Friday, April 23, 2010

Showing Hotel Rwanda the solution for Thailand?

There are 16 organizations that believe showing the 2004 drama Hotel Rwanda in a free screening will ease the political conflict in Thailand.

Yesterday afternoon, plans were announced to show Hotel Rwanda on the big screen at Hualumpong Railway Station. A Facebook event posting says proceedings will start around 12.30 today.

While I recognized the well-meaning intentions, my knee-jerk reaction to this was that it was a bad idea, that instead of heeding the warnings of the film -- of the media playing a role in promoting the 1994 genocide or following the example of hotelier Paul Rusesabagina who shielded people from the inter-tribal killings -- is that the movie will show the various "shirt" factions new ideas on how to kill.

Then ThaiCam Twittered: "The Hotel Rwanda showing seems inappropriate on many levels. Some need to take a step back and reflect. NOT THE SAME SITUATION!"

Anyway, the various "shirt" folks are too busy shouting and fighting to watch a movie.

And there was no stepping back.

Later in the evening there was mass confusion in the Bangkok Twitter stream as explosions rocked the BTS skytrain station at Sala Daeng, near the intersection of Silom and Rama IV roads. It's near Patpong, where a lot of tourists turn out at night.

Most news stories today are saying three people are dead and 75 injured in what's being called a grenade attack.

The area had become the scene of a tense standoff between the red-shirt anti-government protesters, government security forces and various other "shirt" factions -- yellow, multi-color, no-color, white shirt, no-shirt, cheesecloth-shirt -- I can't keep track.

Bangkok Pundit has a roundup. There's video footage of the aftermath on YouTube, showing the skytrain station as a triage zone.

Sometime before the outbreak of violence, The Nation editor Tulsathit tweeted: "I'd say let's show Pen-ek's Nang Mai (Nymph) at all rally sites to put everyone to sleep so soldiers can haul them home. lol."


Now I'm getting angry and sharpening a bamboo stick.

No. I'll let Anasuya have the last word: "To paraphrase , shamefully, this is Bangkok, gentlemen. Screening films about genocide will not save you."

Update: The screening of Hotel Rwanda was not held "thanks to technical problem," says Veen_NT. Apparently, the screening had not been cleared with the State Railway of Thailand, Veen continues. A statement was read and a moment of silence was observed by the approximately 30 people in attendance.

Update 2: The Nation has a story, with State Railway of Thailand governor Yutthana Thapcharoen saying he refused to grant permission for Hotel Rwanda to be shown on the station's 200-inch LED screen because he feared it could worsen tensions.

Update 3: The Bangkok Post editorializes: "While well-intentioned, the decision by the SRT governor was misguided. One overriding message of the film is that when prejudice and intolerance become extreme enough human beings really do have the potential to become monsters. That is a message Bangkok needs to hear now, especially those at the centre of the name-calling and bottle-throwing skirmishes."

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