Q&A Part 2:
Q&A Part 3:
After I posted my video of the shooting at Democracy Monument I was inundated with questions and comments. I decided to answer some of the most commonly asked questions that I got and to share my thoughts what happened that night.
Question #1: Your title is misleading.
Answer: I got a lot of
flack feedback on the original title which was “Thai army opens fire on red protesters”. Many people felt this title was misleading because in the video it wasn’t clear who was doing the shooting.
At the time I posted the video I had just come from the protest site and I wanted to post my thoughts as quickly as possible while it was still fresh in my mind. When I was at the protest site I never saw any red protesters with guns and so when I heard automatic gunfire I assumed it was the military shooting. However I do agree that the title is misleading and sensationalistic so I have changed it.
Question #2: Why were you there?
Answer: In every video I make I try to look for some type of story I can tell the audience. If I just went and filmed the red protests everyday it would make for a very boring video. I had heard that the Thai government had such down the BTS Sky train line and everybody assumed that meant they were going to take action to clear the Rajprasong area. I hurried down to that area to see what was happening and waited to see if the government was going to take action to clear the protesters.
Nothing seem to be happening so I hung around for a few hours and wandered the protest site but as night fell it seemed that nothing was going to happen. I had heard that earlier in the day there had been a clash between red protesters and the military at Phan Fa Bridge and that the military had cleared the protesters out of that area. I decided to make my way up to Phan Fa Bridge thinking I might get some interesting footage of the area empty of red protesters. I was surprised when I got there to see so many protesters and the army standing around so I decided to stay to see if anything would happen.
Question #3: Who shot first?
Answer: This is a topic that will be debated for years to come in Thailand but my honest opinion after watching all my footage is I don’t know who shot first. The first sound of gunfire came as the crowd was dancing to the music and I wasn’t close to the area where it came from. After the first burt of 5-6 shots it sounded like the military opened fire with full automatic gunfire which is what led me to say on the video that it sounded like the military were firing. Was it the military who fired the first 5-6 rounds or was it someone from the red protesters is a question that I do not know the answer to.
Question #4: Who are the Men in Black?
Answer: A lot of rumours are swirling around the Thai blogsphere as to who is the identity of the mysterious men seen at the protests dressed in black and carrying automatic weapons. Was there a third party involved in the shooting that night? There very well may have been but I didn’t see anything. None of the red protesters I saw were carrying automatic weapons or neuralyzers.
Question #5: Is Thailand safe?
Answer: I believe that Thailand is a relatively safe country and that these protests haven’t changed my opinion about that. Certainly if you are visiting Bangkok it would be advised to avoid the areas occupied by the protests and if you do you might never encounter any effects of the protests. Bangkok is a large city and these protests are, for now contained to one part of the city.
The problem is the unpredictability of the protests and no one seems to know what the red protesters will do next. Certainly many of the tourists staying on Khaosan Road never expected their backpacker haven to become a war zone overnight and many were wise to leave that area.
If you are coming to Bangkok I would suggest checking the following online resources for the latest updates:
- The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs have set up a tourist hotline to gives the latest government efforts to clear the protesters. +66 2205 7711
- Topic Thailand is a website run by an American journalist that gives the latest updates on the current situation as well as background info on what has led up to the protests.
- For those of you who use twitter to gather your information twitter user @tulsathit has excellent coverage of the current situation as well as providing Thai to English translations for the many government press releases.
Question #6: Are you a red supporter?
Answer: Some people have accused me of having a red bias because many of the videos on this site cover the red protests. The truth is I don’t consider myself either a red or yellow supporter but rather I, as a guest in Thailand consider myself a neutral. I understand why both sides feel they need to take the action they do but I haven’t studied the history of Thai politics well enough to make an educated decision on which side I would support.
If you are interested in finding out more about the history of the “shirt politics” I would recommend reading this article by John Berns on why snap elections won’t solve the the underling problem that has led to these protests.
In the past few days there has been an increasing pressure on the government from ordinary Thai citizens who are fed up with the current situation. These multicoloured protesters have warned the government that if they do not take action in the next 7 days they themselves will confront the red protesters in an effort to end the protests once and for all.
The situation remains tense in light of the botched attempt by the government to arrest the leaders of the red protests and the appointment of army commander Gen. Anupong Paochinda as the head of the state-of-emergency operations. It seems that the government is bent on taking more direct action to clear the protests and the appointment of the army general is the firs step.
The red protesters meanwhile are as defiant as ever and have vowed to increase their presence in downtown Bangkok with more planned rallies. This situation certainly doesn’t seem to have an easy solution in sight as both sides seem unwilling to compromise on a solution.