Thailand’s Red Shirts Leader: “Situation Is Almost Full Civil War”

The situation in Bangkok has taken a turn for more violence as the Thai army’s crack down on Red Shirts protesters intensifies. The death toll stand now at 22, and the army has designated certain areas of Bangkok as a “live firing zone”. Meanwhile thousands of Red Shirts have barricaded themselves with bamboo fences, concrete blocks, burning tires and barbed wire.

The Thai capital has now been hit by two days of street clashes as the security forces try to evict thousands of Red Shirts from their protest camp. In a nationally televised address Saturday, embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that there will be no turning back from efforts to contain anti-government protesters.

“It is crucial, we cannot turn back and allow those who violate the law and establish armed militants to intimidate the government,” said the Prime Minister.

As these latest clashes enter their third day, the number of people killed during the Red Shirts’ two month protest has now reached 50. Not only the Thai army is cracking down on the Red Shirts, but they are also targeting the press. According to the BBC and France 24 television, Canadian journalist Nelson Rand is in critical condition after being shot three times by military bullets.

On Thursday night, general Khattiya Sawasdipol, a key Red Shirts supporter, was shot in the head near the rally site, and is still in critical condition. The government, which the Red Shirts and their sympathizers view as illegitimate, is still ruling out any negotiations with the Red Shirts.

“The current situation is almost full civil war. I am not sure how this conflict will end,” said Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirts leader.

The protesters support former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. The Red Shirts want the parliament to be dissolved and new elections. Mr. Thaksin has called on the current government to withdraw troops and negotiate with the Red Shirts movement.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai  writer and socialist intellectual currently living in exile in the United Kingdom. His latest book is “Thailand Crisis and the Fight for Democracy”. Mr. Ungpakorn clearly defines the fight of the Red Shirts as a struggle for social justice from the working class of both rural and urban areas against the ruling class and the military.

“The Red Shirts have shown that they are a genuine mass movement for Democracy made up of ordinary working people in rural and urban areas. They have shown that the crisis is about class, and that the crisis is about class. The Red Shirts are a grassroots movement which will not disappear easily, and they have exposed the real and bloody nature of the military backed government which can only stay in power through repression and blanket censorship. The struggle of the Red Shirts has turned ordinary people into leaders,” wrote Giles Ji Ungpakorn.

This is the most recent statement and requests made by Giles Ji Ungpakorn and the Red Shirts on the current clashes on May 14, 2010.

The Iranian Green movement should take notice, most of the times it takes shedding some blood to get rid of a dictatorship.

To view great  photographs of the events unfolding in Bangkok click here. For additional photographs of Saturday’s events click here.

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