New Mandala blog has posted "Nick Nostitz in the killing zone," a terrifying firsthand account of events of May 15. Nostitz was in the company of half a dozen red shirt protesters armed only with slingshots when soldiers began firing live rounds of ammunition at them. The photojournalist, who has covered other violent protests, writes "never in my whole life have I been so scared. I thought that I am going to die today." Incredibly, from the window of a high building someone captured on video the horrendous events Nostitz experienced, described, and photographed up close (h/t Marshall).
The Nation reports that "The United States has warned its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Thailand and began evacuating non-essential embassy staff and families due to unrest in the country."
Bangkok Post reports that Thai PM Abhisit has sent a "mind your own business" message to the international community by way of a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. According to the newspaper, Abhisit "admitted that men in military uniform had infiltrated and killed red shirt protesters to incite violence."
It seems to me that the desperate situation Bangkok raises at least three big questions.
1. What group is responsible for the attempted assassination of Seh Daeng? Who was the expert sniper?
2. The Thai government asserts that its soldiers have been instructed not to shoot people unless lives are threatened. But how can the assurances of the Thai government plausibly account for the fact that numerous unarmed red shirts, ordinary civilians -- including a ten year old boy -- have been shot to death? On Friday, one reporter was shot three times while on the ground waving a white towel. The episode was captured on CNN. Two other reporters were shot and wounded the same day. Two journalists, Nick Nostitz and Florian Witulski narrowly escaped gunfire while witnessing ordinary red shirts being struck by bullets.
The government has attempted to explain away these killings by pinning the blame on "terrorists" operating under the cover of the red shirt movement. In Town raises an interesting question:
I don’t understand how the government can say that the snipers are some sort of third force. The government controls the area around the protest, and it is clear that the shots are coming from snipers in high places. If you were the army and someone was shooting people from areas you control and blaming it on you, wouldn’t you occupy those high places, and flush out those snipers?Bangkok Pundit has just learned that 25 out of the 25 killed as of 2:00pm Sunday are civilian.
3. Some Bangkok combatants -- and probably their leaders -- have clearly been acting in violation of international law. There is a growing body of evidence indicating that wounded people, medics and ambulances have been fired upon (see this Jotman post, update#3). GJBKK blogger documents how medical treatment has been denied to the wounded. And talk about ironies, the blogger points out that no sooner was deadly force unleashed against unarmed people in Bangkok last week than Thailand was elected to serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council.
You will find a concise list of firsthand reports from Bangkok and live-blogs from the past few days here.