18 September 2021

Specter

Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
Specter
A new exhibition marking the 45th anniversary of the 6th October 1976 massacre opened today at Angoon’s Garden in Bangkok. Specter (ปีศาจ), organised by the protest movement Thalu Fah, runs until 14th October. Its full title, ปีศาจแห่งกาลเวลา (‘devil of time’), comes from a novel by Seni Sawaphong. Like last year’s Unmuted Project, Specter includes some risqué artworks, and its opening was monitored by the police.

Most provocatively, a crown has been added to Gustav Corbet’s L’Origine du monde (‘the origin of the world’), turning Corbet’s painting into a pejorative (‘cuntface’). To avoid official scrutiny, the work is signed with a pseudonym, Luckyleg. The same anonymous artist also created portraits of protest leaders including Panusaya Sithjirawattanakul (who attended the opening) and Arnon Nampa.

Figures from Neal Ulevich’s iconic 6th October photograph inspired many of the artworks, including paintings of the hanging corpse, the man wielding the chair, and the laughing boy. Another 6th October press photo is exhibited on the floor, and a mannequin and folding chair are suspended from a tree. There is also a small painting of Choomporn Thummai and Vichai Kasripongsa, the two men whose extrajudicial hangings precipitated the 6th October massacre.

17 September 2021

New Abnormal

New Abnormal
New Abnormal
In a series of static shots and long takes, Sorayos Prapapan’s satirical short film New Abnormal (ผิดปกติใหม่) takes aim at Prayut Chan-o-cha and his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. (Apichatpong Weerasethakul has also drawn attention to the issue, in a speech at the Cannes Film Festival.) In one sequence, a paramedic reveals the scale of the problem: “It’s already mid-2021, our country’s people is still only less than 10% vaccinated.” Sadly and shamefully, the statistic is accurate.

Another scene eavesdrops on a meeting between Prayut, deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, and a civil servant. When the bureaucrat asks about bailouts for businesses affected by the lockdown, an irritable Prayut barks back: “Why do you always hand me problems? It’s tiring enough acting as Prime Minister, you know!” Meanwhile, Prawit remains slumped in his chair, fast asleep (as is often the case in parliament). Prayut is played by Phayao Nimma, who also portrayed the PM in The Cave (นางนอน); in the credits, he’s described as “Stupid Prime minister who did coup” [sic].

The film ends with a recreation of an anti-government protest (on a small scale, given the low budget), which is dispersed by riot police with water cannon, tear gas, and rubber bullets (the latter heard but not seen). In the last shot, wisps of tear gas swirl slowly around a solitary rubber duck. The end-credits song is an anti-government anthem based on the Hamtaro (とっとこハム太郎) anime theme tune.

Sorayos’s equally satirical Prelude of the Moving Zoo premiered at ANIMAL KINgDOM last year, as did his documentary Yellow Duck Against Dictatorship. His parody Dossier of the Dossier (เอกสารประกอบการตัดสินใจ) was shown at the 30th Singapore International Film Festival, and his comedy Auntie Maam Has Never Had a Passport (ดาวอินดี้) played at the 18th Thai Short Film and Video Festival.

11 September 2021

Pink Man Story

Pink Man Story
Pink Man Story is a lavish and complete retrospective of Manit Sriwanichpoom’s long-running Pink Man (พิ้งค์แมน) series, photographs featuring the incongruous figure of Sompong Tawee in a bright pink suit, a symbol of consumerism and superficiality. A small exhibition of Pink Man photos was due to be held at BACC earlier this year, though it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the group exhibition History and Memory (ประวัติศาสตร์ และ ความทรงจำ), Manit created Horror in Pink (ปีศาจสีชมพู), digitally inserting Sompong into news photographs of three Thai massacres. In the exhibition catalogue, Manit explained that he was inspired by the inexplicable election of Samak Sundaravej, and his artist’s statement is reprinted in Pink Man Story: “Was this not the same Samak who back in October 1976 went on radio to urge that brute force be used against pro-democracy protesters, in the events that culminated in the most horrifying massacre in Bangkok history? I asked myself: Has everyone forgotten? Does ‘October 6’ mean nothing to us now?”

