‘Yellow Shirts’ to rally against reconciliation bill on May 30

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BANGKOK, May 26 – The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), or the Yellow Shirt movement, will gather next Wednesday to protest against the reconciliation bill which was set to be deliberated in the House of Representatives on that day.

The yellow-shirts move came as the House session is scheduled to consider on May 30 the reconciliation bill proposed by the 2006 coup leader Gen Sondhi Boonyaratglin, now MP and leader of Matuphum Party, amid criticism that the bill was crafted to benefit ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra rather than the general public.

PAD key leader Somkiat Pongpaiboon said the group resolved unanimously to mobilise its supporters on that day to submit a petition to the House Speaker and the government, showing their disagreement with the proposed amnesty bill and calling for the House to suspend consideration of the bill.

Mr Somkiat said the Yellow Shirts will first gather at the Royal Plaza at 9am and then march to the parliament to hand in the letter.

Another PAD leader, retired Gen Chamlong Srimuang said whether the rally will be prolonged or not depends on the situation, adding that the movement could not accept the bill as it was considered as amnesty rather than national reconciliation which could lead to a more divisive society.

“The PAD will strongly oppose (the bill) although (we) could also see benefits from it,” said Gen Chamlong.

Gen Chamlong said the PAD is confident that its protests several years ago did not violate the law and it is ready to accept the court’s decision even if they were ruled guilty, saying the group will not endorse the legitimacy for anyone to issue a blanket amnesty bill.

The Yellow Shirt protesters staged marathon mass protests in 2008 that led to the blockade of Bangkok’s two main airports–Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang–in an attempt to topple the Somchai Wongsawat government which they accused of being a proxy for ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The movement’s key leaders include media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul, retired Maj-Gen Chamlong, Phiphob Thongchai, Somsak Kosaisuuk, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Chaiwat Sinsuwong and Suriyasai Katasila. They face severe charges of terrorism as they spearheaded the Yellow Shirt protesters seizure of the airports.

The Democrat party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalsut earlier claimed that the proposed bill has a “hidden agenda” to help Mr Thaksin, as it allowed the ex-premier to return to the country without having to serve a jail term and returned seized assets to him, as well as granting blanket amnesty to those who ordered harm to the public in every case of political violence, including 91 deaths from the Red Shirt protests two years ago.