6 p.m. BANGKOK The Red Shirt (UDD) protestors continue to block key roads in Bangkok and thus force the closure of businesses. Today they surrounded the Parliament building and tore down the front gate. Perhaps this was the last straw. The Prime Minister just came on TV to announce that though the protestors have the right to dissent and organize publicly, the government has to enforce order and protestors must be within the limits of the law. Protestors haven’t been as of late and grumblings on Twitter and around the city are about the government being too patient. The patience may have run out tonight. After the Red Shirts briefly broke into the Parliament building, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva came on TV to declare a “state of emergency” and seemed to word it all as carefully as possible in his usual calm demeanor.
New emergency rules are in effect in many parts of the provinces of Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakhan, Phathumthani, Nakorn Pathom, and Ayutthaya. Gatherings of more than five people are not allowed in these designated areas which so happen to be the areas most affected by Red Shirt gatherings. Anyone deemed to be violating the emergency rules may be arrested. Police officers can remove stages or roadblocks or anything perceived as a weapon.
One wonders how this will affect the upcoming Songkran Festival…
Hotels I have contacted are assisting guests by alerting them to areas to avoid. It’s a big city and though some of the shopping districts are affected (particularly around Central World and Siam Paragon) and traffic is getting nastier, the tourist sites remain largely unaffected and the SkyTrain passes over everything.
Articles about the current situation:
[Photo of PM Abihisit on TV news by Kevin Revolinski]