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05/19/2010

Bangkok burns after Red Shirt leaders surrender

The surrender of anti-government Red Shirts leaders did not bring on the calm expected, but triggered a wave of violence. After the Thai military used armoured personnel carriers and bulldozers to crush the Red Shirts encampment, some protesters resisted the surrender, using homemade rockets and setting fire to downtown buildings.

EDITORS NOTE: Some of the following photos contain graphic content of grave injury.


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A statue and a torn Thai national flag are all that remain in front of Bangkok's Central World shopping mall, which was gutted by fire after troops stormed a protest encampment, forcing protest leaders to surrender but sparking clashes that killed at least four people and triggered unrest in northern Thailand.  May 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

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Red Shirt anti-government protesters throw petrol on burning tires in a street in Bangkok. The Thai government said there would be no negotiations with protesters in the capital until they end their crippling rally, after a Senate offer to mediate crisis talks. May 18, 2010. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thick black smoke plummets through the air behind the main Chulalongkorn hospital from anti-protesters' encampment in Bangkok, Thailand. Thai troops have opened fire at a fortified encampment of anti-government protesters in central Bangkok. The firing came after a large number of troops and armored carriers gathered at the edges of the encampment at daybreak amid reports of a final assault on the camp the protesters have occupied for weeks. May 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E )

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Anti-government 'red shirt' supporters launch fireworks towards army soldiers at a check-point in Ding Daeng, near Bangkok's Victory Monument. Several thousand protestors, who have adopted red as a protest colour and broadly support former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, remain in a barricaded encampment in Bangkok's high-end shopping, hotel and diplomatic district, refusing to leave.  May 18, 2010. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

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A Red Shirt anti-government protester lights a firework on his sling-shot. The Thai government said there would be no negotiations with protesters in the capital until they end their crippling rally, after a Senate offer to mediate crisis talks.  May 18, 2010. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thai "Red Shirt" anti-government protesters scream and burst into tears as their leaders announce to the crowd their surrender on the stage inside the protesters' camp in downtown Bangkok. Thai protest leaders surrendered and told thousands of "Red Shirt" supporters to end their weeks-long rally after an army assault on their fortified encampment left at least five people dead.  May 19, 2010. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thai Red Shirt anti-government protest leaders Nattawut Saikuar and Wiphuthalang are arrested by police officers after they announced to the crowd their surrender on the stage inside the protesters' camp in downtown Bangkok. May 19, 2010. (PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thai Security forces take position during a clash with protesters in Bangkok, Thailand.  Despite calls from the United Nations for both sides to begin talks, anti-government protesters in Bangkok have defied orders to leave their fortified camp, with 37 people having died and more than 260 injured since the military began its crackdown.  May 19, 2010 (Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images)

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A Thai soldier aims his rifle near the body of a protester during an early morning attack on the Red Shirt camp in Bangkok. At least 5 people are reported to have died as government forces sought to overrun barricades raised in and around the city centre by anti-government protestors. Red-shirt leaders have now surrendered, ending their blockade in the aftermath of a sixth day of violence, leaving the army in control and a night time curfew to be imposed. May 19, 2010. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

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An armoured vehicle breaks through a barricade during an operation to evict anti-government "red shirt" protesters from their encampment in Bangkok. May 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli)

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Thai military move in on the 'Red Shirt' camp during an early morning siege in Bangkok, Thailand. At least 5 people are reported to have died as government forces sought to overrun barricades raised in and around the city centre by anti-government protestors. May 19, 2010. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

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Anti-government protesters raise their arms in surrender as they walk to Thai soldiers as they leave their encampment in Bangkok, Thailand. Downtown Bangkok became a raging battleground Wednesday as the army stormed a barricaded protest camp and the Red Shirt leadership surrendered, enraging demonstrators who fired grenades and set fires that cloaked the skyline in a black haze. May 19, 2010. (AP Photo)

