Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thailand's Former-PM Charged with "Murder" - The Rest of the Story

Politically motivated trial levels "murder charges" against former Prime Minster Abhisit Vejjajiva for putting down admittedly armed militants in 2010. 

Image: Former-Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva arrives at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to formally deny politically-motivated "murder charges" for putting down a 2010 armed uprising in Bangkok, Thailand. Meanwhile, the man behind this show trial, Thaksin Shinwatra, hides from his own legal troubles in Dubai, after being convicted and sentenced to 2 years in prison for corruption.

December 14, 2012 (AltThaiNews) - Reading the BBC's report "Thai ex-PM Abhisit charged with murder over protest death," one would think former-Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva simply ordered heavily armed soldiers to mow down peaceful protesters in the heart of the capital, Bangkok, after refusing to step down in spring of 2010. The BBC states specifically:
Mr Abhisit was prime minister when thousands of protesters took to the streets in 2010 demanding his government step down. He gave orders allowing troops to use live ammunition on protesters, who had shut down parts of Bangkok.
He denies the charge, which supporters say is politically motivated. 
More than 90 people, both civilians and soldiers, were killed in the protests, which went on for over two months.
BBC, as a dedicated propaganda outfit (and here), leaves out the entire back story, not only in this report, but in others - where former-PM Abhisit even mentions use of live fire by the opposition, with the BBC willfully deciding not to inform readers of any additional details. In BBC's "Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai ex-PM, defends crackdown order," BBC would report:

He told the BBC that government forces had "very little option" but to act when live fire was used against them.
"We tried to negotiate with the protesters, and they wouldn't accept any of the deals that we offered them," he said.
"Unfortunately we were facing a situation where they occupied the middle of the city... It was our duty to restore order, and that's what we were trying to do."
Mr Abhisit said he would fight to prove he was not guilty but added: "If, for whatever reason, the courts pass a guilty verdict, I will accept them. That's the way that things should be done."
The "red-shirt" protesters, many of whom supported ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, occupied Bangkok's financial district in March 2010.
Violence flared in April when police tried to clear them from the area - after which they moved to the city's commercial heart.
They remained there until 19 May when armed government troops moved into the red-shirt camp, smashing through barricades. More than 90 people were killed over the course of the protest.
Indeed, the protesters, known as the "red shirts," were in the streets on behalf of ousted ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra - who had just lost a court case that saw a large percentage of his ill gotten fortune seized. His response was to flood the streets with protesters to serve as cover for an armed bid to overthrow the government. That Thaksin has been heavily backed for decades by corporate-financier interests in the West goes far in explaining the BBC's willful manipulation of the current political climate in Thailand.

The Rest of the Story

Abhisit's claims of armed violence employed by Thaksin's protesters aren't merely fabrications of a government trying to defend what the BBC attempts to make out as heavy-handed brutality. Human Rights Watch, based on video and photographic evidence, would describe in detail the violence the BBC only alludes to in April.

Page 62 of Human Rights Watch's "Descent into Chaos (.pdf)" report stated:
"As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills."
Clearly, the protesters, portrayed by the Western media as only being armed with crude sling shots and rocks were cover for a much more insidious force, heavily armed with military-grade weapons who in fact, drew first blood on April 10, 2010, killing 7 soldiers and dozens of bystanders in the deadly crossfire that ensued. Evidence also suggests that opposition snipers purposefully targeted their own protesters to escalate the conflict.

Video: Video footage from April 10, 2010, aired on AlJazeera, clearly shows Thaksin's militants employing tactically both AK-47s and M16 assault rifles. For those unfamiliar with these two weapons, and who find it difficult to identify the weapon being carried by the Thaksin militant at (00:35), the position of the rifle's front sight post gives it away. The AK-47's front sight post is located all the way at the end of the barrel and is integrated with the compensator, while the M16A2's sight post is located right at the end of the hand guards leaving a considerable amount of the barrel between it and the compensator .

Image: A freeze frame of the above footage showing clearly the front sight posts of an M16A2. It is important to understand that these militants were armed with M16s, because many of the charges Thaksin's party has leveled against his enemies hinge on the assumption that only the Army possessed weapons firing this particular caliber. 
Image: An AK-47. Notice the front sight post is located all the way at the end of the weapon's barrel, as well as its more compact, and thicker construction.
Image: An M16A2. Notice the front sight post's location next to the hand-guards and the long section of barrel between it and the weapon's compensator.

