Tuesday saw an end to the violent demonstrations that have gripped the country for the past few days. The already reduced group of 2,000 surrounding Government House have packed up and gone home to celebrate Songkran with their families. Overnight fighting resulted in the deaths of two people after protesters clashed with residents angry over the disruption. And at the end of the day 123 people were injured.
Despite their apparent defeat by the military _ a usually ineffectual bunch who used “soft” means to quell the unrest _ protest leaders have vowed to keep on fighting to force the prime minister’s resignation. It is likely they will regroup at some point and take to the streets again, but the red-shirts hold very little sympathy from the Thai public after plunging their city into chaos.
The turmoil does have an upside _ for Thais. The Buddhist New Year holiday has been extended to give authorities time to ensure the safety of citizens in the capital and to clean up the piles of burnt tires that have littered the city. It’s not such an advantage for expats such as myself, who have to continue to work during this time. We also suffer the inconvenience of getting sprayed by happy revelers while getting lunch in your work clothes and of having to function normally while many shops and services are closed.
But I’m not complaining too much. The holiday has kept smiles on the faces of so many in the midst of so much unrest. And I will not be left out! I plan to put on my dingiest clothing tonight, purchase a $3 super-soaker and get everyone who got me. Look out.