Pink Man Story includes a detailed analysis of Horror in Pink by art critic Iola Lenzi—A Man for Our Times—in which she discusses the “historical amnesia” that inspired the series. It also reprints Ing Kanjanavanit’s essay Poses from Dreamland (ท่าโพส จากแดน ช่างฝัน), which was first published in the catalogue for Manit’s Phenomena and Prophecies (ท้าและทาย) exhibition. (Ing’s essay has been somewhat over-edited in Pink Man Story: its first page is mistakenly printed twice, and half of the original text has been removed.)

04 September 2021

Wildtype 2021

Wildtype 2021
Official Trailer
Rajprasong
Prelude of the Moving Zoo
The Bangkok Bourgeois Party
Please... See Us
Wildtype 2021, a weekend of film screenings curated by Wiwat Lertwiwatwongsa, takes place today and tomorrow on YouTube. The screenings will also be shown at Ar(t)cade, a venue at the Arcade Market in Phayao. Both days include Politix, a selection of short films commenting on Thai political events.

This evening’s Politix strand begins with Veerapong Soontornchattrawat’s Official Trailer (อนุสรณ์สถาน), which intercuts footage of the 6th October 1976 massacre with clips from Love Destiny (บุพเพสันนิวาส), a popular historical lakorn. This is followed by a film referencing another massacre: Nil Paksnavin’s Rajprasong (ราชประสงค์), which ends with a black screen and the jolting sound of eighty-seven gunshots, representing the victims of the 2010 military crackdown in downtown Bangkok. (Rajprasong was previously shown at Histoire(s) du thai cinéma, another two-day film event programmed by Wiwat.)

The highlight of the evening is a more recent film, Sorayos Prapapan’s Prelude of the Moving Zoo, which begins subversively with a cylinder recording of the royal anthem, accompanied by footage of penguins seemingly standing to attention. (It was previously shown at ANIMAL KINgDOM, also programmed by Wiwat; and it was selected for the 24th Short Film and Video Festival.)

Wildtype concludes tomorrow, and the second Politix strand includes Prap Boonpan’s The Bangkok Bourgeois Party (ความลักลั่นของงานรื่นเริง), in which a group of yellow-shirted Bangkokians murder a man merely because he disagrees with their ideology. Less than a year after it was first shown, this dystopian satire became a reality when Narongsak Krobtaisong was beaten to death by PAD guards in 2008.

Chaweng Chaiawan’s Please... See Us, which highlights the displacement of ethnic minorities, will also be shown tomorrow. This new film includes an extended sequence in which a pig is killed and dismembered, the helpless animal being a metaphor for the plight of ethnic minorities in Thailand. It will also be shown later this month as part of Signes de Nuit, hosted by Documentary Club.

I Alone Can Fix It

I Alone Can Fix It
Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker’s I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year is billed as “the definitive behind-the-scenes story of Trump’s final year in office.” With much-anticipated Trump books from Bob Woodward (Peril) and Maggie Haberman around the corner, it’s too early to judge I Alone Can Fix It as definitive, but it is a chilling and authoritative account of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the 6th January storming of the Capitol.

Just in case readers were in any doubt as to the authors’ position on Trump, the prologue itemises his flaws: “He displayed his ignorance, his rash temper, his pettiness and pique, his malice and cruelty, his utter absence of empathy, his narcissism, his transgressive personality, his disloyalty, his sense of victimhood, his addiction to television, his suspicion and silencing of experts, and his deception and lies.” (To which I would add: his undermining of institutions.)

Surprisingly, though, there are moments early in the COVID-19 crisis when Trump said and did the right things. In a 7th February 2020 call to President Xi, he pressed for US access to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (“All you have to do is issue the visas and they’ll be there”); and in an 11th March 2020 meeting, he recognised the need for a ban on travel from Europe (“We can’t get these lives back. We can make the money back. We’ve got to shut it down”). (These events were also covered, in less detail, in Woodward’s Rage, though according to Woodward, the Xi call took place a day earlier.)

