Red shirts demand amnesty

Red shirts demand amnesty

Yingluck faces pressure to free political offenders

A red shirt group has pressured the Yingluck Shinawatra government to grant a general amnesty to all political offenders and speed up investigations into the 91 deaths during the 2010 political violence.

About 200 red shirt supporters and political prisoners advocates gathered at Ratchaprasong intersection yesterday to commemorate the 27th birthday of volunteer nurse Kamonkade Akkahad, who was shot inside Wat Pathum Wanaram during the May 19, 2010 crackdown on the red shirt protests.

The gathering, held on the footpath opposite the Police General Hospital, coincided with the meeting between the Yingluck cabinet members and Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda.

Red shirt members have accused Gen Prem of being behind the 2006 coup that toppled Ms Yingluck's brother, ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Payao Akkahad, Kamonkade's mother, read out a four-point statement, which called for the government to grant amnesty to political offenders since the Sept 19, 2006 coup; speed up investigation into the killings of more than 90 people during the April/May 2010 crackdowns on red shirt demonstrators; pay compensation to those affected by the political demonstrations since the Sept 19 coup; and follow the recommendations of the Nitirat group which called for all judicial decisions that were a consequence of the coup to be nullified.

While operational-level security officers who acted on the orders of their superiors may be exonerated, state officials who gave instructions to disperse the protesters must be brought to justice, she said.

Mrs Payao said there were many red shirt members who lost their loved ones in the 2010 political violence and it was indecent for parliamentarians to ask the red shirts to forget what happened.

"It's ridiculous that some MPs are suggesting to us to let bygones be bygones and that [red shirts] should help move the country forward," Mrs Payao said.

"They said so after they won the election and got into power while we have been running, hiding and missing our children."

She said she was not against the reconciliation effort.

"But reconciliation proposals made by Gen Sonthi [Boonyaratglin] were thrown to us without allowing the facts to be told, so we won't accept them easily," she said.

National reconciliation and criminal lawsuits against those responsible for the deaths of more than 90 people in the April/May 2010 incident must run in parallel, she said.

Mrs Payao rebutted the notion that the red shirt movement was divided as the Yingluck government appeared to be leaning toward Gen Prem.

The red shirts were not divided, they only had different approaches, she said. "We have been through thick and thin, so no one can provoke rifts among us," Mrs Payao said.

Natthapat Akkahad, younger brother of Kamonkade, said family members of those killed and injured during the political unrest would continue to support the Yingluck government.

They believed the government would help restore justice, Mr Natthapat said, adding that the red shirts were not in conflict with the government.Suda Rangkuphan, a Chulalongkorn University lecturer who campaigns for the rights of Thai political prisoners, yesterday called on red shirt supporters to pay more attention to the detainees at Laksi temporary prison, Bangkok Remand Prison, the Womens' Correctional Institute and provincial prisons. Among the detainees are lese majeste defendants.

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