Minus red shirts, hard-core 500 refuse to quit
Removing their red shirts for fear of violent reprisal and arrest, some 500 red-shirts anti-government protesters refused to quit and re-grouped at Sanam Luang and other spots like Phan Fah bridge yesterday (Tuesday) after the Government House protest site was abandoned and leaders arrested. The atmosphere was tense, distraughtful, as protesters tried to console one another not to give up their cause of overthrowing what they believed to be the elite-bureaucratic control over politics and poor people. They removed their red shirts because they have become enemy of not just the state but some Bangkok residents who were outraged at the fires and attacks unleashed by some reds since Sunday.
Some cried and sobbed while others shouted in deep anger at the military and the government. Most were distrustful of strangers whom they didn't recognise and ranted against the Thai media whom they believed to be on the government's side and haboured a deep sense of injustice against what they believed to be a double-standard treatment of them vis-a-vis the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy's protest.
"Do ask around and see if there's anyone who doesn't hate this government" one protester told The Nation.
"No I don't hate them but I dislike the fact that there's no justice in this land," a woman answered.
"We can no longer trust the Thai media," said another. A man who claimed to be a red off-duty police officer showed his bullet-proof vest with one bullet lodged in it and claimed he was shot at on Monday by soldier.
"The government kills people!" shouted another man, as some examined pictures of what appeared to be seriously, if not fatally, injured red protesters in blood. Though protesters believed that many were killed with their bodies snatched away by the army, the government insisted that nobody was killed by the troops and the two deaths on Monday's night resulted from the reds killing two local residents in Nang Lerng area. A group of political activists and the Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) is investigating the claim the alleged deaths, however.
The Phan Fah bridge protesters, numbering around 200, were chased away by soldiers who marched past the Democracy Monument at 4pm after the group began to gather more people and after hours of verbal abuses hurled at armed soldiers. As they ran away from charging soldiers, one local resident on Rajdamnoen Avenue cursed the reds, saying their shouting about soldiers killing their comrades were bogus.
One soldier was asked if he thought the conflict which led to two deaths and 123 injuries could end.
"I think it's going to be tough because people no longer see eye to eye," he replied.
At Sanam Luang, the protesters exchanged stories about what transpired in a climate of fear, despair mixed with some hope as they tried to console one another that somehow, if they carried on the fight, they would eventually win.
Sanam Luang, their last major gathering place, became tense as 100 anti-riot police officers arrived to carry out a mopping up operation. Police told them they're breaking the Emergency Decree which barred five persons from making political gathering.
The scene was tense and pandamonius as officers stepped closer to the protesters and the unarmed protesters booed and shouted at them.
Shortly before six, many people gathered around a foreign journalist who was interviewing Army Lt Sunisa Lertpakawat who arrived to record the scene on video.
"[The Thai media] don't broadcast all the scenes of the incidents," said Sunisa, better known as Muad Jiab, and famous for her controversial books about Thaksin Shinawatra.
Sunisa shed tears as she said bullets "bought by people's tax [were used] to kill the people."
"It's not right," she said. "Thai people don't deserve these weapons."
Upon learning that the foreign journalist interviewing was also the president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, Sunisa sobbed on his left shoulder, wept and said: "Many people need your help."
"Muad Jiab is our heroine!" shouted one.
"We will not be defeated!" another exclaimed.