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Roads completely sealed off, 4 Skytrain and two subway stations to shut at 6 pm

Bangkok on high alert - violence possible tonight

May 13, 2010

The Thai Government forces will begin to lay siege to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship's (UDD) protest site at the Ratchaprasong intersection from 6:00 pm today, Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Thursday.

The Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation will completely seal off roads around the Rajprasong rally site to block more protesters from joining the rally.

Col Sansern said armored personnel carriers would be used to protect soldiers in their operation.

Roadblocks would be set up, through which protesters would be allowed to leave the protest site, but outsiders would not be allowed to get inside.

Snipers, armed with real weapons and live ammunition, would be put in position. However, heavy weapons such as machine guns and grenades would not be used, he said.

Live bullets may be fired into the sky to scare away attackers, to protect the lives of authorities, and to shoot armed assailants.

Col. Sansern said that by 6:00 pm, the water supply, mobile and fixed line telephone services, bus, electric train, and boat services to the area would come to a halt. Whether or when to cut the power supply would be decided later.

The CRES had asked business operators in the Ratchaprasong vicinity to allow their employees to go home before 6:00 pm and take leave on Friday, he said.

Earlier reports said army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda on Wednesday approved "Operation Ratchaprasong" involving 32,000 troops and 120 APCs to seal off the rally site. The APCs were reportedly scheduled to leave their base in Saraburi last night.

Following the CRES announcement, UDD secretary-general Nathawut Saikua said the Red Shirts would be ready for any situation.

However, he said it would be better for the government to resort to peaceful means, which would not cause more losses.

Mr. Nathawut said although the government might want to use force, the protesters would adhere to peaceful struggle.

"Let's wait to see whether the government will follow international standards (in dispersing the protesters). We would not have been here if we are easy to give in to pressure. We are here as fighters. We are not underlings who can be easily ordered by the government to do what it wants us to," said the UDD secretary-general.

Mr. Nathawut warned the government to change its mind before 6:00 pm and do as demanded by the protesters - for the prime minister and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban to enter the justice process.

Over the government's concern that the rally would affect the opening of schools situated around the area for the new semester, he said the UDD would coordinate with school administrators to mete out relief measures.

Mr. Nathawut said the protesters would not end their rally as long as the culprits in the April 10 incident had not been caught, otherwise the protest would be useless.

The CRES announced that the complete blockade would start at 6:00 pm, Thursday.

Phyathai Road, Phetchaburi Road, and Wireless Road would be closed to all type of transportation.

The government will try to establish mechanisms for Thailand reform under his five-point reconciliation roadmap by the end of this month, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday.

Mr. Abhisit, however, admitted it would be difficult to complete the reform within the term of his government.

Therefore, he wants to set up reform mechanisms within this month. These mechanisms must be able to continue to function when a new government comes.

"Don't worry. The governement still has plenty of time left," Mr. Abhisit said, referring to the fact that his government in principle is eligible to stay in office until the end of next year now that he had cancelled the House dissolution and elelction offer after the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship refused to end its rally.

The prime minister said Thailand reform is the heart of his reconciliation plan, saying that it would help reduce the problems of social injustice, disparities. and inequality - which have always been raised whenever there is a political demonstration.

He said the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) would play a leading role in supervising work of the Thailand reform mechanisms.

To strengthen local communities, the government would try to give all people social security and state welfare, Mr. Abhisit said.

Foreign embassies have closed down earlier today and some will remain shut down from its regular services for Friday, until the political culminations have subsided.

The US embassy has decided to put off visa sections for Friday and hopes to reopen it again on Monday, its spokesman Michael Turner said.

Travel advisories and recommendations for American citizens remained the same - that they should avoid areas of possible confrontation, Mr. Turner said, adding that the visa closure Friday should see no Thai citizens flocking in front of the embassy, too.

The embassy has to monitor how the political demonstrations will be further dealt with by the government's Center for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES), he said.

A European embassy said his nation’s stance and the European Union’s remained the same - that they would like to see the protestors and the government restrain from the use of force and resort to dialogue.

‚ÄúIt seems the government is pushing for another solution, which might lead to collateral damage. We think Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should have a direct negotiation to take back the country from the brink,‚ÄĚ said the diplomat.

A travel alert for European citizens remained unchanged for the third consecutive week - that the visitors should avoid non-substantial travel to Bangkok and particularly into the areas of contentions, he said.

Diplomats were sympathetic to the government‚Äôs dilemma to end the rally, but they felt that it was futile and self-pressuring, ‚ÄúThe premier does not need to issue [an] ultimatum that often, and if the government does not do anything, its position will be bended.‚ÄĚ

Meanwhile, Thaksin's lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, has said the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protestors have installed a series of video cameras and other monitoring measures to discourage potential human rights abuses by the military and police of Thailand.

Amsterdam, whose law firm announced on May 3 that it had been hired by deposed premier Thaksin to advocate in defense of the rights of the protestors, stated that the Thai government is a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and as such has recognized the universal principles regarding the sanctity of human life, basic rights, and the strict parameters regarding the state's treatment of its citizens.

The ICCPR includes conditions for a State of Emergency under Article 4, requiring that "No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16, and 18 may be made under this provision," he said.

"We wish to confirm that the Thai military is subject to the principles of customary international law, and acts in a manner which is both proportional and respectful of the sanctity of human life. A State of Emergency does not suspend these critical principles," he said.

eTN readers in Thailand can send updates to . eTN will update this story when needed.

Bangkok on high alert - violence possible tonight
Source: eTurboNews

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