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Forums > Social Discussion > Thailand - Civil unrest...

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FireTom


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Total posts: 6650
Posted:Currently Thailand is almost descending into a civil war...

Any opinions or questions?

I'm currently completing my months stay and arrived in Bangkok after 20 days on KPN... quite depressing atmosphere...


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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liquidtrance


liquidtrance

i dream in circles...
Location: Scotland

Total posts: 336
Posted:the 1st flight home... or go visit nick&co in bali.....

even chuck norris can't pin you down if your on fire

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:no intention to do neither, liquid.

I know Thailand for about 9 years now and though it's sad and depressing I feel no threat to my health or safety.

Would even go as far and claim that those foreigners who got wounded in the clashes were simply at the wrong time in the wrong place ... and asking for trouble.

I personally went from blatant opposition or the Red's rally, to compassion... now find them kind-a foolish to carry on. shrug

my flight leaves to Germany in 5 days.


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:full scale military operation to disperse the rally is underway... frown

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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AshleySmashley
SILVER Member since Jul 2006

stranger
Location: Vancouver, BC

Total posts: 13
Posted:I have to admit ignorance in this. Where should I look to get educated?

You say freak like it's a bad thing

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:Its not that easy Ashley... apparently the media in Thailand is under censorship from the government - and the international press is generating "news to sell" (meaning that they try to either let the events look like this or that according to their customers).

I would advise to skim in various channels and thus to get a wider picture...

Two days ago I wrote an article on the events myself.

(disclaimer: I'm no expert on Thailand and Thai politics, I have not studied journalism, I rely on the same or less sources as journalists, the following reflects my personal opinion only In the meantime more aspects of this conflict emerged and I haven't updated the article yet)

It's a bit long, sorry

shrug

Bangkok - May 20th 2010

As I'm staying in Bangkok I must say that I am shocked over the international media coverage and the portrait painted of the current Thai government.

Certainly I can only draw my informations from the same (limited) sources as most people - and certainly the government has means to censor the news published, especially in a "state of emergency" as the current one.

Red shirt protests and democracy

The "Red Shirt" protesters of the "United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship" (UDD) have had a fair point. Ex-Prime Minister Thaksin has been evicted from office in 2006 by a military coup after months of protest from "Yellow Shirts" - this was definitely not democracy.

After the following election, the winning party "Thai Rak Thai" was not allowed to commence office - on charges of electoral-fraud, Thaksin and many other politicians were barred from politics for 5 years - but the current Abhisit-government was installed... this might not have been democracy.

The UDD gathered their followers, the "Red Shirts" in Bangkok, started rallies and protests last year. They demanded the current government to dissolve and to reinstate the elected one. They openly supported ousted PM Thanksin and demanded that he could return to Thailand without repercussions - this certainly was democracy.

At some stage one year ago, at the time of Songkran (Thai new year) the Red Shirt protesters clashed violently with the police in Bangkok. The leader of the "Yellow Shirt" movement was assassinated and only just survived.

Still the Red Shirt were (allowed) continuing peaceful demonstrations in Bangkok.

Thaksin - the controversial personality in the background

2003 Thaksin announced a nationwhide "war on drugs" in Thailand - during which up to 2.500 Thai got executed by paramilitary forces. They were shot without trial and on suspicion only. Cases became public were people got accused by rivaling neighbors and subsequently assassinated by "men in black". Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Organization had strong objections and demanded probes into the killings. Thaksin replied "the UN is not my father". (Interesting to note that statements now published in his name call for the UN to mediate and for the Abhisit government to acknowledge the value of "each and every life of Thai citizens").

Nevertheless he was re-elected into office. Allegations that he bought votes surfaced. Just before he got into office, he sold his telecommunications company to his family. A few years into office and the same company was sold by his son to a Singaporean holding. So far so good.

