- Posted April 14, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Crisis in Bangkok
Democracy at Dusk
I took this footage on Tuesday afternoon, 14th April, as I walked through the Red Shirt encampment around the Democracy Monument area in Bangkok, controversial scene of violent bloodshed last Friday evening when the protesters clashed with the military. The vehement arguments over who was really to blame will go on, but the water pistol shooting in this footage befits the mood of a street party as the Songkran celebrations for Thai New Year swing into gear.
As a westerner in Bangkok I don’t feel under threat as I did when I lived for many years in Saudi Arabia. On the contrary, my recent experience of mingling with the protesters has ironically reinforced my commitment to live here. The Red Shirts have treated me with great warmth and humour, not because of the colour of their shirts but because of their Thai culture. I take no sides and certainly don’t glorify their cause. Thai politics, after all, is very complicated and never ceases to amaze me. The majority of Bangkokians are getting increasingly frustrated about the adverse affect on business and the fact that the heart of the city is choc-a-bloc. This will be aggravated from now on as the Red Shirts decamp to Rajprasong from the other areas they have been occupying.
The footage here is in two parts. The first shows the flour-and-water daubing side of Songkran accompanied by some loud, fairly dodgy music.
The second shows the flour-and-water splashed Thai flags and wreaths draped over the coffins of the dead protesters at Democracy Monument. Also the dramatic images of anti-government messages scrawled on a nearby starkly positioned ‘burial wall’, plus some chaotic water throwing in true Songkran spirit. The final scenes are shot at dusk around the carcasses of the tanks hastily abandoned by the military after the weekend bloodshed.
As a footnote, the Road Safety Centre published their casualty statistics for road accidents on the first day of Songkran: 45 deaths and 607 injured. Maybe I do feel under threat after all.