Thailand: Plugging The Volcano

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March 17, 2010: About half the populist (red shirt) demonstrators have left the capital, and the rest are expected to be gone in a few days. The demonstrations disrupted life in the capital for a few days, but did not persuade the government to make any changes. The red shirts wanted new elections. As the red shirts represent populist groups, and most of the voters, new elections are the last thing the current monarchist government wants to grant them. But the red shirts are still angry at being maneuvered out of power by the yellow shirt monarchists. The tension remains, and the anger builds among red shirts. Since the red shirts represent the aspirations of most Thais, the problems remain. The main problem being that the yellow shirt monarchists are using the control of the army and police, and support in the cities, to dominate the rural majority. Many Thais believe this could lead to civil war, but so far it has not.

In the south, three people have been shot dead in the last 24 hours, all, it is believed, by Islamic terrorists. The violence in the south continues to be directed mainly at terrorizing people into not informing on the many criminal gangs (that make a lot of money smuggling drugs across the border), and the smaller Islamic radical groups that work with the gangs. Some people, including Moslems, do inform on the gangs, but the terror campaign has been successful in persuading a lot of people to remain silent when it comes to gangsters and Islamic terrorists. People will discreetly report roadside bombs, and other explosive devices placed by the terrorists, and these are usually safely disarmed. But just the fact that the bomb was placed, often next to the house of a government official, or Moslem village chief seen as too chummy with the cops, instills fear.           

March 16, 2010: Red shirt (populist) demonstrators appeared before several government buildings, sometimes pouring their own blood on sidewalks or structures. But the government had sufficient security forces to prevent any chaos.

March 14, 2010: A peak of 150,000 red shirt demonstrators showed up in the capital. They had hoped to gather a million people. The government had assembled 50,000 security forces. The red shirts planned several days of demonstrations, with the intention of shutting down government and forcing new elections.

March 7, 2010: In the south, a taxi driver was killed, apparently by Islamic radicals. In several other incidents, people were injured.

 

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