Saturday, March 27, 2010

Late March red shirt demonstrations in Bangkok





Srithanonchai, New Mandala, The “rural hordes” up close, March 16 
After the Bangkok Post had kindly called the protestors of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) “red rage” and “rural hordes,” I decided to pay a visit to the protest site on Monday, 15 March 2010.
Simon Roughneen, New Mandala, Another view from the streets of Bangkok, March 18th 
For those of us who aren’t traipsing the streets of Bangkok this week provides a striking picture of the action in this photo page.
Reader of New Mandala, New Mandala Support for Reds from Bangkok at large, March 18
Notice all the people (wearing all colours) to the left who poured out onto the streets to show their support. This is a middle to upper class neighbourhood, so this totally defies the stereotype that only lower-class “rural hordes” support the pro-democracy movement.

Nick Nostitz, New Mandala, Bangkok or bust, Part 1, March 26,  "Over recent weeks, Nick Nostitz has been out on the streets of Bangkok taking pictures and collecting his thoughts about the ongoing Red protests." 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Surveillance operation against WikiLeaks

 Barret Brown at True Slant live-blogged reports of the surveillance operation against WikiLeaks in Iceland on March 24.


[therelive+logo+squrare+white+smallest.JPG] Wikileaks provided hour-by-hour accounts of the event on twitter.
WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation. Following/ photographing/ filming/ detaining.

Background
Last week the New York Times reported that the Pentagon had set its sights on undermining Wikileaks.   Jotman blogged about the event here, posting the relevant tweets.  For background about WikiLeaks -- and why the organization matters  -- it's well worth watching this video.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blood protest at Thai prime minister's house

Red Shirt protesters in Bangkok splashed blood on the Thai prime minister's residence today. 

WEDNESDAY MARCH 17, 2010

  Newley, Newley.com, March 17, 2010, Thailand blood protest: images from the prime minister’s house today
Here are my images from today’s red shirt “blood protest” — is that an official term now? — at the prime minister’s house.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bangkok blood protest of March 16

Some concerns that had been raised about the Red Shirts' planned blood protest are described at Jot ASEAN.

At this time in Thailand, the protest leaders are collecting blood in preparation for throwing it on Government House.


 Bangkok Pundit, Asian Correspondent, Bloody options and  Bloody Tuesday sacrifice


Nirmal Ghosh, Straights Times, Bloody Tuesday in Bangkok  
(text, photos).  Photo right by Nirmal Ghosh.
....Doctors and nurses from hospitals and clinics had volunteered to do it professionally. There were stacks of supplies – clean disposable syringes in original packaging, alcohol, cotton wool and gauze and Band-aid, surgical gloves and masks. The blood was being put into large plastic bottles, the kind in which you get drinking water in bulk....

A few metres from the stage, hundreds of red shirts were filing into a tent to donate blood. An air conditioner wheezed fruitlessly as 20-30 people at any given moment crammed into the white tent on the hot and humid morning, with the queue outside stretching for about 50 metres. After they had given blood, they were provided with a generous bowl of rice porridge outside.....
Pongpan Chumjai, PrachataiRed shirts launch “Blood Sacrifice” campaign (text, photos, video).  Photo right by Prachatai.
This morning, thousands of red shirts lined up to have their blood drawn by medical activists, a day after red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikua vowed to collect "1 million cubic centimetres" of blood to spill at Government House on Tuesday evening. More blood will be shed at the headquarters of the Democrat Party on Wednesday and the Prime Minister's house on Thursday if the protesters’ demands were not met.
John Le Fevre, Photojourn.
 Red Shirt's blood collection points being swamped. People  want their blood poured at Thailand Gov. House
 Newley Purnell, Newley.com, Images from today’s red shirt blood protest
Warning: if you don’t like images of needles or blood — or, specifically, photos of large plastic bottles full of blood — avert your eyes now…

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Targeting Abhisit, Red Shirts march on Bangkok military base

This post continues from these previous posts --  most of which have been updated:
    EVENTS OF MONDAY, MARCH 15

    Updated March 16-17:

