Thai editorial cartoons on the student anti-coup movement


From Manager, June 30, 2015
Title: I knew it. By Buncha/Karmin
Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan is holding two books.
Blue book: October 14th, a very pleasant day [October 14, 1973, when a student movement overthrew the dictatorship.]
Red book: October 6th, a cruel day [October 6, 1976, when a military backlash resulted in the massacre of protesting students and a return to military-dominated governments.]
On the shirts: Dao Din [the name of the anti-coup movement]
Jatuporn: You, Dao Din, you will be writing a new book of Thailand’s history and it will be the same as this book… October 14th. It began with a few of you… then others joined you and together you succeeded in overthrowing the military government… so that now our country is democratic.
Caption: The red book is more likely [related] to this situation… why didn’t he show that book?

[Here, the Red Shirts are shown lauding the anti-coup student movement by contending that the political struggle in Thailand is purely about democracy resisting a military dictatorship. Many readers might view the situation in another light, due to the political struggles that had Thaksin pitting himself against the Thai establishment in an attempt to receive a pardon and return to power.

Thus, the cartoonist is contending that protesting students’ actions would not be considered pure, but part of political machinations and more likely to be met with deadly force. This is because the military, through its actions, is attempting to demonstrate to the political world that Thaksin’s attempts to return and convert the nation to a one party state will never succeed.

This is reflected in the red “October 6th” book to symbolize that the military is more likely to crack down in a bloody way than be shaken by supposedly idealistic student protesters. A cartoon like this also is an attempt to frame the debate in a way to warn people off anti-coup protests by raising the possibility that they will be met with harsh measures.

Underlying all this is the claim that the Red Shirts have constantly tried to get common people to sacrifice themselves for high-minded causes like democracy when really the Red Shirt movement is only a paid political pressure group intended to return Thaksin and his clique to political power.]


From Thairath, June 30, 2015
Title: The very first brick?
On the brick: 14 students of the new democracy movement
On the soldier’s bandolier: Bring back happiness [the junta’s motto]
Mouse man Nuling: Do not restrict our freedom.
Mouse: Brick is used to build wall. [meaning that this is the beginning of tearing down the wall]

[This cartoon speculates that the Dao Din student movement could be the beginning of real organized resistance to military rule within the country. With the military constantly circulating trial balloons about its desire to stay in power for up to four more years, it is important for those who oppose them to demonstrate that resistance can rise if the army clings to power.

It also frames the debate purely in terms of a desire for immediate democratic freedom–rather than the murky terms of coup supporters who justify the coup as an attempt to reform Thailand or “bring back happiness.”]

(2Bangkok Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.)

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