Michael's Dispatches19 Comments
- Published: Wednesday, 07 July 2010 03:17
By now, I’ve switched to the “writing” mode and pulled across the street for more safety. I stayed back from the corners behind the kill radius of the 40mm grenades that were sometimes being launched apparently by “Men in Black.” (None launched at this time.) The Army easily could have killed these protestors but did not.
Journalists in war zones often ask the military for proof. Show me the money. That’s what we need. Journalists who say: Show Me the Money. And now it’s the journalist’s turn: Show Us the Money. There are countless videos and photos out there of people being hit – such as a journalist being hit by gunfire. But where is the footage of soldiers actually massacring unarmed civilians? There are countless videos of protestors using weapons. Arson. Guns. Grenades. The overarching theme remained: Thai Army. Protestors. Almost 90 killed. Some journalists did convey fuller stories of the realities – there are always the good ones – yet the theme remained one of disproportionate force by the Thai government. This was untrue during the fighting I witnessed. The government used far more restraint than Americans ever would have stomached if similar street violence erupted at home. We would have expected shoot to kill orders after weeks of such violence. (Or even hours.)
The photographers who wanted the great shots needed to get closer to the action. By now most photographers were preserving life and limb, but this guy is out there getting the images. Battle is a strange thing; at this moment the Army is hundreds of meters down the road but they could get here literally in seconds in armored vehicles, or in a quick helicopter move, or snipers on the roof, or just maneuvering from multiple directions. As a writer, there is nothing that can be seen there under the bridge that can’t be seen from my safer distance, but the photographer must take the risk if he wants better photos.
Sometimes you have to risk getting shot to get the shot.
It’s a numbers game, as you shall soon see.
The photographer in blue appears to be Canadian Chandler Vandergrift, who would be seriously hit on 19 May.
Mr. Vandergrift stuck it out. His photography is world class, and when you see some of the images he captured it causes one to wonder how he escaped so long without getting hit.
And finally he and others were hit.
WARNING: Graphic images.
(Notice the courageous journalists helping the wounded soldier.)
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This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoDid the Canadian in the blue shirt survive ?
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoWhen I lived back in Thailand in the early '80s, with many, many coupes there was one that I read about in the newspapers. It happened so fast and the fighting was so quick and centered in only a small part of Bangkok it was something that was almost ephemeral in the thoughts of a young boy of myself. The real thing I did remember was that huge front page report about a Vietnam American photographer getting killed. The newspaper lauded the man and decried the Abominable actions of the military then as well. But from my looking at the the man (a picture was shown of him before his death there) holding a camera with a Huge Black telescopic lens I began to wonder in my young mind, "What kind of moron would wander around carrying something that looking straight on gives the profile of someone carrying a Rifle?"
From the many, many pictures I saw in that link. The absolute same posture of the Canadian and the direction of his eyes in every one except for the one of him being moved.
He is dead. No doubt too will be lauded for his "courage" back home like that American... I'm sorry; he was a fool like that other man too.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoDid the Canadian in the blue shirt survive? No
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoErnie Pyle in WWII was no fool, he was a man who reported the war as he saw it, the policeman walking the beat in the worst parts of LA, DC, NY, Chicago aren't fools, nor was Mr. Vandergrift a fool, he was a man who did his job. He knew the risks we can see that from his expressions above, but he did his job anyway. The same is true of the firefighter, the policeman, the soldier, and the combat journalist, combat photographer, combat videographer, and the combat medic. Rest in peace Mr. Vandergrift I hope you knew Christ.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years ago@Blackmon: Do you have any evidence for your claim?
@Gordon LaVere: According to the Montreal Gazette on 6-12-2010, Mr. Chandler Vandergrift was alive and recovering in Thailand:
The Star (Toront on 5-20-2010 reports that he was alive and underwent brain surgery:
So, if the man in the blue shirt is Mr. Vandergrift, he survived.
