05/12/2010, 00.00
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In Bangkok, government to cut supplies to red-shirts who vow to fight on

The authorities are set to cut off water, electricity and phone services in the business district. Protest leaders say, they will “continue to fight”. Army spokesman says residents in the affected area should leave. Former Communist leader says red-shirts are using Maoist guerrilla tactics.
Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thai authorities announced that at midnight they would cut water, electricity and phone services to Bangkok’s business district, which has been occupied by red-shirt protesters for the past six weeks. They also ordered everyone in the area to leave immediately. Protest leaders responded by reiterating their resolve to “continue to fight”. A showdown between the authorities and pro-Thaksin red-shirt protesters is thus in the making in Bangkok.

Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd announced that public services in the capital’s central commercial district, which some 5,000 protesters hold, would be cut. Bus, rail and boat transport would also be stopped. Food supplies would not be allowed into the affected area.

“The army is ready, but at this moment I don't want to talk about a crackdown, as we want to use measures to put pressure on them first,” he said. Indeed, the use of force has not however been ruled out and for this reason, he urged people in the area to leave.

Protesters are in no mood to yield however. Jatuporn Prompan, a leader of the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), told his red-shirt supporters, “We will continue to fight”. If they lose supplies, they would move to the area where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva lives, and set up another blockade.

Bangkok’s business district is the size of New York’s Central park. It is home to dozens of office buildings and apartment blocks as well as two hospitals.  With school year starting on 17 May, the continued occupation of the area could force the closure of at least 40 local schools.

UDD leaders have sworn to continue their protest indefinitely or at least until police lays charges against Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, whom protesters hold responsible for the violence that left 25 people dead and more than 900 injured during clashes on 10 April.

Most Thais are fed up with the situation, and want a peaceful resolution. In an article, the Bangkok Post wrote, “Politics has been turbulent for several years. There cannot, however, be any justification for the endemic violence that has occurred in the two months since the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) brought their rally on to Bangkok's streets.” For the newspaper, “The protest itself has gone too far, and gone on too long, and the red shirt leaders are no longer advancing any cause by prolonging this harmful demonstration” for the country.

For Asia Times, the “relative success” scored by anti-government protesters “owes owes much to Maoist revolutionary thought and guerrilla tactics.”

Therdpoum Chaidee, a former communist and a colleague of key protest leaders, said that the UDD strategy has had to rely on violence, or at least the threat of violence, to divide and immobilise Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government.

“The revolution walks on two legs,” he was quoted as saying, “one political and one military, with violence as the essential ingredient in the mix,” this despite the fact that publicly the red-shirts portrayed themselves to international media as a non-violent, pro-democracy movement.

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See also
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As Abhisit renews with peace roadmap, Thai democracy fails as a model
Thai PM proposes roadmap for reconciliation and new elections
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