by judy a. pasimio
“Pasalubong ha?” said Alvin John, 4 years old, to his mother, Marylou. Pasalubong is a gift one usually brings home from a trip.
This was Marylou’s latest conversation with her only son, when she called home, with the help of Saligan, the law group assisting her. “Namingaw na mi.” I miss home. “I want to go home now,” said teary-eyed Marylou.
By Judy a. Pasimio
In an act of solidarity with the thousand protesting monks, and ordinary women and men in Burma, Filipino workers shaved their heads in front of the Burmese Embassy in Makati City, Philippines.
"The Filipino working class joins the peoples around the world in condemning the brutal suppression by the military junta of the protest movement in Burma. We add the voice of the workers in the call for democratization in Burma, freedom for political prisoners and an end to the military rule," says Ms. Yuen Abana, member of the Partido ng Manggagawa (Workers' Party).
In 1995, during the 4th World Conference of Women in Beijing, the World Rural Women's Day was launched. Since then, October 15 is celebrated as World Rural Women's Day.
A decade after, who is celebrating?
Not the wives, mothers and daughters of those activists and community organizers who have been victims of political killings under the Arroyo government in the Philippines. Nor those women human rights defenders working in the communities who are living a life of uncertainty of when and where their own death would come.
Today, 1st of October, marks the last day of the 2 week time-frame of the military coup leaders, headed by Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, in the Thai government. Or at least that was their promise on Sept. 19 when they went on air and announced to the Thai people that they have taken over the Thaksin government, and well, taken over the freedoms of the Thai people as well.
(September 23, 2006) In solidarity with the Thai democracy lovers who braved the martial law yesterday, and held a protest action in Bangkok, activists and friends from different countries based in Chiang Mai held their own version of a protest action. Some 12 foreign activists and friends gathered, mostly wearing black, and wrote their condemnation of military rule and call for democr acy in sheets of paper and had their photos taken.
(28 September 2006)“We’re already challenging the system by being here tonight,” Professor Somchai Prichasilpakul of the Chiang Mai University Law School told some 100 university students last night who gathered outside the grounds of Faculty of Social Science to have a “social dialogue on the military coup”. He said this as some 10 police men came and other men in civilians with a video camera started taking shots of the circle of people sitting on the grass. The students and the professors seemed unperturbed by the men in uniforms. One of the professors even invited them to join the circle.
While there were two public actions staged in Bangkok in the last 9 days of Martial Law in Thailand, this was the first in Chiang Mai to defy the military order of non-assembly of more than 5 people for political discussion/action. Chiang Mai is the hometown of the ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and the bailiwick of his Thai Rak Thai party. The dialogue was organised by the Chiang Mai Students for Democracy Network. While the Chiang Mai University students were double the number of those who attended the gathering at the Thammasat University last Monday, there was a difference in the atmosphere between the two meetings. Those who were in Thammasat University, the seat of student movement in the 70s, were mostly wearing black shirts – a symbol of their mourning for the death of democracy in Thailand; while the Chiang Mai students and professors were wearing different shades of gray, so to speak. It was clear that they were there as an act of defiance, a brave act indeed, given the increasing presence of the military day by day on the streets, in the markets; but there doesn’t seem to be a strong united position of condemnation of the military coup.
Associate Professor Tanan Anumanrajatan said that “Thaksin is out. A lot of us have worked hard together to oust him, and now we did.” (For a while it confused me if he is in the military, because he was saying “we” ousted Thaksin, but no, he is a civilian university professor.) Tanan’s main message throughout the dialogue is that the Thai people should be able to call for and assert their right to speak and to assemble. This, under martial law. Tanan spent some time reminding the students of Thaksin’s corruption, and his control of power when he was still the prime minister and his party Thai Rak Thai (Thai loves Thai) were ruling the government.
“Thaksin and his clique are gone – but what else is?” asked Professor Attachak Sattayanurak. “Nothing has changed but the people in power.” Attachak, a known progressive professor of History, close to the people’s movement in the North, said that the Thai people should have a clear vision of what kind of society they want. “Did we solve the problem of our society with the military coup? Or did it just deepen the crisis? Is our society better without a constitution?” Attachak said that now military men are seen at almost every junction in the city. “Is this to make us feel safer?” Attachak think otherwise.
One of the students expressed discomfort in seeing people having their photos taken with the soldiers, climbing up the tanks and posing. There was even a couple who had had their wedding picture taken in front of a tank with a soldier on top. Professor Somchai said that this is indeed dangerous – the acceptance of some people with such casualness of the symbolism of violence. “Tanks are for killing, not one person, but many, many people.” Somchai said that there should be more public discussion on what it means to have the military rule. People who have accepted the coup as it removed Thaksin from power should understand the implications. One of which is the fact that today there is no parliament, which is the democratic space for different voices to be heard. “The military coup is not a democratic alternative.”