After days of nonviolent protests which included spilling buckets (more than 3 litres) of human blood in front of government buildings, shaving heads, and peacefully chasing away soldiers at security point and humiliating Thailand’s prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva by showing the Thai government’s quietness, “Red Shirt” protestors faced the Thai military in full black-matte riot gear.
The protests which were peaceful and not life-threatning have turned into an ugly mess of violence that has this time followed the actual meaning of ‘spilling blood’. In what is called to be one of the worst political violences in Thailand since two decades, fifteen deaths were confirmed with at the very least 600 serious injuries according to the Erawan Medical Center.
Four soldiers had died resulting from the usage of makeshift and very crude weapons, among them plain old sticks, and eleven protestors had died resulting after soldiers used rubber and live ammunition.
The Thai military has reported at least 60 wounded.
Savage battles commenced between the two sides well into evening. Gunfire, tear gas, explosions, the moaning of the wounded replaced the usual jubilant and peaceful mood in Thailand’s capital Bangkok. Tensions and emotions of outrage skyrocketed as protestors charged into the outnumbered soldiers’ ranks at night, overwhelming and successfully beating them. The protestors had largely remained on the offensive chasing the fleeing military’s coat tails in the majority of the battles.
Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the Thai military has withdrawn its soldiers and urged the government to negotiate with the Red Shirts who support the coup’ed former Prime Minister Thaksin. Historically, Thailand’s military remained neutral whenever protestors such as the “Yellow Shirts” rose up in 2008, and it seems they are again silent. Soldiers when withdrawing faced happy protestors joyfully shaking their hands and being cheered on.
Prime Minister Vejjajiva gave an address at around 12:02 A.M local time in regards to the government’s crackdown on the protestors saying that the protestors after turning down a deadline of dispersing and refusing his offers of ’later elections’ ”gave me choice”.
Red Shirts not only acted in the capital but also went on to attack government buildings in Thailand’s rural areas from which the protestors predominantly originate from.
Protest leaders have angrily delivered fiery speeches and public criticism of Vejjajiva and his government, demanding that the entire Thai Parliament dissolve. It remains to be seen if the Red Shirts will negotiate with the government at this critical point, but it is most likely that negotiations may occur albeit unsuccessfully for Prime Minister Vejjajiva as it will be much more difficult to negotiate with angry protestors instead of peaceful and cooperative ones.
(Cover Picutre: Sydney Morning Herald)