Thailand Red Shirt Protests 2010

Bangkok burning. Photo by DeanOutThe United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship, known as the Red Shirts, mobilized thousands of their members last March to press for the resignation of Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva whom they accuse of being undemocratic and illegitimate. Their demands: dissolve the Parliament and conduct new elections.

Many Red Shirts are supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra but not all of them are fans of the fugitive leader.

After two months of maintaining protest camps in various parts of Bangkok, the Red Shirts were forced to disperse when soldiers launched a crackdown against the protesters. Violence escalated last May 19 during the final assault operation of the military which led to street battles, riots, and looting. The retreating protesters also burned several buildings in the city.

So far, 52 were killed and more than 400 were injured in the “urban war zone.” The protesters accused the government of ordering the “massacre” of protesters but the government blamed the “terrorist-protesters” for the casualties.

The government has already regained full control of Bangkok but protests are still reported in the provinces.

Global Voices focused on the citizen media coverage of the protests and the protest crackdown. Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, became essential in monitoring the situation in Bangkok.

See all Global Voices Thailand stories. Our South East Asia editor is Mong Palatino. Contact him if you have links or suggestions.

Featured Global Voices stories

01 June – Thailand: Continuing State of Emergency
21 May – Thailand: Blog reactions to Bangkok violence
20 May – Thailand: Arson in Bangkok, protests spread to other provinces
18 May – Thailand: Red Shirt protesters remain defiant
16 May – Bangkok clashes: Pictures, Videos and Twitter reports
15 May – Thailand: Protest blockade ends in violence
29 Apr – Thailand: Online censorship amid protests
12 Apr – Thailand: Citizen videos of violent clash
11 Apr – Thailand: Bloggers document violent clashes
16 Mar – Thailand: “Bloody” Tuesday?
15 Mar – Thailand: ‘Reds’ vow a bigger rally today
12 Mar – Thailand: Calm before the storm?
11 Mar – Thailand: The Red Shirts are coming!

Check each article for recommended websites that provide liveblog reports, pictures, and videos of the Bangkok clashes.

Reactions from other countries

May 22 – Taiwan: Responses to Thailand's upheaval, if there is any
May 25 – Southeast Asia: Reactions to Thailand protests

Red Shirt rally in March 2010. Photo by Newley

Red Shirt rally. Photo by Newley


Twitter posts about the Red Shirt rally can be read through these hashtags: #redtweet, #rednews, #redmob, #redmarch, #redbuffalo, #stupidred, #redtail, #redshirt, #redbuff, #thaicrisis, #PADtweet, and #WeLoveThai. Global Voices recommends #redtweet and #redshirt

Map of protests and clashes

Thanks to Richard Barrow and John for creating and updating these google maps which showed the areas of Red Shirt protest zones in Bangkok and the “dangerous” places where clashes between protesters and soldiers have been reported.

View Red crisis in Bangkok in a larger map

View Bangkok Dangerous – Red Shirts Rally March-May 2010 in a larger map

Background on Red Shirts

The two-month protest of the Red Shirts may be unprecedented in Thailand but it was not the first time that the Red Shirts have almost caused the downfall of the Abhisit government. Read these Global Voices stories about the April 2009 Red Shirt protests:

April 15: Thailand: Red Shirts paid to protest?
April 13: Bangkok protests: Black Songkran
April 12: Thailand’s “colored” protesters
April 11: Thailand: Protesters disrupt ASEAN Summit

The original provocative protesters in Thailand are not the Red Shirts. Before the Red Shirts, there were the Yellow Shirts who invaded Bangkok’s international airport and government building in 2008. For more information, read the special page created by Global Voices about the Yellow Shirt protests in 2008.