Saturday, May 15, 2010


A Thai Red Shirt protester seeks cover after fueling a burning pile of tires - Andy Nelson / Getty Images

More Casualties in Thailand as Clashes between Protesters and Government Security Forces Continue to Escalate

Protests in Thailand turned violent Friday, a day after a dissident general associated with the protesters was shot during a news interview. Reuters reports that ten people have been killed since yesterday in a shopping area in Bangkok and 125 injured after troops fired live rounds as well as tear gas and rubber bullets.

Thai military forces detain an anti-government protester during street clashes on Friday, May 14, in Bangkok- Andy Nelson / Getty Images

That brings the number to 22 killed in clashes to over three days, with 172 injured; at least three people were allegedly shot in the head by snipers. The army says it will not move in on the protesters’ main camp for now and will allow them to leave peacefully. The protesters support the ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a coup.

Anti-government demonstrators set fire to a police bus Friday, May 14 near Lumpini Park in downtown Bangkok - Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo

Army Declares 'Live-Fire Zone' in Bangkok

With riot violence worsening, officials have designated an area of Bangkok a "live fire zone," as bullets and grenades fly. Six people were killed Saturday as anti-government protesting in Bangkok escalated into a "live-fire zone," according to the Thai military.

Thai soldiers walk and watch for anti-government snipers Friday, May 14 near Bangkok's Lumpini Park - Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo

The soldiers are using guns, grenades, barricades, and sharpshooters to try to contain the protesters, known as Red Shirts, who are using petrol bombs, stones, guns, homemade rockets, slingshots and firecrackers.

An anti-government protester launches a firecracker at Thai military forces with a slingshot. Government officials declared one Bangkok neighborhood a "Live Fire Zone" on Saturday - Andy Nelson / Getty Images

The Red Shirts, mostly from poor, farming, and working-class communities, say the government is illegitimate and are calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.

Thai soldiers fire shotguns and rifles into a crowd of anti-government protesters hurling rocks on Friday in Bangkok - Wally Santana / AP Photo

The turmoil has paralyzed parts of Bangkok; up until today's action the soldiers avoided the neighborhood where protesters were encamped.

Thai soldiers arrest anti-government demonstrators in downtown Bangkok on Friday, May 14 - Vincent Yu / AP Photo

An anti-government protester carries a blood covered helmet of a fireman who was shot in the head on Saturday - Wong Maye-E / AP Photo

The chaos is an indication of the declining power of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who once had the power to unify Thailand but has been largely silent since the conflict began—a disappointment to many Thais. The king was able to soothe conflicts in 1973 and 1992, but , experts say the king's lack of action this time indicates the collapse of the monarchy's ability to stitch together a consensus.

A "Red Shirt" anti-government protester waves a national flag during clashes with Thai soldiers in Bangkok on Friday - Nicolas Asfouri, AFP / Getty Images

Thirty five people have been killed since April in the latest unrest.

When you go to your local Thai restaurant this weekend, remember: your hosts are most likely first generation immigrants to this country. They have friends and relatives back home involved in this tragedy. Show some respect.

- Sean Linnane



  1. The king is sick..and dying. Thailand needs a military regime and strong governement. Democracy in Asia DOES NOT WORK!!! When are you americans going to understand this?

  2. 62 governments since Il Duce was assassinated by Communist terrorists in 1945. Italy needs a military regime and strong government. Democracy in Italy DOES NOT WORK!!! When are you Italians going to understand this?

  3. Most asian countries have started to experiment with democracy just recently. And all those who have embraced it are completely f****d up. Look at the Philippines...Total mess.
    As for Italy, give me a new Duce any time!

  4. Thailand started it's experiment with democracy in 1932. The Philippines started their experiment with democracy in 1935, when they became the Commonwealth of the Philippines; total independence was achieved on July 4, 1946. Japan, Taiwan and Republic of Korea (South Korea) are all functioning democracies; all dating back to the forties. So is India - the world's largest democracy.

    Besides - Thailand HAS a military regime at this time - but it DOES NOT WORK!!!

    I learned my history of Il Duce from an Italian: he was a military dictator like Saddam Hussein - this is your idea of democracy? Explanation, please.

