May 18th, 2010
06:50 PM ET

Troops begin massing in central Bangkok

Several hundred military troops began massing in central Bangkok early Wednesday - the largest movement of forces since clashes broke out last Thursday between opposition protesters and government security officials.

The troops were seen walking in a long column and carrying razor wire and fire extinguishers near the site where the protesters have been launching demonstrations.

Opposition leaders told CNN in a phone call that armored personnel carriers were also spotted near the protest site, but that report could not be immediately confirmed.

It was not clear where the troops were heading, but the large show of force raised speculation that some sort of military operation could be unfolding to root out about 5,000 protesters still occupying the demonstration area.

At least 36 people have been killed since clashes intensified Thursday.

The violence prompted the United Nations' top human rights official to implore anti-government protesters and government officials to resume talks.

Satit Wongnongtaey, the Thai prime minister's office spokesman, said negotiations can be held when the opposition, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, ends its protest.

"I can confirm that the government has always wanted to talk, but it has been let down by the UDD, due to the
intervention of a mastermind abroad," said Satit, who didn't identify the person.

The opposition members, also known as Red Shirts, support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 bloodless military coup.

The capital city was notably calmer Tuesday. But after more than five days of violent standoffs, debris and piles of tires littered battle-scarred streets, and the sound of gunfire still regularly punctuated the air.

Police spokesman Col. Songphol Watanachai told reporters Tuesday that police had seized 9,021 tires from the city's streets. Burning tires have been used by protesters to create shields of black smoke during recent clashes.

Songphol said police had arrested and were interrogating a Red Shirt protester who was a close aide to Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdipol, better known as Seh Daeng - a renegade leader of a violent anti-government faction who died this week after being shot in the head by a sniper.

As troops continued their crackdown on protesters, Amnesty International criticized the government's approach.

Benjamin Zawacki, the organization's Thailand specialist, told CNN that 35 of the people killed since Thursday were unarmed, including a 17-year-old boy and two medics.

"Our concern is that the government is using live ammunition or live rounds pre-emptively, rather than as a last resort, and using them against persons who are unarmed and present no credible threat to the soldiers or anyone else," he said.

But government officials maintained that they were following rules of engagement. Troops only use live bullets when first attacked by terrorists with war weapons, Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told reporters.

Two main groups of anti-government demonstrators have been demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dissolve the lower house of Parliament and call new elections: the Red Shirts, whose leaders claim that protesters are peaceful, and the Black Shirts, who advocate a more violent approach.

The government ordered all demonstrators to leave their protest site by 3 p.m. Monday, but thousands continued to hold their ground.

"As the latest government deadline passes, there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday. "To prevent further loss of life, I appeal to the protesters to step back from the brink, and the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in line with the instructions given by the government. Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation."

The Ministry of Public Health reported that 65 people have died and more than 1,000 have been wounded since the Red Shirt anti-government protesters began flooding the streets of Bangkok on March 12 to demand new elections.

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Filed under: Thailand
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. PPP

    Well. it's clear that you do not know a thing about Thailand. We love our King because he loves us more than anything else in the world. His being in this country has been the best thing in Thai people's lives. He has done so many things for us without anything in return. He is our father and takes care of his children in every minute he breathes. Still, there re someone who tries to steal his home and his children from him. I don't consider them Thai anymore. Because the only thing that proves that we are Thai... is the love we give to our King. And anyone who are condemned enough to say that they don't love the King no more, should leave the country and never to return.

    May 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. IamTHAI

    It is easy to convince foreigners who know nothing about Thailand, other than CNN and 1-2 trips to Thailand that the government is bad. You have to follow the years of vote buying, corruption, the intimidation, manipulation of media and government agencies. This is the type of person who would incite violence in his own country (on the brink of civil war) so that he could return to his corrupt, power hungry ways.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Democracy

    RED will never be equal and their votes will never be respected. Thailand only PAD and military have the rights to hand pick the PM that will kiss their ass.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sam

    You're either brain washed or afraid of speaking out in fear of the lese majesti law
    Man!!! 18 year in prison for speaking out against the royal family. We don't have such a draconian law in the US of A
    We have god given right free speech. I can say F Bush openly in public.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      Yes we are brainwashed in a good way by not creating violent!! if this is brainwash it is much better!! dont forget to ask your government to take these people as refugee!!! let see what they will do to your time square

