Thai Army Clash with Red Protesters at Democracy Monument

PART 2

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PART 3

The Red Shirt protests that have been plaguing the city of Bangkok for some time unexpectedly
turned violent tonight as more than a dozen people were killed in clashes between the Red Shirt protesters and the Thai army.

The stand-off took place near Democracy Monument and was the deadliest clash between the protesters and the army in the month-long protest. Earlier in the day the army had pushed their way into the red camp at Democracy Monument and had forced the protesters back, however this evening the protesters decided to mount a determined comeback.

At first the situation was relatively calm with the army playing soft soothing music to try to keep the situation peaceful. Unfortunately that all changed in a split second as gunfire erupted and the crowd attacked the army with plastic water bottles and bamboo sticks.

The army, outnumbered and perhaps sensing that they were losing control, opened fire. People ran and ducked for cover as the sound of automatic gunfire rang out across the protest site. Soon the protesters had regrouped with even deadlier weapons and suddenly the army was hit by a barrage of rocks and Molotov cocktails (improvised petrol bombs).

The army at this point decided to retreat and surrendered their tanks and armored personnel carriers to the Red Shirts, who then attacked the vehicles with their sticks and shields.

This confrontation at Democracy Monument indicates to me that a military option to ending the siege at Rajaprasong would result in hundreds of deaths. The crowd at Rajaprasong is heavily entrenched and is in an enclosed area with limited escape routes. If the army uses tear gas to clear the crowd at Rajaprasong, in my opinion the resulting stampede would cause many deaths and injuries.

The Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiv, certainly is in a difficult position as he is facing pressure from all sides to end this protest as quickly and peacefully as he can. However, with the Red Shirts unwilling to compromise at all on their quest to bring down the government, I fear that the sound of gunfire will be heard again on the streets of
Bangkok.

UPDATE 1: I was interviewed by the BBC Today program about the situation in Bangkok.

UPDATE 2: France 24 News has coverage of my video on their segment about what happened at Democracy Monument.

UPDATE 3:I was interviewed by Kirsten Drysale of the ABC website Hungry Beast about my coverage of the clash between the army and the protesters.

UPDATE 4: I was interviewed by Erika Fry of the Bangkok Post about my video of the clash between the Thai army and the red protesters.

UDATE 5: I’ve posted a Q&A video where I answer many of the questions I received about the shooting at Democracy Monument.

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  • Remarkable video, outstanding report. Glad to see you made it out OK. Take care!
    .-= Jotman´s latest blog post … Tourists "ducking for cover" on Bangkok’s Khao San Road =-.

  • DonnyTH

    Great, brave reporting. One of the best footage seen.

    But don’t you think your title is misleading? especially comparing to what you describe here… as ‘open fire’ sounds like a massacre..

    • Well how many people have to die for it to be a massacre? But I will address the title in the next vid.

    • rebecca visser

      How many people have to die to call it a massacre in your opinion???

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  • Junk Kine

    Keep an eye out for Red Shirts with weapons. I suspect those grenades came from them. There are likely elements of the Red Shirts who are firing on the soldiers but blaming the soldiers for the violence. It is obviously a very complicated situation, with uncertainty and disagreement on both sides. But be aware that elements of the Red Shirts are being armed and ordered by their leaders to fire on troops so they can portray the troops as heavy-handed. Let’s just try to remain objective. I am not for violence on either side. Both sides are waging serious media wars, so we need dedicated people like you to try and give us the truth, without pro- or anti- UDD/Govt analyzes. Keep up the good work, stay neutral, and above all be safe.

    • I didn’t see any weapons on the red side but I don’t doubt that they had some. I did see Molotov cocktails and grenades landing in the midst of the soldiers which were probably thrown by someone on the red side. The sad thing is in these type of situations we’ll probably never know the truth.

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  • NuttyKnot

    Very good video indeed. But I think you shouldn’t named it “Thai Army Opens Fire on Red Protesters in Bangkok 2010” because in this video I cannot see a hard evidence of “army opens fire on red” nor the evidence of “red opens fire on army”.
    Please correct the title.

