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Updated: May 20, 2010 06:26 IST

Thai security forces storm Red Shirt Bastion, crush protest

P. S. Suryanarayana
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Thai soldiers opened fire into the fortified encampment of anti-government protesters in what appears to be a final crackdown. Photo: AP
Thai soldiers opened fire into the fortified encampment of anti-government protesters in what appears to be a final crackdown. Photo: AP

Thailand on Wednesday declared “success” in ending a 45-day protest campaign in Bangkok's commercial hub. But an overnight curfew was imposed on the sprawling city and in over 20 provinces in a bid to bring the two-month-long violent political crisis to an end.

While several protest leaders “surrendered,” the authorities blamed other hard-core campaigners for the follow-up fires that broke out in some key buildings in the neighbourhood.

Bangkok and these provinces have remained in a state of emergency for weeks.

At least six people were reported killed during Wednesday's security push to gain control over the protesters' campsite in Bangkok's commercial district.

At least five leaders of the anti-government campaign surrendered at the campsite itself. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 protesters left the site on being advised by their leaders to do so. No official estimates of casualties and arrests during the multi-pronged security operations were announced, though, until nightfall.

Nearly 60 people were killed in intermittent clashes between the anti-government activists and the military and other security forces during the prolonged crisis, according to a Minister.

The Red-shirted protesters have been demanding an immediate dissolution of the House of Representatives and a snap general election. Military-backed Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who set a November 14 timeline for a fresh poll, over a year ahead of schedule, later withdrew the offer, citing its rejection by the protest leaders.

The protesting United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) is an umbrella group of pro-democracy activists and the loyalists of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a military coup in 2006 and is now a proclaimed fugitive living in self-imposed exile.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, the government's acting spokesman, said in a televised briefing on Wednesday's denouement that curfew was being imposed to stabilise the situation. Arrangements were being made to help those with legitimate reasons to stir out during the curfew hours — 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Thursday.

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This is a difficult situation, dis-enfranchised young people from villages and farms and small towns who do not see their future in the portrait perceived in their culture, go to the city to try and shape the world.
There they meet the 'status quo' in a confrontation that kills 66 families' hopes and dreams as more blood is spilled in the streets.
We clearly are in need of new microphones for those who desire to express themselves - what did they desire? An election. For that they get shot and bludgeoned? They should not destroy and disrupt, either, but why does not the government allow the people to voice their opinions. Someone noted the the French Government fears the people while in the United States, the people fear the government.
The questions for us as we cower before the advancing wheels of the new global machine that chews everything up, are: What will we do? When will you do it? Move to the country? Which country?

from:  Jeff Prystupa
Posted on: May 20, 2010 at 07:18 IST
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