What are the plans of the PDRC and other anti-government groups?By Bangkok Pundit Jan 13, 2014 7:30AM UTC
Via e-mail is latest PDRC press release:
PDRC reveals details of its 7 shutdown stages for 13 Jan. 2014
Akanat also provided additional details on the PDRC’s occupation of Bangkok, stating that citizens would start arriving at various stages this evening to organize stages and tents in preparation of activities scheduled to commence at 09.00 hours on 13 January 2014. While a group of anti-government protesters would remain behind at Ratchadamnoen stage, most of the masses would depart the area at 09.00 hours as part of PDRC secretary- general Suthep Thaugsuban’s procession.
The route of Suthep’s procession is as follows: Ratchadamnoen Klang –> Larn Luang –> Ratchathewi Junction (part of the procession led by PDRC core leader Thavorn Senniam will branch off to Victory Monument) –> Pathumwan Intersection (part of the procession will stay here with PDRC core leader Sathit Wongnongtoey).
The procession will then separate into smaller groups that will head off separately towards Ratchaprasong, Lumpini, and Asoke junctions. As usual, demonstrators will be peaceful and unarmed. Public transportation and airports will not be shut down, and street lanes will be reserved for public buses, medical emergency vehicles, friendly taxis, diplomatic envoys, tourist caravans, and commercial provision vehicles. Each of the seven stages will act as a metaphorical “village” with PDRC core leaders heading each one acting as “pooyai baan” (village heads) overseeing events. PDRC secretary-general Suthep will be the “kamnan” (local community headman) and will be stationed at Pathumwan Intersection. On-site medical personnel and security guards will be present and available at every stage.
Spokesperson Akanat also added that each village will have pre-scheduled daily activities, such as surrounding certain government offices, from 06.00-16.00 hours, before returning to homebase for evening rallies until 02.00 hours every night. Activities will continue until caretaker PM and Defense Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her caretaker cabinet resign from office.
Suthep has been in defiant mode. WSJ on what he said on Saturday:
Mr. Suthep told a rally of supporters Saturday that he remained firm in his mission to paralyze the government.
“Let me tell Yingluck, that the people have come out and we must win and you will no longer have a place to live,” Mr. Suthep said. “We’re no longer afraid of you. We’ll get rid of you from Thailand. We’ll fight until the victory belongs to the people.”
Then, last night. The Bangkok Post:
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Sunday night said the movement would not accept a win-win result for both sides in the battle with the government and that it would be victorious if civil servants support the protesters.
Mr Suthep made the remarks at his last speech delivered to supporters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) at the Democracy Monument main rally stage at 10pm, just hours before the stage is disassembled on Monday morning and Bangkok shutdown is effectively launched at 9am.
The muan maha prachachon, or great mass uprising, would accept no proposal or negotiation from the caretaker government or those linked to the Thaksin regime, Mr Suthep said.
“In this battle, to lose is to lose, a win is win, [there will be] no win-win or draw result. Only one side will win,” Mr Suthep said. “The defeat of the Thaksin regime means all politicians will know that from now on the Thai people will no more let them ruin the country.“
Also, Nittikorn Lamlua – who earlier threatened to seize the US Embassy – last night stated, per Thai Rath, that they had news that Yingluck will leave the country. He states they will give her until January 15. If she hasn’t left the country, they will close Aero Thai, who run air traffic control, so there will be no flights. For this issue, NSPRT will be responsible and not the PDRC and he is willing face the legal consequences (นอกจากนี้ นายนิติธร ยังกล่าวด้วยว่า ทางการข่าวทราบมาว่า นางสาวยิ่งลักษณ์เตรียมตัวที่จะบินออกนอกประเทศ จึงขอให้เวลา ถึงวันที่ 15 ม.ค. นี้ ถ้ายังไม่ออกนอกประเทศ คปท.จะไปปิดวิทยุการบิน ซึ่งเป็นศูนย์ควบคุมการสัญจรทางอากาศ ให้ไม่มีใครสามารถบินออกไปได้ทั้งประเทศ และภารกิจนี้ คปท.จะเป็นผู้รับผิดชอบเองทั้งหมด โดย กปปส.ซึ่งเป็นเวทีใหญ่ไม่มีส่วนเกี่ยวข้อง ทั้งนี้ ตนพร้อมที่จะรับผิดทางกฎหมายเอง). He also said the SET will be seized unless the government resigns from being a caretaker government by January 15 (หากภายในวันที่ 15 ม.ค.นี้ ไม่ลาออกจากรัฐบาลรักษาการ คปท.จะไปยึดตลาดหลักทรัพย์แห่งประเทศไทย (ตลท.) ทันที)
BP: Although, according to Wassana of the Bangkok Post, the military are guarding Aero Thai (as well as many other sites including major TV channels, major utililites, Government House, and the airports).
