Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Veijajiva yesterday (April 12) declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and Pattaya after red-shirt protesters on Saturday (April 11) stormed an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic summit in Pattaya, about 150km (90 miles) south of Bangkok.
The breach of security saw nine of the foreign leaders, including Mr Veijajiva, flown by helicopter to a military base, before the protesters withdrew from the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, site of the 14th Asean Summit and Related Summits.
An earlier tense stand-off between the protesters and security forces was eased when an official from Asean came out of the hotel to accept a letter from one of the protest leaders, Arismun Tongreungrong. However, as the red-shirt protesters were withdrawing they were attacked by so-called “blue-shirts” wearing balaclavas or scarves and armed with clubs, bricks, slingshots, and smoke bombs.
Meanwhile, thousands of other United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters poured into the main rally site around Thailand Government House over the weekend, swelling the numbers to an estimated 50,000 plus.
With the Thai military now on the streets red-shirt protesters extended their siege of Government House, blocking road intersections with government buses and erecting blockades at others.
At one point an army tank rammed several taxis blocking an intersection, but withdrew as protesters rallied. Late in the evening the first casualties began to be seen, the result of clashes with unidentified groups of people reportedly loitering around the edges of the red-shirt rally.
Bangkok red-shirt rally April 12, 2009 photo slide gallery
Photos John Le Fevre
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He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me
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