While you may see trucks full of red shirt protesters here and there throughout Pattaya for the most part they have kept to the Royal Cliff Resort area of town where the ASEAN summit is meeting. Today the red shirts stormed one of the convention centers where Asian leaders were to meet this morning, forcing Thailand to declare a state of emergency and cancel the ASEAN summit.
The Asian leaders had to be air lifted to a nearby military base. Over 1000 protesters crashed through the glass doors to the convention center wreaking havoc and destroying property while calling for Prime Minister Abhisit to step down.
With over 10,000 police officers and I’m sure a military equivalent contingent, I don’t understand how this could have happened unless someone wanted it to happen. They should have never allowed the protesters to get as close to the resort as they did. Obviously they were ill prepared and picking Pattaya for the summit was a bad idea to begin with.
Now that the red shirts have embarrassed Prime Minister Abhisit well and good where will their cause take them now? At the beginning of the week at massive rallies in Bangkok the leaders of the red shirt movement stated that they would close down the airports at the end of the month. They have backed away from that statement in the last few days but with the success of the ASEAN summit protests one can only wonder what they feel empowered to do now.
The state of emergency declared by Abhisit earlier today for the area surrounding the summit gives the military the right to restore order, allows authorities to suspend civil liberties, bans public gatherings of more than five people and bars the media from reporting news that “causes panic.”
The red shirt protests could turn out to be a much bigger problem than many originally thought.