Obituary: Mainueng K. Kunthee, a prominent red-shirt poet

 
Mainueng K. Kunthee was the pen name of Kamol Duangphasuk, a prominent red-shirt poet and activist who was shot dead on Wednesday evening by unknown assailants
 
Born in Amphawa District of central Samut Songkhram Province, Kamol graduated from Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Education. Kamol loved writing poems. His poems were published in Matichon Weekly and a few other magazines in the 1990s. He made his living from a small restaurant, called the Duck Poet Society, serving duck dishes.
 
After the 2006 coup d’état, he appeared at anti-coup red-shirt rallies. He often gave speeches and read his poems, fiercely attacking the coup makers and the establishment. He was then known as the People’s Poet and the Red Shirt Poet. Several of his poems, composed during the anti-coup era, are still read today at red-shirt gatherings from time to time.. 
 
 
 
Kamol Duangphasuk, aka Mainueng K. Kunthee
 
 
After Nuamthong Phaiwan, a taxi driver who slammed his taxi into a military tank,committed suicide to protest against the coup, the red-shirt poet, along with other red activists managed to produce a statue of Nuamthong. The Nuamthong Phaiwan Memorial statue is placed at the spot where the taxi driver hanged himself.
 
Mainueng was very active with the red-shirt movement during the red-shirt demonstration in 2009 and 2010. Red-shirt sources said Mainueng joined a violent wing of the red shirts during the 2010 rally. After the crackdown on red-shirts in 2010, he started to fade away from the red-shirt stages because of credible safety concerns. Sources said he fled to Cambodia. 
 
He became politically active again when the controversial amnesty draft bills were put before the Lower House. Mainueng joined Suda Rangkupan, a red-shirt activist and former Chulalongkorn University lecturer, in supporting the blanket Amnesty Bill amid opposition from most of the red-shirts. They said getting the red-shirts political prisoners out of jail was their priority that made them compromised on the blanket bills.
 
The poet was also very active on the campaign against the Article 112 or the lèse majesté law and the right to bail of lèse majesté suspects and defendants. Suda and Mainueng were the leaders of the Declaration of Street Justice Group. Very active in 2012, the group organized a series of hunger strikes for the right to bail of lese majeste suspects/defendants and held a weekly seminar criticizing the Criminal Court on the footpath in front of the court compound.  
 
In 2003, under the administration of then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Kamol was a committee member of Pan Wanfah Award, an award for political literature given by the Thai parliament. The committee members were composed mostly of red-shirt poets. The Award was criticized as biased toward the reds.  
 
Wat Walayangoon, also a well-known red shirt writer and poet, said Mainueng was popular for his direct poetic style which was direct and for voicing strong political messages. 
 
“When some red-shirt people in the provinces have events like monk ordaination or weddings, they always invited Mainueng to read poems to boost morale,” said Wat. “He was beloved by the red shirt people.”
 
The follwing is a poem by Mainueng, composed in April 2010, shortly before the military started to crack down on the red-shirts. It was translated into English by Suda. 
 
Molding the Violent Passion
Molding the violent passion for democracy,
We are blamed terrorists amid the capital.
Oh, the great capital city, yet so empty, so hollow.
Is this the Kingdom of Deva or Satan?
 
Molding the violent passion for democracy,
We are blamed terrorists, hanged to be killed.
Wanna keep it, the city of angels, of heavens?
Let us make the legacy of the absolute oppressor to an end!!!
 
Molding the violent passion for democracy,
We, with no guns, grip the bamboo stick against the bullet.
Under the shade of the merciful Bhodi,
Why? So cruel, so inhuman!
 
Molding the violent passion for the people,
We endure against the attack of the heaven’s destiny.
Our feet stand on the justice.
Low class people strive for peace all our hearts.
 
Molding the violent passion, we are those who are passionate,
We break the chain for the freedom of the commoners,
This is the last struggle!
We shall fight wholeheartedly, and we shall win!