Thai protest: methodical crackdown has altered the city
It will probably change Bangkok’s busy heart forever.
I’m barely ever here as I’m travelling, but this morning’s final and thus far methodical crackdown has altered the city I know.
The statue down by Silom outside the park, where you can go on a boat in the lake: there are dead bodies down there now and armoured personnel carriers.
The supermarket outside my flat and the hairdressers on the bottom floor of my apartment building: both looted. Our bureau, now surrounded by the final stragglers of this protest, the sky at times thick with tyre smoke, peppered with
Both political sides of this conflict were so entrenched in their disgust for the other, there were fears this was the only way out. Those
fears were this morning proven right.
They began at the south end of Silom Road. APCs rolling up, then tear gas, then the barricades crashed. We stood on the street as gunfire cracked around us, and the occasional loud blast of military grade explosive shook the crowd.
Who’s left in this diehard protest? Well, the Red Shirts have always had housewives in their numbers, and always had hardened militants.
Down on the frontline with the army today were the gunmen – I saw one protestor with a pistol run back for cover. But a few hundred metres further up was an elderly woman quietly washing her tomatoes.
The army have been advanced, the injured from their live rounds carried away. The acceptability of the military using this sort of firepower on a protest that is marred by the occasional armed militant, but not predominantly violent, will be debated in the coming weeks.
What matters now is how the advancing army – one of the region’s most organised – will move the thousands of unshaken protestors ahead of them.