Monday, August 23, 2010

Red Shirts in Chiang Mai

Red Shirt Demonstration

I received one of those standard notices from the U.S. Consulate warning all U.S. citizens that there would be a gathering of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD or "red-shirts") near the Tae Pae Gate. American intelligence at it’s finest! The rally at Tae Pae Gate was on Saturday. However, on Sunday there was a gathering near the 3 Kings monument; I happened to stumble on it as it’s right at the edge of walking street.
I don’t pretend to know much, err make that a darn thing, about Thai politics but I did figure out that the rally was about convincing the government to schedule elections and answer questions about the deaths during the Bangkok demonstrations this last May. As luck would have it I had cameras with me so, I walked among them.
Gal in black hat was collecting donations
I am red stick on were everywhere

Almost the first thing I noticed was that they had decided to tie ribbons on a tree. I don’t know the significance of this, but I do know that monks will tie saffron color ribbons around trees. These trees are blessed and no one who has any Buddhist heritage would dare to cut it down. Maybe they are asking the tree to bless them? More likey they are remeberence items.

There was another issue in the demonstration, perhaps more urgent; the death of 91 people in Bangkok.

There were people laying in the street as if they had been killed. Too late, I realized that I was welcome to climb up on the stage and take photographs. With the assistance of two or three, I got up there, but not before they all started to get up.
Mock Death of Bangkok
I was impressed with the a couple of the scenes people set up. The writing on the little red markers says Mrs., Mr., Miss the chains indicate that the families have no answer from the government about the death of their loved ones; they cannot be free.

Everyone I saw was quiet friendly and happy to be photographed. An older gentlemen asked me to take a picture, with his camera, of he and a young fellow. After I asked who the younger gentleman was. The answer: Sombat Boonngamanong (See , but only if you are interested in people trying to make a real difference)! The older fellow told me he was their Chiang Mai leader and he wanted peace. I really wish I had read up on him before yesterday.

Sombat Boonngamanong
I was impressed by the people demonstrating about not being able to speak out. The photo says it all. I pointed a camera and they all gave (me) the finger. I laughed and asked them if they learned that from Americans. They laughed, said yes and assured me it was a gesture intended for their current ruling president (prime minister). No offense taken I assured them; we are more similar than different.

An article on Thai Visa dot com this morning said that after the demonstration, people went to Walking street and were reported as intimidating. I happened to be there and I certainly saw nothing threatening or intimidating. They were chanting and having encouraging each other, but they were certainly not intimidating. Frankly I found them friendly, sincere but still of good humor. My prayer is that the wonderful people of Thailand find resolution to the issues and that foreign governments’, especially the United States, find the good sense to not interfere.

Abundant Blessings,


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