Friday, April 23, 2010

Key moment at hand in Thai insurrection

The mass protests of "Red Shirt" anti-government demonstrators reached the point of mass violence earlier this month, when an attempted crackdown on April 10th left over a score dead and failed to break the movement.

The demonstrators continue to claim wider grievances, but are mostly supporters of ousted (and indicted) former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his hand behind the motivation of the Red Shirts can not be discounted.

The protests have resulted in a closure of the Bangkok Shopping district as the demonstrators have set up barricaded camps all along the major streets there for weeks. Violence is a daily threat. The government has failed to restore order and, if this is any indication, lacks the will to do so:
The reds' proposal came shortly after the army commander-in-chief, Gen Anupong Paojinda, told his commanders he would not use force to evict the protesters.

Deputy army spokesman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said Gen Anupong thought the use of force would "not end the current problems and would have many repercussions".

"The best thing is to create understanding among the people. The army's job now is to take care of the people, and not allow Thais to attack each other," Col Sirichan reported the general as saying.
Perhaps there is something to negotiate. Perhaps. Luck to the government to find a way out of this mess.

For now, consider this British Travel Warning to be broadly applicable:
The Foreign Office gave its travel advice relating to Thailand's capital because of the risk "that violence could break out without warning".


The Foreign Office said in a statement: "This advice reflects our concern for the safety of British nationals planning to travel to Bangkok, given the risk that violence could break out without warning during the increasingly volatile political crisis.

"The situation is changing on a daily basis, and we recommend that British nationals living in Thailand or travelling to the country check the travel advice on the Foreign Office website regularly for details of further developments."
I'd extend that to "any nationality" being at risk. Stay safe, folks.

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