Languages
Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 16:37 UK

Bangkok protests: Eyewitness accounts

Troops on the streets in Bangkok on 14 May 2010
Troops and protesters are facing off in central Bangkok

Clashes between troops and anti-government "red-shirt" protesters are continuing in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

Troops are trying to seal the protesters' camp to prevent people going in and groups of protesters are trying to stop them. Tear-gas and gunfire have been reported, as well as several deaths and dozens of injuries.

People in the area have been sharing their stories with the BBC.

ROBERT HAYDOCK, BRITISH TOURIST

Interviewed at 2200 local time (1600 BST)

We are staying in a hotel on Ratchapraprop Road very close to the Victory Monument. The Ratchaprasong camp is a 15-minute walk away.

Molotov cocktails in evening Bangkok. Photo: Tim Shawcross
Tim Shawcross sent this photo of molotov cocktails being set off outside his hotel in Sathorn

I've spent the whole day on the balcony watching the situation. There has been gunfire going on since around 3pm. The road is shut then re-opened as the military advances and retreats.

I have seen soldiers clearing streets by firing automatic weapons. There have been a number of big explosions and helicopters flying high overhead.

I am staying put, I am not going anywhere. Right now I see something is on fire, I hear gun shots every few minutes and five minutes ago there was a huge explosion.

I can see many local people turning on the soldiers, throwing stones and molotovs at them

It's getting worse and I feel there'll be a lot of anarchy tonight. I am surprised that the Western media has reported only two people dead. My Thai relatives are talking about 20 people dead.

This is no longer between the red-shirts and the army. The troubles are spilling outside the encampment area. I can't see the camp from here, but I can see many local people turning on the soldiers, throwing stones and molotovs at them.

My sister-in-law told me that she saw a soldier who was raising his gun towards civilians overpowered by ordinary people.

This is practically civil war, Thais firing on Thais. I am sure the soldiers are not happy either.

It takes a lot of courage to shoot on your own people. It's a tense and difficult situation.

JIRAT, BANGKOK RESIDENT

Interviewed at 1900 local time (1300 BST)

I work in the financial district. The company I work for let us take a day off because our offices are just across the street from the encampment area and it's too dangerous.

I did turn up simply to see what is happening and I spent most of the day there, close to Lumpini park.

There were lots of ordinary people gathered. I must have been around 100m away from the red-shirt camp. I saw helmets moving in, helicopters flying overhead, people getting shot and teargas being used.

I saw four people who were shot being taken away. I don't know if they were dead or injured. I am shocked by what I saw.

My biggest concern is our foreign minister claimed that the government is not using violence. I witnessed something different. Thailand is in the UN and yet Thailand doesn't adhere to humanitarian laws.

NICK THORNE, PRIMARY TEACHER FROM BRITAIN

Interviewed at 1730 local time (1130 BST)

Nick Thorne

I have just witnessed a seemingly neutral or non-red crowd turn against the army. The army blocked Raajprarop Road which reasonably close to the red encampment. I was with a growing crowd staring for around half an hour down the cordoned - off road at what looked like two parked army buses.

Then I saw soldiers sprinting across the road taking up positions with their guns. The army slowly moved down the road towards us and spread out in a line. They then took their final position at the corner of Rang Nam road.

Suddenly the crowd that I was amongst started jeering and beeping their horns at the soldiers. The soldiers ignored this and it continued for around 20 minutes.

The crowd of motorbike taxi drivers, shop workers and local Thai people decided to move against the army. I could see the young soldiers didn't know quite what to do and eventually as the crowd drove their bikes and walked towards them, they began to retreat.

I saw a smoking object thrown from within the crowd at the soldiers. Then I decided to run away. As soon as I did the soldiers opened fire. Tear gas must have then been fired as I could feel it in my throat. I have no idea where they were shooting. I didn't stop to find out.

What I found very worrying about this incident is that these were not part of the protesters and not wearing red. The people gathered were certainly not happy with what the army was doing and were not afraid to advance towards them.

