Red Sunday 12 Sept
In a bid to keep their spirits alive and to remind the public of the deadly crackdown, a group of red shirts led by Sombat Boon-ngam-anong rode bicycles on a route around Ratchaprasong, while a group of activist students wearing makeup to look like dead people walked and rode the BTS skytrain in the shopping area.
Before starting the ride, Sombat told the press about activities planned for 19 Sept to mark the 4th anniversary of the 2006 coup and 4 months since the crackdown.
10,000 red balloons will be released into the air, and 100,000 strips of red cloth will be tied around the Ratchaprasong area. Protestors will lie on the ground as if they have been shot dead, and finish the event by lighting red candles at 19.00 hr. The activities will take about 2 ½ hours. Sombat expected that many people would come.
Asked by the press about recent bombings, he said that no one should use violence, and he hoped that there would be no bombings during the activities. He had already contacted the police about organizing the event.
A foreign reporter asked if he was a red-shirt leader, and Sombat said that he was not, but was just a citizen who organized activities. He believed that people would go on with their activities, even without leaders.
In the meantime, Khattiya Sawasdiphol, Seh Daeng’s daughter, arrived at Ratchaprasong and was welcomed by the red shirts.
At about 5 pm, the red shirts began their bicycle ride from the intersection along Ratchadamri Rd, passing Pratunam intersection, and made stops at the spot where a 15-year-old boy, Samaphan Srithep, was shot dead on the morning of 15 May and at Soi Ratchaprarop 22 to observe bullet holes in the walls of buildings and houses there. They then moved on to Ratchavithi Rd, passing Santiphap Park, the partially burned Centre One shopping mall and Victory Monument, and turned left onto Phayathai Rd and left again to Soi Rang Nam. They returned to Ratchaprarop Rd, and continued to Ratchadamri Rd and their destination at the King Rama VI Statue in front of Lumphini Park. The ride took about one hour.
Along the way, they shouted ‘Soldiers shot the people’ and ‘We do not forget’. Some onlookers at the roadside waved in support.
At the King Rama VI Statue in front of Lumphini Park, another activity was held to commemorate the late Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdiphol, or Seh Daeng, who was killed by a sniper on the evening of 13 May. During the activity, the assassination was re-enacted, and his daughter and others carried his portrait, red cloth and red roses, and walked to the entrance of Silom MRT station where he was shot.
Khattiya read out a brief biography of her father, red candles were lit and red roses placed in front of his portrait. A song was sung and pieces of red cloth were tied at the spot.
At around the same time as the bicycle ride, a group of about a dozen students called the Prakai Fire Group, who were dressed and made up to look like dead people, walked from in front of Pathum Wanaram Temple on the Skywalk past Ratchaprasong intersection to Chidlom BTS station. They took the Skytrain from there back to Siam Square station, before taking another train to Saladang to join the activity commemorating Seh Daeng at Lumphini Park.
On the way, they greeted soldiers deployed at the BTS stations and had their photos taken with them.
‘Nan’, a Grade-10 girl who joined the activity, said that when she was on the train, people gave her strange looks, but she had a completely different feeling when she arrived at Lumphini Park and was greeted by the red shirts there.
The group will give a performance at the anniversary event on 19 Sept at Ratchaprasong intersection. They also plan to visit red shirts in prison in the Northeast at the end of October, and also to stage a performance at Khon Kaen provincial hall.