Truth but no reconciliation

16 February 2011 by Michel Maas

In the aftermath of the May 2010 mass street protests in Bangkok which ended in a bloody crackdown by the Thai army, the government formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However, half a year after its formation, the commission is riddled with problems.



The commission was set up to find out the truth behind the violence, in which at least 90 people died and many more were wounded and to make recommendations on reconciliation efforts among Thailand’s deeply divided population.

Last year’s unrest saw two sides at loggerheads: the so-called Red Shirts against the Yellow Shirts. The Red Shirts are mostly people from rural areas, and supporters of the ousted prime minister and tax fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. They contended that Thaksin’s government was ousted in very dubious circumstances.

The Yellow Shirts - royalist and right-wing, middle class people from the capital - oppose Thaksin and wanted to change the regulations in order to prevent him or his cronies from ever winning an election in the future. Because pro-Thaksin parties have won all recent elections, the problem is not likely to subside in the upcoming elections set for later this year. In the Red Shirt stronghold of Chiang Mai, a spokesman claims the TRC is little more than window dressing. “They are sending the army and police to arrest us - what kind of reconciliation is this”? he asks.

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