Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cracking Down

Its been a little while since I've given an update on the protests, so I guess this is a good time. Up until the beginning of the week, it looked as though the protests were going to end peacefully and the city would return to a semblance of order.  Well, that illusion is shattered.

The red shirt leaders had expressed support for the Prime Minister's five point plan and November elections.  The PM pressed them to end the rally, and it appears as if there was a split in the red leadership; some wanted to end the rally, while others did not.  It is not know for certain what former Prime Minister Thaksin's opinion was on the proposal, but since it did not appear to benefit him by eliminating his legal trouble or ending his political ban, my guess is that he was not an enthusiastic supporter.

On Sunday, the PM told the red shirts that he wanted to know by Monday if the red shirts would support the road map, and to announce when they would end the rally.  They responded with their "red map", which included having the PM and deputy PM investigated for the April 10th shootings.  They said that they would end the rally when the deputy PM Suthep turned himself over to the police for his role in the April 10th rally.

Its a funny thing when you promise to do something if your opponent meets a demand that you are certain they will reject.  Well, the deputy PM turned himself into the police on the charges.  The red shirts cried foul, saying that he had not turned himself over to the correct police department, so they said they wouldn't end the rally. 

This evening, the police surrounded the protest area, turned off the water and all telephone service.  They are letting people leave the rally site, but will not let anyone in.  The electricity has not yet been shut off, so as to try to minimize the impact on residents in the area.

Around 7:30 p.m., things took a serious turn as the red shirt leader, Maj. Gen. Kattiya Sawasdipol, known as Seh Dang (red shirt) was shot in the head by a gunman.  He is at the hospital in critical condition. 

The next few days are going to be tense, as it seems as though the government is going to try to end the rally.  The military has been reluctant to use force to break up the protests.  I'm not sure if this signals a willingness to use force, or if the shootings were isolated.  In fact, we don't know for certain that the gunman who shot Seh Daeng was associated with the army, police or government. 

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