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Police must crack down on agent provocateurs

Police should try harder to arrest "third hand" agent provocateurs in order to prevent violence at the planned Bangkok shutdown, said a key member of Peace Witness, a group whose volunteers monitor whether protests are staged in a peaceful manner.

Pairin Jotisakulratana, a key member of Peace Witness, told The Nation yesterday that there are agent provocateurs among the protesters who will not listen to the protest leaders and who are determined to ensure that a violent confrontation occurs.

This, said Pairin, was what occurred on December 26 at the Thai-Japan Youth Centre in Bangkok, where a police officer and a protester were shot dead by an unidentified gunman or gunmen.

"What we see is that there's a 'third hand' starting violence. When protest leaders order the demonstrators to retreat, this group of people won't follow. They will continue to confront [the police]. I can't say [who they are]. We don't really know who they are," said Pairin. He added, however, that the main responsibility is that of the police, who have a duty to identify and arrest these people. "These are the people who cause problems and we must be careful."

Pairin urged leaders of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and other protest groups to be mindful of this "third hand" group, and to do something about it.

Veteran peace activist Gothom Arya, meanwhile, said the so-called vocational college students among the protesters are prone to violence. He urged lecturers to accompany them in the protest from Monday onwards to ensure that they would not engage in violent protest. Gothom also urged the Red Cross to be ready for possible protest-related injuries.

Gothom said it's still not too late for the PDRC to enter into a dialogue to find a solution acceptable to both sides in order to prevent further loss of life.

At least eight people have been killed and more than 200 injured in clashes since the PDRC began its protest in November.

National Human Rights Commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara said the NHRC would hold an emergency meeting with all sides invited today in order to ensure peace is maintained during the protest next week.

With Army top brass insisting that another military coup cannot be ruled out, Niran warned, however, that trying to stage a coup would be a mistake and would not end the political confrontation.

"We have to try to accept and to reach a consensus on the fact that a military coup is not the answer and won't solve the problem. Society must come out and say no to it," Niran said.


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