I don’t have internet right now, but I’m writing this at 19:11 local time.
Violence erupted in Bangkok today after several days of increasing tension. It seemed like everything would be alright a week or so ago when the government offered November elections that the Red Shirts tentatively agreed to. Then, the Red Shirts declared the road map was unacceptable and continued their protests. A few days ago shots were fired and things started heating up again. Half of the 10000 protesters left the site in the centre of the city and Red Shirt leaders called for immediate peace talks with the government. The government refused and today moved in with the military, including tanks.
Last I heard there are a dozen or so dead today, and five foreigners killed in the last three days. However, that was several hours ago. Red Shirt leaders surrendered and called off the protests but the protesters haven’t stopped. The military says its “operations in Bangkok” have ended, but I’ve also heard that they have orders to fire at anyone causing “unrest,” which includes looting and I don’t know what else.
Then, around 3 o’clock PM we got word at the office that conflict has spread to Chiang Mai. Burning tires and closed bridges including ***, which is the main route into the city from here. The decision was made to close the office. I cancelled my class of course. I went home and have had the balcony door open. Helicopters, and not pansy weather and traffic on the ones helicopters are a constant and sirens occasional. I got a call an hour ago alerting me that there are reports of burning tires in ***, which is the neighbourhood I’m in, although I can’t see any smoke. A curfew goes into effect tonight at 8:00.
I just got back from a grocery run, although you feel kind of pathetic being shut in when you only have a fridge. It makes it hard to stock up on any real food. It’s really busy outside for the time of day, likely because people are trying to get home before 8. I’m taking my camera with me everywhere.
The office will be closed again tomorrow, and *** will call me if there are any serious developments. In the meantime, I don’t have Internet and the television is a mixture of crappy 80’s and 90’s American movies and station test signals.
Luckily, I have a few movies downloaded.
Now it’s 8:15 PM and the crickets outside are deafening. I watch Zelig, which was good, although maybe a little too… well it’s a fake documentary, with fake archival footage. It’s sort of a less dramatic Forrest Gump.
11:20 AM. Still no internet but got a text saying that the office is officially closed, but a few people are there, so I can go use internet if I like. Most of the Thai channels are back on TV, and most of them are showing a press release. The government is saying that 7 people died, and that the violence “shows the true nature of the protesters.” They are “increasing security” and moving troops into various areas.
It seems that 5000 people are inside a temple in Bangkok, resisting soldiers. Protesters set at like 35 fires in Bangkok. The government is calling the protesters terrorists and asking for friendly nations to come in to help. The curfew has changed to 9PM to 5AM.
They’re also saying that foreign journalists were targeted yesterday, except that it was the Thai military that killed all of the ones who died. They need a lesson from the United States on proper propaganda.
Keep reminding myself that this was the government that in one press conference said a month ago that soldiers were unarmed, soldiers only fired into the air, and soldiers only fired rubber bullets at the crowds.
Now sitting on the step of the office. No one is on the ground floor and the doors are locked, but I have wireless right here. More legitimate news reports are putting the deaths over a dozen, which is at least not AS bad. It doesn’t seem like anyone is planning on giving up though.
My neighbourhood seems like business as usual today. No signs of smoke or sirens, or even helicopters. Twitter is actually the best news source. Just found out that police here dismantled Red Shirt barricades in the city without resistance. However, the curfew was scarcely enforced and Red Shirts were out and about, relatively peacefully by the river (between me and the centre of town).
The Canadian embassy is closed, but they’ll answer phone calls. They advised via email to avoid all travel to Bangkok (previously it had been all non-essential travel) and put the nationwide warning back up to avoid non-essential.
Things are calm, but not over.