Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tear Down That Barricade!

Or, maybe don’t. That’s the question of the day in Bangkok Friday. 
Late Thursday night a group of Red Shirts invaded King Chulalongkorn Hospital, near the Sala Daeng intersection, looking for Thai troops. This has turned into a PR nightmare for the Reds because there were no troops in the hospital and the Red raid terrorized patients. Early Friday morning families started evacuating their loved ones from the hospital.

In what looked to be a conciliatory move, on Friday the Red Shirts moved one of their barricades in the Sala Daeng intersection back about 50 meters to give ambulances access to the hospital.

But that was an illusion. A few hours later, a more militant Red Shirt leader ordered the barricade rebuilt because, he claimed, moving it compromised the integrity of the barricades.
The Red Shirt leadership appears to be fractured. The Red leaders in Ratchaprasong (about a kilometer, less than a mile, away) told their followers in Sala Daeng to move the barricade and to stay out of the hospital. The Reds in Sala Daeng are more militant than the ones in Ratchaprasong and the Red leaders there countermanded the order after the barricade had already been moved. 
Now the intersection is back to the new status quo. Reds at their barricades on one side of the intersection, Thai troops on the other side. And no access to the now closed hospital. (NOTE: On May 2 the Red Shirts moved the barricades back even further allowing full access to the hospital. This time the move appears to be holding.)  
(Pictured: A Thai Red Shirt child scoops up diesel soaked dirt to move it to the barricade. The Red Shirt have soaked the Sala Daeng barricade with diesel and say they will set it on fire to create a wall of flame if government forces, arrayed just a few meters away, attack them.) 
There are more photos of the barricade move in my PhotoShelter account and available from ZUMA Press