Nakhon Rachasima, the 12th of January 2010 [TNA]: The so-called Red Shirt protesters gathered at Gen Surayud’s vacation home since Sunday protesting what they branded as the government’s practice of a double standard by not taking legal action against the privy councilor’s possession of forest reserve land.
Convicted ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra addressed his supporters via video link from an unknown location around 9pm, urging them to fight for justice. “We are here [at Khao Yai Thiang] because we want to tell the truth to the world,” said the fugitive ex-premier, “Thailand is not peaceful because there is no justice. As long as I am alive, I will call for justice indefinitely,” asserted Mr Thaksin, “I will not give up, but I will fight shoulder to shoulder with the people until we are treated fairly.”
The fugitive ex-premier also said he would come to Thailand if his supporters ask him, but now many people said that it is still not safe for him to return. During the day, the Red Shirt leaders took turns verbally attacking the former prime minister. They announced three demands, including quickly returning the national reserve land he occupied to the state without waiting for the result of the Royal Forestry Department probe. They also asked Gen Surayud to consider resigning as president of the Foundation for Khao Yai National Park Protection and resigning as a Privy Councillor. Security was tightened at Gen Surayud’s home to maintain order in the area, with two tiers of metal barricades being placed along the fence outside his home.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Tuesday thanked security personnel and local residents of Khao Yai Thiang for helping maintain order during the Red Shirt rally. Mr Suthep said he appreciated the UDD protesters for not creating violence and dispersing peacefully in the morning, noting that they may rally at Khao Soi Dao if they wish as it does not violate the law. The UDD announced before ending their Khao Yai Thiang rally that they planned to demonstrate at Khao Soi Dao in Chanthaburi to protest possession of forest reserves by persons linked with the government.
The Office of the Attorney General earlier announced it would not sue Gen Surayud for owning land in the forest preserve, saying that the former prime minister legally bought it and that the property had twice changed ownership before he acquired the property. A new Royal Forestry Department committee is probing how Gen Surayud acquired the 14-rai block of land, as an earlier Cabinet resolution prohibits local residents who were allocated forest reserve land for farming from selling it to others, except for their statutory heirs. Otherwise the land must be returned to the state.
Gen Surayud however said that he could comply with the law regarding his land ownership and would follow the Attorney General’s decision. After meeting Tuesday he will have a press conference about a concert at Khao Yai at which he may clarify the land issue. (TNA)