A member of Thailand’s most popular all-girl band donned a shirt portraying Nazi Germany’s state flag with a swastika emblazoned across it during a televised rehearsal, drawing “shock and dismay” from the Israeli embassy.
Images of Hitler, swastikas and other Nazi regalia are fairly commonplace on T-shirts and memorabilia in Thailand, a phenomenon blamed on a lack of historical understanding rather than political leanings.
The incident involving the girl group BNK48 occurred just two days ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked Sunday with somber ceremonies in other parts of the world to remember the 6 million Jews and others killed in Adolf Hitler’s notorious death camps.
Israel’s embassy in Thailand posted a statement on Twitter expressing “shock and dismay over the Nazi outfit worn by the singer.”
The Embassy of Israel in Thailand expresses its shock and dismay over the Nazi outfit worn by the singer of BNK48 band.
Tomorrow, January 27, is the International Day of Remembrance of the victims of the holocaust, and the world will commemorate 6 million Jews who perished
— Smadar Shapira 🇮🇱 (@ShapiraSmadar) January 26, 2019
“Presenting Nazi symbols by the band’s singer, hurt the feelings of millions around the world, whose relatives were murdered by the Nazis,” it said.
The performer, 19-year-old Pichayapa ‘Namsai’ Natha, blamed her own ignorance for her actions as she delivered a tearful apology and asked for forgiveness. In the video apology made on the stage where the group usually performs, she dropped to her knees as she finished her brief statement and was comforted by fellow band members. Her apology was also posted on her Instagram account.
1/5 The CEO of the #BNK48 and the performer #NamsaiBNK48 have expressed their will to meet with H.E. Ambassador of Israel Dr. Meir Shlomo in order to express their apologies in person. pic.twitter.com/MSqkps4Fri
— Smadar Shapira 🇮🇱 (@ShapiraSmadar) January 27, 2019
Management of the group, noted more for its marketing prowess than its musical abilities, also apologized that they had “inadvertently caused dismay and distress to people affected” by the historical crime against humanity.
Incidents involving insensitive use of Nazi symbols occur from time to time in Thailand, where there is little awareness of the Holocaust and an inclination to use them as design elements or comic props.