Thailand moves closer to civil war as Red Shirt General shot by sniper

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by nandu, May 14, 2010.

  1. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thailand moves closer to civil war as Red Shirt General shot by sniper

    14 May 2010 : Tensions in Thailand have peaked with the government withdrawing its offer to hold fresh elections. The increased security includes additional snipers, one of whom yesterday may have shot a serving general, nicknamed Seh Daeng, who was backing and leading the protesters. This has led to the 'Red Shirts' strengthening their resolve and staying putt far away from their rural homes. New York Times reports that the general was shot while he was speaking to one of their correspondents.

    In essence, the fight seems to be between the elite, mostly city dwellers and the rural poor. A commentator one of the forums discussing this issue said in relation to the protesters "their elected PM Taksin was thrown out in an elite backed army coup. After the election, rigged by the army, they still won again and had then their PM thrown out in an elite backed judicial coup, their next nominee was then ejected by elite backed protests and a shady elite-backed army deal with their coalition party. According to the Bangkok Post, "The reds say the government is undemocratic because it came to power in a 2008 parliamentary vote after a court ruling ousted elected allies of their hero, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was unseated in a 2006 coup." Thaksin was known to be corrupt, his $2.2 billion in assets have been seized and he is in exile but was popular for his anti-poverty programs.

    While the crisis started in 2006, it only turned violent in March 2010 and has claimed the lives of over 30 people. The National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) who have led the protests against the government so far had called for a re-election. After finally agreeing in the last week, Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva withdrew the offer and instead imposed a military crackdown to disperse the protesters. Only the strongest restrictions on travel, media, special powers and constant crack-downs have managed to keep even more rural poor from joining the protests which are the largest in two decades.

    After the shootings, tensions have escalated and US and UK embassies have shut down today. Everyone is on the edge waiting to see what happens next... except us Indians who are engrossed in front page news of a gold vending machine in the UAE and cricketers partying too much.

    http://www.8ak.in/
     
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  3. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    This is a worrying development, Thailand is a friendly country and the last thing it needs is a civil war, they are already facing a low intensity insurgency in the south, so would have have done well to avoid this mess.

    There is also a lesson in this for India, no matter how corrupt a politician is, as long as he/she is popular don't try to oust them through non-democratic means.
     
  4. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    Taksin may have been corrupt, but the thing is that, he was very accomodating towards the rural folks. He made money off the city and spend a part of it building up a rural base, which has come in handy now. Goes onto show, even if u r corrupt, spending a bit out of the loot on the public can go a long way! better than hoarding it all! :)
     
  5. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Loud blast heard in Bangkok

    BANGKOK: A loud blast was heard around Bangkok's main business and embassy district on Friday, close to where troops and anti-government protesters clashed earlier in the day, a foreign news agency reported.

    The explosion came after troops blocked key roads, an upmarket area dotted with Western embassies, banks and luxury hotels. Gunfire was also heard at the nearby Sala Daeng intersection.

    Clashes erupted in central Bangkok earlier Friday when protesters tried to stop troops from blocking roads to establish a perimeter around the a sprawling encampment occupied by the demonstrators.

    Two people have been killed and 20 wounded in the violence since Thursday evening.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=104754
     
  6. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Tensions mount as Thai govt rejects talks

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    BANGKOK: Thai troops were locked in a tense confrontation with besieged protesters Monday after three days of street battles in the capital that left at least 33 dead and 239 wounded.

    Guests at a luxury hotel overlooking the sprawling protest site in the heart of Bangkok were forced to shelter in the basement after the building came under gunfire and was rattled by an explosion in the early hours of Monday morning.

    Fire gutted three commercial buildings in another area.

    On Sunday, the government swiftly rejected an appeal by the "Red Shirt" protesters for UN-mediated talks.

    A top protest leader also urged the revered king to intervene in the crisis.

    The violence has turned parts of this city of 12 million people into no-go zones as troops use live ammunition against demonstrators, some of whom are themselves armed.

    The Reds, whose vast base is under siege by troops, said they were ready to enter peace talks with the government immediately as long as the United Nations mediated.

    "We want the UN because we don't trust we will receive justice from organisations in Thailand," protest leader Nattawut Saikuar said as the death toll from the urban warfare mounted.

    The idea was rejected by the government, which has repeatedly warned foreign governments not to meddle in its affairs.

    "No governments allow any organisations to intervene in their internal affairs," spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said.

    Previous talks between the two sides have failed to reach an agreement, despite an offer -- since withdrawn -- by the embattled premier to hold November elections if the opposition demonstrators went home.

    At the Dusit Thani hotel, which overlooks the Reds' encampment, guests rushed to the basement as staff warned them the hotel was under attack, according to an AFP journalist inside.

    "I was in bed. There was a big explosion very close to my room. I went out of the room, other people did too and at that moment the wall outside was hit by bullets," AFP photographer Pedro Ugarte said by telephone.

    It was unclear where the shooting came from.

    Authorities said they would send workers from the Red Cross to help protesters -- particularly women, children and the elderly -- who wanted to leave the vast protest area by 3:00 pm (0800) Monday.

    "Men can also leave the site but they have to show they are unarmed," army spokesman Colonel Sunsern Kaewkumnerd told reporters.

    The army put off a plan to impose a curfew in parts of the city but did not rule out restricting night-time movements if the situation worsened.

    Australia said it would close its embassy to visitors from Monday due to "ongoing violent clashes" including in front of the mission. The US and British embassies have already closed.

    The government extended a state of emergency to five more provinces, ordered schools to stay shut Monday and declared two days of national holidays to keep civilians off the streets as they battled for control of the city.

    Facing a military armed with assault rifles, the protesters have fought with homemade weapons including Molotov cocktails, fireworks and slingshots.

