Amid intensifying Thailand protests, antigovernment ‘red shirt’ demonstrators ignored a deadline Monday to leave their fortified downtown Bangkok camp, now ringed by troops.
Thailand’s red shirt protesters defied a government deadline Monday to abandon an anarchic rally ringed by heavily armed security forces as the toll rose from five days of street fighting.
Government officials had said that protesters who stayed behind would face criminal charges. The government says armed “terrorists” are in the fortified camp and has called on protesters to disband their rally, now into its third month in the beleaguered capital. On the protest perimeter, barricades of burning tires sent up plumes of acrid black smoke.
Protest leaders say they want a cease-fire and have urged the government to restrain the troops. But a government spokesman said Monday that the rally and the violence must end before negotiations could resume. The impasse has raised fears that troops may shoot their way into the site, though it wasn’t immediately clear if the deadline would be the trigger.
Weng Tojirakarn, a red-shirt leader, says talks are still possible but accused troops of inflaming the situation by shooting unarmed protesters. “You must not ask soldiers to shoot like this,” he says, holding a newspaper with a picture of Army snipers.