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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Red Shirt chief says lost control of Thai protesters - ABC interview with Jakrapob Penkair
Updated April 14, 2009 11:47:37

The protesters - the so called Red Shirts - are loyal to a former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been urging demonstrators to overthrow the government.

The telecoms billionaire, who was ousted in a military coup in 2006, fled Thailand in August before being sentenced to two years in prison on corruption charges.

He has made a series of speeches by telephone and video in recent weeks encouraging his anti-government forces to take to the streets. Jakrapob Penkair is a leading member of the red shirt protest movement, and he spoke to Karen Percy yesterday evening in Bangkok.

Presenter: Karen Percy, South East Asia correspondent
Speaker: Jakrapob Penkair, deputy secretary to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and president of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship

PERCY: So tell us, what do you make of today's events?

PENKAIR: It's a tragic day actually. We have rallied quite peaceful in the past years.[lies - Red-shirts were always involved in violence with opposition Yellow shirts] And we have seen in the past week the violence has escalated on both sides [another lies - Red-shirts blocked major road in Bangkok without any resistance from authorities before moving to Pattaya to disrupt the Asean Summit]. Actually, if I'm not to be accused of being biased, the government provoke the first reactions from the Red Shirts. We had been there very calmly all along. In Pattaya, we went there to petition to the ASEAN leaders and the dialogue partners, Australia included, to not have any association with the Thai Government who we deem illegitimate and illegal. We did not have any plan to go further, then we were ambushed, first by stone throwing and then being shot at on the motorway, injuring two people on Pattaya,[Penkair did not say who did thepossible by local people who bothered by Red-shirted's massive road blocks in Bangkok and Pattaya] that forced people to try to confirm to the foreign leaders that the Thai government was criminal. So they went into the hotel, but with lots of people as emotional as that, some damages were done [lies - people entered the hotel ], in which we regret. And we didn't plan in advance to have it happen,[lies - well organized blokings of Asean leaders and China PM Wen Jiapao at Dusit Thani Hotel all at the same time] that just an example of what happened.

PERCY: You need to get people off the streets, you need to get them into safe places. There are people in their homes frightened of what your protesters and the military are doing.

PENKAIR: The point is everyone at the protest know the risk he or she is taking. We have not been blinding them with the illusion of safety or even an illusion of victory. But people have been so determined, and so focused on what he or she is doing, it's beyond what a coordinator like myself to be guiding them or even controlling them.

PERCY: So you're saying you're not in control of these men and women out on the streets?

PENKAIR: We are not in control of the men and women on the streets. [Is this how the leaders deny any responsibility caused by their actions?]

PERCY: Wouldn't it take one word from Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister to say cease, desist, whatever it might be. Get off the streets, this is bad for Thailand and it's bad for him. How can he come back to Thailand being associated with something like this?

PENKAIR: There is no way that any individual and Thaksin included could say one word and it stops, because among the crowd at the Government House, which is a central stage of the Red Shirts, there are three groups of people combined: Thaksin lovers, democracy lovers who don't care about Thaksin and people who are affected by the whole political economic situation of the past years [and also paid-protesters as Thaksin said by himself clip...]. These three groups do not go along with what would be next, but they are sharing the common goal that we couldn't just say passively or submissively, like the Thais are expected to do, and make things correct, because it has gone wrong for a long time.

PERCY: But who is capable of coming in and fixing the problems that have existed for all these years and mopping up the mess of these Red Shirts, who's capable of doing that?

PENKAIR: Nobody.

PERCY: So what has been the point of all this then?

PENKAIR: It has to go on until everyone come to sense themselves. It is an era of real equal, energising the society and if there is violence to be applied to, just be assured that we do not initiate it. And then we have to tell people that we do not encouraged this, but this is what you have in your country, what many Western countries have had before, but it has been happened right now and many people take Thailand as a peaceful country, nothing like this would ever happen in Thailand, then you would find yourself to be in the history and people who got disappointed by the painful break that they have planned for a long time, I am sorry about that, but it's history and if you can find a sense of history to share with this then you are in good hands.


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