The Amnesty Bill, which currently targets a blanket “Top to Bottom” amnesty, for all those involved in the Thai political divide that had erupted since the 2006 coup, have cause wide-spread debate in Thailand, about the relationship between the Shinawatra Family and the Red Shirts, as with the amnesty, Thaksin could walk free and return to Thailand, but also sees those responsible for the killing of about 100 Red Shirts protesters, also let go from facing justice. Thaksin wants freedom to return to Thailand and the “Re-Set” Thailand to re-start the country again, with the slate wiped clean for everyone, and the Red Shirts wants accountability to the killing. The debate had raised the question, also, about a democracy vs dictatorship cycle, as in the past, mostly, there has always been an amnesty for all, and thus many argue, promotes a cycle.
Here is the fact sheet:
Fact 1) Before Thaksin came to power in Thiland, the grass-roots were maginalized, meaning little representation into the Thai political process, ignored by the elite establishment of Bangkok, who shared political power, as a limited competing oligopoly. But since Thaksin came to power, with his various populous policies that targeted the majority of the Thai people, the people became involved and linked to politics, with many especially in the Issan Region and Northern Thailand, with also many in the Central Plains, seeing Thaksin as a hero.
Fact 2) The 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin, angered many who saw Thaksin as a hero, and saw a small movement of various group of people, began activity against the coup. One such group, the Red Shirts, began to emerge and incorporated other groups under its umbrella, and with Thaksin, fresh in the minds of most of the Thais as a hero, the Red Shirts, fighting against the coup, the Red Shirts and Thaksin, became close ally, in struggling against the forces of the 2006 coup, and its various entrenchment into the Thai society, structurally. Unconfirmed reports say Thaksin created the Red Shirts, as a tool for his fight against the establishment. But on this, there has never been actual proof, mostly just a belief, often citing circumstantial evidence.
Fact 3) From a mission of fighting against the 2006 coup, the Red Shirts began to a process of developing a self-identity, as a force, to promote Democracy, Liberty and Justice in Thailand, starting first with liberty, for freedom against being control and under the establishment, to justice, for demanding the end to the wide-spread “Double Standard” application of justice in Thailand, prejudice against the people, privilege to the elite. Then the movement began to stress democracy, namely the concept of by the people, of the people and for the people. This transformation, began and took roots, for years, through the struggle with the elite establishmt. Thaksin, throughout the process, was seen as an important ally and driving force.
Fact 4) The time, that strongly united Thaksin and the Red Shirts together, but perhaps some conflict as well, was during the protest of the Abhisit government, at the Rajprasong intersection, where Thaksin was greatly involved in the Red Shirts protest there, making repeated video link into the protest, giving encouragement, to keep up the protest and to struggle on. The Red Shirts leadership, meanwhile, split, into hawks and doves, with those wanting to negotiate with Abhisit, for an election, some time down the road, and those who wants to keep up the struggle, in pressing for Abhisit to call election, in the near term. Thaksin favored struggle on for a quick election, and urged the Red Shirts to struggle on.
Fact 5) That perhaps Thaksin and Red Shirts conflict, could have be confirmed, by reports that says Seh Daeng, a Thai army general, went to see Thaksin in the Middle East, and gain Thaksin support, for Seh Dang, to take care of the Red Shirts security. Seh Dang and the Red Shirts leader, often have differing strategy, with Seh Daeng, a hawk on security, highly focused on defense for the Red Shirts, where the Red Shirts were struggling to shake off accusation, from the elite establishment, that the Red Shirts movement was aggressive. In one such instant, on the gate of the Chula Hospital, conflict broke out between Seh Daeng and the Red Shirts, with Seh Daeng, saying allowing the gate to be open was a security risk, but a Red Shirts leader, disagreed, and went to the gate and opened the gate. The situation was complicate, because Seh Daeng was close to Thaksin, and the red Shirts leaders were also close to Thaksin.
