Friday, May 14, 2010

Thailand under emergency law! Army deployed in Bangkok

"A loud bang not unlike a firecracker. The general fell to the ground, with his eyes wide open, and protesters took his apparently lifeless body to the hospital, screaming out his nickname Seh Daeng has been shot! Seh Daeng has been shot!"

In this footage, one of the Red Shirts leader, "Seh Daeng", a suspended army general accused of counter government acts, leading a paramilitary force among Thailand's Red Shirt protesters, is shown seconds after he was shot while being surrounded by media at the edge of a park in Bangkok. This dramatic television footage shows red shirt protesters evacuating the bloody head of Major General Khattiya Sawasdipol "Seh Daeng" (Commander Red) after his interview by reporters inside the protest movement's barricades near the top of Silom road. This area of Bangkok was sealed off by Thai security authorities since Thursday evening. Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol remains in critical condition, and there is a possibility that he may not survive head injury, director of Vajira Hospital Dr Wanchai Charoenchokethawee said on Friday morning.



Document: Here, in this footage, Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdiphol gives an interview to reporters shortly before he was shot at the head near the Bangkok Saladaeng Intersection. Video by Thai cameraman Pongphon Sarnsamak on YouTube.

Since 6 PM Thursday, tension caught downtown Bangkok Silom and Lumpini park area. Protesters clashed with troops at Gate 2 of the Lumpini Park at 11 pm Thursday night, causing at least four of them to be seriously injured. One of them was shot at their eye in front of the Ua-Chuliang Building.

Friday, an army spokesman had said troops would surround the rally site with armoured vehicles and that demonstrators would be allowed to leave but not enter the area. But it was the protesters who still seemed in control this morning. The only armoured vehicle seen was one Humvee. Troops had blocked one main road with a water cannon, and dozens of police wearing bullet-proof vests were gathering. Part of Bangkok's elevated rail system was shut down Friday morning, including a section through the key tourist area of Sukhumvit Road.
US and GB embassies closed causing the anger of their nationals.

Thursday night, all the injured protesters were rushed to Chulalongkorn Hospital. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva extended a state of emergency already in place for the capital and surrounding areas to 15 more provinces. Thursday night, the coalition government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva decided to extend the state of emergency which has been declared in the Thai capital since April 7 to cover 16 others provinces some in northern and northeastern regions to prevent antigovernment protesters from entering the protest site. Among the 16 provinces are popular spots for tourists such as Ayuthaya, Nakhon Pathom, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Chonburi.

The government earlier in the day began to seal off the protest site, deploy armored vehicles and shut down traffic on some major roads to prevent new protesters from entering the site. Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a spokesman of the government's Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situation, or CRES, said a no-fly zone will also be imposed within 3.6 square kilometers around the protest site after the air force spotted a suspicious small airplane flying around the protest site in recent days. The government also said it is asking private companies in the area being sealed off to shut down their businesses from Friday until the situation is resolved. Protesters will be allowed only to leave the area but no entry will be permitted.

More than a dozen embassies, two public hospitals, luxury hotels and condominiums are located in and around the protest site. Upmarket shopping malls have been shut down since April 3, when thousands of protesters marched into the Ratchaprasong intersection and refused to disperse. CRES also ordered authorities to cut supplies of power and water as well as cellular phone services in the protest area. Sansern said armed security personnel have permission to fire live rounds for "self-defense." In recent weeks, 29 people, including five soldiers and two policemen, were killed and more than 900 others were wounded, mostly in April 10 clashes between security personnel and protesters. The fatality late Thursday night was the 30th. Thai authorities have been reluctant to use force against the protesters since there are many women, children and elderly among them. They are also worried about armed "terrorists" they claim have infiltrated the protesters.

The protesters have been demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve the parliament's lower chamber and call a snap election. On May 3, Abhisit tried to end the standoff by offering a national reconciliation plan that includes a schedule of early elections on Nov. 14. But the Prime Minister said Thursday the issue of house dissolution and the election date is off since the protesters continue their disruptive street campaigns. With the aid of military top generals, Abhisit said authorities must restore peace and order.

And quotes from the Thai press: The Nation

"Khattiya, who only hours earlier had threatened to
take over the red movement from moderate leaders, was
shot by a sniper shortly after giving an interview to
a small group of local and foreign reporters. He was
rushed to the Hua Chiew Hospital but news reports said
he was later about to be moved to another hospital,
possibly Vajira. His daughter confirmed with
reporters that Khattiya was in a coma.

The incident took place shortly before or around 7 pm,
almost in parallel with a commotion in the area caused
by mysterious explosions, gunshots and sounds of

It was initially reported that some 20 people
including women and children were injured in the
related incident. But late last night, the director
of the Erawan Centre, Petchpong Kamjornkarn, told The
Nation that he was aware of only three people wounded
including Khattiya. The doctor also expressed concern
about what could be coming next.

The government yesterday stepped up pressure on the
red shirts by sealing off key roads around Rajprasong,
as Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva confirmed that his
pledge to hold an election on November 14 no longer
stayed. Before the evening incidents, a highranking
government source told The Nation a crackdown seemed
unavoidable, but the government would not take action
after nightfall for fear of repetition of the April 10

Red leaders kept the Khattiya incident from Rajprasong
protesters for more than hour, until Jatuporn Prompan
went on stage at around 9 pm to announce that the
officer was not "safe". Khattiya's relations with red
"political" leaders had been soured after some of the
latter showed eagerness to embrace Abhisit's fivepoint
roadmap to reconciliation.

Khattiya, better known as "Se Daeng", had been
threatening a "war" in the wake of the prime
minister's proposal. The officer was also heavily
linked with unknown "men in black" who attacked troops
on April 10 at the Rajdamnoen Avenue. Before April
10, he and red leaders had disavowed each other but
after the bloodshed he returned almost triumphantly to
the Rajprasong rally site although he never seemed to
be among the inner circles of the red political

The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency
Situation kept a tight lip over the Saladaeng
incidents, and its latenight announcement was
exclusively about extension of the state of emergency
measures to cover 15 more provinces.

In a fresh outbreak of violence before press time, one
man was killed and at least four others injured when
red shirt protesters clashed with troops outside
Lumpini Park near the Sathorn junction. The victim
died at the Chulalongkorn Hospital from a gunshot
wound, Nation TV reported."

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