Like Leonnig and Rucker’s previous book, A Very Stable Genius, I Alone Can Fix It’s ironic title is taken from a typically braggadocious Trump quote. Trump declined an interview request for that earlier book and, as the authors explain, he “attacked us personally and branded our reporting a work of fiction.” Consistently inconsistent, Trump then readily agreed to an interview for the second book, wining and dining the authors at Mar-a-Lago. (“For some sick reason, I enjoyed it”, he tells them after the interview, which appears in the book’s epilogue.)

Most of the other sources are quoted anonymously, though it’s clear that Trump campaign manager Chris Christie and former Attorney General William Barr were among the major sources. A self-serving Christie portrays himself as the voice of reason, as he did in A Very Stable Genius, here contrasting his advice to Trump with Rudy Giuliani’s wild conspiracy theories.

The most extraordinary quotes are those attributed to Mark Milley, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who apparently “saw parallels between Trump’s rhetoric of election fraud and Adolf Hitler’s insistence to his followers at the Nuremberg rallies that he was both a victim and their savior.” Astonishingly, Milley describes Trump’s undermining of the election as “The gospel of the Führer.”

Aside from A Very Stable Genius and Rage, I Alone Can Fix It is one of a dozen Trump books reviewed here during and after his presidency. The others are: Fear, Fire and Fury, Inside Trump’s White House, The United States of Trump, Trump’s Enemies, The Trump White House, Too Much and Never Enough, The Room Where It Happened, Team of Five, American Carnage, and The Cost.

02 September 2021

A Minor History

A Minor History
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new exhibition A Minor History (ประวัติศาสตร์กระจ้อยร่อย) opened yesterday at 100 Tonson Foundation in Bangkok. The work is a video triptych, filmed at a derelict cinema in Kalasin and other locations along the Mekong river. Apichatpong has previously written of his attachment to stand-alone cinemas in an essay for Unknown Forces (สัตว์วิกาล), reprinted with an English translation in Once Upon a Celluloid Planet (สวรรค์ 35 มม). The Mekong directly inspired his films Mekong Hotel (แม่โขงโฮเต็ล) and Cactus River (โขงแล้งนำ), though he has also filmed numerous other projects in the region.

A Minor History also includes a short story in text form, which describes a dream featuring Patiwat Saraiyaem (using his nickname, Bank). Patiwat is an actor and mor lam singer who was jailed for his performance in the play เจ้าสาวหมาป่า (‘the wolf bride’) and was subjected to further lèse-majesté charges after he took part in an anti-government protest on 19th September last year. He previously appeared in Apichatpong’s segment of the portmanteau film Ten Years Thailand, and Wittawat Tongkeaw recently painted his portrait, titled The Unforgiven Blues (หมอลำแบงค์).

A Minor History was originally scheduled to open on 19th August, though it was delayed due to the coronavirus lockdown. Attendance is currently by appointment only, again due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the exhibition will close on 14th November. A second phase opens on 25th November, and runs until 27th February next year. 100 Tonson, previously a commercial gallery, became a non-profit foundation last year.

01 September 2021

Snap

Snap
Snap
In Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s Snap, released in 2015, a high school reunion rekindles an old romance, and the film trades heavily on Millennial nostalgia, though—as in Kongdej’s other films—there is also a political undercurrent in the background. News of the 2014 coup is mediated through newspapers (a man reading the Bangkok Post, with a headline about martial law) and television (the female lead doing her ironing while the coup announcement is broadcast). Likewise, Kongdej’s Sayew (สยิว) begins with a radio news report on the ‘Black May’ massacre, and his Tang Wong (ตั้งวง) is punctuated by TV news updates on the red-shirt protests, making him one of the few mainstream genre directors whose films address Thailand’s political crises.

