Yesterday was one of the worst nightmares in Thai history. It was worse than 14 October 1973, 9 October 1976 or 17 May 1992 because this time Thai people were deeply divided. Not only did the majority of the people in Bangkok not support the protesters when they were attacked by the army, but they turned against them too. This time the protest was regarded as a riot. Instead of a group of people fighting for democracy, some from among this group did a lot of violent action, leading to their being branded by the government as rioters.
This is the worst incident also because this is the first time (I believe it will not be the only time) that people from the provinces came to Bangkok to demand democracy. The previous three times were the works of the people of Bangkok themselves. This explained the situation yesterday quite a lot. It is almost as if the only ones who can fight for democracy are the people of Bangkok themselves.
There are many questions in all this. First of all, what exactly did the red shirted protesters fight for. They came out in tens of thousands to demand a real change for Thailand. I know that deep down most of them were realistic enough to realize that this was too much. But in any case they made their power felt.
It was when there were incidents at the ASEAN summit in Pattaya when things turned badly against them. They barged inside the main venue of the meeting, causing the meeting to be canceled. A deep embarrassment for the government. This, plus their blockade of several key junctions in busy Bangkok contributed to the resentment of the Bangkokians too. And when the army turned against them, the red shirts then fought back, using guerrilla tactics. This is really troubling because it may mean that the unrest will continue.
So this gave the pretext and the justification for Abhisit to use force. This was indeed a sad situation. What the red shirts are demanding is legitimate. They are Thais and they want to voice their views as to how this country should be governed. But now they are branded as rioters.
What we can only hope is that there is no more violence and that everybody wakes up and realizes that violence from either side would only drag Thailand down to the failed state status sooner. The guerrilla tactics have to stop. The legitimate demands of the red shirts need to be seriously addressed. This will cancel any reasons they have for protesting. People need to talk. Let’s hope that Thais come to understand and respect one another.