Updated: Accounts of the dead I

28 05 2010

Prachatai has a set of accounts regarding some of those killed in the army crackdown on red shirts at Rajaprasong.

Fabio Polenghi's funeral in Bangkok on 24 May 2010

The first is from the German newspaper Spiegal Online (24 May 2010). It focuses on  Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi, who died from a gunshot wound.

Spiegal correspondent Thilo Thielke who worked with Fabio on the day he was killed. He writes of the day and the events.

He states that he had “always doubted that the government would actually allow things to go this far. There were many women and children in the district occupied by the protesters. Did the soldiers really want to risk a bloodbath?” He soon got his answer.

He arrived in the Red Zone that morning to find people “stoically awaiting the soldiers. They knew that the military would attack from the south, via Silom Road, and the braver ones among them had ventured to as far as a kilometer (0.6 miles) from the front line. They stood there, but they weren’t fighting. Some of them had slingshots, but nobody was firing.”

When the soldiers began to move forward, “shots whipped through the streets. Snipers fired from high-rises and the advancing troops shot through the smoke. And we, a group of journalists, ducked for cover, pressing ourselves against a wall to avoid getting hit.”

He observes that even before the final confrontation, the “streets had been transformed into a war zone. A few days earlier I had crouched here behind a small wall for half an hour, seeking protection from the army’s hail of bullets — they had suddenly opened fire because some show-off had strutted around with a slingshot.”

For most of the red shirts, he says that the struggle was “not primarily about Thaksin. They were mostly concerned with the social injustice in the country. Many of them dreamt of living in a more democratic society. I could never understand the government’s claims that the Red Shirts had been bought by Thaksin. Nobody allows themselves to be shot for a handful of baht.”

On the army, he says that since the “beginning of the conflict, I have experienced the Thai army as an amateurish force. If they had cleared the street protests at the outset, the conflict would have never escalated to this extent. Once the soldiers attempted to clear the demonstrators, they left a trail of casualties. They fired live ammunition at Red Shirts who were barely armed. I observed absurd, unequal battles during those days. Young people crouched behind sand bags and fired on the soldiers with homemade fireworks and slingshots. The soldiers returned fire with pump guns, sniper rifles and M-16 assault rifles.”

He finds the government’s claims that the army has nothing to do with any deaths and that “the demonstrators are shooting each other dead … isn’t true.” On the morning of the crackdown, “you could hear bullets whistling through the air. They were fired by the [army] snipers, who were working their way forward, from building to building. Some of them appeared to be directly above us.”

Separated from Fabio, the author eventually heard that “they had shot an Italian. Right in the heart. Over one and a half hours ago. He [a foreign journalist] said that he had taken his picture. He even knew his name: Fabio Polenghi.”

Update: See the important discussion of Fabio’s death at Bangkok Pundit. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has lied on this.



5 responses

28 05 2010
Thailand Dramatisk utvikling i Thailand. - Side 201 - Asiaforum.no

[…] #2003 (permalink) I dag, 09:26 Accounts of the dead I PPT har gjengitt historien til Thilo Thielke (Der Spiegel) som jobbet med Fabio Polenghi (som ble […]

10 09 2010
Ordered to shoot indiscriminately? « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] readers return to PPT’s “Accounts of the Dead” series of May and June (here, here, here, here and here), all focus more on deliberate targeting of shots, sometimes by snipers. […]

6 04 2011
More army lies | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Earlier, Spiegal correspondent Thilo Thielke who worked with Fabio on the day he was killed, wrote of the day and the events, in PPT’s version: […]

19 05 2016
6 years ago | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] produced several posts that linked to accounts of witnesses. We called these accounts of the dead (I, II, III, IV, […]

19 05 2016
6 years ago | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] produced several posts that linked to accounts of witnesses. We called these accounts of the dead (I, II, III, IV, […]

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