Ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra said the government's amnesty efforts must focus on absolving red shirts facing legal action in connection with the 2010 political violence rather than protest leaders or even himself.
Ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra talks to his red shirt supporters via Skype during a gathering at the Ratchaprasong intersection Sunday. The gathering was held to remember the clashes between red shirt protesters and security forces that led to the end of a protracted rally at the intersection on May 19, 2010. THITI WANNAMONTHA
It would not matter if an amnesty bill exonerating political offenders was passed into law that did not also benefit protest leaders, he told red-shirt supporters in a one-hour Skype address last night.
Thaksin said he would not mind if he was not one of the beneficiaries of the law and could not return home.
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"Let the innocent people be exonerated. There is no problem if red-shirt leaders and I are not included [in the amnesty bill]," Thaksin told about 26,000 red shirt demonstrators.
Red shirts turned out in force at the Ratchaprasong intersection Sunday to remember the Democrat government's crackdown on their protest three years ago.
While lawmakers were deliberating the amnesty bills, the government would continue to take care of the red-shirt people, Thaksin said.
"We might have different opinions, but we must be united to fight for justice and for democracy," he said.
Some red-shirt supporters are reportedly upset with the amnesty bill proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung as the bill will grant a blanket amnesty to all people involved in political violence including those responsible for the dispersal of red shirts during the April-May 2010 demonstrations.
Thaksin said he supported the Vorachai Hema amnesty bill, which would grant an amnesty to all involved in the political violence, except those who were responsible for the crackdown on the demonstrators.
Three years on after the May 19 crackdown, Thaksin said the public has learned the Democrat Party's allegations that red shirts "burnt down the city" were groundless, as the Criminal Court had acquitted suspects in the CentralWorld arson case due to weak evidence.
"I will give a 10-million-baht award to anyone who gives information about the real arsonists," Thaksin said.
He also defended Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's recent democracy speech in Mongolia.
He said his sister spoke the truth at the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Mongolia on April 29. He said Ms Yingluck could not twist the truth about the country's democracy that was lost when the military staged a coup that ousted him 2006.
The red-shirt gathering Sunday prompted the closure of the CentralWorld shopping complex and many other shops in the area. Five companies of riot police were deployed to ensure order at the rally, as red-shirt leaders and members of the Pheu Thai Party took turns to criticise the Democrat government for using military force to disperse the six-week demonstration in 2010.
The CentralWorld shopping complex closed its doors from 1pm Sunday after some red shirt protesters entered the building to take a rest.
The shopping complex was severely burnt during riots and arson attacks during the crackdown.
The UDD set up its stage at the Ratchaprasong intersection, facing the Pratunam intersection. Relatives of red-shirt supporters who died during the violence also held separate events at Wat Pathum Wanaram to commemorate the deaths of their loved ones.
Elisabetta Polenghi, sister of Italian journalist Fabio Polenghi, who was killed while covering the UDD protest, said she was wondering why those responsible for the crackdown were sitting in the legislative branch.
Ms Polenghi laid roses at the site of her brother's death on Ratchadamri Road. The Criminal Court will rule on May 29 whether military officers were responsible for Polenghi's death.
Payao Akkahad, mother of Kamolkate, a volunteer medic who was killed inside Wat Pathum Wanaram, urged the Department of Special Investigation to speed up probes of other protest deaths that had not yet reached court. Ms Payao, who chairs the Dead Relatives Network, said her group also backed the Vorachai Hema bill.
Pansak Srithep, father of Samaphan, a 17-year-old boy who was killed at Ratchaprarop on May 15 three years ago, said the Justice Ministry should set up a panel to hasten inquests into the April-May 2010 deaths.
Red-shirt leader Sombat Boonngam-anong said innocent people were killed at the Ratchaprasong intersection but those who had ordered the killing were yet to be punished.
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Writer: Manop Thip-Osod & Achara Ashayagachat