With 4 updates: Alerts from Bangkok

16 04 2010

This received from a reader (with PPT adding some news links):

RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 14, 2010: We have received the following credible information indicating the Thai government will attempt to clear red-shirt protesters from Ratchaprasong tonight and continue with their failed attempt of this morning to assassinate UDD leaders.

The information supplied late this afternoon from various reliable sources states:

1.    Many ambulances around Rajaprasong this evening even though there are many hospitals in the area.
2.    Intelligence report says that weapons are being transported via Sansaeb Canal.
3.    Extra war weapons are being brought in from Prachinburi ETA 10 pm at Bangsue.
4.    Police Sources report that snipers are being placed on roof tops at Rajaprasong.
5.    Soldiers are instructed to wear combat uniforms this evening.
6.    Trucks with Amplifiers are being  prepared.
7.    Chinook Helicopters are being prepared, possibly to transport captured people.
8.    Military Barrack at Hat Yai is being prepared for a prison camp.

Abhisit [Vejjajiva] was just on the air. Suthep [Thaugsuban] just got replaced by [General] Anupong [Paochinda] as head of the Emergency Operations Command…. This was obviously sorted out earlier today as Abhisit was expected to make a statement at 1pm– it is now 9:30pm, and Anupong has called a meeting for all officers above the rank of Maj-Gen for Monday, so he must have been feeling confident. Anupong seems to be going along with the whole “clear out the terrorist” thing. Rumours of tanks rolling out of 11th infantry.

Update 1: AP reports Abhisit in this way:

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking in a special television broadcast on all stations, said Gen. Anupong Paochinda would take charge of the peacekeeping force meant to prevent violence by red-shirted protesters who are seeking to topple his government.

“A decision has been made to make the command line more effective and swifter,” Abhisit said. “Therefore I have made an order to change the person in charge to Anupong, the army commander.”

He said the peacekeeping force will be able to “call in forces in a more united and integrated way, so that they can handle the terrorism-related activities specifically.”

It looks exceptionally dangerous. Abhisit seems to be determined to get a higher body count.

Update 2: Prachatai has been blocked locally and, it seems, internationally. What’s happened there? Army action? [Now back up]

Prachatai reports that “The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has ordered the MICT to close 190 websites, of which over 60% are claimed to be politically seditious.  Since the red shirt protests started, the MICT has ordered the blocking of about 500 URLs per day on average.” On the 16th, CRES “ordered the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology to close 190 seditious websites, most of which broadcast the red shirts’ protests. According to the source, officials are keeping a close watch, especially over camfrogs broadcasting the protests which provoke and incite violence and divisiveness.  It takes less than 10 minutes to block an URL.”

Update 3: msn news reports that “Thailand’s embattled prime minister put his army chief in charge of security in the capital … [and the] Thai army planning operation to clear protesters…”. The report states that the “military said it was planning another operation to disperse the thousands of protesters from Bangkok’s commercial district but the timing had not yet been decided.” This from the horse’s mouth, the horse being Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd:  “There will be an effort to retake the area. We can’t allow protests there because it damages the country…”.

Democrat Party insider Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said:  “When you let the military control a situation it hardly ever ends nice and peacefully. There’s a possibility it might turn nasty.” We at PPT agree. This is potentially a bloody disaster.

Update 4: The government is happily being pushed by yellow shirts, effectively baying for red shirt blood. The Nation (17 April 2010) calls them pink shirts, but their leadership is made up of yellow shirts from the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The paper says “thousands” attended a rally outside the 11th Infantry Regiment, but provides no more precise estimate. They rallied to urge Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to stay and to take tougher action against the red shirts.

The group waved “the national flag and carry[ied] signs such as ‘We love the King. Thai people don’t have colour’, they handed out roses, snacks and energy drinks to the soldiers there.” Led by PAD activist Tul Sitthisomwong, other speakers included General Pathompong Kesornsuk and lawyer Nithithorn Lamlua, both members of PAD. Copies of a statement were handed out that claimed “the red-shirt rally in Bangkok instigated social division, amounted to lese majeste, and created violence. They alleged the red-shirt gathering violated the Constitution and had the intention of overthrowing the democratic form of government with the King as head of state. The group hence would exercise its right to protect lives, property and communities, as per Articles 70 and 71 of the 2007 Constitution.”

Abhisit had apparently “thanked the people for their support and vowed to continue working and restoring the peace.” The group “asked all leading PAD members from all provinces to gather at Rangsit University tomorrow.” Where is Sondhi Limthongkul in all of this?

The usual cast of 40 pro-PAD  senators also “called for action against red-shirt leaders.” They urged the “public to show their power, as national security and the high institution were facing a threat.” Can this call to action be any clearer? It is equivalent to events in 1976 when right-wing radio urged people to come out and then saw a massacre of students. These right-wing, royalist and Pad-supporting senators “opposed dissolution of the House or resignation of the government.”


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18 04 2010
The military is ready and will act « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] body count can be expected. We suggest readers also look back at our reports yesterday relating to military preparations and international […]