I often get asked about what people can do outside Thailand to help in the struggle for democracy and social justice. After the appalling events of the past few days we can all help in the campaign against the Abhisit Government’s misinformation in our local media. We can also help support any campaign to bring these bloody rulers to justice and any campaign for free and fair elections.
But a new priority now is to defend the political prisoners. The Red Shirt leadership are facing the absurd charges of “terrorism.” They are also accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy. Although the belief in a republic is not a crime, especially after the fact that the King refused to say anything to stop the bloodshed, the top Red Shirt leaders have never expressed anti-monarchy views.
Equally important, we must not forget and ignore the hundreds of ordinary Red Shirt people who have been rounded up by the military and thrown in jail. They will face a number of different charges, but they must all be seen as illegitimate and political charges, even if they involve fighting back physically, blocking roads, or even setting fire to buildings. It is the oppression and brutality of the military and the elites which is the root cause of any violence among the Red Shirts.
We cannot rest until they are all released. So we can all support any campaign for the prisoners when such campaigns are organized.
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).