Nation mourns as innocents slain

Nation mourns as innocents slain

You won't recognise him. His face is swathed in bandages. That's when top Bangkok surgeons are not trying to rebuild his profile, a process that will take far longer than you'd care to imagine, distraught as you must be. Rest assured, he'll be kept away from mirrors for weeks.

Who is this young man?

One of the grateful -- if that's the correct adjective -- of 125 survivors of Monday night's bomb blast in Bangkok. Twenty died. Maybe more will. A young footballer in his 20s from Qatar visiting his Thai friends and hopeful for a big break in the 2022 Fifa World Cup in his home country visited one of the Land of Smiles' most famous tourist spots. A religious place. Home to spirituality. A place many people reading this have probably visited. But now it's home to senseless brutality. It adds a whole new dimension to the word shrine. It will still be a place of pilgrimage but one that hits closer to home.

The people killed in the blast in central Bangkok included two Malaysians, four Chinese including two from Hong Kong, one from Singapore and five Thais, the government says. Eight others were killed but they could not be identified as I write this, still shocked after being up all night, unable to catch a wink of sleep, baffled by what someone thought they had achieved other than misery. What a terrible ambition to possess. I hear, but cannot confirm, six of the dead were from a family of seven Chinese. 

Clearly foreigners were targeted. Erawan is a short stroll from a five-star hotel and famous glitzy shopping malls. Perhaps significantly it's also close to the Maneeya Centre in Ploenchit, home to Southeast Asia's oldest foreign correspondents' club and several media groups. The perpetrators know the value of publicity, even if that's the only value they appreciate.

Well they destroyed the looks of this young footballer and undoubtedly many of his dreams.

Looking at him sedated and no doubt unaware of what he now faces, one cannot but feel embarrassed that this country ruthlessly scarred a young man in the early years of his career.

But at least he survived. Twenty others didn't and leave only grief-stricken friends and relatives behind. That's a lot of holes that will never be filled. A lot of missed joy and experience. A lot of sadness. Twenty funerals.

I was close to three bombings. From my experience the reaction doesn't really hit for a few days. Then a car door slams behind you and you jump out of your skin. Monday's witnesses will no doubt experience the same. Until their dying day.

But let's ponder what led to this attack on innocents. What caused the rage or the lack of imagination that leads to unwarranted explosions and the ways they inevitably backfire?

No right-thinking individual can possibly support this action. Only the insane think it achieves anything other than, as General Prayut Chan-o-cha told the nation and the world yesterday, uniting all against evil.

Terrorists won't ever disappear. Sometimes they are freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela. All too often they are living in a middle bronze age semi-nomadic world believing that suicide bombings and "infidel" deaths will bring them 72 virgins in the afterlife. 

All I can say as the young Qatari footballer writhes in pain in Bangkok's Bumrungrad hospital, is that whoever committed this atrocity deserves a far more realistic outcome.

Thailand mourns, but not for misfits who commit acts like this. He (and it's suggested it's a man) will be caught but will enjoy the luxury of justice, unlike his victims.

Mark Hughes is a foreign news editor, Bangkok Post. The views expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Bangkok Post.

Mark Hughes

Foreign news editor

Mark Hughes is a foreign news editor, Bangkok Post. The views expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Bangkok Post.

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