Mothers: 99 Dead

The Red-Shirts’ movements marked by the nation-wide rallies for democratic elections, which began in March 2010 and were decimated in the April-May 2010 massacres. Both Red-Shirts’ and the current youth liberation movements share a historical consciousness and political discourse that deconstructs, critiques, and protests against the extreme inequality between the plebeian commoners versus the elite aristocracy [Phrai v. Amart].

The above video recording of an art performance commemorates the ten year anniversary of the massacres whick took the lives of many, including a volunteer nurse whose mother has become a prominent activist demanding justice. To accompany the video which we have provided English subtitles, we include in this section:

The performance 99 Dead [99Sop] in front of the nation’s Supreme Court marked the exact ten-year anniversary of the massacre, still without justice. The 99 Dead [99Sop] was a collaboration between several artists, poets, and activists including the FreeArts Liberation group, Red Comrades [Sahai Seedaeng] and friends, which is a collective that continues to perform at various direct actions after the 2010 massacres, poet Kal Real, musician Pisitakun Kuntalang, Bor Kor Lai Jud [alias, Editor-in-Chief Polka dots] or Sombat Boonngamanong, and many more (see script translation for full credit).[3]

Particularly in the collective performance piece of 99 Dead (see script translation), Thi Ni, Mi Khon Tai!/ Someone Died Here! becomes a rendition of the series that spotlights the activist mother, Phayao Akahad, who performed as her murdered daughter, Kamolkade Akahad. Kamolkade was a 26 year old volunteer medic nurse, who was shot and killed during the May 2010 massacre, while helping the wounded inside temple grounds that was serving as a medic facility for injured or exhausted demonstrators. She was shot in the head and the body eleven times inside temple grounds, five hours after the demonstrators had already dispersed. In the original performance, these details were read aloud, along with the details about Akkaradej Khankaew, 22 years old, a day labourer who ran to help her. He was also shot in the mouth, cheek, shoulder, abdomen, and femur. This was the magnitude of using military forces upon unarmed civilians in protest. Phayao explained how in Thailand false reconciliation existed without justice: “You cannot order reconciliation[…] If you bring justice, there will be reconciliation automatically. The military, they have to recognize their faults first.”[4] She continues to protest and partake in demanding justice for those killed in 2010 every year.

Much like the Mothers of the Disappeared of Argentina and the parents and grandparents in many parts of Latin America, the parents who loss a beloved child became activists demanding justice against military state violence in their own right. Historically, military and state violence in Thailand enjoys impunity and silence, without acknowledgement or recognition by society at large. Collective performance art in Thailand is particularly difficult to archive, but represents some of the most invigorating and important powerful work challenging the mundane acceptance of state violence. Set in public spaces where the killings took place, collective performances by artists like FreeArts mark place and time, re-enacting, calling out, and singing in unison as to reject the military, royalist, and amart collaborators intent on minimizing and erasing Thai people’s collective memory about the lives loss April-May 2010 massacres. Here we provide a translation of an article originally written in Thai by art historian Thanavi Chotpradit for foreign audiences to better understand how state violence is rejected in the arts in Thailand. The footnotes embedded in the translation are not part of the original article, but were inserted by the editorial collective translator to assist in providing contexts for readers less familiar with Thailand.

Thanavi Chotpradit’s article focuses on the performance of the 99 Dead  [99Sop]. It is translated from https://www.the101.world/, which is an independent online magazine bringing together academics, editors writers, creative workers in design and cinema focused on issues of politics, economics, social, cultural, and documentary interviews for a general Thai audience to reject the politics ignored by mainstream media sources. Thanavi Chotpradit is an art historian and curator at Silpakorn University. Her past projects include Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art and photographs of the 6th October Massacre (1976) in collaboration with artist Kornkrit Jianpinidnan at Bangkok CityCity Gallery.[5]

About the translator:

Sudarat Musikawong is a sociologist at the Institute for Population and Social Research at Mahidol University. Her work research examines two forms of justice: historical justice in the public sphere in Thailand (regarding past state violence) and Thai migrant worker justice. She positions her investigations within cultural-political sociology and ethnographic research. Her long-term research goals are to develop methodologies and theoretical frameworks that provide connections between these often-divergent research agendas between the social sciences and humanities.


[1] https://www.freearts.net/auttachai-mongkol-suwan-kamonked-akkaradej?fbclid=IwAR30zfzuKjZXyRSF0JBKHcCq7DWeUnDio3F-_drVt-UUZYLF1zLQ2lJ3uRs

[2] https://www.freearts.net/auttachai-mongkol-suwan-kamonked-akkaradej?fbclid=IwAR30zfzuKjZXyRSF0JBKHcCq7DWeUnDio3F-_drVt-UUZYLF1zLQ2lJ3uRs

[3] https://thaipoliticalprisoners.wordpress.com/tag/sombat-bunngamanong/

https://www.wikipe.wiki/wiki/th/สมบัติ_บุญงามอนงค์

[4] Constant, Max. “Thai Mothers Remember Misery of Coup.” Anadolu Agency Online News [https://www.aa.com.tr/en/world/thai-mothers-remember-misery-of-coup/44732#] May 22 2015.

[5] https://www.facebook.com/bangkokcitycity/posts/2389335361152937

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s