Fact 6) Seh Daeng was eventually assassinated by the elite establishment, before it made a move to dispel the Red Shirts from Rajprasong. In that break-up of the Red Shirts protest, about 100 Red Shirts protesters were killed by the Abhisit government, and the killing, went deep into the psyche of the Red Shirts, as proof of the brutality and murderous ways of the elite establishment, and everything that is wrong about Thailand. The killing, also raised the Red Shirts, to go down in history, as a people’s movement, that had suffered the most number of killed, by the elite establishment. At this point, the Red Shirts and also most neutral observer, says Abhisit’s government, and the elite establishment that supports him, had lost all legitimacy, to be involved in Thailand’s politics.
Fact 7) Abhisit stay in power, however, and called for a general election, and went twisting everything, from amending the constitution to weaken Thaksin’s chances of winning, to allocating billions of baht worth of budget to buy political allegiances. Many Red Shirts and others were alarmed, as Abhisit manipulated the odds against Thaksin, and were calling for and boycott of the election, and also re-news protest, such as Rajprasong again, as while the crack-down on Rajprasong had dispersed the Red Shirts, but within months, even with all its leaders in jail, massive gathering of the Red Shirts occurred, again drawing 10s of 1,000s to Rajprasong again, for one day gathering event. It was a show of staying power of the Red Shirts. In these gathering, Thaksin was not involved in any way, but mostly spontaneously occurred.
Fact 8) Leading up to the election, with Yingluck, she campaigned on Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous Policy, and while Yingluck’s call for Reconciliation, was questioned by some Red Shirts, as to what it meant, by and large, it was ignored, and the Red Shirts, threw its weight in support of the Yingluck campaign. She won the election, by a land-slide, and noted by many Red Shirts, is that there were little Red Shirts leader represented in her government. Yingluck, true to her election campaign, after the flood crisis, began to focus on Democracy, Reconciliation and Populous. The Red Shirts continued their gathering, on important dates, and Thaksin would video link into the gathering, but the distance between Thaksin and the Red Shirts emerge, with Thaksin taking about reconciliation, with Thaksin words in those video link, greatly criticized by Red Shirts.
Fact 9) Yingluck, originally and early on, compromised with the Red Shirts, and went for a water-down reconciliation, involving just the rank and files. But the latest development, is a wide “Top To Bottom” amnesty, that would grant amnesty to all, where the Red Shirts head leader, Thida, says she can not betray the people and allow those who did the killing to walk free. This bought up, also speculation, of a deal between Thaksin and the elite establishment, to allow him back to Thailand when the time is right as a free person, and for the Thai military to be off the hook of the killing. Thaksin favors a “Blanket top down amnesty” but Thaksin and Yingluck relationship overall, is at times compromise, at times Yingluck gets her way and at times, Thaksin gets his way.
Fact 10) Yingluck’s government, increasingly, as having survive several challenges by the elite establishment, also without a great deal of active help from the Red Shirts, but with the Red Shirts, acting like a powerful reserves, was getting stronger and stronger as time pass. Her populous policies, like Thaksin, such as rice and infrastructure, is winning her government incredible allies, across Thailand, even many from the elite establishment. The Red Shirts meanwhile, show no signs that its popularity is abating, and its commitment to Democracy, Liberty and Justice, has never been more pronounced and accepted as a fundamental fact about the nature of the Red Shirts.
Fact 11) Many in the Red Shirts movement, wants the Red Shirts, to transform itself into a political party. In the Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party, there is a Red Shirts caucus. If a recent poll of the Issan is an indicator, Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party remains popular, dropping a bit, but most said they will not vote for Abhisit’s Dems, no matter what. An election is about two years away. The Shinawatra Family is very popular in Northern Thailand. The Red Shirts, apart from Issan, is also strong with the lower middle income downward, in the cities and town across Thailand. In Issan, most Red Shirts are both pro Red Shirts and Thaksin. Abhiit’s Dems, have cornered the Southern Thais. The Central Plains is a major battle ground for all, except Abhisit’s Dems.
Fact 12) Thailand continues to be hit with a “Judicialization” by activist justice system and independent units, that leans towards the elite establishment, represented by Abhisit Dems. The court and independent units, since the 2006 coup and a little before that, is a constant threat to the survival of anything related to Thaksin.