    Srithanonchai, New Mandala, The "rural hoards" up close
    After the Bangkok Post had kindly called the protestors of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) “red rage” and “rural hordes,” I decided to pay a visit to the protest site on Monday, 15 March 2010. When I arrived at the UN building at around 16:30, a speaker announced that there would be a “people’s war.” However, the number of troops seemed insufficient for this purpose. Surely, the sight of all the people, who had turned much of Rajadamnoen Avenue into a huge market place, was impressive. Moreover, this gathering certainly was a great exercise in political identity building, education, participation, and empowerment. People even lined up with filled-in forms to have their pictures taken for a computerized database of UDD members. But if I had been the prime minister, I would not have been shaken.
    Updated March 15 17:33 in Sydney, 14:00 in Bangkok, 07:00 in London, 03:00 in New York:

    Al Jazeera television reporting live that rural protesters are "swarming" an army base just outside Bangkok where Prime Minister Abhisit was holding out.  Abhist recently departed the base by helicopter.  Word is that he will return to the base, as he is surveying the protests from the air.

    The Red Shirts have demanded that the government meet a 12:00pm deadline to "dissolve parliament."  Failing that, they promise "widespread disruptions," consisting of protests at "several key locations in the capital."   There are at least 7,000 troops in the base.  Most soldiers on the front line at the base are only armed with "riot gear."

    AP reports that Abhisit rejected the protesters' demand on national television.

    Wayne Hay, the Al Jazeera correspondent reports (at 12:00pm BKK from the army base) that speakers have been set up outside the army base, broadcasting songs from the Northeast of Thailand -- where many of the protesters live.  Hay says the protesters don't seem to have any intention of  taking over the base (which would be extremely difficult).

    Let's check out who is live-blogging the protests and what they are seeing.

    John Le Fevre, Photojourn.  Recent tweets (earlier first):
    • Thousands of red-shirt protesters have boarded trucks at the rally site in preparation for moving to Bangkhen http://twitpic.com/18o43u (photo right)  
    • Off to join the convoy. 
    • Is on a redshirt truck going 2 the 11th infantry regiment
    • Redshirt onvoy proceeding along Si Ayutthaya. Supportive reception from onlookers. Traffic grid locked on cross roads
    • Thousnds of citizens along Si Ayutthaya encorouging redshirts' convoy
    • Hard 2 estimate figures but at least 10,000  redshirts on the move 
    •  redshirts' trucks now playing protest/battle type tunes. Still attracting wide public support
    Nirmal Ghosh, Straights Times, LIVE blog on Bangkok protests 

     Red shirts are trundling up the road from Victory Monument in strength heading for the 11th Infantry Regiment HQ where the government's "war room" is located, run by PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, DPM Suthep Thaudsuban and army chief gen Anupong Paojinda. . . .
    Rob Newberry, Robin Thailand (on Twitter, most recent first):
    • I am amazed by the support on the street for the red march. Thousands of people cheering the convoy on. 
    • Women on the street yelling "I love Thaksin! I love Thaksin!"
    •  "When Thaksin was here, everybody had money in their pocket." redshirt quote. See previous HT. 
    • redshirt in truck..."Thaksin is the best Prime Minister Thailand has had." 
    •  People in the street passing us food and water as we move down in the red shirts. 
    • "80% of police are red shirt" Quote from woman at the reds' march.
    • Reports indicate red shirts start to cut barbed wire along infantry fence (Can anyone else confirm this?) 
    • Lots of support from people on the street for redshirt march [TL: photo above] http://twitpic.com/18p38j
     .Newley Purnell, Newley.com, Red shirt protests: images from Sun. and Mon.
    Also reporting via twitter (also great photos like the one at right showing the Red Shirts "in front of army complex"):
    • On way to 11th infantry brigade. Red shirts' convoy being greeted by onlookers like victory parade.
    Jodi Ettenberg,  Legalnomad, posting from Twitter (most recent first):
    •  Now a huge dancing party at Kaset intersection, despite the 11th r speech's more serious tone.
    • Traffic completely blocked now at Kaset intersectn. People getting out of their cars to march instead  
    • Redshirts rrive at Kaset intersection, crowd handing water & cheering.[photo right] http://tweetphoto.com/14471736
    • At Major Ratchada mall now, past Lat Phrao MRT. Thousands in the street supporting the red shirts.
    • Red shirts taking over Lat Phrao in both directions now, tons of support on the streets 'I love you!' they are yelling.
     Siam Report, Siam ReportLive Blog: Red Shirt Rally
     (12:25) Just watched CNN update. Dan Rivers seems to lean towards the yellow position: Thaksin runs the whole movement--the puppet master with the money bags; protesters are there for money not democracy. . .
    (11:15am) tulsathit Just done with a news meeting. A consensus is red protesters have behave really well so far. (SR: Only at the Nation do you get this kind of stuff!)

