Thailand on Edge: Scenes of Violence, But Red Shirts Float Ceasefire Proposal
With violence erupting on the streets of Bangkok for a fifth straight day, Thailand’s government appeared to move closer to an agreement on a ceasefire with Red Shirt protesters, according to the Associated Press.
A reported offer was made by the leader of the Red Shirts, Nattawut Saikuwa, who called the government’s chief negotiator by cell phone. AP also reports that it was the first direct talks between the two sides since fighting broke out on Thursday.
Yet previous efforts to reach a ceasefire have been unsuccessful as Red Shirt leaders have pushed for immediate national elections since March. Also, the Thai government said it would only accept the agreement if protesters ended fighting and returned to their main camps. A previous government ultimatum for Red Shirts to leave their fortified compound was ignored.
The death toll from the standoff rose Monday to at least 37, as Thailand marked the 18th anniversary of “Black May:” a four-day period in 1992 where 52 people were killed in similar unrest.
Tensions spiked last Thursday after an anti-government army general, Khattiya Sawatdiphol, was shot in the head while talking to reporters. Hari Sreenivasan spoke with Thomas Fuller of the New York Times who was interviewing Sawatdiphol at the time of the attack. Sawatdiphol died Monday, renewing fears of prolonged fighting.