@Michael: Thanks for your dispatches from around the world. Appreciated the FB updates and glad to see it formulated into a dispatch. Keep it coming. Play it smart. Stay safe.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoThank you, all. Yes, the intrepid Mr. Vandergrift survived and from what I read sounds like he is doing fine. Search the web and he has some incredible photos. The man has as much talent as he does courage -- though if he scales back on the courage he might live longer to use that great talent!
There were quite a lot of courageous journalists out there. For instance, look at those who stopped to help the wounded soldier.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years ago"Victoria filmmaker and journalist Chandler Vandergrift is now out of a Bangkok hospital, three weeks after being seriously injured from a grenade blast during violent political protests in Thailand.
The 7-year-old suffered shrapnel injuries to his head, legs and back after the attack May 19 as anti-government protesters clashed with Thai soldiers on the streets of the capital."
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoGas, beat, shoot the "journalists" and let the protesters protest. Honest to goodness the "journalists" cause more problems than is worth putting up with. Like a bunch of maggots drawn to rotting flesh.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoHow graphic are the "Graphic images" in the link? I don't mind some, but don't want to click in case it's a case of "what is once seen cannot be unseen." Thanks.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agowat a shame, the LOS, bathed in blood, where turmoil reigns. Its a great place to retire, but damn you are taking a chance. Mike, the photo-journalist looked dead. His lips were blue, but i saw no wounds. The soldier looked like his arm was shredded by a frag, they both looked bad. Hey, nice G- rifle, you could blow a door off with those rounds.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoJust an FYI: for those of us on slower connections, the "graphic images" may take some time to load. I almost gave up on the page.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agohttp://www.facebook.com/chandler.vandergrift#!/chandler.vandergrift?v=wall
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoMick, the most graphic images seem to all be of one particular soldier.
His arm is severely wounded, and there are numerous photos showing the arm torn to shreds and bleeding.
Aside from that, it is mostly lots of uniformed soldiers, arrested protesters, photos of people lying wounded (though aside from the one soldier, most are not that graphic), and distance shots of smoke billowing.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoYou are not a journalist. What you have going here is a personal blog and I can respect that. I was mistaken in thinking it was anything else. My apologies. However, in not "being" a journalist it lets you off the hook in terms of "normal" journalistic standards...such as they are...like providing context, ascribing sources etc.
Like many foreigners, I am sympathetic with the job the PM is facing. He is responsible in the end. However, as you have said, the situation is complicated and there are many competing interests in the bureaucracy, the Privy Council, within and among the parties, within the police and within the military who are all fighting for position and power...and they all have deep pockets. Big job for any head of government to keep track of all that let alone control it. But, incidently, I don't believe for a moment that Abhisit doesn't know who was responsible for Sae Daeng's assassination. Or that he doesn't know who who the "Men In Black" were, (other than the Red Guards who were all dressed in black) and who were the so-called "Ronin Warriors."
Regarding context: You mentioned that you are surprised that the police/military exhibited control. Yes, Thais loathe killing those of their own blood. But also, a majority of the police are from the same background as the Reds and were sympathetic with them. And of course the military is split and one faction had an interest in quick elections demanded by the Reds so that a probable win by a Thaksin proxy party could appoint the next general. I understand that all this is not your focus. But someone killed all those protestors. Only 4-5 police or military were killed out of over 90 deaths. Who killed them if not the police/military who were seen shooting at them? For weeks, professionals and amateurs were reporting on blogs, news forums, and with tweetpics and tweet video and much of it went up immediately on YouTube. As you have said, it's all out there. I do want to point out one reporter's important dispatch, though, that people may have missed...even if we don't have the context:
BTW, I am not a journalist and never have been one. I am however, a retired professional who has dealt with more of them than I wish to remember.
This commment is unpublished.· 8 years agoThere is a picture of a passed Japanese journalist showing that there're a groups of guys of the red shirts' side carrying machine guns, and operating military-liked tactical moves, with the red shirts cheering them from the back.
Before 2010, no protesters were harm.
Now, every demonstration against ThugSin and/or the red shirts, someone got killed.
Who do you think killing students in the demonstration against Red Shirts in RamKamHaeng District in Bangkok? Soldiers, again? Not even one of them came out.
