For the past eight weeks, Per Arne Granbo has had a lot on his mind. He has had to take care of his babies, as he calls them – the elephants he keeps at a centre in Ayutthaya – and to play an active role in the events that have taken place in Bangkok. Per Arne is as Norwegian as they get but that has not stopped him from becoming involved in Thai politics: Now he is a passionate and active Red Shirt.
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Per Arne was there when it all began. He attended the rallies, listened to the speeches, and donated his own blood for one of the more colourful events which included throwing blood at the house of Prime Minister Abhisit.
He mingled with the people who are the epitome of the Red Shirt movement: the poor and uneducated, who are fighting for a different kind of democracy in Thailand, and they accepted him as own of their own.
As a representative for UDD Thailand’s international media team, he met and became acquainted with Seh Daeng and if the police had told him in a friendly bit firm manner that as a foreigner he would be safer elsewhere, he would probably have been one of the crowd until it dissolved on May 19th.
Now it is all over. The Red Leaders have surrendered and the followers have returned to their homes. That is fine, Per Arne thinks, but he is angry with the way it happened and how the Red Camp was cleared.
”I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on TV with my own eyes. It is the most cowardly and stupid action I have ever witnessed. The military just hurt and killed a number of people without advancing at all.”
He is disappointed that the two parties were not able to reach a peaceful settlement – especially because they were so close close to doing just that at one point.
“So who has won?,” he asks.
“Nobody! There are 67.8 million losers: Thailand!”
Not the end
But despite everything that has happened during the week, Per Arne is convinced that this is not the end of the Red Shirts nor their struggle to achieve what they call democracy in Thailand. He believes that there has been put a stop to the problems but only temporarily, because as he says, the struggle is not over.
“The battle might be lost for the red shirts, – but there is still a war to be won. And the next chapter will take place at a different level, with different strategies,” he concludes.