Bangkok, the 23rd of May 2010 [PDN]: At the conference the CRES, with the aid of military explosive experts, displayed a multitude of both military and homemade weapons which had supposedly been confiscated from the Red Shirt encampment at Ratchaprasong in the nation’s capital. Weapons included M16, SK and AK47 assault rifles, M79 grenade launchers and ammunition along with a massive amount of crude home-made grenades, petrol bombs and explosive projectiles known as Molotov Cocktails.
Other than to legitimise the government led crackdown on Red Shirt supporters it is unknown what the benefit of such a concise display of weaponry was intended to achieve. Many envoys noted that they were indeed more interested in the Thai governments plan for resolution of the political crisis. Citizens on the streets of Bangkok, although few and far between, are concerned that following the removal of curfew laws and other restrictions currently in place around the capital the rioting and random acts of terror will continue as many extremist Red Shirts supporters are still in hiding around the city waiting for the current attention and military presence to die down.
It appears that many Thai residents and business owners are coming to grips with the reality that despite the destruction and violence coming to an end 4-days ago, a return to what is being branded ‘normalcy’ is far away on the horizon. Regular tourism may take months if not several years to attain levels the like which has been seen in the past.
The global economic crisis coupled with Thailand’s relatively minor political uncertainties over the last 4-5 years, in particular the airport seizure, had significantly damaged the Kingdoms appeal to first-time and family tourists, however; this recent outbreak of violence, destruction and political turmoil has now seen even the regular visitors opt out of their vacations to the once popular and peaceful nation. The streets of Bangkok are desolate; businesses slowly begin to resume trade in the quiet as people continue to shy away from even the most prevalent areas such as Khao San Road and Patpong.
Amidst the continued cleanup of the destruction in Bangkok a further 10 more dead bodies have been found, as rescue workers sift carefully through the still smouldering remains of Central World Shopping Center, the second biggest shopping center in South East Asia, which was almost entirely destroyed by fire in Wednesday nights riotous end to the Red Shirt protests.
Since the first attempted crackdown on Red Shirt protesters turned violent on April the 10th some 11 soldiers and 74 civilians have lost their lives whilst and estimated 411 police and soldiers have been wounded along with 991 civilians.