Thailand’s red shirt revolution
The taxi driver made hectic gestures and repeatedly uttered ‘leduh’ ‘bum’ ‘accident’, indicating that he can’t take us to the centre of Bangkok because of ‘many leduh’. Confused, we weren’t sure if it wasn’t one of the standard ‘Buddha holiday’ ‘road closed’ intros that would lead to pressing alternative destinations, such as silk shops and tailors or if we had just missed a terrorist blast in one of the mega malls. As we were approaching the centre, more and more long distance coaches were blocking our way. Maybe a leather fair in the capital. Surprisingly, the taxi driver did not propose a commission collect tour. Curious about what was going on, we asked him to drop us off as close as possible.
Getting off one block from Ratchaprasong intersection we noticed that many people were wearing red t-shirts, carrying red flags and banners, when it occurred to us that ‘leduh’ meant ‘red’ and that the taxi driver was trying to tell us about the fatally ending political protests in 2010, which took place at exactly this intersection. Walking freely behind, then gradually being pushed closer to the red shirts we eventually got stuck in between the massive red crowd, leaving our plans for the day and turning to the protesters, observing the red movement that was growing and coming to life as the former premier appeared on a huge screen. He addressed the crowd of (what we learned were) 45,000 red shirts about the need to seek justice for political victims and to amend the constitution in order to address the institutional system. The NUDD (National United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship) spokesman urged the crowd to continue to fight for change in power, also calling to execute those responsible for the 2010 crackdown victims. The Bangkok Post writes that hatred helps to keep the NUDD going strong, growing in towns, villages, provinces. That hatred of Thailand’s elite is going to pave the premier’s road to victory. That the NUDD, the inciters of violence, sit in parliament.
I wonder if Thailand will take that red path. From the sky-train window we could see hundreds of candles being lit in silent memory of those who lost their lives in 2010 after a two months siege of Bangkok and occupation of that intersection by the NUDD, which seem to have split Thailand’s society.
As much as I look up to a crowd that rises against a failing government and fights for freedom of political prisoners, I can’t help but question the dominance of red color – is it coincidence? Red, the color used and abused by many revolutionists for the cause of freedom, justice and social fairness, in the end paradoxically turning countries into suffering slaves of utopian red ideas. I have seen the consequences of glorified red stars in Cuba, where food shortage and the lack of basic goods are apparent and people are forced to improvise everyday. I have walked the streets of Cambodia, a country slowly recovering from the terrors of the Red Khmer. I am a child of a once communist country that divided my family as my parents fled the regime in Poland. Red ideology has gone wrong in every country put into practice with too many countries still suffering, one of the most terrifying examples in Asia still being North Korea.
That’s why that (bloody) red color in politics makes me shiver inside. I hope that the red shirts’ call for a new constitution is truly democratic without causing anarchy and ignoring human rights.
Red shirts protest for freedom and justice.
Carrying a heavy burden for Thailand.
|Signs of red power.||Bangkok, the city of life.|
|Walking through the crowd.||Waving and demanding ‘truth today’.|
|Red dress code.||Reminding me of carnival back home in Cologne.|
The dog has to protest wearing red ribbons.
Time is always right for a traditional Thai foot massage.
Red shirts come in all sizes.
Snapshot from the sky train. In 2010 protests were not that peaceful, with arson damaging the new buildings.
Is red the future of Thailand?