The Nation’s photographer on the military’s use of forceBy Bangkok Pundit May 31, 2010 9:30AM UTC
Chaiwat Pumpuang, a photographer at The Nation, was shot on May 15. The Nation has an article with some quotes by Chaiwat from what he saw at Rajprarob Road:
“The situation was rather tense but I didn’t expect the military to take very harsh action against the protesters. The worst came around 3.30pm when the red shirts took over a city water truck and tried to steer it across the road near Soi Rangnam as a barrier against the security forces.
“Soldiers then blew out the tyres on this truck and all hell broke loose. The place suddenly turned into a battlefield as I attempted to capture the scenes on my camera with a telescope lens.
“Everyone was retreating into corners to avoid live bullets from the security forces. I and a colleague from Post Today were among the last to leave the firing zone.
“This time, I mistakenly believed that the security forces wouldn’t get very tough with the protesters. There were just 50 to 60 red shirts, a very small group. I couldn’t believe that the soldiers would shoot non-stop like that. What happened was very fast, offensive and deadly. There was no advance signal that the army would strike that hard, especially when there were about ten cameramen in the area.
“We were just doing our duty and we couldn’t see the soldiers who sprayed bullets, as they were behind their sandbags at the opposite end of the street,” says Chaiwat.
BP: It is clear that some people among the protesters – whether you want to call them black shirts or not – were armed with guns and grenade launchers. Soldiers also have the right to defend themselves, but this doesn’t mean they can shoot at any protester. Among the protesters shot dead, did any of them have guns? At times, there seems to be a policy of shoot first and ask questions later. Prachatai have uploaded a video and at 1:15 minute mark you can see and hear soliders see a person in the distance and one states shoot them. Shots are fired and a couple of protesters start running away, but the shots continue.