Normally the 2nd week of January sees me getting ready to cover the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam but a few days out from the tournament a change of plans meant I had a totally different assignment in Bangkok. Personally for me it was a welcome change, it had been some time since I last covered something in the field that wasn’t of the sporting variety.
‘Shutdown Bangkok, restart Thailand’ was the motto used by Anti Thai Government protestors from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). Protesters closed key intersections in Bangkok, as part of an effort to shut down the city and pressure prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban of the PDRC had setup Rally Stages at 20 major intersections to disrupt the work of government officials attempting to ‘Paralyse Bangkok’.
The rallies grew to include thousands of people at some points. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra responded by dissolving the House and declaring a state of Emergency on the 21st of January.
While for the most part protests were peaceful, at times it even had a festival feel to it with markets & entertainment, a state of emergency was declared due to increasing attacks at protest sites.These included grenade attacks and drive-by shootings.
On the 19th of January at the Victory Monument site, 28 people were wounded when two grenades were thrown.
Another grenade attack on a protest march on the 19th of January killed one man and reportedly injured 30.
Yingluck called a snap election for February 2 in an attempt to end the crisis that was prompted by a failed attempt in September to introduce an amnesty bill in parliament that would have allowed her brother Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile without having to serve a two year jail sentence for corruption.
– Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
A full slideshow of the full photo essay can be viewed on my website by clicking the link below