      May 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • dboy

      Yes, the difference in the US is that you can SAY anything you want, and your opinion will have no importance to anyone. Yippee for democracy! The majority of Americans don't want to be involved in Iraq or Afghanistan..but yet we are there. The elite do what they want. It's the same in every country.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. IamTHAI

    No government is perfect and I admit Thai government is so far from it. Maybe this is why the unemployed & poor in Greece, Spain and Thailand are protesting. It is a unsolvable poverty issue that each government struggles to deal with. I'm sure there are corrupt people in the current government; but the environment that Thaksin was creating when he was PM was much worse and more corrupt than now. He bought all the village heads with his programs and government money – so they could convince their villages to vote for Thaksin. He is very smart, using government money to buy votes for him.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      correct and agree!!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    I agree with those who understand that the redshirts are manipulating the international media. I recommend people read the English language newspapers based in Thailand, and

    In particular, this is a more balanced view of how most Thai people feel:

    May 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      The Bangkok Post and most of the media in thailand is in the Pad ,yellow shirts pockets.You delude yourself how most people feel in Thailand.Most people around Bangkok are yellow along with the military urban elite,outside of Bangkok in most of the provinces there Red.Fact is Thaksins party one all there elections easily and fairly. has for buying votes all parties in Thailand do that Abhisit party was got with there pants down buying votes recently.
      I have friends in Thailand on both sides of this issue red and yellow,all my friends on the red side wern't paid,You cannot dismiss these people protest saying they were all paid people do not risk there lives for just a few baht.This conflict will not end when the military clamps down Im afraid it will go on for years.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      Most of bloggers have never been out of their homes; they just stay home watching the so biased TV news provided by the Thai government, which have controlled every single news channels since the start of the protest. I only trust the international news media. On the other hand, the Thai government always accuses the red shirts protesters of carrying a lot of assaulted weapons but the Thai government has never shown any evidences at all. Think about it, if the government has the concrete evidence, they will not reluctant to show it to the world. Last time the government told us that they had evidence to show that the red shirts was trying to overthrow the monarchy. Then they only showed us a very nonsense and confused chart with the names and confused lines linking each names. It looked to me liked it was drawn by an elementary student

      May 18, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aldo Leo

      That is funny! Those 2 papers are no better than the Thai tv and news medias. They are just as much to blame as anyone. They divide the country by only showing a very narrow view and putting blinders on so the government can save face.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      I just got a translation from a Thai news paper Khaosod (18 May2010) reported that Mr. Chumni Sakdiseth a member of the Democrat Party (The Thai government) said that the number of 35 civilians, who were killed during the recent crack down, was ACCEPTABLE. Because before the government was going to order the Thai army to crack down the anti- government protesters, they were expecting the death toll was going to be around 200-500.
      What 200-500 people were expected to be killed by the government’s army!!!! What an outrage!!!! What kind of human being are these people. Too bad most of the international news reporters do not understand Thai.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sam

    IamTHAI, I think it's best to stop justify Army using a war machine to kill women and children. It'll never look GOOD in any country

    In this day and age, the Internet has made the world small. Those commited horrible crimes 30-40 years may not be condemmed.
    BUT today BEING CHARGED with WAR CRIME and crime against humanity is a real possibility for any TYRANT. Thai Army chief, Thai King, watch out!!!!!!!

    May 18, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      Well before you start to brainwash other people please find the evidence!! there are a lot of vdo on internet that reds use a child on their barricade what you going to say about that!!!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • nobody

      you are the only one here speaking the truth. But be careful... you know what is REALLY happening. I also do not support red shirt because Thaksin is no different... he also is a corrupt and power hungry and only using the redshirts for his own personal power struggle with the royal family... he is wrong also... its just sad because the common people on both sides (soldiers vs red shirts on the street) are only the victims having to do the dirty work as one wannabee ruler tries to steal power from the already in place ruler... Sam, everything you say is true. But still also true that Thaksin is no better. what is the solution??? don't know... really don't know... sad

      May 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • AJ

      Sam, don't argue with them. They go to any news websites like CNN and post any comments that gonna be good to this tyrant govt. U see, every comments they put show their habit, they want to win in any comments too. This is the way that tyrant abhisit govt and his supporter always do.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      not argue or just can not explain it?!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      See youtube/lumpini03.wmv :Thai army sniper was shooting at the civilian..
      What kind of human being are these people. The army snipers picked off and killed unarmed civilians with their assaulted rifles with smiling face liked a kid was playing a violent video game. They can pick off and killed any unarmed, innocent people running on the streets. The Thai army is coward.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      Yes very smart that anyone do not agree has to be at the opposite side. The democratic way is to speak out and respect other but not in violence way!!!

