By Khaosod English
06 August 2013, Last upated at 15:12 GMT
Court Inquest Dispels Oft-Recited Myths Of 2010 Crackdown
(6 August) The Southern
Bangkok Criminal Court shed a light on what many refer to as the darkest episode in the political
violence of April-May 2010, stating that the military was responsible for deaths of 6 civilians,
including a pair of volunteer medics, inside the temple designated as safe haven by the authorities
at the time.
The inquest helps debunk claims made by critics of the Redshirts who have
claimed that the the military had not played any role in the deaths of over 90 people, mostly
civilians, that perished during the 2010 crackdown.
Hundreds fled into Wat Pathumwanararm
Temple as the military launched the final assault upon the Redshirts main encampment at the nearby
Ratchaprasong Intersection on 19 May 2010 after the protesters had occupied financial districts of
Bangkok for weeks, demanding the government of then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajeeva dissolve the
parliament and call fresh election.
Many of the refugees inside the temple were women,
children, and the elderly. Also present among them was a group of young volunteer medics who had set
up makeshift medical station near the temple′s gate. Ms. Kamonkate Akhard, 25, and Mr. Akaradech
Khankaew, 22, were such volunteers.
And then, in broad daylight, gunfire erupted, spraying
bullets into the sanctuary where many thought they would be safe. The gunfire was sustained for
hours, according to those inside the temple. By nightfall, 6 people were discovered dead, including
Ms. Kamonkate and Mr. Akaradech.
Of these 6 victims, 5 were killed inside the temple compound, while the other victim, Mr. Atchai Chumchan, 28, was at the entrance of the temple.
The notion that these civilians were shot at as they were
helplessly penned inside a Buddhist temple has made the incident at Wat Pathum particularly shocking
in its level of brutality, even compared with other bloodsheds that have characterised the closing
weeks of Redshirts protests.
In a lengthy reading lasting almost an hour, a judge told
the packed courtroom today that residues of bullets found inside the victims′ bodies were the same
type of ammunition issued to the military operating in the area at the time of the
The court noted that military personnel have admitted they were present on Skytrain
tracks just outside the temple at the time of the shooting, while another group of soldiers were
approaching the temple from direction of Siam Paragon shopping mall.
The court also
acknowledged that video footage, taken by a group of policemen on the building of Royal Thai Police
headquarters just opposite the temple, clearly showed the soldiers on Skytrain track shooting into
In an unprecedented move, the court went further than stating that the 6
civilians were killed by the soldier; its inquest also disputed the soldiers′ explanation of their
action as a necessary "self-defence" against the shadowy armed militants who, according to the
soldiers, were blending in with the crowd around the temple and shooting at the military
The so-called Blackshirts have been the centre of rhetoric adopted by those who
argued that the 2010 crackdown was about Redshirts-allied militants shooting at the military and
police, not about the military′s disregard for civilians′ safety as the Redshirts and many civil
rights activists have charged.
Indeed, the Democrat Party has always insisted that the
heavy-handed tactics of the military operation authorised by then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,
which included uses of live ammunition, was necessary to combat Blackshirts militants around the
Critics of the Redshirts therefore placed the blame of Wat Pathum deaths on the
Blackshirts, saying that the military opened fire only after the Blackshirts shot at them from
inside the temple. Some even went as far as suggesting that the Blackshirts killed these 6 civilians
in order to smear the government of Mr. Abhisit.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep
Thaugsuban once insisted that individuals on Skytrain track shooting at civilians inside Wat Pathum
were actually "thugs" wearing army uniforms to create misunderstanding.
These critics cited
firearms allegedly found inside the temple as "evidences" of Blackshirts′ involvement in the
incident. The weapons were paraded in front of TV camera weeks after the shooting at Wat Pathum by a
spokesperson of the military who said they were left behind at the temple by the Blackshirts after
they exchanged gunfire with the soldiers.
The court inquest read out today stated that there
was no evidence that the so-called Blackshirts were present inside or around the temple. The entire
area has been secured by the military, the court insists, and it is impossible that so many
journalists - some of them foreigners - failed to spot the mysterious gunmen.
testimony that they were simply returning fire to the Blackshirts in the temple even contradicted
accounts of other soldiers in the area who testified they that did not see any armed element, the
Additionally, the judge pointed to the video clip that captured moments of soldiers on Skytrain track shooting at the temple. The soldiers did not try to take cover or react to the supposed attacks from the armed element at all, the judge said, so the gunfire was most likely one-directional.
As for the weapons allegedly found inside the temple and shown to the press
later, the court noted that there was no evidence the firearms were found inside the temple
immediately after the compound has been secured by members of security forces. Consequently, the
court said, the weapons had no connection with the incident on 19 May 2010.
The court also
questioned the possibility that the alleged Blackshirts could ever transport cache of firearms into
the temple without being detected by the authorities that had tightened its noose around the protest
site for days before the final military assault on 19 May 2010.
Reading from the document,
the judge added that the security forces never sent these weapons to undergo extensive forensic
test, the reluctance the court described as "suspicious".
What′s more, contrary to
claim circulated by anti-Redshirts critics, forensic tests revealed that there was no gunpowder
found on bodies of 6 victims, according to the court inquest. Therefore, the judge said, it was
clear the victims were not related to the guns allegedly confiscated in the temple.
be noted that no court inquest of civilians killed during the military operation in April-May 2010
has explicitly pointed to the Blackshirts so far. At most, in some cases, the inquest declared there
was no enough evidence to pinpoint who were responsible for their deaths.
ภาพ : Entrance to Wat Pathumwanararm Temple, 21 May 2010.