Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time.
On August 17th, a deadly “organized” detonation was ignited close to Erawan Shrine, downtown Bangkok. Twenty are reported dead—among them five Chinese—and 125 are injured. Erawan Shrine is a popular place, where tourists, especially Chinese, go for prayer. Currently, Thai authorities have looked into various plausible theories, although not yet decidedly setting on any particular one. The bombing is generally suspected to be an act of terrorism. “As many as 50 surveillance cameras show a single suspect in yellow shirt whose appearance looks Middle Eastern dropping his rucksack at the scene. A minute later there came the devastating blast.”, said national police chief Somyot Poompummuang. Singled out by Thai state in their search for suspected terrorist are Chinese Uyghurs.
Last month, hundreds of Uyghurs who had tried to flee from China were repatriated to China by Thai government. This was controversial among the international community given that mainland China has been criticized for notorious in ethnic discrimination and persecution, against Uyghurs and Tibetans. The repatriation stirred up ethnic tension primarily among Turkish whose ancestral blood is believed to be the same or close to that of Uyghurs. Some of them attacked Thai offices, such as embassies, in their host countries. This suggests raising tensions between Muslim groups and the Thai state.
Intriguingly, Thailand has long been enduring something of a war on minority ethnicities, by way of its three southernmost provinces. Here Muslims are direct victims of the “war of words” in that they are subject to being labeled as “terrorists”. The word “terrorist” is always associated among with a Muslim identity by the Thai media. In my view, however, this induces unnecessary fears among Thais and, more importantly, the Thai state is reproducing a negative public perception of Muslims. Whether the Thai state does so knowingly or not in the present, it is important the Thai state pay greater attention to ethnic representation in media discourse.
Author: Patrick Huang
Photo Credit: AP
Biography: Patrick Huang (黃泰華) is a Thai national who has a passion for cultural studies of Sinophone communities, preferably in transnational politics as well as in gender and sexuality..