Friday, April 3, 2015

Thailand: 2010 Bloodbath Anniversary a Reminder of Looming Threat

April 4, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) To this day, supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, including US and European news agencies, NGOs, lobbyists, and politicians, consider the bloodshed in Bangkok, Thailand during April and May of 2010 to be the result of a "military crackdown" on "mostly unarmed" so-called "red shirt" protesters.

They continue this disingenuous rewriting of history in order to frame the current political conflict in Thailand as one precipitated by an illegitimate grab of power by the Thai military, contrary to the principles of "democracy" and "rule of law."

Image: Taken the night of April 10, 2010, Shinawatra's militants can be seen with both an M16 (with a 40mm M203 grenade launcher attached under the barrel) and an AK47. Shinawatra's supporters, particularly foreign lobbying efforts, have attempted to claim that all deaths resulting from M16 fire could only have been the result of the army's weapons. This picture provides incontrovertible evidence that Shinawatra's mercenaries too, used M16s. 
In reality, what took place in the streets of Bangkok between April and May of 2010, was a particularly ugly instance of foreign-backed, armed "color revolution." It included heavily armed militants deployed by Thaksin Shinawatra and his political machine whose goal was to covertly maim, kill, destroy, and terrorize on such a scale that international pressure would force Shinawatra's opponents from power. This reality not only reframes the current military-led government in a different light, it illustrates exactly why a measure as extreme as a military coup was required to restore peace and stability to a nation targeted by a terroristic, murderous political order.

How "Peaceful" Terrorism Works 

The trick behind framing the 2010 violence as perpetrated by a heavy-handed military, was to provide cover for Shinawatra's militants, using tens of thousands of unwitting Shinawatra supporters as human shields to absorb the losses incurred by crossfire between Thai troops and this mercenary force. Additionally, the Western media and Western NGOs played an intentionally complicit role, particularly CNN and the BBC, by repeatedly denying the existence of heavily armed militants operating within the ranks of the red shirts - despite video and photographic evidence, and even open admissions by the protest leaders themselves to the contrary.

These admissions would include the number and armament of these militants - as many as 300, constituting a small army in its own right - heavily armed with 40mm M79 grenade launchers, hand grenades, M16s, AK47s, rifles, and pistols. They also came prepared to execute a city-wide campaign of mass arson which destroyed buildings across the city including several shopping malls, small businesses, and even attempts to light ablaze the national stock exchange building.

Despite the widespread murder and mayhem that took place from April 10 until May 19, 2010, the most insidious episode took place during the first night.

April 10, 2010 - First Blood  

Even as Human Rights Watch condemns the 2014 military coup and the subsequent military-led government that has finally ousted the Shinawatra political machine from power, claiming it is unwarranted and unjust, it was Human Rights Watch itself that would admit to the scale of violence unleashed in 2010, not by the Royal Thai Army, but by militants it itself documented to have been operating during the conflict, particularly on the first night of violence on April 10, 2010.

In Human Rights Watch's own report titled, "Descent into Chaos (.pdf)," it would admit that when Thai troops moved in on protesters to disperse them on the evening of April 10, they were confronted by heavily armed militants. The report would state specifically that (emphasis added):
The evening’s first clashes broke out around 7:20 p.m. at Khok Wua junction at the foot of the Khao San Road tourist district, but soon spilled over into a much greater area. Video footage taken just before the clashes reached the Democracy Monument in front of Din So Road around 8 p.m. shows the army trying to calm the crowd by playing music, and Red Shirt protesters dancing and engaging amicably with the soldiers. Suddenly, shots rang out. Within minutes a full-scale riot erupted, with protesters throwing rocks, sticks, and chairs at the soldiers. Several grenades and Molotov cocktails were also hurled at soldiers, who were forced to retreat.
The report continues (emphasis added):
Intense gunfire followed. 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. 
Images: Images from the night of April 10, 2010 depicting Shinawatra's "black shirt" terrorists taking to the streets in an orgry of mass murder and mayhem. On the top left, a militant is carrying an AK47, chambering 7.62mm rounds. To the right is another militant carrying an M16 chambering 5.56mm rounds. Both images on the bottom depict a terrorist brandishing an M79 grenade launcher, the weapon used in the initial attack before the following firefight. 

And far from the tenuous "activists said" evidence generally cited by organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch cites videos and photographs, clearly depicting what unfolded that night (emphasis added):
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. According to some accounts, they specifically aimed at the commanding officers of the army units involved in the crowd dispersal operations, sowing panic among the soldiers. Human Rights Watch investigations concluded this group consisted of Black Shirts deployed among the UDD protesters.
Human Rights Watch would reveal that the military reacted in complete disarray immediately after the first shots - fired by Shinawatra's mercenaries. While the West continues to this day to portray the violence that night as a "military crackdown," it was clear that it was Shinawatra's hired killers who held the tactical initiative, operational momentum, and were intentionally picking targets, while the military fired back as it retreated, not into crowds to disperse them.

