After the Bangkok Post had kindly called the protestors of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) “red rage” and “rural hordes,” I decided to pay a visit to the protest site on Monday, 15 March 2010. When I arrived at the UN building at around 16:30, a speaker announced that there would be a “people’s war.” However, the number of troops seemed insufficient for this purpose. Surely, the sight of all the people, who had turned much of Rajadamnoen Avenue into a huge market place, was impressive. Moreover, this gathering certainly was a great exercise in political identity building, education, participation, and empowerment. People even lined up with filled-in forms to have their pictures taken for a computerized database of UDD members. But if I had been the prime minister, I would not have been shaken.
Here are some pictures showing the everyday side of political mass mobilization.
Picture 1: People arriving in a pick-up truck.
Picture 2: Settling down on the pedestrian path of Rajadamnoen Avenue.
Picture 3: One of only two pictures of the king that I saw during my three-hour walk. Unlike the elite, including the PAD, the king seems to have little motivational or ideological importance for the UDD protestors, and they do not normally place their protests within the elite ideology of “Nation, Religion, and Monarchy,” making them a uniquely counter-hegemonic movement.
Picture 4: Surin province is entirely red.
Picture 5: I love Thaksin, and Thaksin loves us!
Picture 6: Let’s have a red dinner!
Picture 7: At Samart district still loves Thaksin–and Seh Daeng.
Picture 8: Grassroots power can expel the tyrant.
Picture 9: Historical parallels–1973 and 2009. Will the Bangkok middle class accept this appropriation of their iconic uprising against Thanom by the “rural hordes”?
Picture 10: The “people’s war” must be non-violent.
Picture 11: For those who can read German…
Picture 12: A local bus from Udorn Thani.
Picture 13: The protest as part of family life.
Picture 14: More protestors arrive at the Royal Plaza, which was used as the UDD’s parking lot.
Picture 15: Some red “song thaew” from Chiang Mai.
Picture 16: Asking the people of Bangkok for patience.
Picture 17: Government House was well protected.
Picture 18: Essential and not so essential stuff on sale for the Reds.
Picture 19: Reiterating nonviolence.
Picture 20: UDD guards on stand-by.
Picture 21: Our heroes on t-shirts.
Picture 22: Justice might be “universal”–but does this statement apply to Thailand?