Languages
Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 13:10 UK

Thai protests: Eyewitness accounts

Protesters in central Bangkok
Cengiz Yar Jr, an American in Bangkok: "Two red shirts setting one of the many blazes on the Rama IV road on Saturday."

Thai authorities have set an ultimatum to protesters camped in Bangkok, calling on women and the elderly to leave their camp by Monday afternoon.

One protest leader said Thailand was close to "civil war" after clashes with soldiers killed at least 25 people.

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

RAY STONE, BANGKOK

Monday, 1700 local time (1100BST)

Ray Stone

It's amazing how quickly a relatively affluent street can deteriorate.

Both ends of Lang Suan where I live are controlled by Red Shirt barricades. A one way street that was once very busy now sees only occasional motor cycle taxis and has become two way.

Rubbish is piling up and the smell is overpowering the scent of exotic flowers. Ants are beginning to appear in large numbers in areas which are normally packed with street food vendors and people.

Last night a 7/11 shop about 50 metres from my residence was broken into, presumably for the food. An explosion marked an attempt to blow into an ATM machine next to the 7/11.

The sound of romantic, mournful music from the Red Shirt encampment last night was interrupted by intermittent gunfire and explosions and a part of the sky was black with smoke from burning tyres.

This morning I walked along our street and down some side streets to a part of the main Red Shirt camp in front of the Four Seasons Hotel. The mood has very much changed from just a few days ago.

Mostly men remain and there is a deflated mood in the camp. They now relieve themselves on the side of the street where once there were porta-toilets.

The laughing women waving their rattling plastic feet - the ultimate insult in Thailand - seem to have disappeared and now there is desperate danger in the air from men who know they are losing the battle. Washing is hanging everywhere to dry and food is not so plentiful.

This is a country I have lived in for six years and I have come to love. I am surprised by how moved I am by what is happening.

Today Accor, the management company of my executive residence and who have done a great job here under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, are moving the few remaining guests to a hotel outside of the danger zone and I think it will be some time before I can move back.

GARY BURROWS, FROM ST HELENS

Monday, 1600 local time (1000BST)

Window with a bullet hole through it
A bullet was fired at Gary Burrows's apartment, shattering the glass.

Last night a bullet came through the window of my 29th floor apartment.

I live about 100 metres from the protest site and the electricity went down in my block. I'd heard reports of snipers in the area, so I wanted to close the curtains to make sure no-one would see the emergency lighting in the corridors.

Before I managed that, someone shot at me. A bullet came through the window shattering through the glass and going into the wall. I'm sure it was fired by a sniper because it was too close to me to be a random shot.

Empty street and a tyre barricade
Empty streets and a tyre barricade - the view from Gary Burrow's block.

I've now checked into a hotel outside the red zone, initially for four days.

Like most people, I'm hoping that this will blow over and calm down so that the government can step in and sort things out.

I've been in Thailand for six years and this is the worst I've seen things.

KARN G BULSUK, FROM THE USA

Monday 00:30 local time, Sunday 1830 BST

Are we scared? Yes. Never have we seen such chaos and unrest in what is known as the Land of Smiles.

The protest is spreading into previously unaffected areas. I live in Klong Toey, some way from the protesters. When we heard that the army was starting to blockade a main junction nearby we decided to call it quits.

We heard that there had been clashes between the army and red shirts just 15 minutes after we had left

We quickly packed our bags and evacuated the house, heading at first to my grandmother's place. We were also afraid that the authorities would cut off water and electricity, like in they did in the Bonkai area. Later, we learned that the protestors have set up a make shift stage just a five-minute walk from our house.

We also heard that there had been clashes between the army and red shirts just 15 minutes after we had left. The red shirts are being increasingly violent and desperate in their actions.

We were forced to move yet again - when we learned that the red shirts were stealing cars at the Bonkai area to drive into the army - to our condo four kilometres out.

I think there will be more bloodshed and even if the army end this Thailand will be changed and groups will assume violence is the answer to their problems.

JOHN TAYLOR, FROM LONDON, UK

Sunday, 2015 local time (1415 BST)

John Taylor lives in an apartment close to where the protesters are.

I am really scared now. I feel even more like a prisoner.

Somehow the red-shirt protesters have got past the security forces and have surrounded our building.

My fear is that they are going to set [the tyres] alight and try to choke us

Within the last two hours they have dumped loads of soil and put stacks of tyres around the block.

My fear is that they are going to set them alight and try to choke us. This is disgusting - there are lots of women and children in this block.

I have no idea why the protesters would try to do this. Maybe they are trying to make a statement of rich versus poor.

I tried to leave in the last hour-and-a-half but a protester put a grenade in my face and said: "You leave, you die."

HELMUT HEILIGENMANN, FROM LOS ANGELES, USA

Sunday, 1930 local time (1330 BST)

I was in the Soi Nam Duplee and Rama IV districts earlier, where constant fighting has been going on for days now.

There were previously crowds on the streets watching the protests. Now there are only a few who still dare to go outside.

