A week after riots, Thai capital prays for peace

May 26, 2010

Buddhist monks receive alms in Bangkok on May 26, 2010 during a gathering for peace prayers/Yannis Behrakis

Thousands of Thais prayed for peace and unity in Bangkok on Wednesday, a week after a deadly military crackdown on protesters sparked a terrifying night of arson and riots that levelled buildings and killed 54 people.

But analysts say without major reforms to a political system that protesters claim favours an “establishment elite” over the rural masses, such prayers and forgiveness will not end a polarising crisis costing the economy billions of dollars.

Hundreds of saffron-robed Buddhist monks received food from well wishers along a shopping mall occupied by anti-government protesters for six weeks until they were dispersed by troops and armoured vehicles last week.

Next to them were Christian, Muslim and Sikh leaders, who also conducted prayers to bless the riot-torn city of 15 million people as predominantly Buddhist Thailand grapples with widening social and political rifts that have spiralled dangerously into the open in the past five years.

“It is very important for all of us in Bangkok to forgive and move ahead,” said Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, who hosted the “Restore the City With Religious Ceremony” event.

Read the full story by Nopporn Wong-Anan here.

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