On 11 Mar, two men hung banners blaming the red shirts for burning the country at a pedestrian bridge at Bon Kai on Rama IV Rd, an area where the military had a long standoff with red-shirt protesters about a year ago.
According to the People’s Information Centre (PIC), members of Bon Kai community said that the men hung two banners at the pedestrian bridge in front of a local Bangkok Bank branch. where the community had earlier hung a banner reading ‘15 deaths at Bon Kai; we will not forget’ as part of a commemoration of the dead, which was organized on 6 Mar.
Red Bon Kai’s banner ’15 deaths at Bon kai; We will never forget’. 5 March.
The two men’s banners read, ‘Demanding democracy; why burn as well?’ and ‘So who the hell told you lot to burn the country’.
Soldiers’ banners on 11 Mar.
When the PIC arrived on the scene, about 4-5 local red shirts at Bon Kai were gathered talking at one end of the pedestrian bridge, while the two men were sitting and keeping watch from the other side of the road.
Two soldiers keeping watch of their banners.
Questioned by the PIC, the two men identified themselves as soldiers, but declined to reveal their military unit. They said that their superiors had ordered them to put up the banners on this spot and keep watch over them.
When the PIC asked whether it was them who had put up similar banners at Khlong Toey as well, they said no, adding that that might have been done by another military unit. They said that soldiers had been ordered to do this in several areas in anticipation of the red shirts’ rally the next day.
According to the PIC, the two men who claimed to be soldiers dressed half in uniform and half in plain clothes, and wore jackets with a designation that read ‘Rueso 51 Special Task Force’. Rueso is a district of Narathiwat in the southern border area.
The red shirts at Bon Kai were upset with this and tried to assemble their fellows, but failed as during the daytime most of them had gone out to work.
However, at the urging of some community members who worked in the area and came to tell the soldiers to go away as the local red shirts were about to come, they left immediately.
At about 11 am, local red shirts got rid of the banners.
Bon Kai red shirts getting rid of the banners after the soldiers had left.
One of the red shirts told the PIC that he was upset with the banners because ‘we did not burn anything. The burning happened on 19 May 2010 after the military had violently suppressed the demonstration. […] It was understood that the burning was a result or a reaction to the government’s use of violence. If the government had not used violence, such incidents would not have happened for sure.’
Another local red shirt said that this might be a tactic by the military to intimidate them, as they had organized an activity to remember the dead on 6 Mar.