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Red shirts call for release of detainees

Posted by arnon_k On October - 11 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Motor rally marks clash anniversary

Red shirt demonstrators have used a motor rally around Bangkok to call for the release of almost 300 protesters who have been arrested and detained under the emergency decree over the past six months.

About 1,000 red shirt members yesterday joined the rally to remember the April 10 clashes six months ago between red shirt demonstrators and government forces at Khok Wua intersection. Twenty-six people were killed and over 800 were injured in the clash.

Police arrested red shirt supporters on April 10 and many more in rioting on May 19 when the red shirt rally in Bangkok was brought to an end.

They were charged with breaching the emergency decree and with terrorism, said Chaiwat Trakarnratsanti, coordinator of the Progressive Democracy Group (PDG), which organised yesterday’s rally.

“We want the government to release all red shirt detainees immediately because they are not terrorists,” Mr Chaiwat said.

“They are innocent civilians who just wanted to express their political stance.”

The red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship set up camp in Bangkok’s streets from March 12 to May 19 to demand that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government dissolve the House and call a general election.

The protest turned violent a second time after government forces reclaimed the main demonstration site in the Ratchaprasong area on May 19, bringing an end to the 67-day rally.

Clashes over the period claimed 92 lives and left 1,400 people injured.

The red shirts have been gathering every Sunday in Bangkok and other provinces since to commemorate the clashes.

A woman in her 40s who supports the red shirts said yesterday she and her friends joined the weekly gatherings because the government was treating red shirt supporters unfairly.

State agencies have closed red shirt websites for alleged violations of the Computer Crime Act, she said.

The PDG, an alliance of businessmen and academics, said about 300 red shirt supporters were being held in prisons nationwide.

The group said it would organise activities and gatherings to demand justice for families of the red shirt victims and to call for the release of all red shirt detainees.

Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police were deployed at the rally sites yesterday.

The red shirts gathered at Lumpini Park in the morning to make merit for those who died in the April-May clashes.

They later moved to nearby Ratchaprasong intersection, where the motor rally was launched.

The motor procession moved from Ratchaprasong to Pratunam, Din Daeng, the Victory Monument, Phetchaburi intersection, Phan Fa Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and finished at Khok Wua intersection.

Red shirt supporters lighted red candles and released lanterns into the sky to mourn those who died.

Traffic lanes around the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue were blocked for about an hour amid tight security.

Large crowds turned out.

Sombat Boonngarm-anong, another red shirt leader who organised the candle ceremony, demanded Prime Minister Abhisit apologise to relatives of red shirts who lost loved ones in the clashes.

“People must be held responsible for the violence,” Mr Sombat said.

FP: Thaksin is in “Top 5 Bad Exes”

Posted by arnon_k On October - 11 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Foreign Policy, an U.S. news website, presents a passage by Joshua E. Keating “Bad Exes” that arrange THAKSIN SHINAWATRA ex-prime minister of Thailand in its TOP 5 with other ex-leaders; Chancellor of Germany GERHARD SCHRÖDER, Prime minister of Spain JOSÉ MARÍA AZNAR, President of Nigeria OLESEGUN OBASANJO, President of the Philippines JOSEPH ESTRADA

Bad Exes

Most ex-presidents and former prime ministers devote their lives to making a positive difference in the world, or at least fade away into obscurity. Here are five former leaders who have done neither.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA

Old job: Prime minister of Thailand, 2001-2006

New image: Since being deposed in a 2006 coup amid allegations of graft and human rights abuses, Thaksin has lived a peripatetic existence. The former billionaire businessman has served as a “special ambassador” for Nicaragua and an economic advisor in Cambodia, and was briefly owner of the Manchester City* soccer club. Thaksin reportedly lived under a false name in Germany for more than a year and has used illegally received passports from a number of other countries as well. He now makes his home in Dubai.

