Amazing Thailand, the STATE of emergency

“Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2010”

Big and splendorous board has been put up on skywalk through Rachaprasong intersection in Bangkok. The “80%” written on red ‘shopping bag’ on the board makes it certainly temptable to ‘buyers’, despite temptations contradict the reality behind the scene.

July, 2010 Rachaprasong, Bangkok (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

On July 6, the cabinet in Thailand has approved the extension of emergency decree in 19 provinces, which include many in North East (or Isaan), the Red Shirts’ heartland. The extension came a day after the Brussels based International Crisis Group think tank has recommended the government to immediately lift the decree and hold a fresh election for a genuine reconciliation. But the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva blew off hopes for earlier elections weeks ago. It seems now ‘out of question’.

‘Reconcilation’ has become a hollow word in Thailand, the STATE of Emergency (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Some areas around Rachaprasong are hindered in passage due to reconstruction of shopping malls, which were burnt down by angry Red Shirts on May 19. (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Meanwhile, the extension this time is not relevant to the troubled South such as Yala, Pattani and Narrathiwat, where the emergency decree has overshadowed routine life at all since July of 2005, when it replaced martial law under the Thaksin regime. The decree in the South has been ever since extended every three month by whosoever governments, that of course include Coup forces whice ousted the elected Prime Minister in 2006 and the incumbent Democrat-led coalition which has been persecuting the ousted Prime Minister wholeheartedly.

The whole developments of the decree reminds me of the time in 2008, when I interestingly noticed ‘two different state of emergencies’ in Bangkok and the South of Thailand.

In Bangkok, the deadly street battle between the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts in the early morning of September 2 2008 has led the then Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, the Red friendly Prime Minister who passed away last year, to declare state of emergency. But the Yellow protesters have mocked the decree by continuing their occupation of the government house and elsewhere. They eventually have ‘extended’ the occupation to the two main airports in late November, while the state of emergency was short-lived.

As state of emergency was declared by the former Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who passed away in 2009, the army were deployed in Bangkok amid clashes between the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts on September 2, 2008. (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

PAD, the Yellow Shirts have continued their occupation inside the government house on September 3 2008, despite the state of emergency was declared a day earlier. (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Mr. Somsak Kosaisuk, one of the core PAD leaders on stage inside government house on September 9 2008, mockering the state of emergency declared by the then Red friendly government. He has become a new leader of New Politics, the political wing of PAD, on July 3 2010. (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Virtually contrasted scene was observed in the South, where I had been in previous month, August of the year.

‘Apparently’ normal life didn’t looked disturbed, but fear and silent complaints are easily heard particularly in villages. During my stay in the South, I constatnly heard one word that sounded like ‘trakkut‘, which means ‘fear’ in Yawi, the local dialect of Malay language. People complaint about the army’s petrol in villages and intruding their houses, saying they hardly understood what army questioned them. Villagers in the South cannot understand thai lauguage well, which is not at all their mother tongue. There are victims of torture, families who lost their loved ones. There are places, where villager(s) found to be decapitated and the witness of the decapitated got shot dead days later he witnessed the decapitated in one particular case. I found 28 bullet marks at the scene, where the witness was targetted. No one has claimed responsibility of these all horrible acts and violences, including driving shooting, bomb blasts and decapitation, which is the most shuddering way of killing.

Having conversations with army personnels, including the spokesperson of Internal Security Operations Commands (or ISOC) as well as the detained suspect, I personally observed that the intelligence of security forces didn’t seem to be sophisticated enough to cope with ‘ghost’ guerrillas.  In fact and crucially, there are different players causing violences, including various militia sponsored by the state as well as the security forces, let alone those ghost guerillas.

It seems few in Bangkok or other provinces bother the ‘state of emergency’ in the South, where  almost daily violences haunt.

Some pictures which were taken back in 2008 are following.

– Penseur21 –

Thai national flag is waving on top of the central mosque in Pattani province in the South Thailand, where separatist movement remains unabated. (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

The security forces are partolling the town of Pattani. August 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Buddist and muslim girls study together in Choairong school in Narrathiwat. Narrathiwat 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Students of Ponoh Dalot, the religious school in Pattani, has recalled of the day, 1st August when some 200 security forces has stormed the school in a military operation, killing one and arrested three. All four were said to be not students of the school. The operation has alienated locals from the authority. Pattani 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Nima Kaseng is a widow of Imam Yapa Kaseng, who was taken by security forces March 2008 without charge under the Emergency Decree, to be tortured to death. Narrathiwat 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

A 18-old boy was taken by security forces without charge under the Emergency Decree in March 2008. He’s got water & beer torture. Security forces also used red pepper and sliced chilly to torture him. He was suffocated with plastic bag as well as kicked down. He was forced to admit he was a militant but released a month later as he was found to be innocent. “I was lucky to be alive” he said, adding “no feeling of revenge”. Narrathiwat 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Mr. Thira Minthrasak was a governor of Yala in August 2008. He was the only and ever muslim governor in the region as of visiting. He was replaced by the vice-governor Mr.Kritsada Bunrat in October 2009. Yala 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

Paramilitary forces in the town of Yala provinces. Yala 2008 (@ Lee Yu Kyung)

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