RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 24, 2010: United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leaders have this afternoon again challenged the government, security officials and the operator of the BTS Skytrain system to produce the video they claim to have showing the M79 grenade attack on April 22 was launched from Lumpini Park.
UDD co-leader Dr. Weng Tochirakarnhas said its high time the statements by deputy Bangkok governor Thirachon Manomaipibul and deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban were substantiated or publicly withdrawn.
“It’s time for Suthep and Thirachon to put up or shut up. Why is it that almost two days after the Sala Daeng BTS station was attacked with M79s this supposedly incriminating evidence is yet to see the light of day?
“How is it possible for Suthep to know just a short time after the attack that the M79s were launched from behind the King Rama VI statue before any investigation had even began?” he asked.
According to Dr. Weng, an M79 cartridge measures just 40 x 46mm (1.57 x 1.81inch) and travels through the air at 75m/s (246ft/s) and has a maximum effective rage of just 350m (1,148ft).
He said, “it defies belief that anything so small and traveling so fast can be detected by the BTSs surveillance cameras. Irrespective of this, both Suthep and Thirachon claim to have proof they were fired from the red-shirts’ area.
“Surely if this incriminating evidence exists it would have by now been made public, instead of being reported only in media sympathetic to the government”, Dr Weng said.
“We want to the BTS Skytrain operator to supply us with the entire surveillance camera footage prior to and after the M79 attack occurred, not just an edited portion, so that we can have the entire recording forensically examined by independent experts in an attempt to verify the originality of anything that is claimed to be shown.
If the government, security officials and the BTS operator is unwilling to make this recording available today, April 24, it speaks volumes of the credibility of anything that might be released in the future”, Dr. Weng added.
RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 24, 2010: United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leader Dr. Weng Tochirakarnhas has this morning slammed the alleged accusations and confession made by actor Methi Amornwuthikul to Department of Special Investigation (DSI) investigators.
Dr. Weng said Methi has never been a member of the leadership team, had never participated in strategy discussions or decisions relating to the ongoing red-shirts rally, and had breached the UDDs “peaceful protest” rule by being apprehended in possession of an assault rifle allegedly taken from Thai soldiers during the April 10 clash with protesters at Si Yak Kok Woe intersection.
“We have stressed all along that our campaign for the dissolution of parliament and the holding of fresh elections is a peaceful one and protesters have been repeatedly told not to bring weapons to either the Phan Fa Bridge or Ratchaprasong protest sites.
“Our large team of guards are constantly briefed and instructed to search vehicles and the bags of people entering the protest area for weapons and we have stated over and over again that anyone found to be in possession of weapons will be handed over to authorities”, Dr. Weng said.
Dr. Weng said that while Methi may or may not have made the comments attributed to him in some media, it appears irrefutable that he was found in possession of an IMI Tavor TAR-21 assault rifle and claimed to have shot at the army, both of which directly breaches the non-violent protest guidelines.
“Whenever we have recovered war weapons from soldiers we have quickly handed them over to the police.
“According to some media reports Methi is alleged to have identified who the “men in black” were that were seen firing at troops on April 10. UDD leaders will be delighted if he has shed light on this topic as the identity of these people has been one of speculation amongst the leadership team since the night the army used deadly force against our peaceful protest”, he added.
Dr. Weng also said comments published earlier in the week in a story carried by Reuters wherein Sean Boonpracong was identified as a “UDD spokesman” were neither the official view or opinion of the UDD leadership team.
“In the Reuters story Mr. Boonpracong is quoted as saying the men in black seen on April 10, ‘were a secret unit within the army that disagrees with what’s going on. Without them, the black clad men, there would have been a whole lot more deaths and injures.’”
“The only official spokesman for the UDD are the core leaders, in particular Natthawut Saikua, and any other comments coming from people should be viewed as being their personal opinions only. Mr. Boonpracong is a translator only for the UDD and is not authorized to make any public comments on behalf of the leadership team.
“Since our peaceful protesters were attacked with deadly force on April 10 we have repeatedly called on the government to investigate who these men in black were. If Mr. Boonpracong has any information on who these people were he should provide the information to the leaders immediately and we will pass this information on to the necessary authorities”, Dr. Weng added.
Addressing the red-shirt protesters from the Ratchaprasong stage earlier today, Dr. Weng told protesters the UDD was committed to continuing its non-violent goal of bringing about the dissolution of parliament and urged protesters to report any person they see with weapons to UDD security staff.
“Our protest is a peaceful one. Anyone who wishes to bring weapons to our protest is not welcome. It is the government that has used deadly weapons against us and people who want to bring weapons here are hurting our goal and should be considered an agent provocateur working against us and not for us”, he said.