Red Activists Honour Poet's Murder

BANGKOK — Redshirt supporters gathered in a temple in Bangkok today to mark the 100th day after a prominent Redshirt poet and activist was murdered.

The religious ceremony was held at Sri Mahathat Temple in Bang Khen district to honour the spirit of Kamol Duangphasuk, aka Mai Nueng Gor Gunthee, per Buddhist tradition.

Over 100 activists attended the ceremony, including Maj. Putthinat Paholpolpayuhasena, whose father, Phraya Paholpolpayuhasena, helped lead the 1932 revolution that established constitutional democracy in Thailand. His ashes are also interred at the temple. 

Mr. Kamol was shot dead in a restaurant parking lot by two masked men in Bangkok on 23 April. Although police have not officially established a motive behind the murder, many believe it was a political assassination as Mr. Kamol was a vocal Redshirt activist. He frequently criticised the establishment and spearheaded a campaign to repeal lese majeste laws, which criminalise any defamation of the monarchy.

He is also thought to have belonged to the "radical" wing of the Redshirts, with ties to the group's underground militants

But Mr. Kamol's supporters insisted at the ceremony today that the poet was a peaceful activist who sought to inspire change through his writing. Suthachai Yimprasert, history lecturer and Redshirt activist, said Mr. Kamol was an important thinker to many Redshirts and his death dealt a huge blow to the group’s movement.

"Mai Nueng's poetry has the power to inspire bravery," Mr. Suthachai said.

The professor, who teaches at Chulalongkorn University, likened the poet's death to the assassination of Maj.Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol, aka Commander Red, during the Redshirt protests in May 2010.

"It's a sign that the establishment wants to suppress all Redshirts who dare to protest," Mr. Suthachai said. "As long as the country has no democracy, there will be no justice for these victims."

Organisers of the ceremony distributed booklets containing Mr. Kamol's poems and writing. Police officers observed the ceremony but did not intervene, suggesting that authorities granted a rare permission for Redshirts to gather and commemorate Mr. Kamol's death.

Since the 22 May military coup authorities have arrested or chased away many Redshirt activists for attempting to participate public gatherings, which are currently banned under martial law. 

 

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