Mass Grave Of 169 Bodies Found In Thailand, Suspected To Be "Red-Shirt" Anti Government Protesters
Thai Media Reports- Aug 19, 2011
The Nation, English language newspaper in Thailand, reported today that a mass grave was found on the grounds of two temples located in Rayong province, just outside Bangkok. The Thai authorities discovered 72 bodies at the first temple and another 97 at the second (Wat Klong Takwa and Wat Huai Yang). Another popular English language media website "Thaivisa.com", printed a headline suggesting that the bodies are those of "red-shirt" protesters that went missing after last year's violent protests in the nation's capital of Bangkok. The protests ended in violence when the army used force to disperse the crowds of protesters, several people were killed including foreign journalists, soldiers, civilians as well as anti government protesters. In the aftermath, there has been a vast discrepancy between the number of confirmed deaths, and the number of people who are apparently "missing".
Anti Government Prostests- May, 2010
Since Popular PM Thaksin was overthrown by a coup and replaced with a military junta in 2006, Thailand has been politically unstable. The majority lower class of farmers from Thailand's Northeastern provinces had been responsible for making Thaksin the ONLY PM in Thailand's history to be democratically elected and serve a full term of government. Support for Thaksin has remained strong amongst Thailand's poor, and the "red-shirts" movement is said to be funded and controlled by Thaksin. The red shirts protest in May of 2010 left Thailand's capital of Bangkok paralyzed for several weeks, until the government decided to use force.
General Kattiya Sawatdiphol (Seh Daeng), a prominent red-shirt leader, was assassinated on May 13, 2010, shot in the head from a long distance sniper rifle. Seh Daeng was being filmed giving a TV interview at the time, and the footage is widely available on the Internet. The images of his head exploding from an apparent sniper shot are disturbing to say the least. The government denied any knowledge of his assassination, however it is clear that it was a well trained sniper that took the shot, and many people believe the army was responsible.
After the assassination of Seh Daeng, violent clashes between protesters and the army lasted several days, ending with the deaths of two foreign journalists several soldiers and a somewhat disputed amount of anti government protesters. The government at the time claimed that the army was being attacked by mysterious "men in black", heavily armed men wearing all black clothing. The protesters claimed that these "men in black", were actually soldiers acting as government assassins.
Recently elected PM, Yingluck Shinawatra is the sister of Thaksin, and politically aligned with the red-shirts. The current government is potentially motivated to use this recent discovery as political propaganda, however there is still the issue of the missing red-shirts protesters?
UDD chairwoman Thida Thavornseth : "I'm not sure whether all the bodies were the missing red-shirts until the investigation result is clear,"
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha : "the bodies were understood to be 1989 Typhoon Gay victims from Chumphon "
Pol Lt-General Santhan Chayanont : "According to the temples' abbots, the bodies had been brought in by two men from a local charity organisation who told them that the corpses had not been claimed and there were no legal cases related to their deaths ."
Former Deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban : "Officials from a foundation in Chumphon province were responsible for the bodies. They had transferred them to another foundation in Rayong "
Former Deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban : "Everyone has seen the images of the red-shirt protest on television. Protesters were injured or killed by the armed men among the red-shirts "
Former Deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban : "The people who took the bodies away were rescuers, nurses and foundation workers."
During the protests of May 2010, I was living in Chiang Mai, which is a red-shirt stronghold and the home province of the Thaksin family. I witnessed several anti government rallies, but for the most part, my attention was focused on television reports of what was happening in Bangkok. I must admit that as hard as I tried to remain neutral, I would sympathize with the red-shirts and quietly cheered them on. As a long time expat in Thailand, I am well aware that it is not in my best interests to get involved in Thai politics, however as a father of a Thai child, I hope that my son will have a chance to vote and have his vote count. This is something that apparently has always been lacking in Thai politics, as the only PM in history to ever serve a full term of elected government is Thaksin, the exiled fugitive.
I watched the reports on CNN, BBC, as well as Thai language media, and they reported the story very differently. The western media has been slow to criticize Thailand's government for the repeated blatant violations of human rights. The Thai government seems to get a free pass, because they are always politically aligned with The United States, regardless of who is in power. Recently I have seen reports of the uprisings in the middle east, and the western media wastes no time attacking corrupt Arab governments in Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt etc. I don't think that the red-shirt protesters were labelled the same way as the so called "freedom fighters" in the Arab world. They were classified somewhere in between activists and terrorists.. and there is usually only a fine line between the two.
When I saw the interview with red-shirt leader Seh Daeng, speaking to a reporter and then having his head explode like a watermelon, I was convinced that the government was behind the assassination. It was clear that he was taken out, because he was posing a threat to somebody in a position of power. Then I watched the live footage of soldiers firing on the crowd, protesters, civilians and journalists. It was difficult to say who was firing at who, but one thing seemed to be clear, the army was doing most of the killing.
I don't know whether or not to believe that the recent mass graves actually contain bodies of red-shirt protesters, however I do believe that if there truly is a large group of people missing, that they were likely killed by the army and then their bodies were disposed of and their deaths were covered up. I surely don't believe the statements made by former PM Suthep Thaugsuban, that the red-shirts killed each other and then nurses and ambulance drivers stole the bodies and covered it up in order to frame the government? As for the idea that these bodies come from Typhoon Gay, more than 20 years ago? Surely it won't take long to determine the difference between a body of somebody deceased for just over a year, and a body from 20+ years ago?