On Monday the 17th of August, a devastating bomb ripped through the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, killing 20 people. Nine of these were foreigners, from countries including the UK, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha described the incident as the “worst-ever” attack on Thailand. This is not the sole act of terrorism the country has seen this week, with an explosive device thrown at a pier in Bangkok on Tuesday. It is unclear whether the two events are linked.
Mr Prayuth during a television address on Tuesday, stated that these events show that Thailand still “has a person or a group of people with hostility to the nation operating actively.” He went on further to suggest that “they may be doing it for a political motive or to undermine the economy or tourism for other reasons”. No group or organisation has yet to claim responsibility for the bombing, however many suspect that ongoing tensions between the government and separatists in the South are behind the attack.
The Shrine reopened today at 08:00 local time, with reports of small crowds attending to lay flowers and light incense in front of the statue of the Hindu god Brahma. A reward has been offered of one million baht ($28,000) for information leading to the suspect’s arrest, although it has been reported that there are possible signs that the main suspect may have already left the country.
One of the victims, Vivian Chan, was a Briton and my classmate at SOAS. But even more importantly, she was a daughter and a friend. She too had her own dreams, of becoming a lawyer, falling in love and starting her own family and even just going home to Hong Kong to see her parents. However, these dreams, alongside the dreams of the 19 other victims, have been tragically stripped from her at the tender age of 19.
A facebook page has been set up in Vivian’s honour, with friends leaving emotional tributes unable to comprehend the events. Popular Cantopop singer, Joey Yung, also left a tribute on her Instagram and Facebook page. The head of the School of Law at SOAS, Paul Kohler, said his “thoughts are with her family and the families of all the other victims of such senseless violence.”
I have previously written on the danger of abandoning Tunisia after it suffered the devastating attck in Sousse that left many tourists dead. As people begin to strike Bangkok off their holiday bucket list, I can only reiterate the dangers of doing so one more time. The only way to truly allow a terrorist to win is to allow the terrorist to claim control of our lives. To cancel our holidays or avoid Bangkok out of fear will only allow the terrorism to prevail. If we allow terrorism to prevail, then we have abandoned the people and given up the fight. Part of the world appears to have become such that they ignore the neighbour in need and that intervene only when there is a benefit. However, we have simply been presented with another challenge in the struggle for peace and international unity. We must again persevere, and we must, must, keep on praying for Bangkok.