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A Thai soldier asks for assistance after being hit by a grenade in Bangkok, Thailand. At least 5 people are reported to have died as government forces attempted to overrun barricades raised in and around the city centre by anti-government protestors. Red-shirt leaders have now surrendered, ending their blockade following a sixth day of violence, leaving the army in control and a night time curfew to be imposed. May 19, 2010.  (Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images)

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Anti-government "red shirt" supporters give aid to a fellow protester who was shot in the chest after army soldiers penetrated a barricade where thousands were encamped in Bangkok. Rioting and fires swept Bangkok on Wednesday after troops stormed a protest encampment, forcing protest leaders to surrender but sparking clashes that killed at least four people and triggered unrest in northern Thailand.  May 19, 2010.   (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

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Anti-government protestors shed their "Red Shirts" at Police General Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.  Downtown Bangkok became a raging battleground Wednesday as the army stormed a barricaded protest camp and the Red Shirt leadership surrendered, enraging demonstrators who fired grenades and set fires that cloaked the skyline in a black haze. May 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

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Rescuers carry injured Canadian journalist, Chandler Vandergrift, on a stretcher during an army assault on an anti-government protest site in downtown Bangkok. Thai protest leaders surrendered and told thousands of "Red Shirt" supporters to end their weeks-long rally after an army assault on their fortified encampment left at least five people dead. May 19, 2010. ( PAIROJ/AFP/Getty Images)

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Anti-government protesters are held by Thai soldiers following their arrest in Bangkok, Thailand. Downtown Bangkok became a raging battleground Wednesday as the army stormed a barricaded protest camp and toppled the Red Shirt leadership, enraging demonstrators who fired grenades and set fires that cloaked the skyline in a black haze. May 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

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Red shirt anti-government protesters surrender to the military inside the red shirt camp in Bangkok, Thailand. At least 5 people are reported to have died as government forces sought to overrun barricades raised in and around the city centre by anti-government protestors. Red-shirt leaders have now surrendered, ending their blockade in the aftermath of a sixth day of violence, leaving the army in control and a night time curfew to be imposed. May 19, 2010. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

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Thai army soldiers check under the robes of a Buddhist monk they detained during an operation to evict anti-government "red shirt" protesters from their encampment in Bangkok. Anti-government protest leaders in Thailand surrendered to police on Wednesday after troops stormed their encampment, sparking clashes that killed at least four people, but violence rocked other areas of the city.  May 19, 2010.  (REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

Comments

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Very dramatic photographs with a high technical quality.

Unbelievable!! The gov. officials think they own the lives of the protesters, crushing them with firearms and war tanks. They are only demanding a better government.

There are'nt any photos of the soldiers looking just as they are, zombies.

Zombie oh Zombie!!!!

I'm writing in from Bangkok, Thailand. I have to respond to the comment made by Daniel Paco. These "Red Shirt" protestors dont even fully know what they are protesting for - they are being paid by our tyrant ex-Prime Minister, Thaksin. Thaksin wants to rule the whole of Thailand and wring it for all it's worth - so he can gain all the monetary benefits possible. These protestors dont realize, Thaksin would've eventually sold their land to overseas investors so outsiders can come and do whatever the heck they want on it. The current Thai govt has since proposed solutions as well as giving them a house dissolution of the party, which is what the protestors were calling for. So, it was then settled, party dissolution in September and elections in November. Instead of rejoicing at the fact that their "peaceful protest" was effective, they instead continued to harrass and terrorize the city and innocent people. And, we come up to speed to see the devastating events that have taken place in Bangkok. They already got what they called for - what need was there to turn the city into shambles? It will only make it harder for them to rebuild their lives as well as the rest of the population. So, I would just like to clear the confusion and to let everyone understand that for once in Thailand, things were being taken care of diplomatically. However, lured by money, as we all easily are, Thaksin has gotten his way with Thailand once again. It's heartbreaking and wish Thailand and all its citizens well.