18 August 2021

ในดินแดนวิปลาส

Democracy Monument
ในดินแดนวิปลาส: บันทึกบาดแผลสามัญชนบนโลกคู่ขนาน (‘in the land of madness: recording the wounds of ordinary people in parallel worlds’) was written by a female journalist who has covered the legal persecution of anti-coup activists, including various high-profile lèse-majesté cases. Like ห้องเช่าหมายเลข 112 (‘room number 112’), her book tells the human stories behind the headlines. The author is credited pseudonymously as รัช, a contranym meaning both ‘king’ and ‘dust’ (a subversive reference to ‘dust under the feet’, a Thai phrase emphasising the subservient position of subjects in relation to their monarch).

The cover illustration (also credited to a pseudonym, La Orng) shows a chess piece (the king) and Democracy Monument on opposite sides of the scales of justice, with the scales tipped in favour of the king. The journal Read (อ่าน) made the same point with infographics in its January-March 2013 issue. On the ในดินแดนวิปลาส cover, Democracy Monument is splattered with blood, and today Thalu Fah protesters draped body bags with fake blood over it, symbolising the unvaccinated victims of the coronavirus pandemic (as photographed by Voice TV).

Images of Democracy Monument have been used to make similar political statements on other book covers. Wad Rawee’s การเมืองโมเบียส (‘Möbius politics’) depicts it as a military complex in a dystopian future, Jakkapan Kangwan’s Altai Villa (อัลไตวิลล่า) shows it under construction—as does the June 2012 issue of Sarakadee (สำรคดี) magazine—and on the cover of Sulak Sivaraksa’s หกทศวรรษประชาธิปไตย (‘six decades of democracy’), it is represented as a jigsaw with one piece (containing the constitution) missing.

เหมือนบอดใบ้ไพร่ฟ้ามาสุดทาง

Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa was the first anti-government protester to call for reform of the monarchy, at a rally in 2020. He was arrested earlier this month, following a speech marking the first anniversary of that event. His portrait was painted by Witawat Tongkeaw, who dubbed him Captain Justice (ทนายอานนท์).

Arnon published a booklet outlining his proposals for a truly constitutional monarchy, สถาบันพระมหากษัตริย์กับสังคมไทย, and he cowrote a booklet with a manifesto for monarchy reform, ปรากฏการณ์สะท้านฟ้า 10 สิงหา. They have recently been translated into English by PEN International online, as The Monarchy and Thai Society and The Day the Sky Trembled, respectively.

Arnon’s first book, however, was a poetry collection published in 2011. One poem, เหมือนบอดใบ้ไพร่ฟ้ามาสุดทาง (‘we subjects, as if mute and blind, have found ourselves at the end of the line’) also provided the title of the collection. It describes the legal persecution that followed the 2010 Ratchaprasong massacre, when red-shirt activists were charged with arson.

Arnon defended many of the accused, and the poem highlights the injustice of their trials. It concludes with a call to arms, which was eventually answered last year when the student-led anti-government protests began in earnest:

“So the law has turned to the rule of dogs;
We subjects, as if mute and blind,
Have found ourselves at the end of the line:
Submit or die—no other way.

History must be written in lives
To get the wheel of time unstuck;
Fly the red flag, friends, show your pluck:
Revolt! Bring down the robber regime!”

The book’s cover, by Kullawat Kanjanasoontree, reimagines Picasso’s Guernica as a depiction of the 2010 massacre. It was included in the Art for Freedom (ศิลปะเพื่อเสรีภาพ) exhibition at the Pridi Banomyong Institute in 2013, under the same title as the book and with an alternate English translation, As Blind as the Dead End. The Sanam Ratsadon website features two poems from the collection, newly translated by Peera Songkünnatham.

