The anger of the ordinary people has finally erupted into violence with numerous buildings being set on fire in Bangkok and the provinces. People are also trying to use any means to fight the army. There are reports that government buildings, banks, the stock exchange, luxury shopping malls, and pro-military media are all being set on fire.
All this is totally justified . . . why?
1. The government and the army have repeatedly used armed soldiers, assassination squads, snipers and tanks to kill unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators since April. The death toll will easily reach 80 with thousands injured.
2. This state-sponsored violence against civilians was carried out in order that Abhisit’s military-backed government could stay in power and avoid elections for as long as possible. It was never elected in the first place. The government is a product of military and judicial coups since 2006.
3. The Red Shirts have repeatedly offered talks and compromises, yet the government has answered with bullets.
4. In a democracy, the people should be the ultimate decision-makers, not the military, the elites, and the palace. Any demand for democratic elections is totally justified, even if it disrupts shopping centers and luxury hotels.
5. Mealy-mouthed so-called non-violent groups could never bring themselves to put the blame entirely on the shoulders of the government, the military, and Royalist elites, despite the fact that the violence was from the army. They never put their weight behind the huge struggle of the UDD leadership to try to maintain a peaceful and disciplined protest. This is because these organizations supported the coup in 2006 in the first place. They allowed the government to claim that there would be no peace until the protests stopped.
Yet now that the official protest has been drowned in blood and stopped, there will not be peace because there is no justice.
Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai socialist, currently in exile in the U.K. See, also, C.P. Chandrasekhar and Jayati Ghosh, “Thailand: Economic Background to Political Crisis” (MRZine, 21 April 2010).