Sunday, January 9, 2011

PAD Protests & the Nuns of Santi Asoke

During the anti-government protest periods between 2006 - 2010 I found myself in the unique position of having to cross through the main protest sites for both Yellow and Red factions twice a day on my way to and from work. It was interesting to see the progression of events from peaceful protesters to mobs capable of violent action, arson and even murder.

Santi Asoke สันติอโศก © 2012 Michael LaPalme

Nuns of the Santi Asoke order patiently (and not so patiently) wait for the Abbot who was listening to the then anti-government PAD protests on the main stage blocking Ratchadamnoen Avenue in front of ESCAP,  the United Nations Compound in Bangkok.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

During the first phase of the initial 2008 PAD protests the main stage was set on Ratchadamnoen Avenue across from the ESCAP on the south side of the Makhawan Rangsan bridge. Later it was moved to the other side of the bridge until the protesters saw fit to occupy government house as well as both airports.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

A group of artists made came in front of the UN and used the ESCAP property as a showcase for their artwork.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

PAD 2008 anti-government protesters on Ratchadamnoen avenue before the violence began to escalate.

Civil Disobedience

The ranks of police in riot gear after the violence began to escalate.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

Police ranks momentarily push PAD protesters off the Makhawan bridge.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

From where I was standing I was not able to witness the "peaceful protesters" often mentioned in the official propaganda. I witnessed the protesters fighting back against the police with viscous intensity.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

This Royal Thai policeman pushed to far from the ranks and is seperated and beaten by the PAD protesters.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

The Royal Thai police were struggling to escape the repeated blows from the protesters.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

Noisy hand clappers became the preferred mechanism for amplifying the noise from the protesters. The red shirts responded with clappers in the shape of feet.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

Ranks of royalists promoting a coup against the democratically elected government. A small but extremely powerful constituency of about 60,000 people who occasionally have the power and influence to oust an elected government.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

The view looking towards Aree from ESCAP during the excerise which ousted the PAD protesters from the Makhawan bridge. The police retreated shortly after and the protesters re-occupied all areas that they had lost earlier in the day by that afternoon.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

The extremely large billboard prominently displayed in front of government house. His wife Khunying Pojaman filed for divorce soon after.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

The chaos at the Makhawan bridge resulted in a couple of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Some people lost limbs.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

Photos showing major moments during the protests for sale in front of government house on Pitsanoulok Road.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

The main PAD stage during their occupation of government house.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

There seems to be a lot of hostility between members of the establishment and the police.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

One of the many so called "Last Wars" promoted by the People's Alliance for Democracy. They have since had several more "Last War" campaigns since this photo was taken.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

Explosive fiery rhetoric from Somsak Kosaisuuk (สมศักดิ์ โกศัยสุข) a Thai union official and politician.

People's Alliance for Democracy - พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย © 2012 Michael LaPalme

One of the senior monks listens to the PAD morning show across from the Makhawan Rangsan bridge.

Santi Asoke สันติอโศก © 2012 Michael LaPalme



Closing off Parliament

In early October, PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang left the protest site to vote in the Bangkok governor elections. He was arrested by police after he left the voting booth and did not request bail. Fellow PAD leader Pallop Pinmanee noted that Chamlong intended to be arrested in order to increase attendance at the PAD's protests.

Thousands of PAD forces soon surrounded Parliament to prevent the Somchai government from announcing its policies to the legislature within 15 days of swearing in, as mandated by the Constitution. A police loudspeaker lorry ordered protesters to disperse and warned that teargas would be fired. At 6.00 am, 7 October 2008, police at Ratchawithi Road and Pichai Road shot a barrage of teargas grenades. Police clashed with protestors. Many were injured on both sides. Police made no effort to negotiate with the anti-government protesters. Eventually the doors to Parliament could be opened for the attending legislators. PAD forces later regrouped around Parliament and again blocked the gates. After the government had made its policy statement to the legislature, police again clashed with PAD forces so that the legislators could leave the building. Clashes continued into the night.

Several protesters lost hands and legs, although it was not clear whether these injuries were caused by tear gas rounds or the 'ping-pong' bombs. Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science Pornthip Rojanasunand used the GT200 explosive detection device to try to identify explosive residue on the protesters; not finding any, she concluded that faulty tear gas grenades caused the injuries. A PAD protestor, Angkhana Radappanyawut, was killed. Dr.Pornthip Rojanasunand suggested unequivocally that the death was caused by the explosion of a tear gas canister directly hitting the victim's body. She also stated that there was no need to conduct further investigations into the death and injuries of protesters because it became clear that they were caused by weapons of the police.

Afterwards, doctors from many major hospitals issued a statement, calling the counterattack actions of the Prime Minister and police "brutality", and refusing to provide medical care to police. The doctors claimed many field rescue workers, including doctors and nurses, were also attacked, and some were wounded. Doctor Suthep Kolcharnwit of the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Medicine, along with several doctors from Chulalongkorn Hospital, also refused to provide medical care to police injured in the clash, and urged doctors of other hospitals to boycott the police as well, although his actions were later disowned by the hospital and a case against him was filed with the Medical Council's ethics committee.

PAD vowed to file charges against the government and police.

On 8 October, Queen Sirikit attended the cremation of one of the killed PAD protesters.   Source

Santi Asoke - Wikipedia:


The Santi Asoke ((Pali) (Thai: สันติอโศก (อะโศก)) literally Peaceful Asoke) sect of Theravada Buddhism was established by a former television entertainer and songwriter Phra Bodhirakafter he "declared independence from the Ecclesiastical Council in 1975".[1] He had originally ordained within a monastery recognized by the Thai Sangha, but soon left with a small following in order to create this heterodox group, which he sees as a mixture of both Therevada and Mahayana Buddhism. Described by Donald Swearer as “a radical sectarian movement” that “reflects the forest tradition’s ideals of simplicity,” the tradition also claimed an early influence from Buddhadasa, which it later rejected. Source


People's Alliance for Democracy - Wikipedia



The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) (Thaiพันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย) also called the National Liberation Alliance - กลุ่มพันธมิตรกู้ชาติ or the Yellow Shirts - เสื้อเหลือง - was originally a coalition of protesters against Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand.[1] Its leaders include media-mogul Sondhi Limthongkul and Major General Chamlong Srimuang. The PAD was a chief player in the Thailand political crisis of 2005 to 2006, the 2008 crisis, and the Cambodian–Thai border stand-off. The PAD consists of mainly of middle and upper-class Bangkokians and Southerners of all classes, supported by the conservative factions of theThai Army, some leaders of Democrat Party, and members of state-enterprise labor unions.[2][3] Two days after a military junta's 2006 military coup overthrew Thaksin's interim government, the PAD voluntarily dissolved after announcing that its goals had been accomplished. Source


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