaksin’s paid lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam, boldly pronounced in a piece titled, “Thailand’s Shameful Insult to Japan,” that:
Hiro Muramoto was a 43-year-old Japanese cameraman who worked for Reuters. He was posted to Bangkok to cover the Red Shirt pro-democracy protests of 2010, which were put to an end by a protracted bloody massacre and repression by government forces. Shortly before 9:00PM on April 10th, one of the first days of mass killings of protesters, Muramoto was taking footage among government troops on Dinso Road in Old Town Bangkok, before moving over to the Red Shirts side to cover the clashes. He was allegedly struck by an Army sniper’s bullet, which entered his body under right armpit, and exited through his back. He was rushed to a hospital but declared dead upon arrival due to massive bleeding from the bullet wound. According to the original Reuters investigation of his death, ‘was shot almost certainly by a high velocity bullet fired at street level while standing in a street between Thai troops and red shirt protesters.’ Given our investigations and expert testimonies and witness statements from Army officials contained in the application to the International Criminal Court to initiate an inquiry, there are significant grounds to believe that the Thai authorities are likely responsible for the killing.
Joining the bandwagon is former Reuters journalist Andrew Marshall, a man who describes himself as a “colleague” of Hiro Muramoto and dedicated his Wikileaks smear campaign “Thaistory” to his memory. Marhsall wrote of findings by a private investigation commissioned by Reuters, that:
As is standard when a member of staff is killed in the line of duty, Reuters commissioned an independent investigation by a professional security company. The company used was Control Risks, one of the leaders in the field; the probe was conducted by experts in forensic investigation. The Control Risks report also concluded that Hiro was killed by a bullet fired by a Thai soldier, probably not specifically targeted. It added that the bullet that killed Hiro was most likely to have been standard military issue, and not from an AK47 or pistol. This report was kept confidential within Reuters management, but I became aware of the key findings.
Marshall would continue building his case based on the caliber of the bullet that killed his colleague, and whose death had now become a tandem political pressure point exerted by Thaksin’s political party, his paid lobbyist Robert Amsterdam, and Marshall himself. He would go on to claim:
Because I was aware of the third-party investigation commissioned by Reuters, and its findings that the evidence suggested Hiro was shot by a military issue bullet and not an AK47, I sent an e-mail at this time to senior Asia editorial managers asking permission to report excerpts from the investigation conclusions. I never received a formal reply but was informally told by other managers that the Asia editor was ‘irritated’ by my intervention. I found this very troubling, and I privately and confidentially contacted senior managers based in the United States to discuss my concerns.
He would continue saying, after detailing his experience with previous Reuters internal investigations and his frustration with Reuters’ decision not to release the findings of their report, that:
My resignation marked the end of my ability to intercede with editors about Hiro while working inside the company. But I awaited the promised meeting with Abhisit in which Reuters would share its information with him. On June 14, Reuters had an exclusive interview with Abhisit. They did not share the information.
I am therefore now sharing the key passage from the Control Risks report commissioned by Reuters. If Reuters chooses to contest the authenticity of the extract I am sharing, I will provide more detailed documentary evidence. I am sharing this information reluctantly and with no desire to undermine Reuters, which I still consider to be a news organization that deserves respect, not to mention a place where many fine colleagues and friends still work. But it has become clear that the inept, unethical and counterproductive behaviour of some senior management staff in Asia will prevent Reuters ever uncovering the truth about Hiro unless action is taken. It is my hope that Reuters learns from this experience and never again entrusts such important decisions to those lacking the ability to behave sensibly and ethically in sensitive situations. Hiro’s family and friends, and all of the staff of Reuters, deserve better. The extract from the Control Risks report is reproduced verbatim below…
The extract from Reuters’ investigation, again, focuses entirely on the caliber of the bullet involved in the death of Hiro Muramoto and reads as follows (emphasis added):
Hiro Muramoto (‘Hiro’) was shot, almost certainly by a 5.56mm high velocity round, on 10 April in Dinso Road, West Bangkok at 21:01/2 Bangkok time. Control Risks was not able to sight an official autopsy report or any forensics carried out on his body.
However, an interview with the surgeon in charge of triage at the BMA (Klang) Hospital on 10 April stated Hiro ultimately died from a tension pneumothorax precipitated by massive internal bleeding. The surgeon speculated that such bleeding would cause death within two minutes of initiation. The ambulance crew that transported Hiro to hospital stated they could find no vital signs and the doctor who examined him at the Klang Hospital declared him ‘dead before arrival’.
The entry wound that caused Hiro’s death was centred below the clavicle and pectoral, centred on the heart. The surgeon interviewed by Control Risks confirmed the wound to be consisted with that caused by a bullet. Hiro also exhibited an exit wound on the left tricep. Such a non-linear exit wound is consistent with the impact of a high-velocity 5.56mm standard Nato issue round (and inconsistent with, for example, the impact of a .38 pistol shot, a rubber bullet, or a round fired by an AK47 assault rifle).
With this “evidence” in hand, Marshall would conclude his weepy tirade with:
It’s time for Reuters to start working to help uncover the truth, rather than colluding in suppressing it.
