After a slow start yesterday, today's descend of the anti-government red shirts into Bangkok was significantly larger. The Nation estimates at least 100,000 protestors have gathered along Rajdamnoen Avenue and have described the scene as this:
Makeshift toilets were being installed by the red shirts to supplement those provided by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and many food stalls quickly sprang up.
As night fell some traded stories, while others went to listen to the main stage's speakers on Phan Fah Bridge, which became a sea of red shirts.
"Rajdamnoen a sea of red as protesters set up camp" by Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation, March 13, 2010
During Friday afternoon The Nation (among others) have posted a video which they have captioned in a mildly cocky manner with "Look what's going on in Nakhon Phanom as local red shirts are preparing to leave for Bangkok to join the mass rallies on Sunday.".
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afmrFcGHIIU&w=600&h=360]Video: YouTube via Prachatai.com
It shows red shirts in Nakhon Phanom receiving money. Even though it is probably for fuel expenses, as one local red shirt leader stated, some would immediately jump to the conclusion that the protestors were actually hired. Prachatai has more.
Meanwhile, after I blogged yesterday that Thaksin tweeted he was on his way to Europe, the former PM again stated this during a short phone-in to his supporter at the main rally site. Here's a video of the phone-in, the reference on his whereabouts begins at the 10 minute mark.
"My dear people, there have been news spread that I'm supposed to be in Cambodia. I'm in Europe! I'm here to meet my children, who were attending a trade show in Germany so we're going to meet in Europe. It is not true that I would be in Cambodia, because I don't want tarnish the relationships between the two countries. What is for granted is that wherever I am, I can call in. Wherever I am I can video-link to you. (...) So stop with that lie!"
(Translation by me)
Thaksin further denies that he was expelled from UAE by saying that he would be asked by some countries not to enter because simply "they were fed up with the whining of the Thai government!". It is still not clear which European country Thaksin currently is, while it is impossible that countries like Germany and the UK would welcome him since they revoked his visa. The Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Panich Vikitsreth claimed yesterday that he was on his way to Switzerland. But then again, the Foreign Ministry was also yesterday. May be Montenegro?
In the late hours of the evening The Nation (again, I know) has reported that a source say that the government is considering to enforce a state of emergency.
The government will likely enforce a state-of-emergency decree today to cope with the escalating security problem in Bangkok after tens of thousands of provincial protesters arrived in the city yesterday.
A state of emergency, which would be on top on the current implementation of the Internal Security Act (ISA), would empower the military to fully take charge of the situation. (...)
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is expected to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting before the emergency decree is used, according to a senior government source.
Red shirts rallying for "democracy" yesterday threatened a mass march on Abhisit's hold-out if he does not dissolve the House of Representatives by noon today. (...)
Jatuporn Promphan, a key leader of the anti-government movement, said that at this stage they had no plan to march to Government House, Parliament House or the house of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda.
"Govt likely to enforce state of emergency on top of ISA", The Nation, March 14, 2010
Honestly, it doesn't make much sense to me at this point. Firstly, there is only one source and I haven't read this anywhere else. Secondly, I see no real justification to call in the military other than pre-emptively strike against the red shirts. We'll have to see. By the time of writing this blog post (6 AM Bangkok time), nothing has been stated by the government yet.
For Sunday's coverage of the red shirts protests, I recommend you to follow these people on Twitter: @thaicam, @_willowtree_, @RobinThailand, @tri26 and @newley will be reporting all from the scene at Radjadamnoen Avenue, Patrick Winn (@BKKApologist) and @RichardBarrow have announced that they will be embedded with red shirts coming by boat from Ayutthaya and by car from Samut Prakan, respectively. As usual due to time difference, I'll chime in during the afternoon Bangkok time (@Saksith).