Various perspectives post-violence

11 04 2010

2bangkok.com, which is generally anti red shirt has this up [PPT's comments in brackets]:

Assessing the situation – 10:26, April 11, 2010

From 2Bangkok.com: bodies of red shirts killed on stage. Part of the reason for this is as a reaction to events following the Songkhran Uprising in 2009.

* There is an uneasy calm this morning as well as shock at the resistance put up by the Red Shirts and the high death and injury tolls on both sides. [Quite a number of these reports of "uneasy calm']

* The government is trying to present its side of the story–even having news reports in the Northeastern dialect to explain the situation to rural people. [Interesting indeed. Given that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government now has zero credibility in many parts of the NE, this is probably wasted effort. Reports of red shirt action in the countryside remain difficult to access]

* Perhaps most troubling for the government is that the situation on the ground is apparently unchanged–Red Shirts are still encamped at several key rally spots in town. [As PPT reported last night, the sight of tens of thousands of red shirts continuing to rally at Pan Fa must be spooking many and, for others, a sign of great hope.]

* While it is not clear what the next move will be, it is likely that the Red Shirts will feel their cause is considerably strengthened. The pro-Thaksin and then Red Shirt groups have been predicting and trying to provoke a violent crackdown ever since the 2006 coup. [PPT thinks this is an odd observation indeed. For the past year, as we have repeatedly posted, it has seemed like the government has been itching for this fight.]

* Of interest will be the military mindset. There has already been considerable chatter about alarm and anger among soldiers at how they were opposed on the streets of Bangkok by an armed force. This has undoubtedly led to coup rumors. Several factors could encourage a coup, particularly if the government coalition seems shaky, then controlling the military budget and the appointment of a new commander-in-chief in coming months would be of top importance. However, cooler heads will likely want to protect the military from further blame and attention now that the Democrats are in the hot seat for the moment. If the government really does seem to be unable to maintain control or implement its decisions, the possibility of a coup increases.

* The push and pull of previous days–with many demanding action while at the same time security forces being a hesitant to act fits the overall feeling of most political players. This idea is that the perfect outcome would be that the Red Shirts and the Democrats be either literally destroyed or have their reputations ruined, thus leaving a bright future for the coalition and opposition parties while shielding the military and police from blame for initiating violence.

Andrew Buncombe at The Independent, with quotes from Duncan McCargo where he points out the lack of any neutral figure who might be able to mediate.

Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation reports on the red shirts protesting, rallying and their reactions:

Anger, anxiety and fearless defiance filled the air as tens of thousands of red-shirted protesters at the Rajprasong intersection geared up for an all-out battle with the government’s security forces. They learned in the early afternoon that their fellow protesters had clashed with soldiers at the other main protest site along Rajdamnoen Avenue and Phan Fa Bridge. By early evening, at least 83 had been injured.

Red-shirt leaders warned that a full-fledged “people’s revolution” would break out if brute force was used on protesters. At 7.45pm, the red shirts cheered long and loud as they heard their leader Veera Musikapong declare onstage that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva must dissolve the House and leave the Kingdom immediately.

Reinforcements led by Arisman Pongruangrong left Rajprasong for Phan Fa to help their comrades shortly before 8pm in a huge caravan. They also called on all red shirts to gather at all provincial halls nationwide. “Get out! Get out! Get out!” shouted thousands as stories of what protesters considered as a brutal crackdown were being told on-stage including that of government helicopters dropping teargas canisters from the air and allegedly blinding a protester in one eye.

Red shirts at Rajprasong prepared goggles, teargas masks, helmets, towels and water in anticipation of the final face-off. “If they kill us, we will kill them too,” one angry protester said.

Dario Pignatelli: Wounded Italian journalist

At 3.40pm, Pol Lt-Colonel Waipot Aphornrat, one of the 22 red-shirt leaders wanted by the government, warned on-stage that Abhisit would end up spending his life in exile if he starts killing protesters. “We shall fight until we emerge victorious!” If people are “frightened”, they might seek refuge by breaking into the posh shopping malls around the junction. “Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Versace, we shall find out where they are.”

Red-shirt leaders warned people about misinformation since red-shirt media were mostly shut down by the government on Wednesday. They urged people to ignore state-controlled media, which they accused of spreading lies and propaganda.

As night fell, red shirts kept flowing to Rajprasong until the crowd grew into the tens of thousands, in a clear sign that they won’t leave the venue they had occupied for a week without a fight. People nearer the centre appeared more relaxed than those guarding the fringes of the protest site.

In the evening, at Henri Dunant intersection, a red-shirt man on the back of a pickup truck shouted, “Victory will belong to the people when the government starts shooting us!”

Nirmal Ghosh at his blog.

From a reader who says that maybe these quotes are useful:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2010/04/20104113019324124.html
video footage (2 clips)
“What he [Abhisit] did yesterday was unacceptable. He claims that he wants to handle this in peace but clearly what the army did was fire live bullets … what the prime minister said about the peaceful handing of the reds is simply not true,” Boonpracong said.

As night fell, troops opened fire again with rubber bullets about 500m away at an intersection leading to the popular tourist area, Khao San road.
Shop and car windows on Khao San Road were shattered as many people lay wounded on the street.

http://www.smh.com.au/world/thousands-flee-bangkok-20100411-s0a8.html?autostart=1
‘I was just standing there, taking pictures, then the guy near me threw something at the troops… I think it was a bamboo stick… and they just started shooting at him……..‘‘But then, as I was standing round the corner, someone said they were firing live rounds, so I wasn’t too keen to come around again. They were just firing and firing, indiscriminately.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8613482.stm
“I just saw a red-shirt protester shot 3ft from me. Through the chest. It happened at around 2030 local time. He was doing nothing but sitting on a pick-up truck across the road from the Khao San road intersection and about 100m from Democracy Monument. ….I crouched as there were more shots and then I left. I think the army are firing live rounds on civilians. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.”

http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20100410-209512.html
Chakkrit Parapuntakul, director-general of the Public Debt Management Office, said representatives from Moody’s Investors Service, the US-based credit rating agency, would meet Finance Ministry officials next month to conduct a review of Thailand’s credit rating. …….”If we can explain that our economy still expands despite political uncertainty, the credit rating agency may upgrade our credit rating to “A-”, he said. Currently Thailand’s sovereign credit rating by Moody’s is “BBB+”.

Economic impact of protests now and with PAD (before the recent problems)

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2010041169064

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100411/ts_afp/thailandpoliticsprotest_20100411032816
Emergency services said two protesters were killed by gunshot wounds to the head……….
“Did anybody inform the king that his children were killed in the middle of the road without justice?” Reds’ leader Jatuporn Prompan asked protesters. “Is there anyone close to him who told him of the gunfights?”

From the BBC, with a useful short video:

“A government spokesman denied reports that live rounds had also been fired. “There were no live bullets fired at protesters,” Panitan Wattanayagorn said on national TV, AFP agency reported.” [This is why the Abhisit government has lost credibility. Panitan should be sacked.]

Thailand’s Troubles blog has a really very interesting report post-violence, with some useful and interesting pictures.

For a yellow-shirted journalist’s response, from a reader at New Mandala (comment #84):

“This is how Bangkok Post journalist Don Sambandaraksa responded to the reports of deaths on his twitter page last night (twitter.com/smartbrain):

RT @fishmyman: @smartbrain Are you happy now? that the reds have died? < Oh, I am elated, but I’m a bit busy on my Playstation now.

This is the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/smartbrain?ref=ts

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