Bangkok Protests (Red Shirts vs. Government)

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

Thai political tensions are flaring up again. At the end of last year, yellow-shirted protesters flooded Bangkok trying to force the resignation of the then-current government which had the support of former prime minister Thaksin and the red-shirt protesters. The yellow-shirts succeeded and now that a yellow-shirt supported government is in power, the red-shirted pro-Thaksin protesters have taken to the streets trying to get the now current government to resign. Confused yet? I am. Here is a video from YouTube to give you a little bit of the flavor of what's currently going on in Bangkok. There is no explanation of the images in the video unforunately, but I can tell you that the first segment is the red-shirt protesters trashing cars at the Interior Ministry, including one car in the Prime Minister's motocade. The situation is constantly changing so, see the Bangkok Post website for the latest. CNN also has an article giving the recent background and possible outcomes of the current situation. We are following the events through our local Thai TV news and the Bangkok Post Breaking News RSS feed.

For those who are not familiar with Thai geography, our family is not near the situation in Bangkok, as we live two hours distant in the town of Phra Phutthabat, Saraburi province. We do, however, know many people who do live in Bangkok much closer to the current events.

The history of democracy in Thailand is extremely complicated, filled with coup d'etats, new constitutions, and changes of power through means that not everyone would call democratic. For language study, I am currently reading a Thai novel about the history of democracy in Thailand. It is a historical fiction book which follows the (fictional) lives of two men, one a policeman, one a revolutionary turned bandit, through the convulsions of the development of democracy in Thailand from its inception in 1932 through to the early 1990s (Thai edition: ประชาธิปไตยบนเส้นขนาน / English edition: Democracy, Shaken and Stirred). I am finding this book to be particularly fascinating as it helps me to get a bigger picture of what's going on in Thai politics, especially the years of background that have contributed to the ongoing political situation. The author provides an appendix at the end of the book informing the reader which characters were fictional and which were real, which is helpful. Lots of information but done in a really interesting format with plenty of action and dialogue, making it far more interesting than a history text book. I doubt that reading this book will help me to "figure out" who are the good guys and the bad guys in Thai politics (as if were that clear) but at the very least, I expect that reading this novel will give me greater insight into the expectations, trials, hopes, disappointments, and attitudes of Thai people towards their leaders and towards the political process in general.

The more that I can understand people and their situation, the more I would hope to be able to speak the Gospel with accuracy and appropriacy into their lives. Looking at the Gospels, it seems that Jesus always knew people's starting point and worked from there in applying the truth that they needed, whether it be a word of rebuke for self-righteous Pharisees or a word of forgiveness and healing for a crippled outcast.


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