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Thai Army declares martial law (1)

I'm stickying this because I'm not sure who else will cover it, because Thailand is the second-largest economy in SE Asia and a lynchpin of ASEAN, and because -- let's admit it -- I love the country and hope for a good outcome. Also, for a politics geek, it's the ultimate. --lambert

Looks like that "gathering storm" tweet earlier today was trying to tell us something!

Chronologically, earlier first:

Above: Not clear what the process is, or how controls it; PDRC (anti-government)

Above: Probably the only sane course, given the 2010 massacre. However, what he is not doing is telling the crowd to disperse.

Above: Prime Minister (PM) in limbo.

Above: That's a little over an hour from now. It's unlikely that that the Bangkok Post would make a translation error, so what isn't clear is where the Prime Minister is (not just the department heads).

Above: Lighter than usual, I would say.

Above: OK... We'll see how long this continues, or if both feeds are censored.

* * *

Above: Not much new for events, although the claimed absence of Royal Decree is interesting; not sure this is the most authoritative source. Maybe everybody is waiting for the 9:00 meeting of the Department heads and the Army, a little less than hour than now.

Historical note: The 2010 massacre, where 90 people and many Reds though no yellows were shot by the Army -- though the best explanation for that seems to have been fear and incompetence -- was four years and one day ago.

* * *

Well, maybe.

Well, maybe. Where's the PM?

So no dispersal of Red Shirts/UDD at Aksan outside town or the PRDC/Yellow shirts at Democracy Monument (where they had yesterday built earthen mounds as if for trench warfare).

Here's the Guardian live blog:

While the snap martial law has taken people by surprise, military leaders flagged the possibility of it last week.

"I want to warn every group, especially those using violence and war weapons against innocent civilians, to stop now. If this goes on, the military may be needed to come out to restore peace and order," General Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a statement.

Chan-ocha's statement, reported by the Nation on May 16, did not make reference to the option of declaring martial law, but did say "decisive measures" would be inevitable if citizens were hurt, and any escalation may lead to the army using "full force" to resolve the situation.

True, although quoting the blatantly pro-PDRC Nation on anything is like quoting FOX on anything. Bad start for Guardian!

Here's Asian Correspondent's Live Blog:

But here’s one crucial article not pointed out by Prayuth that could have very severe implications:

Reinforcing tweet above on Royal Decree, authoritatively. Will this become an issue?

Ha ha, Inside Thai Baseball, totally; explanation.

Above: Central World is a humongous mall at the heart of Bangkok. So its interesting to see soldiers removing bags from it, maybe even encouraging. However, there is no PDRC camp there, so perhaps this is just a detail.

Above: Well, maybe. It would be nice. But "nice little government you have here; I'd like to offer it the security it needs." Dunno about that. But note the traffic cones!

Above: Very impressive. One more reason to think PDRC and Army are not one unit; PDRC would not have been able to keep this quiet.

Above: Very well planned. Thai political culture exhibits a mastery of the coup.

Above: One more step. We'll see what closes down, I guess. Will my twitter stream slowly die? (Bangkok is an epicenter of social media, since the ideal Thai selfie -- I would have said until this year -- involves at least five people and ideally food. Imagining Thais not tweeting and sharing is like imagining them not eating. Of course, one may have to read (and write) between the lines, which they are also expert in.)

Above: The first joke!

Above: He's right. Still waiting for an outcome of the Army's 9:00 meeting with the Department heads. And where is the PM?


The meeting of government agency heads that was meant to happen at 9am is now occurring at 2pm local time, according to local media.

Above: Uh oh... Looking for the PM everywhere? Can't find him because his small plane went down?

Above: Hmm. Replacing the 9:00 or in addition to?

Above: NEW 10AM announcement from RS.

Above: NEW Noon Announcement from 1st Division. Wondering if sequence is deliberate and whether the 9AM cancellation was scripted, or not.

Above: Amy move could, in fact, ratify a deal. Will, for example, that ginormous flaming asshole Suthep be thrown under the bus? Will Pheu Thai (the party) betray UDD (the movement)? Where is the PM? Will the Army appoint a PM? Will there be elections? A referendum? And so forth.

Above: If the government was not told, and yet there is a deal, then is the deal between Thaksin himself (a principal) and whoever the principal is that's backing Suthep and the PDRC?

Above: Not even-handed when both camps don't have equal power, though.

Above: If that's where the shutdown stops.... How about cellphones? Social media? I really don't like this image of sealing the camps in....

No votes yet


V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...because Gen. Chan-ocha foreshadowed this last week. He warned that the present political situation must end and the two sides had to start talking.
We'll see...

Submitted by lambert on

... out there on the river, far away! For whatever reason, I'm not getting a horrible sense of foreboding about this. I mean, imagine that all the TV channel had a ranting Suthep on them at once! That said, all these moves seem very slow, very gentle, until suddenly one realizes how tight the grip is. So, yes, we shall see.

Do feel free to call out any randomness in the commentary....

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...all of the chatter. It is not a coup, the PM is still the PM and the government is still as intact as it was yesterday (which isn't saying a lot).
Having lived here through the extra-judicial drug war ('03), the coup, the riots in 2010, the months of unending strife and violence, this may well be a welcome respite.
My guess is that there will be more law and order (actually enforced) and things will slowly calm down. The military seems to be the only arm not suffering impotence.
We'll see...

Submitted by lambert on

But I don't want to assume so. (Incidentally, the thread is titled "declares martial law" for a reason).

Adding, this is my first coup (I wasn't nearly so invested in 2010) so it's only natural that I'd want to follow it closely).

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

I thought this might happen since no one will talk but what does it really mean? Is the Military close to Amerika? If so this will not end well for the Thai people no matter what color shirt they wear.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...friendly up to a point. The Thai air-force recently purchased the Swedish built Gripen fighters, as opposed to American built jets. They (America and Thailand) also have joint military exercises every few years.
Thailand gets very prickly when America interferes (or tries to) with its internal affairs.