For the last two months, anti-government protesters in Bangkok have shut down the city's commercial heart in a mostly non-violent effort to get the prime minister to leave office. But the government has just given them a deadline of midnight Thursday to leave the streets.
The "Red Shirts" are part of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship and seek the resignation of Abhisit Vejjajiva, who first came to office following a 2006 coup. While they Red Shirts insist they're peaceful, the intensification of their protests have been accompanied by shootings and grenade attacks on police and among civilians from unidentified perpetrators in nearby Silom.
When I first went into the camp, I was surprised by the orderliness and the industriousness of the people inside, who'd set up shops to sell food and red-themed merchandise, pharmacies, and even a massage parlor within the tent city. But the area still resembles a refugee camp: dwellings made of plastic sheets and bamboo; garbage strewn across the ground; the smell of rotting food and unwashed bodies permeate the air. Conditions will only get worse, assuming the government shuts off the water and cuts off supplies after the Thursday deadline.