05/15/2010, 00.00
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Bangkok, protest of the "red shirts" from political struggle to revolt

Current clashes seen as result of unresolved problems and tensions from the past. Increasingly serious death toll: 20 dead in three days, 46 since the start of protests. The government stands its ground on intransigence, cracks appear in the opposition. AsiaNews sources: "the king’s silence increases confusion."

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – “A social revolt is under way in Thailand" far beyond any "political struggle”, says a source for AsiaNews in Bangkok, who speaks of "conflicts rooted in the past that have never been resolved" Meanwhile, the escalation of violence in capital continues, the scene of a very real urban warfare between the army and anti-government protesters for the past three days. According to other AFP sources there were more deaths today, in addition to the 16 victims (over 140 injured) registered in the previous 24 hours.

This morning, new clashes broke out between the military and "red shirt" supporters of the opposition party United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), close to the exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. AFP Sources reported that three bodies on the street, were dragged away by a group of citizens. The photographer for the French news agency adds that "there were two other abandoned bodies" but the news has yet to be confirmed. The Army has delimited a "live firing areas" where soldiers are authorized to operate as if in a state of war. The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has given the green light to soldiers to "shoot real bullets at head-height”.

The military offensive was triggered in the late afternoon of May 13 last, on the expiry of the government ultimatum to the "red shirts". The Executive had proposed early elections for November 14 and the dissolution of Parliament by the end of September. The leaders of the uprising demanded - unsuccessfully - the detention of the deputy prime minister, allegedly responsible for the violence of April 10. An appeal for peace comes from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who "strongly encourage [the government and red shirts] to return to the negotiating table."

Meanwhile the toll of the crisis becomes increasingly severe.  Since it first flared in mid-March with the protests of anti-government protesters, 46 people have been killed, twenty in the last three days, over 1400 injured. The exiled former premier Thaksin has asked the government to resume peace talks. The Executive has no intention of abandoning its hard-line and announces that "in the coming days the situation will return to normal." In terms of "red shirts" first cracks in their ranks have appeared: some leaders will continue the fight to the bitter end, a second front, of equal proportions, is calling for an end to violence and a return to legality. Kokaew Pikulthong speaks of " 50/ 50 spilt " and adds: "If Ihad my way, I'd stop." Another leading "red shirt", Kwanchai Praipana, announces a "fight to the bitter end until the government assumes its responsibilities."

In the meantime, conditions  ex Khattiya Sawasdipol army officer, nicknamed the "Red Commander", are becoming increasingly critical.  Allied with the anti-government protesters, he is considered the chief operating the "military" wing of the "red shirts" and advocate for the fight to the bitter end against the government. His condition is critical and, according to doctors, "he could die at any moment".

AsiaNews sources in Thailand, explain that "it is no longer a clash over politics, but a real social revolution." The conflicts, divisions, injustices of the past "are nodes which have now home to roost" because "no one has ever dealt with them seriously." Added to this is "the cultural interference of figures who have studied abroad and who want to" continue the fight for a radical change of society. "

The attack on the general, continues the source, is a targeted attack against the military leader of the rebels, who knows the techniques of war, he supervised the construction of the barricades "and his death will weaken the resistance". The theatre of revolt is also concentrated in a limited area of Bangkok, while the rest of the capital and the country is "under strict police and military control.  You have to cross police road blocks – he continues – to travel from one province to another. This prevents the rebellion from spreading like wildfire".

The AsiaNews source points to "the silence of King Bhumibol, who has never intervened in these two months of crisis and" neither of the two fronts in the struggle want to involve him. This silence, however, contributes to the confusion. "(DS)  

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