One year after the Bangkok Massacre: US Marines train Thai military snipers

Over a year after the Bangkok Massacre it is no longer disputed by anyone, except acting Thai PM Abhisit, a smattering of oddball expat bloggers, extreme rightwing Thai nationalists and various establishment and military stooges, that the Thai Army shot dozens of unarmed civilians in central Bangkok. What is also indisputable is that many of these deaths came through the use of snipers – video footage from CNN even captured them in action.

So who trains these Thai military snipers to be so efficient in the execution of their duties?

Enter none other than the US Marine Corps.

“Our goal as snipers is a first-round impact with every shot,” said Gunnery Sgt. Victor Lopez, scout sniper chief instructor with Weapons Platoon, Landing Force Company. “If they don’t get these fundamentals, they can’t effectively engage targets.”

Gunnery Sgt. Lopez of Weapons Platoon, Landing Force Company, comprised of elements from 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve was in Thailand training Thai military snipers earlier this year.

The actual date of this sniper training was May 12 2011, almost a year to the day after the Thai Army snipers began “effectively engaging” Thais civilians on Bangkok’s streets. One of the saddest stories from May 2010 was that of Samaphan “Cher” Srithep, a completely innocent, obviously unarmed, 16-year-old kid, taken out by a Thai Army bullet and left to bleed to death on a Bangkok pavement. Cher’s sister later wrote about her teenage brother’s visit to the May 2010 protest site and the devastating outcome.

Today he was impertinent enough to go into the danger zone. Someone in there was cruel enough to shoot him until he fell. The blood from his head left a long trail. I guess he didn’t die immediately. He must have suffered immense pain. I don’t know what it feels like for a body to still be breathing, for the pulse to still be racing, while your head lies smashed on the pavement like a watermelon dropped from a great height.

He laid there for almost an hour before the rescue people managed to bring out that faintly breathing body. The soldiers would not let anyone go in to help him. They shot everyone who tried to do so. One of the rescue people nearly got shot in the arm.

The doctor said he died at the hospital. That shocked me and made me cry. It meant that for an unbearably long time Cher must have been aware that it was his own head lying on the pavement like a smashed watermelon.

The shocking video footage that emerged at the time showed even those attempting to aid Cher being shot and injured. An eyewitness I have spoken to who lived in the upper floors of nearby apartment block confirms, firsthand, that the shots fired towards Cher came from Thai Army lines. The evidence couldn’t be starker, the detail more dehumanising.

Yet the choosing of May 12th to stage this sniper training is shocking even for US government and military standards. While Thai civilians and pro-democracy activists, such as Cher’s family, were getting ready to mourn their dead, the US was busy training the next intake of Thai military snipers. The message couldn’t be clearer to Thailand’s pro-democracy Red Shirt movement and civilian population – the US are the main supporters of those who subvert your democracy and attack and kill you when you protest.

There has been a generations long connection between the US government and Thailand’s fiercely anti-democratic military. How many more Chers, nurse Kates, coups and massacres will it take before the US cuts its ties with them? Or maybe that’s all part of the USA’s objective – to keep an unelected Thai elite in power, whatever it takes.

Taken From : The Asian Correspondent Website
By :  Andrew Spooner


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