Updated: From the red shirt rally

18 04 2010

Update: Another set of good photos here, from the red zone.

A reader has sent photos from the red shirt rally site from the night of 17 April. The images are available at New Mandala, with a couple of examples embedded in this post. These are ordinary photos of ordinary Thai people exercising their democratic rights. Here is what our anonymous reader/photographer says in edited form:

I think it is very important to show the “ordinary humanity” of the people who are in that crowd as they are being constantly threatened with violence and called “terrorists”….

The … photographs were taken on Saturday evening April 17th around 10PM in and around the Central Bangkok/Rajprasong main demonstration site for the Red Shirt protests.

There is nothing “spectacular” or particularly newsworthy in the photos. In fact, they are rather ordinary and hopefully will communicate how surprisingly “everyday” and more or less peaceful the red shirt gathering and red shirt demonstrators are. Not at all the image of out-of-control and dangerous barbarian hordes the present Thailand government is promoting so relentlessly…. Thailand citizens of all ages, gathered in a public space listening to their various leaders deliver speeches…. Food stalls, souvenir stands, handclappers, banners, flags, lines of porta-potties, families, groups of people from the same neighborhoods, towns and villages.

At this very moment, there is a debate going on within the highest level of the present Thailand government/power structure as to whether to “give in” to the Red Shirt demands for new elections or to launch a violent full-scale military assault on this demonstration site and the tens of thousands of mostly peaceful, essentially unarmed people encamped there, basically ordinary citizens of Thailand demanding their right to vote and for their vote to be respected.

The main demonstration site is surrounded by deluxe shopping centers and hotels in the heart of central Bangkok. If thousands of soldiers, tanks, armoured vehicles, heavy machine guns and snipers were to be involved in such an assault which, as has been publicly stated, would be required to successfully clear the site, the number of unarmed civilians killed (the very people in these photographs) could number in the thousands, the number of wounded could be in the tens of thousands, the collateral damage and destruction to the surrounding deluxe shopping centers and hotels would be in the hundreds of millions and central Bangkok could end up looking like downtown Chechnya.

And the possible resulting split in the Thailand army could lead to a full-scale civil war.

The image of Thailand around the world would no longer be the “Land of Smiles” but become more like the brutal image of Burma, North Korea and Iran, all states that strive to censor/curb/block its citizens access to information and which choose to shoot, arrest and kill in order to maintain their power rather than allow free and fair elections….

The present Thailand government has declared it a crime to distribute any information, photos or video clips that it judges to be “wrong” information, irregardless of whether or not the information is factually correct and/or merely descriptive….