Somyot Pruksakasemsuk is someone who has been deeply engaged his life in social and political movements since he was a teenager, first as student activist in the troubled time of military rule of Thailand in the 1970s. After the crackdown of military coup on student in 1976, many of them fled to the jungle and later back to active engagement in social changes in all sectors. Somyot has been tireless in the work of supporting the empowerment of the workers’ movement and the establishment of democratic trade unionism in Thailand since then.
I have been fortunate to be able to work with him closely with supporting the workers struggle in Thailand and also the democratic struggle in Nepal in the last few years ago. Regardless of any shortcoming we have as human beings who have not attained perfection, we cannot avoid of making mistakes in life.
However, I personally cannot find any fault in this person apart from one thing: his stubbornness in not giving up in whatever he believes and wants to pursue. Especially his vow to engage in supporting the poor and workers. Born as the wealthy urban middle class Sino Chinese origin in Thailand, he indeed can just live his life without aware and care about what is happening to those underprivileged, poor in his neighborhood and society.
However, his Buddha-like nature has opened his consciences that make his life path till today. From battle field of demonstration, factory, jungle, city to prison. For many people living in their own world of comfort, he is being seen as insane. For those whose minds are filled with jealousy, they see him as ambitious and desires of gaining something. Somehow, today is proven that those who mis concept him has to come to agreement that he is a genuine fighter who never hide and run away when again the country in deep crisis of democracy and justice.
Comrade and friend, my deepest salute to you. May your spirits will continue inspire and make more conscious human beings raise up to act for justice and also those who are ignorance to be awaken.
by Trinley Chodron
3 June 2010
To support the release of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, the labour and media activist who was detained by Thai government in the 26 May 2010. Please read here: http://www.cleanclothes.org/urgent-actions/thai-labour-advocate-arrested#action
Here is the full text of Somyot’s open testimony/declaration:
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk: I wanna sacrifice my liberty, but not my humanity!
A note before turning myself in
Tue, 2010-05-25 09:12
(23.5.53) I was informed that today police from the Crime Suppression Division led by Pol. Maj. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, searched my residence in Don Muang bringing with them an Emergency Decree arrest warrant. The warrant was issued in pursuant to the incidence on 21 May 2010 at 13.00, when I and Ajahn Suthachai Yimprasert, in the name of the 24th of June Democracy Group held a press conference in front of the House No. 111 Foundation. Therefore, we declared the following five demands;
We also announced an attempt to found the Federation for Democracy and to hold a demonstration on 30 May 2010 in Ratchaburi province and to hold the commemoration of Thai patriotic day to demand the restoration of democracy on 24 June 2010 at Sanam Luang (in Bangkok).
Upon arrival at the House No. 111 Foundation, I was informed that the police instructed against holding of a press conference inside the Foundation’s office. At 12.30, Pol. Col. Rangsan Praditphon, Superintendent of Naglerng Police Station invoked the CRES’s order and prohibited us from using the Foundation’s office to hold the press conference. He claimed that such an act shall be considered a breach of the Emergency Decree and CRES’s order which bans political gathering. I and Ajahn Suthachai decided to read our statement on the footpath instead.
The press conference I and Ajahn Suthachai made was conducted in a transparent and direct manner. We concurred that the coalition led by Mr. Abhisit has killed more than 80 people, not to mention many more whose bodies have been taken away and more than 1,500 injuries. The government should come to their senses that we all are Buddhists. As a Buddhist, we believe killing is sinful and most vicious. It is in violation of the first among the five precepts held steadfastly by all Buddhists. All Buddhists are instilled with the notion that we should treat fellow human beings with love and loving kindness. Thus, I have to come out to ask Mr. Abhsit Vejjajiva and Mr. Suthep Thuaksuban to show their responsibility toward the tragedy. In the aftermath of the crackdown, the Emergency Decree has still been used to purge many groups and individuals. Such an act shall abet unquenchable and deeply entrenched chasm in Thai society.
I also want to have peace like all others. To me, the first thing to make peace happens is Mr. Abhsit Vejjajiva and Mr. Suthep Thuaksuban resign from their positions. Both of them are indulged with their political power and reap the benefits from sufferings of others; their power is being bred by piles of bodies and tragedies inflicted on umpteen numbers of people.
