Redshirts unrest Thailand

Thailand, growing pains 2010

For more than 2 months, the so-called “Red shirts” ie. the "United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD)" occupied the business center of Bangkok. They rallied for an immediate dissolution of the Parliament and called for new elections, yet –for now at this day, PM Abhisit’s government remains in power.

Bangkok sporadically became a battleground, and still lives under state of emergency since the ‘final crackdown’ of the 19th of May. The last week of the Rajprasong occupation, snipers and mysterious Black men (believed to be the armed wing of some radical red shirts leaders) painted the sky of Bangkok in black and red, while ‘communards’ red shirts grew barricades and fought with handmade explosives: Blood and Fire. The Capital was burning, while the illusion of the ‘Thai smile’ finished melting down.

Thai society is more divided than ever. What stroke me the most about what I have witnessed, was the chaos and the incredible hate among Thais, unveiling dramatic sleeping tectonic tension. Indeed, as journalist Andrew Marshall sharply pointed out: “Thailand is having an identity crisis. Its society is deeply fractured. Its people are divided and have lost faith in the institutions, which had long claimed to have their best interests at heart—military, monarchy, bureaucracy. Decades of healthy economic growth had allowed people to ignore these fractures, but not anymore. Thailand has stopped believing its own bullshit”. Indeed,

If the defiant UDD had one main ‘enemy’ –the elite system, violence actually spread all over different actors on the ground. On black Saturday (10th of April), Reds fought against the Army, while the “Black Men” apparently stirred up the violence and forced the troops to a real debacle on several occasions. Impressive bamboo and tires barricades grew in key spots in the very center of Bangkok. Grenades exploded. Thais clashed against Thais.

Complex, volatile and still sharply fresh in the mind of Thai people who now live under the military junta government, the 9 weeks of violence resulted in the biggest life cost in decades in Thailand: at least 90 people died in clashes, including 2 foreign journalists.


Redshirts unrest Thailand