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Our Army as protector in current conflict?

Perhaps our Army can benefit democracy in Thailand. At first glance, this seems crazy: the Army has staged too many coups that have pushed democracy relentlessly back, and the military must remain above politics.

Yet the contest between Yingluck's government and the protesters is unique in that, as top cop Adul Saengsingkaew finally admitted, it has mainly been the police, acting under orders, who have been using violence. This was evident when they allegedly trashed the car in which unarmed medical volunteers were on their way to care for injured protesters, or shot protesters on the ground from the Labour Ministry rooftop. With the exception of the vocational students at the candidate-registration venue, the protesters have been strictly and admirably non-violent.

As the struggle intensifies, Yingluck will be increasingly tempted to use force. To prevent a bloodbath, the military should make it clear that non-violence by one side must be met with non-violence, and that it will apply this principle without favour. If any side uses violence, the Army could use armoured vehicles to extricate the victims. In this way lives could be saved, and the opponents would be pressured to negotiate in good faith, which would advance democracy.

If this idea sounds unlikely, dear reader, please propose a better one.

Burin Kantabutra

Bangkok


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