This month marks seven years since the bloody crackdown on protesters at Ratchaprasong intersection, as well as three years since the military took over political power in Thailand. 

Punsak Srithep, 50, a taxi driver whose 17-year-old son was died during the 2010 protests, was among a group of bereaved parents who last Friday gathered to make merit for their departed children. The peaceful event at Wat Pratumwanaram was heavily attended by both plainclothes and uniformed police who videotaped media interviews with the parents. We managed to grab a few words with Punsak away from the gaze of police.

What are you currently working on regarding your son’s death? What’s your next step?

The DSI has taken over the case. Everything about the shooting was unusual, and they are trying to find out why he was shot. There were hundreds of military officials at the protests, but there was only one bullet shot at him, so we are trying to find out what may have driven that one military official to shoot my son. In accordance with regulations, the DSI has sent the case to local police in order to be taken to the court. 

May 22 marks three years of military rule. Do you have anything to say to Prayuth Chan-ocha?

No, because he’s somewhat involved in my son’s case and I’m not supposed to be saying anything to him. At the moment, everything, all the cases, not just mine but other people whose relatives got shot, have been paused because some super-powerful people are involved and they are trying to shut down these cases. Everyone who lost their family members in 2010, myself included, are now just waiting for the election so our cases can progress. 

Do you think Thais are more subservient as a result of the 2010 crackdown?

Yes, because we know we can be killed without any repercussions. The military is trying to put pressure on us. Look at the Dao Din group [a collective of activist students at Khon Kaen University]. Now their leader, Pai, has been arrested and the whole group has gone quiet. The current government uses fear by arresting people here and there.

What do you think it would take to bring people out in protest again?

I don’t know. There are some mini protests but they never really gain a big following. For example, the people who protest about the building of the coal plant are not brave enough to actually move their protest to Bangkok. Nobody really dares to do anything at the moment. My friends and I also only do very small, quiet protests. I still have to go to the court on May 24 in relation to small protests I’ve been involved with.

Two hours after this interview took place, Punsak and his crew were arrested for staging a mini protest on the Skywalk between BTS Siam and Chitlom. The mini protest was a mime, mimicking the event that happened in May 2010.