in Thai politics

As ‘Bangkok shutdown’ approaches, US Embassy advises keeping cash, food on hand

In a security message today, the US Embassy in Bangkok said:

This is to advise and update U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Thailand that political activists intend to hold simultaneous mass rallies at key intersections and other locations in Bangkok beginning on Monday, January 13th. The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai will remain open for consular services.

The announced January 13 mass rally sites are at major intersections throughout Bangkok, including Asok-Sukhumvit, Pathumwan, Lumpini, Victory Monument, Ratchaprasong, Lat Prao, and Silom and at the Chaeng Watthana government complex. Protests may occur in other areas with little prior notice. Subsequent events are unpredictable, although protest leaders have declared their plan to continue with rallies after January 13.

Protests are expected to occur elsewhere in Thailand, including near Chiang Mai University scheduled for Sunday afternoon, January 12.

While protests have been generally peaceful over the last two months, some have resulted in injury and death. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational, and can escalate into violence without warning. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news and media reports.

These demonstrations can result in significant traffic disruptions and delays. When they occur, and especially on January 13, you should allow extra time when travelling throughout the city or to airports. Consider public transportation alternatives.

We advise you to plan ahead. It is prudent to ensure you have a week’s supply of cash, keep your mobile communications devices charged, and stock a two week supply of essential items such as food, water, and medicine.

Meanwhile, Thai Airways had this to say yesterday:

The Wall Street Journal has more details on what demonstrators are calling “Bangkok Shutdown”:

Mr. Suthep, who had been leading anti-government protests since November, said the shutdown will kick off Monday morning but has not specified when his battle against Ms. Yingluck will end.

Thai authorities predict that the protests will affect at least one million commuters and more than one hundred transit routes, especially in inner Bangkok.

City officials have instructed about 140 government schools to close on Monday.

The Ministry of Transport has urged Bangkok residents to use public transportation, including the city’s elevated train, subway, buses and boats, to avoid getting stuck in gridlock caused by the rallies and blockades. To relieve traffic congestion, the ministry said it will provide free parking in at least 30 locations so commuters can connect to public transportation. The city’s bus, boat, and train systems will also run more frequently to accommodate an increase in passenger numbers, which are expected to nearly double.

Meanwhile, there’s this news today: