Thaworn Senneam, a People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader, insisted yesterday that the protest organisers controlled their guards with ironclad rules and that security was tightened after every attack at or near rally sites.
He said when a grenade landed near the PDRC rally in Lumpini area, he was immediately given a detailed map of the neighbourhood to reconfigure the setting up of guards. He explained that a new security system was set up according to the map, with six zones clearly marked out around the rally site.
Thaworn pointed out that the most dangerous zone in that area was where Lumpini Park meets Wireless Road, as there are many trees there and they provide perfect cover to attackers.
He said that aside from the risk of being hit by M79 grenades fired from the direction of Wireless Road, guards also had to be on alert for sniper attacks from tall buildings nearby.
“Preventive measures have been put in place, but whether they can really stop attacks depends on how serious the attackers are. If the attackers are bent on killing and injuring people, it would be very difficult to thwart them,” he said.
As co-leader of the PDRC movement, Thaworn has been in charge of security for the anti-government protesters from the very start when they began rallying at Samsen train station last year.
Thaworn said initially, security guards posted at the Samsen rally site were not that conscientious because at the time nobody thought the protest would last very long. However, he said, a proper security system was set up when the rally moved from Samsen to Democracy Monument.
He went on to say that all security guards followed the same principle, though rules might be different at the different rally sites.
For instance, guards in the Lumpini area are divided into seven groups: intelligence, patrol, fast-moving guards, those coordinating with government offices, radio monitors, inspection and those overseeing the welfare of the guards.
Meanwhile, Suthep’s nephew Poom Thaugsuban, who is one of the chief guards, said ensuring the protesters’ safety at different rally sites cost more than Bt1 million per day, pointing out that the Lumpini rally site alone has 1,351 guards – all from the same province.
“We don’t make anybody a guard if we don’t know who they are or have knowledge of their background. It might create problems if we add strangers to our team,” Poom said.
He also denied that Navy Seals were part of his security team.
Preeti Chaowalit, another chief guard, said he controlled the guards in his team with an iron fist – no drinking, gambling or taking drugs, though he allows them to chew krathom leaves. Apart from his ironclad rules, he said he has put another team in charge of controlling the guards and anybody caught breaking the rules must go home.
He also said that guards are allowed to carry a gun, provided it is registered and only used for self-defence. He went on to say that it is mandatory for all guards to meet in the morning to evaluate the situation before reporting for duty.
Meanwhile, Thaworn has invited specialists to teach PDRC guards how to watch out for people with suspicious behaviour.
Tinnagon Plodpai, another security chief, said there were three types of ill-intentioned people: simple troublemakers, those gathering information for the other side and those marking a target for an attack.
If caught, these people will be handed over to the PDRC investigation team before being driven out of the rally site or handed over to police.
However, he said, sudden attacks are hard to predict and hence, very difficult to control.
Tinnagon said he was not afraid if police wanted to reclaim the area occupied by protesters because the guards will set up a barrier to protect the people.
“Last Sunday’s incident, in which two children were killed, should not have happened. They were innocent, had nothing to do with the protest.
“If I can give up my life or those of the guards [in exchange for the children’s], I would do it,” Tinnagon said.