Further updated: Deadline passes and “Containment by live fire”

17 05 2010

The BBC has a useful report,with video, on the passing of the deadline set by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government in Bangkok. The video details the military tactic of “containment by live fire” where apparently the soldiers shoot at anyone they can see moving near the red shirt zone.

The BBC reports that “protesters – many of them women – continued to clap and cheer speakers on [the red shirt] stage in the centre of their vast camp as a deadline passed.”

Officially it seems that there are now “36 dead, and some 250 injured.” After this, it is said that the “government says it will talk to the protesters as long as they show ‘sincerity’ by leaving their camp.” PPT would think that such an offer would be treated with disdain. The BBC says that “few of the 5,000 remaining protesters appeared to heed the call” from the government to leave. Yellow shirt commentators seem to think these are paid protesters and gunmen as they continue to cheer the demise of Seh Daeng.

A state of emergency is now declared for 22 provinces and it seems that unrest has spread. PPT has posted on Ubon, and the BBC reports “a military bus set afire in the northern city of Chiang Mai and demonstrations in two north-eastern towns in defiance of a government ban.”

Red shirt spokesman Sean Boonpracong is on the BBC as we write this, saying women and children are being taken out. He was followed by acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn, who made the remarkable claim that there were 35,000 to 40,000 still in the area. PPT assumes a Chinese-style failure on tens of thousands. [Update: now corrected on the BBC to 3500-4000]

Simon Roughneen at The Irrawaddy has a post-deadline report. He reports some protesters leaving. He cites CRES spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd saying, “If the protesters will not end the situation, we will have to enter the encampment.” He cites Abhisit, who is said to be “more obdurate than his spokesman, saying ‘We will move forward. We cannot retreat now.’ He insisted the military operation to quell protests was the answer to ending the country’s two-month-long crisis, and seems to be staking his credibility on a crackdown. Speaking somewhat vaguely and quite ominously, he added that ‘Overall, I insist the best way to prevent losses is to stop the protest. The protest creates conditions for violence to occur. We do realize at the moment that the role of armed groups is increasing each day’.” Abhisit has been stubborn all along.


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