Students blast Abhisit for 2010 crackdowns

Four students got in the face of Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva when he spoke at Thammasat University's faculty of political sciences, Rangsit campus, on Tuesday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

A group of students protested against Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva Tuesday over his government's deadly crackdowns on red-shirt demonstrators in 2010.

Mr Abhisit was giving a speech on his political views at Thammasat University.

Four students, led by Phrit Chiwarak, held up a placard and photos of dead bodies, slamming him for the killing of demonstrators who rallied against his government.

The former prime minister tried to keep the situation calm, and continued his address at the Faculty of Political Sciences at the university's Rangsit campus.

Calling Tuesday's protest a form of "expression of opinion", Mr Abhisit tried to explain the tough situation his government had to deal with and why it needed to use armed troops to tackle the protests and bring them to an end.

The crackdowns on the red-shirt gatherings, led by the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) occurred between April 10 and May 19.

At least 91 people, including soldiers and demonstrators, died during the violence.

At that time, Mr Abhisit said, his government was plunged into a dilemma. Its initial decision to send unarmed soldiers to deal with the UDD at a rally venue at Kok Wua intersection on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue on April 10 was met with criticism as the operation ended up with loss of lives.

His government later decided to adopt a firmer approach but it was still committed to acceptable standards in dealing with street demonstrations, he said.

The Democrat leader stressed his government tried to avoid further deaths and injuries. However, in a situation in which "weapons were used" at rally sites, it was difficult to avoid losses, he said.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission was asked by UDD co-leader Nattawut Saikuar to investigate the crackdowns.

The case ended on Aug 31 in the Supreme Court, which upheld a lower court criminal court ruling to dismiss the accusations of murder against Mr Abhisit and his then deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, saying it was beyond the court's jurisdiction to consider.

The court also reasoned that both defendants gave the crackdown orders as part of doing their duty.

After the student ambush, Mr Abhisit posted a video clip, saying he feels very sorry for families who lost their loved ones in the tragedies.

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