The word on the street — Twitter Street, that is — was that the Red Shirt protesters are going to move a large group into the commercial area of Bangkok along Silom Road. Bangkok Bank is one of the popular institutions that the protesters like to target there. So this morning I awoke to find police massing in one of the small streets that connects my street (Sathorn) to Silom a few minutes walk away. Foot traffic and motorbikes/cars passed through without interference. The rumored date of the new march destination is tomorrow, April 20th. The military is already warning that Silom will not be taken.
It’s Monday morning and at Silom military security forces have gathered at the top of Silom Road opposite the protesters who have taken Lumpini Park and blocked the road by moving in concrete potted plants from nearby. A string of razor wire lay atop them which may have been put there by the protesters themselves.
The soldiers however, also have a lot of razor wire at the ready along points in Silom and the raised walk to the SkyTrain platform.
Pedestrians pose for photos with soldiers.
Passersby sympathetic to the soldiers in the heavy gear in this heat, stop to distribute refreshments. One soldier even tried to give ME something to drink.
This soldier appears ready for the Molotov cocktails used against security forces just over a week ago, but those “fire extinguishers” are likely pepper spray.
A military vehicle with a loudspeaker is passing up and down Silom announcing to the crowd that the situation is OK and there is no need to leave the area. Now they have switched to music. No one seems to be leaving anyway and traffic continues. The military seems quite confident that if something goes down, the front line will not be moving in reverse.
After a botched arrest of Red Shirt leaders at their hotel over the weekend, the security situation has been handed over to the military. A crackdown by the military is expected if the Red Shirts attempt to take Silom. Check this blog post from Political Prisoners of Thailand for a comment on the dire situation of likely violence on the horizon. Recent tweets have suggested that the threat of going to Silom is just a “joke” or an unofficial statement by one Red Shirt leader. The group at Lumpini hasn’t shown any serious growth but the military is clearly taking the threat seriously.
A bit of irony just behind the razor wire.
Some soldiers have their cameras out as well.
Pink and orange kerchiefs noted so far.
On the ready…