Redshirts Gearing Up For Coup Anniversary

Tanks positioned outside the Government House in the night of 19 September 2006.

(18 September) Redshirts
activists have vowed to take to the streets tomorrow to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the
military coup which ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in September 2006.

The
2006 coup is generally regarded as a turning point in Thai modern history, sparking the turbulent
period which saw the appointments and elections of 5 Prime Ministers in the space of 7 years, and
occasional outbursts of political violence that have claimed more than 100 lives.

Ms. Suda
Rungkupan, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University and the leader of Redshirts-allied Declaration of
Street Justice group, said her group would gather in front of the Parliament House in Bangkok
tomorrow to attend a rally named Remember the 7 Disgraceful Years.

The rally would
criticise the 2006 coup, Ms. Suda, which she said has led to numerous human rights violations, such
as the military crackdown on the Redshirts protesters in 2010 in which more than 90 people had been
killed and over 1,800 individuals arrested.

She also cited the spike in arrests over lese
majeste (insults of the monarchy) as a result of the 2006 coup, which was supported by the Thai
royalist factions.

Ms. Suda said the Thai public has been forced to swallow the
military-backed 2007 Constitution which greatly limited the power of the electoral institutions. She
called for a swift amendment to the Constitution, especially to allow a fully elected Senate
body.

Apart from Declaration of Street Justice group, the 24 June Democracy network will also
organise an activity to commemorate the fateful day.

Representatives of the group said they
aimed to gather at Ratchaprasong Intersection in downtown Bangkok – the main site of Redshirts
protests in 2010 – where they would be holding candle-lit vigil and laying down flowers.

However, the official leadership of the Redshirts, the National United Front of Democracy
Against Dictatorship (UDD), has refused to organise any street rally to commemorate the coup
anniversary, contrary to previous years.

Ms. Thida Tojirakarn, the chairwoman of UDD,
explained her organisation′s puzzling refusal to stage a rally that he display of the people′s
power is not appropriate in the current situation.

It is better to commemorate the coup by
organising an academic panel discussion, Ms. Thida.

Nevertheless, the chairwoman stressed
that the UDD still condemns the 2006 coup as a grave mistake which has sown deep division in the
Thai society. But, she said, the democratic camp has grown stronger in the past years, while the
Ammart (traditional elite) grows more desperate.

Mr. Sombat Boon-ngarmanong,
coordinator of Red Sunday group, said the Thai public has learned from the 2006 coup that military
intervention cannot solve any problem.

He cited an opinion poll conducted in the aftermath of
the coup which claimed that over 80% of the Thai public
agree with the coup. If they do the poll
again today, I believe those people won?t dare agree with it anymore said Mr. Sombat, who also
co-founded
the 19 Sep Network, the first activist
group to publicly oppose the coup in 2006.

Asked if he believed there would be another coup
in Thailand, Mr. Sombat said he is not so sure, but he expressed his confidence that any potential
coup leader would be deterred by the popular resistance that would follow the coup.

But the
problem is that today we still have intellectuals and academia who oppose the amendment of the 2007
Constitution, Mr. Sombat told our correspondent, They are like the obedient kids of the coup
junta.