UDD Pledges New Rally, Demands Swift Election

UDD leader Jatupon Prompan speaks to Redshirt supporters on 17 April, 2014.

BANGKOK — Redshirt leader Jatupon Prompan and his deputy Nattawut Saikua have thanked the Criminal Court for dismissing the request to have their bails revoked.

Former Democrat MP Satit Pitutacha had requested the court revoke the bail release of Mr. Jatupon and Mr. Nattawut, who are currently facing charges for the Redshirt protests in 2010, on the grounds that both men have urged supporters to commit violence and other illegal actions in recent months.

But the court denied Mr. Satit's request in a ruling yesterday, which neither Mr. Jatupon nor Mr. Nattawut attended; lawyers representing both activists said they were ill. 

The court nevertheless warned Mr. Jatupon and Mr. Nattawut to exercise caution and refrain from making hateful speeches at future rallies.

Shortly after the court decision was announced, Mr. Jatupon and Mr. Nattawut—who did not seem to be visibly afflicted by any illness—appeared at a press conference of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) to express their thanks to the judges. 

Mr. Jatupon, who is serving as the chairman of the UDD, added that he believes the court's advice for caution concerning his future speeches is not necessary because the UDD has always been committed to struggles in a non-violent manner.

"No matter how bitter we are, we are always certain we will win in the end, and we believe that wars cannot be ended by wars," Mr. Jatupon said. "They can only be ended by peace."

The UDD chairman also told the crowd of supporters that his team has already surveyed the area around Aksa Avenue in Nakhon Pathom province as a preparation for the next mass rally in which Redshirts will show their support for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

The UDD had previously scheduled the rally on 18 April but called off the event at last minute, citing fears of possible clashes with rival protesters.

"I ask all of you to wait for the signal of mobilisation," Mr. Jatupon said. 

Mr. Nattawut said he was greatly relieved by the court's decision. "I have listened to news from many directions, and I was sure I would have my bail revoked," Mr. Nattawut said at the press conference. 

The activist insisted that he is determined to continue the "fight to overthrow the tyrannical movements which are bent on destroying this country's democracy."

"I also would like to remind Mr. Suthep of his promise that if the Redshirt rally has more people than the fully mobilised PCAD, he will roll up his mat and go home," Mr. Nattawut said, referring to Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State. "When that day comes, I would like to see Mr. Suthep stick to his words."

Meanwhile, Ms. Thida Thawornseth, chief adviser to the UDD, urged the Election Commission to organise a new general election as soon as possible, stating that the country has suffered grave instability due to the lack of a functioning government.

"[An election] is the best way to solve the conflict," Ms. Thida said. "If all of us still want to find a solution, this must be the solution. Any other solution, such as an unelected Prime Minister or an unelected Parliament, will only lead the country to disaster.”

Ms. Thida continued, "Therefore, all brothers and sisters must ready themselves, because the situation can change at any time … we have a firm resolution not to let this country taking a step backward.”

The Constitutional Court invalidated the 2 February general election on the grounds that voting was not conducted on the same day across the country. The verdict has led many Redshirt activists to accuse the court of conspiring with anti-government protesters in their bid to oust Ms. Yingluck's government. 

 

 

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