Thais run the risk of plunging society deeper into political turmoil if they seek to use violence in the hope of doing something that they believe to be good, a leading expert on non-violence has warned.
Chaiwat Satha-Anand, a professor of political science at Thammasat University and an expert in non-violence, said the deterioration of the political situation recently – including last week’s murder of red-shirt poet Kamol Duangphasuk, better known under his pen name of Mainueng Kor Kuntee, and the setting up of the ultra-royalist group “Organisation to Eradicate the Rubbish of the Nation” – could plunge Thai society deeper in violence.
He said people must be cautious to ensure that the next three to four weeks proceed without major violence and warned that violence could affect reform.
Chaiwat said Thais are not new to major political violence, citing the October 6, 1976 massacre of students in Thammasat University as an example and the fact that people from that generation are still around.
Chaiwat spoke at a conference at the Sukosol Hotel in Bangkok yesterday organised by Thai Research Fund (TRF). He said Thais must not lose hope or accept that violence is the only way to solve political differences.
He warned that people who think differently about politics or the monarchy and branding them as “trash” is dangerous, as it degraded them from being human.
Chaiwat said people should avoid committing violence in the name of nationalism, out of xenophobia, or using violence against those who are branded as not loyal to the throne. All these things, he said, were creating a climate of paranoia and these fears had been manipulated and used to mobilise people.
Chaiwat also cited a recent case where parents lodged a lese majeste complaint with police about their biological daughter, describing it as a troubling sign of the loosening of family bonds.
“These are bad signs,” he said, adding that he was against these fearful developments.
He urged Thais not to give up hope for peaceful resolution and to help think about other options or how to minimise violence in the weeks ahead to prevent more loss of life. Hate speech, the academic said, must also be monitored.
“At the moment, we’re stuck between the conflicts of two worlds – the old world, which refuses to die, and new world, which is without power to form itself,” Chaiwat said.
In a related development, police said the motive behind the killing of Kamol was still unknown and no arrest warrant had been issued yet in relation to his murder.