Thailand declared a State of Emergency (SOE) here in Bangkok yesterday evening, and in light of the very alarmist headlines ricocheting around the globe, I wanted to post a short update about the situation here. There have been inevitable comments about the parallels between the current unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the situation here in Bangkok, and these powerful, disturbing pictures from the widespread anti-government protests in Kyrgyzstan are testament to how quickly a mob mentality can whip a situation toward its inevitable breaking point. However, it is important to remember that there was a SOE declared last year at this time, and that this is the 4th time a SOE has been declared in Thailand since 2008. Yesterday’s activities at Parliament certainly catalysed a long-festering situation, but that situation remains stable at the moment.
Police and Red Shirts face off at Rajdamri BTS Station (photo by @Bancha_nna)
That said, there is yet another mobile rally planned for tomorrow, in direct contravention of the SOE, and more buses of red shirts are headed toward Bangkok in order to participate. The next few days should be interesting, but then again this entire month has been interesting, especially as someone who came to Bangkok in order to write about Burma (that’s me, by the way).
For updated pictures and information, please see the following. I’ve included Twitter names too in case you want to follow them live:
– UPDATE: The Big Picture’s photoset entitled ‘Unrest in Thailand‘ has some incredible photos of the protests.
– The Bangkok Pundit (@bangkokpundict) parses the text of the State of Emergency decree, including what it means going forward: The Bangkok Pundit Blog
– Saksith Saiyasombut (@Saksith) explaining yesterday’s events at Parliament: State of Emergency Declared in Bangkok as Red Shirts Stormed Parliament Compound.
– BBC News (@bbcnews) on the SOE: Thai PM Declares Emergency, including a list of prior SOE decrees since 2008.
– Nirmal Ghosh (@KarmaNomad) in his daily blog, featuring his conversation last night with red shirt leaders.
– Patrick Winn (@bkkapologist) in the Global Post on how the protesters have been ‘allowed’ to stay in the major commercial district of Bangkok – How Not to Crush a Political Uprising
– The Bangkok Bugle (@bangkokbugle) on the hyperbole found in some of the foreign press’ coverage of the red shirt protests: Stay Indoors, It’s Havoc in Bangkok.
– Just published from Richard Barrow (@richardbarrow): Is Bangkok Really Dangerous?
– A serious labour of effort from Rikker Dockum (@thai101): List of Declarations of State of Emergency, Martial Law & War in Thailand.
– Patrick Barta from WSJ Asia re the Thai Government saying it will not crack down on protesters for now: Thailand Holds Back on Protesters.
– Newley Purnell (@newley) writing for CNNGo on what the SOE means for Bangkok: State of Emergency – What Life is Really Like in Bangkok.
– Andrew Marshall (@journotopia) on Thailand’s military draft and the current SOE.
– Thailand140, curated by Nick Koleszar (@nkoleszar) on the SOE, including some up-to-the-minute photos.
– From Irrawady.Org, an article about the SOE and plans to continue with a mobile rally regardless of the decree: Protesters Defy State of Emergency In Bangkok.
– And, though it’s in Thai, here is a list of 36 websites/news sources that have just been banned in Thailand, as they ‘disseminate news that may be a danger to national security’ (translation via @bangkokpundit). UPDATE: English translation and analysis on the censorship here, from Bangkok Pundit.
– UPDATE: Article from Time.com about the Government and the army: Does Thailand’s Military Answer to the Government?
–UPDATE: From WSJ Asia, Michael Montesano on the social crisis in Thailand: The End of the Thai Fairy Tale.
More to come if and when things change,