Military and red shirts

14 04 2009

Reports from various sources, including emails to PPT, report on the continuing military-led operation in Bangkok.

Al Jazeera is quoted at Prachatai (14 April 2009: “Thai protesters back down”) saying that the UDD/red shirts are surrounded by armed soldiers near Government House, prompting UDD leaders to call for their supporters to disperse. “Saying they were concerned about the safety of demonstrators following violence on Monday that left two people dead and more than a hundred injured in street battles, protest leaders used loudspeakers to call for protesters to withdraw…”. The protestors themselves are reported to have been fearful but some were reluctant to leave the protest.

The Nation (14 April 2009: “Red protesters told to disperse; “arson” plots unveiled”) reported TV Channel 11 as saying that UDD leader Veera Musigapong asked protesters to disperse. Veera reportedly “told the crowd that the voluntarily dispersing was not a defeat of the red-shirted movement but was aimed at protecting the life of the protesters.” Another leader, Weng Tojitrakan, “asked soldiers to move back by 20 metres so that the protesters could pick up their belongings and disperse.” The Bangkok Post (14 April 2009: “Demonstrators will disperse: leader”) states that the decision by the protest leaders “came a day after skirmishes in Bangkok, which left two dead and 113 injured.” Veera told the crowd: “All of my brothers and sisters, please give up and board these buses provided by police…”.

Meanwhile, The Nation home page has pictures of UDD leaders being taken away after apparently surrendering.

Behind these reports, there appear to be other efforts to crack down. The UDD’s D Station was seized and closed from noon on 13 April and remained closed, with some reports that soldiers occupied it. It is reported that some community radio stations have also been seized by troops.

Some reports sympathetic to the red shirts claim that government control of the electronic media has slanted the news. Whereas the media are reporting no red shirt deaths or one dead, some believe that as many as 10 red shirts may have died in the protests.

On the local fighting reported in the mainstream media, some sympathetic to the red shirts, while critical of some who went too far, claim that there was a whipping up of hatred against the red shirts and provocateurs at work, blaming the PAD.

Many internet sites deemed pro-UDD seem to have been blocked. Thai E-news was blocked from Monday night. PPT has noticed that several regular sites that regularly link or pingback to our site – some of which are not pro-UDD, have been blocked and that our own traffic has suddenly halved.

There have been some reports of explosions in Bangkok.

The result of this action is now that army is the winner and truly in charge. It is now the military that is providing direct TV updates on the situation and the government and Abhisit are playing catch-up. The military are likely to be seen by many in the middle class as having saved the day. In the Nation report mentioned above, the government continued to allege plots. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, appearing on a pooled TV programme  announced “that police arrested three suspects Monday night who allegedly were involved in arson plots against key places including Bangkok Bank headquarters and a CP building.” Presumably such reports are deeply worrying to middle class Bangkokians. “Senior officers accompanying Suthep at the press announcement said the three were arrested with pistols, bullets and a lot of petrol. The ‘evidence’ was shown at the TV pool press announcement.”



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