It is best to think of NSPRT as the militant wing and PDRC as the protest wing and the Democrats as the political wing….
The shutdown actually started yesterday in the late afternoon as well. AP:
The protest leaders said last week that the demonstrators would occupy seven key intersections Monday in Bangkok, a teeming city known for its debilitating traffic jams. They’re also threatening to occupy government office compounds.
Groups of demonstrators began arriving at the venues late Sunday and erected stages.
Earlier on Sunday, some demonstrators blocked a road in Bangkok’s northern outskirts, where many government offices are located, said Deputy Police Spokesman Col. Anucha Romyanan. There were no immediate confrontations with the authorities, who have vowed to show restraint in order to avoid violence.
Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said Friday that a combined force of around 12,000 police officers and 8,000 soldiers was being deployed to maintain order in the capital.
The Bangkok Post with some specifics:
Anti-government protesters began their Bangkok shutdown at several locations late Sunday afternoon ahead of the planned Monday operation, prompting bus services to be rerouted swiftly as police set up service points near the seven protest sites.
The People’s Democratic Reform Committee protesters began blocking traffic and setting up stages at Pathumwan intersection, Lat Phrao intersection, Chaeng Wattana Road and Victory Monument before 8pm Sunday. More roads around Lat Phrao were closed after midnight.
The protesters started their Bangkok shutdown at Chaeng Wattana Road where the Government Complex is situated at about 4pm. By 6pm, both inbound and outbound lanes of the road were completely closed for traffic from Laksi intersection to the Government Complex to Khlong Prapa intersection after the protesters blocked the roads with sandbags and barriers.
Shortly after the stoppage on Chaeng Wattana Road, two separate groups of protesters blocked traffic at Lat Phrao five-way intersection by setting up a stage on Phahon Yothin road in front of Chatuchak market and Pathumwan intersection which will be used as main rally venues.
At Victory Monument, protesters began to move in at around 7pm.
The four locations are among seven that will be used as central rally venues by the PDRC. The four other venues are Lumpini, Ratchaprasong and Asok.
BP: The article has a good graphic showing locations where the PDRC will be and the likely affect on traffic. Also, see Richard Barrow’s map… On what the government says will be the response, Reuters:
We don’t want confrontation with the protesters… In some places we will let them into government buildings,” Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.
“The government will let Suthep play the hero tomorrow… It will be his show,” added Labor Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung.
“There won’t be a repeat of 2010 because the government will not use that strategy. There are no plans to use force,” he said, referring to an army crackdown on Thaksin supporters that year when more than 90 died including police and soldiers.
BP: If violence breaks out, well anything could happen, but from events over the last few months, we have seen tear gas and rubber bullets used so far. How long will this last for though if the police or military are shot at?
On analysis of the situation:
“The army is fighting tooth and nail from intervening and rolling out the tanks,” said political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak. “So short of a direct army intervention, something is likely to give in the coming days, because the deadlock will intensify and become unbearable, untenable.“
“Thailand finds itself bereft of a credible center that can forge reconciliation and a settlement that recognizes elements of justice in both sides of the political divide,” said Michael Connors, an associate professor at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus. “If that center does not emerge, we can only imagine further violence and chaos as one side seeks to crush the other.”
It is “not realistic” to think the Bangkok protest itself will exert enough pressure on Yingluck to force her to step down, said Michael Montesano, a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. “There has to be some form of intervention for her to be crippled,” he said, noting the protest was designed “clearly to provoke a crisis.”
“Most of the protestors will be peaceful,” said Bangkok Post political columnist Voranai Vanijaka. “It’s the few in the militant wing that we have to watch out for.”
“The support for Suthep is waning … because many have begun to see that this is a road that leads to nowhere except for achieving changes through intimidation and violence, and possibly a military or judicial coup,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said, Suthep still drew strong support from his political base, broadly drawn from Bangkok’s middle classes and members of the old establishment threatened by Thaksin’s rise.
“Suthep can still command a large number in the streets,” he said.
New York Times on the chance of a coup:
In a country with a long history of military interventions in politics, the head of the army, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, has given various Delphic answers to reporters when asked about the possibility of a military coup.
Last week, the retired general who led the 2006 coup, Sonthi Boonyaratglin, said military intervention was “impossible” because the country was so deeply divided that a “mass” of people, joined by dissident military groups, would rise up to oppose a coup.
Mr. Sonthi said he was often asked by officers about the likelihood of a coup.
“If you love the country and the king, you better stop thinking about it,” he said he had told the officers.
“I can assure you that they won’t do it,” he said of any attempt at a coup.
BP: Actually, at anytime in the past 7 years, the chance of a coup is probably the highest over the next week because of the (reasonable) likelihood of widespread bloodshed (without bloodshed, it would be surprising that the military would intervene because of the risks of the reds protesting). The only question is if the military intervenes, what exactly do they do?