Sunday, May 16, 2010

Violence in Thailand

By Douglas V. Gibbs

The ruling class that consists of the wealthy families, the military and the bureaucrats, who have long exerted a huge influence on Thai politics, claim to represent the interests of the monarchy. They seized control in 2008 and now are in the midst of facing a two month long stand-off with the poorer members of society in a battle for power that has resulted so far in the death of 25 people. Last Thursday the military began an operation to shut down a protester encampment, hoping to quell the protests, but the result has been more violence.

The protesters belong to a movement that lacks any real leadership, but is one that consists of mostly the poor, and is loosely led by former members of the communist party. The claim of the protesters is that they would like to bring a more representative democracy to Thailand, and they were promised an election later in the year, of which the ruling class has since withdrawn. With the withdrawal of the early November election, the government then sent troops in to surround the protesters, cutting off their supplies of food, water, electricity, and fuel.

The Redshirts that are the driving force behind the protests have begun to draw in city students and members of Bangkok's burgeoning elite. They regard the current government as illegitimate because it never won an election and was brought to power by a parliamentary election – engineered by the military – after the Redshirts' party was dissolved for electoral fraud and kicked out of parliament.

Both sides represent extremes that will continue to keep Thailand under the rule of an oligarchy. Violence is often the result when big government ideologies clash, and at the heart of this conflict is the classic struggle for ruling control.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

Thai PM Considering Curfew After 25 Die in Clashes - ABC News International

Thailand violence continues - Telegraph U.K.

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