Junta threatens to block red-shirt press briefing

Col Piyapong Klinpan (left), head of public relations for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has warned red shirt core member Nattawut Saikuar. (Bangkok Post file photos)

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has warned red shirts against holding a press briefing planned for Thursday on ways they will pursue justice for red-shirt demonstrators affected by the deadly military crackdown in 2010.

Nattawut Saikuar, a leading member of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), on Tuesday said the group would reveal details of its campaign for justice on behalf of those left dead and injured from the military operation, at Imperial World Lat Phrao on Thursday.

He noted the red shirts would work on the issue in line with the law and no effort will be made to mobilise people.

Col Piyapong Klinpan, a spokesman for the NCPO, said Wednesday that "questions must be asked" whether the press event is a political activity. If that is the case, the NCPO may have to ask them not to go ahead.

He said such political activities cannot be allowed during this sensitive period. Once the country's situation returns to normal, the NCPO would ease restrictions on such gatherings, the spokesman said.

If the red shirts are to hold the event, police and army officers will be sent to take care of security and maintain order, he said. The red shirts would also have to take responsibility for their actions.

"The NCPO is trying to maintain order to support the government's administration," said the spokesman.

The regime warning to the red shirts came despite the former leader of the now-dissolved People's Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban discussing political matters with reporters in July and the People's Alliance for Democracy holding a press conference on Aug 2 after the Supreme Court acquitted ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat and three others for the deadly dispersal of yellow-shirt protesters in 2008.

The crackdowns on red-shirt gatherings against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government occurred between April 10 and May 19, 2010. At least 91 people, including soldiers and demonstrators, died during the violence. Mr Nattawut has asked the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the crackdowns.

Meanwhile, Democrat Party legal expert Wirat Kalayasiri has poured scorn on a proposal by former Democrat leader Bhichai Rattakul for the setting up of a national unity government. He said some governments appear to hold out the promise of stability, but it is illusory. Some could mount attempts behind the scenes to abuse power for personal benefit, he noted.

Reconciliation does not mean mixing wrong with right, he said, adding the country must be under the rule of law. A so-called unity government would eventually fuel conflicts, he said.

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