Military’s view on April-May 2010 crackdown

Matichon online has a report about an article written by a military officer who took part in the operation to suppress red-shirt demonstrators in April and May last year.  The article appears in the Army Training Command’s Senathipat Journal, Vol 59, Issue 3, September–December 2010, as part of the army’s guidelines and case studies on military operations to solve urban unrest.

Matichon says that there are several interesting points in the first half of the article which it publishes on its website.

While Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said during the Democrat Party’s rally at Ratchaprasong on 23 June that Abhisit Vejjajiva had not taken part in ordering the crackdown of the red shirts, and it was Suthep himself, as Director of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, who gave the order, the article clearly states ‘the Prime Minister gave orders at the CRES meeting on 12 May for the military to start the operation as planned’.

According to the article, the government always had a clear policy to use military measures to pressure the red shirts, and the policy of ‘tightening the circle’ was to end the demonstrations, not to open a dialogue. 

That was probably one reason why a proposal by a group of senators to offer themselves as mediators on the night of 18 May was rejected, Matichon says.

The article says that part of the reason for the successful military operation was the withdrawal of Chair of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship Veera Musigapong and the death of Maj Gen Khattiya Swasdipol or Seh Daeng, because the UDD was deprived of its political and military strategists.

The article gives details of the operations and the deployment of military units, and states that sniper units were the first to be deployed in high buildings on Wireless Road, including the Kian Nguan and Bangkok Cable buildings.

The operation was planned as full-scale urban warfare, with the employment of three divisions of military troops and the use of live ammunition against armed terrorists and for self-defence, the article says.

According to CRES intelligence, there were about 500 armed terrorists among the red shirts, and they were equipped with war weapons including M79s, M16s, AK47s and Tavor-21s.

In a section called ‘tactical recommendations’, the article says that commanding officers of operating units should operate with the utmost concern for the lives of innocent people, ensure that the firing of live ammunition was done consciously and intentionally, and not allow troops to react in anger or retaliation. 

It also suggests that studies be conducted to find appropriate models for designating live fire zones, because currently it is not yet known whether any country in the world has ever acceptably employed [this tactic] to dissolve protests.


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