17 August 2021

“พบกระสุนปืนค้างอยู่บริเวณก้านสมอง”

Rajavithi Hospital
Yesterday, after the 9pm coronavirus curfew, clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters continued at Sam Liam Din Daeng in Bangkok. Police deployed rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannon to disperse the protesters, as they have on an almost daily basis throughout this month (most recently on 15th August). Last night, however, police at Din Daeng also fired live ammunition, shooting at least two people.

One of the victims, a boy aged only 15, was hit in the neck. He is currently in a coma at Rajavithi Hospital, and the hospital issued a written statement this morning to confirm that they had discovered a bullet lodged in his brain stem (“พบกระสุนปืนค้างอยู่บริเวณก้านสมอง”). When the statement was issued, his name and age were not known, though he was identified by his mother this afternoon.

Late last night, Din Daeng Police denied using live ammunition. This morning, they claimed that live rounds were fired by an unknown civilian, though there is no evidence of any such assailant. Live bullets were last deployed by police in Bangkok on 18th February 2014, after PDRC protesters fired at them. Abhisit Vejjajiva directed the army to use live ammunition against red-shirt protesters in April and May 2010, leading to the deaths of almost 90 people.

15 August 2021

“We will not try to defeat riot police.
We will defeat General Prayut.”

Voice TV
Riot police have fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Bangkok for the fourth time this week. As on previous occasions, this evening’s clashes took place at Sam Liam Din Daeng, when protesters were blocked by shipping containers from reaching Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence. A relatively small group of protesters threw small explosives (including fireworks, as photographed by Voice TV) at police, who deployed rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannon to disperse them.

Today’s main rally was a Car Mob event organised by Sombat Boonngamanong and red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, though the stragglers at Din Daeng were not part of this event. Once clashes between demonstrators and police began, Nattawut left the Car Mob to urge the protesters to leave, saying: “We will not try to defeat riot police. We will defeat General Prayut.” Riot police also fired rubber bullets at the same spot on 10th, 11th, and 13th August, and they have now been used on ten occasions this year.

14 August 2021

Thalu Fah

For King and Country
Riot police have fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Bangkok for the third time this week. On all three occasions—10th, 11th, and 13th August—protesters gathered in the afternoon at Victory Monument before marching towards Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence on Vipavadee Rangsit Road. With access blocked by shipping containers at Sam Liam Din Deang, the protesters threw firecrackers, while riot police used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them.

Yesterday’s protest was organised by Thalu Fah. Although the rally officially ended shortly after 5pm, some stragglers remained and fought street battles with riot police. They also burnt a police booth at nearby Ratchathewi. Again, these events were a carbon copy of those on 10th and 11th August.

One protest leader, Tanat Thanakitamnuay, was hit in the eye by a rubber bullet. In 2010, he drove his Porsche into a crowd of red-shirt protesters, though he recently switched sides and joined the anti-Prayut movement. He appeared in the 2014 Vice News documentary For King and Country, which followed him and his fellow overprivileged, spoilt young royalists as they drove around aimlessly in their supercars.

13 August 2021

“Mike Lindell is begging to be sued...”

Dominion Voting Systems has filed defamation charges against right-wing cable TV channel One America News and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell. The lawsuit, filed on 10th August, seeks $1.6 billion in damages for “false and manufactured stories about election fraud.” (An egregious example is ‘Dominion-izing’ the Vote, a segment first broadcast by OAN on 21st November last year.)

OAN also broadcast Lindell’s ‘documentary’ Absolute Proof, which was deleted by social media platforms as it contains so much misinformation about the 2020 US election results. Dominion spokesman Michael Steel told CNN in February that “Mike Lindell is begging to be sued, and at some point we may well oblige him.”

Dominion has previously sued Fox News, which broadcast equally absurd claims of election fraud. Another voting technology company, Smartmatic, has also sued Fox. Donald Trump continues to repeat lies about election fraud fed to him by Fox and OAN. The ultimate impact of such dangerous misinformation came on 6th January when Trump incited a riot at the US Capitol.

