Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wall Street protest of April 29, 2010

Karmalize, ireport, Wall Street Protest - 4.29.10

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Deadly April 22 grenade bombings in Bangkok


Andrew Marshall,, Thais love peace
....The editorial in today’s Bangkok Post warns of civil war.  A month ago I might have laughed off that idea. But as the chaos last night showed, Thailand is now so volatile that the security situation can change rapidly and dramatically. Silom Road, the busy office and shopping district where the Patpong night market is located, was almost unrecognizable to me. A thousand or more heavily armed troops occupied the shuttered road and its ill-lit side-streets. Ambulances raced in and out, sirens screaming, past coils of razor wire. Drunken protesters combed the garbage-strewn pavements for bottles to hurl at the reds.

I was struck by the sight of some women crossing the road in that stoop-and-run style you associate with sniper alleys, not shopping areas. Silom: twinned with Sarajevo....
Nation's State, The Nation's State, Scenes from Silom April 22
....I arrived after the M79 grenades had exploded. ... When I arrived, mob violence by PAD (yellow shirts, multicolored shirts, or whatever name they are using today) was in full swing and they were again setting upon people they suspected were reds.

Yet violence mostly raged between the PAD and the red frontline. Both sides fought spiritedly and the sound of breaking bottles, breaking windows, vulgar insults, and thousands of metal pieces of debris ricocheting off walls, cars, and signs was non-stop.  

Police were doing nothing....

Flo, Viator, Silom Clashes (22. April)
Shortly after the explosions at the BTS Station several clashes happened and atmosphere got very intense. At the end police is in control again and cracking down anti-red protesters. Here are ten minutes of my 70min Video-footage...
Newley,, Explosions in Silom

...images from the time I spent at Silom last night. I arrived not long after what authorities say was an M79 grenade exploded near the Dusit Thani hotel, in an area where pro-government demonstrators had been rallying....

Bangkok Pundit, Asian Correspondent, Silom under attack

Jotman, JOTMAN.COM, Explosions kill three in Bangkok, foreigners among injured

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thai protesters and army at Silom, Bangkok

Events of April 19-21


New Mandala Reader, New Mandala, Silom 21 April
These pictures were 21 April around 6-7pm. As I crossed from the Government controlled Silom Road to Red Controlled Ratchadamri, I noticed a large difference between the two crowds. The yellow side proceeded to symbolically burn some red clothing... This created a cloud of smoke and a sort of frenzy as people ran towards the burning red shirt while shouting loudly.  Pro-Government supporters were going wild shouting obscenities at the reds..... I then walked over to the red side where they were continuously constructing their encampment out of tires and sharpened bamboo. I crossed through to a much quieter environment where a gentleman with a huge smile presented my friend with a red clapper. She was visiting for the first time and loved it. The environment on the red side was actually quite relaxed compared to the activities taking place accross the street...
Ton Joh, Thai-FAQ,  Is a crackdown on the red protesters imminent?“, video narrative shot on location  between April 20-21.
April 20:  "Mood not festive...  extremely tense...  Seen a lot of guys at security checkpoints with sharpened bamboo sticks...  a lot of uncomfortable stares from local Thai people... they've got spotlights searching the buildings for snipers... "
Nirmal, Straits TimesFlashpoint Silom, 22 April
But passions seemed high on the part of the flag-waving pro-government crowd, and their numbers were steadily growing. Sensing the mood, I tweeted that Sala Daeng was an accident waiting to happen.

Later, I watched it unfold. There was little satisfaction in having been right.
....around 10pm, the mood appeared to settle as many people left. I was on the point of heading home when some rowdy men began to get out of hand, running out into the intersection threateningly.

I saw the precise moment when the riot started. At around 11pm, some of the pro-government demonstrators were running out into the intersection taunting the Reds, and then one finally let fly with a large stone. That of course was the signal for a barrage of stones and bottles from the pro-government mob.
The Nation State,  Yellow Lynch Mob, 21 April
...The yellow mob (and i do mean to use the word mob rather than protesters) had worked themselves up into a frothing anger while their leaders were exchanging taunts over loudspeakers with the opposing red camp.

