Police In Thailand Lay Down Vests and Barricades In Solidarity With Protestors

[It was a rare moment in people’s movements, some 16 months ago, and we just came across it and wanted to share it, with words of caution:  this was not a movement aimed at revolutionary overthrow of the Thai monarchy, or a severance of relations with capitalists or imperialism everywhere.  It was a militant struggle against corruption and abuse,  over local grievances, perceived inequalities, and many collective frustrations.  The videos above show the intensity of the struggle when protesters confronted the police.  And the picture below shows how remarkable this peaceful protest was, briefly, when the police took off their helmets and dropped their shields in a show of solidarity.  But we urge our readers in the US and internationally:  don’t expect the police to act like this, anywhere, ever, again.  If the instruments of state power ever defect to the people’s side, it will rarely be all at once, and never all together, even for a brief moment.  — Frontlines ed.]

December 6, 2013

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In Thailand, riot police laid down their helmets and shields, yielding to the peaceful protesters which they had been commanded to arrest.

In a showing of solidarity, police stood aside and allowed protesters to continue on.

Those who had rallied to protest explained that their goal was to confront and overcome the political apparatus of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Shinawatra is accused of widespread corruption and abuse of power, leaving him with few sympathizers among the police.

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Slave ships and supermarkets: Modern day slavery in Thailand

[Representatives of capital, and of modern capitalist-imperialism, have often claimed that their exploitative system has been a civilizing force, promoting and spreading democratic rights along with social and economic development wherever it has gone throughout the world.  These claims could not be further from the truth, as these masters of global plunder of human and all natural resources continue to force marginalized and desperately migrating peoples–peasants and proletarians alike–into the most dangerous conditions of slavery, enforced by the repressive regimes and the enslaving corporations they serve.  The following exposure by The Guardian exposes one aspect of this malevolent and highly profitable system, which then offers the inexpensive and tasty shrimp/prawn delicacies to unaware and/or uncaring consumers in imperialist countries. — Frontlines ed.]

By Kate Hodal, Chris Kelly, Felicity Lawrence, www.theguardian.com

June 12th, 2014

Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers, the Guardian can reveal.

A six-month investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

The investigation found that the world’s largest prawn farmer, the Thailand-based Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, buys fishmeal, which it feeds to its farmed prawns, from some suppliers that own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves.

Men who have managed to escape from boats supplying CP Foods and other companies like it told the Guardian of horrific conditions, including 20-hour shifts, regular beatings, torture and execution-style killings. Some were at sea for years; some were regularly offered methamphetamines to keep them going. Some had seen fellow slaves murdered in front of them. Continue reading

US-Chinese rivalry looms over Hillary Clinton’s visit to Vietnam

[The two articles that follow (promoting American interests) paint a detailed picture of the growing rivalry in Southeast Asia between US imperialism and China, which has emerged as an imperialist power in its own right.  While Vietnam like China is a thoroughly capitalist country with a one-party state that masquerades as “communist”, and has been propped up by billions of dollars in foreign investment in all areas of its economy, it is worried about its big northern neighbor.  Now the Vietnamese government is being courted aggressively by the US in order to counter China’s growing economic and military power. This will be a bitter experience for many Vietnamese who experienced the US war that killed upwards of 2 million soldiers and civilians and ravaged their country from 1965-75.  A US-Vietnam alliance may sail into some rough waters in the years ahead.-ed]

US Secretary of State Clinton appearing in Hanoi with Vietnamese general

 

China’s rise prompts Vietnam to strengthen ties to other nations

Washington Post, October 30, 2010

HANOI – Three weeks ago, an exhibition opened at the Vietnam Military History Museum. On one side of a long hall, the mementos of Vietnam’s 25 years of war against the United States and France – letters of surrender, quotations from Ho Chi Minh, hand grenades and AK-47 rifles – lined the walls. Nothing new there.

But on the other side, the History Museum was actually making history. Along those walls hung daggers, paintings and quotations from Vietnam’s struggle with another rival: imperial China.  Battles dating to 1077, 1258 and the 14th and 18th centuries were featured in intricate detail.

Putting China on a par with “Western aggressors” marks a psychological breakthrough for Vietnam’s military and is troubling news for Beijing. For years, China has tried to forge a special relationship with Vietnam’s Communist government. But China’s rise – and its increasingly aggressive posture toward Vietnam – has alarmed the leadership of this country of 90 million, prompting it to look differently at its neighbor.

