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Thailand: The Red Shirt protesters are back

Red Shirt protest. Photo from twitpic page of thethaireport

The Red Shirt anti-government protesters in Thailand mobilized thousands of their members in central Bangkok as they continued to press their demand for more democratic reforms in government. Police estimated the crowd at 30,000 but rally organizers claimed they gathered 60,000 in the streets.

It was the biggest Red Shirt rally months after a violent government crackdown on protests. It was also the first major rally after the lifting of the state of emergency in the country’s capital.

The Red Shirts core members are supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra but the group has since then become a broad movement calling for substantive changes in Thai government and society.

Bangkok Pundit confirms that the Sunday rally was the biggest Red Shirt protest since the street blockades last year

This is actually the biggest rally since the March-May protests by a long way. On September, around 10,000 reds attended the first mass post-crackdown demonstration in Bangkok. Around 8,000 reds gathered in Bangkok on October 10, another 12,000 in Ayutthaya on October 17, and up to 10,000 gathered again on November 19 to mark the six-month anniversary of the May 19 crackdown.

Richard Barrow provides some key observations of the rally

The rally started at the Democracy Monument. Jatuporn Prompan, the Red Shirt leader, was forbidden by a court order to go and speak at the rally. However, he defied that order today. He not only turned up, but he gave a speech as well. That is really what made this rally so different from anything we have seen since the bloody crackdown by the army which resulted in 91 deaths. For the first time we had people giving speeches.

The parade virtually brought many roads through Bangkok to a standstill. Despite that, I witnessed many shopkeepers coming out to clap and cheer as the Reds passed them by… the thousands that came today mainly came by their own transport. Most people were from around Bangkok and the surrounding provinces.

Their demand was simple, release on bail the red shirt leaders in prison. They cried it is unfair that the yellow shirt leaders who occupied government house and closed down the airport are still walking free.

Some twitter reactions from Bangkok:

Fridaylovesong: The Red Shirts are on duty again…heavy traffic is the immediate result and financial n business problems will soon follow. Their campaign has been a puzzle for my non-politic mind. After all, I don't believe at the very moment of “era”, not so many ppl genuinely care for or fight for democracy–we are bound to work to earn a living, realistically.
leosia: Lots of criticism of red shirts today, but I'm surprised and encouraged by their persistence.
MrMCos: @Saksith I would suggest the Red Shirts also get out from Thaksin's shadow if they want to progress beyond a street rabble. Fresh leadership
GiantRobot7: red shirts rally have punched stock market in the stomach…SET off 12 points this morning….KBANK off 3.8%
NickDay13: Red shirts get around 30,000 to a rally, PAD have about 10 tents infront of government house. Which group is the more relevant?
choochiiz: RT @PeaceinThailand: Suggestion for the Red shirts movement, pleast start the mob after 10 pm so we can shop peacefully. :) //like++

Photos of the Red Shirt march are available on Matichon Online and Thai Free News

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