Bangkok is burning

Parts of Bangkok are on fire, as some of the disbanded protestors decided to go out with guns blazing – literally. Most surrendered peacefully to the army today, but a minority have run amok. This is just a classic demonstration of what happens due to mob psychology – once people identify with a group so strongly, as some of these Red Shirts clearly have, they no longer take the same level of responsibility for their own individual actions. It’s scary to deal with people who have lost their inhibition to commit acts they would never otherwise do, if it weren’t for the fact that they are part of a group, and it’s also scary that perhaps some of these people feel like they have nothing to lose. They’re already come so far – why not take that extra step? So they have gone from a concentrated protest restricted to one area to vandalising and terrorising various parts of Bangkok – burning shopping centres, buildings etc. And it’s had a knock-on effect – the curfew which has been imposed on Bangkok also now applies to the northern and north-east provinces which are Red Shirt strongholds. There have been a few incidents here today, including a fire in front of the Mayor’s house, but otherwise I think things are okay for now. But I do feel a little nervous, especially as all the Australian Youth Ambassadors are being evacuated tonight, including the ones who just arrived two days ago. They’re being taken to somewhere safe until all of this dies down. If the silent majority started to get involved, I would be very worried that this will get worse – but as there doesn’t seem to be a critical mass of people, things should calm down soon. In the meantime, I’m going to stay in tonight and observe the curfew and stay safe.

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