Situated Nonviolence : Reflection from April Insurrection in Bangkok

This hottest summer is very terrible for Thai people as the turbulence in Bangkok and Pattaya during 12-14 April 2009. On April 12, the red-shirt group invaded into the hotel that was holding ASEAN summit at Pattaya, and in the afternoon, they crazily hit the PM’s car. On April 13, there was a bloody clash at Din Daeng junction between the soldiers and the red-shirt group in the early morning. There were also Bangkok-wide insurrection, including :

  1. driving the gas-truck into the clashed area to protect mob-dissolving by the soldiers again;
  2. blocking the train from getting into/out from Bangkok Railway Station;
  3. firing many buses in many areas of Bangkok, and etc.

The situation seem then spiral to be the confrontation between the local communities and the red-shirt groups, at least in 3 area :

  1. Din Daeng community, since the local people were afraid of the gas-truck brought by the red-shirt groups might be getting bomb;
  2. the muslim community at the 7th Petchaburi Lane, since the red-shirt group shot their mosque; and
  3. the Nang Lurng community, since two villagers died by the red-shirt group’s gun.

Then, since the afternoon of Apr 13, the government began to use the force (and gun with ‘paper-head bullet’) to drive, area by area, the red-shirt group that spread out around Bangkok, back into the Government House, which is the central base of red-shirt protesters. At the noon of Apr 14, finally, the leader of red-shirt group declared to dissolve the demonstration claiming to protect the protester’s safety, and then walked out from the protested area to surrender to the police. The crisis was ceased, at least for weeks or months, but not ended, because it left a lot of social wound among the people and ambiguities about justification of violence both from state and the red-shirt protesters.

[for the chronology of red-shirt revolted, click here]

A man lived nearby Government House tried to stop the fire on the bus burnt by red-shirt group (Reuters/Daylife.com)

A man lived nearby Government House tried to stop the fire on the bus burnt by red-shirt group (Reuters/Daylife.com)

************************

During the turbulence described above, I found that since Apr 12 until Apr 13 morning, the government, police and army were still not be able to decide about how to deal with the situation (the armored cars were driven out to the road, but were took by the red-shirt groups). One reason they could not decide was because Thai public might against them if they use violence with the people (though there were some people tend to demand the state to use violence).

While in the civil society sector, two leading public intellectuals (including Chaiwat Satha-Anand), during they were interviewed in the Thai PBS, proposed for dissolving the parliament and releasing a leader of red-shirt group (which was arrested after invading into ASEAN summit meeting) to reduce the violence condition. Another day, a group of five nonviolence and human-rights activists went to Thai PBS to demand and insist every sector to hold the nonviolent measure in dealing with the situation.

All of them tried best to propose the nonviolent solution and to prevent the violent confrontation. However, I found in their action, that their proposal and discussion were not sound and can not convince Thai public, since it’s not practical (the recommendation for dissolving the parliament was the most practical, but I ‘feel’ that there should be better alternatives). Therefore, from such situation, I realized that Thailand may have not enough practical knowledge or ideas about what I would call ‘Situated Nonviolence’ for both state agency and for the people in dealing with such violent insurrection.

So I think Thai society should develop something like ‘nonviolent tool-box’ which might be a package of practical knowledge containing a number of nonviolent choices in dealing with various kinds of violent situation. This would increase the idea and imagine boundary of Thai people to believe that there are practical nonviolent measures that are workable in the real situation or in the crisis, not just in theories or textbooks.

I think there would be a lot of such kind of experience around the world, but I don’t know if there is any people study this topic or collect such kind of knowledge. Any recommendation about where I can found this kind of knowledge or study on this topic?’

2 Responses to Situated Nonviolence : Reflection from April Insurrection in Bangkok

  1. U-Tapao Airfield, in addition known as Pattaya Airport, is located only 30km off Pattaya. Because the airfield or airport, whatever you call it, has been granted international status recently.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: