A personal diary - Part 1: Prologue and March 2010
The Red Shirt protests - Part 3: 18. - 20. April 2010 - the barricade and the arrival of the security forces
The Red Shirt protests - Part 4: 21. - 30. April 2010 - Mob Rules
The Red Shirt Protests - Part 5: 01. - 14. Mai - grausamer Mai/ "Cruel May" - พฤษภาอำมหิต- Teil/Part 1 - (German Version, only English captions, headlines and some English text translations)
The Red Shirt protests - Part 6: 15. - 18. Mai - "Cruel May" - พฤษภาอำมหิต - Part 2
The Red Shirt Protests - Part 7: May 19 - the crackdown
The Red Shirt protests - Part 8: 21. May 2010 - after the crackdown
Hier gehts zur DEUTSCHEN VERSION!
1.-17. April 2010: rising tensions in Bangkok, the failed crackdown and protest at Rachaprasong
At the beginning of April 2010 I had to return to Germany because my visa had expired and I had to apply for a new Non-Immigrant-Visa. I returned on 15th of April. Therefor I had to rely on eyewitnesses' accounts and news reports. And I have to say that I did not have any photos of the events during the said period.
Storming the parliament and state of emergencyThousands of Red Shirt protesters, led by UDD core leader Arisman Pongruengrong, gathered at the front gate of the parliament building while the parliament was in session. The protesters outnumbered the deployed police forces by far. When angry protesters breached the gate to the compound, the policemen had no chance and were just overrun.
Nirmal Ghosh (Strait Times, April 7, 2010) wrote:
Apparently two “bombs” which may have been teargas canisters, were lobbed into the Red Shirt crowd, or just found in the crowd. Neither of them exploded.
But the crowd became angry and egged on by Arisman Pongruengrong, managed to barge through the gate, scuffling past outnumbered police who re-formed just outside the entrance to the main building. Some opposition Puea Thai MPs then came out and asked the Red Shirts to leave, and there was some argument.
A reporter from Matichon Newspaper, April 7, 2010:
At the same moment when the protestors were trying to slam open the metal gates to the compound, many police officers were knocked to the ground, causing the tear gas canisters to fall off their pants. The protestors then grabbed them and showed it to Mr. Arisman on the (mobile) stage. The two gas canisters were not set off yet, as the rings on it were not pulled yet.
The Prime Minister cancelled the session and the lawmakers fled to safety by climbing over the compound's boundary walls or were brought to safety by a military helicopter.
Later that day Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared the state of emergency in Bangkok.
Bernd Musch-Borowska reported on April 7 for DW-Radio:
There were reportedly some agents provocateurs among the demonstrators. Some people wearing Red Shirts were relieved of pistols and bullets by the protesters’ own security teams. They were then handed over to police.
One of the Red Shirts' security personnel – a former policeman – was angry: "We found these weapons on people who were wearing red shirts but who don’t belong to us. So we want to know who they belong to and how did they end up on the parliament grounds? Someone is trying to shed a bad light on the Red Shirts and to incite violence."
"Cruel April - เมษาโหด" - the failed crackdown attempt on Red Shirt protests
|Red Shirts remembering the victims 6 months after the crackdown at Phan Fa bridge|
In the evening on April 10th I received a telephone call from my wife in Bangkok. She told me that the army started to attack the Red Shirt camp at Phan Fa bridge and that she would try to get there. During the whole day rumours where spreading that the army is going to attack the protest camps, but there was no clear information about when and where they would attack. At the time of the attack my wife was at the newly established Red Shirt camp at Rachaprasong.
That evening chaos broke out at Phan Fa bridge and around the Monument of Democracy. Soldiers were moving in with force and protesters were defending their positions by all available means. Shots were fired and granades exploded. That evening 26 people died: 19 protesters, six soldiers and the Japanese cameraman Hiro Muramoto (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiro_Muramoto), and more than 800 people got injured. This day the army did not succeed to end the protest.
More information on the victims:
Infographic about the killed protesters and soldiers
|During a religious ceremony relatives were holding pictures of the loved ones they lost.|
|The victims of April 10th.|
Nicola Glass wrote:
Among the dead on that April 10th were not only UDD-protesters and a Japanese cameraman but soldiers also. Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, a high ranking army officer and a rising star within the Thai military, was killed when grenades were fired at his unit.
Nicola Glass: Two years on, still no justice
Until today it remains unclear who is responsible for all the killings and injuries. Sadly, the report of the TRCT was no help at all and did not deliver any new facts or evidence, only unproved guesses (the truth for reconciliation commission).
|Relatives and protesters let fly lampions im remembrance of the victims.|
The Red Shirts at Rachaprasong
After the crackdown attempt the UDD massed their protest at the camp at Rachaprasong, the heart of Bangkok's most important shopping and business district. Again, they tried to step up the pressure by shutting down the whole area from Silom Road to Petchaburi Road and from MBK-shopping Mall at Phaya Thai Road to Phloen Chit Road, an area of the size of at least four square kilometres. Bangkoks biggest shopping malls, many international hotels, insurance companies, luxurious condominium and appartment blocks, the famous Eriwan shrine and the Lumpini park are located inside that area. This occupation really did hurt the Bangkokian business community. Also affected were two major arterial roads, Rachadamri road and Rama I/Phloen Chit road. The closure of these roads led to a total gridlock on Bangkoks roads.
|The new stage at Rachaprasong.|
|The new makeshift camp at Rachaprasong.|
|Sometimes a doss between the legs of a bronze elephant can feel like home.|
After storming the parliament compound the Red Shirts were officially denounced as terrorists by the Abhisit government. The Red Shirts on the other hand compared Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to Adolf Hitler. Leaflets like that one below could be found all over the Red Shirt-camp.
One week after the failed crackdown - remembering the victims
Despite the events of April 10th and the state of emergency the Red Shirts were not willing to give in to the pressure of the government and the army. In the evening of 17th April more than 10.000 people gathered at the stage at Rachaprasong intersection to remember the victims of April 10th. The UDD-leadership decided to show video footage of the crackdown attempt that evening. In my eyes that was an irresponsible decision because nobody could predict at that time the reaction of the protesters to that footage.
Rumours were spreading like wildfire that the army may had stationed snipers on the rooftops of the surrounding buildings to assassinate UDD-leaders. Therefor searchlights were positioned to scan the windows and rooftops of the buildings for suspicious movements, and UDD-guards searched the area with binoculars . Later, as visual cover, giant nets were braced above the stage and several areas of the new camp to protect the people from being watched and targeted.
End of part 2
A personal diary - Part 1: Prologue and March 2010
A personal diary - Part 3: 18th - 20th April - the barricade and the arrival of the security forces