What outraged the Thai public, was that Thaksin' family was not to pay any taxes for the multi billion dollar deal, due to political protection (we know this kind of protection from Italy and Berlusconi). Thus the "Yellow Shirt" protest formed (the color yellow was chosen as to show that they also were supporting the King of Thailand - a highly respected figure).

After ongoing protests, the military made a coup while Thaksin was not in the country. For a few months, the military was in power and later handed it back to an interim government. New elections were held. Thaksin was convicted for corruption of this company deal AND a deal where his wife was engaged in a Bangkok land deal, buying property for a fraction of its value. Now a total of 1 billion US dollar (less than half of the Thaksin families assets) were seized by the High Court of Thailand.

Thaksin threatened the government that IF he was not allowed to return to Thailand and got his power and money back, he would drown the country in civil war (Interesting to note that now Thaksin denied that the UDD would rally in his favor or that he would have any influence over the UDD leadership).

Bangkok riots 2010

April - beginning of the end

Whatever happened so far, on April 10th police and military tried to dissolve a blockade of Red Shirt protesters near the democracy monument in Bangkok.

Subsequently 21 people died and up to 800 were injured. Who started the shooting is not known until today. What is certain is that soldiers got attacked and disarmed by protesters after they resisted police orders to dissolve. It seems that a mysterious group of "Black Shirts" hid amongst the "Reds" and started shooting at law enforcement with assault weapons. Many of the victims have been soldiers and police.

At this time, Red Shirts already camped in Siam Square and blocked Bangkok Central Business District. I personally went from Prattunam, passing Central World Plaza to Siam Square through the rally site. Constant announcements and speeches from loudspeakers cut through the entire area, songs were sung and it was an atmosphere like a (politic) festival.

The protesters stormed the Thai parliament during a meeting held there.

On April 22nd, the citizens living in the Silom and Ratchaprasong areas organized a rally to show disapproval of Reds camping and blocking the Central Business District. Grenades got fired at them, one person died and dozens were injured.

May - more escalation of violence


Peace talks between the current government and the UDD (Red Shirts officials) were held, during which the current PM offered a dissolution of the lower parliament in September and new elections in November this year. At this point the UDD had exactly what they were striving for.

But they rejected the offer, as the schedule had not been fixed to certain days and (allegedly) came up with more demands and this was when the government backed out.

They set deadlines for the rally to end. During the clashes that followed after the protesters passed on two deadlines set, a rogue army general got shot.

Who shot the General?

Ex-army Major General Khattiya Swasdipol (aka Sae Daeng) got shot in the head by a sniper during an interview held with a CNN journalist...

He was a controversial figure even within the Red Shirt movement, a hard liner who wanted to continue the protest, even if fights with the army would erupt - making clear that the UDD leadership was torn from within.

However, it is not clear which side pulled the trigger on him. The army and government of Thailand would clearly gain as much from his death as the protesters - if they were interested in escalating the conflict even more. He has been a very popular figure in the Red Shirt movement.

Showdown

After more than 6 weeks of deadlock of the cities Central Business District, the government set another (last deadline) to the protesters. Helicopters released flyers on the protest site, urging the protesters to go home within 24hrs or to face serious consequences.

They urged the leadership to evacuate women, children and old people at least to the nearby temple grounds, they offered free transportation for the protesters to return to their homes outside Bangkok and demanded the UDD leaders to surrender.

The UDD leaders demanded the government to retrieve their troops first, because they were scared to get shot.

I personally walked from National Stadium to Prattunam (but outside the Red rally site) through emptied streets, pass police and army checkpoints. I saw Thai walking and driving on the streets. It was not fun but nowhere as if someone would have to fear getting shot by passing the road alone.

On the morning of May 19th armed vehicles broke into the barricades of the fortified rally sites.

(my) Summary

I don't understand much of Thai politics and their (political) culture, even though I'm traveling this country for nine years. What I do understand is that a democratic protest is necessary as to display and emphasize on social imbalances.