12 August 2021

ไอเหี้ย... ฆาตกร

LAND OF COMPROMISE
This afternoon, Thai rapper Elevenfinger released his new single, ไอเหี้ย... ฆาตกร. The title, which translates as ‘fucking... murderer’, is typically confrontational: his last single was called เผด็จกวยหัวคาน (‘get rid of the dickhead’). The music videos for both singles were filmed at recent anti-government protests, and the ไอเหี้ย... video shows riot police deploying rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannon against protesters.

The song’s target is not named directly, though it was released at precisely 1:12pm and it includes the ironic caption “LAND OF COMPROMISE”. The title of Anuwat Apimukmongkon’s exhibition A Blue Man in the Land of Compromise and the lyrics of a single by Paeng Surachet—“ประนีประนอมได้ไหม ไม่ compromise นะถ้าทำตัวเเบบนี้” (‘Can we compromise? No, I won’t compromise if you behave this way’)—refer to the same quote.

The final line of ไอเหี้ย... is the most provocative, with the artist insisting that he will not be a slave to someone who starves people of food and resources. Elevenfinger has also released a new album on CD, No God, No King, Only Humans (ไม่มีพระเจ้า ไม่มีกษัตริย์ มีแค่เพียง มนุษย์ เท่านั้น).

11 August 2021

Thalu Fah

Yet again, riot police have fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Bangkok, for the fourth time in less than a fortnight. This afternoon, protesters gathered at Victory Monument, where they threw paint at police. Rubber bullets and tear gas were used to disperse the crowd, some of whom attempted to march to Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence on Viphavadi Rangsit Road. The road was blocked by shipping containers, and the protesters set fire to a police truck at the Sam Liam Din Daeng intersection nearby.

The rally was organised by Thalu Fah, a protest group led by Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, who was the first person to be convicted of lèse-majesté during the reign of King Rama X. Rap Against Dictatorship’s single Ta Lu Fah (ทะลุฟ้า) was named after the group (using an alternate spelling). Jatupat was arrested along with eight other protest leaders a few days ago, and they were all denied bail.

The use of rubber bullets by riot police is now becoming a daily occurrence. Today’s events were a repeat of yesterday’s, and rubber bullets were also deployed at six previous rallies this year, on 28th February, 20th March, 2nd May, 18th July, 1st August, and 7th August.

10 August 2021

#ม็อบ10สิงหา

Free Youth
Riot police have fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters in Bangkok for the third time this month. This afternoon, several hundred protesters gathered at the Sam Liam Din Daeng intersection, and set light to a police booth. Riot police responded with rubber bullets, water cannon, and tear gas. Some of the protesters retreated to Victory Monument, where another police booth was burnt down. They also threw rocks and firecrackers at police.

Elsewhere in Bangkok, a protester splashed pig’s blood onto a sign at Sino-Thai Tower, headquarters of Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction (seen in this photograph by protest group Thalu Fah). Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who has been accused of corruption and incompetence, is a former president of the company. Blood was also used by protesters a decade ago, when it was poured onto the ground outside Government House and used to paint a banner at Democracy Monument.

Clearly, the government has no interest in negotiating with the protest leaders, most of whom are currently being detained without bail. Instead, rubber bullets are now deployed by riot police as standard practice rather than as a last resort. They were used at six previous rallies this year, on 28th February, 20th March, 2nd May, 18th July, 1st August, and 7th August.

Such is the frequency of the anti-government rallies that protesters and the media use daily hashtags to describe them. Today’s hashtag is #ม็อบ10สิงหา (‘mob 10th Aug.’), a significant date as it marks the first anniversary of Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul’s speech outlining the protesters’ ten-point manifesto for reform of the monarchy.

No God, No King, Only Humans

No God, No King, Only Humans
No God, No King, Only Humans
The young Thai rapper Elevenfinger has released an album on CD to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The lack of sufficient welfare support or vaccine provision from the government has left many Thais in dire straits, and Elevenfinger will donate the proceeds from No God, No King, Only Humans (ไม่มีพระเจ้า ไม่มีกษัตริย์ มีแค่เพียง มนุษย์ เท่านั้น) to his local community in Khlong Toei.