Pitched battles broke out in which both reds and yellows threw bottles and traded sling-shot rounds. Ball bearings, marbles, and other metal objects caused a number of injuries. I was hit in the forehead by a marble shot from the yellow side.

Then the situation became more violent and truly ugly.

The yellows began attacking people near them they suspected of being red shirts. An older motorcycle taxi driver, a young man claiming to be a off-duty soldier, a Thai journalist caught carrying a UDD membership card, and a somewhat ignorant Western tourist who was on the way the the Sala Deang BTS station.

The yellows punched, kicked, spit, scratched, and broke bottles over their victims heads.

They also threatened the press who were filming their violence. They accused us of not filming the 'right' violence and aggressively tried to tell us to stop filming them and go to the other side to film the reds....
Derk Wiken, New Mandala, More scenes from the stand-off in Bangkok on 21 April

...It was dark and there seemed to be only one entrance/exit. In hindsight it was a bit scary as the reds had built up their barricades and would not let their own people out. I overheard a guard telling a lady as much...


Patrick Winn, Global Post, Bamboo Battlements in the Heart of Bangkok, 21 April
...Behind the bamboo wall, there's an air of gleeful irreverence. The protesters are proudly working class -- many wear T-shirts reading "Commoner!" in Thai -- and they seem to revel in the David-vs.-Goliath nature of their fight. They've even broken up bits of brick and sidewalk cement to use as projectiles in case of a military crackdown. Fireworks and paper lanterns were sent into the sky to confuse military helicopters. ...

Nirmal, Vortex of Emotion, 21 April
...At the outer perimeter of the red shirt camp at Ratchaprasong, the black-clad guards were seriously checking everyone and every vehicle heading in – and I mean serious. They were alert and firm but polite, and very professional.
Newley, Red shirts and pro-government demonstrators in Silom, 21 April
....The anti-government “no color” demonstrators, meanwhile (see the last image below), were positioned on the Silom side of the intersection. They expressed their dislike for the red shirts, and collected money among themselves to buy water and food for the troops.

These “no colors” told me they love the king, and that Thaksin and the red shirts want to create a Thai republic...
Contributor, New Mandala, Scenes from Sala Daeng, 20 April


The Nation's State, 4:30 AM on 19 April at Silom
Rumors were rampant that a military crackdown against the red shirts was due at 4am.

Just after 4, troops rolled down Silom and took up position on the pedestrian bridge aiming their rifles at protesters.
Seven Winds, Seven Winds, In the Eye of the Storm
... I will support the police and soldiers and carry on my daily life and not let the protesters change my way of life. I'm going to support McDonald's and DoiTung and make sure they don't lose any revenue. I saw a lady giving coffee and drink certificates to the soldiers from the local businesses and lots of smiles and thanks from the people who work here. I recall last time, it was this neighborhood coming out against the red shirts that was one of the reasons that forced them from taking over the Chongnosi/Sathorn intersection. See my post on this incident last year. I believe that it will happen again if the reds try to move into this neighborhood once more.  
David Streckfuss, Bangkok Pundit, The reds are in Bangkok, but what is happening in the Northeast?
....Villages throughout the 2,000 villages of Khon Kaen each have at least one red shirt group. Each group drums up the funds and organizes transportation. Each group met first at the provincial hall in Khon Kaen to register, and with much fanfare, cheers, and blowing of horns, off they went to join the protests in Bangkok. Tonight, the first bus’s engine is idling, waiting for it to fill up. Numerous pick-up trucks looked geared up to go as well. On the night of the 10th, the day of great carnage, 850 registered and joined their friends and relatives in Bangkok.

Aftermath of April 10 violent street battle in Bangkok


In the beginning it was more of an open street party. Now it is developing into something like an independent village in the heart of the city. People are installing themselves more comfortably, and the infrastructure is developing. The markets are getting diverse; the selection of street food is getting better by the day; the number of tents, shelters, street pharmacies, open air massage parlors and so on are increasing constantly. I even heard the red leaders calling the area “Ratchaprasong Resort”.

