Friday, November 22, 2013

A Mixed Blessing

A Red Shirt supporter weeps with news that the Thai courts would not dissolve the government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

Thailand's political climate is going for lukewarm to full boil. Things have been percolating along with the usual verbal spars between Red Shirts (and their sometime political allies the Pheu Thai) and opposition Democrats (and their allies). Then the government tried to pass a wide ranging blanket amnesty bill which pleased almost no one. 

The Red Shirts were displeased because while it might have granted amnesty to Thaksin Shinawatra it also granted amnesty to the military men and politicians who led the crackdown against the Red Shirts in 2010. The opposition was displeased because while it granted amnesty to the military and their politicians, it might grant amnesty to Thaksin, whom they hate. Protestors immediately took to the streets and lawsuits filed. 

The court ruled that the government significantly overstepped its bounds in promoting both the amnesty bill and the proposed charter change to directly elect Senators to the upper house (which right now is done through a mix of appointments and elections). But the court stopped short of disbanding the government. 

Predictably the decision pleased almost no one. The Pheu Thai suggested the court overstepped its bounds and the opposition said the court didn't go far enough and the government should be disbanded. 

I went to the Red Shirts to photograph them watching the ruling. 

As the court read its ruling, striking down the Pheu Thai efforts people started to weep and anger built. The anger dissipated almost immediately though when the court stopped short of banning the Pheu Thai party and dissolving the government. At that point the crowd burst into applause and started cheering. 

It was the middle step of a process that promises to go along through mid-December. I think there will be a break around December 5th because that is the King's Birthday and a national holiday. 

There are more photos of the Red Shirts in Rajamangala in my archive and available from ZUMA Press

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.