Beijing risks losing its status here of a fraternal Communist partner and being relegated to its longtime place as the empire on Vietnam’s northern border that has shaped and bedeviled this country for centuries. That change of perception has led Vietnam to embark on an extraordinary undertaking to befriend the world as a hedge against China. And prominent among its new intimates is the United States, which is equally eager for partners to help it cope with Beijing. Continue reading

Popular Struggles in Thailand Unnerve Foreign Investors

Politics redraws the investment map in South East Asia

A security guard secures the Stock Exchange of Thailand that was partially burnt during recent clashes in Bangkok

Andrew Marshall, Reuters Asia Political Risk Correspondent – Analysis

SINGAPORE, Fri, May 21 2010

(Reuters) – The investment landscape of Southeast Asia is being transformed. And one key factor above all is driving the tectonic shifts in market perceptions — politics.

Thailand, the archetypal Asian tiger that has long been a favored destination for global conglomerates and emerging markets investors, is increasingly being viewed as the region’s basket case, as chronic political conflict batters its image.

Meanwhile, as protesters paralyzed central Bangkok in a long standoff that exploded into gun battles and arson attacks in the heart of the business district, the Philippines was surprising everyone with the smooth election of a market-friendly president.  “A strong president, restart of infrastructure spending, and a traditional relief rally should provide fuel for the markets,” J.P. Morgan said in a research note after the election.

Indonesia has already experienced a profound shift in how it is viewed by fund managers and multinationals.  A decade ago it was regarded as among the world’s riskiest countries, riven by sectarian and ethnic violence, and crippled by corruption. Even 18 months ago, in the global panic after Lehman Brothers collapsed, investors desperate to lower their risk exposure dumped the rupiah and local stocks.

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The U.S. Behind the Scenes Role in Thailand

Massacre In Thailand: Obama’s Bloody Hands

By Shamus Cooke

16 May, 2010, Countercurrents.org

When the White House is quiet as protestors are butchered in the streets of Bangkok Thailand, suspicions are raised. Silence often equals complicacy. One can only imagine what the U.S.’ response would be to a Venezuelan government slaughter: the U.S. media and Obama would loudly condemn such an act, in contrast to the muted response to Thailand’s blood bath.

The history of U.S.-Thailand relations explains why. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. used Thailand as one of the main “anti-communist” bulwarks in an area that included China, Vietnam, Burma, and other countries that were challenging capitalism.

Thailand was thus transformed into a U.S. client state and given money, guns, and U.S. government intelligence to battle Thailand’s “communists.” This relationship has equaled numerous Thai dictatorships that have a very bloody history, including the shooting of untold numbers of protestors that the Thai government named “communists,” or their modern equivalent, “terrorists.”

The U.S.-Thailand relationship began to sour when the recently deposed President Thaksin Shinawatra formed a closer relationship with China that included economic and military deals. The Asian Times summarizes the consequences: Continue reading

Thailand: 10 Dead as Military Lays Siege to Protestors

The fighting in Thailand over the past few years has been limited to the resolution of sharp divisions in the Thai ruling class. However, both factions in the ruling class and the U.S. are worried that the popular upsurges will become more politically independent and fight against the system as a whole.

By John Roberts

15 May, 2010, WSWS

At least 10 people have been killed and 125 wounded over the past two days after the Thai military sealed off all access to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protest site in the Ratchaprasong commercial district of Bangkok. Three journalists—two Thai reporters and a Canadian cameraman—were seriously injured.

The siege sets the stage for a bloody confrontation if troops are ordered to disperse the anti-government protesters. The protest site has been surrounded by makeshift barricades. The demonstrators—mostly rural poor from the country’s northern and northeastern provinces—have been joined by sectors of Bangkok’s poor.

Fierce street battles raged yesterday as protesters armed with Molotov cocktails, steel pipes, sling shots and bamboo sticks attempted to prevent troops from erecting barriers. Troops have fired live rounds as well as rubber bullets and are backed by armoured vehicles and snipers. The army is attempting to cut off power, water and mobile phone services to the area. About 10,000 protesters remain at the Ratchaprasong site. Continue reading