Anonymous, New Mandala, Red Shirts in Chiang Mai
....Increasingly they tell me they are ‘sua khaaw’ (white shirts), indicating that they have joined the still amorphous group of expanding Thais seeking to occupy unaligned political space between the Red and Yellow poles.  What’s more, the University crowd, with whom I spend most of my time, are readily apathetic to politics in general, their almost universal refrain to any political enquiry being ‘naa bua’ (boring).

The most obvious sign of the Red presence is the faithful who gather daily outside the Worarot Hotel, the headquarters of Chiang Mai’s Red Shirt movement.  And though the numbers have been little more than a few dozen on the occasions I have visited since the rally began, the Red Shirt supporters up here are not to be underestimated.  Earlier last week a local newspaper reported that four members of the core Chiang Mai Red Shirt group, ‘Rak Chiang Mai 51’ (Love Chiang Mai ‘08), had been sentenced to 20-years imprisonment for the (bashing) murder of the elderly father of a local Yellow Shirt community-radio operator in 2008.  In February 2009, the group forcibly shut down a local gay pride parade, later citing as justification that such activities contravened traditional northern ‘Lanna’ culture.  This appeal to an essentialised Lanna identity has become part of the regular discourse of some of the group’s more eloquent spokespeople.

It was with little surprise then that amidst the flurry of blogs, twitters, posts etc that were keeping internet users updated on events in Bangkok last night, reports emerged of Red Shirts storming the Provincial Hall in Chiang Mai.  It was against this background that I decided to go along and see for myself what exactly was taking place, frustrated at the lack of coverage either in the Bangkok or local Chiang Mai press.

Nick Nostitz, New Mandala, Mourning and defiance

 The day after the clashes, April 11, I walked the two sites of the battles – Thanon Dinso and Khok Wua intersection – looking at evidence. At Dinso, the second clash site, several vandalized tanks and humvees remained. The unit designations at the army vehicles were covered with tapes, hiding the unit identities (also during the battle soldiers refused to answer questions regarding unit). Between the tanks two were holes in the tarmac – blasts of grenades which killed and injured several soldiers. The street was spiked with bullet holes. I only found holes from the direction of the army towards the protesters – in the height of knees, stomach, heads and over the heads.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10 violent clashes in Bangkok between army and protesters

At least 10 people have died and over 600 are injured following violent clashes in the old town of Bangkok between red shirt protesters and government soldiers. Red shirt protesters -- mainly from the countryside -- had been camping out and marching in Bangkok for weeks. 

Thai army soldier,, A Soldier's Story   "An account of events around Ratchadamnoen and Khao San on the night of 10 April was given by a conscript in a phone call to his family. Soldiers have been told not to communicate with the media so this report must remain anonymous."
Approximately 50 draftees who had not finished basic training were ordered to put on riot gear at dusk on Saturday and were driven to the Ratchadamnoen area. We were not told in advance where we were going or what our objective was. We were equipped with rubber bullets but no gas masks...

At one point I was overcome with tear gas. Red shirts took off my helmet and I never saw it again. They washed the tear gas off my face. I and 2 friends were now isolated and did not know where to go. We tried staying put but it got too dangerous, so we started moving about and got lost. After 3 hours, we met a policeman in the middle of the night who told us where our unit was.

We got about 3 hours sleep and were transported back to camp the following afternoon. Of the 50 who had gone out, only about 20 remained. Some must be in hospital with injuries, and probably many just ran for their lives.

We have decided, among the draftees, that we will not go out on missions like this. The officers say this too. We have been told by the commanding officer that we will not be asked to go out again.
Michael Connors, Some observations on Red Rally at Rachaprasong district 9 & 10 April, and Brief Report 11/4/10
It has been commonly reported that the police are quite warm towards the red-shirts. This is obvious, although I observed from this rally that the border police were much friendlier than the riot police....

