The content in this page ("Unfazed red-shirts guards ready for military incursion" by Pravit Rojanaphruk, The Nation) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Unfazed red-shirts guards ready for military incursion

As I entered Wireless Road yesterday |afternoon, the posh street was uncharacteristically quiet except for the occasional gun shots and the noise of helicopters hovering above.

As I passed the Dutch Embassy, I saw an injured man being carried away on a motorcycle, squeezed between two red-shirt protesters.

There weren't that many people left but hardcore red-shirt guards were staying put as they waited for a possible incursion by soldiers.

At the Wireless-Sarasin intersection, the morale of the red-shirt guards was high.

They chatted among themselves and armed themselves with motolov cocktails, steel pipes, sling shots and bamboo sticks.

"I'm not afraid," one black-clad red-shirt guard told me. Just minutes earlier, skirmishes between soldiers and red shirts took place and one border patrol police bus was burnt down. A number of people, mostly red shirts and reporters were injured by what appeared to be gunshots with one reported death. "The soldiers shot at will," said another man. "This government is absolutely evil. And they are not resigning."

They exchanged tales about the skirmishes with those who returned from the frontline and by 2.30pm a leader of the guards shouted that the barricade they are manning will be shut and asked those who wanted to come inside to start moving.

"It's an order. We will burn the tyres if they come," the guards' leader warned.

Once inside, what some reds called "the liberated zone", I dropped by to buy a pop soda at a nearby eatery called "Tom Sab Rod Ded", which stopped serving food but was still selling drinks.

"Are you yellow or red?" an old lady asked me.

After telling the shop owner, a Thai-Chinese lady in her late fifties that I'm from The Nation, widely regarded as an anti-red media, she began confiding that she "dislikes reds".

The lady accused that the guards are being paid and are drug addicts and so on and added that she does not like the way they searched her car.

"[The government] must quickly suppress them even if it means deaths. War is no war without deaths," she said, adding that red shirts are "vulgar, uneducated and barbaric".

All the problems stemmed from one man - ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, she concluded.

Just minutes after I left the shop, I was spotted by a red shirt who recognised me. Mac was a former student activist. Now a red shirt walking with sharpened bamboo walking stick, Mac said he has been sleeping here on and off for weeks. "Many of the guards are alumni of Ramkamhaeng University," Mac insisted.

I walked with him to the Rajprasong intersection, the centre of the protest, where tens of thousands of people are still holding out bracing for the imminent military crackdown. Soon panic briefly broke as two ambulances sped to a corner of the front of the main stage.

A speaker on the stage told the crowd to clear the way.

Two people were carried on stretchers to Police Hospital just behind the stage - one with white clothes splattered with blood covering his whole body except the feet.

A medic told me one of the two red shirt guards will not likely survive.

"Soldiers shot them," said the medic. "His pulse is very weak," he said, referring to one of the two red guards.

Red-shirt women in front of Police Hospital just next to the main stage started crying after seeing the bodies taken in.

One cried and shouted out loud: "Cruel bastard! God damn this regime! What are we waiting for. Let us burn [buildings] down!"

A red-shirt man then tried to calm her down but the woman said all red shirts are like her real relatives.

"Why should we allow this government to hang on to power?" she screamed.


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