Progressive Movement claim responsibility for crackdown commemoration messages

The Progressive Movement, a group formed by former members of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party (FFP), claimed that they are behind the mysterious messages which appeared on Sunday night (10 May) at key locations of the May 2010 crackdown on the Red Shirt protests. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence is seeking legal action against those responsible.

The Democracy Monument with the hashtag projected onto the wing to the front left. (Source: Nutchanon Payakaphan)

On Monday night (11 May), the Progressive Movement posted a time-lapse video on their Facebook page. Shot from inside a van, the video appears to show the behind-the-scenes process of setting up the projection.

“May 1992|2010: The truth must come to light,” the post says. “How many times have unarmed citizens been killed in cold blood? How many times have the killers and those who ordered the killing not only escape punishment but rise in the corridors of power? Every time, the truth was erased, and justice never arrived.

“Enough with limitless power to murder hundreds of people with impunity. To those in power, you don’t have to tire yourselves out looking for who was shining the light to look for the truth. It’s just us, ‘the people’.”

Pannika Wanich, former FFP spokesperson and one of the leading members of the Progressive Movement, told BBC Thai that the messages were part of a campaign leading up to a series of activities the group has planned for 12 – 20 May.

“I don’t want to say “admit,” because we are not hiding it. No one owns this campaign, but it’s done by citizens who want to know the facts about an important event in Thai political history,” Pannika told BBC Thai. “We did the projection. You don’t have to look anywhere else, and we ask you not to threaten civilians who don’t have a voice.”

The Progressive Movement then launched the #FindingTruth campaign last night (13 May), announcing a schedule of activities commemorating the “Black May” protest crackdown in May 1992, as well as the May 2010 Red Shirt crackdown, which includes online screenings of the documentary “The Look of Silence” on 18 – 20 May and a Facebook live panel discussion on 19 May.

The group is led by former FFP executives who were banned from politics following the party’s dissolution in February, including Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. Meanwhile, former FFP MPs who escaped the ban and remain in parliament joined a new party under the name Move Forward Party.  

Defence Ministry, police seek legal action against those responsible for the campaign

Khaosod English reported yesterday (12 May) that the Ministry of Defence is planning to take legal action against those responsible for the campaign.

Defence spokesperson Maj Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said that the campaign was “politically motivated” and sought to create disunity in the country. He said that he “personally believe[s] it is inappropriate” and that it is “not beneficial to the current situation.”

“I see this as a politically-motivated act seeking to cause misunderstandings to institutions and organizations. Security officials are working to find the perpetrators, which should not be difficult for them,” said Maj Gen Kongcheep.

BBC Thai also reported that the Metropolitan Police Bureau is also investigating the campaign. However, Pol Maj Gen Methee Rakpan, Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau’s Division 6, said that he cannot tell whether the campaign has broken any law.

Pannika insisted that even though the team who did the projection went out at night, they did not break the 22.00 – 4.00 curfew, announced by the government as a Covid-19 prevention measure. She also said that none of the locations on which the messages were projected were damaged, since the projection does not affect the surface itself, and that their campaign did not cause any disturbance, as the light was not projected onto windows, there was no noise, and it did not cause any traffic jam.

She also said that the campaign does not aim to cause conflict in society, and that she thinks that unity can be created only when the truth is brought to light, and that forgetting will not lead to healing.

Meanwhile, Phayao Akhad, whose daughter Kamonked was among the 6 people killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram on 19 May 2010, told Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) that she received a phone call from a Special Branch police officer in the middle of the night on Monday (11 May).

Phayao said that she received the call at around 22.00, when she was already in bed, but since the caller repeatedly call her both through the application Line and through her phone number, she had to answer. She said that the officer was the same one who visited her last month, that he has her phone number and has been trying to add her on Line.

She said that the officer asked her whether she would be organizing any event on the anniversary of the crackdown and her daughter’s death, and pressed her to answer whether she will be going to the temple. Phayao told him that he will see if she is going to organize any event. The officer then hung up.