United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) is what they call themselves. But in recent times over the past few years they have come to be known as the Red Shirts. Although their name implies democracy, they have been proven to be anything but.
The international media has called the UDD out and out liars by displaying signs completely contrary to their behavior. Their leaders have been charged with terrorism, members of their group have been seen burning and looting buildings and gangs beating up on people who disagree with their views is a far cry from democracy. In fact that part of their behavior is closer to how the Taliban may act. Even running bullets through peoples heads matches the Taliban style of executions.
When you look at the person who they idealize being the convicted fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra, you begin to understand more about their violent side. Thaksin has a near life long history of ignoring laws that stand in his way, and using laws that help him. He is no stranger to violence when it comes to dealing with people who do not share his views. By far that is not democratic, as the acceptance that others that may have different views is part of democracy. To punish those who do not have the same views is the signature of a dictator or repression. Both of those are also very far from the principles of democracy.
Obsessive and nearly fanatical lying is also part of the UDD, but that is not a unique signature. There is a list of political parties that have been associated with Thaksin as well. The Thai Rak Thai Party, The People Power Party, and now the Pheu Thai Party all have serious lying habits just like Thaksin himself. Lies flow from their lips as easy as oil spews from BP’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Stopping those lies is just as difficult. So in this case the credibility of the UDD is also nil.
In the recent violence that left roughly 90 people dead, the UDD is doing their best to say it was not them. But as time and investigations move forward, the gut feeling of many will likely be realized that the UDD/Red Shirts killed many of their own with the hopes of pinning the blame on the military and ultimately the Thai Government. The shootings in the safe haven of the Pathum Wanaram Temple that was designated a safe haven by the Thai Government and military have a motive. The motive was to simply discredit the Government as to match the UDD’s lying rhetoric. So in this case human lives are disposable to achieve their goal of reinstalling Thaksin. But once again this is nothing new for Thaksin.
In all cases the UDD is a huge embarrassment as well as a cancer to Thailand’s economic prosperity. As casual onlookers view this, a less than flattering image of Thai people is formed in the minds of others. It is easy for the lesser informed to misjudge the Thai people as a whole.
So as for classifying the UDD as a democratic movement is absolutely wrong. As for a criminal group the answer is yes most certainly if you view their leaders. As for a terrorist group, it is best to perhaps let the courts or government make that call. There are lesser educated Thai people who have been used by the UDD, so it becomes difficult to classify them the same as Al-Qaeda even that the similarities between Osama bin Laden and Thaksin Shinawatra are very strong if not identical.
At the very least the UDD has no credibility in the eyes of the world at this point. The media is not being bias against the UDD by pointing out that what comes from their mouths does not match the label they give themselves nor the alleged facts they present. It only seems that way when the truth is presented. So with that bit of fact, the UDD may simply be adding credibility to the Thai government based on their track record. If people come to not trust or believe a thing the UDD says, by putting down the government the UDD may be the best free advertizing there is for Abhisit and his government.