Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bad News Bangkok

I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon monitoring the deteriorating situation in Bangkok yesterday. Here in Vientiane the Scandinavian Bakery has cable TV with all the major Thai networks, as well as CNN. I started out watching Thailand's channel 3, but to my surprise, they stopped covering the news at around 2:30 PM and started showing some cheesy Thai soap! Turning to the internet, I saw that the station's headquarters in Bangkok was under siege and burning, with people trapped inside. Similarly, the Bangkok Post Thai ASEAN news, and many other media outlets were being targeted by the mobs (I don't think they qualify as 'protesters' at this point).

Central World has been gutted by fire after being set aflame when the red shirt leaders surrendered. Fire trucks were prevented from approaching the fire by gunmen, leaving the building to burn. Dozens of fires were being started at bank branches, Thailand's stock exchange building, police boxes, convenience stores, and other places the attackers felt represented the entrenched elite of the country. A curfew was in operation last night between 8PM and 6AM, and looks to be continuing today.

The violence and mayhem has spread upcountry to Chiang Mai and various cities in the northeast. When this madness will end is anybody's guess. It seems the government underestimated the violent intentions of these people when they decided to use force to end the protest. Since their leaders have surrendered, the remaining red shirts(?) are under nobody's orders and are capable of anything.

Here are some interesting links for those wanting more information on what's happening and how it came to this:

Somebody put together this graphic showing Thailand's major political events since Thaksin became Prime Minister in 2001.

Collection of photos from the crackdown on May 19th.

The Thai Visa website has the most timely information from the media that I've found on what's happening now. Go to the last page for the latest updates.

The Bangkok Post
was under attack yesterday but is still posting updates on their website.

Latest updates: Curfew to be shortened to 9PM-5AM and extended for the next 3 days. Petrol shortages in Bangkok.


Kathi said...

Very informative entry. Thanks for the links. The photo link is most revealing.

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