13 April 2009

United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship

Democracy Monument

Two residents of Bangkok’s Nang Loeng district have been shot dead by United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship protesters. Residents in several districts, especially tenants in Din Daeng apartments, have clashed with the UDD in Bangkok today.

The red-shirted UDD movement originally prided itself on protesting peacefully and legally, in contrast to the yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy. The UDD’s demands (for the army and Privy Council to stay out of politics, for the violent PAD protesters to be prosecuted, for the reinstatement of the 1997 ‘people’s constitution’, and for a new general election) are reasonable, though of course they are likely to lose any public sympathy after the violence of yesterday and today.

Early this morning, the army began advancing on a group of demonstrators at the Din Daeng intersection near Victory Monument, firing shots into the air from M16 rifles. After several hours, and dozens of injuries, the protesters dispersed. UDD leaders claimed that six protesters were killed, a rumour that former PM Thaksin Shinawatra repeated in live CNN and BBC interviews this evening. Also on CNN, Thaksin pleaded for royal intervention: “I humbly urge His Majesty the King to intervene, please”.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok yesterday, and the UDD reacted by raiding several government ministries and attacking the PM’s car. Several buses and gas tankers have also been hijacked by UDD demonstrators.