Sunday, October 12, 2008

What happened on 7/10/2008?

*Photo copyright*

Police with the controversial tear gas guns at Government House, Oct, 2008

A really interesting firsthand account of the PAD clash with police has emerged over at New Mandala by photographer Nick Hostitz.

"There is now a discussion about excessive force by police, and of course the use of teargas. From what I saw, I believe that the police had no other choice. Blame it on the miserable police budget that they had no less lethal teargas grenades, but not on the police officers on the ground that day."

"In this showdown PAD has used lethal force and if the police did not use teargas then this situation would have degenerated to hand-to-hand combat. And that, I am sure, would have cost many people their lives, on both sides. PAD had a few handguns, one or two police officers have been stabbed by flag poles. So, one would not like to imagine what would have happened if there was not the distance between the sides created by the teargas grenades. I doubt that any police officer intended to maim anybody but this day was a day of very few choices."

The full article with some great photos can be found here What Happened on 7/10/2008?

In addition, the Foreign Correspondents Club Thailand is hosting two programs covering the crisis:

Program #1
Thailand's Political Crisis:
Whose Human Rights?

Senator Monthian Buntan
Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree

Photojournalist Slide Show:
"What Happened on October 7, 2008?" by Nick Nostitz

October 7 photo 1

October 7 photo 2
More October 7 photos by Nick Nostitz are at:

Wednesday, October 15 at 8:00 pm
with buffet dinner at 7:00 pm
(Please see pricing and reservation procedure below)

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) attempted to block the country's representatives from meeting in Parliament on October 7, prompting police to fire tear gas at protesters to clear a way for lawmakers to access the building. From morning to night, police battled with demonstrators, some of whom carried clubs, iron bars and even guns, until they retreated to their base at Government House. Two were killed in the fighting and more than 470 others were injured, including about a dozen people with limbs blown off. Protesters accuse the police of using excessive force, while police deny using heavy explosives and retort that the demonstrators were hardly peace-loving democracy activists. The clashes have pushed the government to the brink yet again, with former army chief Chavalit Yongchaiyudh -- appointed to the cabinet less than a month ago -- abruptly quitting and calling for a coup.

The violent events last week have raised a number of key questions about the "rule of law" and "human rights" in Thailand. When is it appropriate for police to take action to disperse crowds? Can protesters still be considered peaceful if they carry weapons and violate the constitution? What about the human rights of voters who support the ruling party?

Program #2
Thailand in Crisis:
The Thai Media's Perspective

The Nation front page

Tuesday, October 21, at 8:00 pm
with buffet dinner at 7:00 pm
(Please see pricing and reservation procedure below)

Hours after police fired tear gas on protesters on October 7, The Nation website had a large photo montage titled "Black October." The banner headline immediately recalled the street violence in 1973 and 1992 that took down governments. Other papers similarly pilloried police measures against protesters, whose use of satellite television channel ASTV, owned by protest leader Sondhi Limthongkul, has helped strengthen their movement.

What role is Thailand's media playing in the current crisis? Have they been biased toward the government or protesters? What values are shaping their coverage of events? How does the local media view foreign coverage of what is taking place?

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