Socialist Worker

Thailand's brutal regime is Western ally in ‘war on terror’

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2203

Britain and the US remained silent as 80 Red Shirt protesters were killed and hundreds injured in Thailand over the past three months. Troops violently cleared anti-government protesters out of central Bangkok last week.

The Thai regime is a useful military ally for the West.

The US admitted last year that it has a secret military jail in Thailand, where “war on terror” suspects have been tortured.

The CIA used rendition flights to take suspects including Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to Thailand in 2005.

Last year Britain granted over £1 million a month in arms export licences to the Thai regime.

That same regime is still imposing a curfew across the capital, Bangkok.

Since the Red Shirt occupation of central Bangkok started in April, the government and the military have stepped up their aggression. They fired into crowds with live ammunition and tried to discredit the movement, claiming the Red Shirts are terrorists.

For all its power, the country’s elite has lost credibility in the eyes of ordinary people.

The double standards in dealing with protesters of different classes and backgrounds have been exposed.

Many of the protesters come from the north east of the country, where exiled ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has a groundswell of support from farmers and other workers.

One third of the parliamentary seats are decided here, so elections could change the face of Thailand’s elite.

The movement must reorganise and regroup, and build links with people they previously didn’t reach.

Organised workers are the vital, but thus far missing, element in the struggle to overturn Thai society.

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Tue 25 May 2010, 18:07 BST
Issue No. 2203
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