Redshirts Urged Not To Confront Anti-Amnesty Protesters

Riot police rehearsing crowd control tactics on 31 July in Bangkok, ahead of upcoming anti-government protests.

(31 July) As
anti-government activists planned at least 2 upcoming major protests, a prominent Redshirts leader
pleaded to his supporters that they should not stage a counter-protest or confront their
rivals.

Mr. Jatupon Prompan, who also served as an MP for the Pheu Thai Party, said violent
confrontation is exactly what the anti-government forces want to see.

At least 2 protests
were planned by anti-government activists: the one on 4 August will be organized by activists
opposed to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra who is
currently serving as Prime Minister, while the protest on 7 August will be focused on opposing the
government-sponsored amnesty bill.

The bill, if passed, will grant amnesty to Redshirts
protesters currently imprisoned for their alleged crimes during their mass protests in 2010.

The Redshirts argue the detainees were implicated in false crimes by the authorities at the
time, but the opposition Democrat Party and its allies insist the amnesty bill amounts to bending
the laws to forgive criminal thugs.

The protests on 7 August will be held around the House of
Parliament, where the amnesty bill will be debated. Mr. Jatupon warned his fellow Redshirts not to
stage a counter-rally or disrupt the anti-government protesters there.

He said he would meet
with local leaders of the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) on 3 August
to make sure they reach mutual understanding about the matter.

In normal situation, we would
respect the freedom of all Redshirts [to stage rallies]. But this is not normal situation, Mr.
Jatupon told our correspondent, adding that the Redshirts should let the government handle the
upcoming protests.

He went on to criticize Mr. Suthep Theugsuban, a senior Democrat MP, for
encouraging people to join the anti-government protests on 7 August. Mr. Jatupon said the gesture
has made it clear the Democrat Party is behind the protests, using extra-parliamentary means to
overthrow the elected government.

The Redshirt MP insisted the amnesty bill would not cover
the legal cases against him and other Redshirts leaders of the 2010 protests, as the bill would only
give amnesty to ordinary protesters.

Meanwhile, the representative of People′s Army
Overthrowing Thaksin Regime said his group would not reveal the location of the protest on 4 August
yet, since the authorities might try to stop the protest.

The representative, Mr. Taikorn
Polsuwan, said he will also submit letters of explanation to many foreign Embassies in Bangkok to
explain situation and facts to the foreign governments.

He stressed that his group would
stick to non-violence. Asked if his group would join another protest on 7 August, Mr. Takorn said it
is still too early to tell.

Government officials had previously expressed their wish to
invoke a public security laws in some districts of Bangkok to contain the planned protests in a more
robust way. The laws – Internal Security Act – would permit the authorities to seal off certain
roads and buildings or even declare a curfew.

A high-ranking official at National Security
Council estimated the protesters would number at least 10,000 people.