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First-hand Account from Thailand

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My friend Anchalee Kurutach, a native of Thailand and a board member of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, posted this on her Facebook page earlier today. She translated this account from a peace volunteer in Bangkok who wrote this at 2 am, April 11. Even though we don’t hear much about it in the mainstream media, there is actually a significant nonviolent movement in that country, in the midst of all the turmoil.


I walked away from the protest area exhausted. My physical strength would return soon but my spirit has been lost in the wind of violence that has swept us today.

Before leaving, we the peace volunteers sat down together for some noodles and thought about what we could do next. A friend suggested that we go visit the injured at the hospital tomorrow.

These words hit me hard. I remember the Black May event. What my friends and I did then was to go give blood and visit the injured. That was the first time I ever saw people being hurt from a demonstration. We visited them over and over.

Throughout the time we have been working (as peace volunteers) since the beginning of this protest, people have been suspicious that we are the yellow-shirts in disguise, the red shirts, or the elite. I would like to let you know that my inspiration to become a peace volunteer comes from my not wanting to see people getting hurt and die anymore from political conflicts.

The sound of monks chanting for the dead could be heard from the stage at Phan Fa while we were eating the noodles today.

Again, violence won.

I think of the faces of the people I met today. The image of young soldiers, still in their teens, resting during the retreat time. Some lay down to rest, others ate bread and sodas given by the people. One of them used a pink telephone to talk to someone. I saw several of them doing the same, not just one. They probably called people who were worried about them. Like me, my mom called with concern, “Be careful of the tear gas.”

I thought of another woman in red. She rode a motorcycle into the protest area in a hurry. She said she was looking for her mom. The woman said she put on her red shirt and left home in a hurry when her mom called to say she was there. She didn’t come to take her mom home. She came to be with her mom at the demonstration.

Another woman I thought of was someone who was stuck in her sedan on the way down from Pin Klao Bridge. The road ahead of her was blocked off and the guard wouldn’t let anyone pass because the soldiers were coming in. She probably wasn’t there to join protest, she was just passing by. The soldiers whose trucks were also stuck on the bridge started to come down by the hundreds. The woman asked me if she should leave her car behind. I didn’t think the situation looked good so I told her to leave. I saw the fear in her eyes but I didn’t know what more I could do for her.

I saw the red-shirt protesters shouting in front of the soldiers, “soldiers are our brothers”, “soldiers are I-san people like us”. I saw the protesters handing cold drinks to the soldiers who were sweating from the heat. I heard another protester shouting, “We have gone beyond fear”.

A young soldier told me that he just got the order and just arrived at the protest site. He didn’t know what was going to happen and didn’t know how the night would end.

Another red-shirt student, probably the same age as the soldier with the pink phone, told me about the confrontation with the soldiers. There was fear in his/her voice. S/he asked me to take her/him across the soldier lines to join the friends on the outside. S/he held my hand tightly while we walked pass the soldiers.

I saw the color that each person was wearing and I saw the person under each color. These are people who have love, fear, anger and hope.

The later the night, the higher the death toll, which includes soldiers, protesters, journalists and bystanders.

Tomorrow i will return to the hospital again.

About Maia

I've been practicing and studying the Buddha way since 1994, and exploring the question "What is engaged Buddhism?" since the late 90s. As former executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and editor of its journal, Turning Wheel, I had the honor of meeting and working with many practitioners of engaged dharma, including Roshi Joan Halifax, Joanna Macy, Alan Senauke, and Robert Aitken Roshi. I write about socially engaged Buddhism on my blog, "The Jizo Chronicles," as well as on the theme of personal and collective freedom on my website, "The Liberated Life Project." Through my Five Directions Consulting, I offer support to individuals and organizations who aspire to integrate awareness into their work.

2 responses »

  1. I appreciate the firsthand account. I have a lot of students from Thailand, and a few friends working over there, so it’s interesting to here what someone actually is experiencing. A tough situation clearly.

  2. Pingback: Jizo Celebrates His/Her First Birthday « The Jizo Chronicles

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