One 1 May 2009 the increasingly powerful propaganda military wing, in the pocket of the elites and Democrat Party, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) (р╕Бр╕н.р╕гр╕бр╕Щ.) made an unconvincing attempt to show the people of the north how justified the army was in brutalising the Red Shirts last month.

A conference was held at Chiang Mai University organized by the Director of Policy & Planning Office (ISOC) to show the justification for its use of force against the Red Shirts in an attempt to undermine grassroots support and win hearts and minds to the government side.

Sub-district chiefs (Kamnan) and village leaders from twenty-four districts in Chiang Mai were asked to attend. Only 500 persons turned up out of 2,000 special “invitees”. When the ISOC showed the media’s heavily cut-and-pasted version of a video clip of events showing so-called Red Shirt “violence” (actually caused by Abhisit’s agent provocateurs, or Newin’s Blue shirts wearing Red, such as the seizing of buses) more than half the attendees walked out.

The question to ISOC delegates from the attendees still remaining in the conference room was: “are the Red Shirts not Thai?”, and “why use the army against the people?” Before a number of leaders walked out they raised a question to be passed to the army boss General Anupong: “when Somchai was elected PM why did he force him to resign and yet this time he did not do the same thing?” All attendees knew the answer, and then said that “they and other kamnan and village heads are members of TRT is that a problem?” This led to loud applause.

It seems people need a little more convincing these days as the government turns increasingly to jackboot tactics such as forced closure of opposition voices wherever they can, including local radio stations, web-sites, black-listing of individuals, disappearances, and fear tactics against pro-democratic supporters and their families.

Where will this end?

Jim Taylor is an anthropologist at the University of Adelaide.