Nov 30, 2008

Domestic terrorists or democrats

I support democracy. I think it is unwieldy and bureaucratic but it's the type of government that gives a voice to the people, although the people are supposed to give legitimacy to the government via elections. Obviously there are exceptions, coups, military takeovers, ballot stuffing etcetera etcetera. Most people I know, have problems with their government.

The right to demonstrate is important and valid. I have marched in support of anti-war protests, human rights, women's rights and integration. Many governments would prefer to take that right away because it creates hassle and chaos for the powers that be. One country in SE Asia has dealt with it by requiring permission for protests or marches. As a result there aren't many.

When does the right to demonstrate become illegal? Are there places that people should not be allowed demonstrate?

I am thinking about Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok. Bangkok international airport is a major air hub for south east Asia. It sees more traffic than Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta. Hundreds of flights from all over the world arrive and depart from Bangkok daily.

For the past six days the "People's Alliance for Democracy" has occupied Suvarnabhumi airport. Some flights switched to the old airport and then it was occupied. There are over 150 000 people who are stranded in Bangkok with economy passengers being told to fend for themselves by certain airlines, which I find appalling.

I think that international airports should be off limits to large scale protests but where do one draw the line. I hate when governments use "security" as a blanket to remove rights. PAD have been protesting at government buildings for months. There is an estimated $100 million in lost revenue already as well as the public relations nightmare, in this recent stunt.

I don't have the knowledge to decide which side is right.They both seem in the wrong to me. The government is corrupt and dismissive of human rights. It is the known entity.

These PAD people though, are making many people uncomfortable. They want the PM to step down because of x y z. Some news sources are calling their occupation domestic terrorism but terrorism is a label that is applied willy-nilly these days. The label may be apt. According to the big W

Armed PAD surrounded Parliament and used razor wire barricades to prevent the legislature from meeting to hear Samak's replacement, Somchai Wongsawat, formally announce his policies. Police dispersed the protesters, some of which were armed with guns and explosives, causing hundreds of injuries and one death. One additional PAD leader was killed when the bomb in his car went off in front of the headquarters of the Chart Thai Party, a member of the government coalition. Afterwards, the PAD formally renounced non-violence and vowed bloody revenge. In order to provoke a military coup, PAD forces in November blockaded Parliament prior to a crucial legislative session, used hijacked public buses to take control of the government's provisional offices at Don Muang Airport, opened fire and tossed grenades at government supporters, and seized the passenger terminal and control tower of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, forcing the airport to cancel all flights. Yellow Shirts in Chiang Mai pulled a 60-year-old man from his car and shot and killed him. The PAD has also threatened to lay siege to the seaports of the Eastern Seaboard.

That's not public protest. That is an attempt to use violence to affect political change. That is domestic terrorism. On Thursday PAD released a statement that I found quite creepy.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy is left with no choice but to step up its peaceful rally by blocking off access to the Suvarnabhumi Airport. This is considered to be an ultimatum for Somchai Wongsawat and the Cabinet to resign immediately and without any condition

Mass resignation of the PM and cabinet? May as well ask for the moon. Also the country would be without a government. The current government has, at least on the surface, been democratically elected.

The people’s alliance apologizes for any inconvenience the closure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport may cause to the public and international visitors to the Kingdom of Thailand. But the PAD believes the measure is crucial to bring an end to the traitorous-killer government.

From what I can gather, the government hasn't been killing but PAD certainly has. Closing a major international airport for almost a week is a damn sight more than inconvenient.

The PAD is calling for the public from all walks of life to join the PAD movement and call for the current administration to resign immediately to protect Thailand from more harm and to restore morals to the Thai society without any further delay.

"Restore morals" indeed. Whose morals? The government's? The king's? Buddha's? How will these morals be measured? Ridiculous.

It's very difficult to know how things are going in the airport. Some news sources are claiming that the expats stuck in the airport are hostages, while others dismiss these claims as sensationalist.

I have a vested interest in the goings on at Suvarnabhumi airport. I bought a flight home that goes through Bangkok. I can't afford another flight and chances on that even if it is refunded, it'll be weeks before I get to my destination. Not a bit happy about the situation.

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