Opinion: Dear Khun Prayut, only one side is provoking violence

Yesterday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha released a statement saying that he would use all legal means at his disposal because the government’s good faith initiatives have not slowed down anti-government protests.

Prayut said that there was the threat of increasing violence which has forced his hand into using harsher methods.

But lets for one second skip the fact that the government considers what they’ve done so far to be in good faith. Let us skip the fact that the government vetoed every constitutional amendment motion except their own. Let us even skip the fact that the government is the one employing riot shields, water cannons, and tear gas against unarmed protesters.

The idea that there is the risk of increasing violence is because government-aligned (sometimes government-backed) yellow shirt protesters have come out to agitate and act as agent provocateurs.

Take for example the march on parliament by the pro-democracy demonstrators last weekend. The only reason violence erupted was because yellow-shirt agitators began pelting the protesters with stones and insults.

Case in point:

Police said that the yellow-shirt protesters were not met with batons and teargas because they had alerted police to their demonstration the night before, something the pro-democracy protesters failed to do.

But according to the police and the leaders of the royalist mob, their rally was supposed to end at 2 pm. That means there should have never been a confrontation between the two sides as the student-led rallies did not begin until 3 pm and violence didn’t occur until much later.

But the police turned a blind eye to the extreme elements of the yellow shirts, something they’ve done consistently for over a month now. As a result violence erupted and six people were hospitalized for gunshot wounds.

So let us take away this notion that Prayut is escalating legal and forceful steps in the name of stopping violence because it is a ridiculous one. Violence can easily be curtailed by just separating the two groups of protesters, something easily done by the authorities.

At parliament, hundreds of police officers were deployed but none of them were asked to separate the two groups. They were too focused on protecting the politicians inside parliament.

So rather than insulting the people he claims to represent by saying that this latest move by the government is to deescalate violence, Prayut should instead admit the truth. The reason the prime minister is taking escalating steps is because there is real pressure on the government, not only politically but because of the protesters’ royal demands.

The government’s ineptitude and power hunger has meant that they have been unable to find a political and peaceful solution to both.

Prayut sees himself as backed into a corner and having to use the harshest measures at his disposal to keep his job and look strong to the public.

But what he doesn’t realize is he can do something else that would ease tensions.

He can resign.

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