High stakes bring violence on both sides

your say April 16, 2014 00:00

Re: "History will judge the PDRC demonstrations non-violent", Letters, April 15.

It is of course not up to A Johnsen to dictate history’s verdict on recent events in Thailand, and the arguments he deploys to support his assertion are either insensitive and mendacious or, to give him the benefit of the doubt, the product of a seriously defective memory.
He states, with breathtaking self-delusion, that “minor, non-fatal incidents have occurred, yes, mainly caused by hothead students”. Really? Minor? Non-fatal? Try telling that to the families of the police officers killed or injured while trying to re-establish order on the streets. Or to the family of the elderly man left paralysed after being shot through the neck by anti-government demonstrators during the Laksi confrontation. Or to the families of red shirts shot dead during the fracas at Ramkhamhaeng University. There are plenty more accounts of unprovoked violence by thugs posing as advocates of true democracy and corruption-free politics which were non-fatal, but certainly not minor from the point of view of the victims.
None of this absolves those who have carried out attacks on anti-government demonstrators; all such violent acts are to be condemned. However, it is surely true that, had Suthep Thaugsuban and his backers quit while they were ahead, many of these tragic incidents would have been avoided. 
Suthep & Co are playing for high stakes, so high that they are prepared to inflict untold damage on Thailand, on its economy and on its people. Apologists for their actions such as Mr Johnsen should take a step back, and try to view recent events more dispassionately, without distorting the truth to suit their own point of view.
Robin Grant