The security forces killed scores of people while clearing demonstrations in 1976 and 1992,

and were responsible for “disappearing” people especially in the late 1940s and early 1950s, in the mopping-up of communism in the 1980s, and in the South in the late 1940s and early 2000s. Political conflict within the military has erupted into fighting.

But throughout Thailand’s modern history of politics, the culture of political demonstration has been largely cast in the tradition of non-violence.

The PAD protests in 2006 belonged to this same non-violent culture. But the campaign that developed from May this year was approached in a mode of warfare. PAD leaders

justified anything by explaining “we are now at war”. A major difference from earlier demonstrations has been the “guards”.

Photos have shown people wielding knives and swords. More recently the PAD leaders and backers have tried to claim that any violence committed was reactive. Violence is intrinsic to politics.

When violence becomes part of the political culture, it hands power to those

who are willing to use violence ruthlessly. Thailand’s culture of protest was framed by a Buddhist appreciation of non-violence. The PAD has taken a dangerous step away from that

tradition. — The Nation (Thailand)