Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thaksin tells ABC: Red shirts not sophisticated enough to burn down buildings

Thaksin Shinawatra talked to ABC's Lateline programme in which he was asked about the Thai government's terrorism charge against him.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The world's first interview with former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, since the violent protests in Bangkok.

Mr Thaksin was ousted by a military coup in 2006 and is currently living in exile and in hiding from Thai authorities who have issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of terrorism in connection with the anti-government protests by his Red Shirt supporters over the last two months.

The Thai foreign ministry has reportedly asked Interpol to arrest him and deport him back to Bangkok.

Well tonight Mr Thaksin agreed to speak to Lateline and joined us, just a short time ago, by phone.

Thaksin Shinawatra thanks for joining us.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA, FORMER THAI PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, thank you for inviting me.

TONY JONES: Are you prepared to go back to Thailand and face up to the terrorism charges that have been levelled against you?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: Well, first of all let me express my sympathy of the arrests of the Australian that went on the stage after the Red Shirts and been arrested.

Through the loyalty, our un-loyal, emergency decree, which is, I very sympathise him. But anyway, the, whether going back or no is not the matter of an urgency.

The urgency is that how can we see Thailand having a reconciliation, real reconciliation. If I, if anything, if the confrontation still going on, is not good for the country. We want to see reconciliation because the Government always said about reconciliation but the way they use the iron fist approach, they are not using velvet glove approach that is mean that they are more confrontation than reconciliation.

TONY JONES: But Mr Thaksin these are very serious charges, terrorism charges, they carry the death penalty. Are you worried that Interpol


TONY JONES: will track you down and arrest you...


TONY JONES: and deport you to back to Bangkok to face a court?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: I can assure this is very, purely politically motivated case, allegation. It is not really a, it has no grounds. In my mind I always advocate to the peaceful protest and I always supporting my people that we, Thailand, needs reconciliation. I always saying that and I always be, have been passion on reconciliation.

I never, never supporting any violence and everybody that know me, and all the countries here they know well that is no one, nowhere that the former prime minister will become terrorist to hurt their own country. No way.

TONY JONES: The allegations against you are, very specifically, that you orchestrated the recent unrest, that you secretly funded and possibly, directed, the operations or that subordinates acting on your behalf did all of those things.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: Well if the process is gone to rule of law this allegation cannot be found because of the, there is no evidence at all, it's just the allegations, well from one sided and now, today, the court accept my lawyers petition to cancel the arrest for review.

TONY JONES: Are you concerned that Interpol, having being asked by the Thai Foreign Ministry to arrest you, will really do that.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: Definitely they will do. But Interpol have their own criteria to judge, that is, is to not be politically motivated. This is clearly politically motivated and there is no ground. You know some of the time that Thai Government has asked Interpol to issue the Interpol arrest warrant to me and Interpol always found out that the information that the Thai Government give is unreliable and is politically motivated.

TONY JONES: At least one army general who supported you among the Red Shirts was shot dead during the unrest. Do you still have close supporters and followers in the military?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: You know because the military are very disciplined, you know, they, what they are, they just follow what the boss says but, anyway, many are not agree with the way the army has been used to kill their own people.

What you have to concern is the life of the innocent people 88 of people dying and 108, 1,080, 1,800 of injured so that is, you have to have investigation on that. And the investigation must be fair, fair. And now 300 innocent protestor has been detained under the emergency decree. So, so..

TONY JONES: Do you reject, do you reject the violence that was done in your name, as well...

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: No way, we are...

TONY JONES: the violence done by the military

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: We never, we never, engage in violence. If you look at the way, if you look at the way the military suppression, they use tanks, they use snipers, they hit the general by snipers, they hit the many people by snipers. Even at the temples on the last day before they go back home, there be massacre in the temple. That is what the international should concern.

TONY JONES: Amongst the peaceful Red Shirt demonstrators there was a hard-core of armed militants. The same men who evidently set fire to dozens of buildings in Bangkok...


TONY JONES: and the other places after the army moved in to break up the demonstration. Who were these men? Who do you say they were?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: If you look at it, you know, why, the Red Shirts burn the central, why not other sites, the central, if you look at many analysis in Thailand you will understand better that the Red Shirts, they are not sophisticated enough to burn the whole building down.

They may angry to create fires, here and there a small fires, but not the big fires. The big fire is, must be the work of professional. Is not be a Red Shirt definitely and it must be well planned ahead. I can assure you, as an ex-priest I can assure you that this is a well planned and professionally done is not really, I can say is that it's a set up, it's a set up.

Even the weapons that they come on display, brand new weapons they not allow anyone to touch it. Actually the weapons never been used. How can the Red Shirts having that weapons and no one hurt on the military side {laughs}.

TONY JONES: Well, so you understand that the allegation will be that they were able to buy weapons because you supplied them with large sums of money in order to fund this Red Shirt rebellion. That will be the allegation against you.

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: No way, how, how can, where can you buy the weapons? They are not military. How can you buy? And then, ah, if they have weapons why they have surrendered so easy? Why they don't, they don't shoot with the military? Why there is not military casualty on the military side? So I think you have to be very reasonable to understand the situation.

TONY JONES: Is the red shirt rebellion over now, is it finished, or do you believe it will flare up again?

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA: I don't know, I don't know. You, they, they, they'd been buried now, they been hunting everywhere in Thailand. So they are in difficulty, they have been hunting. This is the way the Government call reconciliation. OK. Thank you very much, thank you.

TONY JONES: Thaksin Shinawatra we will have to leave you there we, it sounds like you've gone anyway.

Thank you very much for joining us.

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