Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thailand: Regime Escalates Conflict - Deadly Mayhem Ensues

December 26, 2013 (Tony Cartalucci) - Anti-regime protesters sought to occupy the Election Commission venue at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng, Bangkok for the third day today in attempts to disrupt the regime's show-elections scheduled for February 2, 2014, but were met instead by regime police. Clashes ensued, with police firing rubber bullets indiscriminately at protesters, bystanders and journalists alike. Tear gas flooded the streets of the densely populated urban district, forcing residents to flee and schools to prematurely close for the day.

Police restrained and then beat several captured protesters, while others were shot in the head by rubber bullets including clearly identifiable journalists. As protesters departed after several hours of confrontation, police moved out from the compound and began destroying vehicles and property suspected of belonging to straggling protesters.

Another Death 

Live rounds were fired by police and "unidentified gunmen," with over 100 injuries and one death - a police officer. The officer's death was immediately capitalized on by regime propagandists - particularly Asia Update (the regime's "red shirt" television network) who theatrically covered his injury, transport to a nearby helicopter, and failed treatment at a nearby hospital.

Asia Update correspondents claimed not only were protesters behind the shooting, but the perpetrator was caught, the bullet and weapon recovered, and the bullet already traced by back to the alleged weapon. Of course this is absurd - the process of tracing a bullet requires a forensic lab, the bullet extracted from the dead body, the original weapon that fired the bullet, a facility to safely discharge an additional bullet from the alleged weapon to then be recovered and microscopically examined to confirm that its marking match those of the bullet from the victim. All of this, Asia Update suggests, was done in the matter of hours, even as clashes continued. 

Cui Bono?

Contrary to Asia Update's commentary, the shooters were not among the protesters, but rather located atop buildings overlooking the clashes - similar to other "mystery gunmen" deployed in bids to bolster Wall Street fronts around the world. Reuters would report in their article titled, "Thai government rejects call to delay election after clashes erupt," that: 
The policeman was killed and three were wounded by gunshots from an unknown attacker who was believed to have been overlooking the clashes from a building.

Additionally, it should be noted that protesters had nothing to gain by shooting police. The key to the protest's success so far has been being non-violent. They have already proven their ability to confront and overwhelm police without using deadly force. Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul's comments regarding protesters today seeking "to kill" police officers is betrayed by the fact that no guns were brought by protesters, nor was any comment made by protest leaders suggesting any plan other than once again occupying the complex as they did the previous two days. The violence was also immediately condemned by protest leaders who implored protesters not to react to the regime's provocations.

Conversely, the regime has everything to gain from the death of a police officer and has already proven its ability to callously kill its own in exchange for political capital - political capital Thaksin Shinawatra's Asia Update is cashing in right now.

It was during clashes on April 10, 2010 triggered when Thaksin Shinawatra unleashed heavily armed professional mercenaries onto the streets, that a very conspicuous pro-Thaksin "red shirt" flagman was directed into position by protest leaders before being shot in the head by a sniper. A video camera was recording his every move (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC), while a nearby camera crew was on standby to capture stills of the anticipated aftermath. A spotter shadowed his movements, step-by-step up until he was shot. The spotter would then calmly call in the camera crew to snap their now infamous portrait of the incident. The grisly image would be featured on the cover of Thaksin Shinawatra's "Voice of Taksin" magazine along with a "free CD" containing the "serendipitous" footage captured of the man's death.

His corpse would be paraded on stage the following day and his death made the rallying cry to justify yet more violence that would unfold over the following weeks at the cost of 92 lives.

Fast forward to this year, just days before the first deadly violence of the current political crisis. Just 2 days before deadly clashes broke out the night of November 30th, pro-regime propagandist Andrew McGregor Marshall  inexplicably revealed the regime's plans to mass murder police and bystanders in a Facebook post titled, "News Update From the Bangkok Protests" which read (emphasis added):

News update from the Bangkok protests. Abhisit Vejjajiva plans to join Suthep Thaugsuban's illegal anti-democracy rally tomorrow to try to revive flagging numbers. Meanwhile, Thaksin Shinawatra's secret "black shirt" force of provocateurs, mostly made up of navy SEALS and marines, is back on the streets again for the first time since May 2010 and has infiltrated Suthep's rabble. If protests escalate they will seek to incite deadly violence ahead of King Bhumibol's birthday to discredit Suthep and his movement for good. The military remains divided and weak, and top commanders have no intention of intervening for now. Unless sanity prevails in the next few days, there will be more bloodshed on the streets of Bangkok in early December.
Marshall claims that a "very reliable source" has passed this information onto him, and assured fellow regime supporters that "if protesters kill civilians or police, that does not discredit the government."

Image: Screen grab taken of Marshall's Facebook link containing the leaked regime conspiracy to kill in the name of the protesters, as well as assurances that his sources are "very reliable," and that the plan would not discredit the government. 

Two days later, both regime supporters and students were killed in night clashes near Ramkamhaeng University, but the only gunmen caught on camera were black-clad militants associated with the regime. While the police claim they've caught two students involved in the death of one regime supporter, the police have made it abundantly clear they are not impartial servants of the law, but rather loyal servants of the regime. Nothing they say, even if it were true, could be considered credible without independent third party verification.

More recently, "red shirt" regime supporters have been making disturbing threats to carry out a campaign of armed violence if upcoming sham elections are disrupted by protesters. They claim "weapons" are being brought in by protesters to accomplish this, and it is this that they cite as their justification for their preplanned assault.

Today, Bangkok saw overwhelming numbers of protesters (and growing daily) attempting for the third day to disrupt election preparations, but were confronted with a concerted and brutal crackdown. The death of a police officer is being used, just as the flagman was used in 2010, as justification by the regime for further and more extreme measures - measures it is desperate to implement as it clings tenuously to power. Just as Andrew Marshall braged, it appears "police and civilians" have been intentionally targeted with the confidence it would not "discredit the government."

For Thaksin Shinawatra's followers, Asia Update's "case closed' explanation may be enough, but unidentified gunmen atop buildings operating apart from the protesters and giving the regime exactly what it needs to retrench itself against protesters, cast doubt on this narrative and at the very least begs for closer examination and a thorough investigation. The regime has the means, the motive, and a history of repeat offenses using extreme violence against others and against their own for political leverage. There is no reason to rule out this latest episode as the work of a desperate regime.