Thai troops, redshirts clash: images from last night

Here are some images that I snapped last night. Warning: some are graphic. The full photoset also contains images from the previous day.

For context on the military crackdown, see the descriptions I posted on Twitter in real-time. The AP says 18 people have been killed in the clashes. Five soldiers and 13 civilians.

For the latest news, here are stories from the NYT, WSJ, AP, and Reuters (1 — and 2).

A cache of weapons on Phan Fah stage. The red shirts said they took the arms from soldiers.

Captured soldiers being held on stage at Phan Fah bridge. I asked one of the red shirts what they would do with these men. He said they would be held until tomorrow (today — Sun.). About 10 min. after I took this photo, the men were lead to an area behind the stage, out of sight.

Protesters’ bodies on stage at Phan Fah bridge

A red shirt media liaison told me this man was the father of one of the protesters who was killed. The man’s son was 25 years old. The man collapsed after crying over his son’s body.

A red shirt protester poses with a riot shield.

A plastic bag full of spent shell casings.

A pool of blood not far from Khao San Rd.

A red shirt woman speaks with soldiers near Makkawan.


Update on red shirt protests and state of emergency

Here are five Thailand-related links for your edification as the red shirt protests grind on here in Bangkok:

  1. Thailand Blocks Protesters’ Sites, MediaWSJ Asia
  2. Does Thailand’s Military Answer to the Government? —
  3. The End of the Thai Fairy Tale — op-ed in the WSJ Asia. ((Note: this link may be subscriber-only, depending on how you access it. Consult Google News, or look for a copy of the print paper.))
  4. Clash of Symbols — Andrew Marshall. ((By the way, if you’re not reading Andrew Marshall’s blog, you should be.))
  5. And last but not least, Snackpolitik: Protesting in ThailandThe Atlantic

For ongoing news, you can consult the Bangkok Post or The Nation.

And to fulfill your Twitter needs, here’s a list I’ve compiled of more than 80 Thailand-related Twitter-ers. This list is comprised of individuals and various news sources.


Red shirt rally continues…

Quick note: As you’re probably aware, the red shirts continue to rally here in Bangkok today. (Google News has some relevant stories.)

In a striking scene, red shirts confronted police who had massed on Langsuan Rd., near Rajaprasong intersection, this morning. The demonstrators essentially chanted and sang songs and beat drums and blew horns until the troops left.

More soon, but for now, you can read my ongoing observations on Twitter.


Red shirts occupy Rajaprasong intersection: photos from today

Red shirt protesters moved their demonstrations to the middle of Bangkok’s central business district yesterday (Sat.), shutting down the Rajaprasong intersection.

This is one of the Thai capital’s crucial intersections, where Phloenchit Road (lower Sukhumvit) and Rajadamri Roads bisect one another, and where the Chidlom Skytrain (BTS) station is located.

The Erawan Shrine is is also here, and several high-end shopping malls — such as CentralWorld — are in this area. The malls all seem to be closed, as are several of the elevated walkways.

There are also several embassies within a 15 minute walk, and the commercial and residential real estate surrounding this intersection is some of Bangkok’s most expensive.

Here’s an IHT story about the red shirts’ move to this location, and here’s one from the BBC.

The government gave the protesters a deadline of 9 p.m. Sat. night to leave; the demonstrators refused. It’s unclear what will happen next.

I just got back home from surveying the scene there. Here are some images.

As you’ll see, there are many thousands of red shirt supporters camped out here. There is generally the same positive, up-beat atmosphere that could be found at the reds’ main protest site, on Rajadamnoen Rd. But I was there from about 11 a.m. until 12 p.m., and the heat was intense, so perhaps a little of the enthusiasm was on the wane.

The logistical arrangements were impressive, with trucks blocking key intersections and red shirt “security guards” stationed at the perimeter of the protest site.

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

Red shirt protesters at Rajaprasong intersection

You can find a few more images in the full Flickr photoset. I will be blogging more here as events unfold. And as ever, you can follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates.


“Thailand’s Battle of Attrition”

Just briefly: For some analysis regarding the red shirt protests, I suggest checking out this NYT/IHT op-ed by Thai academic Thitinan Pongsudhirak. It’s called “Thailand’s Battle of Attrition.” Worth a read.


Update on red shirt protests

Here’s the latest on the red shirt protests:

The talks between red shirt leaders and the government (see previous posts here and here) have ended without success.

The red shirts, as we know, have been been pushing the government to dissolve the house — which would lead to new elections — immediately. Prime Minister Abhisit said the government might do so by the end of 2010. The reds countered with a compromise of 15 days. But the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement.

And so the protests continue.

The red shirts are still demonstrating — though in smaller numbers now — at their main site on Rajadamnoen Rd. But Red shirt leaders say they will now conduct another mass protest on Sat., April 3. They say it will be the biggest demonstration yet.

Here’s a story from AP on the current state of affairs. And this AFP piece has quotes from analysts on the role of the military in all of this.

Similarly, here’s some analysis from the Economist.

For a look at how cultural trends within Thailand are reflected in the red shirts’ protests, I suggest reading this IHT story, headlined “Young Thai Protesters Shed Culture of Restraint.”

As ever, stay tuned — both here on Twitter.


