What an Occupation Looks Like

The Red Shirts in Bangkok 2010

Though not a Red Shirt myself, I very much sympathised with many of their issues including the plight of the rural poor, the need for universal healthcare and proper enfranchisement in the Northern states. It was while under curfew in Bangkok that I wrote most of  The Sirisuk Declaration.  (see www.sirisuk.org

There were many extraordinary aspects of the Red Shirt occupation; the numbers that turned out, the high level of funding and the expertise of the (largely) working class participants who, having provided the labour and skills to build modern Krung Thep (Bangkok) over the past 20 years, soon built a comprehensive infrastructure for the occupation including their own radio station, health-care system, recycling and waste collection, food kitchens and restaurants, water supply, transportation and so-on – at one time they were even issuing passports. It must be said that I thoroughly disapproved of the Red Shirt leadership – particularly their lavish millionaire lifestyles: when the people were on the barricades defending the occupation Taksin was in Paris shopping at Louis Vuitton. As we know, the Red shirts won and Taksin’s sister, Ying-luck, is now Prime Minister.  I’m not at all hopeful that the Red Shirt revolution will change much but one can certainly empathise with the reasons for it. 

Below is a short piece of film taken from the corner of my street (Sukhumvit 71) when the Red Shirts entered the city  from the South East, turning the coner and heading north on Thanon Sukhumvit. Similar parades entered from other directions.

 

Below are some stills of the same parade from below Phra Kanong Skytrain station as I walked south down Sukhumvit.

At Phra Kanong BTS looking south down Sukhumvit 2010

At Phra Kanong BTS looking south down Sukhumvit 2010Looking across the street from southbound Thanon Sukhumvit near Phra Kanong BTS 2010

looking across the street from southbound Thanon Sukhumvit near Phra Kanong BTS

Looking across the street from southbound Thanon Sukhumvit near Phra Kanong BTS 2010

Turning east into Sukhumvit 71, both carriageways are taken up by the occupation forces entering the city 2010

Turning east into Sukhumvit 71, both carriageways are taken up by the occupation forces entering the city 2010

 Below, are some stills from outside the entrance to my apartment at Sirisuk on Sukhumvit 71. 

 
from Sirisuk Apartments looking east down Sukhumvit 71, 2010

From Sirisuk Apartments looking east down Sukhumvit 71, 2010

 

From Sirisuk Apartments looking west down Sukhumvit 71, 2010

From Sirisuk Apartments looking west down Sukhumvit 71, 2010

Typical pick up truck, one of several thousand that transported the occupation into the city, Sirisuk Apartments 2010

Typical pick up truck, one of several thousand that transported the occupation into the city, Sirisuk Apartments 2010

Below, I walked through this part of the camp every day on my way to AUA on Ratchadamri.

 
Entering the camp from Ratchadamri BTS looking south, 2010

Entering the camp from Ratchadamri BTS looking south, 2010

This one section of the occupation, above, stretched continuously for about 3 kilometres from Central Plaza to Rama IV, including a huge camp at Lumphini park of about 1 kilometre square.
 
Below, at night the truck blockade at the end of  Ratchadamri on Rama IV looking north into the park. Some nights, when the curfew was lifted, we were required to be searched by police at a checkpoint of razor-wire and bollards to get up onto the walkway from the station over to Silom where almost all the bars were closed for the duration.  I’m pleased to say the Blues Bar ‘Nomads’ remained open pretty much throughout. 
 
From Sala Daeng Station walkway looking north to the truck blockade and the Lumphini Park camp. 2010

From Sala Daeng station walkway looking north to the truck blockade and the Lumphini Park camp. 2010

 
 
Of course, the downside of any direct action is that there is often a confrontation between the protesters and the security forces. And though I do not condone any of the violence from either side, I was hugely impressed that both sides were amazingly restrained considering the pressures that were building up. Not that it’s any consolation to those killed and maimed in the fight that followed.
 
So while I support the occupations against the greed of the city and the cuts here in the UK, it’s important to know what it is one is hoping to change or achieve and the likely costs to peace, life and limb. Be careful what you wish for. I wish for reform – revolution is nearly always too high a price to pay for everyone.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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About Nick Nakorn

This is the blog of a concerned citizen.
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