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.

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