Bangkok Burning May 19, 2010
It is the morning after the crackdown and the burning of Bangkok. A common word heard over and
over is, "This isn't the Bangkok
we know!" People remain shocked and grieved and still concerned over
the violence that took place throughout the city and extended to other areas of
yesterday (May 19th). The government announced that they successfully
broke up the protest (6 were killed - 2 soldiers, 1 reporter, 3
protesters). Five of the main UDD protest leaders surrendered to the
police to prevent the further deaths which were imminent. The rally broke
up chaotically. The government offered assistance to those wanting to
return home. 400 - 500 protesters accepted assistance - some with regret
and some with relief. 700 - 800 protesters remained in a shelter at a
nearby temple afraid that the soldiers would take them by bus to military camps
or kill them. Many of these are women, children and elderly. This
morning the government is working hard to convince them that they will be safe
and they will be assisted to return home.
Last night was a horror scene as fires spread throughout Bangkok. Those dissatisfied with the protest end, began to spread through the city causing further terror. Many who are probably not even related to the movement took advantage of the the chaos to join the destruction. At one point, 200 teenagers stormed a building and set it on fire. The government announced a curfew last night to keep people off the streets and make it easier to respond to the crisis. As of this morning (May 20th) the report is that 34 buildings were set on fire. Over half of the fires are now under control, but there are many buildings still burning. Protesters interfered with the work of security, rescue workers and firefighters, making intervention difficult and risky.
This morning it is much quieter and the absence of explosions is noticeable. While there is some relief, there is a lot of grief at the tremendous loss of life. People are in shock as they see many areas of Bangkok looted and burned. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost as a result. Over 10 banks were burned, major malls torched, electricity stations, TV stations, attempts on the subway system and convenience stores. The economic impact of this will be devastating to all. Investor confidence is down and tourism, a primary revenue for Thailand will be hard hit.
The poor who live day by day and who have no surplus to rely on, and who will likely be the first to lose employment, will find it hard to recover. Most of the poor have no savings, and depend on their daily wages and eat on the streets. When everything shuts down they have no place to turn to. Yesterday and today, several NightLight women called Pon to say they had no food left and no money to buy more. Pon had to transfer small amounts of money to them so they could buy milk for their babies.
We stay in touch with as many of the women as possible. Several have had to escape their home to find shelter. As far as we know they are all still safe. We warned the women ahead of time to stock up on food and water, but if this continues they will run out quickly. Electricity at NightLight is still out today after the electrical station was burned. Hopefully it will be back before Monday and all will be able to return to work.
There are still pockets of violence around Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand, but the government is working hard to get it under control. We are advised to stay inside as much as possible and the nightly curfew will continue for a couple more days.
We so appreciate your prayers and ask for them to continue. There is so much pain in Thailand now as a result of this and a lot of mistrust. Please pray that people will seek reconciliation and peaceful resolution and not resort to violence. Please pray for the government to have divine wisdom in restoring law and order as well as in further negotiations and resolution to the underlying issues. Please pray that the thousand of women now unemployed will not turn to prostitution. Pray for those who are still unsafe. Pray for the church to minister in healing. Pray for truth and justice. Pray for love to overcome hate. Pray for a Pentecost outpouring of the Spirit of God in a new way in Thailand. NightLight stands positioned to be a light and to bring hope and healing.
This morning I turned to Isaiah 49:8-9 "I will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, 'Come out', and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'."
We need your help. The task is beyond our ability and we count on your continual support. Thank you!
Sincerely, Annie Dieselberg