Troops Deployed to Silom Area as Rumors of Crackdown Continue

Pictures emerged from Bangkok on Monday morning of troops securing various spots in Silom, the financial area of Bangkok. A few hours ago rumors of a crackdown have been making the rounds at the main rally site of the red shirts as the mood has been reported as tense.

Tony Joh of Thai-FAQ.com, who has also filmed the violent escalations, has posted a video of today’s developments and gives a pretty spot-on analysis of the current situation.

Is a crackdown on the red protesters imminent?“, video by Tony Joh of Thai-FAQ.com

The morning news on ThaiPBS were the first to show footage of the troops moving in Silom.

Video via YouTube. Watch Part 1 here.

All the commotion of the morning turned out to be a strategic move of the army to secure Silom after the red shirts have planned (or at least hinted) to rally there.

Nonetheless rumors of a crackdown are still persistently making the rounds. Matichon has on Monday evening quoted red shirt leader Jatuporn to have ‘leaked intelligence of an army crackdown‘ (in Thai). He explains that he has received the details by so called ‘watermelon soldiers’, who are sympathetic to the red shirts. The precursor was the planned meeting of army commanders on Monday headed by the newly installed head of the security operation, army chief Gen. Anupong. This meeting has been postponed to the end of the week though. However, as Jatuporn claims, the meeting actually took place secretly in the evening.

The ‘leaked details’ list several numbers of troop sizes, weapons, (rubber) bullets and drills. Furthermore, it plans the dispersal of the protestors (“3. สลายผู้ชุมนุม“), capturing the red shirt leaders dead or alive (“2. จับแกนนำ…ทั้งที่เป็นการจับเป็นและจับตาย“) and invoking of a total media blackout (“1. ปิดสื่อทั้งหมด…“) of red shirt news outlets, including SMS services (“จะเป็นการปิดการส่งข้อความสั้น“). But what stands out most of all these alleged ‘leaked details’ is that “it was said in the meeting that the loss of 500 lives is acceptable” (ในที่ประชุมมีการพูดว่า สูญเสีย 500 ชีวิตก็ต้องยอม).

Rumor or not – I took this admittedly extreme example to showcase how rumors like these increase the tension in the current situation. As mentioned at the beginning, the rumors of a crackdown on Monday morning let the mood at the rally site drop significantly. This rumor however, seems to be less plausible.

Even though the army has intensify their efforts around the red shirts, with special units called in, troops placed on the rooftops of the high buildings surrounding the Rajaprasong area and also allowed to use live rounds (for their self-defence, of course); how are they going to disperse so many people at the rally? How will the military be able to control this large crowd in a dispersal (I’m not even talking about a peaceful one!)?

As I said many times before, this deadlock to getting more unsolvable day by day. The longer this will drag on, the more abrupt the end will be.