After news of negotiations and signals from the premier on Monday had led to anticipation of a solution to Thailand’s crisis, it turned out that the anti-government rallies continued, with the police as the new target.
After hours of anticipation of “good news”, foreshadowed by other protest leaders, the anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, former number two in the pro-establishment opposition Democrat Party, told protesters to continue the protests; tomorrow they will seize the Metropolitan Police Headquarters.
Suthep said they need to attack the police because it is the main mechanism of the government which is controlled by the protestors’ arch enemy, self-exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Suthep also called on low-ranking police officers to side with the protesters.
He asked the protesters not to worry about a military crackdown because the army will not crack down on the protesters. “The army is with the nation,” he said. “They will never crack down on us, I swear.”
The demonstrators aimed to overthrow the elected government, led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, but it is also an open secret that Thaksin is the de facto leader of the party. The demonstrators’ ultimate goal is to completely eradicate the so-called “Thaksin Regime,” roughly meaning a political system and country manipulated and administered by Thaksin and for Thaksin.
The strategy of the protesters is to cripple the government by obstructing the work of civil servants through the seizure of state agency compounds, and controlling the media. They have seized several compounds, including the Government Complex, Finance Ministry, and Foreign Ministry. They also on Sunday trespassed into the public TV station and free TV stations to force them to relay the signal from the anti-government Blue Sky channel. On Saturday, protestors trespassed into the data centres of state-owned telecommunication infrastructure compounds and manage to cut the power, resulting in the disconnection of thousands of websites.
It is obvious that the Shinawatra party will return if there is a fresh election. The protesters realize this, so they have not demanded resignations or a fresh election, but have proposed a major change with an unelected “People’s Council” and no elections for a few years. The council will have non-politician members. The proposal is legally impossible under the constitution, which states that Thai citizens exercise sovereign power through elections.
On Monday morning, Yingluck spoke to media, saying that she did not rule out the solution of her resignation or a house dissolution. However, these two choices are not the protesters’ demands.
She insisted that she was trying to resolve the crisis at the negotiation table and would utterly refrain from using violent measures on the protesters.
“Whatever brings peace to the country, I welcome,” said Yingluck. However, Suthep’s proposal cannot be implemented under the current laws and constitution, added the premier.
There were confrontations between the protesters and police at two main spots: Government House and the Metropolitan Police Headquarters, where the protesters tried to seize both compounds. The police used teargas and rubber bullets to handle the crowds, who tried to destroy concrete barriers and razor wire barricades. 78 protesters were injured during the confrontations on Monday, according to the Erawan Emergency Centre. 58 people were injured by teargas on Sunday.
Ramathibodi Hospital on Sunday evening held a press conference, revealing that of the 27 injured protesters admitted to the hospital, two of them were hit by live bullets. One is in a critical condition. There is no comment from authorities yet on the use of live bullets.