A behind-the-scenes look at Thai protesters' 'war room'

Over the past 45 days of protests, protest leaders have crafted their planned movements at five war rooms.

The war rooms are where the leaders brainstormed on how to proceed with their protests and they have been moved in line with the rally sites and the number of protesters.

The first was set up on October 31, at Democrat Party's headquarters, when the protests were first held at Sam Sen.

Later, it moved to Democracy Monument, specifically at Sorn Dang restuarant, the third one at a shop in the Government Complex and the fourth at another restaurant belonging to the Royal Turf Club near Nang Lerng intersection. Yesterday, the war room returned to a place near Democracy Monument.

At the war rooms, Suthep Thaugsuban holds meetings with PDRC leaders up to three times a day to brainstorm these initiatives and also works with academics, who act as his legal advisers when drafting PDRC declarations, according to core PDRC co-leader Thaworn Senneam.

Thaworn admitted that writing the statements is not easy.

"Suthep reads each draft carefully and often makes corrections to the final draft. He has to announce the statement to the public and is responsible for the consequences," he said.

Thaworn also explained that although the PDRC is led by its secretary-general, its mandate under the so-called "people's revolution" is to return power to the people. The group was not the kind of military-installed body one expects with a coup, he said.

"Nowadays, a lot of information can be found on the Internet. It's possible to find many examples which we can use to produce our own version," Thaworn said.

Another PDRC leader denied that their statements were stolen from posts on the Internet, but written by respected law experts.

"Sometimes Suthep does not agree with the jargon used by lawmakers, which can be rather academic and difficult for people to understand. It means he then has to spend more time explaining what the statement means to the public," the source explained.

The PDRC has many experts who act as committee members, including former MPs, academics, businesspeople, and activists.

Regular academics who advise the PDRC's leaders include: Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, former rector of the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA); Banjerd Singkaneti, dean of Nida's Graduate School of Law; Charas Suwanmala, former dean of Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Political Science; and Kaewsan Athibodhi, leader of the Thai Spring group, the source added.

Academics are also sometimes invited to comment on key measures the PDRC plans to take.

Activist and academic Thirayuth Boonmee attended a meeting at the PDRC's war room just before Suthep issued a statement requesting a meeting with Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn and commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the commissioner-general of the National Police.

In another statement he proposed a "people's council" with 400 members - 300 elected from various occupations and 100 selected by the PDRC, the source said.

According to the PDRC committee member, Suthep has great patience in long meetings. He is prepared to sit and listen to many comments and opinions. Suthep told his fellow protesters "if we listen to 1,000 suggestions, there must be at least one that is right for us," the source recalled.

The most stressful hours were on "D-Day" after protesters reached Government House and Suthep announced on stage that people had "recalled power" from the government, the source said.

"We had no idea if the public would believe in a 'people's revolution' and accept that the PDRC had 'sovereign power'. Before making the announcement, Suthep called a meeting of PDRC leaders and spent more than two hours discussing it," he said. "If the public believed that the PDRC had won, it meant we succeeded, but if not, then it would have been over."