Unfortunately, what the Army had hoped would be a relatively easy and bloodless campaign to clear the Red Shirt protesters from the Ratchadamnoen Avenue area in the old city has been suspended after two overnight attempts left fifteen people dead and more than 670 injured. The dead are reported to include four soldiers and eleven civilians including a 43-year old Japanese photojournalist.
The protesters at the Ratchaprasong intersection, the heart of the business and commercial district, are still in place. This is the strategically more difficult position for the military to access and protesters have blocked the roads with trucks and other barricades.
This is the worst political violence in twenty years in Thailand and begs the question of how a resolution will be reached. Tawn and I leave this afternoon for the week and are worried about how this impasse will be broken. No doubt it will be, but at what cost?
Update: After a previous entry about the protests, Jason had asked whether or not this is basically a class war, as that is the way it is portrayed in some foreign media. It really isn’t. In fact, Voranai Vanijaka, a Thai columnist in today’s Bangkok Post, summed it up very astutely: “In the present strugles, the new elites are making pawns of the poor and the old elites are making pawns of the middle class.” It really is more about a struggle between two groups of elites for control of a society that is very much a patronage society. The Red Shirts represent the new elite.