Thailand: Red Shirts Back in the Streets

On May 19, 2012, tens of thousands of Red Shirt protesters commemorated the second anniversary of the army and police crackdown on anti-government protesters in central Bangkok, Thailand. The May 2010 street violence resulted in the deaths of more than 90 people. Many Red Shirt members are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted by a coup in 2006.

The violent dispersal of the Red Shirt protest contributed to the unpopularity of the government in 2010 which was at that time headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva. Abhisit’s party lost in the elections last year. Thailand’s incumbent Prime Minister is the younger sister of Thaksin.

Photos of the event last Saturday are available on Facebook and Flickr. Here are some photos:

Thousands attended Red Shirt rally in Bangkok. Photo from @RichardBarrow

Red Shirts rally. Photo from Facebook page of Richard Barrow

Red Shirts demand justice. Photo from Facebook page of Richard Barrow

Red Shirts program in the evening. Photo from @aleursic

A video clip of Robert Amsterdam’s speech during the rally. Amsterdam is the lawyer of Thaksin. Some netizens are critical to the activities of the Red Shirts:

@Rom Senakant: sad group of people… They thought they are fighting for just cause but actually they are the being used by a crony ex PM Thaksin or Thug-Sin

@ric_lawes: Reds calling for Justice – simple fact – reds lay siege to the city and 91 people died. No reds no deaths.

@Agam_T: Today, I'm celebrating 2nd anniversary of the END of #RedShirts arson and violence. May19th was the day we got our city back.

Thaksin’s appeal for unity is interpreted by some people as betrayal to the cause of the Red Shirts who are still demanding justice for those who were killed in 2010:

@freakingcat: Are the Red shirts in Ratchprasong so brainwashed and cheered to Thaksin's betrayal speech. 93 died for the greed of the billionaire

@steviegell: Both Thaksin & his sister turned their backs on the red movement. Robert Amsterdam is trying to hide that fact from the reds. Bad form.

Tammy attended the rally and commented about the lack of change in Thailand’s politics:

I just got back from the 2 year anniversary of the crack-down on the Red Shirts protest at Rajprasong, that 2 years ago caused bout 100 civilian death

The new constitution is poised to disappoint those who are looking for democracy, the lese majeste law, the root cause, of many injustices in Thailand, will likely be the same. The death and imprisonment of political prisoners, looks like it will be un-accounted for and not re-solved.

Meanwhile, a government investigation body concluded that state forces are responsible for the deaths of 25 people in the 2010 crackdown.


  • […] GlobalVoices has a collection of images and various reports about the […]

  • Paul

    Unfortunately, covering the Red Shirts as if they are pro-democracy and victims of state crimes, leads me to doubt your other stories. If you have this so wrong, then ???? Credibility????
    Actually, you may remember that the Red Shirt group that took over a large part of Bangkok was armed and violent. They put many people out of work and killed others and they threatened the democracy of Thailand. The government did its best to negotiate with them, but the corrupt billionaire that funds the movement wanted bloodshed. He wanted to bring about events to discredit the government. And in the end, when the government of the day tried to re-establish normalcy, there was violence and deaths. On both sides.
    Who suffered? Certainly not the billionaire. But certainly many normal people. Workers in Bangkok, residents, soldiers, the duped Red Shirt protesters that have been used as political pawns,….
    Oh and when you mention that the billionaire was deposed in a coup, please remember the reasons Thailand was pushed to these events. Such as the massive corruption and the fact that he was placing his own people in the top positions of judges, head of police, head of military,… whilst working to prohibit a free and fair media. He was working to secure himself as a corrupt dictator – oh, did you forget to mention that point???

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