Monday, April 13, 2009

Black Songkran

As "Songkran," the new Thai New Year dawned in Bangkok, the Thai army moved in against the "red shirt" protesters who had taken over strategic points throughout the capital city. I have been tracking* the observations of live-bloggers such as Fonzi, Bangkok Pundit, and Nirmal Ghosh (who was on the streets of Bangkok). Two themes surface in these reports.

First, they note a discrepency between Thai government claims about casualties, and stories coming from reporters and spokesmen for the "red shirt" movement. Fonzi blogs, "The Reds are claiming a cover up. I have read at a couple websites that the mainstream media has been told to black out any contrary evidence to what the government is spouting." Second, the bloggers raise questions as to how the government can possibly heal the divisions that this violent crackdown has brought about. Bangkok Pundit asks:
What can the government do now to restore law and order? And then after that? The latter question is probably the more difficult one now.
Nirmal Ghosh commented late this morning:
This is the start of an urban-based guerrilla war, with Reds armed with sticks, stones and firebombs. It's hard to see the Democrat Party winning any election after sending the army onto the streets.
It's beginning to look as if the HM the King may have no option but to become personally involved. Neither side in the conflict would dare oppose the will of the monarch who alone retains the prestige and authority necessary to bring about a reconciliation of the parties.
*To view Jotman's compilation of reports from Thailand's live-bloggers, check out THERELIVE.
Photo: By Jotman -- taken in 2008 -- depicts celebrants a much brighter Songkran: This Songkran, the guns fired in the streets were real.


  1. How would the king's involvement in this be perceived by the Thai people? I was under the impression that the monarchy was considered "above" politics/ politicians.

  2. J-P,

    HM the King was perceived as having put an end to the Black May crisis of 1992.

    Early on the morning of 20 May, Princess Sirindhorn addressed the country on television, calling for a stop to the unrest. Her appeal was rebroadcast throughout the day. In the evening, her brother, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, broadcast a similar public appeal. Then at 9:30 pm, a television broadcast of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Suchinda, and Chamlong was shown, in which the King demanded that the two put an end to their confrontation and work together through parliamentary processes. Following the broadcast, Suchinda released Chamlong and announced an amnesty for protesters.


Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.