Thai Gov't Rejects Talks With Bangkok Protesters

Demands that Red Shirts disperse before negotiations begin

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 18, 2010 5:27 AM CDT | Updated May 18, 2010 6:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – Red Shirt leaders today accepted an offer for peace talks brokered by the Thailand's Senate, but hopes for an end to the mayhem were quickly shot down by the embattled prime minister, who dismissed the proposal for talks until the protesters have dispersed. Thousands of Red Shirt protesters remain camped out in the middle of the city; confrontations with troops have killed 37 people over the last 5 days and turned large parts of the capital into a battle zone.

A military spokesman accused the 5,000 remaining protesters of using women and children as human shields, reports the AP. Protesters were ordered to abandon their camp by 3pm yesterday but the deadline passed without the expected military crackdown. "The situation will end only when the protest stops," was the word from PM Abhisit Jejjajiva. The protesters are demanding that he dissolve Parliament and call early elections.

Red Shirt activists stand guard at their barricade in Bangkok yesterday.
"Red Shirt" activists stand guard at their barricade in Bangkok yesterday.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A young girl holds her mother at a temple converted into a safe-zone for anti-government protesters at their encampment in Bangkok, Thailand.
A young girl holds her mother at a temple converted into a "safe-zone" for anti-government protesters at their encampment in Bangkok, Thailand.   (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Motorcyclists ride near burning tires put by anti-government protesters in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday.
Motorcyclists ride near burning tires put by anti-government protesters in Bangkok, Thailand yesterday.   (AP Photo/ Manish Swarup)
An anti-government protester tries to push back approaching police at the edge of Victory Monument in Bangkok yesterday.
An anti-government protester tries to push back approaching police at the edge of Victory Monument in Bangkok yesterday.   (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
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We have agreed to take a new round of talks proposed by the Senate because if we allow things to go on like this, we don't know how many more lives will be lost. - Protest leader Nattawut Saikua

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