Red shirts honour those killed in 2010, vow to keep seeking justice
Red-shirt leaders and supporters met at the October 14 Memorial on Khok Wua intersection on Sunday afternoon to hold religious rites in memory of those killed in the April 10, 2010 crackdown.
On that date, the government of then-PM Abhisit Vejjajiva decided to use force to disperse protesters from Phan Fah Bridge and Democracy Monument. The excuse given was that the authorities wanted to reclaim public space. This show of force resulted in 25 deaths, including a Japanese journalist, and left more than 800 injured.
Participating in Sunday afternoon’s event were red-shirt leaders Nattawut Saikuar, Weng Tojirakarn and Thida Thavornset. Some politicians also attended the event, including Pheu Thai Party leader Cholnan Srikaew, Pheu Thai MP for Chiang Mai Julapun Amornvivat and former Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan Worachai Hema.
The participants gave offerings to monks, who chanted prayers for protesters killed in the crackdown. The red-shirt leaders also laid wreaths at the memorial and took turns making speeches.
Twelve years ago, despite the bloody crackdown, red-shirt protesters refused to disperse and regrouped at the Ratchaprasong intersection, leading to further crackdowns from May 13 to 19, which resulted in another 70 or so deaths and thousands injured.
The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) had organised mass rallies across the country to protest against the 2006 military coup that ousted the government of Thaksin Shinawatra.
Lost but not forgotten
In his speech Nattawut said red shirts gathered on this date every year to remember and honour those who lost their lives, and to remind society that the tragedy has not been “factually” investigated or verified.
“We don’t intend to drive a wedge in society or escalate rifts,” he said. “We want to heal this old wound so it does not become infectious and affect the entire society. Social conflicts happen daily and we cannot predict whether there will be another large-scale fight by the people and a repeat of the April 10 crackdown.”
He added that the red-shirt movement has not given up, even though its efforts to seek justice for the slain protesters have gone nowhere.
“It’s like we have been rowing our boat in circles. The Criminal Court told us that it has no power in examining cases and advised us to go to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Office. But to take cases to this division, we must first file complaints with the National Anti-Corruption Commission [NACC]. However, the NACC rejected our complaints on grounds that the government leaders did nothing wrong as they were carrying out their duties,” Nattawut said.
He added that the red-shirt movement could not file complaints with the military court either because it had dismissed the complaints on grounds that the movement failed to name the exact defendants.
He added that the red-shirt movement would not give up hope and would use all legal channels to pursue justice and punishment for those responsible for the crackdown before the 20-year statute of limitations is up.
“Eight years are left and we believe this government wants to remain in power until the statute of limitations is up. This is because the three ‘Ps’ were in charge of the Army 12 years ago,” he said.
Nattawut was referring to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan and Interior Minister General Anupong “Pok” Paochinda.