- By Frank and Stingray, this blog political and national security journalist
- Red Shirt Electrified with Excitement and Anticipation:
The Red Shirt have, at this latest preliminary semi-confirmed report, set the date of 20th February to kick-off a new “Heightened State” of their struggle for democracy and social justice in Thailand.
The target is for about 1 million protesters to converge and spread across Bangkok-with a string of smaller protest across the country.
- Key Question:
- The key question is if such a large number of protesters shows up, that would disrupt Bangkok and perhaps brings the city to a standstill.
- Thus the government would have to respond.
- How the government will respond is critical.
- In a similar situation last year, the government responded by firing live bullets across the heads of protesters.
- Back-Pack for Long Protest Stay:
News of the impending gathering had “Electrified” the Red Shirt with excitements. Many Red Shirt are asking their friends, with Red Shirt protest experiences, what to take along for a long protest stay.
“Be prepared to sleep on mats and so bring along mats. It will also be very hot and crowded, so bring along changes of shirts, hats and cold towels. The toilets will also be scarce, so bring paper along and scout out where the toilets are in advance. Then the regular amenities for the mornings. The food might get a bit difficult to reach with so many people, so bring along lots of food bar supplements. Then some readings and portable chairs to get comfortable,” said Mao, a regular Red Shirt protester, to this blog.
Above all else, listens to the Red Shirt guard and follow their lead. If the government uses violence, stay calm, seek cover and avoid confrontation. It unknown explosions or gunfire goes off, listen to Red Shirt media, do not believe the government, ” said Mao.
- Red Shirt Long Deliberation:
The 20th of February protest move, semi-confirmed report, comes after deliberations inside the Red Shirt between before or after, the Taksin’s assets nationalization case decision on the 26th of February. Some inside the Red Shirt movement want a date after the case has been decided, so that the movement would not be criticized.
Much of the protesters are expected to come from E-Sarn and Northern Thailand, where the Red Shirt have been active with its Red Shirt Schools and also a Red Shirt membership drive.
A Red Shirt commander and personal guard to Chartuporn, a Red Shirt leader, Fat, told this blog today, that if the 1 million protest march, throughout Bangkok, fails to bring the government down, in the short-term, the Red Shirt were prepared for a long-term struggle.
“We are concern about Taksin’s getting a double standard treatment in the assets case, however, whatever the outcome, there are other issues on the agenda,” said fat.
Fat said the “Key Driver” of future gathering includes, among others:
- Ruling to dissolve the ruling Democrat Party of Abhisit
- Ruling on the Yellow Shirt occupation of the airport and government house
- Ruling on a string of corruption charges on the prime minister, Abhisit
- No-confidence motion on government corruption
- Future petition against Thailand’s army chief for his unconstitutional political activities
- Future petition against the privy council for their unconstitutional political activities
- Long-Term Struggle a Definite “Go”
Fat told this blog yesterday, that the Red Shirt have shifted their strategy for long-term struggle.
- “We were told to prepare for long-term struggle and to forget reaching a climax with the current situation all together. The focus is now to protect the lives and security of protesters against government violence. We are switching from offense to defensive now,” said Fat.
- “We were told that if we can knock out the government, in the near future, it would be positive and that still is a “go.” But they also told us not to risk it all and think long-term,” Fat added.
- The Key Question is can Red Shirt Keep Coming Back?
The move follows a severe internal struggle inside the Red Shirt movement, between a short-term strategy to win the battle, or a long-term strategy to win the war. Winning the battle means putting it all on the line and go on the offense. Winning the war means long-term struggle-with an eye on justifications and resources.
That apparent shift is echoed by another leader of the Red Shirt, Wang, who leads the Bangkok Red Shirt movement.
Wang just said that it is the objective of the Red Shirt now, to amend the constitution according to the findings of a public body that recommended a broad range of reforms to the current military drawn constitution-to which this move reverse earlier red Shirt move to bring back the older people’s constitution.
The moves comes also amidst re-fresh allegations, made by Red Shirt Hawk, Sae Daeng, the there are those who will get a cut from Tanksin’s assets which the regulations actually allowed, and also the threat to expose the back ground of about 10 judges. These again points to long-term strategies.
The long-term struggle rational had been tabled to the Red Shirt for considered quite a while back by behind the scenes Red Shirt philosophers, like Jai Ungpakorn and others. Only a few days ago, Thai E-News, the official news outlet of the Red Shirt, also pleaded for a long-term struggle.
However, the strongest indication, are from the sources who told this blog that Taksin now believes that all his assets will be nationalized and has shifted gear to getting them back with a referendum when he gains power again in Thailand-with the open possibility to form a government in exile and take the case to the World Court.
- Many Red Shirt are “Doubtful” about the viability of such long term struggle:
Fat asked this blog, “The rationale will always be there because the Amart being the Amart, they will always be problems in the Thai society, but my worry is that these long-term campaign, needs a great deal of resources. Where will it come from.”
This blog agrees with Fat, to a certain extent-resources and reserves are critical.
The Red Shirt now is getting close to being entirely internally-funded, having staged many successful fund raising events. Additionally, many of its activities, actually charge the Red Shirt for participating in.
At the crux of the Red Shirt long-term strategy is the Red Shirt schools-which are in great numbers and having graduated many graduate classes already. These classes are taught mostly by university students who are dedicated towards democracy and social-justice. The classes are hugely popular with the Red Shirt supporters.