International spokesman for the protesters, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters elements of the army were with their movement, including the black-clad mystery gunmen that took part in the April 10 bloodbath. He stated:
"They are a secret unit within the army that disagrees with what's going on. Without them, the black clad men, there would have been a whole lot more deaths and injuries." 
The suspected leader of these militants, renegade general Khattiya Sawasdipol, known as "Seh Daeng," further corroborated that the opposition was in fact armed  by admitting to commanding 300 armed men trained for ''close encounters'' and carrying M79 grenade launchers, before withdrawing his comment in later interviews.

From April 10, until the widespread arson that marked the end of the protests on May 19, daily and nightly gun battles, grenade attacks, and sniper fire would claim the lives of 91 people. This included 9 soldiers and police, a woman killed by an M79 grenade attack, and at least one protester who died of smoke inhalation while looting a building fellow protesters lit ablaze. The remaining 80 deaths included journalists, bystanders, medical workers, and protesters caught in crossfire.

While Thaksin's political machine and complicit Western media outlets such as the BBC to this day attempt to portray these events as a massacre of "91 protesters," it is quite clear that the military was up against an armed wing working amongst the protesters, admitted by members of the protest leadership themselves.

The "Murder Charges" 

Bangkok Post's article, "DSI charges Abhisit, Suthep," describes the charges as follows:
[DSI Chief] Mr Tarit said the meeting decided to lay charges against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep under Sections 59, 83, 84 and 288 of the Criminal Code, based on a Criminal Court ruling on the death of a taxi driver during the 2010 political unrest.
Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep will be called in on Wednesday to acknowledge the charges.
The court ruled on Sept 17 that the taxi driver, 44-year-old Phan Khamkong from Yasothon province, was killed by security forces near the Ratchaprarop Airport Link station on the night of May 14, 2010.
Soldiers opened fire to stop a suspicious van that drove into a security area while Phan was walking nearby. The court said Phan was killed by a high-velocity bullet used in war weapons.
Mr Abhisit was prime minister and Mr Suthep was deputy prime minister and director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) in charge of the red-shirt protest crackdown at the time.
Unfortunately for Thaksin's current proxy government and their politically motivated show trial, "high-velocity bullets" were used by both sides throughout the duration of the conflict. Specifically, NATO 5.56mm rounds, fired from M-16s were explicitly observed being employed by Thaksin's militants. Additionally, a large number of military weapons were seized on April 10, 2010 by Thaksin's "red shirts" after the Army fled during the initial armed ambush.

: Not only did Thaksin's militants bring their own M16s to the firefight, they also at one point during the night, veritably seized a large amount of weapons from Thai soldiers who fled in disarray after the ambush organized by elements within the Red Shirt's leadership.

Unless the court was able to trace the bullets that killed Phan Khamkong to a military issued rifle, and place that rifle in the hands of a solider at the time it was allegedly fired, his death, like many others (and here) Thaksin and his political machine have attempted to leverage politically, could just as likely have been the work of his own militants. The streets of Bangkok Thailand in the spring of 2010, didn't constitute a "crime scene" - they were a battlefield.

The BBC's failure to inform its readers of these facts and the overt political motivations behind this current trial indicates that Thaksin Shinawatra is still drawing on significant Western backing - that will continue to manifest itself as support for his proxy government, led by his own sister, and their current bid to extort concessions from their political rivals.

Former-PM Abhisit and former-Deputy PM Suthep are not expected to be found guilty in what is widely recognized across Thailand as a show trial designed to pressure the Thai establishment to grant Thaksin a pardon for his 2 year jail sentence and absolve two warrants out for his arrest. Thaksin is currently living in self-imposed exile to evade his convictions, warrants, and jail sentence. He also faces a myriad of pending cases and may still face retribution for a so-called "War on Drugs" he waged while prime minister, that saw nearly 3,000 killed in 90 days, extra-judicially in the streets, most of whom had no involvement in the drug trade.