Working Class militancy in Thailand escalates: Government continues violent suppression of protesters
We have to remember though, that Thaksin should not be revered either, despite what has been labelled as the ‘pro-poor’ reforms that he brought about, he was also responsible for gross state crimes, such as the Takbai incident in 2004 which saw protesters arrested, tied and thrown onto the backs of Thai army vehicles, sometimes 7 people deep, resulting in the deaths of 78 people. In addition there was a cold blooded execution of youths at the Krue Sa mosque in the same year, not to mention the hundreds of people executed as a result of Thaksin’s stepping up of the ‘war on drugs’. He introduced policies in government which led to the state hiring companies owned by members of Thaksin’s family, as well as corruption in other areas, such as the allegations surrounding his handling of the construction of the new Suvarnabhumi airport. Regardless of what has been said, as the head of state Thaksin himself should be held to account by the working class for the numerous attacks that his government and the ruling class had made on them, including in state owned industries such as the State Railway of Thailand.
Considering the reforms the former Prime Minister has carried out, it is no wonder then that many in the ‘red shirt’ movement are supporters of Thaksin, just as the Labour party has a working class base in Britain thanks largely to the promise of ‘social justice’ and its pretence in supporting workers. However, this support for such a capitalist minded person may prove in the future to be a danger for workers in Thailand. There is a history of grassroots militancy against dictatorships in the country such as in the 70s and in 1991, however this militancy usually goes so far as to bring about instalments of new and more liberally minded governments, not to actually remove the framework which allows the bosses to continue their oppression of workers. For a concrete solution, not only do workplaces and communities have to be put into the hands of the workers themselves and the bosses abolished, but the state needs to be removed in it’s entirety; this includes, the police force, the military, government and the monarchy.
But we should not kid ourselves either, there are many in the ‘red shirt’ movement who either secretly or openly oppose the monarchy and Thaksin. Despite the Thai and Western media stressing that the monarchy is widely loved, it is not entirely true, criticism of the monarchy or doing anything that can put the monarchy into disrepute is considered a crime punishable from 3 to 15 years (although some political activists have been imprisoned for longer) so it is no wonder that critics of the monarchy will largely stay silent over the matter. Can we seriously be expected to take the Thai media’s word for it? In a country where people sleep on the side of railway lines so they can get onto trains to beg for a living, and yet are expected to revere the royal family, which can afford swimming pools for their own dogs as well as numerous palaces and holiday homes, it would be a surprise if there was less of an anti-monarchy sentiment. The ‘red shirt’ movement may allow anti-monarchists to voice their opinion openly for the first time in a long while, although a criticism of the royal family alone is not enough, it is not the royal family that suppresses the workers daily, they are merely another tool that can be used by the capitalists running the country, as is evident now.
What can be taken from the recent clashes, and the increased militancy of the ‘red shirts’ though is that Thailand could potentially see an instalment of a new government (and therefore, repeating this cycle), if not something more serious, as the minor breaks from military command as seen from some soldiers in past events during this crisis have shown that if escalated, may lead to an all out civil war, suppression of opposition voices, or revolution. Right now however, I can only offer my solidarity to the Thai working class.