    “The army, outnumbered and perhaps sensing that they were losing control opened fire on the crowd.” Is this true? Because you said in the video that army on firing in the air.

    Just another curious Thai.

    • Good Red Shirt

      Truth today- Red shirt shirt killed red troop. The ball head are become monk and leave in the red shirt troop. They are the same side. But They killed for showing public and world media as last year they cannot fine body , so now they get the bodies as they need by themselves

      See pic
      http://www.boringdays.net/mystic-ak-47-fired-solder/
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    • I agree the video doesn’t clearly show who is firing on who. I will address this and the title in my next video. Thanks for the comment.

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  • One of protester

    Thank for your information, but please beware Thai people who doesn’t like Red shirt, They always think that they are clever and know everything. Lastly due to you said like Thai army is look bad so, they judge’s you are stupid same as red shirt.

    • Nuch

      Well, in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83Rcg4UW7uM

      The red shirts admitted they had military weapon to fight with the soldiers. They also admitted there were 3rd party to help them shooting from the 3r FL of a building and some ppl are on the trees openning fires. They were warning themself not to go to that direction because those guys were shooting like crazy… What this vdo is telling you then?? It’s not just about ppl who like or do not like the red shirts. It’s about life & safety of our country. It’s about what the gov and the military need to do in order to protect the country and thai citizen. I must ask how could the redshirts have those kind of of weapon?? M76 or whatever?? What does it mean by this?? http://srilankanewsfirst.com/news/15771.html

      Shouldn’t this be a peaceful protest?? No this is the crime committed by the redshirt, and the gov must enforce the law, as simply as that.

      May god save Thailand.

  • Miguel Tadeo

    I have a few questions and I hope you can help me with this issues, like my subject says, I will choose to travel Thailand for my honey moon on April 20, but i was looking some news and videos the actual situation there, first I was thinking this during only a few days and a peaceful protest, but during these days this has worst day by day. In your opinion you recommend me to travel there, or your prefer that I change my trip to other side, after Bangkok, I will be in Singapore and I have the option to change my flight to there before.

    • NuttyKnot

      You should avoid bangkok and any some provinces that they’re holding a rally. I think the southern part of Thailand is still safe. Stay update on the news and stay away from that area, and you’ll be fine.

    • Arnold Kervon

      Hey Miguel…

      Well, I’ve got a friend who just got back into Bangkok City this moring (12th)…and she said the situation there isn’t really as bad as shown on media.

      I’d reckon your trip to Thailand wouldn’t be affected in anyway IF you’re wise to stay away from Bangkok City. That would include the various BKK city tourist hotspots..which aren’t really honeymoon spots anyways.

      Plan your routes and the manner you commute, and you should be fine. You might wanna head south straight from the airport to Pattaya (2-3hrs) or Koh Samet (3-5hrs).. Both lovely getaways.

      Alternatively, you can always choose to just bank-in longer here in Singapore.. There’s a new resort in town (which I wouldn’t really consider it to actually be one.. ‘resort’…lol)…. OR you can take a short ferry from Singapore to Batam, Indonesia.. Small, tiny, puny and cheap little seaside getaway… beach’s not Hawaii quailty though..

      Good luck and have a sweet honeymoon.

    • The problem with the current situation is the unpredictable nature of the protests. Right now they are occupying two main areas in Bangkok and if you avoid those areas you will be fine but that could change very quickly.

      I agree with what the others have said about not staying in Bangkok and going south right away.

      Also don’t forget to smile. The Thais really do respond well to a friendly smile and you can bet I’ve got mine pasted on whenever I’m in the middle of the protests and almost all the time the people appreciate it and are smiling back.

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  • Nuch

    Miguel, if you go to the south of Thailand. Provinces like Phuket or Krabi, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!!! Singapore is good but it’s quite different to Thailand. So it really depends on what you want to see.

  • Jeff

    Who exactly are the red shirt police/security? Are they hired? Are they there to mediate initial skirmishes with the arm?

    • Good question. I can’t imagine that these guys are just some ricer farmers from Isaan who suddenly know about crowd control.