  5. Experimenting! Experimenting. You look at history with a western point of view. Thailand and Philippines were not democracies until very recently as for South Korea, Taiwan and HK I agree these countries are examples of "democracies" that work. But Philippines, India, Malaysia, Thailand are not. Philippines under Marcos was at its best.
    Wrong Thailand is NOT under a military regime. After the 2006 coup, full democracy was restored, elections held and this is why we are in this mess.
    As for my country, history is thought by the winning side...Mussolini was at the time, the right man at the right place. Again think early 20th century, end of WW1, french and british arrogance with the treaty of Versailles. Looking at the state of europe and the US now I can only conclude that democracy as we know it, is a concept that does not work.
    As for Asia, the only countries prospering right now, with a booming economy are countries under "strong" regimes. You tell me....
    (I write fast and short...)

  6. Can't find a link to it right now, but yesterday there was a video of some Thai soldiers being pulled from a militairy truck, not exactly friendly, but not with blows either. One of the soldiers is out of the truck, when suddenly a shot rings and he drops to the ground. There is two sides to this story, and as usual the media is not giving the whole picture.

    As to the call for a strongman, ask the Ethiopians how they feel about Il Duce. Or ask the people of Venezuela or Zimbabwe how much their lives have improved.

  7. I look at history with a Western point of view because I've been around and the Eastern point of view is populated with people like Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Marcos, Kim Il Sung, Lenin, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini . . . should I continue?

    I would rather be a citizen of the United States at any point in history - yes even under the Obama Administration - than be a subject of any other country. Current state of economy? Let me tell you: we have 10% unemployment and we think we've got it BAD - and yet the average American STILL owns two cars! In Europe, 15% unemployment is NORMAL during GOOD economic times and half the Euros don't own cars, and they live at home with their parents! AMERICA GOES TO THE POORHOUSE IN AN AUTOMOBILE.

    British and French arrogance about the Treaty of Versailles? Sorry - does not compute: Italy was on the WINNING SIDE of WWI and HELPED WRITE Versailles.

    Mussolini = success story? Oh yeah, you go with that. Tell me; if America is so f*cked up, how come EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD wants to come here? (to include LOTS of Italians)

    Democracy doesn't work, huh? Go tell that to a slave laborer in Red China. Where are the lines of people waiting to get IN to the totalitarian regimes? When was the last time you heard of anybody trying to get IN to Red China? Or North Korea? Or Venezuela? Or Burma? Want me to go on? The list is endless . . .

  8. The current Thai government is not a military dictatorship, but a parliamentary setup much like Great Britain's. While the date of the next general election is not planned years in advance, as in the USA, everyone -- including the Red Shirts -- knows it will come. They claim that the current government is not legitimate, but that is a claim that can reasonably be asserted against any government, even if recently and honestly elected, for corruption is endemic and universal. The pols are always stealing from the people, and nobody was better at it than Thaksin. This violence does not have to be; with patience, the Thais could proceed to another election, and vote in another bunch of rascals. Violence is not going to cleanse this nation.

  9. What a load of bulloks! You people completely miss the point with your PC democracy "stercus tauri"!!!! That's right let's give democracy to all! You want to give democracy to China or Burma?
    China: 1.5 billion people dying to go to the US....Burma: Over 150 ethnicities ready to fight each other. Democracy in these countries and it is a pandemonium. And yes I think sometimes it is better to have a good dictator, red, blue, white or yellow for the sake of geopolitical stability. And Irak is the best example. Saddam was no saint but at least with him in power we did not have to worry about Iran....
    We could have concentrated on Afghanistan and Pakistan where the real problems are.... Thanks for screwing up everything in the name of "democracy".
    Ronald Reagan understood this and so did Nixon. The only two great Presidents your country had.

  10. Having a murderous tyrant as a bulwark against a murderous theocracy does not mean that killing said tyrant is a bad thing. It just means that our own politicos need to find the necessary intestinal fortitude to confront evil where we find it. Saddam needed to die. That was a good thing.
    Democracy allows choice. Some are up to that challenge and others are not but to say that dictatorship is always the best choice for certain peoples is bigoted and short sited.
    As for Thailand. My brother-in-law (RIP Ken) served in Thailand with the SF. He spent a considerable amount of time in country. He's no longer with us to comment but I think he'd disagree with you 'Italian in Asia'. Life under a Thai Mussolini? The world has enough megalomaniacs right now thank you very much.

  11. SIX:

    Who was your brother? I served in Thailand with SF; I lived in Thailand for over ten years. Contact me - click on the "email STORMBRINGER" thing up there on the upper right hand corner. I may have known your brother. If not, I certainly know people who knew your brother.

    Thanks, Sean