No water, power in Bangkok protest zone

Protesters sleep under makeshift tents in the Red Shirt camp in Bangkok on Wednesday. PHOTO: AP

Protesters sleep under makeshift tents in the Red Shirt camp in Bangkok on Wednesday. PHOTO: AP

The Thai government turned to siege tactics on Wednesday after fruitless efforts to compromise with protesters barricaded in central Bangkok, announcing that the Army would limit supplies of water, food and electricity to the protest zone.
Army spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said security forces would “not use force at this stage,” but his wording left open the possibility of more violence in Thailand’s two-month political stand-off if the Red Shirt protesters refuse to disperse. “This is a full-scale measure to limit the freedom of protesters and to close down the area 100 per cent, starting at midnight,” Col. Sansern said.
The measures include, cutting water, electricity and mobile phone signals to the protest zone and stopping bus, rail and boat services to the area, Col. Sansern said, adding that authorities would also “seal off entrances to the area.”
The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned protesters who have paralysed Bangkok’s central business district to leave by Wednesday or face consequences that could also effect residents who live nearby. Security forces may “implement measures that will have an impact on people in the area, not only the demonstrators but also workers and residents,” Mr Abhisit said.
The anti-government protests have crippled the capital’s ritziest shopping district, forced the closure of several luxury hotels and devastated the economy, particularly the vital tourism sector. The protest zone spans about 1 square mile and is bordered by upscale apartment high-rises and office buildings.
Chances of a negotiated settlement to the stand-off appeared to be unravelling as the government toughened its tone and protesters vowed not to budge until their demands are met.
“Firstly, we are using our own electricity generators, so we are not dependent on the public power source,” said a protest leader Jatuporn Prompan.
“Secondly, if the government decides to cut water ... this will also effect half of the city. So, we do not care about the government’s threat.”

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