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Thailand: ‘Reds’ vow a bigger rally today

March 11: The Red Shirts are coming!
March 13: Calm before the storm?

The anti-government Red Shirts in Thailand are giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva until 12 noon today to dissolve the parliament and call for a new round of elections. The Red Shirts issued this ultimatum yesterday in central Bangkok as they vow to gather more people around the city if Abhisit won’t act on their demands.

Despite the summer heat, at least a hundred thousand people marched in the streets of Bangkok yesterday. Based on news reports, the “rural hordes” entered the capital via 13,385 pick-ups, 3,385 cars, 36 trucks, 60 buses, 17 e-tan farm trucks, 137 motorcycles, 115 vans and three train journeys. Many protesters also travelled by boats. Organizers claim they will be able to reach the “million-man” target in the next few days.

Many Red Shirts are supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra but not all of them are fans of the fugitive leader who was recently found guilty by the court of corruption charges. Red Shirts belong to the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) which wants the “military-backed” Abhisit regime replaced with a new democratic government.

Abhisit assured the public that his government won’t use unnecessary force in handling the rallies. But blogger Life in Bangkok notes that security forces were increased in the capital

“…an additional nine companies of security personnel (were) deployed, with the number of police and military units near the rally site rising to 42 companies… I wonder how long until the security apparatus outnumber the protesters, … ? More troops were also sent to reinforce the 11 Infantry Regiment in Bang Khen where the government has set up a peacekeeping and monitoring command center

The Bangkok Bugle attended the March 14 rally:

I'm home after spending a couple of hours walking up and down Rajadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok where most the red-shirt anti-government protesters are gathering. It's hard to estimate just how many people, but for certain the numbers are growing by the hour. Policing is light and the mood of the protesters, at least when I was there, was jovial although seemingly determined.

A reader of Bangkok Pundit observed that the Red Shirt protesters were warmly welcomed by many Bangkok residents

To me, the most interesting thing to observe were the ordinary Thais — vendors, people coming out of their shops, and people streaming from smaller sub-sois to watch — along the street who were not wearing red, but were cheering as well, and as the convoy of thousands finished the protest and started driving along Sukhumvit, these same un-red-shirted people waved and called out to the departing Reds. Also, a surprising number of people driving private cars, honked their horns and waved and smiled at the Reds as they drove past. Many men and women not wearing who had just come out to the street to watch were waving whatever red things they could find as the Reds departed: red shopping bags, faded Coke signs, I even saw a red sock!

Twitter reactions and reports:

photo_journ: Number of redshort supporters & ordinary Thais lining da river is astounding. HUGE numbers. Small boats & jetski's joining
newley: Very difficult to navigate area in front of stage. Crowded. Took me 10 minutes to go less than 100 meter
tulsathit: Thaksin said he never intended to overthrow monarchy. “Only the ammart (royal advisers) that I want to overthrow”.
bangkokpundit: RT @tri26: Majority of protesters are NOT poor farmers but are middle class, @thaicam concurs
Saksith: RT @TAN_Network: Thammasat University cancels classes at Ta Phrachan campus Mar 15-16 due to red shirt protests
_Willowtree_: Ch 3 saying that the Red shirt medic group RSR found numbers of Rally goers are sick with food poisoning

The tweet which mentioned that majority of protesters belong to the middle class disproves the news stereotype that protesters were mainly from the rural population.

Red Shirt rally. Photo by Newley

Red Shirt rally. Photo by Newley


Red Shirts parade. Photo by Newley

Red Shirts parade. Photo by Newley

Political Prisoners in Thailand is disappointed with how the local mainstream media is reporting the rallies:

PPT doubts that many of Bangkok’s population will ever know what is being said at the rally apart from the call for the government to call an election. The media are doing a remarkably poor job of reporting what is happening, even to the point of hardly showing the crowds assembled and, as far as we can tell, no attempt to present the views of those in the huge crowd. Most of this crowd present a profile that is very different from the “average Bangkokian.” That might seem a slightly odd statement, but there is a clear difference. It is not so much an ethnic difference, although that’s there; and it is not simplistic rich vs. poor; it is, we suspect, basically a class difference. Bangkok is very quiet outside the rally area. They’ll only be getting pro-government views from television and will never hear the issues involved, let alone understand them.

Thaksin, who described himself as a symbol of democracy and a leader respected by many Red Shirts, addressed the crowd through a phone-in speech. Saiyasombut translates an exceprt of the speech:

“My dear people, there have been news spread that I’m supposed to be in Cambodia. I’m in Europe! I’m here to meet my children, who were attending a trade show in Germany so we’re going to meet in Europe. It is not true that I would be in Cambodia, because I don’t want tarnish the relationships between the two countries. What is for granted is that wherever I am, I can call in. Wherever I am I can video-link to you. (…) So stop with that lie!”

Gavin Gough noticed that the rally had a “feel of a holiday carnival

Whilst yesterday’s protests had the feel of a holiday carnival, there was a subtle shift in the mood overnight. Red Shirt organisers and their armed guards have a look of steely determination behind their smiles and the on-stage rhetoric was dialled up several notches this afternoon. Whatever happens, Day Three promises to give the first indications of which way the political wind is going to blow.

