Some of the links may no longer work, yet we thought it appropriate to remember the events of the 2010 crackdown and the dead with our post from that day as the military cleared Rajaprasong. It is reproduced in full below with photos added.
We also suggest a look at the photos taken on the day in an album that remains online.
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The crackdown on red shirts has begun. CNN and the BBC are reporting protesters and journalists killed as armored personnel carriers and hundreds of troops rolled through barricades. Fires are burning near and inside the red shirt barricades. Troops are firing into the area.
Ji Ungpakorn sent this out: “04.00 hrs Bangkok Wednesday. At least forty armoured vehicles move out of army barracks to attack the Rajprasong protest site as Abhisit’s military-backed Government rejects negotiations and a cease fire and tries desperately to cling to power by using more violence against unarmed Red Shirt protesters. Red Shirts move children and vulnerable people to a nearby temple.”
Government acting spokesman Panitan has gone on television and stated that “the government is in control” and has again made the claim, twice in the same speech, that the government forces have “followed international rules” – the media reports clearly show that this is a lie. He states that the red shirt leaders have escaped, and he asks anyone seeing them to report them to the security forces.
He and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will be remembered for the rest of their political careers as responsible for – at present – 65 killed and hundreds of injuries. They will continue to claim the law on their side and international standards, but they have been shown to have ignored these. Human rights organizations worldwide have stated this and the international media has shown it. They deserve international condemnation for their illegal actions.
The AP is reporting three journalists shot and one killed.
Red shirts are said to be fighting back with primitive and small weapons, but “are no match for the heavily armed government forces.”
The troops are through Lumpini Park but are not up to the main stage area as of 0625GMT.
At 0632GMT the government has claimed that most red shirts have fled the Rajaprasong area, but there is no evidence of this provided by reporters. Indeed, Richard Lloyd Parry reports that there are red shirts fighting back. Smoke all over the area.
CNN reporters who are not on the scene are spending a considerable time speculating about the red shirts being armed. It is rather odd stuff because their reporters on the street and others phoning in cannot confirm these comments. What their video shows is troops shooting at protesters.
CNN had a telephone interview with government hardliner Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, who makes the same points about “armed red shirts” being the “only” reason for the troops firing on protesters. Another clear lie or is it that Korn and other Democrat Party leaders are convinced by their own propaganda?
At 0652GMT CNN is reporting continuing heavy firing from the army as they move down Rajdamri Road, near the BTS station.
Press reports are now hitting the search engines and all are reporting casualties. AFP reports: “One Italian journalist and two anti-government demonstrators were killed Wednesday during battles in the ‘Red Shirts’ protest camp in Bangkok, an AFP photographer and hospital sources said. ‘An Italian man was shot and died before arriving at the hospital,’ said Police Hospital director Jongjet Aoajenpong. ‘He’s a journalist, he was shot in the stomach,’ he added. An AFP photographer saw two protesters lying dead on the ground after being shot in the head and killed shortly after troops pushed through barricades built on the perimeter of the camp.”
PPT received this from Pravit Rojanaphruk: “I’ve talked with Naruemon Tabchumphon, behind-the-scene mediator from Chulalongkorn University, she asked me to convey an open-urgentmessage to the red-shirt leaders at Rajprasong to turn themselves tothe authority in order to save lives as the dispersal has begun.’Their status will then change to like protagonists like Gandhi,’ she said at 7.40am, May 19.”
For PPT this seems remarkably naive. Why doesn’t she just say a savage government is about to kill even more people and are not open to discussion? Why is she only able to call on the red shirt leadership? Why not government? Surrendering and going to jail may be an option for the protest leaders, but this call to them alone is remarkable.
Also from Pravit: “I talked with a senior NGO worker made a contact with Jaran Ditaphichai at about 9.30am saying that the red leaders are ready to turn themselves to the police “but some 3000 red-shirt are not backing down.”
TAN reports this on red shirt action in Khon Kaen: “As security officials tightened its blockade of red-shirt protesters in Bangkok, pockets of red-shirts in the provinces have begun to stir up chaos in their respective provinces. In Khon Kaen, a group of red-shirt protesters have managed to rain the province’s City Hall. They are currently not yet able to proceed to the second floor of the building. There are riot control officials present at the scene (11.55 A.M.) but no action has been taken to neutralize the situation yet. The protesters are demanding the government cease its operation and violence against the protesters in Bangkok.”
Bangkok Pundit has a live blog.
At 0800GMT, CNN says that the red shirt leadership has “called off their protest” and said that they are willing to surrender. If nothing else, this says that Panitan’s earlier statement (see above) was yet another lie. CNN reports a “methodical” movement of troops towards the red shirt stage. Fighting seems sporadic. The BBC is showing fires and says there are 5 dead. While the BBC says it has “heard” reports of the red shirt surrender, but that there is “no sign” of the troops “standing down.” Several grenade explosions heard. It reports that the troops remain under control and acting on orders. The military states (at 0804GMT) that they have halted their advance. A BBC reporter states that at least one red shirt leader appeared on stage in handcuffs to emotional scenes.
Fighting is continuing in some pockets but the stage area has been abandoned by 0807GMT. A BBC reporter is there and giving a description of all of this.
The BBC is interviewing a journalist (Patrick Barta, Wall Street Journal) saying that there “is no answer as to where Thailand goes now.” He speaks of reports of actions in other parts of the country. There is “mischief all around” and talk of Thaksin remains high on the agenda. Basically says this is not over as there is no political solution. Some red shirts seem to agree, saying “this is not over.”
BBC reporting large fires. The BBC reports that many red shirts are “angry” about the surrender. They report that it is not clear that the on-the-ground protesters will follow their leaders on surrender. Huge plumes of smoke breaking out to the north and south (at Klong Toei perhaps). Guerrilla activism seems to be breaking out around the city.
No doubt the government will claim that these are paid terrorists…
BBC reporting (0826) that 1000 crack troops have been ordered to “shoot on sight” anyone inciting violence or committing arson.