With 3 updates: A brief lull and a renewed threat

22 04 2010

After what many assumed – including PPT – was a propaganda blitz that was preparing the way for another push to clear the red shirt demonstrators, this time from the Rajaprasong area, there has been a 24 hour lull. This saw much talk of negotiation, and several media outlets reported all sides reaching out for talks. However, the Bangkok Post (22 April 2010) reports that the ever-threatening Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, the spokesman for the Centre for the Resolutions of Emergency Situations, “has warned red-shirt protesters camped in the Ratchaprasong area that troops are waiting for an appropriate time to take back the area.”

Sansern said: “Your time is running out. Please leave the area and report to the authorities…. This is not a threat. This is real…”. He added that”[a]uthorities will take decisive action against protesters when they disperse the mob…”.

Some pundits are suggesting Friday or Saturday evening as the likely time for government action. This feels a little like the standoff that briefly developed when troops surrounded the remaining red shirt demonstrators at the end of the Songkhran Uprising in 2009, which eventually led to red shirts, feeling that they were going to be crushed, accepted government offers to retire from the rally. The best scenario is that the government/military is hoping for a similar outcome this time. The worst scenario could be troops again clashing violently with determined red shirts.

Update 1: The government is making the most of anti-red shirt sentiment and is stoking it. Colonel Sansern said: “To take people in Bangkok hostage is not right…”. AP reports that “[a]nger among Bangkok residents is mounting against the Red Shirt protesters…. The weeks of protests have forced hotels and offices to close and are threatening the livelihoods of those who work in the “occupation zone.” This is only partly correct. There is no doubt that the occupation of Rajaprasong is hitting businesses in the area hard. Indeed, the government is thinking of compensating them. However, as has been remarked many times, the red shirts also have enormous support from Bangkok’s working and service classes.

And when AP says that there is a “loose coalition opposed to the Red Shirts has started taking to the streets and clashed with the protesters on Wednesday, tossing stones, bottles and shouting, ‘Give back our city’ and ‘Hillbillies, get out’,” they seem to be misunderstanding that they are attacking their workers, janitors, taxi drivers, maids, masseuses, wait staff, and so on. Or maybe they do understand and they see this as a class war.

Update 2: See Simon Roughneen’s updated photos including on the rally at Silom. Scroll down through his story and pictures.

Update 3: The Nation reports that the “Civil Court Thursday evening issued an injunction against the use of force to break up the red-shirt rally at Rajprasong Intersection. But the court noted that the demonstration affected the public so the government could use internationally-accepted measures to deal with the protesters form lighter to harsher measures.” PPT is not sure what this means, for the government always claims to be using “international standards.”


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