Update on Tuesday, 18 May.
The fighting was much less last night and this morning there is no smoke coming from the Lumpini area and no gunfire. Twitter is buzzing with details of a ceasefire, I think all hope it will happen.
- This battle is not being fought by Thai people for Thailand and is not red shirts vs. the government- this is soldiers doing their job by fighting against a group of extremists and/or people that have a financial or personal stake in a red shirt victory. Using the word extremists means people that are paid to fight, want to fight and/or want to loot and steal. The majority of the current fighters for the red shirts are not from Bangkok, increasing their desire to create havoc and destroy property.
- Thai people do not support this fight and want it to end- red shirts are leaving Bangkok as they don’t agree and it appears one of their leaders has abandoned the protest; the people are Thailand do not support the fighting and killing of other Thais and want this to end
- I cannot express how kind Thai people have been to me, each other and other foreigners- Thais have apologized to me, asked me if I will stay and thanked me for saying “yes”. When the grocery store on my street opened everyone shared what the store had for sale. Thai people continue to give the military and police bottles of water and flowers, thanking them for doing their job. The foreign journalists staying in the building where I live tell stories of Thai people crying at the destruction of Bangkok and the horror at what is happening.
- The real political issues of Thailand are namely the wealth divide, the knowledge divide and a dysfunctional political system. The USA faces all these same issues, as do the UK and many other countries. Warfare in your capital city will not solve any of them.
If that is true, many can now understand how this is not a fight about Thailand and by the red shirts- it is about money and personal gain and using the protest as the vehicle to attain the money and gain.
The government allowed this protest to grow and spin out of control. The government has been indecisive at key times and overreacted at other key times. I can only speculate this is due to not knowing how the military will react. The common question is “where is the military?” My only answer- the government fears the surge of troops necessary to stop the protest, the fear- how many of the troops will not fight for the government?
Thailand is a wonderful country filled with some of the most amazing culture and people in the world. I have always felt safe in Thailand, but do not in occupied Bangkok; and there is a big difference in the two. Let us hope that Bangkok is given back to the real people of Thailand and genuine efforts are made to solve the real political issues that have plagued the country over the past four years.