Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Necessary Civil War in Thailand

The bargain between the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) core leaders and government over the timing for the dissolution of parliament, reconciliation plan, and conditions for the UDD core leaders to enter into the process of judicial justice should have not caused the civil war.

Avoiding Civil War
However, if we take into consideration the reality of the conflicts involved with the said bargain, we will be able to see that it was extremely difficult to avoid the civil war this time for the following reasons:

1. For more than four years, the Thai society has been plunged into tense conflicts between two groups -- the first group trying to pull the society forward and the second trying to pull it backward. However, it appears that the second group has now turned to trying to pull the society forward.

The red-shirted leaders, who are mostly members of the lower middle class and the grassroot people, are now the ones trying to push the society toward the representative democracy, free it from the domination by the elite bureaucratic polity, and adhere to the fair electoral system of 'one man one vote.'

2. A further complexity is that the progressive democratic side consists of new capitalist groups and interest-oriented political parties sharing the same ideology, while the other side comprises conservative power groups, political parties, and capitalist groups who are defending the obsolete power structure and their immediate political power and interests.

3. The group that pulls the society backward does not believe in and has been trying to discredit the representative democracy. They often mock the said electoral system as the 'four-second democracy' and accuse the red-shirted leaders of selling their votes and being used as tools of corrupt politicians.

4. The aforementioned accusations are based on the assumption that the poor and uneducated do not have any political ideology. They assume that the red-shirted leaders from rural areas came to participate in the antigovernment in Bangkok because: 1. they love Thaksin, 2. they are paid, 3. they want the government to tackle their poverty-related problems, and none of them came with any ideology (except a few whose number was probably less than that of the armed terrorists who mingled with the protesters.)

If ideology is an important ingredient that makes life valuable, people's life that has come out to fight for democracy is also valuable. Their struggle is therefore meaningful and respectable. It is because the educated members of the lower middle class, the poor and uneducated, and rural people have been stereotyped as being unable to profess any ideology. So, they are viewed as persons who are unqualified to fight for democracy and can only serve as 'tools' of corrupt politicians. The losses of their lives (during the dispersal of the red-shirted protesters on 19 May) were, therefore, acceptable because they are not regarded free people with ideology (as there were voices urging the government not to dissolve the parliament, calling on the military to use the martial law against the red shirt people or take quick actions to get rid of the 'social garbage' so as to protect the country, religion, and highly revered monarchy.)

5. The stereotyping of the red-shirted people (the majority of them) as no-ideology, democracy-illiterate, stupid, uneducated, purchasable person has become the repeated discourse during the past over four years.

On one hand, it enables the side who evaluates the red-shirted leaders' value lower than that of its people [who are ideologically imbued with the loyalty to the country, religion, and monarch] to testify that the 'deaths' of the red-shirted people were necessary and justifiable, and on the other, such long-practiced oppression (e.g., calling them 'reckless' and so forth and so on) has created a time bomb of resentment among the red-shirted leaders that could explode at any moment!

Eventually, the explosion took place when the red shirts' media were shut down (after the long closure of their area in the mainstream media which has allowed their stories to be 'told' by 'other people' who are biased against them). The crackdown operation, which resulted in losses of lives and injuries, made the red-shirted leaders dare to challenge death, and, subsequently, violence was necessarily chosen in order to tell the society that they came with ideology and were willing to die for democracy and justice. Of course, natural instinct does not allow them to be bullied all the time.

6. Violence does not solve problems. The use of violence by the red-shirted was wrong (regardless of the fact that they had to put up resistance against the state's soldiers who were equipped with all sorts of dangerous weapons). However, the society should understand them because they always have to bear with verbal insults and the stereotyping that they lack ideology and have little human value. They have been under the pressure of unfair political and economic structures for a long period of time.

Nevertheless, the civil war should not have taken place if the Aphisit Vijjajiva government and the power behind it had not underestimated the red-shirt leaders, abused their power, been excessively frightened by the fear of Thaksin, and disregarded human rights.

Spirit of Democracy
It is regrettable that the Aphisit government had failed to demonstrate its superior maturity and spirit of democracy by allowing the (red-shirted) media to remain open, providing an area in the state-owned media for its opponents, and by dissolving parliament, which can be done at any moment. On contrary, it has been using the military power to solve political problems.

This is the price of the leadership-lacking decision made by the Aphisit government. The behind power and its cruel hearted supporters have caused the civil war, disaster to the country, and dark future of the Thai society!

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