    (11:07am) TAN_Network INN: Red shirt leaders in Chiang Mai are rallying their supporters to surround City Hall; Khon Kean doing the same
    The Nation, Red shirts march for reply on House Dissolution
    2pm : The red shirts disperse and return to Pan Fah Bridge.

    1.30pm : Nuttawut Saikua, a red shirt leader, announces that a total of three million cc of blood will be taken from one million red shirts tomorrow. If the prime minister still refuses to dissolve the House, the blood will be poured at Democrat Party, the Government House and the PM's residence. 

    1.08pm : red shirts leaders declare that they want to enter the 11th Infantry Regiment where peacekeeping operations commands is located. If their demand is not met, they would storm into the compound. They claim they want to submit a list of demand....
    Twitter
    #redshirt #redmarch #Bangkok  

    Context, commentary from the blogs
    Mong Palatino, Global Voices, Thailand: ‘Reds’ vow a bigger rally today

    Map 
    Bangkok Dangerous protest map - pinpoints location of army base in BKK

    Bangkok: Red shirt protest rally of March 14

    Continued from these previous posts:
    SUNDAY MARCH 14


     Jon Dent, Prachatai, Thailands2Faces – Red Dawn
    Forestmat, Demotix, Buddhist Monks join Bangkok Red Shirt protests (two dozen photos)
    Despite being a blisteringly hot day, hundreds more Buddhist monks guarded by their red shirt supporters joined anti-government protests in Bangkok today.

    Despite being a major anti-government rally, the atmosphere continues to remain peaceful, even to the point of soldiers in riot gear willing to accept having red neckerchiefs tied to their wrists by rally goers. Bangkok, Thailand. 
    Marc Askew, New Mandala, Red soi, Red city: A brief commentary from the streets, (text,  dozens of photos)
    ...My perspective here is from the vantage point of the Bangkok street, where, by accident rather than design, I have turned up during key moments of confrontation – October 2008, March 2009, and again March 2010, from Thailand’s primary red zone, the southern border provinces, my main field of research. When in Bangkok, I usually stay at a small guest house in a soi in Bangkok that has been “red” since October 2008, when local people responded angrily to the yellow shirt confrontation with police in front of parliament house, a prelude to the destruction of the Somchai government two months later. From the restaurant waitresses, the families running the small restaurants, the hairdressers, the travel agents, the dry cleaners, the newsagents, the lottery ticket sellers, the taxi drivers to the ubiquitous motorcycle taxi riders — all oppose the current Democrat-led government as illegitimate. The owner of this guest house (let’s call her Daeng) is a native of Loei Province in the upper northeast. ...
    ...we entered Sukhumvit road, and found ourselves in the midst of a convoy of trucks and motorcycles carrying red shirt supporters towards the rally site. What was remarkable about this were the numerous enthusiastic bystanders along Sukhumvit, Ploenchit and Rama I roads who shouted greetings to the cavalcade. I particularly recall a woman flower vendor outside the Erawan Brahman shrine, who smilingly threw red roses into the pick up trucks as they passed. At the rally sight, despite the intense heat of the day, the atmosphere was festive. At the end of Lan Luang road, red shirt guards, donning black, manned barricades, handing water to those arriving.  Each new arriving group was cheered enthusiastically as they entered this and other points, like an assembling army.

