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Mayhem Escalates as Red Shirt Leaders Surrender in Thailand

May 19, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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TRANSCRIPT

JEFFREY BROWN: And now to Thailand, where clashes between the military and anti-government demonstrators left six dead today. A curfew was imposed, and the Army said the situation is now under control.

Nick Paton Walsh of Independent Television News reports on the day’s events.

NICK PATON WALSH: After seven weeks of ignored deadlines, they moved in at dawn, armor against tires and bamboo, the talking over.

NICK PATON WALSH: A rabble of diehards, this protest’s self-appointed defenders, against the Thai army.

NICK PATON WALSH: Live rounds fired at the living, and down on the receiving end mostly were the unarmed, refusing to budge for their beliefs.

In fact, only a handful here have guns, but, still, many were injured.

MAN: They just kill and kill and kill, shooting yes. And they don’t mind. They don’t care.

NICK PATON WALSH: Why are you still here, then?

MAN: We’re still fighting. The people — the people here, they just call for democracy. But it gives you the answer by gun.

NICK PATON WALSH: This is the moments just after a Western journalist was shot once in the chest. He died of his wounds.

As the army advanced, just 300 meters away, at the protest’s central stage, no one seemed to hear or care, no one perhaps apart from their leadership. They surrendered themselves to police, a responsible bid to end the standoff. But it wasn’t popular with militants in the protests, who took another stand against the army through a massing at the end of this road.

You see behind me the militants amongst the protesters have set fire to the Thai barricade along this road. We’re hearing the crackle of gunfire as well, and this looks to be the military’s second way in towards the protest area.

It was this apocalyptic site, the glowering black smoke from the barricades on fire that probably did the army’s job for them. Inside the camp, the protesters finally fled. And an hour later, only Pasudi (ph) remained.

WOMAN (through translator): I keep my word because I made a promise to my dead friend that, until there’s democracy, I won’t go home. Many are dying. Everything has failed. I won’t go home. I will die with them.

NICK PATON WALSH: But around her, the anger poured out. They burned the designer riches they had sat among for weeks.

One militant we had seen fighting earlier was still hanging around. And further down the road, the clashes continued, one militant taking potshots at the army. Here, in a temple enclave, dozens of civilians were trapped where the soldiers had yet to reach and where the militants still ran free.