It's time Thai society started holding people responsible

Different groups have different reasons for opposing the blanket amnesty bill, which many Pheu Thai MPs are going full-steam ahead with.

Some anti-government groups are fighting the bill because they can't bear the thought of ousted fugitive former PM Thaksin Shinawatra benefiting from it, while others want to ensure justice and retribution for what happened on the streets in April-May 2010. These are just some of the reasons why anti-government groups and the so-called "progressive" red shirts led by Red Sunday leader Sombat Boonngam-anong are separately denouncing the bill.

However, this is not the first time that Thai society has tried to "forgive and forget" before looking for the truth and learning a lesson or two.

Nobody was ever held responsible for the deaths on the streets of Bangkok in October 1973 and 1976.

Nor was anyone held responsible for the deaths in May 1992, when soldiers used live bullets to mow down anti-government protesters, resulting in 52 officially confirmed deaths and many more missing. In fact, the May 1992 report was never fully made public.

Now, Thai society is moving towards ensuring that those who were responsible for the nearly 100 deaths in 2010 would neither be named nor held responsible.

Many red-shirt supporters feel betrayed by certain Pheu Thai MPs and red-shirt leaders. Back in 2010, when these leaders and MPs were on stage, they kept telling their supporters to fight to the death.

Now that these leaders are enjoying the privileges of power, they find it necessary to make a deal with those who were behind the deaths, telling their supporters that they have no other option.

In reality though, they have several options. One of them is to not allow any amnesty at all and let the judicial process - no matter how imperfect - take its course. This shameless excuse should also serve as an eye opener for those who blindly support Thaksin and his cronies.

Beyond Thaksin, Abhisit Vejjajiva - who was at the helm of the government in 2010 - and other high-profile figures will also be benefiting from this contentious bill.

So the question is, how will society make genuine progress when protesters continue being killed by those in power without ever finding out who is responsible or if they will ever be punished?

Thai society should not allow itself to be bogged down by either Thaksin or Abhisit, and instead start thinking about the future.

It should also look at the bigger picture and ensure that future generations do not face the risk of being shot and killed in broad daylight on the streets of Bangkok without anybody being held responsible.

I can't bear the thought of telling younger Thais that I did nothing to oppose this bill - thus putting the lives and rights of future protesters in jeopardy in what appears to be a never-ending cycle. This cycle can and will come to an end if a sufficient number of people take a stand and say, "enough is enough".

However, if we fail to bring a stop to this culture of impunity and amnesia, we may eventually end up marking more days on the calendar remembering bloody incidents that nobody was held responsible for.

Surely this is not the fate Thai society is condemning itself to?


Source: The Nation