       Bangkok Bugle, the Bangkok Bugle,  WITH THE REDS ON RAJADAMNOEN (text, 7 photos)
      I'm home after spending a couple of hours walking up and down Rajadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok where most the red-shirt anti-government protesters are gathering. It's hard to estimate just how many people, but for certain the numbers are growing by the hour. Policing is light and the mood of the protesters, at least when I was there, was jovial although seemingly determined.

      Bangkok Pundit/reader, AC Red rally : Live blog. (text)
      On the 15,000 protesters, they were coming into Bangkok from ouside of Bangkok.  A BP reader who has provided accurate information in the past and who was near Sukhumvit Soi 31 (the soi that Abhisit lives on) e-mails this report:
      ....The atmosphere could be described as "unbridled enthusiasm", without exaggeration.

      To me, the most interesting thing to observe were the ordinary Thais -- vendors, people coming out of their shops (particularly in primarily Yellow Bangkok), and people streaming from smaller sub-sois to watch -- along the street who were not wearing red, but were cheering as well, and as the convoy of thousands finished the protest and started driving along Sukhumvit (presumably toward Ratchadamnoen), these same un-red-shirted people waved and called out to the departing Reds. Also, a surprising number of people driving private cars (as well as taxis, but we'd expect those), honked their horns and waved and smiled at the Reds as they drove past. Many men and women not wearing who had just come out to the street to watch were waving whatever red things they could find as the Reds departed: red shopping bags, faded Coke signs, I even saw a red sock!....

      Saturday, March 13, 2010

      Red shirt protest in Bangkok of Saturday March 13

      The live-bloggers of this tumultuous period in modern Thai history are among the world's most experienced.  Several of these bloggers -- veterans of previous demonstrations -- were on the streets of Bangkok Saturday.


      MORE FROM FRIDAY MARCH 12 - continued from previous post


      Forestmat, Demotix, Red shirts anti-government rally in Bangkok
      (two dozen great photos)

      ...Riot police, and soldiers in riot gear are on almost all street corners in the immediate area of the demonstration. Traffic is light for a capital city, and so far the atmosphere amongst the red-shirts is lighthearted. Roads surrounding the demonstration areas are completely closed to traffic as of this afternoon....

      John Le Fevre, Photojourn, Pattaya red-shirt rally March 12, 2010 (2 dozen photos) - "The images on this page are from the prayer ceremony and rally on March 12, 2010 in Pattaya, Thailand."
       SATURDAY MARCH 13

      Nirmal Ghosh, Straights Times, Bangkok awaiting 'rural hordes'
      It is still too early to estimate numbers – a critical issue because many in the establishment have been saying the Red Shirts are losing steam.   But given the upwards of 10,000 at Wang Noi and similar numbers elsewhere, and the fact that the UDD can muster about 20,000-30,000 in Bangkok alone as per government spokesman Dr Panitan Wattanayagorn’s own estimate, it seems the security forces’ projection of around 150,000 people will quite easily be met.
      Richard Barrow, Thai-blogs.com, The Red Guard - Defender of the People (text, photos)
      A total of 5,000 red guards are believed to be deployed at the rally site in Bangkok and at 30 other locations in the area. This includes 200 mobile units on motorcycle. They will be providing protection to the red shirts at the rally and also intercepting anyone trying to make trouble. The red shirt leaders know that if there is any violence by a red shirt (or someone pretending to be a red shirt) then they will lose support.
      Newley Purnell, Newley.com, Images from today's red shirt protests - "I snapped these at Victory Monument and at Rajadamnoen Rd. See my tweets for context."  (dozen photos)
      Dozens of trucks full of cheering red shirts streaming past Victory Monument. Many onlookers stare. Some give thumbs up.
        Bangkok Pundit, AC, Reds descend on Bangkok: Live blog
        It seems we are getting a wave of protesters in all directions. Many though, particularly who live 100-150 kms from Bangkok, will probably just travel to Bangkok tomorrow.
        Despite statements by the army spokesman yesterday that vehicles with non-Bangkok license plates would not be allowed into Bangkok from what BP is seeing plenty of up-country red shirt vehicles in Bangkok.