There Live and Thailand Voice gathers the most relevant blog posts and twitter reactions related to the weekend Red Shirt rallies. Photos of the rallies are available on Pantip, Prachatai, Media140, Cod has been here, and another one from Prachatai.

11 comments

  • jaat

    hey guys, i found a site that the Tourism Authority of Thailand set up to inform everyone about the rally situation in Bangkok and other provinces. It’s pretty up to date by the day and the hour, so it’s pretty reliable.

    If you’re in Bangkok or coming to Thailand, I strongly advise you to check it out.

    http://www.tourismthailand.org/thailandtourismupdate/

  • rogerblues

    i’m quite confident this is all pretty normal for a protest.

    All i know is i can still go and do what i always do (go to office in downtown, lunch, work, even went for a movie yesterday) and everything is pretty normal.

    So fyi, it’s not as bad as you see on t.v., because that’s just a particular area. I’ve lived in Bangkok for over a year already and everything’s pretty normal as long as we don’t go to the protest area (not in downtown, so it’s all good!)

  • PP

    How anti-government reporter (red shirt) received money to join protesting:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afmrFcGHIIU

  • Ordinary Thai people

    Red shirts are Thaksin’s supporters. Are they right or are they wrong to support Thaksin? And who is Thaksin anyway… you may ask.

    To make it simple for you to understand… Thaksin was an ex-PM of Thailand who has earned at least “2 billions dollars” while he was in the office for 5 years. Yes, that’s 2 billions dollars… with a “b”! Well, I would agree with you that there is nothing wrong with it except… by law he CANNOT conduct a private business while he is in the office. Yes, he could have earned this money by some other mean… I would agree. But the most important thing is… he nor his own family CANNOT explain how he earned this money to the people. Well, I wish I could say I have 2 billions dollars but I just can’t remember how I got it.

    Still can’t come to a conclusion. I don’t blame you. After all you may think I wrote this because I hate Thaksin.

    Well, then… listen to this. There are other several billions dollars of Thaksin’s asset that ARE being frozen by British government. Yes, that’s another several “billions dollars”… with a “b”! Why? Same reason… he just couldn’t explain how he came up with this money!

    I don’t know about you…. but if someone has my money and the only way to get it back is to tell them how I earned this money. I will sure find the way to explain it…. unless it’s a corrupted money or the money I stole from a very poor Thai people.

    Now what do you think? Should I or anyone support Thaksin? You be the judge!

    • Uhu

      Dear Ordinary Thai People,

      Your comment sounds so much to me that you’re a typical manager.co.th website fan, aren’t you? In a way I am impressed of Sonthi’s public speaking talent and a power of media that have a big influence to people like you.

      If only you have some basic financial knowledge, plus regularly follow up news (politic, economic, stock market etc.) in past 5-6 years, and have strong background of Thai politic history, and be more open to digest various resource of news (not only by Manager or Nation)…..plus add some critical thinking skill (which Thai people ar lack of)……..then you would not be writing as what you’ve written in this post.

      Your English seems perfect, much better than mine, I am sure you can access a lot more interesting English articles about Thai political conflicts.

      By the way, where is your Sonthi?

  • explorer

    The clip posted above just showed the distribution of fund, raised from red shirt people earlier, for supporting fuel for driver. If it’s the money for hiring, that’s not enough to bribe them to join long demonstration at Bangkok. It’s only 2,000 baht for each driver, not for everybody, to buy fuel for their pickup truck.

  • Ordinary Thai people

    Red-shirted supporters… who are they?

    I have to admit… there are fews people who loves Thaksin and willing to do anything for him BUT watch this video clip from other news source, http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-419397?ref=email

    Well, for just 2,000 baht (or about $60 US Dollars) you can also buy your own supporters.

    Some may argue that 2,000 baht is to help with fuel cost. That may be true…. BUT WAIT! To get a fuel reimbursement, why do I need to hand someone a copy of my “PHOTO ID” and “SIGN” for it?

    Now who wants to make a quick 2,000 baht “fuel reimbursement”?

  • Sue

    The robber never said the truth..and liar all the time.They didn’t know who took the video…..What kind of the fuel?Everybody got 2000 baht to go to the protest and have to sign the name and gave the ID card.One woman said he took the money for her friend and her together if you understand Thai……Stopped to tell a lie for what did you do?Just only asked for the democracy?You asked for Mr, Thaksin who want to be no guilty?

  • ThaiDutch

    If Thai ppl really love their king and see him as their beloved father, they should be doing vigil in front of Siriraj Hospital holding candles and “get well soon” signs instead of wearing different colored shirts (whether yellow, red, or blue)and protesting in the streets.

  • jergens

    okay peeps, it seems that everything is pretty okay now? doesn’t seem to be anything serious on the news or on the streets….
    (actually been like this since day 1…) so i guess nothing to worry no more?>

  • […] March 15: “Redsi” zwołują dziś jeszcze większy wiec […]

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