Even some of the rouge red shirts admit that they did the kills.
Lastly, you seems to know many of the slang used during the red shirts mob. However, You know nothing true about Thailand. Don't you dare saying that the policemen are from the same class as the red shirts. Policemen are educated, the red shirts are not. Policemen were on the red side because of the benefit they rely on ThugSin regime.
They can turn to every side who giving them the best interests.
Most, 90% of the soldiers, are recruited from rural area of Thailand, where most of the red shirts live.
Red shirts need the fake democracy from ThugSin because they will get the money. They do not care about the country as the whole.
I could bet you that 80% of the people called themselves "Red Shirts" can literally not spell the word "democracy", ... well.. in Thai.
They like to be fooled for the rest of their life.. by all the cunning and corrupted ThugSin people.
We need CHANGE, we need a better democracy not just a fake one.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoCan any1 clear up the following?? In the pictures before the "shooting" began, Mr. Vandergrift is seen crouching with a group of red shirt rebels? So, why after the "shooting" do we see him lying next to a badly injured soldier??? what has happened in between shots?? I am confused??? Good work Michael (as per usual) ur knowledge of military hardware (blast radius etc.) and battle tactics obviously give u a near sixth sense when the lead starts to fly!!! be cool, stay safe!!
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoGood question -- those photos were taken on separate days. I took the photos of Chandler under the bridge while someone else made the other photos. I was not present when Chandler was hit.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoThanks Michael for everything youve done for us and shared.You are fantastic.... The Double Eyed Eagle that Runs with Warriors, journalism....fantastic.... photography fantastic......humanitarian extroidinaire, no doubt! Thanks graciously, you are a legend of time that wont be forgotten by many forever, any time soon. God Bless all of Gods people especially Our Troops and those who support them.Those who run with them, you have to be a real up lift to share their lives. Your one of a kind !
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoSorry if I'm a bit late to this discussion, but the "fool" that Adol refers to higher up in the comments appears to be Neil Davis, a decorated Vietnam War correspondent who tragically died in one of Bangkok's coups.
This commment is unpublished.· 11 years agoIncredibly late to the discussion as well, but to Zoe Goetz...a little pragmatism would be appropriate. If Sae Daeng was a rogue American general flying in and out of the country to meet with Bin Laden; and, whilst home, was saying things half as insane / inflammatory as Sae Daeng's rhetoric; the US sniper who took him out would be heralded as a hero. And quite rightly so.
In Thailand, *if* the government took him out (which I actually believe is likely - and something they should have done much earlier), no matter who in the government gave the order; the soldier that took him down saved countless lives and hastened the end of the violence. But he would not have been heralded as a hero; quite the opposite, in fact. The US / global media was - at least partly - to blame for this. However:
- there is no guarantee the sniper who took him down was a government sniper, though it is quite likely he was Royal Thai Army.
- even if he was a loyal soldier, his orders may have come from literally dozens(?) of sources authorised to give such an order. PM Abhisit could well be telling the truth, and simply have no idea.
- PM Abhisit might well know, or have a pretty good idea, or have given the order himself - yet deftly avoided the question without lying if his response was that he didn't know *who* fired the shot.
- there has been increasing conjecture that element/s of the Red Shirt movement had him killed (i.e. he was seen arguing heatedly with Red Shirt leaders immediately prior to being targeted, and - he was batshit insane, of course)
And just quickly to your question regarding who killed them, the answer is simple:
- some were killed lawfully by Royal Thai Army soldiers restoring law and order
- some were killed / betrayed by their 'own'; the violent Reds who needed a body count and frustrated that the government wasn't playing along
- some might have been killed unlawfully by frustrated soldiers who wanted revenge for their buddies Red Shirts killed in gratitude for the soldiers refusing to open fire (this is pure hypothesising, of course)
At the end of the two months, this single fact is IRREFUTABLE: Had a comparative situation occurred in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Sydney or any major city...the death toll would not be 92. And anyone who cannot (or pretends they cannot) understand the reality of that fact is invested and embarrassingly biased.