Peaceful protests turn deadly as regime unleashes “red shirt” enforcers and heavily armed assassins.
|Activist and protest leader, Sutin Taratin|
Regime gunmen assassinated celebrated NGO worker, activist, and protest core leader Sutin Taratin Sunday, during a brazen broad-daylight drive-by shooting amid a melee between protesters and armed “red shirt” regime enforcers. Protests were held across the country at polling stations in opposition to advance voting. Forty-five out of fifty polling stations were closed in Bangkok alone.
Bangkok’s English paper, The Nation would report in its article, “Thaksin’s big-time opponent latest victim of political violence,” that:
Sutin Taratin, one of leaders of People’s Army to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime, has become the latest victim of political violence. He was gunned down Sunday outside the Bang Na advance voting station.
He was an non-governmental organisaton officer working for Local Development Institute (LDI) and he was close to former secretary-general of the State Enterprises Labour Relations Confederation Somsak Kosaisuk.
The assassination of Sutin Taratin came after the regime and its supporters made explicit threats of armed violence against any who opposed upcoming sham elections. TIME magazine on January 16 reported in their article, “Bangkok Shutdown: Yingluck Supporters Prepare to Fight for Democracy,” that:
As Thailand’s anti-government protests enter their fourth day, observers say prospects for violent confrontation are increasing, with reports of government supporters stockpiling weapons in case of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ouster.
According to the Bangkok Post, radical members of the Red Shirts — diehard champions of Yingluck and her notorious brother Thaksin Shinawatra — are readying a cache of arms in case the 46-year-old premier is forced from office by either military or judicial intervention.
The paper quoted a Red Shirt source as saying “There are strong anti-coup and anti-court sentiments among the red-shirt mavericks who are familiar and experienced with weapon use.” The very next day, the attacks began. The first was a grenade attack on peaceful marches led by protest leader Suthep Thuangsuban, which killed one and injured 39. Suthep Thuangsuban was only 30 meters away from the blast, indicating it was a likely assassination attempt. Protesters would then storm the abandoned building where the attack originated to uncover what appeared to be a weapons catch and a safehouse, just as TIME described. Another twin grenade attack took place at Bangkok’s Victory Monument, along with nightly drive-by shootings up until the regime announced a “state of emergency” citing their own terror campaign as justification.
Regime’s Murder & Mayhem in Defense of Sham Elections
With a “state of emergency” announced, the regime is now free to openly wield authoritarian power, and will continue to do so in the lead up to sham elections on February 2, 2014, and well beyond.
In the wake of the decree, the regime has summoned entertainers who have participated in recent anti-regime protests as well as declared 31 businesses “blacklisted” for allegedly supporting the ongoing opposition. The regime has also continued its campaign of terror directed at both protesters and their leaders.
The result is a one-party election (all major oppositions parties are boycotting it) carried out under an authoritarian decree being actively used to intimidate and silence the opposition, amid a campaign of systematic terror and assassinations putting it on par with sham elections in Saddam’s Iraq, or Kim Jong Ill’s North Korea.
Elections held under these conditions are clearly indicative of a dangerous dictatorship, but are instead being defended by the West as a legitimate democratic process being obstructed by “anti-democratic militants.” This is being done through a campaign of intentional and systematic omissions and distortions – particularly in the BBC’s coverage of the political crisis.
BBC’s latest report, in the wake of Sutin Taratin’s assassination, briefly mentions the attack and skips past it, focusing instead on portraying the protesters as the violent aggressors. Jonathan Head of the BBC would state:
Thailand’s protest movement has an image problem. It is commonly viewed outside Thailand as undemocratic. The movement’s leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, even wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama this week pleading for more understanding of his goals.
But the scenes of his supporters forcefully blocking people from voting won’t help that negative image.
Of course, that “image problem” is owed entirely to the West’s disingenuous coverage. Head would also claim in his article that:
Protesters, who started their campaign in November, want to install an unelected “people’s council” to run the country until the political system is changed.
