Amnesty & Reconciliation: The Shinawatra Family caught between The Red Shirts and Abhisit?

Red Shirts protest on Ratchaprasong intersecti...

Red Shirts protest on Ratchaprasong intersection in 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The attorney general Monday decided to have former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban charged in court for their role in the fatal crackdowns on red-shirt protesters in 2010. The two will be charged for causing others to commit murders with foreseeable results by having the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation issue crackdown orders. What will Abhisit do now? He plans an all out protest on the Amnesty Bill.

  • Amnesty?

There is a great number of Thais that are in jail or will be in jail in the future, for political activities since the 2006 Coup. Traditionally in Thailand, things come and go in cycle, and Thailand had gone through something like the 2006 coup before. In all of the past dictatorship vs democracy torrents of cycle, those involved have mostly been granted amnesty, it is only the question of proper time. The Yingluck government has proposed an Amnesty Bill, and at Parliament, it went into the various vetting and reading and voting, as a watered down version of amnesty, involving just the people involved, not the top people that are involved. Somehow, at Parliament a “Entire Top to Bottom” Amnesty was considered in one of the steps, that will go to the final voting by Parliament. That has stirred a hornet’s nest of hate Thaksin and hate Yingluck people, but of course, these are mostly the old gangs and old people.

The Amnesty Bill, which currently targets a blanket “Top to Bottom” amnesty, for all those involved in the Thai political divide that had erupted since the 2006 coup, have cause wide-spread debate in Thailand, about the relationship between the Shinawatra Family and the Red Shirts, as with the amnesty, Thaksin could walk free and return to Thailand, but also sees those responsible for the killing of about 100 Red Shirts protesters, also let go from facing justice. Thaksin wants freedom to return to Thailand and the “Re-Set” Thailand to re-start the country again, with the slate wiped clean for everyone, and the Red Shirts wants accountability to the killing. The debate had raised the question, also, about a democracy vs dictatorship cycle, as in the past, mostly, there has always been an amnesty for all, and thus many argue, promotes a cycle.

  • The following is a Fact Sheet about Thailand’s attempt at Amnesty:

Fact 1) Thailand is ranked 4th globally for coups and after every dictatorship vs democracy torrent cycle, eventually there is an amnesty, that have even also included lifting and return of assets seized by the coup makers from politicians, that the coup makers went after for corruption. Thaksin, with his assets seized is both unique and not unique. He is not unique, in that people in his place have been granted amnesty before and assets returned, but he is unique, in that the elite establishment is using hate Thaksin, to keep alive their philosophy in Thailand. Meaning in other upheaval in Thailand, events return to normal, but with Thaksin, the elite establishment will not accept and allow normalcy.

Fact 2) In past upheaval in Thailand, like the Red Shirts who were killed by the Abhisit‘s government, Thai citizens were also killed before. However, those who did the killing in the past, like military generals, have escaped all prosecution and the killing is much forgotten by the Thai people, and the generals who is responsible for the killing, went on living normal lives. However, with the Abhisit government killing, the victim, being the Red Shirts is a powerful grassroots movement with millions of membership and followers and they refuse to forget and let-go, but want those responsible for the killing to be punished.

Fact 3) There is great speculation on what happened and who ordered, for the current “Tamed” amnesty bill, to be tentatively transform into a “Broad Top Down” amnesty bill, that could see Thaksin also being granted amnesty, along with Abhisit and the military, for the killings. At this point no one can confirm what occurred, except that on the committee vetting the amnesty bill, sits large numbers of Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party members. Abhisit could benefit from the top-down amnesty bill, as he is getting closer and closer to being charged with murder and cases in court so far has went mostly against him. However, Thaksin Twittered that Abhisit is not afraid of the courts, because the Thai courts, part of the elite establishment, will likely protect Abhisit, in the final analysis and judgment.

Fact 4) Most in jail right now for political activity associated with the pro-longed Thai political crisis, are the Red Shirts and supporter of Thaksin. Others, such as the Yellow Shirts and their leaders, have mostly been granted bail. The Red Shirts wants their rank and files out of jail and supports the water-down amnesty bill that would grant amnesty to the ranks and files, but oppose the “Wide Top Down” amnesty bill. Abhisit oppose all amnesty bill, citing that the Red Shirts are terrorists who broke the law, went killing themselves and burned down Bangkok. This message is important for Abhisit to keep alive as it helps the party gain votes with the hate Thaksin, hate Yingluck and hate red Shirts crowd in Thailand. He of course, going crazy just from hearing about a “Wide Top Down” amnesty that could see Thaksin walking free in Thailand.