This year, Thaksin’s supporters, known as “red shirts,” occupied central Bangkok and stormed government buildings throughout the country in an effort to force the government to step down. Around 90 people were killed in the ensuing clashes between often-armed protesters and police before the two sides agreed to a cease-fire. Thai courts charged Thaksin in absentia for his role in fomenting the protests. Although Thaksin was vocally supportive of the red shirts — he once called into a rally and promised “to make all Thais rich” if his supporters were able to regain political power — he denies funding their efforts. He has also been convicted on additional corruption charges since going into exile, though he maintains that those charges are politically motivated.

Since the red shirts’ defeat, Thaksin has cut back on his media appearances and political activities. In August, he gave up his position with the Cambodian government, helping ease relations between the two countries.

Suthep, Worawut register for by-election

Posted by arnon_k On October - 8 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

Candidates for the two major parties registered for the Surat Thani by-election on Friday, the last day for candidate registration.

Worawut Wichaidit of the opposition Puea Thai Party registered about 7.30am, followed by Suthep Thaugsuban of the Democrat Party. Mr Suthep resigned as deputy prime minister to run in the Oct 30 constituency 1 by-election.

Chairman of the Puea Thai Party Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Puea Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit accompanied Mr Worawut.

Mr Worawut said he does not expect to win the poll, but offers himself as an alternative for voters.

Mr Suthep said he would like the by-election to be fair and transparent.

In the draw for ballot paper positions, Mr Worawut got No.1 and Mr Suthep No.2.

Blast horror justifies decree, says Suthep

Posted by arnon_k On October - 8 - 2010 ADD COMMENTS

The fatal bomb blast at an apartment in Nonthaburi justifies extension of emergency rule in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban says.

Militants are bent on committing acts of sabotage in the capital, Mr Suthep said yesterday in response to a question in parliament by Puea Thai Party MP Wicharn Meechainant.

The deputy prime minister said emergency rule allowed security authorities to work more efficiently when the capital was under threat.

Mr Wicharn demanded to know on what basis the government extended emergency rule. He also questioned the effectiveness of the law after a spate of recent bomb threats and attacks.

Mr Suthep said militants were attempting to cause unrest in the city and the apartment blast on Tuesday evening justified the government’s extended enforcement of emergency rule.

“We found unexploded bombs [at the apartment],” Mr Suthep told the House.

“It is a clear indication that people are attempting to cause trouble.

“The government needs to enforce the special law because ordinary laws aren’t enough to contain the situation.”

The Bang Bua Thong apartment blast killed four people including the suspected bomber, Chiang Mai resident Samai Wongsuwan, and left nine others injured.

Police last night found an assault rifle, four rocket-propelled grenades and a grenade launcher at a shophouse close to an old office of the Puea Thai Party in Bang Rak district.

Pol Lt Col Kamthon Ouicharoen, of the Patrol and Special Operation Division, said the shophouse owner found the weapons in a rented room at 8.45pm.

The owner stopped by last night to inspect the room, long ago abandoned by tenants, and alerted police when he found the weapons.

He said Bang Rak police were taking charge of the investigation.

Earlier in the day, a hand grenade had been found in a pile of garbage in Soi Prachachuen 31 in Bang Sue district.

A food shop worker spotted the device while taking the garbage out and alerted police.

Pol Col Natthawat Kandee, superintendent of Prachachuen police station, said the grenade contained no explosive charge.

He said the device was unlikely to be part of a bomb scare and was not intended to threaten Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwannakhiri whose house is about 400 metres from where the garbage was found.

Meanwhile, police spokesman Prawut Thawornsiri said yesterday fingerprints taken from the severed arm of the fourth body found in the Nonthaburi apartment bombing match those of key suspect Samai.

Police have fingerprints on record of Samai after the militant red shirt was arrested last year in Chiang Mai.

Pol Maj Gen Prawut said materials needed to make bombs were not restricted substances and are widely available.

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