Thailand

A massive ten-and-a-half weeks after Thailand’s first general election since 2014’s military coup, the leader of said coup, Prayut Chan-o-cha, was voted in as Thailand’s prime minister by the new parliament on 5 June. His victory was about as surprising as discovering that the next pope will be Catholic, since the military junta has spent the last five years engineering the Thai constitution to guarantee they are never out of power. The process has been as bizarre as it was farcical.

Three political activists who had fled Thailand for their safety have disappeared. Chucheep Chivasut, Siam Theerawut and Kritsana Thapthai were wanted for the crime of insulting the monarchy. In Thailand, under Article 112 of the country’s criminal code, anyone who is deemed to have committed this crime faces up to 15 years in prison.

Tensions are high in Thailand as a political crisis that has been simmering for years is reaching boiling point. Last week a judicial coup ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several of her ministers.

Bangkok is in flames as the counterrevolutionary violence in Thailand reaches a bloody climax. The long-awaited assault by the Thai army has already taken place, and will not cease until every trace of the protest has been wiped out. No-one can be sure of the number of casualties, but the final figure will certainly be more than what the authorities have admitted to so far. It seems that some Red Shirts have responded by setting fire to banks, shopping malls and other buildings in the city, and there are reports that protests and violence is erupting in other parts of the city.

The dramatic events unfolding in Thailand – with 21 people killed by the army in the last few days – highlight the weakness of the present regime and the power of the mass movement. It is an indication of the impact of the present worldwide crisis of capitalism on this South East Asian country.

What is going on in Thailand? What do the yellow and red shirt movements represent? Leaders of the Red Shirts have been pressurising Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to step down and call elections after weeks of protests that have shaken the country. Here our correspondent gives some background information to the conflict presently unfolding in the country.

A one-kilometer long march of workers celebrated May Day in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. A moderate estimate puts the number of participants on the rally at 60 to 80.000 workers. No doubt this was the biggest workers march on May Day for decades. More important was the fact that this time the May Day rally was organized without the support of the government. It was also probably one of the most combative ones. The driving force behind this massive gathering is the two-month old struggle against the privatization of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). The bulk of the demonstrators came from this protest movement.