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Protesters Set Fire To Thai Stock Market

From the Wall Street Journal:

Protesters Set Fire to Thai Stock Exchange

Hardliners set the Thai stock exchange building in Bangkok on fire even though leaders of the mainstream "Red Shirt" protesters surrendered to the army.

By JAMES HOOKWAY
May 19, 2010

BANGKOK—Hard-line Thai protesters set fire Wednesday to the country’s stock exchange, shopping malls and a television station, while Thai authorities called an 8 p.m. curfew, casting doubt on the prospects for a resolution to the country’s weeks-long political crisis despite the surrender of protest leaders earlier in the day.

We have been wondering why there has been so little characterization of the motives behind these ‘Red Shirt’ protesters. And it’s looking more and more like they have a lot in common with ‘reds’ everywhere.

Funny how they always go after the financial markets, ‘consumerist’ shopping malls, and the opposition media.

Thai Red Shirt protest leaders called off their marathon rally and surrendered to police Wednesday after an early morning army assault on their heavily fortified camp in the center of Bangkok.

But in the mid-afternoon, smoke could be seen billowing from the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s headquarters as helicopters buzzed in the sky above. Though trading has been taking place at a different, undisclosed location in recent days, stock-exchange officials said markets would be closed Thursday. Earlier in the day, Thailand’s benchmark index finished up 0.7% on hopes for a quick resolution. Authorities also said commercial banks around the country would be closed Thursday and Friday.

Thick plumes of smoke rose across other locations in the city as militant protesters targeted some of Bangkok’s main commercial centers. In other parts of Thailand, local television broadcast pictures of antigovernment demonstrators setting alight a provincial government building in northeastern Khon Kaen.

The burning followed the surrender earlier in the day of top protest leaders following a push by the Thai military Wednesday morning into their downtown encampment. At least two protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in Wednesday’s crackdown..

Speaking on the protesters’ main stage, one of their leaders, Jatuporn Prompan, explained that the demonstrators had to call off their rally to prevent any more people dying. At least 66 people have killed since the demonstrators launched their campaign for new elections in mid-March, with more than half of those coming the past four days as militant protesters and local street thugs clashed with army troops.

"We know this decision will pain you," said Mr. Jatuporn, wearing a white T-shirt bearing the image of Indian protest leader Mahatma Gandhi. "But we have to stop the death, even though our fight will carry on."

As he was speaking, explosions could be heard and militant Red Shirts in the area began setting fires and other debris alight, reviving the prospect of further bloodshed and filling the afternoon air with choking black smoke. People at the demonstrators’ main stage, meanwhile, wept and pleaded for Mr. Jatuporn and another leader, Nattawut Saikua, to change their minds. Instead, the two men went with other Red Shirts to surrender at Bangkok’s police headquarters a short walk away.

An armored vehicle broke through a barricade during an operation to evict anti-government "red shirt" protesters from their encampment in Bangkok Wednesday.

Some protesters, meanwhile set fires in buildings around Bangkok, including the upscale Central-World mall. Local TV reports said the first floor of the mall was on fire

In recent weeks, as the demonstrators set up camp in Bangkok’s main shopping district, shutting down dozens of hotels and shopping malls, the protests have taken on a more violent tone. Around the periphery of the main camp, some demonstrators began throwing Molotov cocktails and other improvised explosive devices at security forces sent in to seal off the protest.

The army has used snipers to peg back the protesters in recent days. Witnesses have reported and have filmed marksmen using rifles with telescopic sights firing on unarmed demonstrators, in some cases shooting them in the head

Luckily, nothing like this could ever happen here.

Could it?

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Protesters Set Fire To Thai Stock Market”

  1. BannedbytheTaliban says:

    I’ve been wondering if the “Red Shirts” are really communists. Their emblem is most certainly reminiscent of cold war soviet propaganda. I looked all over to find out what their political affiliation and aspirations are and found very little on the subject. The only thing I get is that they are against the ‘monarchy;’ a typical communist complaint. Wikipedia describes them as “being an ‘anti-monarchist’, and even a ‘republican’ movement.” Since the MSM has kept us ignorant of what their true political beliefs are, I assume they are damning, and in line with those of the MSM, which means they are probably communists. If anybody has information on the topic, I’d like to hear it.

    • mr_bill says:

      In 2006, elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted via military coup (the “p” is silent, if you read this Mr. Obama) while he was in New York at a UN General Assembly meeting. The coup, led by the yellow-shirts and endorsed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who became leader of the country after the coup.

      The yellow shirts claimed that Shinawatra was guilty of conflicts of interest. Wikipedia adds the allegations of corruption, treason, authoritarianism, silencing the press, acting contrary to the interests of Thailand, lese majesty, racketeering, and a host of other crimes. Yellow is the color of the traditional Thai Monarchy.