      I don’t know who exactly they are but what I’ve seen their job is to keep the red crowd under control. You can’t see it on this video but even when the shooting started there were red police telling people to go back.

  • Arnold Kervon

    Superb reporting and video footage.

    This video will last for decades.. I seriously hope you do get copyrights for your contents, before you start seeing your videos all edited/dissected and used in TV news reports.

    Once again, great onsite reporting.
    Be safe and God bless you.

  • Ure Kismet

    Well first good reporting, keep it up and stay safe. We are seeing the bourgoius arrogance of Thai middle classes determined to deny ordinary rural Thais a voice right here in this thread. Completely unfounded and unproven allegations of “Red Shirts getting armed so as to discredit the army” a pushed as fact by middle class thais with net connections, when they have nothing approaching proof.
    About time Bankok bourgois learned to move into modern times where everyone gets a say in government.
    I notice that the middle classes are now prattling and whining about potential damage to tourism something that didn’t worry them in the slightest when their own yellow shirts occuppied the airport for weeks until they bought down the democratically elected government and imposed a faux parliamentary veneer over the army junta a la Burma.
    Nobody is fooled by this.

  • thai-faq,
    Good work covering this event. But, when I play your videos; your voice is not heard. I only see your lips moving. Why? I would like to hear your words as you describe what is happening, while it is happening. Please fix this.
    REAL FREEDOM is the intention of the people. The world is not waiting any longer. Humanity’s survival, comfort and the pursuit of happiness is at stake… FREEDOM is in demand now (where-ever you sit on the planet). AND the reassurances by self-interest politicians are not being mitigated by the people for the people. Over time the emotions build; then all hell breaks out. I believe the anger and unrest has been going on since 1951 in that country. AND still today FREEDOM is a misnomer.
    I hope that everyone will come together with force to initiate REAL FREEDOM.
    Otherwise peace and happiness will never be lived.
    Look Beyond the Stars for Spiritual Guidance,
    Christina Vahlsing 505-489-9009 (New Mexico USA)
    http://www.threepersonalities.20megsfree.com/
    vahlsinginc@gmail.com

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  • Great on the scene English reporting of the nights activities. This could easily be the clearest account yet of what happened.

  • sniper

    **WARNING THIS IS A PRETTY GRAPHIC VIDEO**

    Hi I just wanna share ones clip that youcan see the thai army did to red shirt

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iedtz5y1kRc&feature=player_embedded

    • rebecca visser

      really shocking – he did nothing this young man, except to wave his flag!
      This is brutal murder and this video is evidence.

  • BillBangkok

    hey thai-faq:
    there was another video, Part II, of you sitting at home sweaty & panting and giving us yr comments,

    hinting about a probable conspiracy too that Abhisit or Thaksin are not the real players but there are other forces that may be involved…

    what happened to that. i hv a copy of that video, but it seems to have disappeared from the websites. can you repost..thanks…

  • James

    Excellent work! The best coverage in english I’ve seen.
    Keep up the great work and stay safe!!

  • beatup

    My opinion is, this is just another protester side’s article.

  • Good Red shirt

    Found the Red murder kill red troop พบเเล้วไอ้ฆาตกรที่เเกนนำสั่งฆ่าเเดงกะทหาร มันเป็นเเก็งโล้นเเดงนั่นเอง See pic

    http://www.boringdays.net/mystic-ak-47-fired-solder/

    • rebecca visser

      wow when monks get involved then this must say something. Just look what happens to the population and compare Thailand with the surrounding countries -> start at the education level and check how many people cannot attend a decent school because there is no money and check how many people have a attended school and how long.
      I would suggest that you do not compare the countries who are in a worse state then Thailand but with countries that are more advanced. Because this will determine the future of the Thai people. Knowledge is power – the elite in Thailand knows this – why else would they send their kids to schools that cost 50,000 Baht per month?
      Thai people need to unite and demand their right to elect a government of honorable leaders that care for this country as for their own children.

