Sunday, April 11, 2010

One night of bloodshed in Bangkok

* Update 1: April 12 Monday 08:30 am. Some 21 people were killed and 858 others injured in violent clashes between soldiers and redshirt demonstrators on Saturday night, a government medical service centre said.
** Update 2: Following events from Thailand with TAN Network and the viewers posts

A look at the press statements following the events of Bangkok Khok Wua battlefield, in agencies, blogs, and with the reports of the NATION newspaper.

"The Red Shirts urge the resignation of the Prime Minister Vejjajiva"
Sean Boonpracong, int'l spokesman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship

After days of nonviolent protests which included spilling buckets (more than 3 liters) of human blood in front of government buildings, shaving heads, and peacefully chasing away soldiers at security point and humiliating Thailand’s prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva by showing the Thai government’s quietness, “Red Shirt” protesters faced the Thai military in full black-matte riot gear. But the violence last night infuriated both parties.

Thailand worst political violence since the Bangkok Black May 1992 after clashes between the Thai army and anti-government demonstrators that left 19 people dead and over 850 injured at this hour Sunday midday, 28 soldiers prisoners of the rd Shirt. Civilians, including a Japanese TV cameraman, and five soldiers were killed in Saturday's crackdown on "Red Shirt" supporters of fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Violence erupted when troops tried to clear one of two sites in central Bangkok, near ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, the Democracy Monument, also near the Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Keo, occupied by the protesters for the past month. Soldiers fired in the air and used tear gas, and the Reds responded by hurling rocks. Same violence seen in the 1992 violent demonstrations held on Sanam Luang at the Royal Hotel where the army shot at demonstrators in the hotel, bullets impacts proving the violence of the clashes.

Yesterday in Bangkok at one stage protesters overwhelmed and captured an armored personnel carrier. The army later retreated, calling for a truce with the demonstrators, who were holding five soldiers hostage. Thousands of protesters remained on the streets at the two protest sites on Sunday.

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said an investigation had been launched into the violence and that negotiations were under way to bring about a resolution to the stand-off without further unrest. "The prime minister's secretary is coordinating with protest leaders to solve the situation and would like protesters to stay put," he said.

Reuters journalist killed in Bangkok protests

Sat Apr 10, 2010 2:40pm EDT

Our Tokyo colleague of Thomson Reuters news agency, Japanese cameraman Hiro Muramoto, died after being shot in the chest during the protests. Hiro Muramoto, a Tokyo-based Japanese national who worked as a cameraman for Reuters for more than 15 years had been covering fighting between troops and protesters in the Rajdumnoen Road area in Bangkok where he was shot dead. Reuters said in a communique to the Japan based Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan Freedom of the Press Committee. The news agency asks that the press show respect for Muramoto-san's family at this time of mourning. We knew Hiro and respected his quiet strength, his great professionalism and his genuine kindness, we are truly saddened here by his tragic end and address our heartfelt condolences to his family.

It was Thailand's worst political violence since "the Black May 1992". The 17–20 May 1992 popular protest in Bangkok against the government of General Suchinda Kraprayoon and the bloody military crackdown that followed. Up to 200,000 people demonstrated in central Bangkok at the height of the protests. The military crackdown resulted in 52 officially confirmed deaths, many disappearances, hundreds of injuries, and over 3,500 arrests. Many of those arrested allegedly were tortured.

The mostly poor, rural Reds say the government is illegitimate as it came to power with military backing in 2008 after a court ousted Thaksin's allies from power. Red Shirt protesters called on the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej to intervene to prevent further bloodshed.

"Did anybody inform the king that his children were killed in the middle of the road without justice?" Reds' leader Jatuporn Prompan asked protesters. "Is there anyone close to him who told him of the gunfights?" Although he has no official political role, the hospitalized king is seen as a unifying figure. And during a 1992 uprising he chastised both the military and protest leaders, effectively bringing the violence to an end.

Sources: Wire news, Linxy (image),, Reporter's notes.

✍✍✍ Sources in Bangkok quoted officials voicing reports on TVs about people being killed as the result of "traffic accident", not as the result of direct bullet or rubber bullets shots. Unconvincing statements according to the sources.

Khok Wua battlefield
Published on April 11, 2010

Red-shirted protesters stepped up their struggle
last night, firing grenades and bullets into
security forces, drawing a response with live
rounds at the Khok Wua Intersection near the
Democracy Monument. At least eight people were
killed and about 500 others wounded as of press

Several soldiers were in serious condition after
three grenades and guns were fired into them. The
soldiers covered with blood were pulled away from
the action by their comrades. The soldiers then
fired real bullets back at the protesters. The
onslaught took place after tensions had built up as
security forces tried to push the protesters back
from Khok Wua to Borwornniwetwiharn Temple by
firing teargas and rubber bullets into the air.
Fighting back, the protesters threw glass bottles
and teargas that they had seized from troops. Some
teargas was dropped from four helicopters on the
protesters, who fought back by releasing balloons
to disrupt the flight paths of the helicopters.

Explosions and gunshots peppered the scene at the
Democracy Monument and the media were sent to a
safe place. Security forces' attempts to disperse
red-shirt protesters resulted in confrontations and
clashes in several spots earlier in the afternoon.
The first clash took place at about 2pm when
Kwanchai Praipana led hundreds of protesters from
Phan Fa Bridge to the First Army Area headquarters
to try to break into the compound. They ran into
resistance from soldiers who fired teargas, rubber
bullets and jets of water to disperse them. The
protesters hit back by throwing objects at the
soldiers, prompting hundreds of First Army soldiers
to come out of the gates with batons and shields to
protect the headquarters.

The red shirts then fled to nearby roads. Some
were injured by the rubber bullets. At Makkhawan
Rangsan Bridge about 4pm, soldiers pushed
protesters back to the Royal Plaza, firing teargas
and rubber bullets. They had to repeat the
operation three times before the protesters gave in
and fell back to their stronghold at Phan Fa
Bridge. Soldiers built up forces at Pinklao Bridge
and blocked traffic to Ratchadamneon Road.
Hundreds of troops were stationed at the Government
Lottery Office and Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge.
Tensions were high everywhere military forces had
built up their presence. At Missakkawan
Intersection on Ratchadamneon Nok Road, soldiers
fired shots into the air to disperse the
protesters. Soldiers lined up while marching
towards the United Nations building near Makkhawan
Rangsan Bridge as they tried to drive the
protesters back, resulting in a clash between the
two sides that saw at least six protesters
sustaining cracked heads.

Soldiers constantly fired shots into their air.
Some released air from the protesters' pickup truck
tyres. Two to three explosions were heard and
teargas was used. Tensions ran high when the red
shirts regrouped and tried to fight back to reclaim
their protest site at Makkhawan Bridge, throwing
objects and wielding sticks while soldiers kept
firing teargas. However many soldiers not wearing
masks rushed to rinse their faces because of the
effect of the teargas, letting the protesters
successfully push back the soldiers. There were
dramatic scenes after soldiers successfully
dispersed the protesters from the area. Losing
"the physical battle", the protesters launched
verbal attacks against the troops.

A woman in her 50s stood in the middle of the road
and pulled up her top to show her breasts,
prompting female soldiers to come to her, pulling
her top back down. She fought back and pulled her
blouse up again to let photographers take her
picture. Another protester in her 40s slammed the
military's trucks with a pestle. A military
helicopter flying above shot off fireworks to let
the soldiers on the ground know that the protesters
had retreated.

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