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An open letter to the red shirts

Now that tens of thousands of you have re-grouped to continue the struggle against the old order, take a few moments to consider my advice, which I hope will be useful to you and society at large.

First, be reminded that just because you believe you are the oppressed and are struggling for a more just and democratic society, you cannot necessarily justify your actions against others or make them democratic.

Take for instance the campaign launched by some of your representatives - allegedly acting on behalf of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) - to get former PM Anand Panyarachun and two privy councillors, including General Prem Tinsulanonda, prosecuted under the lese majeste law for what they purportedly said about the Crown Prince, according to WikiLeaks.

You must all be well aware that the lese majeste law is draconian and undemocratic. I know Prem is one of your arch-enemies, but first ask yourselves how crushing your enemies by using an undemocratic law would bring about a more democratic society? How then will you differ from the yellow-shirts who prefer a "good coup d' etat" as a panacea for all perceived political ills?

What you need is not just a target to be destroyed by any means, but a democratic means of solving political ills as well as a collective vision that goes beyond merely defeating your opponents. You should develop the ability to visualise what a just and democratic Thai society should look like.

There is no place for lese majeste law in a truly democratic society because citizens in a democracy should be able to express their "critical" views without fear of persecution. Your decision to use the lese majeste law to crush your enemies only makes Thailand more undemocratic.

I always feel that the reds are a bunch of people who cannot publicly and fearlessly express their political views regarding the ruling elite. So there is absolutely no need for them to instil more of this fear in others. It's tragic and ironic that the red shirts, long accused by their opponents of being anti-royalists are now resorting to using this archaic law against its opponents.

The progressive few among your rank and file should speak out against this campaign to prevent your movement from degenerating further into mere reactionary actions.

Dear red-shirt people, change for a more just and democratic society cannot be achieved if you are not willing to be introspective and review your actions.

A just and equal society is not one where people can equally use anti-democratic laws, but one that has no place for such a law.

I also wish that you would all closely scrutinise your leader, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The red-shirt movement will have to do more than just believe in Thaksin in order to achieve democracy. When I see calendars and New Year cards with Thaksin's image, I hope and pray that the red shirts are not simply trying to overthrown one idol for another. There is no space for idolatry in any truly democratic society.

When it comes to national leaders, politicians or other people, unreserved adoration and trust should be ruled out for the interest of society at large. This should be the nature of democratic politics.

Yours Truly,

A journalist who's often accused of being red and in bed with Thaksin.