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UPDATE: I've added some analysis from a Thai academic sympathetic to Thailand's blood curse campaign below. Scroll down to read his thoughts on why the blood-splashing matters.
My recent "Blood Curse" piece explains why Thai anti-establishment protesters are drawing their own blood, emptying it into buckets and splashing it on various government offices.
In their campaign to drive out their government, they've already doused the prime minister's compound and the ruling party's headquarters. But this morning, they brought their blood curse campaign to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's home residence.
Here's the breakdown. Protesters turned out en masse to the prime minister's neighborhood, but were headed off by riot police. Shouting back and forth into megaphones, protest leaders and a police commander politely negotiated the terms: a few blood porters would be allowed to squeeze through the barricades and douse the PM's front gate.
As rain fell, the splashing began. The street became a bloody creek. Plastic baggies filled with more blood were chucked over the gate. Someone on the other side (the premier's gardener?) stage a futile counter-attack with a garden hose.
Once each jug of blood was drained, riot police began pushing back the crowd. Some tried to kick ugly, fist-sized chunks of coagulated blood away from the curb.
And with that, the protesters dispersed, marching through Bangkok's high-end backstreets to their rally site across town.
A close friend from back home e-mailed to suggest this whole exercise makes these protesters look like "savages." No doubt, many viewing this macabre images around the world will draw the same damaging conclusion.
When news consumers end up viewing any group of people are savages, that oftentimes represents a failure of of the media to surpass easy, shock journalism. Many will be left with the impression that a bunch of desperate Thai farmers went feral -- and miss the fact that these protesters represent a massive voting bloc that will very likely choose Thailand's next leader.
I've given you gruesome images and I've given you protest leaders shouting into megaphones that their blood will curse the elites. I've also given you the government deeming this stunt as a photo-op and the Red Cross declaring it wasteful and unhygienic.
Let me go a step further and give you Pitch Pongsawat, a well-known political scientist with Chulalongkorn University, Thailand's most prestigious college. When I reached him by phone yesterday, he explained that he'd also donated blood, meaning some of the blood tossed on Bangkok's government offices was his own.
He called the blood campaign a success. This is his rationale:
"This message of coming to the city and giving blood, it's very powerful. Rightness is abstract. But blood is very real. It's very sentimental, very spiritual as well.
See, they've hurt themselves, not taken blood from other people. This shows their audience that they're actually serious about fighting the government peacefully.
The big myth in Thailand is that the Red Shirts represent a small number of people. This is what the government and the media want to communicate. But the Red Shirts on the streets now, they're just small from this large population who're watching (the Red Shirts' satellite TV network) at home. They have millions of subscribers.
The media has not picked up on this issue. They only focus on the possibility of violence. They haven't listened to the millions of people who would give up their blood."
There's the perspective of someone who is definitely not a desperate farmer.