Thailand: Red Shirts flood centre of Bangkok again
By Peter Boyle, photos by CBN PressNovember 19, 2010 – Thousands of supporters of the Thailand’s Red Shirt (the popular name for supporters of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) movement once again turned Bangkok’s busy Ratchaprasong Intersection into a sea of red.
They turned out in their thousands (see video of the crowd posted by Richard Barrow to Twitter here) to mark six months since the Thai military bloodily attacked and dispersed a mass protest camp that occupied the area in April and May this year. More than 90 people were killed, thousands injured and hundreds or protesters are still imprisoned.
This is the second peaceful mass protest to fill Ratchaprasong since the crackdown – the first took place on September 19. The turn out then was estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000, a show of defiance against an emergency decree still in force in Bangkok and in some provinces. The size of the September 19 turnout caught both the rally organisers and the authorities by surprise.
The military-dominated Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation appears to be increasingly ineffective. On November 19, large contingents of police and military were mobilised from early in the morning but less than half an hour after the 4pm rally began, police retreated completely from Ratchaprasong, according to eyewitnesses.
One the same day, the CRES issued a decrees banning any good that “provokes, incites, agitates, or causes disunity in the general populace” on the pain of two years jail, 40,000 baht, or both. “Individuals are forbidden to have in their possession, or possess with intent to sell or otherwise distribute, products, clothing, consumer goods, or any other objects that contain printing, writing, drawing, photography, or any other method that conveys a meaning which provokes, incites, agitates, or causes disunity in the general populace, or acts or supports acts which cause a state of emergency.”
T-shirts, sandals, floor mats and a host of other popular anti-government merchandise, now openly on sale in the streets – could be covered by the ban.
The latest Red Shirt protest also comes as sections of the right-wing, pro-monarchy Yellow Shirt movement, which mobilised against the last elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra, have started to turn against the current military-installed government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Strangely the dissident factions are reported to be calling for another military coup!
Anti-military dictatorship mural.