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Insisting that red-shirt protesters abide by the principles of non-violence may not be enough to prevent them from "being crushed by the Army", Thammasat University historian Thanet Aphornsuvan warned yesterday.

Thanet, who was speaking at a panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) on Thursday night on the topic of "Thailand's Current Political Crisis", said this was because the same method - an appeal for non-violence - had never worked in the past in Thailand.

The Civil Court on Thursday evening issued a temporary injunction against the government from using lethal force outright against protesters after the government earlier threatened to use live rounds. But Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the court's decision was being appealed yesterday.

Thanet, who said the red-shirt movement was a by-product of the September 19, 2006 coup that ousted then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, acknowledged the red shirts were the largest popular political movement Thailand had ever witnessed.

"It's the biggest in Thailand ... What is happening in Thailand is closer to the major revolutions in the world, such as the French Revolution. This is what is going to happen in Thailand," he said.

Thanet said if the red shirts' bid to change Thailand failed, it would be a long time before another such attempt could be mounted again.

Gothom Arya, former 2006 junta-appointed member of the National Legislative Assembly and director of Mahidol University's Research Centre on Peace Building, said the possibility of peace was now in the hands of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

"Peace is in his hands. It's up to him to make it, alive or dead," he said, adding half-jokingly that since Abhisit's command of English was virtually perfect, foreign correspondents might be able to prevent further bloodshed by tweeting to the premier in "perfectly good English".

"And maybe he will listen to you."

Gothom, who met with leaders of the red-shirt Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship on Thursday afternoon to promote a compromise five-month House dissolution proposal, said red-shirt leaders were now "more open to negotiations, because they're in a weaker position".

He said each side was keen to win over the other but that emotions were "so high" on both sides that it was hard for them to meet and talk again even in secret.

"They think this war of attrition will provide victory," he said, adding that there was also no "synchronisation of wills" to break the current impasse.

"The conflict has its own dynamic - like opening Pandora's box," he said.

With a perfectly neutral public person not really available in Thailand at the moment, Gothom urged all sides not to think "whoever is not with you is against you", but rather to set up a peace room instead of a war room.

Asked whether he thought the declaration of the state of emergency well ahead of the clashes on April 10 was justified, Gothom said Abhisit had prematurely declared the state of emergency.

"I really don't know what kind of emergency that was. So why the emergency decree?" he said.

Another panellist, Swedish Ambassador Lenmart Linner, said the present crisis was like having three trains rushing at one another, all on the same track at full speed.

"I do still believe there remains room for negotiation, but [the options] are narrowing quickly now," he said, adding that the conflict was complex, with grievances on all sides.

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