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Anatomy of Current Thai Protests

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27 April 2014

To understand this dispatch in context, please read the previous dispatches:

Are Thai Protestors Violent?

Whistleblowers: A Meta Organization

We begin:

PDRC members after a deadly grenade attack on a PDRC march. The grenade landed near PRDC leader Mr. Suthep Thaugsuban. Security told Mr. Suthep to get in a car to be whisked away, but he refused to leave and continued marching.

A smaller Whistle Blowing ally of PDRC is Kor Por Tor:  KPT is the Student and People Alliance for the Reform of Thailand.  Various groups have both English and Thai names and acronyms.  In English language newspapers, KPT is often called NSPRT.

KPT has separate leadership and methods, but they ally with PDRC.  KPT also allies with aggrieved rice farmers due to their common goals.  KPT is the only pro-reform group willing to wage open battle.

IMG 1880EOD on the scene after deadly grenade attack on PDRC. UDD Red Shirts often brag before and after these attacks.

The UDD Red Shirts threaten violence daily and commit acts of terror and insurrection too frequently to easily track.  If the UDD were Muslims the US government would label them as an organization that supports and commits terrorist acts. They easily surmount that threshold.  KPT does not.

IMGM4405KPT attacking police during the deadly Din Daeng fighting on 26 December 2013.

To my knowledge, KPT does not commit violence that can be characterized as terrorism or insurrection.  KPT embodies a modified “stand your ground” policy.

IMGM4358This might be a certified PAD Yellow Shirt with KPT during the Din Daeng fighting. ASTV is strongly linked with PAD.

To my knowledge, KPT does not plan offensive actions but will fight defensively. Most KPT members are unarmed and peaceful but their protest guards are armed and they will defend themselves and even counterattack.

IMGM4535Army supporting KPT during KPT attack on police, 26 December 2013 at Din Daeng.

I witnessed KPT not only stand their ground but counterattack police at Din Daeng, Bangkok on 26 December 2013.

IMG 4749KPT medics treat a wounded guard. He was not wounded due to combat. He got into a fight with another guard.

KPT did the same on 18 February 2014, but I arrived after the fight finished that day.

When I arrived on 18 February, KPT was still on the Bangkok battlefield after the police retreated with casualties.  In total, five participants died that day with about a hundred wounded.

IMG 0637Dhamma Army leader Pra Phothi Rak: teaches non-violence. His people have been attacked many times.

That morning, police brutally attacked unarmed members of the Santi Asoke Dhamma Army, a peaceful Buddhist protest group.

The police attacked at prayer time, which enraged KPT who saw this as a moral abomination, not to mention that Dhamma is allied with KPT.

Word spread that police had beaten unarmed monks.  KPT, whose camp was near the Dhamma Army camp, responded immediately with deadly force against the police.

KPT are not like Americans who sit back and videotape police brutality – KPT shoot the police.  But missing from all this is KPT terrorism.  I have not learned of any terrorist attacks from KPT.  KPT engages in open combat and claims their deeds without apology, but these have been quid pro quo responses.

Imagine seeing American police brutalize unarmed protestors.  The equivalent response would be a militia arriving and firing on the police, and capturing their armored vehicles and gear as the police disburse.  The formula for peace with KPT is to not attack them.

Again, I have seen no evidence of KPT later bombing police, or engaging in ongoing attacks.  So far, after the smoke clears from a battle, everyone goes about their business.

Due to the open battles a court decreed that police may not attack protestors unless the protestors violently attack first.  This was a wise decision that ended clashes with protesters so far.  The vast majority of political violence that continues in Thailand comes from UDD Red Shirts who, again, often claim and brag about their deeds.  Strangely, after they openly celebrate their violence, if someone calls them violent they become angry.

IMG 0287Real Thai Soldier, out of Thai uniform, standing guard at a KPT gate. KPT often are attacked after dark.

At Din Daeng on 26 December, the Army aided KPT, but did not arm KPT and did not assist them in their fight against the police beyond providing water, medical care and moral support.  To make this clear: the Thai Army openly aided KPT during the heat of battle with the police formation not 200 meters away from Army elements.

As one might imagine, for an American it would be stunning to watch American military personnel stand by and aid protesters who were attacking police directly in front of them.  But this is Thailand, and we are talking about Thai rules.  I stand not in judgment, only as witness.

(To be continued.)

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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