To the TheStar: the image in which you've indicated is the Buddha, is not the Buddha - it is merely a depiction of a mythological Indian goddess.

Please don't fall into the easy assumption that this is a situation of a repressive government crushing a grassroots movement. The rural poor do have genuine reasons to be upset, but this has been one big case of manipulation.

First, former PM Thaksin manipulated the poor while in office with minimal, populist policies that didn't address the deeper issues but gave many poor families a new tv or motorcycle. This attention gave him the momentum to call on them once a large amount of his bank account was seized by the Thai supreme court due to his corrupt manipulations of the economic sector while he was PM. The "protests" began within a week of the court's decision.

Next, Thaksin and his protest leader cronies riled up the crowd with both promises of a land of milk and honey if Thaksin came back, and a demonizing of the current PM. Many in the crowd were payed to attend, and enticed by free food and entertainment, as well as funding to have their rice fields harvested for free so that they could attend the rally.

On the protest stages, calls for the deaths of the members of the current government along with their families were preached daily, along with repeated plans to "burn Bangkok to the ground" if Thaksin wasn't brought back, and given back "his" money. Violence repeatedly broke out whenever there was someone who was seen as disagreeing with the protesters. The government tried to keep things cool, and only contain the chaos that the protest leaders were inciting.

From March until recently, the government and the military have played a defensive game, only trying to neutralize any attacks against them, because Abhisit has always wanted to keep the casualties low. This has created a percieved weakness of the governemnt, and is why things moved into the downtown core. Here it became even more difficult for the military to contain the protesters who had become hungry for blood because of their leader's promptings.

The next manipulation was of the media. The protesters were instructed to not allow journalists to see any guns or grenade launchers. The protest group had been stockpiling weapons for months, both from their connections to the military, (through General Khattiya, the man killed by a sniper on May 13th), and from routed police and military during some early, small skirmishes.

The photo of Chandler Vandergrift posted here doesn't show him right after he was found. I have a photo of him lying in a pile of soldiers who were also injured from the grenade that was launched at them by the protesters. The military hasn't used grenades at all during this, yet there have been many grenade attacks, although it is hard to find a picture of protesters with a grenade launcher. This same story can be seen repeatedly throughout this "peaceful" protest.

In short, this was all manipulated by a man who is little better than a mafia leader, along with his mafia cronies, who want to see him back in power so that they can continue to steal from the state.

The poor, rural farmers are just being used by these people, and are the ones who would suffer the most from a regime like the one that would happen if Thaksin was allowed to regain power. This isn't about demopcracy. This isn't about equality of the classes. It is one man's fight to destabilize the current government so that he can come back, rule, and get his snout back in the trough.

Daniel Paco...The Gov't actually behaved with amazing restraint. Red shirt hooligans were burning the city down and ruining he economy for 67 million people. The shopping mall you see burning is the size of the Eaton Center. Poor people who worked in hotels, restaurants and stores will go hungry as a result of this nefarious action taken by the red shirts who were offered elections in November.

Dear Mr. Schiller,

For the past few days, I closely followed your column in Toronto Star. I really impressed by your details of the unrest situation in Thailand.

However, I would like to request you to look at the big pictures and more insight in the root cause of the situation. Please also provide the justice for both red shirt and govt soldiers. Don't be blind by the conspiracy story made up by the man behind (Former PM).

Don't believe what you hear but believe in what you see. The Red Shirt group always ask for peace but they stock weapons and made arson all over the country. The Red Shirt Leader even repeatedly threaten to set Bangkok in fire and they did.

Don't only stress on the soldier encampment for more order in the area but please do talk about what the huge destruction the Red Shirt gang did with my country.

I think this is just the beginning. Thai Govt. has to face lot more then this in future.

Thank you Tina Jay and Stephan Toulere ………….. On behalf of most of patriotic Thais, who are against the red shirt, would like to thank you in providing those ignorance with some facts.

Arunee.

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