For Marshall and his partner in duplicity, Robert Amsterdam, who eagerly re-posted Marshall’s work, the entirety of their argument hinges on the premise that weapons chambering high-velocity 5.56mm standard NATO issue rounds were solely used by Thai troops on the night of Hiro Muramoto’s death. They have used this narrative to accuse the Thai government of making “a horrific mockery of the judicial process,” while Marshall personally has used the death of his former colleague to draw attention to himself and his diminishing audience, attempting to heroically stand up to the system he in fact still works for.
Had Marshall and Amsterdam carefully examined the facts, and had truly been interested in solving the mystery behind Hiro Muramoto’s death, and not instead intent on selfishly abusing his memory and exploiting his tragedy, and the continuing tragedy of his family that survives him, they may have more carefully read the Human Rights Watch report they are so fond of cherry picking from and considered photographic and video evidence existing from the night of April 10, 2010 that would shed light on a different “truth.”
The HRW report on page 62 states:
As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills. According to some accounts, they specifically aimed at the commanding officers of the army units involved in the crowd dispersal operations, sowing panic among the soldiers. Human Rights Watch investigations concluded this group consisted of Black Shirts deployed among the UDD protesters.
Other witness testimony would confirm what has already been established from video and photographic evidence. In reviewing video and photographic evidence we see also, clearly that UDD militants were armed with M16s chambering the same 5.56mm rounds both Amsterdam and Marshall are sure came only from Thai soldiers. The following video footage, aired on AlJazeera, clearly shows UDD militants employing tactically both AK-47s and M16 assault rifles.
For those unfamiliar with these two weapons, and who find it difficult to identify the weapon being carried by the UDD militant at (00:35), the position of the rifle’s front sight post gives it away. The AK-47’s front sight post is located all the way at the end of the barrel and is integrated with the compensator, while the M16A2’s sight post is located right at the end of the hand guards leaving a considerable amount of the barrel between it and the compensator.
Image: An AK-47. Notice the front sight post is located all the way at the end of the weapon’s barrel, as well as its more compact, and thicker construction.
Clearly, both the HRW report and the video evidence confirms that UDD militants, in addition to Thai troops, fielded weapons that chambered the potential 5.56mm round considered the “smoking gun” of the Thai military’s guilt in killing the Reuters cameraman.
Dying for Attention
With this verified evidence in hand, we can reexamine the flawed conclusions of paid liars like Robert Amsterdam. We can also reexamine the opportunistic Andrew Marshall, who has dragged the memory of his dead “colleague” through the mud to promote his Wikileaks smear campaign against Thailand and its institutions. In reality, the 5.56mm round could have been fired by either Thai troops or UDD militants. Without the bullet, which was never recovered, there is no way to tell from which rifle it was fired, nor who was holding that rifle when it was fired. Despite an eyewitness account which claims to “believe” the shot that killed Hiro Muramoto came from the soldiers’ direction, and new “witnesses” produced by one of Thakin’s political deputies, Chalerm Yubamrung, a co-conspirator behind the violence last year and another opportunist seeking to exploit Muramoto’s death for political gain, this is most likely a mystery that will never be solved.
Instead of allowing Muramoto to rest in peace, and allow his grieving family to begin the healing process, it seems Robert Amsterdam, Andrew Marshall, and Thaksin’s political movement will get as much mileage out his and his family’s personal tragedy as possible.
In one heated cry for attention, Marshall tweeted to his former colleagues at Reuters whom he accuses of covering up the “facts” behind Muramoto’s death:
Just got 1-word e-mail from Reuters SEAsia bureau chief @jasonszep about this post http://ow.ly/7KMBN He says ‘Defamation’. I say: sue me.
Perhaps Reuters should take him up on his taunts and indeed sue him for defamation. While both the Thai government and Reuters refuse to jump to conclusions or exploit Muramoto’s death, considering the verified evidence making it impossible to know who fired the fatal shot, Marshall seems content defaming anyone who doesn’t promote his and Robert Amsterdam’s self-serving, politically motivated, clearly flawed take on events. At least by Reuters suing him, and perhaps Marshall being deported from his current lodgings in Singapore, rumors will be laid to rest that Marshall is still in fact slinking in and out of Reuters’ offices in Singapore, and that this charade is but another shameless act attempting to re-energize both Marshall’s diminishing image and a concerted campaign to destabilize Thailand.
In the meantime, Marshall has decided to abandon any semblance of journalism and spends the majority of his time instead childishly mocking Thailand’s revered King on Twitter in a desperate attempt to create yet more manufactured controversy and draw ever more attention to himself.
Marshall, in tandem with Robert Amsterdam, continue to undermine a sovereign nation (neither one is a citizen or resident), and neither has any passion or interest in beyond the money flowing to them to carry out their propaganda campaign on behalf of Thaksin Shinawatra and his Wall Street-London backers.
This is the mainstream corporate media. There is no honor amongst thieves, and none amongst paid propagandists, and surely none to spare for the memory of a lost colleague.
Rest in Peace
May Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto rest in peace, his memory released from the grips of these exploitative opportunists, and his family allowed to move on with their lives and remember the cherished time they spent with him in life, instead of reliving his death every time Robert Amsterdam and Andrew Marshall need ratings, political leverage, and attention.
Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at
Land Destroyer Report.