April 10, 2010: All culprits must be made accountable

Two years on from the fateful events of April 10, 2010, Thais of various political persuasions still hold starkly different versions of history and no one has been held responsible for the deaths.

On that day, two dozen people from both sides were killed when Army troops were dispatched to disperse red-shirt protesters along Rajdamnoen Avenue and clashed with both red shirts and the so-called "mysterious-and-armed men in black".

To the red shirts, it was a day of infamy for the then-Abhisit Vejjajiva administration and the Army, as they resorted to the use of armed soldiers to disperse the crowd in a way that goes against the international norm of using riot police to achieve such an objective.

To the yellow shirts, as well as the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra multicolour shirts, the deployment of the Army was justified as they were eventually confronted with the men in black that killed some of the soldiers, including an Army colonel.

Having gauged sentiment on Twitter on April 10, I discover that hatred runs so deep on both sides that my Twitter account was flooded with hate messages.

While I personally think it's absolutely wrong and against the international norm for the Abhisit administration to have dispatched Army troops and war weapons to disperse largely unarmed protesters, red shirts will also have to answer about whom the men in black actually were and the use of M-79 explosives on that fateful night, and during the days and weeks that followed.

Nevertheless, I think the prime responsibility lies with Abhisit, as any democratic government should first resort to the use of riot police, tear gas, water cannon and batons until it's completely self-evident that police alone cannot handle the crowd. Soldiers and war weapons are definitely not for crowd control in a democratic society - period.

What's more, today, two years later, we don't even know who gave the order to have soldiers disastrously handle crowd control in such a deadly manner. Was it Abhisit or someone else? Who were the men in black, and why has not a single one of them been arrested over the past two years? And what about those who used M-79 explosives?

While having a complete version of history is fine and even healthy in any democratic society, the same cannot be said about the lack of accountability from both sides.

Besides, both sides seem unable to look beyond their self-righteous perspectives, and are unable or unwilling to forgive.

Perhaps it will take a whole new generation to replace us in order for the wounds to be healed and to embrace more democratic norms, such as armed soldiers not being used for a coup or crowd dispersal, or that 'peaceful' protesters are not supposed to use deadly weapons against security officers.

But is it really realistic merely to wait for our generation to die out in the hope that we are replaced by younger ones whose hearts are not filled with hatred, but with open-mindedness and compassion? I fear that if we don't try to push harder and learn the lessons from the recent past, future generations will grow up accepting the brutal past of our generation as something normal, if not acceptable.

We cannot, therefore, simply run away and abdicate our responsibility to set the record straight. Make the culprits on all sides accountable, for failing to do so would be tantamount to tacitly telling the next generations that it's okay to settle things violently without accountability and due regard to the rule of law.

Though our generation seems trapped in the cycle of mutual hatred, it would be most irresponsible for us to simply not try to sort things out and ensure some lessons are learnt, no matter how messy, complicated and ugly it all may be.

Comments

Fully agree with this, which

Fully agree with this, which makes it all the more entertaining to read Abhisit's latest offering (http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Thaksin-is-holding-Thailand-hostage-Abhisit-30179922.html).

There appears to be no bottom to the well of this Englishman's humbug. He should be inside a Thai prison, not spouting his self-invented version of history to any nut-job who will listen.

red shirts will also have to

red shirts will also have to answer about whom the men in black actually were and the use of M-79 explosives on that fateful night

Why Pravit? Because you and the rest of the elite say so? Why won't the Royal Thai Army have to answer about the men wielding their weapons? It is clear to everyone else but the die-hard Thai elite that the 'men in black' are always Royal Thai Army or Royal Thai Police on 'errands' from the higher ups. In this case almost surely dispatched by the Royal Thai Army.

Perhaps it will take a whole new generation to replace us in order for the wounds to be healed and to embrace more democratic norms

6 October 1976. Been there. Done that. Doesn't work.

it would be most irresponsible for us to simply not try to sort things out and ensure some lessons are learnt.

Who's holding up the process, Pravit? The red shirts? They have as much power now as they did when they were mowed down like cattle in the streets of the imperial city of Bangkok.

"It is clear to everyone else

"It is clear to everyone else but the die-hard Thai elite that the 'men in black' are always Royal Thai Army or Royal Thai Police on 'errands' from the higher ups. In this case almost surely dispatched by the Royal Thai Army."

What do you base this on?

Are you saying you think that Anupong actually sent them? I imagine if that was the case, they would have been wearing red.

It seems more likely they were sent by Thaksin or someone close to him. Sent to show the Thai military the other half - the red shirts showed the elite could not rule the country through vote, whilst the black shirts proved they could not rule through force. The message of the black shirts seemed to be that the Thai military is entirely incapable of fighting against guerilla warfare (which we already know from the south). And any form of civil war in Bangkok would result in the militarys defeat. Thus the protest plus the mini civil war was a two pronged assault to thwart any attempt at the military turning to absolute dictatorship again, and it worked.

I read a lot of Amsterdams (all of it, actually - every page) work on him trying to blame the military for the black shirts. It was a good job, but I think it doesn't really make sense in the end.

Like you say, the black shirts were armed with military weapons, and were military trained, but that does not mean they were working for the military. Guns and ammo go "missing" all the time in Thailand. This has to be the easiest place in the world to bribe officials and get away with stuff. More likely the men are X army, loyal mercs. Either that or they're still in the army and are watermelons and were AWOL at the time.

In any case, the red shirts do not have to answer for them. Thaksin probably does. But the red shirts were not there with guns, did not know who they were, and were not a part of them. They are seperate groups. So Pravit is wrong, like you say.

"What's more, today, two

"What's more, today, two years later, we don't even know who gave the order to have soldiers disastrously handle crowd control in such a deadly manner. Was it Abhisit or someone else?"

We know who it was. Few people are capable of viewing humans so lowly that they'd order them to be beaten away like ... I dunno - I was going to say animals but I don't even treat animals like that. So I suppose it's like invading diseased aliens or something.

Read "Thailand's Moment of Truth Part 3." Tells how most red shirts seem to know who it was.
Does anyone know why Andrew Marshalls website is not updated with Part 3?

"Perhaps it will take a whole

"Perhaps it will take a whole new generation to replace us in order for the wounds to be healed and to embrace more democratic norms, such as armed soldiers not being used for a coup or crowd dispersal, or that 'peaceful' protesters are not supposed to use deadly weapons against security officers."

The problems that occur are the result of propaganda. People are encouraged by the establishment to place irrational devotion in fictional beliefs. And irrational love leads to hysterical hatred. For so long as history is taught in school as lies and reality is distorted into rubbish on TV and people are legally and socially forced to grovel at this rubbish, you will have a dangerous and hostile society.

What is needed is the truth. But we will never get until the lese majeste laws are changed and the education system is reformed. It's unlikely the next generation will be any different, given neither of these things are changing.

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LOL No it's working now. It's

LOL
No it's working now. It's a problem with my internet flicking off and on. By chance, it always happened when I used this username, but that was just a MAJOR coinicidence, it seems.