        Still difficult to estimate how many people are coming as most are still outside of Bangkok and are travelling in so many different convoys.
        TWITTER
        STAY UPDATED

        Friday, March 12, 2010

        Bangkok: Mass protest march of Red Shirts

         UPDATE:  This post continues at  Red shirt protest in Bangkok of Saturday March 13

        "Members of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the Red Shirts, are scheduled to start a protest march in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 12," writes Palatino of GV, adding,   "Hundreds of thousands of Red Shirts are expected to assemble during the weekend march, which will culminate at Sanam Luang on 14 March. The protesters want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve the Parliament."

        A NY Times (h/t BP) article quotes Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an expert on Thailand at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapor, who explains why --however peaceful the march organizer's intentions -- it could easily spin out of control and become violent:
        More unsettling, he said, is the possibility that other groups with other agendas might instigate violence.

        If it turns nasty it might not be because of the reds,” he said. “Right now there are so many factions all over the place. Even within the reds and the yellows, so many factions. We don’t know who is allied to who. The whole situation creates a context in which a third, fourth, fifth hand can take advantage.”
        Regular readers of ThereLive will recall Nostitz's amazing live-blog of the last major Red Shirts' protest  that broke out at the opening of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya on April 11, 2009.  Recall that Nostitz observed, firsthand -- in the midst of a struggle that was ostensibly red shirts Vs yellow shirts -- the sudden appearance of a yellow-allied "blue shirts" faction.   According to Nostitz's account, provocations by the blues may have contributed to the escalation of the confrontation between the reds and the government -- with tragic consequences.

        Mong Palatino, Global Voices,  Thailand: The Red Shirts are coming! Thursday, March 11th, 2010 (map, text)  -- outstanding introduction to the protests.

        Panrit (Gor),  Prakan.com, via richardbarrow
          Richard Barrow - mobile twittering and blogging
        Funny thing is, they did a thorough body search of us when we arrived but they just let in 3 #redshirt pickup trucks!
        Metal detector and body search at entrance to rally site. http://twitpic.com/182pwp 
        I guess we are a bit early. Only about 200 #redshirt at the rally in Bang Phli. Not many police visible. http://twitpic.com/182ovd
        In the car on the way to the #redshirt rally in Bang Phli Samut Prakan. Not sure if I can park
          ...red shirt rally in Samut Prakan this morning. There was an estimated 4-5,000 people there. The rally started at the City Hall area where the people listened to speeches. They then paid respect to the statue of King Rama V. I believe they were doing this for good luck as tomorrow they will be heading into Bangkok.
          One classic Western movie scene I saw was a mother running out from a shop house and shouting at her young child to get in quickly.
          TWITTER
          Some promising twitter feeds
          MengBKK observed a few moments ago on Twitter that there are many "red within red groups" twittering -- an illustration of just how many groups are likely to be involved with the protest -- and the reaction to it.  MengBKK's examples include:

          BLOGGER UPDATES
          To identify recently updated blog posts on the developments, the sidebar of Jot Asean lists the most recently updated Thailand and Southeast Asian blogs -- most recent posts at the top of the page.

          BACKGROUND
          For a quick overview of the major confrontations between the anti-military "red" and pro-military "yellow" faction since the 2006 coup, ThereLive's Thailand archive is a convenient place to start.

          Sunday, March 7, 2010

          Police corruption protest in Moscow

          RunNetEcho reports that a "Rally for police reforms that took place in the center of Moscow on March 6, 2010 gathered approximately 150-500 activist"and links to three there live Russian bloggers.

          Zyalt, Phototravel and moreФотопутешествия и еще. Translated as  The provocations at the rally for the reform of the MVD. (text, dozens of superb photos)
          Action demanding radical reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was held today in Moscow at the Triumphal Square.  In place of the event gathered about 200 people, although organizers said 300.  This rally so would go unnoticed if not for provocation "Nashi".  (Этот митинг так бы и остался незамеченным, если бы не провокации "Нашистов".)