    • little voice

      This report is F—— HELL. First..sorry with my poor and stupid English language. I wanted to explain this comment..
      The real pics are post in Pantip.com [website in Thailand] after the soldier clear the protesters. but today the real pics are gone and came to Anti Red shirt Websites [PAD or yellow shirt]. The pics are change with news data. About this man is red shirt sniper who shooting gun to kill protester and soldier.
      Fact—The Man in pic is the red shirt Guard
      he and red shirt guard are catch the sniper who shooting the gun on building. The sniper wear soldier uniform. The man pick arms from him and show on red shirt stage.
      —This’s sample story— Every mass communication of red-shirt closed by GOV.—- We must capture page and save the data to share the world —This country is taboo, not safe— fast looking before lose. The link is showing the step of events. Thanks very much. love you
      http://www.prachataiboard.com/webboard/id/38234

  • monixe

    who handed out the cookie after the riot!!! Epic man

    • Some guy walked out with a box of them and just started handing them out to everyone. Probably the best damn cookie I’ve ever had!

      • Arnold Kervon

        LOL.. I can imagine.
        Did you keep the wrapper for the cookie?.. Must be worth abit being one of the memorabilia.. heh…

  • John England

    Hey, well done brave sir, your reports are very moving and your commentary very insightful, thankyou for putting this in the public domain.
    Thailands problems are profound and have no clear solutions available given the vested interests of the privilidged few.
    Take care and protect yourself.
    Regards
    JP

  • Steve

    Great video, now i really know how the situation is in bangkok. These vids are the best ive seen. Brave reporting! Grtz

  • Thanapat

    Hey , I saw your videos and really glad you’re alright. Sincerely , you’re one of the best foreign reporters I’ve ever found. Yeah , I’m Thai who is now totally sick with those fake information the government tries to broadcast all over Thailand. There were many deaths during that time which many fools use to blame the red shirt.

    I can clearly say that Abhisit is never be our Priminister , he’s just a thief and (now) a murderer. At the present , many people are still fooled by this government through television channels but I believe the truth will be finally shown one day and nobody can block it.

  • ballbkk

    Thank you very much for VDO

  • TH

    Thanks for the true story that we can not see on Thai’s media. Be safe. God bless you.

  • Hey Tony Dude:

    wassup bro…no mo updates…..

    i hv yr website as my homepage now…..
    to track the real news out there…..

    Guess Nation News & Reuters may hv paid you well
    for that Journalism Academy Awards reel of yrs
    enuff to holiday in Phuket for long….

    but….what about us dude? we are hungry for yr updates…..

    you are an expat hero now…..we actually carry yr pic in our wallets…LOL

    give us some beef bro….get out there….we are chicken to be out there……

    BUT PLSS….KEEP SAFE !!!!!……

    dont get carried away….
    those assasin snipers may be on your lookout…..
    the Farang who gives the real news !!!!!!!!

    GREAT BRAVERY !…..GREAT JOB…..GREAT HAIRSTYLE !!!
    LOL

  • bikkhu friday

    that….. would of made Hunter Thompson proud,
    hats off… and balls to you sir !

    bikkhu friday

  • BillBangkok

    I think it’s a simple, normal game of politics played here,
    the tactics aptly lifted from any political leadership.

    Such tactics & games are used by most countries to get their agenda across.
    Eliminate some of our own, call them martyrs, erupt pandemonium, get agenda done.

    Thaksin should hire better thinkers in his side to change the game a bit atleast.

    Politics 101:

    Step1:
    Spend money to create a protest rally. Pay 500 baht per person & a free trip to Bangkok from up-country, bring in thousands, if not hundreds of protestors from less-developed provinces
    Pheasants & not so important people, who are just statistics populace.

    Step 2:
    Make the stand-off last long enough to be seen by the media, world, etc.

    Step 3:
    Hire a sinister group of paid assassin snipers, with weapons, to kill a couple of their own red shirts,
    And also shoot down some army personnel.
    In the spur of moment, both sides get instigated, and retaliate,
    bringing down more numbers on both sides.
    Get more get injured in the stampede & rioting.
    Thank god the Thais are peaceful people and it stopped at 21 killed & 800++ injured.