The album is limited to 100 copies, each signed by the artist. It includes his single เผด็จกวยหัวคาน (‘get rid of the dickhead’), a no-holds-barred condemnation of Prayut Chan-o-cha and others in authority.

รุ้ง

Rung
This morning, The Commoner released their new single, รุ้ง (‘rainbow’). The title is Panusaya Sithjirawattanakul’s nickname, and the song is a tribute to her on the first anniversary of her speech calling for reform of the monarchy. (Booklets that reprinted the speech were later seized by police.)

The song’s lyrics highlight the moment when Panusaya broke a longstanding taboo by reciting the protesters’ ten-point manifesto: “คืนที่รุ้งทลายเพดาน” (‘the night when Rainbow shattered the ceiling’). The music video is mostly animated, with drawings of yellow ducks (symbolising the protesters) and riot police. A monstrous spider, with a recognisable face, makes a brief appearance.

The band’s EP สามัญชน (‘commoner’) was released in 2019. Panusaya performed guest vocals on their single Commoner’s Anthem (บทเพลงของสามัญชน) earlier this year. She also appeared in Paeng Surachet’s music video กล้ามาก เก่งมาก ขอบใจ (‘very brave, very good, thank you’).

Today marks the first anniversary of her speech. On Monday, another core protest leader, Arnon Nampa, was charged with lèse-majesté following a speech he gave on 3rd August marking the first anniversary of a rally he organised. Arnon was denied bail, along with several other protest leaders (including Parit Chirawak and Panupong Jadnok) who were also arrested over the past few days.

07 August 2021

Free Youth

Free Youth
Riot police in Bangkok have fired rubber bullets at anti-government protesters for the second time this week. They also deployed tear gas and water cannon against the demonstrators, some of whom responded by throwing firecrackers. A police van was set on fire.

A rally organised by Free Youth was planned for this afternoon at Democracy Monument, though almost 6,000 riot police were stationed there to prevent protesters gathering in the area. Marches to the Grand Palace and Government House were called off, as both routes were blocked by shipping containers.

Instead, around 1,000 protesters assembled at Victory Monument and began marching towards Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence on Viphavadi Rangsit Road. Police blocked this route also, forcing the protesters to retreat back to Victory Monument. The nearby BTS SkyTrain station was closed, and photographs by Voice TV show police firing rubber bullets from the elevated station.

The use of tear gas, water cannon and even rubber bullets is now routine for Thai police, as their crowd-control measures have become increasingly and disproportionately violent. Rubber bullets were used only six days ago, and were deployed at four other rallies earlier this year, on 28th February, 20th March, 2nd May, and 18th July.

02 August 2021

Car Mob

Car Mob
Rap Against Dictatorship
Riot police in Bangkok have used rubber bullets against pro-democracy protesters for the fifth time this year. At yesterday’s Car Mob rally, protesters formed a convoy of cars and motorcycles, to maintain social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Similar demonstrations were held simultaneously in more than two dozen other provinces.

Early yesterday evening, after the protest ended, some stragglers remained near the Viphavadi Rangsit Road military barracks, and threw projectiles and firecrackers at police. Riot police deployed water cannon and tear gas to disperse them.

Rubber bullets were first used on 28th February against protesters on Viphavadi Rangsit Road, then on 20th March at Sanam Luang, and on 2nd May outside Bangkok’s Criminal Court. On 18th July, rubber bullets were used again, near Government House.

The Car Mob movement is led by former red-shirt activist Sombat Boonngamanong. Thais on both sides of the political divide use the word ‘mob’ to refer to the protests; this is not necessarily a reappropriation of the term by the protesters.

The music video for Rap Against Dictatorship’s Budget (งบประมาณ) was filmed at a Car Mob protest. The single (one of several recent anti-government songs) excoriates Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government for increasing the military budget while failing to provide sufficient vaccines or adequate healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic.