Regime threatens protesters daily, attacks them nightly – with their notorious “men in black” force.
January 11, 2014 (ATN) – There have been several troubling warnings by the regime and its backers that they plan to deploy covert violence against protesters and their own police in order to disrupt growing dissent against the embattled regime of dictator Thaksin Shinawatra. These warnings are coming ahead of a fourth mass mobilization this Monday, January 13, 2014, and after nearly nightly attacks on protesters by “men in black” gunmen. Previous mobilizations have seen over a million people take to the streets, dwarfing even the biggest pro-regime rallies held years ago at the height of its now dwindling popularity.
The threats by the regime are serious, and several of them have already come to pass during clashes beginning at the end of November.
1. Late November 2013: Just days before the first deadly violence, pro-regime scribe Andrew MacGregor Marshall, formally of Reuters and now hired pen for Thaksin Shinawatra’s lobbyist Robert Amsterdam would write in a Facebook post titled, “News Update From the Bangkok Protests” that:
Thaksin Shinawatra’s secret “black shirt” force of provocateurs, mostly made up of navy SEALS and marines, is back on the streets again for the first time since May 2010 and has infiltrated Suthep’s rabble. If protests escalate they will seek to incite deadly violence ahead of King Bhumibol’s birthday to discredit Suthep and his movement for good.
Marshall would also claim that a “very reliable source” had passed this information onto him, and assured fellow regime supporters that “if protesters kill civilians or police, that does not discredit the government.” On November 30, when clashes broke out between regime supporters and angry students, the regime’s black-clad gunmen appeared, shooting into crowds. Both protesters and regime supporters would be left dead in the mayhem.
2. December 26, 2013: While protesters attempted to occupy an election registration venue in Din Daeng district, Bangkok, police would crackdown heavily with tear gas, rubber bullets and eventually live ammunition. Again,unidentifiable gunmen, clad in black, were photographed and videoed on rooftops surrounding the clashes. One police officer and one protester would be shot dead, both from above. The regime immediately denied the gunmen were there’s but after a wither torrent of evidence was produced on the contrary, they eventually admitted they were.
Image: It is now confirmed by the regime itself that the heavily armed gunmen pictured to the right were police. The x-ray to the left is that of Police Sergeant Major Narong Pitisit, confirmed to have been killed by a bullet fired from above. While the regime and its busy propagandists have made great efforts to blame the protesters for his death, it is now clear that he was killed by the regime’s own gunmen.
3. January 10, 2014: Regime “red shirt” leader and MP Jatuporn Prompan spoke before a meager crowd in the regime’s stronghold of Udon Thani telling them that if a coup swept Thaksin Shinwata from power, he expected the “red shirts” to die fighting. He also assured his followers that on Monday, January 13, 2014, during the fourth mass rally by anti-regime protesters, “the police would do what they needed to do.”
These threats come after Jatuporn’s promise to bring mobs to the city to confront protesters – as well as numerous threats online by police themselves that they would use covert violence to attack protesters if February 2, 2014’s sham elections were disrupted.
4. January 11, 2014: Perhaps the most troubling warning yet comes from the regime’s Western backers at the corporate-financier funded US think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). In CFR Joshua Kurlantzick’s piece, “No Going Back Now for Thailand: Coup Coming?” he attempts to portray violence as inevitable – conceding that there are regime police who will be involved, but claiming the regime itself has no control over these armed, rogue elements. He also insists protesters will be armed.
What he is doing is rhetorically setting the stage for a much larger “December 26” incident, where the regime will fire on both its own police first, to justify police firing back on protesters second.
This, I think, is likely to occur next week, and I expect both some of the protesters and many of the most aggressive—and, frankly, stupid—police to break out weaponry, including potentially even live ammunition.
This violent confrontation, of course, is exactly what the leaders of the anti-government demonstrations want, and not what the caretaker government wants—or what most Thais, including most Bangkokians want. (A fine recent article in Khao Sod shows that most Thais do not want this kind of confrontation in Bangkok.) But at this point the caretaker government has less and less control over the hardest-core elements of the police force, and though the Yingluck government thus far has exercised a high level of restraint in dealing with the protesters, basically allowing the demonstrators to do largely whatever they want, I don’t know that the government can stop the coming confrontation.
And the end game, I think, is going to be a coup. I did not think so a month ago, but it seems highly likely now. A coup would be a tragedy, and even more dangerous and retrograde than in 2006, but it seems to be coming now.
Of course, this is a dishonest assessment. The protesters have proven they can produce massive turnouts over and over and have continually occupied parts of Bangkok for months now – slowly and surely wearing down the credibility and legitimacy of the regime in the process. Their primary advantage over the regime is its ability to remain peaceful and nonviolent and even when forms of force were employed to remove barriers and occupy government buildings it was done by avoiding bodily harm to police.
While there are certainly rogue elements on both sides of the conflict, the regime demonstrated on December 26 and throughout the past, that it regularly uses covert violence against their own police and supporters as well as against anti-regime protesters. Kurlantzick’s conclusion that a coup would be “dangerous and retrograde” must be put in the context of his CFR and the corporate-financier interests that control it, losing a valuable proxy in Thailand when the Shinawatra regime is finally and completely uprooted from power.
Daily Threats, Nightly Attacks
There have been attacks carried out at night against protest encampments for now over a month, with nearly nightly incidents of firebombings and drive-by shootings and occasional confrontations during the day between peaceful protesters and roving bands of the regime’s “red shirts.”
Image: A freeze frame from footage showing one of Thaksin Shinawatra’s heavily armed, professional mercenarieson the streets of Bangkok in 2010 after executing a deadly ambush against riot troops that would leave 7 soldiers dead including the Army Colonel commanding crowd control operations. Called the “men in black” because of their black garbs and covert nature, they have become a permanent, troubling and integral part of Thaksin Shinawatra’s political machine.
Just last night a mass shooting left seven protesters injured – in a familiar pattern of drive-by attacks that preceded the deadly violence by pro-Thaksin militants in the spring of 2010. In Bangkok Post’s article, “Shooting at Khok Wua injures seven,” it states:
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Friday that the government is capable of controlling the situation during the planned shutdown.
But she admitted that she is concerned that “third hand” groups would take this opportunity to incite violence.
She called on all parties to turn back from confrontation and enter talks to look for ways out of the political crisis through the stage of the government’s reform council, which will operate in parallel with the election.
Ms Yingluck said a general election, scheduled to take place on Feb 2, is necessary.
Here we can see part of the gambit the regime is playing. Part to terrorize people ahead of another unprecedented mass rally to discourage attendance, and part to hold peace and stability ransom in order to extort the perpetuation of their grip on power.
The regime’s police whom the CFR “fears” will act unilaterally, are only answering the continued calls for violence and confrontation both by the regime itself and its own propaganda networks. At any time, the regime itself could defuse the violence by ending its own vitriolic campaigns specifically designed to incite deadly confrontations. With a sitting MP literally telling people to go out and “die” fighting the army, is the CFR truly surprised that the regime’s police are preparing covert armed violence? Does the CFR truly believe it is being done unilaterally and not with the explicit consent of the regime itself?
The regime’s supporters are not planning to carry out violence unilaterally, they are simply following orders, not from “Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra,” but from the true leader of the current regime, Thaksin Shinawatra and his Western sponsors.