    Step 4:
    Show claims to red shirts that army killed your cadres, fight harder for democracy,
    Convey the idea that the present leadership is their enemy.
    And to the world show that the present Thai Government has killed democracy by crushing the protestors, and ask them to step down.

    Step 5:
    If re-election takes place, spend & buy votes @ 500 baht per vote, and get back into power.
    Start up corruption business again with own agenda.

    Moral:
    These are the evils of democracy, where the illiterates are allowed to vote;
    who can only see the flashy 500 baht before them, & not see the long term goals…
    The illiterate masses bring a Government to power, & not the literates, who know the consequences
    Welcome to democracy!

    Simple Thaksin political math:

    Let’s say if 35 million votes are to be bought to win an election, @ 500 baht per vote, from pheasants & up country rural folks.
    It would cost 35 million x 500 baht = 17 billion baht = 500 million Dollars
    Which is like peanuts for Thaksin and he will reap this in the first 3 months of his tenure.

  • Thai People

    Please truthfully present the news from Thailand. Do not distort the situation. Please study deeply the real situatin in Thailand

  • pawan

    plz let me know, i have a booking in bangkok for 8th may to 12th may shall i keep the booking live or cancle the booking plz advice, if i cancel i will get the maxium amount wht i paid , i’m not able to decied can u advice me wht to do???????

    • It’s impossible to know what is going to happen here that far in advance because everything can change very quickly right now. The only thing you can do is keep an eye on the news and decide as late as you can without incurring your booking penalty.

  • vlad

    Video #2 – Left Building :

    – 3.00 Sniper #1 (3rd room left, under the rooftop)
    – 3.03 Sniper #2 (2nd room left, rooftop)
    – 3.36 Sniper #3 (1st room left, rooftop)
    – 3.37 Sniper #2 fires again

    Notice the sound of the impacts that coincides with the shots on the last 2.

    • Arnold Kervon

      This is almost unreal…

      I actually went through the clip second by second…and I got shocked.. You were right.. There IS someone at the roof~! OMG!

  • TeraGaruda

    Good report. How long have ya been here, it seemed you didn’t really speak any Thai in the vids? First I thought you might be a luk krueng.

    Cheers,

    TG

    • Hi TG, I am luk krueng but not Thai. I’m farang/yippun.

  • vlad

    BillBangcock you might want to move on to Burma. Pro dictatorship propaganda doesn’t cut it anymore in Siam.

    Tony, great job of course. You did what no thai or even western reporters do anymore these days :
    True independent no BS journalism at its finest.

    Bravo

  • Im in Latin America/Miami other side of the world unaware of the situation in Thailand, I just happened to stumble upon your blog from woothemes and it is absolutely amazing your report. Incredible journalism.

  • Brett

    Great unbiased coverage. The latetest are the three black dressed commando types with rifles on the roofs. This is not an uncommon occurrrance in protests against goverments throughout the world. Has happened many times in south and Central America. Peaceful protest made violent by third party shooting at both Reds and Military to provoke bloodshed
    and bad press for both sides. Increasing distrust of both sides. Military denying start of shooting,Reds the same. Both probably telling truth. Are the men in black Yellow…the have done it before.

  • Nepen

    Well I’d say it’s a pretty good report but the report is only from one side of the situation. It’s not a bad report but it’s one sided. You didnt see when the red dragged injured military guy and beat him, you didnt see the black cloth people, and you didnt see the military got shot either.

    I’m sure there are plenty of good people who doesnt want anyone to get hurt from both side. The black cloth people who were shooting at both sides, believed to be Se Dang’s group. He’s one of the Red’s leaders. Some clips showed the reds claiming so.

    And to point out that those who said that this govt is illegitimate, you probably should go read up about how the government is formed in the parliament system. This govt came from the people in the house of representative who voted him into the PM (same as Samak and Somchai) and the House of Representatives are voted in by the people. So it’s only fair to say that if you think this govt is illegal, then Samak and Somchai were too.
    After the national election, the representative votes for the PM, so the party bands together to form the majority and they voted for the PM, after Somchai was convicted (may be I used the wrong word here, but it’s the court order that made him the PM no more…) by the court, the representatives bands together again but this time, with the Democrat party, and elected Aphisit as the PM, so yes, he came from the people through parliament system.

