On the night of May 10, the spotlight #ตามหาความจริง (“Search for Truth”) was screened on several buildings and landmarks, including Ministry of Defence, Wat Pathum Wanaram near CentralWorld and Victory Monument.
This was to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the red-shirt protests in 2010.
The hashtag quickly went viral, with over 1.5 million tweets.
A couple of days later, the Progressive Movement took credit for the spotlights. This is a movement made up of the banned politicians of the disbanded Future Forward Party.
On May 12, the Defense Ministry announced it will take legal action against those people who are behind the spotlights.
Pannika Wanich, one of the leaders of Progressive Movement, replied in earlier reports, “bring it on.”
What is your motivation for creating this campaign?
May is a very important month for politics in Thailand. With Black May in 1992 and the red-shirt protests in 2010. It’s also been 100 days since [Army Chief] Apirat Kongsompong promised he would reform the military, after the Korat mass shooting.
So we wanted to raise awareness about [the military’s] culture of impunity and the massacre. We don’t want history to repeat itself, and so we must reform the military.
We are asking for justice, which would lead to reconciliation. But in order to get there, first we must find the truth. If we don’t know the truth of what happened, then there’s an empty page in our history.
People have tried to tell the truth, but they were not heard.
However, please understand that I’m not here to “force the truth” on people. I’m only here to help find the truth.
What is the “truth”?
Events in 2010 were unclear. Why were the people surrounded? Who ordered the killing? How could they have let it happen? No one took responsibility. Who burned down CentralWorld? These questions need answers.
I am not saying what the truth is. I’m saying as a person, we should want to find the truth.
Is this sort of activism the main focus for the Progressive Movement?
Even with Future Forward, our work was always more than just parliament duties. We’ve always had activities with the people, outside the parliament.
With the party disbanded and us [former party executives] banned from politics, we want to continue working with the people. The Progressive Movement is not an official organization. We are just a group of people.
As long as we follow the law, we should be able to conduct activities.
What’s it like to be a high-profile, outspoken woman?
It’s very challenging, but not just for women.
Thai society in general prefers people who are docile and submissive. It’s just worse for women [because the gender is expected to be more docile and submissive than men, as well as to men].
But we need to rise up to the challenges. Personal and nonsensical criticisms won’t prevent me from doing my work. I only listen to advice and criticisms about my work.
People have the rights to criticize, I have the rights to not listen to all of them.
How should we move forward?
Just look at the “Search for Truth” phenomenon. Look at how big it has become. The success of the spotlight screenings is not because of the Progressive Movement. It’s because of the people.
All we did was shine the lights, but over a million people were digging more into it and sharing more information about it.
They may arrest me for whatever reasons, but they can’t arrest millions of people.
If you feel powerless, just look at what has been happening these past few days. This is how the people can become powerful.