DAVID FISHER, TEACHER FROM SCOTLAND, UK

Interviewed at 1700 local time (1100 BST)

I am a friend of Nelson Rand - the France 24 journalist who was shot. We've known each other for 10 years. I was supposed to have dinner with him last night, but he cancelled because things were getting hot and he had to cover the event for France 24.

Smoke in Bangkok, Photo: Garry Burrows
Garry Burrows took this photo from his tower block in Bangkok

I haven't heard from him since. I know that he is in Chulalongkorn Hospital near Lumpini Park, just right in the encampment area.

According to France 24 he's got injuries in the wrist, leg and abdomen. We contacted the hospital, they confirmed he is there and said that he is undergoing surgery at the moment.

The area where the hospital is is very dangerous right now. A taxi driver was shot dead in the afternoon. Nobody is safe. You can't go there.

But we'll definitely go later, probably after midnight. We are watching the news and we are waiting for things to calm down.

I just want to say that despite what's been happening, I still feel safe here. I feel safer in Bangkok than in London.

RICHARD STRAUSS, EDUCATION CONSULTANT FROM WALES, UK

Interviewed at 1530 local time (0930 BST)

I was on my way to a hospital appointment in central Bangkok this morning. All roads were blocked. I was first in a taxi, then got on a bus and we reached a point where we couldn't move any further, so everyone got off. No access to the downtown area. It took me two and a half hours.

People were terrified running in all directions wondering when the next hand grenade or M47 will explode

The nearest I could get to the encampment was one and a half miles. I didn't reach the hospital, the whole area is shut down.

Tires were being burnt, police wagons hijacked and overturned. Thick black smoke was appearing in many areas where protesters were burning tyres.

All office workers in central areas were being sent home. Troops in their thousands were moving into areas surrounding the red shirt encampment.

People were terrified, running in all directions wondering when the next hand grenade or M47 will explode. Very very frightening indeed. Many more civilians and protesters will be injured or killed for sure.

These red-shirted Thaksin Shinawatra warriors will stop at nothing. They are reinforcing their barricades and pouring petrol onto tyres so they will ignite easily.

NOAH SEVERS, FACTORY OWNER FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE, USA

Troops gather in Bangkok
The number of troops in Bangkok is said to have increased in recent days

Some of my employees from the factory wanted to go to the camp so I went along with them after work at around 1830 (1130 GMT) on Thursday.

I've been there a couple of times before but this time it seemed different. People were starting to buckle down, as if they were expecting something.

A lot of them were carrying sticks for the first time. Before when I'd been there, no-one had carried weapons.

It was pitch black because they had already cut out all the lights. The red shirts have large generators, however on the end of the camp facing Silom, where the main barricade is, the protesters were cutting all the lights off.

They also used cloth to cover all the lights on their motorcycles and were instructing everyone to cover light clothing.

The ground was covered in water. I'm not sure why. They were filling tubs of water, maybe because they were expecting their water to be cut off.

Everybody was expecting to be shot at. The clashes must have happened just after I left the camp.

JIM

I was in the camp on Thursday night. There was much more tension than on previous occasions.

The fear was palpable. At 1800 (1100 GMT) the crowd inside the camp was sparse. It was mostly women, children, older men and motorcycle taxi drivers.

Given the amount of sleeping areas available, it was obvious many people had left.

There is a real suspicion of everything and everyone - the mood here is volatile

Later local people from Bangkok were pouring into the site as if going to a sporting event.

I entered the camp by Silom and was at the Rama statue 20 minutes before the shooting of the general [Khattiya Sawasdipol, better known as Seh Daeng (Commander Red), a renegade military officer who served as a red-shirt strategist].

I could not see any troops anywhere from inside the camp and all the surrounding high rise buildings were in darkness.

I tried to leave at Ploenchit but turned back. It was obvious something was happening.

I walked back towards the stage area - one of the leaders was stoking the crowd.

Right now in Bangkok there is a real suspicion of everything and everyone. The mood here is volatile.



Print Sponsor



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific