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I had hoped that the situation would be resolved in Bangkok before I left, but it was not to be. My original ticket scheduled me to leave Thailand on the 14th of May, but after the “Red Commander” was killed I decided that I should stay a few more days to see if the situation became clear in Bangkok. I guess I did not stay long enough for the final resolution, but then again, I am sure we have not seen the final resolution. I left for the states on the 18th.
I was drawn to the camp that the Red Shirt protesters had in Bangkok. I hate it when someone tells me not to go someplace; I always put that place on my list of places to visit. I walked through the camp every day, even when the government put it off limits. I would not have violated the curfew though as one does not want to go to jail in Thailand.
I hate it when a government lies as it is so obvious. So many people were killed and the government said that no one was shot without directly threatening the soldiers. The government said it only shot at people when they threatened the life of soldiers, but that was not the case. They were shooting just to keep the Red Shirts from building more tire barracades to enlarge the area where they might be free to move and demonstrate.
I was at a place near Lumpini Park where the government soldiers had a group of protestors and press/photographers pinned down. Each time they could see someone, they would shoot. I wish I had tried to record sound as there were explosions and shots every minute. I moved to a place where I thought I could take a photo down a street with my telephoto lens where soldiers were shooting in my direction. A Red Shirt monitor (for the lack of a better word) pushed me aside and showed me a bullet hole directly behind the place I had tried to reach. I was on my knees, keeping my head as low as possible, but the fresh bullet hole on the side of the counter made an indellable memory in my mind. The shot I got was not the one I wanted, but then again, I am here to describe it.
I was not really happy with the news media. Most of them were too afraid to be effective. They hid with their hard hats and bullet proof vests, and did not go the places they should have gone. Many times, they did not challenge the government positions enough (in their media). There is room for some very good investigative reporting there, but it must be done by someone with a BBC or a CNN organization behind them. Someone must challenge the Thai government. The news releases say over and over again that the soldiers are following rules of engagement. Either they are not following the rules of engagement, or the rules of engagement they are following are not the rules of engagement that the government has released.
To be fair, the Red Shirts were trying very hard to make the Army “lose it.” They were using sling-shots, throwing rocks, and using completely ineffective home made bombs. They would take spray-cans that used propane as a propellant and fixing a fuse to the top of the can with silicone. When they lit them, they would have maybe 15 seconds to throw the can. I was under a canopy with one man when I saw him pull out one of those home made bombs from a bag and he lit it. He panicked after he lit it; when he tried to throw it quickly it hit the tarp side of the canopy and bounced right at my feet. If it had gone off as intended, I would be dead, but it fizzled like bad fireworks. It shot off like a 4th of July rocket after an initial fizzle. At that moment, my guide, Nam, grabbed me and we rushed out a side entrance to the nearly empty street side shop we were standing in.
Nam took me to several locations where there was activity between the Red Shirts and the Army. We would go on the back of motor-scooters that they used. The Red Shirts were somewhat effective taking photographers and journalists to locations where they could get good shots. Andy, Nam and I traveled around together until Andy finally wandered away and we lost him.
To be brief, I will give a short description of the photos in the order they are in.