Thailand’s yellow shirts to protest today against reconciliation bills
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Thailand’s yellow shirts to protest today against reconciliation bills

Earlier this month, BP blogged that there were 3 issues on which the yellow shirts would protest again, namely (a) anti-monarchy activities by the government including lese majeste reform, (b) constitutional amendments, and (c) amnesty law.

There are 4 current reconciliation bills including the initial reconciliation bill proposed by Gen. Sonthi that likely will be deliberated by parliament tomorrow (there could be different versions later), but in effect the bill will provide amnesty for many including Thaksin.   Hence, the yellow shirts have announced they will protest today. MCOT:

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), or the Yellow Shirt movement, will gather next Wednesday to protest against the reconciliation bill which was set to be deliberated in the House of Representatives on that day.

The yellow-shirts move came as the House session is scheduled to consider on May 30 the reconciliation bill proposed by the 2006 coup leader Gen Sondhi Boonyaratglin, now MP and leader of Matuphum Party, amid criticism that the bill was crafted to benefit ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra rather than the general public.

PAD key leader Somkiat Pongpaiboon said the group resolved unanimously to mobilise its supporters on that day to submit a petition to the House Speaker and the government, showing their disagreement with the proposed amnesty bill and calling for the House to suspend consideration of the bill.

The Bangkok Post reports the Democrats support the PAD protests:

The opposition Democrat Party says it will back protests by the People’s Alliance for Democracy against any reconciliation bill they see as aimed at whitewashing the crimes of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on said yesterday that Democrat MPs could join the yellow shirt PAD’s rally outside parliament today.

Three reconciliation bills were presented to the House yesterday, in addition to one presented earlier.

Democrat MPs who shared the belief that the charter bill should not go ahead had the constitutional right to express this, Mr Chalermchai said.

He said Democrat MPs would show their opposition to the bill both inside and outside the parliament building while his party would adhere to peaceful moves and the national interest.

Democrat MP Thepthai Senapong yesterday said many people would join the rally. He encouraged viewers of his TV programme to participate.

He called the rally the beginning of a second round of battle against the Thaksin regime.

Having said that, and despite Veera’s talk of the bills being rushed and speculation that Thaksin will be back by the end of July, this is very unlikely to happen. The Bangkok Post quotes a Puea Thai MP on the post-deliberation process:

Mr Samart believed the four versions of the bill should pass their first reading in parliament, after which the current session will close for a two-month period during which a committee will analyse the bills’ contents.

BP: There are still many legal issues to work out and which version will be accepted.

How many people will turn up today?  Remembering  around 45,000 reds turned up to the 2 year anniversary of the crackdown on May 19. In addition, PAD got around 100,000 at its peak in 2006 which dropped down to around 50,000 at its absolute peak in 2008.  An absolute minimum of 10,000 will be needed today to have any kind of impact, but this may be difficult given the bills are only proposals for now, and deliberation won’t be until tomorrow. However, with Democrat party support, the PAD could muster up to 20,000 if an effort is put in. In the context of past protests, this though is not a large number particularly as numbers of protesters tend to drop over time…..

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