More on Thai government’s talks with red shirts


A quick update to my previous post about Thai PM Abhisit’s talks with red shirt leaders here in Bangkok today.

The talks have concluded for today, and the discussions will resume tomorrow, says this Bangkok Post story. BP has also been sharing some observations on Twitter, as have @terryfrd, @tri26, and others.

The meeting was broadcast live on Thai TV. The PM and his two colleagues sat on one side of a table, all wearing blue shirts. The three red shirt leaders sat opposite them.

As you can see in the image above, the participants’ body language and facial expressions seemed relatively relaxed given the heated nature of the ongoing protests.

(Image: Bangkok Post.)


Thai PM agrees to talks with red shirt leaders

An interesting development here in Thailand today: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has agreed to meet for talks with red shirt leaders. The meeting is taking place now ((It was set to begin about 30 min. ago, at 4 p.m. local time at King Prajadhipok’s Institute, an educational center here in Bangkok.))

Abhisit had, until today, said he would not speak with the red leaders so long as they insisted on their demand to dissolve the House. That remains their goal, however.

This weekend saw some mysterious grenade attacks on state-run TV stations and on the 11th infantry command, the military base where Abhisit has been staying. And red shirt protesters reportedly stepped up their demonstrations at that compound.

Here are stories from AP,, and BBC. And BP has a round-up of news links and some commentary.

Analysts say that Abhisit is unlikely to dissolve the House. But the red shirts are optimistic.

In a statement to media today, they say that while the talks are ongoing, demonstrators will remain at Phan Fa bridge on Rajadamnoen Rd., dancing and cheering and “waiting for the Parliament dissolution announcement today.”


Observations and questions as the red shirt protests come to an end (for now)

Now that the red shirt protests have come to an end (or paused?) ((The demonstrations seem to be over for now, that is. The red shirts say they’ll be back on Sat., March 27.)), here’s the question: What now?

Here are a few observations and questions, many of which I expect to re-visit in subsequent posts:

  • The reds shirts gained some credibility because the protests were peaceful. ((Note: there have been several mysterious grenade attacks at various locations in Bangkok of late. The Bangkok Post has the latest here. It is unclear who is behind these attacks. Both the red shirts and government blame each another.)) The violence that occurred in April, 2009 discredited the reds’ cause. And the Abhisit government dealt with the unrest successfully, boosting the PM’s stature.
  • The police — many of whom, I understand, were from the north and northeast of Thailand, like many of the red shirts — showed restraint in allowing the protesters to perform their “blood protests” in an orderly manner.

    No doubt the notion of a controlled protest that involves the splattering of human blood seems contradictory. But I can tell you, from witnessing the events at Government House and the prime minister’s residence, that the police dealt with the crowds in a measured, well-coordinated manner.

  • You might not get this impression from reading the local media here ((For more on the subject, I refer you to this CSM story today about Thailand’s media landscape)) but the red shirts seem to enjoy significant support among Bangkok people.

    To wit: I spent many hours attending red shirt protests and observing the red shirt caravans that paraded around town, and the onlookers overwhelmingly greeted the red demonstrators warmly. For example, see the image below, in which what appear to be everyday folks — not protesters who are wearing red attire — have come out to cheer the protesters on.

    This is notable because the red shirts are typically characterized as being farmers from the north and northeast who are at odds with the Bangkok middle class, business establishment, and bureaucracy. ((Yes, I realize that it’s possible that these pedestrians are also from the provinces.))

  • How will we remember the “blood protests“? The shocking use of protesters’ blood made international headlines, raising awareness of the red shirts’ cause abroad. But did the tactic alienate moderate Thais who are neither red nor yellow?

    People I have talked to have said that the reds’ use of blood was meant to appeal to their own base, and to seize the attention of those in power. So perhaps that’s all the red shirt leaders care about.

  • Can the red shirts move beyond Thaksin? Or do they want to? The exiled prime minister is reviled by many (non red shirt) Thais. Indeed, even some red shirts with whom I spoke told me that they were protesting not in support of Thaksin, but for democracy and what they call a level playing field.

    Still, Thaksin’s image could be seen on many, many signs and banners, such as the flag below. Thaksin is undoubtedly popular among many red shirts. But will the man prove to be a stumbling block to the red shirt movement?

  • Will dissolving the house solve anything? This is what the reds say they are trying to accomlish. But looking ahead, if new elections are held, and if the Thaksin-friendly Phua Thai party wins — as it likely would — what would happen then? Would Phua Thai appoint another proxy for Thaksin? If so, will the PAD — the yellow shirts — return?
  • That’s it for now. More on this soon, I’m sure.

    By the way, my five observations from last year — after the Songkran unrest ended — are similar to some of these thoughts. That’s testament, I suppose, to the intractability of the problem.


    Red shirt protesters march around Bangkok today

    Red shirt protesters will be touring Bangkok today, taking their protests from Rajadamnoen Rd. to various parts of the city. The Bangkok Post has the details. And there’s more from Reuters.

    In other news, this week’s Economist will not be distributed in Thailand due to an article about the Thai monarchy. Reuters explains. And VOA has a brief item, as well.

    You can follow the news on today’s protests by checking out the #redmarch hashtag on Twitter. You can also, of course, consult the Bangkok Post, the Nation, and Google News. (I will likely also be relaying some thoughts via Twitter.)