Thailand at Risk of Civil War?Updated: 2010-05-17 00:00:00 KST
This upscale shopping district in downtown Bangkok is engulfed in flames.
The lights have gone out and barricades and barb wire surround the commercial center as the sound of gunfire rings out.
The unrelenting violence in Thailand began when the presiding government turned down the people's request for a new election.
Demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign and dissolve the corrupt, incompetent parliament the "Red Shirts," most of whom are the working class or farmers, initiated a deadly demonstration in March, which has claimed 59 lives to date.
[Interview : ] "The government and the Prime Minister are distorting news and information. We are here and we know what the situation is like."
The Prime Minister, however, vowed that he wouldn't back down and escalated the tension by calling the anti-government Red Shirts, "armed terrorists."
[Interview : ] "We cannot retreat because we are doing this for the benefit of the country, to return to normality and a lawful state."
The Red Shirts are advocates of the former Prime Minister in exile, Thaksin Shinawatra, who earned unwavering support from the rural masses with his lower-class friendly policies from 2001 to 2006.
But his populist economic policies were severely criticized by the middle and upper-class, or the "yellow shirts" who called on the traditional elite to take a greater role in politics, and who ultimately replaced Thaksin with Vejjajiva through a military coup.
Bhumibol Adulyadej, the current king of Thailand who has made several decisive interventions in political uprisings in the past stands as the Thai's last hope to settle the turmoil peacefully.
But perhaps due to his ailing health or maybe due to the fear over the adverse affect the red shirts' upheaval may have on the nation's constitutional monarcy the revered king is remaining silent this time, throwing Thailand's future into uncertainty.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
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