คำนำเสนอ EBB BOOK
What are photographs? They are a way to freeze a fleeting moment in time forever, a way to bear witness, and a way of telling the truth.
But the photographs in these pages are also part of an ongoing revolution, as George Orwell reportedly said, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
For I believe we bear witness to a time of universal deceit in Thailand. A time where those in power first ignore, slander, and then actively suppress the demands of entire generations that wish to have a better future, and to birth a more genuine democracy. Their demands are echoed time and again over months of relentless protests; demands that are repeated until they are etched indelibly in the collective psyche – demands for the government to resign, for the new constitution to be drafted by and for the people, and for the reform of the monarchy.
Demands for a new government and a new constitution are not new, even in a democracy as young as Thailand. But demanding reform of the monarchy is unprecedented, and in the country where lese majeste is one of the most draconian laws in the world, even mentioning the topic in public carries a great risk. Yet in Thailand, these demands are being etched, painted, hung from skywalks, and shouted by younger and younger generations of courageous Thais.
Perhaps not surprisingly, but still no less depressingly, the protesters’ demands are not discussed on the negotiating table, and perhaps not even in the corridors of power; their demands are met with tear gas, rubber bullets, cargo containers, crowd control spray. And hundreds and thousands of riot control police that behave more and more wantonly, supported by a brutal regime that wields the law like a medieval warrior wields a sword.
Hence, gas masks, umbrellas, plastic raincoats, paint cans, and makeshift shields become ubiquitous in addition to the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games. And as the riot control police seem less bent on crowd control than making arbitrary arrests (to what? Prove the power of tyranny? Dissuade protesters from joining?), cries of “free our friends,” “abolish lese majeste” and clashes with the police become more frequent.
What can I tell you that these photographs cannot? I am not sure. After all, words must be read in sequence, but photos can be shuffled and rearranged out of chronological order. In times such as these, the exact chronology does not matter because these photos not only capture the precise moments in time, but they also capture zeitgeist, the spirit of defiance that will characterize this period.
Perhaps that is why, for the first time in many years, I feel hope.