Hospitals in Bangkok were preparing for bloodshed tonight, after anti-government Red Shirt protesters ignored an ultimatum to abandon their occupation of central Bangkok, and the leaders of the demonstration promised to die rather than give in to the authorities.
An aeroplane dropped leaflets urging protesters to leave immediately and warning that anyone caught inside the area faced two years in prison. But after the 3pm [9am UK time] deadline passed, several thousand people remained in the protest area, which has been sealed off and fortified with towering barricades of rubber tires and bamboo poles.
“If you insist on brutality, we will stay here persistently, and we will tell out people, ‘Do not be afraid’,” said Weng Tojirakarn, a senior Red Shirt leader. “Stay here, do not fight back, and let them shoot us.”
The Rajvithee Hospital, which is closest to the protest site, confirmed that it had 40 ambulances on standby and had made ready 190 beds, in case of a crackdown by the Thai army, which has killed at least 37 people and injured close to 300 more since last Thursday.