Saturday, May 15, 2010

Violence in Bangkok

The proposed settlement did not hold together.  As reported here, protesters and police clashed after a renegade general who was working with the protesters was shot in the head.  The clashes are now in their third day, and according to reports have claimed at least 24 lives with more than 170 reported injured.  The Thai government, which thus far has generally exercised restraint, has vowed to take a more aggressive posture.  However, aggressive action against the protesters, who began their demonstration two months ago, is not yet a certainty:

Despite the worries that violence would escalate, the government has powerful reasons to show restraint. Officials have held back for weeks for fear of causing a bloodbath — further tarnishing Thailand’s reputation as a business and tourist-friendly country — or of inciting unrest in other parts of the country sympathetic to the protesters.

Rather than forcing a showdown, the military could instead choose to continue to try to divide the demonstrators, hoping that more moderate members will leave the area as they run out of food and water. Over the last several days, the military has set up checkpoints on roads leading to the protesters’ encampment, keeping supporters with new supplies out and checking the identity of anyone trying to enter the area.


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