Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coups, Corps, and Alums

From Ashley Mills '05, who is currently on the Peace Corps in Thailand:

"Things have been so busy here with friends visiting, short vacations, field trips, floods, and government overthrows that it has been hard to find time to sit down and write, but since I have an unexpected day off from school, I thought that this would be the perfect time.

I was awoken from a very deep sleep last night at midnight (and two subsequent phone calls from my worried parents who forgot about the time difference…ahem…) by a phone call from Peace Corps informing me that there was a coup in Bangkok and that the new military government had declared martial law. I was put on standfast, which in PC terminology means that I am not allowed to travel anywhere until we know more about the political situation and I am to wait for the possible next step of consolidation, which I hope will not happen (because not only is it a pain in my butt, but it would mean that the political situation is not good). We all knew that the political situation was delicate when we got here, and the tension has been consistently escalating. They don’t like [Prime Minister] Thaksin. He could not handle the south and was blamed for the bombings, which were beginning to make their way to Bangkok. He appeared to be popular in the countryside, but in reality, he bought votes by the millions. For a few hundred baht, poor villagers would gladly put a check next to Thaksin’s party on the ballot. Corruption here is rampant.

I woke up this early this morning to not only find out that I have no school because of the coup (darn it, I could have slept in!), but also that every television station is playing the same exact television broadcast with the same patriotic music, which is starting to get rather annoying. The same broadcasts are on every radio station and on the overhead speakers. I am not really sure what living under martial law entails, but I guess I will find out soon enough."

We all hope that the current crisis will pass without incident, which appears to be the case. Meanwhile Jennifer Eidum '03, who witnessed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine while working there with the Peace Corps, just moved to Budapest in time for their worst violence in 50 years...who knew our alums could so destabilize their surroundings.

Are you someplace more peaceful? Send me a note and disprove my faulty logic.