Fact 5) Thaksin have said he is not in a hurry to return to Thailand and had offered to stop his involvement in Thai politics, if his opponents did the same. In response to that offer, Abhisit’s Dems, went crazy, and attacked Thaksin, in its regular meet their voter base, about 100 times more fiercely. And Thaksin continued his involvement in Thai politics. Yingluck says Thaksin is her advisor but she makes the final decision. There is lots of mostly propaganda that this is not true, that Yingluck is a Thaksin Pupet or Clone, but Thai press is filled with news, hinting that there are much disagreement between Thaksin and Yingluck, and at times they compromise, at times Yingluck gets her way and at times, Thaksin gets his way. Yingluck, of course, wants to help her brother Thaksin, but is also faced with the reality that Thaksin is the most effective tool, being used by the elite establishment, to cling to their philosophy and as a tool to topple her from power. So, overall, Yingluck, perhaps, favor the water-down amnesty bill.

Fact 6) Concerning how the Thai people feel as a whole, there have been many polls, but most of the polls point to a fear that the amnesty bill issue will get out of hand, and cause re-newed political crisis in Thailand.

Fact 7) Globally, amnesty and reconciliation are concepts that have worked together hand in hand, however, it works under the condition that the society at large is ready to both remember the past and forgive what occurred in the past, and move forward with a shared vision. The problem for Thailand, is that the elite establishment are no willing to do that as it will mean, accepting democracy, liberty and justice and leave their Bangkok Liberal Philosophy behind. That Bangkok Liberal philosophy namely says democracy must be tamed and control, to give the so called “Good People” meaning the elite establishment, the ability to counter-balance, the so called “Bad People” being all things Thaksin and the Red Shirts. Most neutral observer says all of that is a propaganda lie adults tells the young kids, as all it is about is that the elite establishment does not want to lose its special status and power, over Thailand.

Fact 8) Thailand is a country that have been hit with “Judicialization” by an elite leaning activist court and the courts, such as the Constitutional Court, may take action that supports the elite establishment such as killing the amnesty bill, in any shape of form.

Fact 9) Abhisit’s Dems representing the elite establishment have lost every general election in about 20 years, signaling deep root re-elction of the elite establishment by the majority of the Thais. Also, in polls after polls, about 70% to 80% of the Thais want democracy and about 20% to 30% wants some form of dictatorship, meaning the elite establishment to be in power.

Fact 10) Emotions is running wild on all sides, on the amnesty bill, but Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party is assessing the situation and taking a wait and see attitude. It is yet to be seen if the issue will settle down or will it gyrate out of control, as the elite establishment is depending on, hoping for the issue to help generate people to its various protest to topple Yingluck and it is busy and tying to fan it into a “Wild-Fire” issue.

Fact 11) Just to mention briefly, because of lese majeste, but Thailand is a Constitutional Menarche, and what that means in itself and to Thailand is a subject that impacts Thai politics, and both directly and in-directly, impacts Thailand as it is and what it will become, and thus, impacts both amnesty and reconciliation in Thailand. Thai Intel cannot provide more on this publicly because of lese majeste.

  • The following is the fact sheet About the Shinawatra Family and the Red Shirts:

Fact 1) Before Thaksin came to power in Thiland, the grass-roots were maginalized, meaning little representation into the Thai political process, ignored by the elite establishment of Bangkok, who shared political power, as a limited competing oligopoly. But since Thaksin came to power, with his various populous policies that targeted the majority of the Thai people, the people became involved and linked to politics, with many especially in the Issan Region and Northern Thailand, with also many in the Central Plains, seeing Thaksin as a hero.

Fact 2) The 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin, angered many who saw Thaksin as a hero, and saw a small movement of various group of people, began activity against the coup. One such group, the Red Shirts, began to emerge and incorporated other groups under its umbrella, and with Thaksin, fresh in the minds of most of the Thais as a hero, the Red Shirts, fighting against the coup, the Red Shirts and Thaksin, became close ally, in struggling against the forces of the 2006 coup, and its various entrenchment into the Thai society, structurally. Unconfirmed reports say Thaksin created the Red Shirts, as a tool for his fight against the establishment. But on this, there has never been actual proof, mostly just a belief, often citing circumstantial evidence.

Fact 3) From a mission of fighting against the 2006 coup, the Red Shirts began to a process of developing a self-identity, as a force, to promote Democracy, Liberty and Justice in Thailand, starting first with liberty, for freedom against being control and under the establishment, to justice, for demanding the end to the wide-spread “Double Standard” application of justice in Thailand, prejudice against the people, privilege to the elite. Then the movement began to stress democracy, namely the concept of by the people, of the people and for the people. This transformation began and took roots, for years, through the struggle with the elite establishmt. Thaksin, throughout the process, was seen as an important ally and driving force.

Fact 4) The time, that strongly united Thaksin and the Red Shirts together, but perhaps some conflict as well, was during the protest of the Abhisit government, at the Rajprasong intersection, where Thaksin was greatly involved in the Red Shirts protest there, making repeated video link into the protest, giving encouragement, to keep up the protest and to struggle on. The Red Shirts leadership, meanwhile, split, into hawks and doves, with those wanting to negotiate with Abhisit, for an election, some time down the road, and those who wants to keep up the struggle, in pressing for Abhisit to call election, in the near term. Thaksin favored struggle on for a quick election, and urged the Red Shirts to struggle on.