They [the protesters] say Ms Yingluck’s government is being influenced by her brother, exiled former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.
Of course the protesters “say Ms Yingluck’s government is being influenced by her brother,” Thaksin Shinawatra, because both her own political party and Thaksin Shinawatra himself have openly and repeatedly admitted as much.
While Thailand is technically under the premiership of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, by his party’s own admission, Thaksin is still literally running the country. The election campaign slogan for the last general election in 2011 was literally, “Thaksin Thinks, Puea Thai Does,” Puea Thai being his political party. Forbes would report in their article, “Thaksin in Exile: Advising Sister, Digging for Gold,” that:
Regarding his behind-the-scenes role in the party and policy, he is not shy: “I am the one who thinks. Like our slogan during the campaign, Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts.”
The New York Times admitted in an early 2013 article titled, “In Thailand, Power Comes With Help From Skype,” that:
For the past year and a half, by the party’s own admission, the most important political decisions in this country of 65 million people have been made from abroad, by a former prime minister who has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape corruption charges.
The country’s most famous fugitive, Thaksin Shinawatra, circles the globe in his private jet, chatting with ministers over his dozen cellphones, texting over various social media platforms and reading government documents e-mailed to him from civil servants, party officials say. The NYT piece would also report:
“He’s the one who formulates the Pheu Thai policies,” said Noppadon Pattama, a senior official in Mr. Thaksin’s party who also serves as his personal lawyer. “Almost all the policies put forward during the last election came from him.”
Image: The New York Times openly admits that Thailand is currently run by unelected convicted criminal/fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. Clearly any proxy government or elections in which it participates in are illegitimate by both Thai and international standards. Thaksin’s foreign ties are what have afforded him impunity regarding an otherwise cartoonish, 3rd world dictatorship.
There is no question that an accused mass murderer and convicted criminal hiding abroad from a 2 year jail sentence, multiple arrest warrants, and a long list of pending court cases, is illegally running Thailand by proxy. Being unelected, Thaksin Shinawatra is by all accounts a dictator, and his “government” a regime, however cleverly they try to dress it up.
In this context, protesters blocking “elections” seeking to reinstall this illegitimate regime run openly by a convicted criminal wouldn’t seem so unreasonable, perhaps justified – which is precisely why the BBC intentionally omits this fact.
And while regime supporters attempting to cast ballots during Sunday’s advance voting was cited as an indication that the “majority” wants to vote, several facts should be kept in mind. Despite a larger number of eligible voters this year compared to 2011, those registering for advance voting has actually declined (2.6 million in 2011 vs. 2.1 million in 2014). And even in 2011’s elections, the final tally conducted in 2011 by Thailand’s Election Commission showed that Thaksin Shinawatra’s proxy political party received 15.7 million votes out of the estimated 32.5 million voter turnout (turnout of approx. 74% – voting is compulsory in Thailand). This gave Thaksin’s proxy party a mere 48% of those who cast their votes on July 3rd (not even half), and out of all eligible voters, only a 35% mandate to actually “lead” the country.
Desperate Dictatorship & Western Backers Can Only Delay the Inevitable
It is difficult to understand how there are people still claiming terrorism, assassination, plus draconian emergency decrees, plus nepotist criminal party leaders running in one-party elections, all somehow equal “democracy.” It is much easier to see how they all add up to a dictatorship desperately trying to disguise itself as “democratic.” With such brazen, dangerous, and quite deadly criminality infecting the highest levels of governmental power in Thailand, it is no wonder unprecedented protests have taken to the streets, and will continue to do so until Thaksin Shinawatra and his corrosive effect on the nation has been uprooted completely and permanently.
Whatever the outcome over the next few weeks and months, resistance and awareness will only grow. If Thaksin manages to cling to power this time, he will only be all the weaker the next time around. The disadvantage of being deceitful and exploitative, is that eventually people will uncover the truth. Once these people wake up, they will not go back to sleep. Those with the truth on their side, also have time on their side – all they need is the patience to use it to their advantage.
Read other contributed articles by Tony Cartalucci here.