COUP D’ETAT

Wow! Who knew being abroad could be so exciting!

So if you hadn’t heard by now, there was a coup d’etat in Thailand last night! Anyone on the other side of the world heard about this way before I did, as it happened in the middle of the night here. I found out this morning when I came down to wait for the bus and the librarian was standing there announcing, “there’s no school today…the government was overthrown!”

I came to school anyways, as at least there is internet here. I did have a few emails from people in regards to this, the most entertaining being from a friend of mine from school in the U.S. who studied here last year wanting to know if there were tanks rolling through Hua Hin (which there aren’t) and ending with “I’m so jealous!”

At 9am we had a meeting or gathering or something with the full staff and student body (at least who was there) including the Rector, and she filled us in on all the details that she knew of then and advised us to not gather in groups or approach demonstrations (if there are any) and also to not go to Bangkok unless absolutely necessary. Obviously I won’t be going to Bangkok tomorrow as planned to pick up my passport. She advised me to wait it out and see what happens in the coming hours and days, and perhaps go on Friday if things are more stable.

Here’s what I know (and granted it’s noon now here, the coup was about 12 hours ago). Thaksin, the “caretaker” Prime Minister was in New York to address the United Nations. I should say, that he has been pretty highly disliked. He already resigned several months ago at the urging of the King, but he has still been at the post. There have been a whole bunch of demonstrations against him recently and some interesting articles about how his political party was warning people, such as academics (in the article I saw) not to demonstrate against him.

So last night while Thaksin was away, the military staged a coup d’etat, and they apparently got the King’s blessing before doing so. If you notice in pictures, they’re all wearing yellow ribbons on their clothes and weaponry, which symbolizes the King. It was completely non-violent and yes, tanks did roll through the streets of Bangkok, but my understanding is that now they are really only surrounding the Government House, where the PM’s office is, as well as the Royal Palace, where the King resides, probably as a precautionary measure. And for the most part that sounds to be it. The airport in Bangkok is functioning as is the Sky Train in Bangkok, so people are going on with their lives.

When the military took over, they threw out the whole government…Ministers, the parliaments, and they threw out the constitution. Right now, the King is still the leader, though he is a constitutional monarch and has no political power. Bangkok at least is under martial law and this was declared a “holiday” nation wide so nothing is open, including the schools…which means no class for me…yipee!

It’s very difficult to get any information because all the TV channels are down. Apparently theres only one Thai station broadcasting and they are only playing songs about how much they adore the King and showing pictures of him on a continuous basis. I actually saw this last night too and didn’t understand why it was going on…I just thought they adore their King to the extreme (which is true).

I should note that it is interesting being on the “other” side of these news stories, since I’ve been reading CNN online to find out what’s going on and they’re blowing this story a bit out of proportion, saying there was an intense conflict, and that isn’t true at all. It’s all peaceful thus far! One of the teachers said something about FOX news having “experts” on to talk about Thailand in general and many things were wrong! Even the NY Times said the King had ruled for around 50 years…yet this year is his huge 60th anniversary!

Anyways, that’s all for now! I’ll post as I know more!

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