      May 18, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • To sam

      I bet if NYPD saw someone try to burn or bomb a building in NY they will shoot also please report the whole situation not just brainwash other people

      May 18, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Intriiigue

      To: Sam

      The way you expressed yourself and the comments you have made including the accusations on the Thai government and The King of Thailand identified you as one of the terrorists who meant harm to Thailand, the Thai people, and The King of Thailand. Correct me, if I am wrong.
      To Everyone Who reads Sam comments, please use your judgement and intelligent. The terrorists who invaded Thailand many yrs ago after 9/11 are living happily there undetected and as much as a lot of us might think they are hiding in caves or under rocks, the truth of the matter here us that the terrorists have relocated... Some are living in the Southern parts of Thailand and have been supplying the Red Shirts with the military weapons. Additional to killing off their own kinds and blamed it on the Thai officials. On top of that the real terrorists are broadcasting how cruel the Thai government is to the innocent people. Trust me if they want to shoot, there would be more bodies, and it's because they have been HOLDING BACK! The Red Shirts have been given chances to discuss their demand, but unable to intelligently answer to clarify on their demand, and all the Red Shirts' leaders could say during the peace talk meeting was..' dissolve parliament ' ~> why didn't they just add ' it's the order from my boss, Thaksin,' huh?!
      *** The Red Shirts came into BKK since March 12th, surrounded the hospital where the King of Thailand was staying to make their demand, since then the Red Shirts have not stop making disturbances. The Red Shirts have threaten a woman who was trying to take her sick child to see a doctor on a street; The Red Shirts stop cars and searched cars and destroyed cars on the streets and acted like they are the authorities; The Red Shirts paid for people who are poor to stay and cause more disturbances; The Red Shirts paid for people to be killed and staged them and blamed that on the Thai government; The Red Shirts used military weapons during war and shot into the innocent group of people that asked for everyone to get along for the peace of the country; The Red Shirts thrown grenades and bombs cars, rooted buildings; The Red Shirts burn tires and littered the streets of BKK with the fecals and their trash; The Red Shirts put their small children up on top of used tires while they stood behind these screaming, and crying chidren. The Red Shirts demanded that there be no more Monarchy; no more current government parliament because they claimed that they are so poor and can't pay taxes. Question for you Red Shirts, shouldn't you be demanding for things that will benefit the THAI people, the country, THAILAND as a whole and not your corrupted boss, exPrime Minister, Thaksin who sold Thailand and stole millions if not billions or trillions from the Thai people?! Not to mention the terrorists that are sitting back watching and laughing at the Thai people from the sea shores in the southern parts of Thailand near Malaysia since THIS is one of their plans.
      Sorry, buddy the plan has been decoded. If you are one of them, it is you that need to watch out! Do not ever threaten the real THAI people, especially The King of Thailand.
      Do you know what the word RESPECT means even?
      BTW, all the above about the Red Shirts are on videos just in case you might like to see...!!!

      May 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      Are you working for the Thai government? It sounds liked it. If not, I am sorry.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      To Intriiigue,
      Why can't Abhisit, as the leader of Thailand, be looking to implement a peaceful solution instead of using force to crack-down the protest? It seems to me that he doesn't care whether people will be killed or injured. A good leader should find way to end this without sacrificing the lives of people. It is easy for him to just run and hide in the military base while gives the order the army to crack down the protest.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sondte

    IamThai is correct. My Thai in-laws (farmers in Thailand) agree. Corruption is an evil in Thailand. Taksin was a master of corruption. He pays red shirts to protest. IamThai knows what is going on. Most Thais agree with him.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      IF EVEN IF your assertion were TRUE. It's still not justified for the Army to use snipers to kill them.

      May 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • dboy

      Corruption is a Thai tradition. Whenever someone mentions the "Thai way", I always just assume they mean corruption.

      May 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. IamTHAI

    Sam, you are most welcome to say F Bush openly. Thai people would never say this to the King, out of love, respect and in a few cases the Lese Majesti Laws. Let's leave the King out of this. He is not involved with this violence and has only stepped into the political scene for Peace reasons.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      The King is above the laws!!! But in politic Right??