It may be easy to condemn either side of the conflict and it is especially easy to take the side of the weak and those firing with slingshots at tanks, to see the Reds as the underdogs, the workers, the oppressed and this current government as the elite, the royalists, the Bangkok fatcats.

It is hard to admit that there might be a lot more to this conflict than that. It is hard to admit that there are political interests pulling in all directions.

But I do know for certain:

- that if people use deadly deadly force - NOT IN MY NAME. As a protester I would leave the area and withdraw. People did not get killed by this government prior. Where have been the Red Shirts when the war on drugs was announced and Thai got executed without trial?

People now got killed as a direct result of these rallies. The truth the UDD and Red Shirts may have to face is that they lost all credibility and that they themselves provoked the government into using deadly force against them, surpassing all democratic means.

I personally could not picture any western democratic government tolerating a situation such as in Bangkok for even a single week and not responding to such violent development with special forces and live ammunition.

The Red Shirts DID face riot police with shields and sticks long before they had to face army with shotguns and assault rifles. From within their own movement, some ruthless people abused the situation to use bombs, grenades and Molotov cocktails to escalate the situation.

What is going on now has NOTHING to do with democracy. This is a rebellion and terror of UDD (and Thaksin) supporters against their fellow citizens.

- The Thai who oppose the UDD might have to recognize that most of the economic and social development in their country did not reach to the poor and tribal people outside their capital city. It is not a situation of "those are right" and "these are wrong" (in principles) - both sides do share responsibility in this conflict.

What is tragic - beyond the losses of lives, property and reputation - is that Thai are now facing an even deeper divide in their society and possibly a very long time of reconciliation. In this conflict there are no winners to be seen anywhere.

I am certain that those who gambled with human lives in order to gain from this conflict will face the consequences. My prayers go with the families of those who lost members of their families and with the Thai people as a whole, regardless of colors.

Thanks for your time


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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AshleySmashley
SILVER Member since Jul 2006

stranger
Location: Vancouver, BC

Total posts: 13
Posted:Oh my Creator. That is nuts! Thank you for your words, I think I'm going to start researching this a bit more now...

You say freak like it's a bad thing

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:btw it would be far too easy to name it a red vs. yellow, poor vs. rich scenario... There is a lot of things that are to be fixed in Thailand... I wrote an article "Thaland - beyond the smiles" if you are interested.

the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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AshleySmashley
SILVER Member since Jul 2006

stranger
Location: Vancouver, BC

Total posts: 13
Posted:I'd like that! PM me with it?

You say freak like it's a bad thing

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:diggin deeper

http://www.homeofpoi.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php/topics/825271/Thailand_beyond_the_smiles.html


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide

Total posts: 2474
Posted:im heading to thailand on the 15th, going to be at the full moon party, anyone else around then?
EDITED_BY: ben-ja-men (1275581946)


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:guess around 3.000 other people wink
if you go there, make sure you arrive a couple of days earlier (as hotels and resorts fill up 3 days in advance), if you intend to spin at the FMP make sure you introduce yourself to the crews of Drop In or Cactus also a few days earlier - other they won't share their fuel with you.
Njoy peace oh! and don't smoke on FMP or the balcony of your gh.


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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ben-ja-men
GOLD Member since Jun 2003

ben-ja-men

just lost .... evil init
Location: Adelaide

Total posts: 2474
Posted:all our accommodation is already booked smile is there a website for any of the local fire groups?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous and talented? Who are you NOT to be?

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:there is none to my knowledge smile when in BKK check the Pra-Sumen park (at the corner of Pra Sumen and Pra Artit road, in Bunglumpoo area near Kao Sarn) - before dawn usually the jugglers (and spinners) meet there...

When on KPN check more of the after parties at Baan Sabai and the alternate beaches like Haad Tien and Tong Nai Pan... Haad Mae Haad also recommended for swimming and snorkeling smile enjoy


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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