    Some demonstrators have been seen with handguns and the authorities say grenades have also been fired by anti-government militants.

    All of the fatalities in recent days have been civilians.

    The Reds called on the king to intervene, saying he was the "only hope" for an end to the two-month-old crisis, which has left 63 people dead and about 1,700 wounded, including 25 fatalities in a failed army crackdown on April 10.

    "I believe Thais will feel the same, that His Majesty is our only hope," Jatuporn Prompan told reporters at the rally site, where thousands of protesters were camped.

    King Bhumibol Adulyadej chastised both the military and protest leaders during a 1992 uprising, effectively bringing the violence to an end, but has avoided commenting directly on the current crisis in public.

    The Reds accuse Abhisit's government of being elitist and undemocratic because it came to power in a 2008 parliamentary vote after a court ruling ousted elected allies of their hero, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

    Thai society is deeply divided between the urban elite and rural poor, with most of the Red Shirts from the north and impoverished northeast.

    http://www.defencetalk.com/tensions-mount-as-thai-govt-rejects-talks-26389/
     
  7. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thai protesters agree to talks to end violence

    BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai anti-government protesters agreed on Tuesday to talks brokered by a Senate leader to end Thailand's deadliest political crisis in 18 years, but analysts doubted the negotiations would halt the spiralling violence.

    Troops have surrounded thousands of anti-government demonstrators in the fortified camp they have occupied for six weeks in central Bangkok, as soldiers armed with assault rifles skirmish with protesters on several major roads in the capital.

    "We have agreed to take a new round of talks proposed by the Senate because if we allow things to go on like this, we don't know how many more lives will be lost," Nattawut Saikua, one of the "red shirt" leaders, told a news conference.

    A group of 64 senators in the 150-member Seante proposed the talks and offered to mediate with the protesters, urging a ceasfire on both sides.

    But analysts say that while the proposal is positive, it is unlikely to lead to a peace deal.

    The government has not responded and a group of 40 other senators with more pro-government leanings called on the red shirts to surrender and enter the court process.

    "It's just the beginning and it's the kind of an offer that doesn't carry much weight since the senators are not speaking in one voice," said Somjai Phagaphasvivat, a political scientist at Bangkok's Thammasat University.

    But Boonyakiat Karavekphan, political analyst at Ramkhamhaeng University, said the proposal was a promising start.

    "Both sides have come to a deadend and the only way to get out of this deadlock is to return to the negotiations," he said.

    The government's response to the offer was not immediately known, but Nattawut, speaking inside the protesters' fortified camp, said it was in the interests of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to seek a negotiated end to the unrest.

    WOMEN AND CHILDREN

    An estimated 5,000 of the red-shirted protesters remain in a camp covering 3 sq km (1.2 sq miles) of an upmarket shopping district, set up as part of a movement that began in mid-March with the aim of toppling the government and forcing elections.

    The authorities had warned them to leave by 3 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Monday, but the deadline passed without action being taken. Public holidays have been declared until Friday.

    Hundreds of women and children took refuge in a temple inside the protest area, but some protesters fought with soldiers in areas around the camp.

    Red shirt leaders have previously proposed a ceasefire and talks moderated by the United Nations, which the government dismissed. On Monday, they said they would accept talks as long as a neutral arbiter took part and troops withdrew.

    Army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said some "terrorists" were trying to foment trouble through random killings, targeting innocent people at rallies, rescue workers and journalists.

    He said one such incident occurred on Monday north of the main protest site in an apartment block under construction.

    "A group of snipers dressed as soldiers were hiding on floors 24 to 27 aiming randomly at people, and that is being blamed on soldiers," he told a televised briefing.

    Thai media reported a fire was raging in a row of deserted shops in the same area on Tuesday and firefighters were struggling to get into the area because of barricades.

    Erawan Emergency Medical Centre said on Tuesday that 38 people had died in the flare-up of violence since May 13 and 67 have been killed people since trouble started in April.

    The protesters, mostly drawn from the rural and urban poor, and supporters of ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, had initially demanded immediate elections.

    Earlier this month, Abhisit unilaterally offered an election in November -- just over a year before one was due -- but withdrew the offer because the "red shirts" refused to end their rally and kept adding more demands.

    "Following the prime minister's decision to scrap the poll plan, it has become clear that hope for any political solution and reconciliation of the situation even in the short term is extremely slim," political analyst Maria Patrikainen of IHS Global Insight Analysis wrote in a note on the crisis.

    "With no immediate solution in sight, the fighting also threatens to further divide Thailand's already fractured society, pushing the country towards civil war," she added.

    Among the smaller incidents reported from late on Monday, Channel 3 television reported that hundreds of red shirts had attempted to hold a protest at Ramkhamhaeng University in southern Bangkok on Monday evening.

    When students resisted and riot police intervened, the red shirts agreed to hold their rally outside the university. Later a gunman driving past on a motorbike fired into the crowd and the demonstrators dispersed. Some minor injuries were reported.
     
  8. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    The Red Shirt political protest in Bangkok, Thailand has been active for nearly two months now, and has entered a new, deadly phase in the past week, with at least 36 of the total 60 deaths occurring in just the last few days. Anti-government protesters have barricaded themselves against government troops and the Thai army has declared certain protest areas to be "Live Fire Zones". A state of emergency is in effect, covering 17 provinces in the country, as protesters have refused orders to leave, and news just emerged that a renegade general who supported the Red Shirts, Khattiya Sawatdithol, died today from a gunshot wound he suffered on May 13th. Collected here are photos of the recent turmoil in central Bangkok. (19 photos total)
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    Last edited: May 21, 2010
  9. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  10. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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  11. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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