Human Rights Watch would report:
The outnumbered soldiers, simultaneously facing the loss of their commanding officers; a barrage of grenade attacks; assault rifle fire from the Black Shirts; as well as rocks, petrol bombs, and some gunfire from the Red Shirt protesters, withdrew to the back of Din So Road, pulling their wounded along and abandoning their APCs and weapons.
Human Rights Watch would summarize the night's bloodshed by reporting:
Twenty-six people, including five soldiers, were killed that evening and more than 860 wounded, including 350 soldiers. According to autopsy reports, most of the dead on both sides were killed by high-velocity rounds presumably fired from assault rifles. Human Rights Watch found that high velocity rounds were fired by both the security forces and Black Shirts, while some of the Red Shirt protesters and Red Shirt Guard used pistols during the clashes. Among the dead were Reuters TV cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto, 43, who was killed by a high velocity bullet to his chest. 
It is important to note that Human Rights Watch admits that both the military and Shinawatra's"black shirts" fired "high velocity rounds" which were deemed the cause of death of Reuters cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto. Paid lobbyist for Thaksin Shinawatra, Robert Amsterdam, would claim that the high velocity rounds originated from an M16 and therefore could only have been fired by the military.

However, Human Rights Watch and evidence clearly indicates that the black shirts were also armed with M16s. Clearly throughout the violence between April and May, it is just as likely that any journalist killed by "M16s" was killed by Shinawatra's militants.

That Shinawatra's supporters across the foreign press, NGOs, and lobbying groups attempt to spin high profile deaths using narratives that directly contradict even Human Rights Watch's report, indicates yet another insidious goal of the bloodshed - to undermine the legitimacy of the Royal Thai Army, regardless of who was truly responsible for the bloodshed.

 Shinawatra's Not-So-Secret Army 

For those who have believed the propaganda sown by the foreign media in support of Thaksin Shinawatra, and claims that the Thai military was behind the bloodbath in 2010, that the West's own human rights advocate, Human Rights Watch, has published a detailed report proving quite the contrary should be enough to challenge that belief.

Image: Despite claims to the contrary, the "red shirt" movement is a top-down personality cult created by and for Thaksin Shinawatra, supported by a number of NGOs funded and supported by foreign special interests including the National Endowment for Democracy, Open Society, and the US State Department itself. 
However, it should be noted that several high-profile leaders employed by Thaksin Shinawatra to lead the protests in 2010, have themselves openly admitted to the conspiracy to use heavily armed mercenaries to trigger a bloodbath in Bangkok.

Leading the red shirt protesters' security detail was then serving Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol, also known as "Seh Daeng." He was openly associated with Thaksin Shinawatra, having personally visited him in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Shinawatra had fled and has attempted to run the country by proxy from ever since.

Image: If there were any doubts over just how "far up" plans to sow murder and mayhem in the streets of Bangkok in 2010 went, perhaps then serving Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol literally meeting face-to-face with Thaksin Shinawatra in Dubai, UAE (top) before leading mobs in the streets and admitting to a force of some 300 terrorists fighting under his command (bottom) helps to simply matters.   
In Australia's "The Age," in a May 2010 report titled, "'Red Commander' saw himself as Thai William Wallace," it stated:
Sawasdipol was formerly a Thai ranger and recruited many former rangers to be security guards for the UDD tented city in Bangkok.

In one recent interview he declared that he had 300 armed men trained for ''close encounters'' and armed with M79 grenade launchers.
There was also an admission from the red shirt's international spokesman, Sean Boonpracong. He would tell Reuters in an article titled, "Red means stop, and anger, in vibrant Thai protest," that elements of the army were with their movement, including the black-shirt militants cited by Human Rights Watch, who took part in the April 10 bloodbath. He stated:
The red shirts' international spokesman, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters elements of the army are with their movement. They are known as "watermelons" -- green on the outside but red in the middle -- and they include the shadowy, black-clad men with military weapons that were seen at the April 10th crackdown. 
"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," he said.
Boonpracong would also admit in the fallout of the April 10 bloodbath, that Shinawatra's movement expected the government to step down, under the impression that the violence would be largely perceived as the fault of the government, then headed by Shinawatra's opponents.

Since the violence in 2010, many supporters of Shinawatra have attempted to claim comments made by Sawasdipol and Boonpracong were irrelevant. Some have even tried to claim Boonpracong had no relevance or connection to the movement and was speaking on his own behalf, this despite the fact that he would later serve in an official capacity as a "national security adviser" in Shinawatra's sister's government as recently as 2014 before the military coup finally ousted the regime.

