Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leadership: Seh Daeng

Khattiya Sawasdipol, also known as Seh Daeng, is a 58 year old leader of the red shirts in Bangkok Thailand. He had just begun an interview when he was shot. The reporter, Thomas Fuller, who was interviewing Seh Daeng is interviewed above about the shooting. "Leader" is another word for "target". I suppose it's always been this way.

If you just learned about the unrest in Thailand, I highly recommend this summary of the political and security situation.

Here are a couple of reports on the shooting of Seh Daeng:

Sniper 'targeted Khattiya from high-rise'
A sniper who shot Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdipol on Thursday appeared to have used a Winchester rifle with a .308 bullet and fired it from a tall building, a military expert said.

The expert said the bullet, which struck Khattiya on the right temple before passing through his throat and the back of his neck, was travelling at an angle of between 45 to 75 degrees.
"This can only mean that the sniper must be a real pro and stalking Seh Daeng from a tall building," he said.

Khattiya collapsed unconscious the moment he was struck by the bullet at around 7pm, right in front of the underground MRT Silom station. He was rushed to Hua Chiew Hospital before being transferred later to the Vajira Hospital. He is now in a critical condition. Only a miracle can save his life, according to medical sources.

An informal investigation into the shooting of Khattiya reveals that he was talking to reporters with his face turned towards Wireless Road. The sniper could only have hid himself on one of the high floors inside either the Dusit Thani Hotel or the adjacent building on Rama IV Road.

Khattiya propelled himself into the second generation of the red-shirt leadership after Jatuporn Promphan, Veera Musigapong, Natthawut Saikua and Dr weng Tojirakarn wavered in the face of growing pressure from the Abhisit government. Khattiya was quite carefree during his routine surveillance of the Sala Daeng area, where the red shirts had set up barricades to protect their Rajaprasong encampment.

A replay of the incident pointed to the possibility of a set-up. Khattiya was giving an interview. The video camera of a reporter started to roll and the light from the camera beamed on his face. Within that second, Thomas Fuller, a correspondent of the New York Times who was about a metre away from the general, heard a loud noise like a firecracker lighting up the sky.

In his report for the New York Times' Thursday edition, headlined "Thai General Shot; Army Moves to Face Protesters", Fuller wrote: "The reporter, who was two feet away and facing the general, heard a loud bang similar to that of a firecracker.

"The general fell to the ground, his eyes wide open, and protesters took his apparently lifeless body to a hospital, screaming his nickname: "Seh Daeng has been shot! Seh Daeng has been shot!"

The loud bang that Fuller heard possibly came from a firecracker - not the gunshot from the Winchester .308 rifle, which was equipped with a silencer. The sniper fired his shot within the second when he could see Seh Daeng clearly with the help of the light from the video camera.

Political observers said there are several theories behind the assassination attempt on Khattiya.

First, he could have been a target of revenge from a military regiment called Phayak Burapha, which lost the battle badly on April 10 against the red shirts. In that battle, the Phyak Burapha lost Colonel Romkhlao Thuwatham.

Second, hardcore elements of the red shirts wanted to strike down Khattiya so that the ensuing upheaval would go out of control and in the end a national government could be formed as a compromise.

Third, the military or the government in power wanted to eliminate him to dilute the hardcore element within the red-shirt movement.
Thai General Linked to Protests Is Shot in Head During Interview -
A renegade major general who allied himself with the protesters who have paralyzed Bangkok for weeks was shot in the head and critically wounded here on Thursday as the military began sealing off a barricaded encampment of antigovernment protesters.

The general, Khattiya Sawatdiphol, 58, had become a symbol of the lawlessness and impunity that have torn Thailand apart as the protests have pitted the nation’s poor against its establishment.

He was shot during an interview with a reporter for The New York Times about 7 p.m., one hour after the military announced the start of a blockade and cut off electricity and water to a tent city of thousands of protesters.

The reporter, who was two feet away and facing the general, heard a loud bang similar to that of a firecracker.

The general fell to the ground, his eyes wide open, and protesters took his apparently lifeless body to a hospital, screaming his nickname: “Seh Daeng has been shot! Seh Daeng has been shot!”
More news on the unrest in Bangkok, Thailand:

Asia Society has photos and a voice-over about Thailand's political crisis

Video: Molotovs and Machine Guns in Bangkok | GlobalPost
Young Thais, faces cloaked with bandanas, are chucking molotov cocktails at troops. Small caliber bullet holes are punched through street signs. Old tires are set aflame and rolled toward troop positions and barbed wire is strung across what should be busy thoroughfares.
Hope all reporters injured today will be recovered soon.
I called it. @aleithead
From cameraman DC: "Sathorn on fire." Burning tyres all the way along the road - troops seem to have pulled back. Reds taken control of rd
As always happens.... @TAN_Network
Their Majesties the King and Queen to pay for medical bill of those injured in today's clashes
BBC News Video - Reporter travels to the heartland of the red shirts

BBC News Video - Violence returns to the streets of Bangkok

The Nation's State has a good set of annotated photos.

Bangkok Pundit has frequently updated coverage of the situation.

Reports of power and internet outage. And stay away from windows. Bullets go through them and explosions shatter them turning the glass into shrapnel.

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