It is a row, for nearly a kilometer, of tired social housing bars of four floors, with balconies cluttered with bric-a-brac and black grease gates: they are worth in the district of Din Daeng, in the center of Bangkok, the name of “vertical slum”. On one side of the buildings, a six-lane avenue which bursts at the crossroads into a skein of concrete. On the other, the street teeming with stalls and small shops, then, beyond, the grid of self (alleys).
Each of the low-rent housing has a mezzanine accessible from the street, where craftsmen rent space from the “national public housing” office. An old woman keeps cats in cages, long indifferent to the rats that scurry from one corner to another. A man makes medallions for Buddhist amulets and shows us three rubber balls that he found one morning stuck in his workbench.
Din Daeng, literally “red earth”, because of the red dust raised by the works of the highway in the 1950s, is an intermittent and savage battlefield of protean protest that is expressed on social networks and in various places of the Thai capital for three years against the government of the former putschist general Prayuth Chan-o-cha and the grip on the political life of the Royal Palace. After four years of junta, Mr. Prayuth was elected prime minister in 2019 by breaking the opposition thanks to a justice under the orders and with the support of a senate of 250 members appointed by himself and his associates.
In Din Daeng, the declassified youth baptized their movement “Thalugaz” – “those who cross the gas” -, in this case that of tear gas canisters. Thalugaz was born following a march organized in February by other movements – the “Thalufah” (“those who cross the sky”, strictly non-violent) and the Free Youth Movement – up to the Prime Minister’s current residence, located within the grounds of 1is infantry regiment, on one of the axes leading to the Din Daeng crossroads. Authorities placed containers to deny access and riot police dispersed protesters, but clashes continued for several days with hordes of young people on two-wheelers.
The dreaded law of “lese-majesté” is going well
Din Daeng has since become a hotspot of contestation: in recent months, after dark and beyond the curfew linked to Covid-19, set at 9 p.m., and recently lifted, young people have taunted almost daily with fireworks and slingshots the police, who respond by chasing them with a lot of rubber bullets. Several young people were injured – a 15-year-old boy affected in August died at the end of October – while a police officer was shot in the head in early October, leading to police raids.
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In Din Daeng, popular and rebellious district of Bangkok