Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who Kills the People?

The propaganda war over the bloody street clashes between the police and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is in full swing.

The two VCDs pictured above are being handed out at the various pro and anti government protests sites in Bangkok.

The top one in red is titled "Police Kill the People" (ตำรวจฆ่าประชาชน) and is PAD's view of the tragic events of October 7th.

The bottom VCD is called "PAD Kills the People" (พันธมิตรฆ่าประชาชน) and I received a copy while photographing Salang Bunnag's pro-government speech at Royal Plaza.

Both should NOT be watched if you are averse to the sight of violence, gruesome injuries, and death.

Both should NOT be watched if you are susceptible to believing one side or the other's propaganda.

But if you do want to see how each side is spinning the conflict, then you should really watch both.

What is clear from both - besides that they are both claiming to be the victims in the conflict - are two simple truths.

Thai police desperately need better equipment and training in non-lethal crowd control. They are, as many predicted before the violent clash, prone to violence and poorly trained.

The next truth is that the PAD leaders have whipped up their followers into a frenzied mob and have not simply allowed the violence but have specifically instigated violence. PAD has raised and nurtured an armed militia which is now beyond the capacity of the police and government to control.

PAD, of course, knows that when the police try to reign in the PAD's armed thugs, violence will ensue and will serve their purposes of delegitimizing the government.

Add into this volatile mix the above VCDs showing gruesome violence perpetrated by BOTH the police and PAD and it seems almost inescapable that further violence will erupt.

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