17:00: Following a series of tweets from a Thai Rath journalist about the attacks by guards and protesters against Free TV journalists:

1.

[Ok, so Chief Suthep T and the PDRC leaders want Free TV to cover the PDRC protests or not to the extent that they let speakers and guards threaten the media all the time]

2.

[Last night, Channel 9 team were surrounded, the photographer was carried out of the area; this morning, Channel 3 was surrounded so they couldn't report news]

3.

[Fresh off the presses [right now], speaker on PDRC stage at Victory Monument, declared to chase out the Channel 7 and 9 news vehicles from the protest area]

4.

[Urgent: Channel 9 news and those reporting live, have withdrawn all their reporters from PDRC stage at Rachadamnern for safety reasons after being surrounded by PDRC protesters and having their vehicles smashed/hit]

Sunai of HRW:

BP: So clearly trying to convince the other media outlets to report in the way they like with TNN reporting from a live cross and the TNN anchor saying, as a representative of news association (didn’t catch the full name), he asked for the leaders to ensure safety for reporters…..

16:15: The New York Times sums up the problem for the Democrats and their rhetoric is summed up by what each side is saying.

Ms. Yingluck on Sunday criticized the planned boycott.

“Even if they do not accept this government, they must accept the system,” she told the Thai media. “The government has already returned power to the people and let them decide the future of the country.”

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party, which is Thailand’s oldest political party and has its power base in the country’s old moneyed elite, justified the decision on Saturday by saying the elections would be the “same old power grab” by the governing party and its allies.

The election on Feb. 2 is not the solution for the country,” Mr. Abhisit, a former prime minister, said after meeting with party leaders on Saturday. “It will not lead to reform.”

BP: So we should suspend democracy and have an unelected People’s Assembly to reform the country? This is the kind of argument that you got from Burmese generals before some recent changes there. As James Goyder tweeted on Friday:

BP: Indeed.

15:30: Fellow blogger Saksith on the Democrat’s decision to boycott where he states “Thai opposition boycott a slap in the face to voters”:

Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party is to boycott the February 2 elections, prolonging the current political crisis. But this move will hurt the country’s oldest political party in the long-run, writes Saksith Saiyasombut

When Sukhumband Paribatra was reelected as Governor of Bangkok in March this year he did it with a record number of over 1.25m votes, maintaining the Democrat Party’s stranglehold on Thailand’s capital. However, the rival Pheu Thai Party was able to make ground, especially in the city’s outskirts. In a city of roughly 12 million people, only 5 million are registered in Bangkok, while 4.2 million of them were eligible to vote. That means only about a third decided on the future of the other two-thirds. I commented back then that it was important for the Democrat Party to look beyond the city borders to the rest of the country since the next general election would likely be their “very last chance” to make a nationwide impact at the polls.

On Saturday, they slammed the door on that chance.

BP: Indeed.

Kurt Campbell, who until very recently was Assistant US secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs, has an opinion piece published by FT’s The A-List entitled “Respect for democracy in Thailand needs support” from December 12:

Jump forward to 2013 and Thailand is again entering an exceedingly complex and potentially dangerous political period. On Sunday Thailand’s main opposition party stormed out of parliament, claiming the illegitimacy of the democratically elected government currently led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of Mr Thaksin. These minority legislators are intimately aligned with the protesters who have staged the massive rallies in Bangkok. The opposition has claimed “popular support” even though Ms Yingluck’s Puea Thai party came to power in a landslide 2011 vote that virtually all observers agree was free and fair. This latest intrigue simply disguises a larger truth: for almost 20 years the Bangkok power elite – business tycoons, royalist followers and some senior military – have been unable to acknowledge that the wheel of history has turned.

The opposition Democrats have essentially lost every national election since 1992, and their strategy increasingly appears to rely on undemocratic practices. Rather than building a competitive political opposition that would promote popular political and economic reforms, the anti-Thaksin forces in the courts, military and whisperers around the royal court have driven three democratically elected governments out of office since 2006. These reactionary forces – despite the changing labels and political configurations – are essentially the “yellow shirts”, and it is their allies and foot soldiers who are storming the government ministries.

The international community should, nevertheless, underscore that both sides in the domestic struggle should commit to electoral and legal means for resolving disputes and not to rely upon unelected “people’s councils” – the preferred venue for governance by key leaders on the Democratic side.

As Asia struggles with difficult issues in North Korea, worries over heightened tensions between Japan and China and evaluates the historic outcomes of Chinese Communist party’s third plenum last month, it is still important to remember Thailand and its churning, struggling and still at risk democratic trajectory.

BP: It is fairly strong statement by Campbell with a strong criticism of the protesters. Although, foreign countries did then express concerns about what was happening in Thailand although the result was that one of the protest leaders then threatened to seize the US Embassy and protesters have been calling for the US Ambassador to leave…

15:15: Will first cover what has happened in the last few hours, but subsequent updates will focus more on the more recent events. The Bangkok Post:

People’s Democracy Reform Committee (PDRC) co-leader Anchalee Paireerak, who is leading the group along with Dr Seri, said on the stage that although Ms Yingluck would not be at home, the group would still go to show symbolic opposition to her insistence on staying on as caretaker prime minister.

First, a photo of the protesters at the beginning of the soi from this morning:

9:50am Protesters gathering at the top of the Soi to the PM’s house. Do they know she’s not there? (Pic @Juaraweepic.twitter.com/1J61HLrHkX

— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) December 22, 2013

Protesters don’t seem to be women-only as they try to get closer to the PM’s House as per a photo from a Thai journalist:

(10.20am) Protesters trying to push police trucks away to pave way into PM’s house (2nd barrier) #fb pic.twitter.com/qktqi6VRvn

— Juarawee K. (Lina) (@Juarawee) December 22, 2013

BP: This is how things can escalate.  Meanwhile, Yingluck is not at home and is in the Northeast:

#Thailand‘s caretaker PM #Yingluck among the people in Nong Khai Sunday morning (Pic @Wiroon_PJpic.twitter.com/TlOWKh66qy #ThaiUprising

— Alessio Fratticcioli (@fratticcioli) December 22, 2013

Photos of the protesters at Victory Monument:

13.00 ถวิล เปลี่ยนสี /พล.อ.ปรีชา เอี่ยมสุวรรณ พาเหรดขึ้นเวทีอนุสาวรีย์ชัยฯ คนชุมนุมแน่น @oho_mr #ม็อบการเมือง #ไทยรัฐ pic.twitter.com/EqLm70vE9s

— Mayday TRnews (@mayday_TRnews) December 22, 2013

Views of the protest leadership on the protesters who have come out today (although one should note actually the weather has been quite cool this week even if the sun is hot):

Despite the fiery sun, the will of Thai people is fiercer. http://t.co/E2UnwCdt6Q

— CMDThai (@CMDThai) December 22, 2013

More photos of the protests:

12:18pm Latest picture in front of BACC near MBK – RT @nikhon_: เวทีใหญ่หน้าหอศิลป์ฯ เวลานี้ pic.twitter.com/20u5LpBdZR

— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) December 22, 2013

BP:  From BP’s single vantage point comparing the protests who walked past today compared with December 9, but there are so many protest locations so hard to say for sure. However, from photos, so far as of 15:10, the numbers seem down on December 9.