Bangkok, 5th & 6th April 2010
These photos of the protests in Bangkok by the Red Shirts – United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) – were taken on Tuesday 5th & 6th April 2010; on the 7th a state of emergency was declared.
As I waded through and mingled with the crowd, over and over again I heard protesters stressing that this will be a peaceful demonstration. And there was a clear and concerted effort to this end by the vast majority. As my companion said: “This looks like National Day in Singapore!” Yes, there was an air of festivity, people were extremely friendly, posing for photos… welcoming our presence. To be sure, there was an unmistakable edge of tension in the air; nevertheless, I felt safe.
I wish to share these photographs of the Red Shirt Protest to show a side of the demonstrations that predominantly prevailed. For two weeks prior to taking these photos, I’d browse the media to find out what’s happening. What I actually witnessed was considerably different from the impression conveyed by mainstream media which, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, had a extremely narrow focus: acts of violence. There was a whole side to the situation that was left unreported, creating a distorted perspective of the events. The violence seen on front-pages of all the media – to be sure, horrific – was a miniscule part of the actual story. The violence was just one of many, many sub-plots forming the larger web of reality. I am not at all surprised how quickly Bangkok went back to ‘normalcy’, with volunteers spontaneously helping to clean up the carnage (incidentally, limited to a small section of the city). The violence aspect was a small constituent of the Red Shirt Protest instigated by a small group of puppet-masters.