    I’m arrogant Thai middle class like Ure Kismet mentioned but I’m not a yellow shirt.. I’m floored everytime people are against red shirt they immedietly think we are Yellow. This country doesnt have only 2 colors, you know. And if the Reds hate the Yellows so much, why are they doing exacly the same and even worse to what they claim the Yellow did? Hypocrites much? And if you think democracy is only about election and the hell with what’s the elected person did to the country, I pity you.

    Sorry for my English.. getting tired 🙂

  • Thank you,For VDO Clip

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  • R.C.

    Well, I doubt this protest would get any better, at least until both sides’ leaders decided to come up with some kind of resolution.

    The worst thing about this whole situation is the fact that most protesters ain’t aware that they are “pawns” in this political game of domination between two factions: regardless of the outcome, neither sides loss anything (the actual players, of course, lose a tiny bit of their money to pay these people). On the other hand, protesters, which are mostly comprised of grass-roots civilians, will be the one that will have to take all the consequences.

    After all, my opinion about your footage is similar to others: well done, unbiased, first-hand footage. Also, glad to see you make it back to your hotel unharmed.

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  • Sngkh

    Sadly enough… innocent people are dying because of some freaking protest.

    Here’s the thing, majority of people in Thailand hates Thaksin who is behind the red shirts.

    The thing is, red shirt people believes that Thaksin is their savior during poor situation as 500+ baht is big money for the poor one. So they would support him as much as they get money out of him. During Thaksin investiture as PM, he gave the poor people 1000bt to buy mobile from his own company AIS and that the money comes from the taxpayers…

    Many people hates Thaksin but it will be much difficult to make the red shirts understand and believe where do Thaksin come from and what is his true intention behind all this.

  • Who hands out cookies after a riot?!? Great footage man!

  • Tim

    Sawadeeka ,

    My name is Tim, I’m writing this letter for myself and on behalf on my friend Teo. We are both Thai and we live overseas , we are curently in the Unites States of America where we follow the Thai news very closely and we are deeply saddened by the actual situation. We cannot believe the army is fighting against our own people.
    The situation is not fair towards the red shirts who only want freedom to vote , freedom to chose the person/ politician who they think is best for the country!!
    It hurts me to watch how people are living in Thailand, fighting each other, using violence to shut the People’s voice.

    Sincerely,
    Tim & Teo

  • tonkla

    Your very brave. Taken a good clip.

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  • Dnpattie

    Have you ever mentioned the possibility of army personnel being hit with M79 grenades and some protesters and solders being fired on snipers?

  • I think the strength will shift in favor of the Red Shirts as violence continues to deepen. Why? Currently, the protestors who are getting killed belong to the Red Shirts side, who will win public sympathy. Furthermore, the Thai economy will be harmed by the protests, which will lead to further public discontent for the current government.

  • Your videos are absolutly amazing! I can’t believe you got the footage that you did without any hostility or injuries. I’ll be following your blogs and video religiously from now on. Super stoked on the podcast too. I totally agree with what you said on Hungry Beast, if you hear shots next time get outta there! No sense pushing your luck.

  • Peter

    Check out this video from the other side of the Democracy Monument, about the same time you were there, as the clash started.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnYT2-8QoPk

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  • Michelle

    This is amazing i was just there also when the tear gas when off but never got hurt we left when the death toll was
    about 25 or 28

  • Amazing stuff! Your bravery borders on insanity, sir. I don’t know how you could remain so calm with tear gas clinging to your eyes and bullets whizzing overhead. I hope this stuff doesn’t start again but as an outsider I’m guessing this isn’t over.

    I also realize I’m getting older when I tell myself, “No way I’d stick around to document that, I’ve got a wife and kid to get home to.”

  • It is a shame – but it will only continue. It has been going on for generations and generations and it is the only way that Thai’s know politics.

  • josh

    It’s very unfortunate for the Thai’s to suffer for generations and for not having a peaceful community to live in.