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Opinion article from the Bangkok Post – 20/05/2010

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This is going to be a long note, but I want my overseas friends to understand what has been happening here in Thailand.

I would like to present a case against the international media’s reporting on the situation in Thailand, particularly Bangkok.

Most of you will likely will be seeing only scenes of soldiers shooting or injured people being carried away on international TV channels for 30 seconds, but never get to know the background.

What if these protesters were in New York, Singapore, Tokyo or London?

The truth is, the Thai government has been too accommodating by withholding the use of force since the rally started two months ago (with the exception of the April 10 event, when the soldiers were ordered to move in without live ammunition and subsequently got slaughtered by unknown gunmen shooting from among the red shirt protesters).

The majority of us support the government in dealing with the terrorists hidden amongst the protesters. It held talks with the rally leaders and offered peace solutions to them 10 days ago.

The prime minister publicly urged the protesters to disperse for fear of violence created by the terrorists. But the plan wasn’t accepted.

So, it came time to block food and water supplies from entering the centre of the protest.

If the demonstrators were peaceful, they wouldn’t rush out to throw rocks, firecrackers and even bombs at the soldiers’ barricades — thus causing the soldiers to defend themselves by firing rubber bullets and live rounds.

It has been very frustrating for the law abiding citizens of Bangkok — we even voiced our dissatisfaction at the government for its failure to uphold the laws.

The situation was like Bangkok was being held for ransom. A lot of businesses got affected because it’s happening right in the middle of the major commercial area.

Again, think what your government would do if there were a large group of protesters blocking all traffic at Orchard Road in Singapore; Times Square in New York City; Ginza in Tokyo; or Knightsbridge in London. For two months.

They set up barricades to search through personal belongings of everyone travelling through the area.

Also think what your government would do if those protesters invaded a nearby hospital, causing doctors and nurses to evacuate patients — some of whom were newborn babies in incubators and those in ICU—to other hospitals.

And most important of all, think what would your government do if the protesters were found to have a large stockpile of M79 grenades, M16 and AK47 assault rifles.

Do you think your government would be as tolerant as the Thai government has till now been?

Reungvit Nandhabiwat is the owner of a business in Bangkok.

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