Pattaya Daily News

10 April 2009 :: 20:04:11 pm 27780

Pattaya – Red Shirts Break Through Summit Cordon

At 4:00 pm on 10th April 2009 hundreds of red-shirt protesters broke through a police cordon and into the the Royal Cliff Beach Resort where the 3-day ASEAN summit began on Friday morning.
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Previously, a spokesman for the protesters had demanded through a megaphone that the leader of each country attenting the summit should personally receive a letter of complaint from the protesters. Mr. Suppachai Jaisamut, The Deputy government spokesman, had offered to be the representative of all the member countries to receive the complaint on their behalf, but the UDD leader said this was unnacceptable.

The participants in the annual summit meeting are the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The protesters had gathered outside the hotel compound from 10:00 in the morning chanting slogans against premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, demanding that he step down and dissolve the House. ‘Abhisit get out! If this government does not accept our demands we will not go home’, they shouted.

At 10:30 Prime Minister Abhisit, arrived by helicopter and was transferred by car directly to the conference centre. Both Mr. Abhisit and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Suthep were observed having a relaxing walk with smiles on their faces. They were surrounded by a large number of bodyguards, and reporters were not allowed to get close enough to take their photos.

At 11.00 am, there was a power cut at the hotel and conference centre causing chaos as computer systems were unable to scan IDs at the access points. The problem was caused by a short circuit and it took 20 minutes to restore the supply.

By 11.50 am the crowd of protesters had grown to more than 1000, and were led by Mr. Arisman Pong Reungrong, who managed to keep them under control, outside of the hotel.

At 11.56, a 100-strong naval team and more police and army officers arrived and reinforced the cordone blocking the protesters access to the hotel.

At the same time more and more red shirt protesters arrived at a big compound behind the Big-C shopping mall, which had become their staging area. A lot of them were from the Eastern area, Rayong and Chanthaburi Trad. ‘We are here for democracy’, said one of the protesters, Natcha Kingkalong, 44, a spa owner. ‘We must stay until the prime minister resigns. We do not want violence. We do not have weapons.’

Early in the afternoon, in an unusual move, the deputy prime minister, Suthep Thueksuban, emerged from the meeting and approached the protesters. ‘We’ve been waiting for you’, a protest leader shouted through a megaphone from the back of a pickup truck. ‘If you resign, the red shirts will stop protesting’. The police then steered Mr. Suthep back inside, where he insisted the summit would continue. ‘If the red shirts care about the country’s image’, he said, appearing a bit shaken, ‘they should open the way for the leaders to enter the hotel. I am ready to talk with them about anything they want. If that doesn’t work, we may have to do anything to clear the way’

So far there has been no violence but hundreds of soldiers in riot gear were seen marching towards the venue.

A police commander said the protesters had been asked to leave ‘the restricted area’. ‘If we cannot negotiate with them we will use all means necessary to open the road (to the hotel) for the leaders and maintain international standards’, Police Major General Pramote Patumwong told the AFP news agency.

The protesters are meanwhile promising to increase their number by bringing in more from their main rally in Bangkok.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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