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A group of volunteer actors staged a play in memory of the 99 people killed during the crackdowns on red shirt protests in 2010 during the anti-government protest on Saturday (19 September), now said to be one of the largest protests in Thailand since 2014.

The play, titled “#99dead”, was staged on the street in front of the Supreme Court building, next to Sanam Luang, by an all-volunteer group of actors. The names of those who died during the 2010 red shirt protest crackdowns were also read out during the play.

Wawa, 20, a student from the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, said that she wanted to take part in something that will lead to more visibility to create some kind of phenomenon. She said that she has been to protests before, but only to attend.

Wawa said that she was very young when the crackdowns happened, and did not pay much attention to politics. She said that she heard about it from the adults in her family or from the news, but her family did not really take political sides, so she only learned about the crackdowns when she was older. She said that she felt it was cruel and is saddened by the fact that such a thing happened and that people were injured or killed.

“It’s not a normal thing we can overlook, like it’s just happened and that’s it. We should be aware of it and it should not happen again, so we should know already that this is something that impacts society. It happened. It was cruel, and it was not right,” Wawa said.

Wawa’s friend also said that, back then, she thought it was terrorism, but found out later that the red shirts were wrongly accused. She said that the truth is out now, but not as much as the wrong accusations against them, so she felt that participating in the play helps reveal another perspective that was not seen before. She said that in the past, information only came from one side and the victims never got to tell their stories. She said that participating in the play helped her understand their perspective better.

Aom, 18, said that he was still in primary school when the crackdowns happened. He heard of it from his red shirt father who watched the red shirt TV channels, but at that time, he only wanted to watch cartoons and argued with his father about it.

Aom said that they are all humans, and so should be equal. Shooting one person is not just a matter of killing them, but it also affects the families they are responsible for. 

Aom’s friend, on the other hand, said that he was very young at the time and none of his family were red shirts, so he didn’t know that the crackdowns happened. He found out about it through the internet, and thinks that violence should never be used.

Phayao Akhad (front) holding the blue Red Cross vest her daughter was wearing when she was killed during the 19 May 2010 crackdown on Red Shirt protests

Phayao Akhad, whose daughter Kamonked was one of the six people who were killed at Wat Pathum Wanaram on 19 May 2010, also participated in the play, wearing the blue Red Cross vest Kamonked was wearing on the day she died.

Phayao said that no progress has been made in her daughter’s case. She said that the case got passed around from the special public prosecutor to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to the military prosecutor, who dismissed the case, claiming a lack of evidence.

Phayao said that she is very happy that young people know about the crackdowns, and that even though they did not take part in the event, once they know about it, they would like to bring the truth to light. She said that they are happy to be able to participate in the play, and that the actors did well even though they only started rehearsing that day. She found the performance touching, even though the crackdowns were ten years ago, and she would like to leave it to the young people, who can definitely bring change, and state authorities will no longer get away with murder.

Phayao said it is not easy for the state to murder citizens anymore. The people won’t let it happen.

“They are braver than my generation. They are brave enough to start a discussion about how it should be,” Phayao said. “Where Thailand has problems, there needs to be changes and the structure needs to be adjusted, which makes me amazed with young people, and I am happy that they are not like my generation, who are oppressed and kept in the dark, but it’s more open in their generation. They won’t let anyone ruin their future. They choose their own future. This is what I’m happy about.”

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