At the press conference today, UDD leaders addressed Tuesday’s violent clash between Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts, the relationship between the Pheu Thai party and the Red Shirt movement, as well as the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand’s (TRCT) final report. They also announced the opening of a Political School on Sunday in Bangkok.
Regarding the clash that occurred on Tuesday in front of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) office, Warawut Wichaidit argued that the conflict was initiated by Yellow Shirts in an attempt to provoke violence from the Red Shirts. He reaffirmed that the Red Shirts must refrain from engaging with the Yellow Shirts in this way, as it is part of a plot to demonise the Red Shirts and depict them as a violent group.
A reporter at the Democrat-led Blue Sky Channel incentivised People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters to rally outside the Court with a free “Long Live the King” t-shirt giveaway. Protestors wearing these shirts were thereafter involved in acts of violence against Red Shirts at the scene. Warawut concluded that while the Yellow Shirts accused Red Shirts of being ‘republican’ and ‘anti-monarchist’, the Yellow Shirts are doing far more harm to the monarchy by behaving this violently in it’s name.
UDD leader Tida insisted that the Red Shirts only want democracy in Thailand, not violence. She called on Red Shirts to:
“Stay away from the CSD on October 29. We must ignore the calls of violent conflict from the PAD”
Given the recent quarrel between self-proclaimed provincial UDD chairman Thepphanom Namlee and now resigned-deputy prime minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, Tida made it clear that the UDD and the Pheu Thai party should not interfere in one another’s internal politics. She said that Thepphanom was not recognized by the UDD leadership in Bangkok and that, even if he were, he should not meddle in Pheu Thai’s affairs. She argued that, although the UDD and the Pheu Thai party are sister organizations, this clear line of separation must be respected.
Tida also addressed the unsubstantiated claims by the TRCT report that there were armed “men in black” within the Red Shirt movement in April-May 2010. These claims have been refuted by recent Court findings in the case of taxi driver Pun Kumkong, and by witness statements by several at the scene, including Dutch journalist Michel Maas. Mr Maas testified to the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) on Wednesday that he saw no “men in black” among the Red Shirt protestors on May 19th 2010 when he was shot by the military in Ratchaprasong.
Chairwoman Thida also questioned the TRCT’s methodology. She asserted that the TRCT had already established their conclusions before they started investigating,
Regarding the substance of the report, she concluded,
“There is a lot of speculation, but few facts”
In support of this argument, Dr Weng showed several photographs taken in May 2010 during the crackdown. A number of them depict the military aiming and shooting into the temple at Wat Pathum. He asked why the pictures had not been referenced or discussed in the TRCT report, despite their wide availability on the internet since 2010.
Furthermore, the UDD leadership announced the launch of a UDD Political School on Sunday at UDD HQ at Imperial Lad Prao shopping centre. The school aims to awaken people’s political consciousness, and more than 1,000 people have already signed up for the preliminary course this weekend. Chairwoman Tida and other UDD figures will be on location, leading discussions about the road to true democracy in Thailand.
In response to allegations by leading Democrats that the UDD trains people in violence, Tida said that
“Ours is a political school, not a military training ground. We use ideas, not violence.”
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