The tension is rising in Thailand as we have now started the countdown to Judgement Day on Friday 26th February 2010. The red shirts have already started their protests though so far the yellow shirts have decided to stay at home. If that is true then any riots on the streets of Bangkok next week should be limited with, hopefully, minimal casualties. Personally, I don’t think there will be any dangers for foreign tourists. However, the embassies of the United States, Great Britain and Australia have all released travel advisories to their citizens to avoid Bangkok.
The so-called Judgement Day is when the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on whether to seize the 76 billion baht of frozen assets of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The controversy surrounds the fact that the Asset Examination Committee were coup appointed and the red shirts claim that the odds were stacked against Thaksin from day one. At first they boasted they will put one million protesters on the streets of Bangkok next week. However, they have now downplayed this to much smaller protests at key locations around the capital.
Although the main protest seems to have been called off, the government and metropolitan police are taking no chances. Nor are the police in Samut Prakan who have responsibility over Suvarnabhumi International airport. I took these pictures today during a riot police drill which simulated an attack by the red shirts who were trying to disrupt the running of the airport. As we all know, during the previous government, the yellow shirts easily shut down the airport which led to travel chaos and stranded foreign tourists. No-one wants a repeat of that.
It is difficult to say what will happen next week. Everyone has different opinions. Hopefully things will pass smoothly or it might just be the start of something bigger. The red shirt leaders are threatening to escalate their protests with the intention of bringing down the government. We haven’t had any serious violence so far, however we have had a few bomb explosions in Bangkok already. This may or may not be the work of the red shirts. More likely a third hand who wants to gain from any chaos that is caused. If you can avoid Bangkok for the next two weeks then it might be advised to do so. However, it is a big city and the chances that you will get mixed up in anything is very slim. Just use your common sense and avoid any large protests.