      May 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Life the Lese Majesti Laws, AND THEN you'll truely see if Thais still praise the King

      GIVE people basic human rights, God given rights !!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 18, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. WP

    Hi All, I am the master degree in Sociology, Media through the net work is one side image only. No one harm the military officers. the govern made a temptation to the protesters. For example, one Army truck with three officer run into the group of the protester to get the leaved behind water truck. Think logically, one have M16, other two not. the one who carried M16 do nothing. He surrounded by the group of angry people. How come.. why they drove the truck into the red zone. do you know the M16 does not have the ammo. this is all the fake the gover made it and then announce the Redshirt do the violence. this is only one sample. They are a lot... The govern made the worse situation and blame the RED short who are totally the farmers, the real glass root of the social. Whatever reason, Massacre is not right. US did it by mistake in Malai, Vietnam. Nazi made it in WW II to Jew. We have the bad experiences in Somalia, Kosovo,Iraq,Nigerai and etc

    May 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      They (Army chief, King, Prime minister) haven't thought about being charged with WAR CRIME yet.
      They under estimate the power of the Internet. They think it's the same old traditional Massacre..........

      May 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victor Ma

      I trust the international news agencies way a lot more than Thai news agency, especially now. Most of the Thai media now are under Thai government controll. The international ones are more accurate and unbiased because their ethical to their profession.
      So far, I noticed that all people that were killed were just normal people. The army always said that there are so many bombs and gun firing at the troop. THE TRUTH IS NO SOILDER IS KILLED OR INJURIED. Please think about it if there were so many bombs drops or gun firing at the soldiers all the time as claimed, there should a lot casualty on the soldiers’ side but none except friendly fire.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john dus

    i am a big fan of the king and have spent much time in thailand. he has done much, as a matter of fact, he's the reason they have running water in thailand, lol. but, in fairness, i would have to say, thailand has these blow ups about every ten years and the king has always stepped in and put an end to it when it drags on this long. this time, he has been silent, absolutely nothing from the king. i havent been there in awhile. dont know if its his age or health, or whatever, but, it is a fact this is the first time he has done nothing. just a thought. im sure military rule has something to do with it.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sssimon

    Everything must be done by those with power to avoid a Tiananmen square type massacre. Don't reward the bravery of the protesters by slaughtering them. That will just give the government and army a bad name for generations and drive a permanent wedge between them and the people. Someone please take the high road here and resolve the situaltion peacefully no matter how long it takes. What is the big hurry? No one will be impressed with the power of the authorities to destroy mostly unarmed civilians, no glory in that.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George Washington

    Let the Thia people know the truth about what is happening, and if 500,000 show up to surround the army, then the people with balls have made a statement. It will be a bloodless civilians coo, with new elections in 6 months. Done.

    Keep it green

    May 18, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Thai Army doesn't give a DAMM about what the rest of world think.
      If they want to KILL, they KILL

      May 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NK

    Sam, Reading your responses make me realize how ignorant some of you are there. First off, The King of Thailand is similar to the queen of England which means that they have no actual power in terms of the politics and day to day running of the country. With that being said, do you know of any other monarchs that have won a nobel prize? What you don't know about the King is that he has not be involved in this type of matter because it is a political matter. The red shirts are ignorant rural people who have been paid approx $20 USD by ex-Priminster Thaskin.
    The red shirts have been the ones that have been instigating the fighting. When the protests started there was minimal supervision, but after Red shirts threw grenades at banks and tried to explode 22M L of Jet fuel the army started to set in to protect the people of Bangkok from them.

    If you want actual proof that Thaskin is paying people to protest you can see the videos on UTube. Try reading a Thai paper if you want to see what's going on first hand. Media in north america is all about headlines and not about the truth.

    Next time before you speak educate yourself.

    May 18, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aldo Leo

      Thai Media = Rwanda Radio

      May 18, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Peace

    King Phumiphon is behind all od the crackdown, Abhisit is nothing, he can't even appoint a vacant police chief. Everything is controlled by King Phumiphon. It's time for the whole world condemn the right person who orders the killings of innocent people. Condemn King Phumiphone.

    May 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      Brother, Thanks to the Internet
      The internet will expose the real TYRANT who has managed so far to disguise him/herself as an ANGEL!!!

      May 18, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
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