With 4 updates: Alert as crackdown seems closer

13 05 2010

This is a sign of tension rising regarding a crackdown on the red shirts. Dan Rivers of CNN decamps and the US Embassy and UN agencies are advising staff to leave the area around the red shirt encampment at Rajaprasong.

The rising fear of a crackdown is in response to the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s scrapping of its early election plan, the sealing of the protest site with heavily armed troops and armoured cars, blocking traffic, the closing of BTS stations and subway stations and reports that mobile telephone operators are prepared to cut signals in the area of the protest. Other plans for a shutdown in the protest area, including electricity supplies, have been reported.

Bangkok Post also reports that: “Employees of private firms near the anti-government rally at Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong business area are leaving early on Thursday evening, fearing the impact of the government’s plan to besiege the protest venue.”

There have been previous alerts of a pending crackdown that have not been correct or have been foiled. However, the preparations at present seem extensive. The Nation headline at its website is: Noose Tightening.

Contrast that with the Post’s interview with Kraisak Choonhavan. We note that Kraisak still uses the “more than 2000 killed in the war on drugs, despite having served on a committee that decided this figure was exaggerated (by the Thaksin Administration).

Update 1: The Financial Times has a recent report on the state of play between protesting red shirts and the government and military.

Update 2: The government’s Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) is preparing for the reaction to the crackdown it seems to be preparing for. CRES wants to impose the emergency law in 15 more provinces in central, north and northeast Thailand. CRES spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the 15 provinces were: Chonburi, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Si Sa Ket, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Nan, Lampang and Nakhon Sawan. The state of emergency remain in effect in Bangkok, Nonthaburi and parts of Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Ayutthaya. Should the government attack the red shirts at Rajaproasong, it expects a provincial reaction and wants the 2nd and 3rd region army commanders to be in charge of maintaining order in these provinces.

Update 3: The Nation reports that the army has been preparing to deploy 52 armoured vehicles in the operation to seal off Rajprasong rally zone. Troops are authorized to use live ammunition. Colonel Sansern stated that troops and police with armoured vehicles would close in on the rally zone. He said the armoured vehicles would “shield troops and police from being fired at because we are confident that armed terrorists are among the protesters…”. Sansern said troops will be armed with M16 assault rifles and Travo assault rifles.

Update 4: Read Pravit Rojanaphruk’s comment on being cleared from Rajaproasong and a culture of violence here.



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