On the forth day of the anti-government protests Prime Minister Abhisit has unsurprisingly dismissed the demand to dissolve parliament and therefore the red shirts (a part of them), after the deadline expired at noon on Monday, marched to the 11th Infranty Regiment - the Prime Minister's safe house and the government's situation room. Al Jazeera English reported from the scene.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI23Kar9zy4&w=600&h=360] Video: "Thailand caught in protest standoff", Al Jazeera English, March 15, 2010. Via YouTube
UPDATE: Tulsathit Taptim and Panya Thiewsangwan of The Nation have described the scene and the deescalation tactics used by the military:
They spoke partly in northeastern dialect to the red visitors, teased them nicely and reminded them that they were confronting their own children who were only performing their duty yet would allow them to exercise their democratic right in an appropriate scope.
The military orators were aided by a powerful sound system that at one point jarred the nerves of red leader Veera Musigapong so much that he sarcastically vowed to drop the House dissolution demand if they would just drop the volume.
The friendly greetings - beginning with "Let us hear your voice. Let us hear your clappers." - caught the pro-testers off-guard and further limited their options. The red shirts had won praise for being peaceful and orderly and that reputation restricted what they could do in front of the sprawling Army compound.
"Army speakers win the day" by Tulsathit Taptim and Panya Thiewsangwan, The Nation, March 15, 2010
After the usual rant by the red shirt leaders against the government and other powerful key figures, the question everybody asked was: "And now what?" This:
United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) core leader Natthawut Saikua has announced that he will take one thousand liters of blood donated by protesters and spill it around Government House on Tuesday, in retaliation for the government's decision not to dissolve the House.
The drawing of blood will begin about 8am on Tuesday, Mr Natthawut said. A total of one million cubic centimetres (cc) would be taken from 100,000 volunteers, including protest leaders.
This would be a symbolic action. Cabinet ministers would have to walk over the protesters' blood when they enter Government House to work, he said.
If the government still refused to dissolve the House, then another million cc's of blood would be scattered outside the Democrat Party headquarters. The third target would Mr Abhisit's house, he said.
"UDD next move: Scatter blood", Bangkok Post, March 15, 2010
Really?! That's their plan? So far, the fact the protests have been peaceful and no bigger problems (or even violence) have occurred can be counted as a success and confident boost for the red shirts. But now they risk to lose all the momentum for this more than questionable stunt. First, there is the logistic problem: how on earth are they going to get enough blood of 100,000 people in just one night?
Secondly is a medical one: how are they going to get enough clean needles? The Thai Red Cross has refused to help, pointing out medical consequences of improper use. Channel 3 has reported that an unnamed hospital will support the Red Shirts with the stunt, but so far no other news sources did.
And finally the question is: what do they want to achieve with this? Unless they want to deliberately create a big hygienic mess I don't see anything being solved here! It all appears to me a rather impulsive stunt as they failed with the protest at the 11th Infranty Regiment. Even if the red shirts do pull it off, the this campaign of the movement is slowly bleeding out.
At the same time when the red shirts protested at the military base, another base was attacked with six shots from a M79 grenade launcher. The 1st Infantry Regiment compound houses Army chief General Anupong Paochinda. Even though suspects were questioned by the police (and later released), so far there was no connection to the Red Shirts. This incident is yet another one in a string of attacks involving a M79 grenade launcher and also not the first one against General Anupong.
In other news, the question of Thaksin's current whereabouts might be answered:
Former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, on the run from corruption charges, was spotted in the Montenegrin town of Budva this weekend, a local TV station reported Monday.
Thaksin was seen in coastal Budva's medieval old town on Sunday, enjoying coffee and cakes in one of the area's posh hotel with his entourage, TV Vijesti reported, quoting witnesses.
"Deposed Thai premier spotted in Montenegro: Report", Associated Press via Vancouver Sun, March 15, 2010
Note: Special thanks to @alohalavina for giving me permission to post that picture. Go to her Twitter profile for more photos of today's event!
- Patrick Winn (Global Post): A Game of Chicken
- Absolutely Bangkok: Reds Fizzle Out After Marching To Govt's Tune
- Richard Barrow: Samut Prakan Red March to Bangkok
- Thanyarat Doksone (Associated Press): Thai PM rejects protesters' call for new elections
- Newley Purnell: Red shirt protests: images from Sun. and Mon.
- Greg Jorgensen: Some Thoughts on the Red Shirts