Connect to share and comment
UPDATE: A military/police standoff in Bangkok with Thailand's Red Shirts protesters — who have sworn to drive out the government — has finally turned violent. Various outlets are reporting that more than 100 have been injured in clashes involving tear gas and rubber bullets. For more background on the self-proclaimed "commoners" bid to topple the government, check out my previous dispatches.
For most of the afternoon on Saturday, I'd heard reports that Thai security forces had started firing tear gas and bullets (just rubber ones, according to the army, though protesters claim otherwise) at protesters in Bangkok.
So I dialed up a live feed from the rally sites courtesy of the protesters' own TV network. The channel, which claims 10 million subscribers, has been ordered to close by the government but is still available through backdoor channels online.
Shortly after the feed eked through, I heard a protest leader announcing that protesters would give riot cops 30 minutes to vacate their encampment on a ritzy stretch of Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok's main drag. I grabbed my camera, some goggles and a bandana and hopped a motorbike to the site.
This being a state of emergency, and the start of a military/police crackdown, I expected to at least see light scuffles.
Instead I saw this...
... riot police sitting on the ground amidst a political tail-gate party. Many police were smiling and shaking hands with the protesters, who eventually forced them to retreat. Some police even waved the Red Shirts' signature plastic foot-shaped clappers.
The Red Shirt leadership often claims that many police and soldiers are more loyal to their movement than to the government. I have no idea if that's true. But this footage suggests that at least some Thai cops are sympathetic to the protesters they've been dispatched to disperse.