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Red-shirt poet, 45, shot dead in car park

Red shirts and opponents of the lese majeste law were shocked yesterday at the killing of Kamol Duangphasuk, a poet, red shirt and prominent activist against the lese majeste law. Better known by his nom de plume, "Mai Nueng Kor Kuntee", 45-year-old Kamol was shot dead in a car park outside a restaurant in Lat Phrao district of Bangkok yesterday afternoon.

At least five shots were fired at Kamol shortly after 2pm. Some struck him in the chest, and he was later pronounced dead at Mayo Hospital. While the motive of the killing is still unknown, those critical of the lese majeste law fear the worst.

"I'm shocked. I didn't think such a thing would occur today," said independent political scientist Sirote Klampaiboon, who wrote a preface for what would become Kamol's last collection of poems in 2011, "Creating People's Institution".

"There are new groups like 'Organisation for the Eradication of Trash of the Land' [which takes legal action against those who violate the lese majeste law] which is alarming. It makes people feel they're being hunted, and [believes] force should be used against opponents."

Anon Nampa, a red-shirt lawyer and poet who has defended many lese-majeste detainees, said Thailand had lost its most vocal red-shirt poet. Anon said that five or six bullets had been fired at Kamol, which suggested an "extreme" motive. Police had not made any arrests as of yesterday.

Former Thammasat University lecturer and anti-lese majeste-law activist Vipar Daomanee said while she didn't know the motive behind the killing, she couldn't help thinking it was political. "He was a commoner who became a poet, unlike most poets, who came from well-to-do families," Vipar said.

Kamol, also known for his activism calling for the release of all political prisoners, was a native of Samut Songkhram. He once made a living selling roast-duck rice and then was a poet for two decades, before becoming politically active after the September 2006 coup. A graduate of Silpakorn University's Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts, he became known for poems published in Matichon Weekly from 1980s to 1990s, and later for poems praising the red-shirt movement.


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