Index World Press Photo
September 2011 | Edition Fifteen     

Award-winning Thai photojournalist Vinai Dithajohn says his job is to capture the heat of Bangkok nightlife and the anger of political confrontation across the nation.

  Vinai Dithajohn

Based in the country’s capital, former bus conductor Vinai has had work published in many magazines over the years including Time Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, National Geographic Magazine (Netherlands) and National Geographic Magazine (Thailand).

During political upheavals he will sleep out with demonstrators on both sides of the divide, recording, as he puts it, “the mood and movement but remaining neutral”.

Sometimes his drive to capture the action threatens personal safety. Last year he took a bullet in his leg during demonstrations.   “The bullet missed the bone and flew through my flesh,” he says, with an air of relief.

Speaking of the images in the gallery for this edition of Enter, Vinai says: “An ethnic separatist insurgency is taking place in Southern Thailand, predominantly in the Malay Pattani region, made up of the three southernmost provinces of Thailand. Violence has increasingly been spilling over into other provinces.

Although separatist violence has occurred for decades in the region, the campaign escalated in 2004.

In July 2005 the former Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, assumed wide-ranging emergency powers in the area. Army Commander Sonthi Boonyaratkalin was granted an extraordinary increase in executive powers to combat the unrest.  

Then, on 19 September 2006, Sonthi and a military junta ousted Thaksin in a coup. Despite reconciliatory gestures from the junta, the insurgency continued and intensified. Shadowy Islamic insurgents have waged a violent campaign leaving more than 4,400 people dead, including both Muslims and Buddhists, in near-daily attacks”.  

Concludes Vinai: “My clear purpose is to communicate and inform about the impact of this insurgency, especially on the future and the life of the youth and innocents affected. Though this region has been traumatised by fear and mistrust, I still hope that my work can help generate more understanding and contribute to bringing a peaceful multicultural society back to the region."

Copyright 2011, all rights reserved by the photographers