P10.10.15 - Thailand's Red Fever

Series 2010 | Episode 20 | Thailand's Red Fever

Unreported World investigates Thailand's political future.
Reporter Aidan Hartley and director Matt Haan travel to Thailand to find that, while the world's news crews have moved on, millions of ordinary people are still locked in a political battle for the future of their country.
With bomb attacks still happening in Bangkok, the country teeters on the brink of chaos.
The team's journey begins on a train in Bangkok alongside hundreds of Red Shirts - supporters of a mass political movement opposed to the government. They're heading to a demonstration in the historic city of Ayutthaya, where, despite a heavy police presence, speakers demand democracy. If they don't get that, they fear there will be a revolution.
After a year of violence, attempts by the authorities to suppress the Red Shirts appear to have failed. With elections due in the next year, the King's authority fading and two factions fighting for the future of the country, it seems unlikely that Thailand's people will escape more bloodshed.

Thailand's Red Fever: Local Hero


Waraporn Kateaew
Unreported World's local hero for Thailand is Waraporn Kateaew.
Find out more about the programme, Thailand's Red Fever, which investigates Thailand's political future.
Aidan Hartley writes:
Waraporn Kateaew tells me that her husband Boonthink was a 25-year-old paramedic from Bangkok's Vachira Hospital. 'He loved what he did,' she says. 'And he loved helping people'. On 15 May this year, in the thick of the opposition Red Shirt protests that rocked the streets of Thailand's capital, Boonthink heard a call for help on the walky-talky radio he carried while on duty. He rushed to help on his moped. It meant wading in through the crowds of red Shirt supporters fighting running battles with Thai military forces. 'He heard that there were people hurt and he went out to help,' Waraporn tells me, tears welling up in her eyes.
Waraporn stares blankly into space and says, 'He wasn't trying to cause trouble. He wasn't even a red shirt supporter. He was just a paramedic trying to do his job.'
For this Unreported World, it was hard to find somebody to choose for our 'Local Hero' slot because most of the people we interviewed were partisan in Thailand's volatile political landscape. But Waraporn's tragic tale is a universal one, of how ordinary people are caught in the crossfire of dramatic world events every day. On the day we interview Waraporn in her cramped one-room city apartment, her baby son Bunyanet grasps the photo of his blood-soaked father and exclaimed in Thai, 'Daddy!'. It's a shocking moment for the entire team.
Waraporn, whose grief is still written on her face months later, had clearly loved her husband very much. His handsome, youthful face stares down from the wall in family photos from happier times. Boonthink stands as an obviously heroic, innocent figure in the otherwise shocking events of April and May in Thailand, when 91 were killed – most of them shot down by security forces – and thousands were wounded. The nation is still in crisis &dnash; the subject of our film.
Waraporn says her husband was the main breadwinner in the family. His loss means that the family does not have enough to make ends meet. She works as a casual worker in a supermarket. She relies on overtime and bonuses to boost her income, but it's still not enough.
She says she's lucky to have her mother helping her with the baby so that she can stay employed – but to do that her mother had to give up work herself. We first met Waraporn at a government office where she was applying for a compensation package being offered to some of the innocent victims of the political violence. We later heard that she had been approved for the compensation but we were told that it was only a few hundred pounds. Not much to help her raise her son. But for Waraporn, her son is now everything to her.
'As my son grows up, when he sees pictures of his father, I'll tell him that he did good things, that he died when trying to help people.' And she says that she wants her little boy to grow up to help people the way his father died trying to do.


Unreported World S20E10 - Thailand's Red Fever (10 December 2010)[PDTV(XviD)].avi

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