In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Thailand’s military chief declared nationwide martial law. “This is not a coup,” said General Prayuth Chan-Ocha in a televised broadcast, before justifying the declaration as a move necessary to restore peace and public order. The country has been embroiled in a mounting political crisis since protesters began demonstrating against the current prime minister seven months ago, which has led to increasingly violent unrest.
So far, the public has remained relatively calm as tanks roam their streets and military personnel stand guard at key intersections and shopping malls (some citizens are even taking selfies with soliders), while the United States and other Western governments have urged the Thai people to avoid large crowds and sites of protest as a precaution. As of now, Thailand’s army has claimed the right to take up arms against rioters, forbid public gatherings, enforce curfews and detain people for up to week, in addition to other powers.
Martial law hasn’t been declared in any U.S. territory since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor during WWII (or the Boston area following the marathon bombings, depending on whom you ask), but like nuclear warfare or the apocalypse or the next pandemic, the threat of a military takeover is one of those fear-inducing scenarios that the hyper-paranoid feel compelled to plan for—despite their relative unlikelihood.
Naturally, the Internet is just teaming with martial law survivor secrets that the conspiracy crowd deems imperative to your future well-being. We found thousands of webpages dedicated to this sort of bomb-shelter-status obsessiveness, the prevailing message being plan in advance, because, well, you never know. So just in case Congress decides to suspend habeas corpus anytime soon and strip you of all your constitutional rights, here is your essential, entirely hypothetical guide to living under martial law, culled from the brightest minds of the interwebs.
“If some pissed-off soldiers show up in your neighborhood or at your door and want to search your home for weapons, don’t get in the way. Let them in. Keep your cool, don’t make any smart remarks, don’t make any threats, [and] don’t call them ‘Nazis,’ as tempting as it might be.”
2. Arm yourself.
“I have a handmade bearded ax that will go through solid walls, a welder’s chipping hammer (nasty-looking thing), bowie knife and assorted pocket knives. …You will [also] need a rifle. Choose something that uses common ammunition [that] you will not have a problem finding in looted sporting good stores…and above all, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT.”
“Even if they take your guns, it’s not the end of the world. Remember, this is America: a land of guns. Someone, somewhere is going to have a firearm.”
4. Trust no one.
“Say nothing about your views, your opinions or your [preparations] to anyone in your area unless they are a part of your prepping group. You will be amazed how fast people will spill their guts to the authorities in order to ingratiate themselves and maybe get an easier life as a result.”
5. Hide your stash.
“In urban and suburban environments, under flower beds would be a viable position. If you have acreage, then be careful to keep the ‘lay of the land,’ as differences will be noticed. All goods should be stored with avoiding sniffer dogs and metal detectors in mind.”
6. Follow the crowd.
“Make sure you turn up for any food and/or water handouts. Not doing so would mark you out from the rest of the people left behind. You should also turn up at any meeting when instructed to do so. Again, nothing should mark you out as being different.”
“You’ll just wind up in a detention camp where your freedom of movement and resources will be strictly controlled.”
“A sturdy new pair of military combat boots, preferably steel toes. Trust me on the steel toes. When you’re stuck with no weapons, you’ll be glad you have them.”
9. Learn to fish.
Which means you’ll need fishing equipment: “Maybe not a rod, but bring hooks, lots of line and lures.”
“Forget about all electronic devices (except a flashlight). They are usually heavy, make noise, give your location away and are next-to-useless when the batteries die or an EMP attack is carried out.”
“Watch Survivorman, with Les Stroud, on the Discovery Channel to get a feel of how you can improvise and what is truly needed in a life-or-death survival situation.”
12. Quit smoking.
“First, it’s hard to keep that habit up when you run out, and there aren’t any supplies around. Second, if and when you do run out (and you probably will), the withdrawals you will suffer can impair your judgment and make you very irritable, which can degrade your situation even more.”
13. Be stealth.
“Know where the cameras are and how to avoid them. Know who patrols where, and what routine they follow so as to avoid contact. Know your snitches and always feed them BS if you can’t avoid them.”
“If you have others in your group you will need to be able to communicate with them silently, make sure everyone in the group understands the hand signals.”
“Learning to improvise for just about any situation is a must and likely will have to be done on-the-fly in times of demand. …Don’t be lazy, because just like G.I. Joe said, knowing is half the battle.”