Both allegedly "impartial" "intentional" observers like Human Rights Watch, and Shinawatra's supporters themselves admit they were behind the bloodbath that unfolded on April 10, 2010. So why is this still a matter of contention used against the Royal Thai Army?

Hiding a Threat, Undermining the Coup 

Sean Boonpracong would in fact, be cited in an article published by the US State Department's "Voice of America" network in the wake of the 2014 military coup that finally ousted Shinawatra's proxies from power.

The report titled, "Thai Coup Leaders Tighten Grip," would state:
Among those observing the Victory Monument rally was Sean Boonpracong, a former national security adviser in the government of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Yingluck, whose Peau Thai Party won a landslide victory in the last nation election in 2011, is being detained by the military. A spokesman said the military intends to keep her in custody for “no more than a week.”
Sean told VOA he appreciated U.S. diplomats condemning Prayuth’s order to impose media censorship.

“Vicious rumors could go around and it could get a lot of people talking," he said. "It’s best that they allow more freedom of information to flow, just like (U.S.) Ambassador Kristie Kenney said, so people don’t have to go underground and be in the dark.”
He termed the anti-coup rally Thailand’s “first Internet anti-coup protest,” as it was not organized by the pro-government Red Shirt movement, of which he was a leader.
Thus, a senior-level Shinawatra functionary who admitted his political machine employed heavily armed militants who mass murdered dozens on April 10, 2010 and onward, is cited by and welcoming the help of the US State Department in undermining the military coup that finally restored peace and stability to Thailand.

Image: An armed attack carried out by Shinawatra's supporters during the 2013-2014 anti-Shinawatra protests that left men, women, and children dead or maimed. It was one of many carried out during a systematic campaign of terror and mass murder similar to that seen in 2010.  
It should be mentioned that Shinawatra's "black shirt" militants would reprise their role, terrorizing Thailand again in 2013-2014 during unprecedented, immense anti-Shinawatra protests that swept not only Bangkok, but the entire country. Dozens more would be murdered in overt terrorist attacks using identical weapons and tactics seen in 2010. Scores more would be maimed.

We see why doubt is continuously sown regarding the true events of 2010.  To make the military coup of 2014 appear unwarranted, unjust, and unacceptable, Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors must expunge from history the justification for the coup. By covering up or spinning Shinawatra's systematic campaign of mass murder and terrorism employed against all who opposed him, the coup can then be framed as an unwarranted "power grab."

Remembering the events of 2010 as they truly happened, makes it nearly impossible to frame the current military-led government as "unreasonable" for seizing power. It sought to remove a regime that openly employed terrorism and mass murder as a tool to consolidate and maintain political control. History is replete with examples of where such regimes eventually lead a nation to ruin - and the astronomical costs of a military's inaction in the face of such a threat to national security.

Images: An army of fake academics, faux, foreign-backed NGOs, and disingenuous "pro-democracy" "activists" standby waiting for the chance to once again fill the streets and serve as cover for future attempts to violently seize power in Thailand, if given the chance. 
And while Human Rights Watch did indeed publish a report that without a shadow of a doubt implicates Thaksin Shinawatra and his political order in the bloodbath that unfolded in Bangkok in 2010, the organization, along with Amnesty International, Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the myriad of faux-Thai NGOs they fund and support, continue to peddle a narrative claiming the current military-led government return power to a "civilian government," knowing full well such a move would simply bring Shinawatra back.

While these organizations wring their hands over the potential abuse recent legislation poses to "human rights," these same organizations are complicit in covering up overt, demonstrable, admitted abuses for over a decade in Thailand, including the violence that unfolded in 2010, and more recently between 2013-2014. It is likely that as the anniversary approaches for the 2010 violence, these very organizations will help Shinawatra's supporters once again rewrite history in direct contradiction to reports published but intentionally under-publicized by organizations like Human Rights Watch.

The mass murder and mayhem carried out by Thaksin Shinawatra's followers on April 10, 2010, five years ago, is a constant reminder of the menace and threat the Shinawatra political order poses to the Kingdom of Thailand - a threat that required a military coup, and requires still a military-led government able to uproot entirely both Shinawatra's political machine, and the networks both foreign and domestic that have helped support it and grant it enduring impunity.

April 10, 2010 and the many lives lost that night and during the following weeks, are a reminder of the threat Shinawatra posed, and a warning of the threat he still poses. Failing to heed these reminders and warnings will lead to similar bloodshed and other unfortunate, dark "anniversaries" to be marked on future calendars.