The Red-Shirts' accepted Prime Minister Abhisit's offer to dissolve parliament and hold a November election, but demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban to
face criminal charges for his
role in the April 10 crackdown. Abhisit rejected the Red-Shirts' demand, rescinded the offer of a November election and announced that his government will expel the Red-Shirts from their encampment in the business district in Bangkok. The Red-Shirts have called for reinforcements.
According to Voice of America, the government crackdown has begun with the shooting of a Thai general who is supportive of the Red-Shirts in their encampment.
Other reporting: Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Times, Al Jazeera, New York Times. I would have included the Bangkok Post, but I couldn't get to their articles for some unknown reason.
It appears that the Thai government has offered a reconciliation plan that includes an election on November 14th. The Guardian says that the Red Shirts have accepted the proposal, while the BBC says that the Red Shirts are willing to talk.
There seems to be a group called the Multi-Colored Shirts who are opposing the Red Shirts, though other sources refer to them as Yellow Shirts, the group that used nonviolence to overthrow the previous government, and wants to limit who can actually be in parliament.
The Red Shirts had fortified their positions in Bangkok and halted army forces from entering Bangkok (New York Times though "thailand protest train" gets 405 hits in news.google.com):
… antigovernment demonstrators in the northeast stopped a train carrying military vehicles, underlining the impunity of the protest movement and the government’s weakening control of the populous hinterland.
While the Guardian wrote that army soldiers may not be reliable:
However, there has been speculation that the army is reluctant to move against the protesters again after a failed attempt to clear them from the streets a week ago. The army chief, Anupong Paochinda, has said an election is the only solution to Thailand's political crisis.
Many soldiers, particularly in the lower ranks, are openly supportive of the red shirts' cause. Protesters have nicknamed them "watermelon soldiers", for their green uniforms on the outside and red sympathies within.
Looks like the Red Shirts are undermining the support of the government.
In Thailand, the Red Shirt anti-government protesters (United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, aka UDD) have continued their campaign to oust the current government. This included retaking a pro-opposition tv station that the government attempted to censor. One of their tactics was to occupy a commercial shopping district in Bangkok causing the shutdown of various malls.
Unfortunately for all, twenty one people have died including four soldiers and eight hundred have been injured when the military attempted to remove protesters from the area they are occupying.
According to the BBC, the head of the army has called for the government to be dissolved and expressed his reluctance to use force. In a replay of what happened in January of 2009, the Election Commission has decided that the prime minister's Democratic Party should be dissolved due because they failed to declare an $8 million donation from a company during the 2005 election. The case will be referred to the Constitutional Court as in early 2009. The UDD brought the case.
The current government may fall soon since it no longer seems to have the support of the military.
I cannot say that Thailand has been quiet since the last time I posted, but with the recent protests by the Red-shirted demonstrators who are protesting the current government things have moved up in their intensity. NPR reported 100,000 anti-government non-violent protesters have taken to demonstrating outside of government buildings.
Recently, many protesters gave a little bit of their blood so that they could pelt government buildings with bags of the blood. The news reports I have heard indicate that the protesters are sending a message that they are willing to shed blood in violent opposition to the current government. An alternative interpretation could be that they are showing that they are willing to withstand violent attacks by the government nonviolently. Not being there or knowing Thai, it is hard to discern the truth.
The military at least does not appear to be attempting to escalate their own violence, but is hoping the protesters tire and leave.
A great deal has happened in Thailand since I last posted. The anti-government protests continued into early December with violence by both anti- and pro-government supporters (1, 2, 3). In November, anti-government protesters escalated their efforts by taking over Thailand's two main airports.
In early December, the Thai Constitutional court banned the new prime minister and several ruling parties for electoral fraud. As a result the anti-government protesters called off their takeover of the airports. Now that the larger parties were banned, the Democrat Party, one of the opposition parties, formed a new government with Abhisit Vejjajiva as the prime minister. The anti-government protests were suspended though its organizers have vowed to renew demonstrations.
The supporters of the banned parties expanded their non-violent protests and have blockaded the parliament building. They are trying to prevent the new government from operating and are calling for new elections.
Parliament chose the brother-in-law of ousted Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra as the new prime minister. The anti-government protests continue.
Thailand is 11 days into the (largely?) nonviolent attempt to overthrow the current government. The government opponents escalated the conflict with an attempt to take over the Police HQ and various airports. They continue the occupation of the prime minister's office building.
The government reacted by attempting to arrest 9 protest leaders, and tried to evict the protesters from government buildings.
The prime minister said that he would not use force, but, after supporters of his party (which has support largely from the rural areas) attacked the protesters. The BBC quote is "when a screaming crowd of government supporters – armed with sticks and slingshots – ploughed into a group from the PAD". Street clashes resulted and the PM called a state of emergency in Bangkok.
The military doesn't seem eager to get involved with police staying on the sidelines during clashes or attempting to keep the two sides apart. I haven't had time to look up other sources than the BBC, so it is possible that the military and police are using harsher methods with government supporters since the military overthrew the previous government by the PM's party.
The foreign minister has left the government and the PM has called for a referendum that will "ask a range of questions including whether the
government should resign, whether it should dissolve parliament and
what people thought about the ongoing protests." (BBC) The protest leaders opposed it, though considering that they don't want an elected parliament, it doesn't seem that surprising.
The BBC has pictures from the latest clashes.
The BBC has pictures of the anti-government protesters in Thailand. They want Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his cabinet to resign. The BBC claims that the protesters want to end Thailand's democracy and allow the military a large roll in the government.
Thousands occupied government buildings and a state-run TV station.