Fact 5) That perhaps Thaksin and Red Shirts conflict, could be confirmed, by reports that says Seh Daeng, a Thai army general, went to see Thaksin in the Middle East, and gain Thaksin support, for Seh Dang, to take care of the Red Shirts security. Seh Dang and the Red Shirts leader, often have differing strategy, with Seh Daeng, a hawk on security, highly focused on defense for the Red Shirts, where the Red Shirts were struggling to shake off accusation, from the elite establishment, that the Red Shirts movement was aggressive. In one such instant, on the gate of the Chula Hospital, conflict broke out between Seh Daeng and the Red Shirts, with Seh Daeng, saying allowing the gate to be open was a security risk, but a Red Shirts leader, disagreed, and went to the gate and opened the gate. The situation was complicate, because Seh Daeng was close to Thaksin, and the red Shirts leaders were also close to Thaksin.

Fact 6) Seh Daeng was eventually assassinated by the elite establishment, before it made a move to dispel the Red Shirts from Rajprasong. In that break-up of the Red Shirts protest, about 100 Red Shirts protesters were killed by the Abhisit government, and the killing, went deep into the psyche of the Red Shirts, as proof of the brutality and murderous ways of the elite establishment, and everything that is wrong about Thailand. The killing, also raised the Red Shirts, to go down in history, as a people’s movement, that had suffered the most number of killed, by the elite establishment. At this point, the Red Shirts and also most neutral observer, says Abhisit’s government, and the elite establishment that supports him, had lost all legitimacy, to be involved in Thailand’s politics.

Fact 7) Abhisit stay in power, however, and called for a general election, and went twisting everything, from amending the constitution to weaken Thaksin’s chances of winning, to allocating billions of baht worth of budget to buy political allegiances. Many Red Shirts and others were alarmed, as Abhisit manipulated the odds against Thaksin, and were calling for and boycott of the election, and also re-news protest, such as Rajprasong again, as while the crack-down on Rajprasong had dispersed the Red Shirts, but within months, even with all its leaders in jail, massive gathering of the Red Shirts occurred, again drawing 10s of 1,000s to Rajprasong again, for one day gathering event. It was a show of staying power of the Red Shirts. In these gathering, Thaksin was not involved in any way, but mostly spontaneously occurred.

Fact 8) Leading up to the election, with Yingluck, she campaigned on Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous Policy, and while Yingluck’s call for Reconciliation, was questioned by some Red Shirts, as to what it meant, by and large, it was ignored, and the Red Shirts, threw its weight in support of the Yingluck campaign. She won the election, by a land-slide, and noted by many Red Shirts, is that there were little Red Shirts leader represented in her government. Yingluck, true to her election campaign, after the flood crisis, began to focus on Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous. The Red Shirts continued their gathering, on important dates, and Thaksin would video link into the gathering, but the distance between Thaksin and the Red Shirts emerge, with Thaksin taking about reconciliation, with Thaksin words in that video link, greatly criticized by Red Shirts.

Fact 9) Yingluck, originally and early on, compromised with the Red Shirts, and went for a water-down reconciliation, involving just the rank and files. But the latest development is a wide “Top To Bottom” amnesty, that would grant amnesty to all, where the Red Shirts head leader, Thida, says she can not betray the people and allow those who did the killing to walk free. This bought up, also speculation, of a deal between Thaksin and the elite establishment, to allow him back to Thailand when the time is right as a free person, and for the Thai military to be off the hook of the killing. Thaksin favors a “Blanket top down amnesty” but Thaksin and Yingluck relationship overall, is at times compromise, at times Yingluck gets her way and at times, Thaksin gets his way.

Fact 10) Yingluck’s government, increasingly, as having survive several challenges by the elite establishment, also without a great deal of active help from the Red Shirts, but with the Red Shirts, acting like a powerful reserves, was getting stronger and stronger as time pass. Her populous policies, like Thaksin, such as rice and infrastructure, are winning her government incredible allies, across Thailand, even many from the elite establishment. The Red Shirts meanwhile, show no signs that its popularity is abating, and its commitment to Democracy, Liberty and Justice, has never been more pronounced and accepted as a fundamental fact about the nature of the Red Shirts.

Fact 11) Many in the Red Shirts movement, wants the Red Shirts, to transform itself into a political party. In the Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party, there is a Red Shirts caucus. If a recent poll of the Issan is an indicator, Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party remains popular, dropping a bit, but most said they will not vote for Abhisit’s Dems, no matter what. An election is about two years away. The Shinawatra Family is very popular in Northern Thailand. The Red Shirts, apart from Issan, is also strong with the lower middle income downward, in the cities and town across Thailand. In Issan, most Red Shirts are both pro Red Shirts and Thaksin. Abhiit’s Dems, have cornered the Southern Thais. The Central Plains is a major battle ground for all, except Abhisit’s Dems.

Fact 12) Thailand continues to be hit with a “Judicialization” by activist justice system and independent units that leans towards the elite establishment, represented by Abhisit Dems. The court and independent units, since the 2006 coup and a little before that, is a constant threat to the survival of anything related to Thaksin.

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