The Curious Case of Conor David Purcell

Picture of Conor David Purcell in Bangkok Post (Picture by Richard Barrow)

On April 18 an Australian man named Conor David Purcell appeared on the red shirts' rally stage to give an eyewitness account on the violent clashes of April 10.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHosYuf-HfA&w=600&h=360]Video by ThaiTVNews, watch part 2 here.

It is not the first time that we have seen farangs at the red rally, but no one has been that vocal and gained that much attention than Purcell, case in point this Bangkok Post story published on Sunday.

Conor David Purcell, a former Australian military reservist, is a long way from home. The 29-year-old has two infected hip wounds, no money, no passport and survives on handouts from his Thai and foreign friends.

But when he takes to the red shirt stage at Ratchaprasong, thousands of people stop and listen attentively to the Irish-born Aussie "military" man as he reads his speeches, which are immediately translated into Thai. (...)

The red shirt leaders nod their approval at Mr Purcell, who claims to have done "quite extensive" work with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) and trained with the Singapore and Malaysia military. (...)

Mr Purcell, who claims a political science degree from the University of Western Australia, says he had always been an admirer of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his poverty-alleviation policies. (...)

He says he was injured by two silicon-coated bullets while trying to shelter behind an APC secured by the reds and now has a "dirty wound'' which cannot be stitched and has to be treated with antibiotics.

During the skirmish he lost his Australian emergency passport and 1,400 baht. He signed a statutory declaration at the Australian embassy on April 20 detailing his ordeal. "They said you have to go home straight away, then they walked back into their air-conditioned office and made themselves a cup of tea," Mr Purcell said.

"Wounded Australian on handouts takes to red shirt stage", Bangkok Post, May 2, 2010

Of course the Australian Embassy, at least one source, has told the Bangkok Post to take this fellow's story "with a big dose of salt," and was also sure that he has "actually broken quite a few Thai laws". Purcell himself has denied ever interfered in Thai political affairs, as he was only giving an eyewitness account (see above).

He made a second appearance on April 27, where he gave a statement after the deadly blasts at Silom on April 22.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEQ4a88MLkQ&w=600&h=360]Video by ThaiTVNews, watch part 2 here.

So that doesn't sound much like a witness account, more like a rally statement to me. While I don't deny everyone's right, Thais and foreigners alike, to express their political opinion, I'm skeptical about Purcell's background (and so does this fellow blogger as well).

Who does this bloke thinks he is? The Last Samurai? Lawrence of Arabia?!