I am also a media person. I want to convey truths and news to defend what is right, to protect the morality and dignity of all human beings. My political analysis has been written with concern for the destiny of the nation in which I have been born and bred. Yet, I and my magazine “Voice of Taksin” have to suffer from smear campaign and my life has been threatened. The Abhisit government even used CRES’s power to freeze my financial transactions, though I earn less than 30,000 baht a month from working in the media profession.
The government may misunderstand that “Voice of Taksin” belongs to Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra. In fact, it was just a trade mark. The Red Shirts have so much faith in Pol. Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra and he has made initial donation to make possible the publishing of this magazine. I also put in my own money in the beginning. I only met with Khun Thaksin once in 2005 at the Ministry of Labour prior to the May Day. The meeting lasted for just three minutes, after which I have never gained anything from such a relationship. Instead, I have always put out my criticisms bluntly when I saw anything wrong.
To me, the 19 September 2006 coup was a pillage done to my country. Thus, I had to come out to fight the military regime. Relying on my wisdom, I tried to bring out truths and news and decided to publish many publications. Later, I have become one of the core leaders of the Red Shirts, after the first batch of the core leaders of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) were arrested on 27 July 2007 when they led people to lay siege to the Si Sao Thewet House (official residence of Gen. Prem Tinsulanond, Chairperson of Privy Councilors). I have done my best as a core leader and have found myself been accused of making slanderous statements in many legal cases filed against me. That failed to deter me, though. I hold on steadfastly with the struggle and debate in compliance with a democratic rule.
Last year, I decided to call it quits as a cored leader of the Red Shirts since I wanted to fully devote myself to editing “Voice of Taksin” and to moderate a program broadcast via satellite TV network with Ajahn Suthachai Yimprasert. Since the beginning of the Red Shirts’ demonstration on 12 March 2010, I have simply taken photo and written about it in “Voice of Taksin”. I have not been part of the core leaders and have simply conveyed my concern and prayed for them wishing they shall not be dispersed violently.
I fight for democracy, freedom and liberty of people. I have been working in defense of the rights of the poor and workers for decades. My agenda has always been; better living condition and welfare of the workers and peasants and that they attain more freedom and liberty as fellow human beings.
I joined the struggle of the Red Shirts since I find we do not have democracy in Thai society. Inequalities, discrimination and double standard have been widespread and even become more exacerbated during the Democrat-led coalition. The Red Shirts are those who have awaken politically. They find themselves being treated as second class citizens. Thus, they sarcastically call themselves “Prai” (commoner) or the “exploited”.
The demonstrators at Pha Fah and Ratchaprason had a clear demand, namely, House dissolution and giving back democratic power to people. In return, they had to shed their bloods and tears, and it has become one of the most violent suppressions in 78 years of Thailand’s democracy. The UDD core leaders were at fault for miscalculating the humanity of the Abhisit government. They were too naïve and failed to realize how cruel these political criminals could become. They kept telling me that both the military and the police would not kill people and we had far passed the barbaric era.
But the truth is the government has given licenses to kill people in the middle of the street despite their not being found guilty for anything. Similar to other massacres including the bloody crackdown on 6 October 1976 and May 1992, those who were found guilty and prosecuted were people who took to the street to demand democracy. They were slain in the middle of the street, just like the Red Shirts who have been massacred. The murderous government even uses its power to accuse us as being “terrorists” while insisting that using weapons to kill innocent people is not wrong. They use this shameless jargon “tightening the cordon” to excuse themselves.
I find the Abhisit government is leading our society into a dark age. They have shown their true nature as the murderous, most wicked and absolute fascist regime. They can do anything just to protect the status quo of the aristocrats and oligarchs in Thai society.
I do not subscribe myself to any violent means. I hope that there is still some hope, conscience, love and loving kindness. As a Buddhist who look forward to kind treatment, I decided to turn myself in to CRES as per the arrest warrant sanctioned by the Criminal Court.
I am ready to sacrifice my liberty and to live a difficult life in the prison in this Dark Age. But certainly, I shall not disavow my conscience, humanity and my love toward fellow human beings. This holds true despite my being present in Thailand or any country in the world, and even in this present life of the next life.
I wish that all Red Shirts will stay strong and determined. You should hold on to your struggle and fight with wisdom, love and loving kindness. We shall fight together bravely until a new and beautiful society is attained where all people are treated equally and genuine freedom and democracy is abound.
I hope everyone learns from the lessons. I pay my deepest homage to all those who have lost their lives; they are our heroes and heroines who will always be remembered by me and all people who fight for democracy.
Translated by Pipob Udomittipong from http://prachatai1.info/journal/2010/05/29743
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