I am writing this 15 minutes before the curfew starts on Wednesday 19 May 2010. This morning I awoke to gunfire. The crack of an M16, and if you know that sound, then you understand this isn’t the way to start your day. This is the fourth day I have gone to sleep with the sound of gunfire in the background and woken up to the same sound.
It has been a long day. The phone never stopped; neither did emails from readers around the world. For their support and thoughts I am grateful. I appreciate your concern for my safety.
Around 2.00 p.m. I had call that something was burning at Asoke and Sukhumvit Roads—this is a major intersection in Bangkok—and I raced out, got on the back of a motorcycle taxi and arrived to find tires ablaze on Asoke.
Bangkok Central World Shopping Mall burning Early evening Wednesday 19 May 2010 Christopher G. Moore © 2010
Thirty meters ahead and at the intersection, one BMA bus blocked one lane. Another bus, empty, arrived a few minutes later and parked to block the other lanes. That part of the road was totally blocked.
By now, up the road and beside Queen Sirikit Convention Centre, is the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and it had been set on fire. I raced over to that location. A large mob had gathered on the pavement, spilling into the street. Flames shot out of the front lobby of the SET at three different sections. Within twenty minutes, three fire trucks arrived but were chased away by the stone throwing mob. Behind the SET, the Electricity Board of Thailand had a building that was also on fire.
More protesters were shot in Bangkok during the day. It is difficult to know how this will end, and when it ends, or what will come next. The events over the last month have left a wound in the heart of many. It is five minutes to curfew. Then it is shoot on sight. This is the difference between a crime novel and a war zone. In a crime zone, the criminals operate inside their own community, trying to outsmart each other and the cops.
In a war zone, the police no longer functions and the whole community divides into bitter enemies, forgetting their common humanity, and seeking revenge. Hatred and violence have become the Siamese twins of destruction. These forces have been set free of the constraints that normally contain them. I have seen their faces on the streets. Now it is time go. It is 8.00 p.m. Curfew has started.
When you read this, it will be another day for you. Stop for one second, look in the mirror and let yourself know exactly lucky you are to be alive, away from the gunfire, burning buildings and the constant fear. You are the lucky ones.