The locals filled me in on the positions of the snipers and I saw the bullet holes in the buildings, mostly coming from Rama IV towards the protestors.

It will just become more chaotic, more widespread and more like a civil war

I am surprised that there is quite a bit of talk about red-shirt "terrorists" using guns. I haven't really seen any.

Most of the protesters are young guys building barricades from tyres and throwing firecrackers, while the military shoots live rounds back at them.

When I was out there earlier, there were large explosions and gunfire.

Everybody ran and some locals pulled me into their homes to escape the gunfire.

We then heard that someone who had walked past us just five minutes earlier, was shot.

The military appear to be shooting at will, not out of self defence.

If the numbers of demonstrators truly are increasing, then the military have to stop their actions.

Even if they take control over the main camp, it will not mean an end to the fighting.

It will just become more chaotic, more widespread and more like a civil war.

CHRIS BIERMANN, FROM GERMANY

Sunday, 1630 local time (1030 BST)

Chris Biermann

It is quite obvious that this stand-off will last much longer than expected by all.

Judging by the smoke clouds at the Rama IV area south of our apartment and the ongoing explosions and rifle shots, the army doesn't seem to have made any progress over the past three days.

The heavier fighting seems to have shifted to the north to the Makkasan area, which cannot be seen from here.

It has been decided to extend the school holidays for at least another week, which seems to be a sign that the battle might last that long.

Our main concern at present is the supply situation, as all the shops are supposed to close, although some are ignoring this government order and are opening up for a few hours in the morning.

I took my wife and baby out of our home this morning

More serious though is the threat of a withdrawal of Red Shirts to the inner barricades as this would bring the fighting to our doorsteps.

Strangely enough, there is still a small opening in the outer barricades at one part of the protest camp - allowing pedestrians and motorbike taxis to pass through.

I took my wife and baby out of our home this morning and am just back to get some more stuff from our apartment.

There are just five other tenants left in our 35-storey building and some of the adjacent buildings are completely abandoned by now which certainly doesn't contribute to feeling any safer here.

TONY PREHN, FROM SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Saturday, 2230 local time (1630 BST)

Our apartment is between two of the protest fronts and there was a constant peppering of rifle shots and explosions throughout the afternoon.

The streets are very quiet but there is a heavy military presence - and we are not in the most volatile area

There is a sense of uneasy calm now. But there is the anticipation that the government forces will move against the protesters tonight.

We left the apartment briefly this afternoon. The streets are very quiet but there is a heavy military presence - and we are not in the most volatile area. There are armed soldiers on every corner with M16 rifles and walkie-talkies.

There are few foreigners or locals around. The hotels have signs advising tourists not to leave the buildings tonight.

The protesters seem to have broken into two faction - moderates who are happy to sit and wait, and a more aggressive bunch.

We are not really sure that the government has the resolve to end this stand-off.

JOHN TAYLOR, FROM LONDON, UK

Saturday, 1900 local time (1300BST)

I'm imprisoned in my apartment very close to where the protests are happening.

There is just one apartment building between me and the confrontation.

Close to my home I was blown off my feet by what must have been a huge petrol bomb

I have no intention of leaving the building in the near future. I looked in my fridge just now, and for the first time in my life I'm thinking about rationing my food.

On my way home on Friday, at around 1600, I was abandoned by my taxi driver.

He saw roadblocks ahead and realised we were close to the clashes. He left me in the car and ran off.

I walked out amid a hail of gunfire. It took a couple of minutes for me to realise what was going on.

Eventually I found someone on a motorbike to give me a lift close to my home in the central Sathorn District.

But close to my home I was blown off my feet by what must have been a huge petrol bomb.

The shooting and bombings were non-stop for about an hour with rifle fire hitting an office building next to me. I can also see the burning tyres.

It's now getting dark and it feels like the calm before the storm.

TORI ANDERSON, FROM PERTH, AUSTRALIA

Saturday, 1300 local time (0900BST)

Tori Anderson
The atmosphere is really tense because there is such a build-up of soldiers and weapons

It was a sleepless night last night in Bangkok. All night I heard gunfire and bombs exploding. I live five minutes from the Red Zone and it was a scary night to be in this city.

Gunfire and explosions continued throughout the night and into the morning. There are periodic blasts now.

On Friday, I went down to see what was happening and was caught in the crossfire - a truly frightening experience.

There are soldiers everywhere and I assumed with the huge army presence I may be safe. But the protesters began throwing things at the army and they started shooting back.

I had to run down the side of a building to gain cover. I waited for the firing to stop then I ran back home and haven't left since.

I'm a development worker and have lived in Pakistan and Afghanistan but I feel more worried right now. The atmosphere is really tense because there is such a build-up of soldiers and weapons.

Many roads are blocked off and taxi drivers have stopped taking people in this area. There is barbed wire everywhere.

It's going to get messy for sure tonight. Many people I know here are thinking of leaving Bangkok.

Everything is building up to a big confrontation tonight.

Let's hope that this will be over soon and this peaceful city can continue to thrive.



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 © 2013 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