      Thaksin Shinawatra is a telecommunications billionaire and the former leader of the Thai Rak Thai party (which uses red as the color of its emblem). The Supreme Court of Thailand siezed about a billion dollars from Sinawatra which had been part of assets frozen by the government on the accusation that he had become “abnormally wealthy” since taking office.

      After Shinawatra’s ousting and subsequent exile, the courts of Thailand ruled in 2007 that the Thai Rak Thai party was to be dissolved and its members banned from running for office for a period. The basis of the ruling is said to be violation of election laws.

      In some reading that I have done, it has been suggested that most political parties are only marginally organized, and not well differentiated in their ideology. I have read that most are center-right in the political spectrum although the liberal democrat party has shifted left since its conservative founding, according to one chronology of Thai political parties.

      The Heritage Foundation has this article on file: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2009/02/In-Defense-of-Thailands-Democracy

      Banned, I had a hard time finding anything really substantive also, due to most articles being hard-left and therefore lies. The very liberal Culturekitchen has a narrative of this part of Thai history but I wouldn’t trust that gang of as far as I could throw them. I’m posting the link for perspective, just take everything they say and reverse it to get a better view of the truth. http://www.culturekitchen.com/mole333/blog/thailand_red-shirts_populists_vs_yellow-shirts_business_interests Just bear in mind that culturekitchen are hardcore progressives and proud of it. Their piece comes down hard against the yellow-shirts, so I would imagine that the red-shirts are in fact, communists.

    • BannedbytheTaliban says:

      Thanks for the info, and the dig on our dear leader is hilarious.

      I find it more and more troubling to see these populist movements springing up all over with no one knowing who is pulling the strings and to what ends. These are the same kind of movements that ushered in communism in Russia and China, fundamentalist Islam in Afghanistan, the bathists in Iraq, and of course National Socialism in Nazi Germany (and God knows what horrors await us here in America with the rise of progressivism/liberal socialism). Totalitarian regimes often hide behind and rise to power on populist anger. Be wary of the man behind the curtain.

    • mr_bill says:

      I’m happy to help. I had been wondering the same thing and got curious about their motivations for the same reason you posted.

      You raise a good point about the uprising of populist movements. I would wager that it has more than a bit to do with the fact that our own dear leader is a spineless marxist sympathizer and they have been emboldened by the lack of a US President with some stones.

      Although the irony of the red shirts is that their new movement, United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, is financed by Shinawatra. Shinawatra appears to be to that movement what George Soros is to moveon.org. So they are a populist peoples’ movement (read communist) financed by a telecom industry billionaire…insert irony comment here.

      One of the “government reforms” undertaken by Shinawatra was a universal healthcare program and a plan to “eliminate poverty.” The poverty plan amounted to not much more more than the government passing out “free” money to the poor (Shinawatra voters). Sound like anybody we know? In contrast, he responded to the country’s widespread drug use with summary executions and fought Islamic uprisings in the south with a very heavy handed response.

      The more I read about the situation, the more clear it becomes that the current government has the blessing of the “elite and middle class” as well as those who are not political and just want an end to the unrest, according to many sources, and the red shirts are the “party of the poor and rural farmers” (who undoubtedly just want some “social justice”).

      A CNN article suggests that the current Premier, Abhisit Vejjajiva is perceived to be honest, open, and “free from any taint of corruption.” That article goes on to say:

      He wants to give the country a fresh start by showing no one is above the rule of law and that means ensuring Thaksin isn’t allowed to get away with his alleged corruption, even though he is in exile. However, many analysts say this case is not just about corruption, but more about Thaksin’s challenge to the Thai political elite that has ruled for decades.

      Hope that helps flesh out some of what is going on there.

  2. jrmcdonald says:

    Thailand has been a friend to this Nation since Abe and the Elephants. Someone else for barry not to help…

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    How do you say “bitter clinger”, “right-wing nutjob” or “teabagger” in Thai?

    • Reality Bytes says:

      Not sure Rusty but to Obama who invented it, Bitter Clinger are unemployed white people.

      (from his quote bitter people who clint to their guns & religiion comment). I guess it was his Sista Soldier moment except for the fact that he was pickin’ white folks, who amazingly still voted for the stiff.

  4. JS says:

    That readshirt leader that was shot in the head a couple weeks back was X-military and was very anti-communist beyond that though I don’t know what their motivations are. I suspect they just want to put in their own dear leader. Replace one minority rule for another, or even a dictator.

    Meh… I struggle to get worked up over it.

  5. Right of the People says:

    In Thailand is the purple shirt party the party of Barney?

    • Liberals Demise says:

      If you take one of the red shirts and turn it inside out, what are the chances it says “ACORN” ?

  6. Mithrandir says:

    Yeech……

    2 hated institutions clobbering each other: a corrupt government, and communists. The street protesters can set fire to a WHOLE LOT of stuff, and eventually, there will be nothing left but piles of ash to govern. Burn the country to the ground so no one can fight over it.

    Meanwhile the militant Islamists in Southern Thailand must be licking their chops at the distraction, so they can continue murdering non-muslims.


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