There are suggestions that some of the violence last night was military on military. Asked about the grenade that hit the military last night, I was informed by a UDD source that some 'watermelon soldiers' were deployed by rival commanders to attack the regiment was that was enforcing the crackdown. The source named the regiments and expected more conflict. This of course is unproven, but if true suggests that there may be more military action later. 
Nirmal Ghosh, Straights Times, Spiral of violence
...After the truce was called we made our way to Pan Fah and met with other colleagues, many of us stunned and exhausted from being out all day and often in the line of fire. Colleagues spoke of a firefight in which it seemed as if soldiers may have even been shooting at each other. Snipers were shooting from roofs. There had been so much chaos and confusion that the details and facts quickly became hazy.
Tony Jon, Thai-faq, Thai Army Opens Fire on Red Protesters, posted on 11. Apr, 2010.  (remarkable live-narrated video, plus text description of the event).
"The stand off took place at Phan Fa bridge and was the deadliest clash between the protesters and the army in the month long protest..." 
Andrew Marshall, Journotopia - "British freelance journalist reporting from Asia on big issues for TIME magazine and other publications worldwide."    Twitter feed:
  • Reds heaving huge arsenal of captured weapons onto stage. Guns, ammo piled up beside corpses. Cause. Effect.
  • One man's head rests on a pillow of skull fragments. Red shirt leader Nattawut prays at his feet.
  • On Pan Fah stage. Two corpses here, wrapped in bloody Thai flags.
  • French photographer tells me she saw troops open fire on medics trying to evacuate wounded. 
Nicholas Day, New Mandala, War at Khao San
Emma and me decided to head out to Rajaprasong to see what was happening...  Suddenly, the sound of guns being fired.  There was a large number of guns going off at the same time and each gun firing several bullets in quick succession...
Andrew Walker, New Mandala,  The scene at Phan Fa
I have just returned from the Pan Fa Bridge, after deciding to go and get a dose of reality on what I had been reading and writing about all day.... I arrived at the stage area just in time for the commencement of a very moving commemoration for the dead... [Newley, listed above, appears to have captured some photos of this.]

I talked to one English backpacker who looked a little too pale, and he told me that he had seen someone shot in the head in front of him and had captured it all on film.
Newley,,  Thai troops, red shirts clash: images from last night
Here are some images that I snapped last night.... For context on the military crackdown, see the descriptions I posted on Twitter in real-time.
Bethany Shondark on Twitter -  tweeting continually from a hotel under siege in Bangkok

Legal nomads on Twitter, photos

Noppatjak on Twitter, photos
Richard Barlow on Twitter, photos

Bangkok Pundit, AC, Live blog: The crackdown?

Readers of New Mandala blog, Crackdown (This is an open thread for information and informed
commentary on events in Bangkok today)

Mong Palatino, Global Voices, Thailand: Citizen videos of violent clash

Jotman, JOTMAN.COM, Military crackdown on protesters in Bangkok

Jotman, Jot around the world,  Violence in Bangkok: Is Khao San Road safe for tourists? - a blog summary of reports on events in tourist district

Friday, April 9, 2010

Early April Bangkok protests: Red shirts swarm mall, debut of pink shirts

Bangkok Pundit, Live-blogging: Reds talks with Abhisit, March 28


Thomas Hoy, “Thailand want ยุบสภา”: Red signs in English, March 29, (one of Hoy's photo at right)
Tony Joh, Pink shirt protesters converge on Lumpini Park, April 2, "Supporters of Abhisit Vejjajiva, wearing  pink shirts protested at Lumpini Park today. They want a quick and peaceful end to the current political situation." 
Richard Barlow, Red Shirts Close Biggest Shopping Malls in Bangkok, 3 April
A Reader of New Mandala,  New Mandala, Occupation of the malls – UPDATED, April 4, 
Tony Joh, Chaos in Bangkok as red shirt protesters take over, April 7, "Chaos reigns in Bangkok as the red shirt protesters push the limits of government patience and take over downtown Bangkok."
Richard Barlow, Is Bangkok Really Dangerous?, April 8
Nat, New Mandala, More red shirt images,  April 9, "Here is a gallery of photos from a New Mandala reader, Nat, who went shopping last Saturday and ended up taking a tour of the red shirt protest."

      Wednesday, April 7, 2010