Last weekend, at a seminar celebrating the founding of a new chapter of the UDD in Pathum Thani, Thai Red Shirts (TRS) were granted the opportunity to speak to a few of the activists present.
Two of the people at the seminar were Kooldit and her husband Wasu, both of whom had taken part in the protests in April 2010. For them, the protests had a dramatic impact on their lives.
Wasu had formed part of the barricade protecting the protestors against the military outside of Satreewadit School on April 10 2010. He was beaten severely by soldiers and woke up from a coma three days later. The beating left him with permanent brain damage and partial paralysis.
When asked whether they have received any justice or compensation in their case, Kooldit responded:
None. We have gone to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on several occasions, but they do not care about our case. They only asked if we have have seen any ‘men in black’. We did not see any.
When TRS asked them about their opinions on the ‘men in black’, they replied:
It must have been the military. There were security check-points at the entrances to the Red Shirt camps, even small pocket knives were confiscated.
Kooldit and Wasu turned to the Red Shirt movement after the 2006 military coup illegally ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who they claim provided good policies for the people. In particular, they appreciated the 30 Bath scheme.
Another reason they joined the Red Shirts was their concern about the People’s Alliance of Democracy (PAD), who they say undermine democracy and the monarchy in Thailand.
We want full democracy in Thailand, with our King as our head of state… and all Thais should have democratic rights.
Before 2010, they both used to work as masseuses. Wasu’s handicap prevents him from working, while Kooldit spends most of her time taking care of her husband. They now receive government benefits as well as funding from a fellow Red Shirt activist who wishes to remain anonymous.