For the last week I’ve lived near one of the front line areas in the conflict between the Government/Military and the Red Shirted protesters. On 15th, 16th and 17th May I walked along Rama IV, filming and talking with Red shirt supporters, protesters, onlookers. It was a mixed bag of people of varying degrees of commitment to the Red cause—whatever that might be—as the policies and principles appear to be fractured among a number of factions. There are those wishing to reinstall Thaksin as prime minister. Others are bound by a larger social justice and equality movement.
I’ve blogged with daily photos from the Rama IV Road front line.
No Man’s Land 17 May 2010 Rama 4 Road is a video I shot early evening on Monday 17 May 2010. The footage is from the Red barricades at Rama IV near the Expressway entrance for Bang Nah and the Port.
It is 21 May 2010, Friday morning in Bangkok. There is no crack gunfire. No explosions. No smoke climbing into the sky from tyre barricades or from shopping malls or government buildings. In short, this is the first day for the start of reflection by the participants, those who live in the city, and the larger world.
The questions will be asked: What exactly happened? Why did it happen now? Who were the players, and have those players changed since the first shots were fired? Can there be a political accommodation? If so what factions, parties, and personalities will be in discussion? And on what terms can they agree?
Where will the questions be asked? Who will answer them? What evidence is available and how credible is the evidence.
The main roadblock will be establishing trust between the sides. Suspicion will run high and minds open for evidence presented by the other side will be in short supply.
Decisions by leaders, government or Red Shirts, and judgments about such decisions are the bread and butter of pundits. We will have endless debate on these issues. Most of which will be informed by emotion and anecdotal evidence. Each side will defend its decisions and condemn the decisions of the other side. That is how life works. Get used to it.
Ultimately this conflict was about power sharing. Most political conflicts are. Neither side can wipe out the other, and it takes time for them to come to terms with the idea that they must compromise and accommodate the other side. It may be too soon for this process to start as the wounds are still too fresh.