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The Military Coup

USA | Tuesday, 27 May 2014 | Views [285]

I'd be lying if I said I knew a whole lot about the political conflict in Thailand at the moment. The miliitary coup happened last week, after martial law was declared throughout the country. The military has seized power in order to quell protests from those who support the recently ousted prime minister. I'm over an eight hour bus ride away from Bangkok, so we're not seeing demonstrations of any nature in the North, but there are still tensions, and Thai people are more somber than one would expect. The curfew in place is strict, with no one being allowed out in the streets between 10pm and 5am. Penalties for breaking curfew can be up to two years in prison along with enormous fines. Here at the Mirror Foundation, we have over a dozen staff members native to Thailand. They are not so much worried about the coup as they are saddened by it. The military is serious, and the people are sad. This is not the smiling Thailand that tourists hear about and flock to.

Schools were cancelled throughout Thailand last Friday in response to the coup and general turmoil in the country. Many of us were worried that the schools would remain closed until things settled down, but luckily they opened back up today. The military has also seized control of television stations and news sources. If I thought about it too much, I guess I'd be afraid of all of this. I am in a foreign land, after all. The majority has a vastly different culture, language, and set of norms than myself. If I got into any trouble here, chances are that I wouldn't very well be able to talk my way out of it. But then again, I don't think I'll be getting into any trouble here. The protests are far away and are entirely apart  from foreign relations. There are problems here, which won't be solved anytime soon, but they are domestic problems. Thais have so much to sort through  with the military coup that tourists are the least of their worries. Nonetheless, I am keeping a copy of my passport on me at all times. 

A resolution is not close at hand; the red-shirts, supporting the most recent prime minister, blockade every attempt at a new election while the yellow-shirts refuse to settle for anything less than a newly elected government. The general population here is entirely more passionate about their politics than I've ever seen in the US. Of course, there was the occupy movement a couple of years ago, but that fizzled and faded without any real reform. It's inspiring to see that people care so deeply about the happenings of their government. It almost makes me want to start voting in any upcoming elections. I'll only be here for another three weeks, and the conflict will undoubtedly continue long after I'm gone. The country is still beautiful and the people still incredibly welcoming, but an uprising of this nature is bound to have a lasting impact. I wish I had been able to travel under better circumstances, but hey, how many people can really say that they were in Thailand for the 2014 military coup? 

Tags: chiang rai, martial law, military coup, thailand

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