          Participants unfurled posters and banners which included Russia People's Democratic Union, "Solidarity", FMG. On the boards you can see the slogans: "We need another police!", "The police have been under civilian control!" and many others

          When our commissioners raised their banners, several opposition activists attacked them and began to tear
          the posters.

          seg_o,  Митинг и митингующие,  translated as The rally and the protesters. (black and white photos with captions)
          This nice lady, gave "the Constitution of Russia" the policemen;   "Take it, it is not a bribe!" ("берите, это не взятка!")  The policeman decided not to take. Apparently, just in case.

          martin_sqare, Митинг за реформу МВД, translated as Rally for reform of the MVD (Text, Black and white photos)
          On Saturday, March 6 at Triumphal Square rally was held human rights activists demanding radical reform of the MVD.  The action was attended by the head of the movement "For human rights" Lev Ponomarev, activists of "Change", "Defense", "We", "Solidarity" ("Смена", "Оборона", "Мы", "Солидарность").   There were calls to dismiss the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and fundamentally change the work of agencies after the reform, including repeal of cane system, improve staff salaries and provide them with social guarantees. At the rally appeared activists of youth movement Nashi, which in the hands held placards that contain criticism of the organizers.  Some of them were detained.

          2010 Academy Awards

          Trying out an innovative approach to live-blogging, Gawker has asked its readers to live-blog the awards ceremony by leaving comments.

          Various Readers (commenters), Gawker.com, Live-blogging the academy awards 2010 edition. "Everyone likes watching the Oscars at a party, and we're having our very own! It's going to be here in the comments section."
           isnt this 'hurt locker' guy getting sued?   - Yes.
          I hate when they play off the little guys [turn up the music to force them off the stage]. The big stars will have their post-award interviews all over the entertainment news shows and mags, but these indie people never get any recognition outside of the award presentation. Give them a little more time, dammit!
          Black person wins = Show all the black people in the audience time


          Michelle Kung, Ethan Smith, Speakeasy, Christopher John Farley, Elva Ramirez, Wall Street Journal, Oscars 2010: Live-Blogging the Academy
          Is this the first Academy Awards to open with a joke about prison rape?

          Melena Ryzik, NY Times, Capetbagger:  Live Blogging the Oscars.

          Iraq elections of 2010

          According to Wikipedia, the March 7 election "will decide the 325 members of the Council of Representatives of Iraq who will then elect the Prime Minister of Iraq and the President of Iraq."

          As a team, New York Times journalists based in Iraq live-blogged election day. 


          Stephen Farrell and baghdad Bureau, At War.blogs.NYTimes.com, Iraq elections: live-blogging election day.
            Just after 10 a.m. Baghdad time, and the barrage of explosions has slowed considerably in the capital. There is still an occasional rumble, but they are no longer coming every few minutes.
          Sahira Abdul Halim said: “I voted for Tariq al-Hashimi and I hope that all the Iraqis participate in the elections. What more could happen beyond these mortars? Is it only on the Sunni neighborhoods, or all over Baghdad? I think that it does not need explanation, all the evil is coming from the east with an Iranian fingerprint.” 

          Thursday, March 4, 2010

          Demonstrations against budget cuts to California universities

          The State of California intends to raise tuition, increasing many students' debt burden after graduation -- a consequence of state budget cuts targeting universities. A new generation is being deprived privileges that older generations of Americans enjoyed. Protests have broke out across the state last week.

          Julio, A march on March 4th, LA Eastside (text, photos)
          The following is what I felt; what I saw. I lay no claim to objectivity: this is going to be heavy-handed. I am a student at CSULA. Been so for almost a decade. I have seen first hand the corrosion of the quality of resources, services, and education. I took no part in the organization of anything for March 4th. I was merely a participant at the march....
          Eventually the people here joined the professors at their own march (?) a few blocks down. Here the mass of people seemed to be at least a thousand people. You could see the diversity of people out here: university workers, students, professors, etc....
          More on other protests at CNN.